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Ooaj Travel Guide, tourism, hotel reservation, residence, plane, cheap pension for you holidays in penang
Free Travel guide Ooaj.com A free travel guide for holidays. Hotels in penang, Bed and Breakfast!
Map of Penang in Malaysia
Penang (Malay: Pulau Pinang? Chinese:??) is an island off the North West of Peninsular Malaysia and one of Malaysia's main tourist draws. Penang's beaches are a little lacklustre compared to some other Malaysian sites, but it more than makes up for this with a rich multicultural history full of colonial and Chinese influences.
Roof of the Khoo Kongsi clan house, Georgetown
Penang was part of the Malay state of Kedah until 1786, when Captain Francis Light built a fort at the site of present-day George Town and managed to get the island ceded to the British East India Company. Along with Malacca and Singapore, the island was one of the three British Straits Settlements.
Today, Penang is the only Chinese-majority state in Malaysia. The cargo trade has largely shifted down to Kuala Lumpur and Singapore, but now Penang makes a good living off tourism and electronics factories.
George Town, at the northeastern tip but sprawling down the entire eastern coast, is Penang's sole city of size or historical significance. The island's best beaches and consequently heaviest tourist development are on the northern side, particularly Batu Ferringhi.
When to go
Dragon boats competition, normally held in June
Penang's high season is around Christmas, New Year's Day, and Chinese New Year (check the lunar calendar; it could fall on the end of January or early to mid February), when the east coast of Malaysia is drenched and hordes of sun-seeking Europeans descend on the island. Accommodations tend to be packed and priced accordingly.
Recently refurbished Penang Bayan Lepas Airport (PEN) is one of Malaysia's larger and better-equipped airports, operated by Malaysia Airports (http://www.malaysiaairports.com.my) with regular connections to Kuala Lumpur, Johor Bahru and Langkawi. The airport is located on the southeastern coast of the island, some 20 minutes from George Town. Contact number:+60 4 643-4411 Fax:+60 4 643-5339
There are no trains on Penang, but many people take the train to Butterworth on the peninsular and then connect to the ferry (within walking distance from the train terminal). You can also book the KTMB (http://www.ktmb.com.my) train tickets at the Penang ferry terminal or the railway station in Butterworth. Contact numbers:
There is an inexpensive overnight train service that runs daily between Bangkok and Butterworth. The 20-hour journey covers the northern part of a popular route among backpackers traveling along Bangkok-Kuala Lumpur-Singapore corridor.
Penang is connected to the mainland and the North-South Expressway (http://www.plus.com.my) by Penang Bridge, one of the longest bridges in Asia. One-way toll for a car from mainland is RM7; no charge for vehicles to mainland.
- Motorcycles - RM1.40
- Motorcycles with sidecars; commercial vehicles on three wheels; car including station wagon - RM7.00 (RM5.60 for "Touch n Go" cardholder)
- Lorries; vans and buses with two axles and four wheels - RM12.00
- Lorries, vans and buses with two axles and five or six wheels - RM25.00
- Vehicles with three axles - RM45.00
- Vehicles with four axles - RM60.00
- Vehicle with five or more axles - RM75.00
Long-distance buses connect Georgetown to a variety of Malaysian towns. The trip from Kuala Lumpur costs around RM 27 (prices vary by operator) and take around 4 hours. From Johor Bahru in 10h for RM 50. The buses arrive at the new bus terminal Sungai Nibong, half an hour ride from the center of Georgetown, not far from the airport. To get to the Komtar building there is a local bus (nr. 25) for 80 sen, a taxi costs around RM 15-20.
From the mainland
The classic way to arrive in Penang, especially if traveling by train, is to take the ferry from Butterworth. The ferry service operator is Penang Port (http://www.penangport.com.my) and its operation hour is 5:30am till 1:00am (Last departure) daily.
Ferry rates applicable (from Butterworth to Penang Island) are listed below:
- Pedestrian: Adult - RM1.20 & Children (between 5 to 12 years old) - RM0.60
- Vehicles: Bicycle - RM1.40, Motorcycle (inclusive of pillion rider) - RM2.00, Trishaw/tricycle - RM3.00, Motorcar (including station wagon, four-wheel drive, three-wheel commercial vehicle, motorcycle with side car) - RM7.70, Lorry (2 axles with 4 wheels) - RM13.20, Lorry (2 axles with 6 wheels) - RM27.50.
Penang Port also operates Swenttenham Pier on Penang island to handle some of the largest cruise vessels in the world. Fleet SuperStar Virgo and SuperStar Gemini operated by Star Cruises (http://www.starcruises.com.my) routinely stopover at Swenttenham Pier.
- Daily ferries run from Medan's port of Belawan. Operated by Langkawi Ferry Services (http://www.langkawi-ferry.com/about.html), Tel: +60-4-2642088 in Penang; +62-61-4521666/4527555 in Medan.
Getting around Penang can be a minor hassle, as buses tend to be poorly signposted and infrequent, and taxis uniformly refuse to use the meter.
- Hire a trishaw, the three-wheeled vehicle, could be the better idea for a pleasant city tour. One can stop at any point to take photo or buy souvenirs. Negotiate the fare first before get on the trishaw; it is advisible to hire them by the hour for extended sightseeing.
- Commonly visitors rent motorcycle or bicycle to explore the island. Visitors can look for the rental service along Chulia Street in Georgetown area or Batu Ferringhi.
- Renting a car may be a viable option, especially if planning to get off the beaten track and explore the western or southern coast.
- Penang Georgetown Municipal Council provides free shuttle bus service in Georgetown; starting from 7AM-7PM at regular 12-minute intervals on Mon to Fri, and 7AM-2PM on Sat. No service on Sunday and public holidays.
- Buses are somewhat frequent on the main artery to Batu Ferringhi. Look out for Transitlink bus 202 bounds for Teluk Bahang; it goes through midtown Pulau Tikus, (northwest end of) Gurney Drive, Tanjung Tokong, Tanjung Bungah, and Batu Ferringhi. Avoid so-called 'minibuses' because they usually go as far as Tanjung Bungah and can be poorly maintained. Route 93, also bounds for either Tanjung Bungah or Teluk Bahang, generally runs on buses that do not have air conditioning, but the ride is more decent than one on a minibus.
The main hub for buses in Georgetown is KOMTAR, the tallest building in town. The secondary hub is located at the ferry terminal. All buses depart from the ferry terminal will stopover at KOMTAR, but downtown-bound buses destined for KOMTAR may not go all the way to the ferry terminal; ask the bus operator. There is a new long-distance bus terminal at Sungai Nibong, refer to by bus entry.
In addition to the sights below, George Town has a number of culturally and historically interesting sites, covered on their own page.
- Botanical Gardens, Jalan Kebun Bunga, Phone:+60 4 227-0428 (for group tour arrangement) Fax:+60 4 228-6075 mailto:email@example.com, 1 (http://www.sukpp.gov.my/KebunBunga/main.html). Every day, 5AM-8AM. The gardens were established by Charles Curtis from British way back in 1884; it's generally known as Waterfall Gardens by the local community. Every morning, local people come to the gardens to perform their daily exercises like walking, jogging, running, treckking, aerobic dance, practice Tai Chi (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tai_Chi) (??) or Qi Gong (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qi_Gong) (??). Here also home of monkeys. Do not feed the monkey and beware of the snatch thieving from them. The gardens also hosts its annual international floral fest in May. Free admission.
- Bukit Jambul Orchid, Hisbiscus & Reptile Garden, Persiaran Bukit Jambul. Phone:+60 4 644-8863, Fax:+60 4 644-2236 / 228-5733. Daily 9.30AM-6.30PM (last admission at 5.30PM). This garden is close to Hotel Equatorial and is about 10 minutes from Penang International Airport. One can have a picture with Malaysia's largest tame snake, a rare Albino Phython or watch the Snake Show on weekends and public holidays, 11.30AM-3.30PM. Adult RM5 and children RM2.
- Fisheries Department Research Institute Aquarium, Batu Maung. Phone:+60 4 626-3925, Fax:+60 4 626-2210. Daily 10AM-5PM. Adult RM1, children (7-12 years old) RM2, free admission for children under 7.
- Kek Lok Si (???, "Temple of Supreme Bliss"). A rambling hillside structure that claims to be the largest Buddhist temple in South-East Asia, now featuring a just-completed (2003) giant statue of Kuan Yin as well. Colorful and gaudy, but still atmospheric in spots. Located near the village of Ayer Hitam; a taxi from Georgetown will set you back RM 15-20.
- Penang Bridge is the largest bridge in Asia and the third largest in the world. The bridge connects the island to the mainland (Seberang Perai) and offers unparalleled ocean views. Engineers designed the bridge to withstand earthquakes measuring up to 7.5 on the Richter scale. An amazing feat of craftsmanship.
- Pulau Jerejak Resort (Jerejak Island),2 (http://www.jerejakresort.com). Phone: +60 4 658-7111, Fax:+60 4 659-7700, mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org. Also known as the Alcatraz of Malaysia, because of the Jerejak Prison. This beautiful tropical island is about 362ha, opposites the Bayan Lepas Free Industrial Zone, south eastern tip of the Penang island. In ancient time, immigrants must be sent to the health inspection centre in the island as a precaution step, before they were deported to Penang. In late 1930's, a hospital that could house 150 Tuberculosis patients were built. The island is now opened to public as a recreational resort. Numerous of outdoor activities including nature & historical treckking, mountain bike trails, archery are available; personal care such as aromatherapy massage, tired foot treatment, body scrub are also available. Ferry will depart from Penang starting at 6.30AM until 12.30AM. Return trip fare for guests with room / event reservations: Adult RM6, Children RM3. Day trippers: Adult RM16 (include meals), Children RM3. Various accommodation option available: tent for 2 person costs RM80 per night, 2-bed room RM115, chalet RM220 or promotional 3D/2N package for 2 person costs RM499.
- Snake Temple was built in 1805 in the memory of the renowned Chinese monk Chor Soo Kong, the Snake Temple is situated in the small town of Bayan Lepas and is famous for the fact that it has pit vipers living on the temple ground. Legend has it, that Chor Soo Kong, who was also a healer, gave shelter to the snakes of jungle. After the completion of the temple, snakes appeared on their own accord. Today the snake population of the Temple of the Azure Cloud is very small, due to the urbanization of the area, but you can still see them coiled up on the altar tables, and touch them if you are brave enough. Originally the snakes were said to be rendered inoffensive by the smell of the incenses, but just for good measure, today the resident vipers are devenomed. RM5 for adult foreigner and RM1 for children.
- War Museum Lot 1350, Mukim 12, Batu Maung, Phone: +60 4 626-5142, 391-0067 Fax: +60 4 626-4142, 644-8015. Every day, 9AM-7PM (last admission). Located at southeastern of Penang, this museum could be the largest living war museum in Asia. It is the mighty military fortress built in 1930's by British to protect the island from enemies. The British Royal Engineers and a work force comprises of local labourers blasted and dug into the hill to create a fort with underground military tunnels, intelligence and logistic center, halls, offices, ventilation shafts, canon firing bays, sleeping querters, cook houses as well as medical infirmary.
- Jungle trekking & camping - Enjoy walking through the reserved forest in Teluk Bahang, go to northwestern cape of the island and stay nights over there, you will experience an unforgettable life with beaches, sea and the sky.
- Sight seeing is the most important agenda when visiting Penang. Plan your trip and don't forget to bring your camera to capture all your sweet memories there!
- Watersports are on the agenda for many visitors, although the waters are a bit too murky for scuba diving and a bit too calm for surfing or more extreme pursuits.
Life in Penang is relatively cheap. A night at a 4-star hotel costs less than RM200 for 2 persons. A typical meal at the hawker center costs only about RM3 for one person. One of the potential problems is getting around. The bus service is cheap but can be sporadic (depends on time of the day and popularity of a particular route). Taxis can ask for unreasonable prices, so negotiate a price before boarding if the taxi doesn't seem to be running on the meter.
Penang offers plenty of good, cheap Malaysian food, but is famed throughout the rest of the country for some specialities. Topping the list are:
- Assam laksa — A far cry from the sweet, coconutty Singaporean version, this noodle soup comes with sour broth flavored with tamarind (assam) with pureed fish, fruits, veggies and a generous helping of chili mixed in. Watch out, the combination is powerful and will have the uninitiated breathing fire!
- Penang char kway teow — A local interpretation of the ubiquitous stir-fried flat rice noodles, tossed with bean sprouts, cockles, and anything else the chef has handy. Eggs are additional and cockles can be opt out if preferred by the customer; request when placing order.
- Penang lobak — A mix of deep fried pork, tofu and shrimp rolls, served with dipping sauces.
As you might expect on an island seafood is abundant. Head for the fishing village of Teluk Bahang for fresh fare at local prices.
If you are a Durian fan that's the place to go.
- Hawker stalls & hawker centers
- Buckingham Street near KOMTAR
- Prangin Mall hawker center.
- Wawasan Mutiara Nasi Kandar near KOMTAR bus station
- Tea time
- Swatow Lane near Chew Thean Yang Aquarium and Sheraton Hotel.
- New Lane near KOMTAR and Sunway Georgetown Hotel.
- Buckingham Street near KOMTAR
- Chulia Street near Kapitan Keling Mosque
- Gurney Drive nearby the roundabouts, McDonald's restaurant and Gurney Plaza.
- Pearl Hill near Toy Museum and Copthrone Hotel.
- Mamak stalls along Penang Road offer Indian foods such as Roti Canai, Roti Helicopter, Roti Tissue, Mutabak and etc.
- Bukit Genting Thai Food is located at the hilltop, along the road to Balik Pulau. You can enjoy the beautiful scene while tasting the delicious spicy Thai food there. Phone: 60 4 827-9805.
- Cherry Sweet Spicy Thai Food, 8 Clove Hall Road. Phone: +60 4 227-6758, 229-2561. Daily (Closed on Wednesday) 12PM-3PM, 6PM-10PM. Pork-free.
- Yellow Light Thai Food, 1-C Fettes Road. Phone: +60 4 899-1471. Closed on Monday.
- Eden Seafood Village - 69A Batu Ferringhi, Phone:+60 4 881-1852. Daily 6PM-11PM.
- Oriental Seafood Restaurant - Macalister Road, Phone:+60 4 226-0969.
- Seoul Garden Korean Restaurant - Sunrise Tower, 1st Floor, 190-192 Gurney Drive, Phone:+60 4 2298705.
Most of Penang's fancier accommodation is in the form of beach resorts on the main tourist beach of Batu Feringghi. More backpacker-friendly options, as well as a few classical luxury hotels, can be found in George Town.
- Equatorial Penang,3 (http://www.equatorial.com/hotel/penang/home.html). 1 Jalan Bukit Jambul, Phone:+60 4 643-8111, Fax:+60 4 881-1180 mailto:email@example.com. Unusually located on the east coast of Penang, convenient to the airport and its industrial area, but less so for the beach-loving tourist.
- Exotic Penang web site,6 (http://www.exoticpenang.com.my).
- MATTA web site,7 (http://www.matta.org.my). The Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) organizes its promotional fairs several times nation wide within each year. One can find some good deals during the exhibition, either for inbound or outbound travels.
- Tourism Malaysia,8 (http://www.tourism.gov.my).
- Penang Tourist Centre: Bangunan Penang Port Bhd, Pesara King Edward. Phone:+60 4 261-6663
- Penang Development Corporation Tourism Division: 1 Persiaran Mahsuri, Bayan Baru. Phone:+60 4 643-2111, Fax:+60 4 643-2405
- Tourism Information Centre: Level 3, Concourse KOMTAR. Phone:+60 4 261-4461
- Tourism Malaysia Penang Branch: 56th Floor, KOMTAR. Phone:+60 4 261-0058 / 264-3494. Fax:+60 4 262-3688 mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org
Other Useful Numbers
- Ambulance / Police: 999
- Fire: 994
- Rescue Team: 991
- All the abovementioned numbers: 112 for mobile phones
- Tourist police:+60 4 222-1522
- Telegram service: 100
- International and domestic operator assisted service: 101
- Directory enquiry service: 103
- Multilingual international service: 198
Consulates in Penang
- Indonesian,10 (http://www.kbrikl.org.my) 467 Burma Road, Phone:+60 4 227-4686
- Japanese,11 (http://www.penang.my.emb-japan.go.jp) Level 28, Menara BHL, 51 Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah, Phone:+60 4 226-3030, Fax:+60 4 226-1030. Office hour: Weekdays, closed on Weekends & Public Holidays. Office: 8:30AM-12:30PM, 2PM-5PM. Visa Counter: 8:30AM-12PM, 2PM-4PM.
- Royal Danish, 82, 1st Floor, Wisma Rajab, Bishop Street, Phone:+60 4 262-4886 Fax:+60 4 261-4963
- Royal Norwegian, 2, 3rd Floor, Standard Chartered Bank Chambers, Beach Street, Phone:+60 4 262-5333
- Royal Thai, 1 Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman, Phone:+60 4 226-8029 / 226-9484, Fax:+60 4 226-3121 mailto:email@example.com
- 1. Always walk with a friend in deserted places
- 2. Never take rides from Kereta Sapu (passenger car/unlicensed taxi)
- 3. Never wear heavy Jewellery in the public to avoid snatch-thieves
- 4. Make sure you leave nothing valuable in hotel room if you are out to play
- 5. Always read the local newspapers to know what is happening around Penang.
- 6. Beware when you are at Botanical Gardens. The Long-tail macaques can be aggressive especially when one has food obvious to these attractions. There were many unreported cases of people being attacked when they brought in food into the garden.