Singaporeans flock to Penang all the time, usually for a weekend trip, for the great and super affordable food. I'm pretty sure visiting Penang for the first time at the age of 23, I was considered late on the bandwagon - especially since Malaysia is just next door to Singapore.
When I told my friends I was going to be spending 4 nights in Penang, they were shocked because it seemed like way too much time to be in a small city. They told me "oh you're going to be so bored after the 2nd day." But I was traveling with my family, so we took it slow, but visited way more attractions than expected.
I was surprised at the number of cool museums and attractions, especially since from what i gathered from other Singaporeans, Penang was only famous for it's food.
It was definitely more than just food paradise in Penang.
Here is a consolidated guide of my favourite places to eat and visit in Penang!
My family and I stayed at a mid-range hotel called Kimberly Hotel. It was located in the center of georgetown, surrounded by a ton of food streets. The room was kind of small, but I loved the interior decoration of the hotel lobby and its café - that made having breakfast and our complimentary drinks so much more enjoyable!
Walking is by far the easiest when it comes to navigating within Georgetown - the capital of Penang city. As we stayed at a central location, we could get to most places within georgetown by foot. The streets of georgetown are pretty safe to walk around even at night, plus we got to see a ton of awesome street art and street stalls as we were exploring!
Rent A Car/Taxi
Places further away from Georgetown can be quite a hassle to get to. Especially if you're only in Penang for a day or 2. Taking a cab is actually rather affordable - way more affordable than in Singapore, and gets you right to the destination!
Renting a car was an option we considered, but my dad was not keen on having to be the main navigator, plus we couldn't get a good deal on cars - to fit 6 people, so we decided to go for the last option which was to hire a driver.
Hire a driverThis was not a part of the plan, but we met a driver who had a car that could fit 8 people, and his charge by hour was really reasonable. For a full day it was under $100! And we got to all the places further outskirts really easily.
Hiring a driver would be perfect for larger families like mine, traveling in a group of around 4-6!
Penang is food heaven. This needs no introduction! The streets with some of the best food items include Lorong Mcalister and Jalan Mcalister.Other notable food options are:
Kimberly Street Duck Kway Chap - located just around the corner from the hotel I stayed in Sister Curry Mee - Cooked and prepared by two 80 year old sisters
A must try food also include Penang's famous Cendol!
Amazing sister curry mee and a very very friendly old lady and her sister preparing the noodles just along the street side. Humble no-frills type of food, but SO GOOD.
Apart from food carts along the street, hawker centers are the best places to try all the different types of food in 1 place. Hawker centers are common in singapore, so that was not much of a novelty for me. However, there is no denying hawker centres are the way to go for a quick food fix!
One benefit of having a driver - even if it was just for a day or 2 was that we got to head to his favourite hawker centre slightly outside of Georgetown, and we also got to visit so many interesting attractions - some recommended by him!
Pinang Peranakan House
This peranakan house was my sister's favourite attraction. There were so many rooms, all extremely well decorated. The details of the furniture and railings were amazing! It looked like a set for a local TV series, Little Nonya.
There was also a guided tour where locals would tell us about the history behind this particular house and a little bit about how Peranakan ancestors settled down and had a life in penang!
Kek Lok Si Temple
A huge temple that boasts a MASSIVE Guan Yin statue and some of the best view of Penang. Most people head up the Penang hill for the great view, but when we got to Penang hill, the lines were CRAZY! So were the lines to the top of kek lok si temple. Fortunately, we were with a very experienced driver who lived in Penang his whole life (50 over years) he knew how to drive up to kek lok si temple, and we made it up 8 stories of a pagoda to an amazing view!
There are a ton of museums in Penang. Most people choose to go the trick-eye museum. Although it seemed like a good photo location, it wasn't something my family was keen on. Instead we visited other smaller more niche museums like the Wonderfood Museum (MY FAVOURITE), Gold Museum and Ghost Museum.
To see more about our museum visits check out the video below!
When migrants came to settle in Penang many years ago, they came through the harbours of penang and the jetties, as such a lot of them form communities around these Jetties. There was the Chew Jetty, Tan Jetty, etc. These jetties were then named after the last names of the families that congregated, build houses and lived in those areas.
I loved my time in Penang, despite most Singaporeans recommending only visit for 2 to 3 days, i'd say spend a longer time there, and visit the smaller museums. Besides there is SO MUCH food, you probably can't try everything in 1 weekend!