street art of a red door and a motorbike

How To Plan Your Trip To Penang: Travel Guide to Penang 2023

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So you’ve decided to explore the beautiful island of Penang, a vibrant mix of ancient and modern set against a backdrop of natural beauty.

Whether you’re a foodie, a history buff, or an adventure seeker, Penang has something for you. But, if it’s your first time visiting, planning the trip might seem overwhelming.

Don’t worry; I designed this guide for you. I’ll walk you through each step.

How to Plan Your First Trip to Penang: Things To Consider

Is Penang Expensive?

Penang is generally affordable. Budget around US$50-$100 per day for moderate spending. Always keep some local currency (Malaysian Ringgit) handy for smaller expenses.

It’s cheap to eat street food and at hawker centres. Even dinner at a mid-range restaurant won’t cost that much. But, wine is expensive, and hotels charge a tourism tax.

I found Thailand cheaper, but Penang is still better value than Europe, Australia, or North America.

Is It Safe in Penang?

Penang is generally safe, but petty crimes do occur. Use common travel sense to stay safe. For more information on safety issues, consult our Malaysia Travel Guide.

The Best Time to Visit Penang

December to March is the ideal time for your trip to Penang. The rainy season is April to November, with October being the wettest.

yellow rickshaw in penang malaysia

Getting to Penang

Flights

Most international flights land at Kuala Lumpur. From there, you can take a domestic flight to Penang. Visa requirements vary by country, so check in advance.

On-Arrival Transportation

Upon arrival, you can choose from taxis, buses, or ride-sharing services like Grab to get to your accommodation.

Accommodation

Types of Accommodation

From luxury hotels to budget-friendly hostels, Penang offers a variety of accommodation options.

Recommended Areas to Stay

Georgetown and Batu Ferringhi are popular areas to stay in. Georgetown is great for culture and food, while Batu Ferringhi is known for its beaches.

Batu Ferringhi hotels include Parkroyal Resort (where we stayed), Shangri-La’s Rasa Sayang Resort & Spa, and Hard Rock Hotel.

Hotels in Georgetown worth looking at are The Edison George Town, Seven Terraces, Jawi Peranakan Mansion, and Cheong Fatt Tze – The Blue Mansion.

swimming pool and slide at park royal penang
Park Royal Penang

Itinerary Planning

Must-Visit Attractions

Don’t miss Penang Hill for panoramic views, Kek Lok Si Temple for cultural richness, and Batu Ferringhi for beaches.

See this list of the best things to do in Penang.

Cultural Experiences

Explore local markets and immerse yourself in Penang’s culinary scene.

Outdoor Activities

Try hiking trails in the Penang National Park or water sports at the beaches.

Local Cuisine

The local food was the main reason for our trip. I’d heard that Penang is a food lover’s dream, and it lived up to its reputation.

Street Food is delicious and safe to eat. There are so many hawker stalls dotted around, as well as food courts where you will find many under one roof. We always look to see which ones have queues as they would have the most turnover and freshest food.

If you’re not sure where to go or what foods to try, consider a food tour. It’s a great way to try the local food specialities with an expert guide.

Must-Try Foods

Penang is a food paradise. Be sure to try Laksa, Char Kway Teow, and Penang Prawn Mee.

Recommended Restaurants and Food Courts

Head to Gurney Drive for a variety of food options, the Batu Ferringhi restaurants, or explore the local hawker stalls in Georgetown.

close up of a bowl of assam-laksa

Transportation in Penang

Public Transport

Public buses are efficient and cover most tourist spots. Taxis and ride-sharing are also available.

Car Rentals

Rent a car if you want the flexibility to explore the island at your own pace.

Tips and Tricks

Language and Communication

English is widely understood, but picking up a few basic phrases in Malay can be helpful.

Packing Essentials

Pack light, breathable clothing suitable for tropical weather, and don’t forget your travel documents.

Is Penang Worth Visiting?

Yes, it definitely is. The food and culture are amazing. Just beware that the ocean may not be swimmable. It can be quite dirty, and there’s a presence of jellyfish. However, this is a small inconvenience, and most of the hotels have great pools anyway.

We enjoyed walks along the beach and watching the stunning sunsets over the ocean.

The food was our main draw, and we enjoyed our visit to Kek Lok Si temple. Georgetown is interesting and has some amazing historical architecture. Street art fans will love the 100’s of murals around the city. We didn’t get to the National Park but the hike trails there are supposed to be very good.

view of the beach with a boat and a para glider

Conclusion

With a blend of cultural experiences, delicious food, and natural beauty, this Malaysian island offers an enriching travel experience. Now that you’re equipped with all the essential information, all that’s left is to make the trip happen. Happy travels!