Last week, TopNotch had traveled to Penang Island. No matter with families, lover, and friends, Penang is always a perfect destination. Therefore, we would like to share some travel insights and advices based on our latest trip to Penang Island.
#1 Avoid Traveling on Weekends
Congested traffic, crowded buses, and noisy tourists are not what you’re looking for. We stayed in Penang from Wednesday to Saturday, there was a huge difference between Saturday and weekdays. We could easily find parking spaces at popular spots like Armenian Street and Gurney Drive on weekdays even during peak hours, but on Saturday we saw people double-parking everywhere. It’s not a good idea to visit Penang Island on weekends because the traffic can turn you down.
#2 Bring Sufficient Drinking Water
We can describe the weather in Penang with two words: hot and damp.
The island is typically warm in the morning and the afternoon hours. Though the heat is bearable, you will likely to be dehydrated if you stay under the big hot sun for hours. When you’re exploring the old streets in Georgetown, try to walk under shades and take some rests in between the whole journey. Drinking water is an essential because you will tend to sweat and feel thirsty in this humid island. Luckily there are plenty of good amenities on the island, you can find grocery stores easily when you’re running out of water. You can also consider consuming some Three Legs Cooling Water to defeat the heat.
#3 Should I Drive?
The roads in Penang is in good condition and is well organized. If you’re traveling with your families, the elders and the kids, you should probably drive. It’s tiring to drive from other states but it’s more convenient to travel with your own vehicle on the island. If you’re traveling alone or with friends, you can also take rapidPenang buses or rent bikes to explore the island.
While driving in Penang, don’t be panic when you miss an exit. The roads in Penang are very well connected. To be safe, turn on your Waze and you wouldn’t go wrong.
#4 About Street Parking
There are plenty of roadside parking spaces in Penang Island. You can look for yellow brackets drawn on streets, those are MBPP (Penang Island City Council) parking zones. From July 2017 onwards, all the parking zones throughout the island have been standardized, with parking fee chargeable from Mondays to Sundays from 8.00am to 6.00pm, and free parking on Sundays. The parking rate is 40 cents per half an hour.
All you need to do is to buy MBPP parking coupon booklets from convenience stores, petrol stations, grocery stores or mamak stalls, then scratch the coupons accordingly and put them on your car dash.
Each booklet normally costs RM4, comes with 8 half-hour coupons (green colored) and 1 full-hour coupon (orange colored). Besides, there are also red-colored daily coupons, RM6 per piece, sold in an RM60 booklet for 10. You can continue to use the same daily coupon at various locations throughout the day even after moving your vehicle to a different parking lot.
If you really couldn’t find any MBPP parking, you could park your vehicle in privately-owned carpark zones, normally cost RM3-RM6 per entry. Anyhow it’s better than being fined.
#5 Where to Stay?
The whole island can be divided into few parts, which are Georgetown, Batu Feringghi, Gurney, Tanjung Bungah, Bayan Lepas and Balik Pulau. I would suggest you book your stay either in Georgetown or Batu Feringghi.
Georgetown is the favorite spot for those who never drive own vehicles to the island. It is the historical city center where you can find a lot of sightseeing spots like the Clan Jetty, the graffiti in Armenian Street, Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion, etc. within walking distance.
There are plenty of good restaurants and hipster cafes around Georgetown, you can also find famous local food like char kuey teow, kway teoh th’ng, cendol, pasembur here.
There is a wide range of hotels in Georgetown, you can choose between chained hotels, boutique hotels or even Airbnbs.
On the other hand, Batu Feringghi is the best choice for beach lovers. The long white sandy beach has plenty of well-known 5-stars beach resorts. We stayed in Hard Rock Hotel and have had some great times there. All these resorts have very beautiful swimming pools and private beaches.
You can enjoy a wide range of water sports activities including parasailing and windsurfing on the clean sea water. I even saw people riding horses on the beach. Meanwhile, the nightlife scene here is the best on the island and there is a night market operating every evening.
Penang is a great place to visit. It is rich with histories and cultures. You can visit Penang for ritual purposes since there are a lot of beautiful and historical temples, churches, and mosques in Penang.
You can also hunt for unique foods like the Nyonya Kapitan Curry Chicken, the Asam Laksa, and the Char Kuey Teow.
Or, simply take a good rest on the clean and beautiful beach.
Have you been to Penang before? Share with us your favorite food or spot in Penang!