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!
23 January 2017 Penang, Malaysia
9 days in Korea - 4 in Jeju, 5 in Seoul.
Korea was insanely h o t. I spent 9 days in Korean summer heat and came back tanner than when I first went there (coming from Singapore you'd think i'd be used to the heat, alas, I got burned).
9 days of awesome food, 9 days of cultural, scenic and shopping experiences, 9 days of extreme fun & SO MUCH EXPLORING!
I spent 2 of these days shopping, and I am now broke due to the crazy amount of skincare products I bought. When the money ran out, and the trip came to an end, I made my way back to Singapore with such a heavy heart.
I have so much to share - pictures and a ton of videos, but here's starting with a fun light hearted post featuring 5 interesting things I discovered during my time in Korea. Some of this you might already know, some you might not.
1 || Girls don't show their shouldersI know Korea is conservative, but I expected less conservativeness in Seoul, after all it is so cosmopolitan, and you know... look at what Kpop idols are wearing recently.Walking around in the day time I see guys in T shirt and jeans, none in singlets, and girls with a T-shirt under their vest tops. You do see a lot of girls in shorts though, which got me wondering if covering their shoulders was a way to prevent sunburns (I got burned on both shoulders lol!)
Considering the crazy heat, I was surprised at their ability to dress in sweaters and jeans. I felt awkward wearing my spaghetti strap tops to be honest - despite still perspiring profusely even with that ventilation.
I guess koreans just have this crazy ability to withstand the summer heat!
2 || Free attractions are a plentyI remember doing research and realising that a lot of the museums and attractions required some sort of admission fee. To my surprise, I think most of the places we visited in Seoul were free. Or rather, there was sufficient "free areas" to explore that we did not feel the need to pay extra to see more.
Note: The last Wednesday of every month is designated as Culture Day and that means FREE entry to cultural placesBecause of Cultural Day, we got ourselves a free pass into the Gyeongbokgung Palace!
3 || Mandarin is like a 2nd languageKorea gets most of its tourism from Mainland Chinese and so almost all the shopkeepers and storeowners have the ability to speak fluent mandarin. The signs in shops, toilets, train stations and along the streets / markets too have Chinese characters written on them beside the Korean characters. It's pretty insane.
One of the guides in Jeju could speak english, mandarin and Korean. He was guiding a tour in 3 different languages. Talk about multi-lingual.
Sadly, english isn't as widely spoken in Korea, despite being in the Capital, Seoul.
There is definitely a huge benefit if you understand chinese or can read chinese characters.
4 || Cicadas are EVERYWHEREThe sound of cicadas are pretty deafening. THEY ARE SO SO LOUD. For real. I've never heard such loud sounds coming from trees and plants, but in both Jeju and Seoul, the sound of cicadas were so distinct! And oddly they don't just sing at night, but in the day too!
We don't get to see any of them cicadas, but you definitely hear them. All 100000000000000000000 of them. At least it sounded like there were that many.
5 || Korean Girls ACTUALLY have that fair porcelain complexionYou know they say only the Kpop idols and actresses look that good because of the work done to them. Or maybe the country just puts their best faces forward. I think it might be the latter. Anyway, in terms of certain facial features or the way people look generally - they don't look moderately similar to the idols, but if you think about it, 99% of the US does not look like Beyoncé neither do the english in the UK look like Cheryl Cole, so I think it's just the way entertainment works.
Wait, I digressed. The point is, they really are super fair. And skin care is HUGE. I'd say 80% of the regular koreans I passed have really clear good skin. They are either naturally fair or they use a bunch of whitening products and BB Cushions that are 2 shades lighter to get that fair look.
I'm not much of a whitening products girl, but I definitely got sucked into their whole skincare situation.
Stay tuned for more posts on the places I visited in Korea (all the free things you can do), where to visit in Jeju and Seoul, the AWESOME FOOD, a few outfit posts, and also, how my bank account now hates me because of the multitude of skin care products I got!
To see more of my pictures during this trip, check out my Instagram!
Click Here for more 5 fun facts posts of other places I've visited around the world.
2 August 2016 Seoul, South Korea
Traveling to Cambodia or Siem Reap is almost always associated with visiting the Angkor Wat temple. It's like visiting Paris and going to the Eiffel Tower. It is a given because it is the attraction the makes the city iconic.
The Angkor Wat Temple is probably the most visited temple in the whole of Siem Reap, Cambodia (or maybe its Ta Prohm - the temple tomb raider was filmed).
Every time we hear "Angkor Wat Temple" we envision a huge temple, interesting details, unique relics, or we think Tomb raider and Angelina Jolie. Needless to say, every tourist who visits Siem Reap has the same expectation, or the same plans i.e. VISIT THE ANGKOR WAT TEMPLE.
I've previously mentioned the 3 Famous Temples in Siem Reap, and today i'm going to flip the switch and talk about why visiting smaller temples within the Angkor Complex might be the way to go.
Note:Telling your tuk-tuk/driver to bring you through the small circuit will take you to the FAMOUS temples, but going not the Grand Tour, or the bigger circuit, takes you to the smaller less famous ones. The irony.
All these temples mentioned (in both blog posts) are all part of the Angkor Complex. You just need to purchase 1 ticket (for 1/3/5 days duration) and you have access to all the temples.
If you're not a massive fan of temples and are thinking of choosing between one or the other, I did both during my stay in Siem Reap, and here are some reasons why you should choose to visit the smaller temples.
It Is WAY Less Crowded
I'm not a fan of crowds, I don't think any one is when they are traveling. Who wants to be shoved around or have to squeeze through people - especially sweaty bodies in Cambodia's tropical heat. Not me. Visiting the smaller temples would mean you get to actually see things, and you don't have to fight other humans. Sometimes, you might even get the whole temple to yourself!
You See The Details
In the bigger temples like Angkor Wat or Bayan, its difficult to go near to the carvings or walls as they are usually cordoned off to prevent damage by tourists. For the parts of the temple you can actually go close and touch, you'd be waiting in line behind others before you get your turn. This does not happen with smaller temples.
Smaller temples e.g. Ta Som, are similar to their large famous counter parts (Ta Prohm). They have the same beautiful tall trees, the same intricate carvings, the same unique rocks and walls. So, if you're interested in temple architecture, visiting the smaller temples makes so much more sense because you actually get to SEE it.
You Remember What You See
After walking around the Angkor temple for 2 hours, things get a bit blurry. I can't quite remember everything because the temple is just SO HUGE. The smaller temples take about 20 to 30 minutes to get through, and you get to see everything!
If you're a bit like me, and don't know the difference between one hindu temple from another, then going to the smaller will be so much easier on your brain. The details of my 2nd day temple visits are more deeply etched into my memory because of this!
I had my dad with me and he knows more about temples and history, so on the first day, he was like my real life audio guide, explaining why temples are built a certain way. If not for him, trust me, i'd just be lost and i'd forget what I any of the carvings mean.
You Can ACTUALLY Photograph Something
You can tell from the crazy number of pictures on this blog that i'm a fan of photography (or at least i enjoy clicking the shutter!) I'm not the best, or remotely great at photography or videography, but I enjoy encapsulating my travels in pixels.
Most of us 21st century travellers are probably the same. After paying so much for an experience/for a ticket, we'd want something to remember it by, and nothing is better than a snapshot of a moment in time. Well, until you have half of another human's head covering the gorgeous carving you wanted to capture.
NO SUCH PROBLEMS In the smaller temples, because: point 1!
It's Less "Boring"
Temples get repetitive after a while. I have heard people go on about how visiting Western Europe is boring because its church after church, or how temples are "all the same".
I appreciate the architecture, and intricacies of the carvings and the stories and history of the temples, but after a while, things start looking the same. Visiting smaller temples in the grand circuit, you get to alternate between buddhist and hindu temples, so it actually is less boring because you notice the subtle differences, unlike when you're in 1 huge temple and it's built by the same king, with the same influences.
Of course, if you have the time and would like to, do visit as many temples to make your money's worth. But if you don't i'd recommend going on the grand tour/big circuit, and just watching the sunrise at the Angkor Wat Temple.
But, If you're not an avid fan of visiting temples, or you get bored easily when visiting the same type of places, consider going to the smaller temples when you find yourself in Cambodia. I know, it's like visiting paris and not going to the Eiffel Tower.
I've lived in Paris, trust me the Eiffel Tower isn't all that impressive (there are much better places!), and when it comes to temple visiting, you could totally just photograph the exterior of the Angkor Wat to show you were there and then head on to explore the smaller temples! After all, the same ticket (for the same cost) gives you access to every single temple in the whole Angkor Complex, you would not lose out!
The 5 temples I visited in the grand circuit are, Banteay Sri, Banteay Samre, Preah Khan, Ta Som, and Neak Pean, all very different from each other, and just as impressive as the famous temples.