Penang Island is situated 2 miles off the Northwest Malaysian mainland. Known as the Pearl of the Orient, the Island of Pearls were the first lands to be held by the British in South East Asia.
The world heritage UNESCO site and capitol Georgetown is named after King George III and has a historic history. It’s influences from around the globe is shown in its international cuisine that incorporates Chinese, Indian, and Malay. There are also some from our European cousins. Mostly sold from street vendors and restaurants it’s world renown for it’s tagline of a “foodies paradise”.
Getting in and about Penang
With a 3 month visa on arrival, this gives you ample time to explore all the island has to offer. A taxi from the airport to Georgetown will set you back £7-8 and takes around an hour in heavy traffic. There’s a taxi rank and ATM’s at the airport Foyer and is a painless affair.
Connected to the Malaysian mainland by 2 bridges there are regular ferry options from Butterworth Sultan Abdul Halim Ferry Terminal. The fare is 20p one-way and the return journey is free of charge.
Getting around the island is best by rapid buses and an inexpensive way between destinations and cost from 1.40 to 3.40 MR (20-50p). They are very regular and all around Georgetown and Gurney Drive. We caught a 30 minute bus from Gurney drive to Batu Ferringhi that cost us just over £1 each way for both of us.
Georgetown is a great place to wander around, and being a UNESCO world heritage site, has something around every corner. There is street art to be found all around, with some well hidden, and various places to look out for. These include the clan jetties, fort Cornwallis, Little India and the Queen Victoria memorial clock.
Gurney Drive is about a 10 minute taxi ride away from Georgetown (£3) and set directly on the shore line. The walkway has numerous large shopping malls and upmarket hotels set along the coast. The gurney drive hawker centre is located at the end of the promenade and has fish and seafood stalls.
Penang hill (have to be lucky with weather for good views) will cost you around £6 for the train. The journey takes about 20 minutes to the top.
Batu Ferringhi is a very quiet beach resort and has a very relaxed vibe. A few high end hotels are on offer along with some beach-side accommodation in the £10-20 range. There is a nightly bizarre where you can grab a bargain set along it’s main street.
It’s neighboring island Langkawi in the archipelago is situated just off the Thailand border and neighboring Satun is just a short boat ride away that serves a direct route to Thailand and the southern islands. Onward flights are cheap especially through Skyscanner and Air Asia.
Happy travels on your Global Gallivants.