Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Ivy's Travel: Things to do in Penang

Most people don't choose Penang for holiday destination. I agreed. The city is boring and doesn't have really interesting places to go. I once spent almost six months staying in the city. After the big riot on 1998, my parents sent me to study here, the main purpose is not because they have good education, but only to keep me out from Indonesia for a while after the unfortunate incident. Why Penang? I was too young to understand or complain to them on why on earth they chose Penang and not Singapore, all I know is because my relatives in Medan also sent their children there as Penang is very close to Medan, and Mom just follows them. 

I entered Chung Ling's school which has the ugliest uniform I've ever seen in life. I might be too young at that time, but mature enough to realize how ugly their uniform was. And you know what, I bumped into the students during my last visit couple months ago, 15 years passed since my short 6 months there and the school still makes their students wear that ugly uniforms! I mean, isn't that a fashion crime or something? Too bad I don't keep any pictures to show you.

Anyway, 15 years ago, to me Penang is more fun than it is now. At the time, I remember despite all the tears of home sick I felt, I still enjoyed my time there visiting the shopping malls with my nieces and school mates, bought the ridiculous cheap and good char kwayteow and just playing around. At that time, Komtar is one of the most popular hang out places in town. Nowadays, the place is so remote and mostly only becomes a bus poll. So sad.

Couple months ago, I went to Penang for medical reason, which is one of the top reason of why people visiting the town. I do admit the city has great hospitals and attentive good doctors with affordable rates. So less commercial than Singapore. Went there with Mom and Dad and the trip was really on visiting doctors, so we didn't do much exploring, but here a quick guides on what to do in Penang: 


Penang is popularly known for its good and cheap hawker food. Penang char kwayteow, fried oyster, rojak juhi to name a few. The city is full of hawker food stalls. Almost every hawker food stalls start to open around 4pm until late night.

One of the most popular hawker food is Penang road famous Teochew cendol at Lebuh Keng Kwee. There are two cendol stalls here and located one across to another, but this is the crowded one. The queue line is crazy and I can understand why. The cendol is very aromatic as they use a lot of gula jawa. Such a perfect rescue during hot weather.

Another popular hawker centre is Lorong Selamat. I didn't get to go here but the famous one is the Char Kwayteow. Look for the lady with red hat stalls (Only open until 4pm and closed every Tuesday).

Discover the unique painted walls through out Georgetown. It was the artist, Ernest Zacharevic who painted all the beautiful murals. The arts painted on the walls all over Georgetown. The streets are divided only by blocks where you cold take a long walk over the unique and impressive murals. Don't forget to take a backup camera battery as every angle worth a shot. Click here for more details.

*All images of art street taken from Google. 

If the weather is supporting, take a walk around Georgetown for some cafes hoping, while admiring the wall arts, which you definitely won't miss while taking a stroll around the area. The old historical buildings are not being torn down, making them beautiful in its own way. Photogenic shots all over the streets. I don't have the time to do any cafe hoping when I was there, but here's the link a to a blog for guides to cafes in Georgetown Penang.


Gurney Drive is one of Penang's most popular tourist destinations, famous for the "hawker food" stalls at night that very much crowded. It used to be one of the place where people go for their beach, but over the years the beaches along Gurney Drive has been lost to erosion, leads to only slit and mud. Now tourist and locals prefer to Batu Ferringhi for its beach.

Aside from Gurney Drive hawker centre, one of Penang's most popular shopping malls, Gurney Plaza is also located here. Don't put too much expectation though, nothing really much to see there. The Gurney Drive hawker centre is one of te most popular hawker in Penang. Full with many food stalls selling all kinds of local delicacies.

If you have some days in Penang to kill, take a trip to Batu Ferringhi and book one of their resorts. Spend your day at the beach while waiting for sunset and visit the famous night market. When the sun sets, some streets in Penang turn into night markets. To mention some popular ones are the Batu Ferringhi and Farlim night markets (Farlim open only Wednesday night). What you can expect to find there are low-cost merchandise such as cheap clothes, kitchen utensils, souvenirs and many other stuffs. Night market in Penang mostly has hawker stalls as well, so no worries on the hungry belly

Last but not least, Penang is utterly known for its hospital. Several travel agents in Jakarta even comes with medical check up in Penang tour packages. What makes Penang to be medical destination is because they have several numbers of good hospitals with attentive doctors. To name a few popular ones are Loh Guan Lye, Penang Adventist and Lam Wah Ee hospitals. The medical rates is much cheaper than Singapore and I can assure you the facilities and service are faultless.

If you need some suggestion on where to stay in Penang, we stayed at two different hotels. The first one, Sunway Hotel(4*) is affordable, clean, good location, close to hospital and have plenty of hawker stalls just opposite them.

The second hotel is G Hotel (5*), located next to Penang's most popular shopping mall, Gurney Plaza and walking distance to Gurney Drive hawker centre.

I would personally recommend Sunway Hotel as it is cheaper with better location. Unless you wanted to have some beach feels at Gurney. But, trust me, the beach sucks. Skip this one and go to Batu Ferringhi beach for a much nicer one.
Thank you for reading! 


Wonder Queen 陳真善美 said...

You should try the curry mee and hokkien mee at the 1st hawker store that you visited haha

Tom said...

Great post! Check out these 6 Amazing Travel Experiences in Penang or 13 Penang Hawker Foods and Nonya Restaurants that You Must Try while in Penang!

Happy Travels Everyone!



eva said...

Thanks for sharing. Great review:))

Chloe Hern said...

Great post about Penang travel. For everyone who need to know about price of Penang airport shuttle hotel, please contact with GoAsiaDayTrip - the most trusted airport transfer and day tour company in Southeast Asia.