Penang Island (Malaysia) is located off the coast of the Malay Peninsula, which, in turn, is the southern tip of the Indochina Peninsula. The humid equatorial climate characteristic of these latitudes contributed to the formation of a wide variety of flora and fauna that did not know the human presence until the end of the 18th century.
Mixing of nations, languages, cultures
At present, despite the fact that the island is part of the Penang state of Malaysia, the local inhabitants of the island are predominantly Chinese. A smaller part of the population are Malays and Indians. Accordingly, they speak different languages, including English (a reminder of the colonial past), but Malay is official.
There are quite a lot of religious faiths: along with officially approved, as in all of Malaysia, Islam, residents profess Hinduism, Catholicism, Protestantism, Buddhism and Taoism. That is why in a relatively small area you can see a unique mixture of architectural styles, religious cults and holidays. All this, as well as nature, ancient and modern attractions seem extremely attractive for a tourist holiday.
Charming Pearl of the East
Tourism here began to develop several years after the appearance of the first city (Georgetown) in the late 18th century. Undoubtedly, at first it was nature and climate that were the most important components of the charm of this island, which was called the Pearl of the East. There are no sharp temperature changes, and, depending on the season, the air warms up in a comfortable range from + 23⁰C to + 32⁰C, which, combined with warm water (+ 26⁰C … + 28⁰C) creates the most favorable conditions for relaxation.
The high season begins in December and ends at the end of winter, or rather, with the end of the celebration of the Chinese New Year. It was at this time that the tourist infrastructure was maximally developed on the island: all sights were open for viewing, discos were held, bars and restaurants, shopping centers, kiosks, shops were working. The cost of living in the high season is as high as possible.
Where to live, there is always a choice
Housing can be chosen for every taste and budget. Considering that Penang Island has always been popular with tourists since it was an English colony, it is easy to find a place to relax and stay here. You can make a reservation in advance, on the eve or already upon arrival on the island.
There are 120 hotels of 5 * level at Penang, and the number of options for simple and affordable housing is many times greater. There are guest houses, hostels and guesthouses.
More expensive housing in the center of Georgetown and in the area of Batu Ferringhi beach. A comfortable and economical vacation can be organized by living in 3-star hotels, where the average price per day in these popular areas is $ 50-60. Hotels from 4 stars offer accommodation in the region of $ 80-90 per day.
- In Georgetown, you can find a double room for $ 15 per day, but with a shared toilet and shower,
- For a room with a bathroom you have to pay more – at least $ 27.
- Hotels near the beach of Batu Ferringhi, from which you can reach the sea in a couple of minutes, are in great demand in high season. The minimum price for a 2-bed room with amenities is $ 45 per night.
If desired, you can find cheaper rooms (including in 3 * hotels) for $ 11 per night. This is in not too prestigious areas and, accordingly, with less quality service and fewer amenities.
From the familiar McDonald’s to oriental exoticism
Unofficially, Penang Island is the culinary capital of Malaysia. Here, the menu of the institutions reflected a variety of nationalities and traditions. Here you can always eat in restaurants or take a chance to try exotic street food.
Conventionally, all places where they offer a meal can be divided into groups:
- fashionable restaurants;
- inexpensive cafes and family restaurants;
- “Macaques” – trays with street food.
- The average check for one in an inexpensive institution is 12 RM ($ 3).
- Dinner for two (3 courses) in a mid-range restaurant – 60 RM ($ 15).
- Combo set in McDonalds -13 RM.
- A bottle of local beer 0.5 l – 15 RM.
- Mineral (0.33) – 1.25 RM.
At food courts, prices are even lower, and the dishes are more interesting.
- Spicy chicken will cost about $ 2
- Spiced rice with vegetables – $ 1
- A glass of juice – about $ 1
- Seafood fried rice can be bought for $ 2.
Public transport fares are affordable: a one-way bus costs an average of $ 0.45. And in places with attractions runs a free bus.
If you don’t live on a grand scale, but also not much to save, on average rest on Penang will cost $ 50-60 per person per day.
Fans of shopping and nightly entertainment should be prepared for more significant expenses. In Georgetown, you can always spend time in night bars and discos. In Batu Ferringhi, the most attractive place at night is the night market on the Jalan street, which shines with lights, where you can bargain freely and buy something interesting.
Prices on the page are for February 2018.
The best beaches of Penang are located in its northern part, where they are landscaped and adapted for swimming. In other places, although the coastline seems attractive from afar, covered with a beautiful sand, it is not suitable for a beach holiday and swimming. There is quite dirty water and the dominance of jellyfish.
The most popular beach with developed infrastructure. Quite spacious, located 10 km from Georgetown in the town of Batu Ferringhi.
Coarse white sand, both on the shore and when entering the sea. Nearby there are many cafes, restaurants with European cuisine, Chinese, Malaysian – in a word, for every taste. Various entertainments are offered: boating, parachutes, windsurfing. Jellyfish can come into the sea, and for lovers of natural beauty – spectacular sunsets. In the photo, Penang is especially good in the rays of the setting sun.
This yellow sandy beach is located on the northern tip of the island. Riding on bananas, parachuting after a boat complement the usual bathing. There is where to have a bite, to get interesting things in trade tents.
The proximity to the city center (five kilometers to Georgetown) makes itself felt by the presence of pollution and jellyfish, apparently attracted by the smell of sewage. As an alternative, vacationers are offered swimming pools in hotels. But here is the water sports center where you can spend time doing active sports.
This beach is part of Penang National Park. You can only get here on foot or, as an option, hire a boat. One of the sections of the beach was chosen by green turtles, who come here from September to February to lay eggs.
An interesting natural object is the meromictic lake, which consists of two immiscible layers of water, each of which is heated differently. The lower layer is fed by seawater seeping here, and the upper one is fresh and, surprisingly, colder.
The name of the fishing village of the same name on the northern coast of the island means “thermal wave gulf”, probably due to the warm wind constantly blowing from the sea. They get here not for bathing, but to visit the butterfly farm, see the batik factory and see how orchids are grown on special farms.
Some tourists specially come to this beach in Penang from other cities of Malaysia for interesting photos.
The monkey beach in Penang National Park is the most quiet and remote. It can only be reached by boat or on foot through the jungle. In the second case, on a path among tropical trees you can see flying squirrels, macaques, lemurs, as well as crab-eating macaques that live on the island.
In the mountains, a little further from the beach, you can visit the lighthouse, built in the colonial era.
When to come to Penang?
For a comfortable beach holiday, it is better to come to the island in December – January. It is not so hot at this time, and it is sunny all the time. February and March are the hottest months. It is especially exhausting to wander around the city at this time. But if a beach holiday is of interest to those arriving in Malaysia, then Penang at this time is quite suitable for them.
Those who are more interested in sights or shopping and want to save on housing can take advantage of low prices in the best hotels in the rainy months, May and October. It is not necessary that it will rain every day, but if it does, then you will have to experience a real tropical rainfall.
How to get to Penang from the capital of Malaysia?
This is the fastest and most convenient way if you choose how to get from Kuala Lumpur to Penang. AirAsia, Malaysian Airlines (from KLIA airport) and FireFly, MalindoAir (departing from Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah) fly in this direction. There are about 20 flights a day, the flight time is about 1 hour.
If you look for tickets in advance, you can fly cheaply, for $ 13 or less. In the high season, a few days before departure, a ticket can be purchased for $ 22 – this is without luggage, free hand luggage up to 7 kg is free. With luggage, the cost will increase.
Bus services on the Kuala Lumpur – Penang route are operated from Terminal Bersepadu Selatan, One Utama, KLIA, KLIA2, Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah stations from 7 a.m. to 1 a.m. The traffic schedule is quite tight: every hour and a half, travel time – 5 hours.
Prices depend on the carrier, comfort, point of arrival on the island and range from $ 10 to $ 50.
This is not a fast way to get to the beaches of Penang. Moreover, there is no railway station on the island itself.
- First you need to take the route to the city of Butterworth, located on the mainland.
- Then you need to take the ferry and after 20 minutes you will find yourself on the pier near the center of Georgetown, the capital of Penang, Malaysia.
It should be noted: not only do trains have to go on schedule for 6 hours, so often they also delay on the way.