Located in the northwest of Peninsular Malaysia, Penang is a bordered by Keda in the north and east, and Perak in the south.
The total area of this city is approximately 1,048 square km. This city is divided into two areas: Penang Island and Seberang Perai, the latter previously known as Province Wellesley. These two are connected by a 13.5 km toll bridge known as Penang Bridge.
Though Penang is known as the smallest city after Perlis, it is surprisingly the third most populated in Malaysia after Selangor and Kuala Lumpur. Penang is inhabited by more than 1,500,000 people with diverse cultures, ethnicities, languages and religions.
In the field of tourism, this city offers a modern and classic look of environment. In Georgetown for instance, you can see several museums as well as modern buildings such as multinational corporations.
Below is the list of major areas in Penang:
George Town is Penang’s capital, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. KOMTAR Tower, the highest building in Penang, is located here.
Butterworth is the site of the Malayan Railway Station for Penang. Penang Bird Park, one of tourists’ favorite holiday destinations, is located here.
Air Itam meaning Black Water, is a busy town in Penang. Most tourists visit this city to tour around the famous Kek Lok Si Temple and Penang Hill.
Gurney Drive is one of tourists’ favorite destinations when it comes to culinary, with its seafront area offering attractive food stalls of local and international cuisines.
Penang is also known as Pinang Island. The term “Pinang” derives from a tree called Pinang tree.
During the colonial period, Penang’s first foreign visitor was a British navigator and privateer named Sir James Lancaster. He arrived in Penang in June 1592, pillaging every vessel he encountered and brought them to England in 1954.
In 1957, Penang gained independence from the British and became a member state of Malaysia in 1963. The first Chief Minister at the time was Wong Pow Nee from Malaysian Chinese Association.
There are many ways to go to Penang. You can go by plane, bus or ship. Here’s a list of transportation which you can take to Penang:
By plane to Penang, you will be landing at Penang International Airport. These are some of the airlines flying from Jakarta to Penang:
Jakarta - Medan: 2 hours 20 minutes.
Medan - Penang: 45 minutes.
(Airlines from Jakarta to Penang may change).
Transportation from/to Penang International Airport
There are several transportations from/to Penang International Airport, such as:
Rapid Penang Bus
From the airport, you can take Rapid Penang Bus. By this bus, you can go to Georgetown, Teluk Bahang and Air Itam. Details are shown below:
Rapid Penang 401 and 401E: Airport - Georgetown
Rapid Penang 102: Airport - Teluk Bahang
Rapid Penang 306: Airport - Air Itam
The prices may vary depending on your destination.
Unlike regular taxis, the airport taxi in Penang does not use argometer. It usually leaves the airport after all seats are occupied.
A taxi ride from the airport to Georgetown costs around MYR 50.
If you travel in a group of 4 or more, it’s better to rent a car which costs MYR 90 - 80 per day.
By ship from Indonesia, Penang can be reached from Medan. The journey will take around 7 hours.
Ship fare from Medan to Penang is around IDR 250,000.
If you take the bus to Penang, you can depart from Kuala Lumpur. Along the 7-8 hour ride, you will drive pass Butterworth and stop near KOMTAR Tower in Penang.
If you choose to take Alisan Golden Coach Express, the bus fare is MYR 45 per passenger.
(All prices are subject to change).
For a maximum stay of 90 days, there are 58 countries that do not require a visa. Meanwhile, there are 99 countries (including Indonesia) that do not require a visa for a maximum stay of 30 days.
Ivory Coast, Iran, Libya, Sierra Leone and Somalia do not require a visa to visit Malaysia. However, their maximum stay is only two weeks. Taiwan is the only country that does not require a visa to visit Malaysia for maximum 15 days.
More information about visa to Malaysia can be seen here.
(Visa regulations are subject to change).
Below is the list of public transportations in Penang:
Hop On Hop Off Bus
Hop On Hop Off (HOHO) Bus is a double decker bus, one of the newest transportations in Penang, operating since November 2014.
This bus is equipped with onboard WiFi and an open deck. The bus routes cover 50 major attractions in Penang such as Penang Botanic Gardens and Penang Hill.
There are two types of bus ticket: 24-hour and 48-hour tickets.
24-hour ticket: starting from MYR 19.
48-hour ticket: starting from MYR 32.
Rapid Penang Bus
Rapid Penang Bus is the most affordable transportation to travel around Penang. The fare ranges between MYR 1 - 4 per passenger. You can buy the ticket onboard.
By Rapid Penang Bus, you can visit several attractions such as:
Penang Hill (take bus 204 from Jetty Raja Tun Uda).
Gurney Drive (take bus 10, 103, 304 from KOMTAR main bus stop).
Ferringhi Beach (take bus 101, 102 from KOMTAR main bus stop).
Free Shuttle Bus
If you want to see many heritages located in the downtown of Georgetown, take the free shuttle bus. With this bus, you can hop on and off at any stations with a sign “free shuttle service”.
(All prices are subject to change).
Penang has a tropical climate. This climate is very much determined by the surrounding sea and the wind. Dry season normally occurs from December to February.
Penang’s daily temperature is fluctuate, ranging from 23 to 32 degrees Celsius.
The language in Penang, depending on social classes and ethnic backgrounds, are Malay, Mandarin, English, Penang Hokkien and Tamil. However, as many school teachers in Penang teach in Mandarin, this is the most-spoken language.
Here are some most used sentences in Malay:
Tourists love to visit these travel destinations:
If you’re curious about the classic look of Penang, visit Georgetown. This city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site occupied by many old buildings that have transformed to a museum.
Most of the old buildings in Georgetown used to belong to the British. The top three most popular are St. George Church, Church of the Assumption and Penang Supreme Court Building.
To get here, take Rapid Transit bus number 401. It’ll cost you MYR 3 per passenger.
Also known as Bendera Hill, Penang Hill offers a view of Georgetown, Penang Bridge and the east coast of Penang. This is one of the most recommended spots in Penang to soak in the city’s beautiful landscape and nature.
To get here, take Rapid Penang bus number 204 from Georgetown bus terminal near KOMTAR. It’ll cost you MYR 2 per passenger.
Located 18 km north of Georgetown, Batu Ferringhi Beach is the perfect destination in Penang to play water sports such as parasailing and surfing. Here, you can even ride an ATV across the beach.
At night, the atmosphere becomes more romantic as local bands begin to perform songs that you can dance to.
To get here, take Rapid Penang bus number 101 from central Georgetown bus terminal. It’ll cost you MYR 3 per passenger.
(All prices are subject to change).
Aficionado of history and culture? Spend some time visiting these museums:
Penang State Museum was formerly Penang Free School, an education center which allowed all Penang-born regardless of race, ethnic and religion to enroll.
Due to several bombings in World War II, the school area was partly destroyed. Until 1964, Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al-Haj suggested to renovate the building and turned it to a museum and art gallery.
Penang State Museum displays lots of artefacts, visual art materials, publications and artworks of local artists.
Opening hours: 09:00 - 17:00 (Thursday - Saturday)
Closed on Friday and public holiday.
Entrance fee: MYR 1 per visitor
Address: Farquhar Street, Georgetown, Penang
Penang Toy Museum is the largest toy museum in the world. It has more than 110,000 toys, dolls and other collectible figures. Surprisingly, there are still 30,000 other toys kept in the storage since the space isn’t enough.
This museum was recognized in Malaysian Book of Records as the first toy museum in the country. It welcomes around 100,000 visitors each year.
The toys displayed in this museum are Batman, Doraemon, Mr. Bean, Garfield, King Kong, Kung Fu Panda and many more. Many of them were shipped from Hollywood, USA.
Penang Toy Museum is divided into several sections:
Cave of Dinosaurs
Chamber of Comic Book Heroes
Chamber of Fantasy
Chamber of Horrors
Chamber of Monsters
Fields of Combat
Hall of Beauties
Hall of Cartoons
Hall of Celebrities
Hall of Rock Legends
Hall of Virtual Reality
Star Wars Collections
Opening hours: Daily from 09:00 - 21:00 including weekends and public holidays.
Address: 370, Mk 2, Teluk Bahang, Penang
Adult: MYR 10
Children: MYR 6
If you’re interested in knowing about the history of camera or types of camera dated back to the past millenium, visit The Camera Museum.
As you walk inside, you will see lots of photos hanging on the wall of a dead-end staircase. Some of these photos capture the paintings of Ernest Zacharevic, a popular street painter in Georgetown.
The Camera Museum also has a cafe called Double Exposure, offering homemade food.
Opening hours: Daily from 09:00 - 20:00
Entrance fee: MYR 10
Address: 49 Lebuh Muntri, Georgetown, Penang
If you want to hang out until 3 or 4 in the morning, consider these places:
Qeii is a club-restaurant with a beautiful sea view. Most people come here to eat, drink and dance to House music.
Daily from 12:00 - 00:00 (dining), 00:00 - 03:00 (entertainment)
Address: Tanjung City Marina, Church Street Pier, 8A, Pengkalan Weld, Penang
The Library Butterworth
Most people come to The Library Butterworth to enjoy a selection of vodka. This bar & restaurant also offers the widest collection of beer in Malaysia plus the first with self beer taps.
Opening hours: Daily from 12:00 - 03:00
Address: 8 & 9, Business Centre, Jalan Raja Uda, Penang
TAO Cuisine Auto-City
TAO Cuisine Auto-City offers a cozy ambience with live music and happy hour. Make sure to reserve your seat in advance as it can get very crowded at night.
Opening hours: Daily from 12:00 - 16:00 and 17:30 - 23:00
Address: 1820-f1 & 1822-f1, Jalan Perusahaan Autocity, North South Highway, Juru Interchange, Penang
Labeled as the top food destination in the world by Robin Barton of Lonely Planet, Penang offers various kinds of dishes:
Chez Nous Cafe Penang
Owned by a Belgian couple, Chez Nous Cafe specializes in Belgian dishes from tomato soup with meat balls to Belgian chocolate ice cream and delights.
Opening hours: 18:00 - 23:00 (Tuesday - Sunday)
Address: 17, Lorong Seck Chuan, Georgetown, Penang
Kebaya at Seven Terraces
Kebaya at Seven Terraces offers Peranakan food, a taste that combines Malay and Chinese recipes. This restaurant has a historic feel of architecture.
Opening hours: 18:00 - 22:00
Address: Seven Terraces, Lorong Stewart, Georgetown
Named after Colonel Norman Macalister (British Governor of Penang from 1808 - 1810), Macalister Mansion offers the atmosphere of a fine dining restaurant, cafe, wine lounge and cigar. This restaurant consists of several eating rooms with different kinds of atmospheres
Monday - Thursday & Sunday: 17:00 - 01:00
Friday and Saturday: 17:00 - 02:00
Address: 228 Macalister Road, 10400 Georgetown, Penang
The Spice Market Cafe Penang
Wondering how Chinese, Indian, Japanese or Thai food tastes like? If so, you must visit this place. The modern and exotic interior designs will certainly make you feel relaxed.
Opening hours: Daily from 07:00 - 22:00
Address: Shangri-La Rasa’s Sayang Resort & Spa, Garden Wing, Lobby Level, Jalan Batu Ferringhi
Planning a trip to Penang? Make sure you follow these tips:
If what you’re looking for is culinary, Penang’s culinary spot is in Lebuh Chulia. You can find many Asian to European cuisines around here. Alternatively, visit Queensbay to try the Penang flavour of es cendol.
For Muslims, make sure to order food that has a halal sign on it since the majority in Penang are non-Muslims.
The perfect time to visit Penang Hill is before 09:00. After 09:00, it may get very crowded. If you’re in a hurry, don’t bother to wait for Rapid Penang Bus to pick you up. Despite the cheap price, this bus comes every 40 minutes. In this case, taking a taxi would be a better idea.