The island is situated at the crossroads from east to west
Georgetown is the capital. A drop in the ocean between Asia to Europe, India and the middle East where trade and ancient cultures met since hundreds of years, in the last decades tourism took over. A flights are available from several international destinations such as Thailand, Singapore and on domestic Malaysian routes.
Spectacular vistas plus vibrant nightlife and diverse cultures makes it a great holiday and destination. Tourists and people who took Pulau Pinang as their place to retire bring quite some money to the island. The place attracts people who want to have a quiet life on the waterfront, have excellent and diverse food and like to stay in a exotic place with the ambience of the lush green tropics of the Indian Ocean, this part is the Andaman Sea.
Excellent and some famous hotels and resorts are around to support this, either in Georgetown or at the beaches actually luxury, midlevel and budget accommodation is around almost “every second corner”. Mainly from the capital to Batu Ferringhi. There are plenty and one of the famous is the e & o, this stands for the eastern and oriental hotel. A midlevel accommodation is Hotel Malaysia in downtown. A rather cheap one is Regal Malaysia at transfer road with rooms starting around Ringits 80,-. For a longer stay apartments and houses are available too.
Georgetown Malaysia seen from Komtar Tower
There are plenty of exotic places who serve the interest of people who have a deeper interest into tropical and nature exploration. But this is not an adventure or similar holiday destination, for this the island is to small and is already cultivated too long.
The excitement rather comes from the cultural blend of different people of a diverse ethnicities, means Chinese, Indian, Malay and other. This is visible to the visitor at Chinese Taoist Temples, Buddhist Pagodas, Mosques, Hindu Temples, Churches and other. Another variation of this multicultural environ are myriads of restaurants offering all kind of exotic food.
Pulau Pinang is rather small, beaches and other places such as botanical garden, spice garden plus plus and the different exotic temple such as the Chinese Snake Temple among others are close to main roads and the distance is short, very suitable for day trips.
The bridge, ferry and airport
are the three ways to arrive.
Georgetown has been named after the British monarch King George III, and this is the capital of the island. It’s is just the right starting point for your trip to get the right feeling for this multicultural environment of people from different parts of the old British colonial empire.
This is a typical tropical city with plenty of palm trees, quite hot and offering a wealth of attractions, some of the top attractions are the temples, mosques and pagodas as you can see at the picture right which shows the Thai Buddhist Temple.
There are several old and new mosques at with beautiful architecture, style and colors.
Shopping is great and since the city center is rather compact just have a walk.
Thai Buddhist Temple at Georgetown
Flight to Penang Airport
In the old days travel took very long time on a sailing ship or a steamer from Europe via India, sometimes via Yangon in Myanmar and Phuket Thailand
Every day flights from all over Asia touch down at Penang Airport and bring the people for feeding tourism. Tours offered are plenty and the right accommodation is available, everything is good organized. There are plenty of great resort along the waterfront of the north, in particular on the stretch from to Butu Ferringhi.
This is the right tropical holiday destination
maybe by a package tours. Aside of coming to Pulau Pinang (as it is called in Malaysian language) via the airport a good alternative are the bridge and the ferries, one route is to Butterworth and a other to Langkawi Island in the north.
and check in
The island is reachable from every bigger city of Malaysia via Kuala Lumpur by bus. Also by train via Butterworth, there is the station. A bus also leaves Hat Yai in Thailand almost every two hours.A alternative could be car via the bridge or ferry which is very convenient since the main north south highway of Malaysia starting at the border to Thailand via Ipoh, Kuala Lumpur and Malacca to Singapore is a four lane motorway and run along the coast.
From Phuket it’s a 9 hour drive usually without any major problem since the roads on the Thai side are also in good conditions although on the road it’s quite chaotic.
starts at 8 am at the bus terminal followed every hour by one Hat Yai bus until 2 pm. The reason is the border closure between 11 pm and 5 am.
But road travel on your own, especially can get real dangerous since in Thailand nobody cares about any traffic rules. If you ever intend to do this trip with a car it needs a insurance for Malaysia which is issued at the border, do the insurance on the Thai side, they are more professional and not so lazy as on the other side.
Office hour is from 8 am to 6 pm and the border is closed from 11pm to 5 am. It also needs to get the Thai car papers officially translated.
Never pass the border without this insurance, it’s only below Baht 1000,- for a month, if they catch you without or you have an accident you run into deep trouble.
is best by walking. There are Chinese and India temples, beautiful Mosques, Thai Buddhist shrines and even a marvelous Myanmar or Burmese Buddha shrine is in the city. Both are at the same location only a road runs in between. Actually this temples and pagodas should be on the agenda of every trip to the island it’s optically a pleasure and it tells a lot about the culture.
Mosques are frequented by the local Muslim and Arab tourists. There are quite a lot holiday maker from Arab countries mainly staying in the apartment buildings along the north coast. When you walk through the city you will see what rich cultural heritage is around here, built over hundreds of years by people with totally different ethnic backgrounds, if you want to do it the Chinese way take a trishaw tour through they will carry you through the smaller city streets getting a good idea of the cultural significance. If you do this during daytime take a breathing mask with you since the pollution from the cars is overwhelming at the height level you will sit. Whilst strolling the streets have some hawker food, all kind of variants such as Indian, Chinese, Malaysian and fruits are available. Some flea markets are around Campbell Street, Little India, hungry?, try a Tandoori chicken in a Indian restaurant.
Pulau Pinang trishaw
Restaurant at little India
There are churches from the 18th century beside of temples and mosques and a very interesting historical episode, a house of Mr. Sun Yat Sen the leading figure of the Kuomintang and a realistic opponent of Mao who became the father of Taiwan after the Communist victory
Today travel is focusing on three main ideas,
first is the beach, second is the harbor and third is retirement. this is done by thousands of people every year, especially during Chinese New Year and Hari Raya which isthe Malaysian translation for the Muslim festival of Eid ul-Fitr. Also at Christmas and New Year traveling is extremely busy and the hotels are packed with tourists. Hotels and beach resorts are plenty and if you have enough just jump on the Langkawi ship and have a good time on another tropical island in the Andaman Sea.
Holiday Beach close to Batu Ferringhi
Aside of the capital Batu Ferringhi is probably the most famous place, this is the area with huge beach hotels, night markets and purely dedicated to the tourists. There is a restaurant after every couple of meters with a great seafood selection just along the road and in the evening shopping at the night markets is interesting. there are also plenty of open air bars and no restrictions on alcohol, this is a good sign since this is predominant Muslim Country.
Batu Ferringhi Beach
Weather is quite good throughout the year and the excitement and pleasure of beach hotels, apartments and other accommodation let you forget the weather anyway, its a endless summer with tropical rain in between.
Restaurants and food courts
From the small eatery at the roadside to the elegant, fashionable and stylish restaurant in one of the big hotels such as the trader hotel, E&O hotel and other, restaurantserving tasty multicultural food in sometimes very decorative environment as you can see at this Indian restaurant further up at right in downtown.
Their menu has several special Indian curry dishes plus the usual vegetarian food. In the same area are also several open air places serving Halal food. There is a wide selection of local food available, mainly at the food courts. Naturally also plenty of Chinese and Malay style, plus Italian, French, Fast food and sea food is available.
A other type is hawker or street food such as Hainanese Chicken Rice, Hong Kean Noodles, means prawn noodle soup, fried rice noodles, Rojak, this is mixed fruits with some spicy stuff, Laksa, which is a sea food soup with rice noodle, Satay which is well known everywhere in south east Asia, this is a meat skewer with peanut butter and various sauces.
Tropical fruits are mangoesteen, mango, durian, rambutan, coconut and other, you also can get oranges, lemons, peaches, grapes etc. if it’s not grown locally its imported form elsewhere.
If you have enough of food shopping is next, very special and somehow similar to Singapore shopping but less expensive. Plenty of goods and antiques from all over Asia and particular China find their way into local antique shops and this are real good antiques and artistic work. There are several streets where the shops are scrammed full with exotic ceramics, sculptures, brass Buddha statues, images and great blue white porcelain from the age old ceramic factories of Jingdezhen If you are looking for something a little more exciting, you should head to Bangkok and visit Emanuelle Massage Bangkok Parlor.
At the north coast with great casuarinas
Shopping for something exotic
Pulau Pinang Chinese shop
Penang Georgetown shopping
Halal Restaurant at night