travel tips

& itinerary 

Pengnag has often been described as the street food capital of Malaysia, and that was enough to make me want to know more. What drew me to Penang was the diverse culture - Malay, Chinese and Indian communities make up the majority, and because of this, the food scene here is incredible, serving a mix of traditional and fusions. There are links within this itinerary so you can watch travel vlogs based on the locations mentioned, and I've also Google mapped locations to each spot for convenience. I have highlighted my absolute favourite places I visited, so you will know that these come highly recommended. 


ACCOMMODATION  
Here are some of my favourite spots I found via Airbnb
 

  • AIRBNB private room in a heritage house (affordable) | This is where we stayed in Penang. Close to the city centre, public transport, street food and art and culture. The property is home to 8 en-suite rooms in a refurbished 19th century Straits Chinese house which now functions as a guesthouse, a home and a theatre rehearsal studio. The house is located in the heritage zone of George Town, Penang and rates start from $61 NZD per night. See HERE.

  • AIRBNB entire house (affordable)  The house is located in the centre of the heritage zone of George Town and the location ensures that guests can quickly and easily reach many local points of interest. The house is 2 stories with 2 rooms upstairs. Each room comes with a queen size double bed, air-con and fan. The big room has a washing area. Bathroom, kitchen and dining area are downstairs with a spacious living room which as has 2 air-cons. Prices start at $71 NZD per night, see more HERE.

  • AIRBNB entire house (mid-range) | Ah Tong is a renovated 2 story shophouse combining a contemporary, open feel and heritage elements. A quiet oasis in the midst of this colourful city's hustle and bustle. Indoor-outdoor living downstairs, air-con upstairs.2 bedrooms, 1 full bath, 1 half bath, a cook's kitchen, ample space and rare private courtyard. Rates starting at $96 a night, see more HERE
     

 

tips 

  • TAXI OR GRAB | George Town is around 30-40 minutes from Penang International Airport and fastest way to get there is by taxi or Grab. For a taxi, head to the taxi counter in the main arrivals area and buy a taxi coupon. It should cost around $38 RM ($14 NZD) to get to George Town. Once you have your ticket, head outside and there will be someone around the taxi area who will take your ticket and escort you to a taxi. If you have brought a SIM card at the airport and have WIFI, then you can also use Grab, and this will cost you roughly $26 RM ($9 NZD) to get to George Town. You’ll need to go upstairs and wait outside the departure terminal for your Grab car. Make sure you have the Grab app downloaded to your phone before you leave. 

  • currency exchange | There’s a currency exchange booth on the second floor in the departure terminal at the airport. Once you get into town, there are reputable exchange shops near Komtar shopping mall and the bus terminal. You’ll also find a few along Chulia, Pitt, and Beach Streets. We used an ATM at the airport and only needed to make the one transaction for the whole trip. You will need to have cash if you are planning on eating at street food vendors, paying for taxi's and shopping at markets etc.

  • SIM CARD | Before you arrive at the immigration hall, you’ll see 4 telco counters: Digi, Tune Talk, U-Mobile and Hotlink. There, you can purchase local SIM Cards or perform top-up if you’ve already had a local SIM card. If you miss these counters, or you’re rushing to get out of arrival gate as soon as possible, you can find Digi & Hotlink telco counters again after you go out from the arrival gate.

     

itinerary DAY ONE

  • LATE LUNCH - NASI KANDAR | Deen’s Maju Nasi Kandar | Nasi kandar is a popular northern Malaysian dish, which originates from Penang. It was popularized by Indian Muslim traders from India. It is a meal of steamed rice which can be plain or mildly flavoured and served with a variety of curries and side dishes. Many say that Deen’s is the best Nasi Kandar restaurant in Penang at the moment. Order the chicken 75, beef rendang and cuttlefish! See TripAdvisor HERE or on YouTube HERE. There are always lines here, but they move quickly. Get here as close to opening as you can.
    HOURS: 2:30 pm - 11 pm Monday - Friday, 12 noon - 9 pm on 
    weekends
    ADDRESS: HERE

  • DRINK | Ais Tingkap | Brought over from  Sri Lanka 100 years ago to Penang, it is made up of rose, coconut (both thr water and flesh), Indian Spices and basil seeds. Seen on YouTube HERE (at 5:21 sec), and TripAdvisor HERE.
    HOURS: 11:30 am - 11 pm
    ADDRESS: HERE

  • EXPLORE | The Georgetown area and Armenian Streets | George Town is the colourful, multicultural capital of the Malaysian island of Penang. Once an important Straits of Malacca trading hub, the city is known for its British colonial buildings, Chinese shophouses and mosques.
    HOURS: 10 am - 10 pm  
    ADDRESS: HERE

     A MUST visit 

  • TEMPLE  | Goddess of mercy temple | For many Penangites, the Goddess Of Mercy temple – colloquially known as Kuan Yin Teng, is a place of pride and divine protection. As the island’s oldest Taoist temple, it has emerged unscathed through turbulent times since its inception in 1728. Dedicated to the venerable Goddess Kuan Yin, the place of worship miraculously survived the Imperial Japanese Army’s bombing in December 1941 as well as several terror attacks in the 1960s. Because the temple is still standing after these events, locals believe that it truly does possess some kind of magical divinity. Free entry.
    HOURS: 5 am - 6 pm
    ADDRESS: HERE

  • DINNER | Chulia Street Night Hawker Stalls | The perfect street to wander down and eat street food at! One particular place to visit is Wai Kee. They serve the best char siew ( BBQ pork ) in Penang. They have two serving times, lunch from 11:30 pm - 2:30 pm and dinner (weekdays ONLY), 6 pm - 9 pm. See TripAdvisor HERE and a YouTube video HERE (2:15 sec).
    HOURS: 6 pm - 12 pm

    ADDRESS: HERE
     A MUST visit 

  • BAR | Out of Nowhere | Go through the orange fridge in the shop front to get to a hidden bar! See more on YouTube HERE (7:45 sec) and see on TripAdvisor HERE. Cocktails are expensive (for Asia) - around $13 - $15 NZD each.
    HOURS: 7 pm - 1 am
    ADDRESS: HERE



DAY TWO

  • BREAKFAST | Transfer Road Roti Canai | One of the most atmospheric roadside eateries in George Town, Transfer Road Roti Canai has been open for over 40 years now. “Roti canai” is Malaysian-speak for Indian paratha/paratha bread, made from unleavened flour and griddle-cooked with ghee. In Singapore they call it “roti prata”, but Malaysians know it as “roti canai”. Coming from Wellington where we have a big Malay culture and many restaurants, roti canai has long been a family favourite for us, so I was looking forward to trying it here. Here customers sit on long benches, with your backs to a wall while the city’s busy traffic whooshes by. I highly recommend getting the eggs and toast too (it is SO good - the bread is toasted over charcoal and makes it really unique) and I also loved their iced tea. If you order a canai, drinks and eggs you might get asked to pay for these separately from the three different vendors under the same roof. PRO TIP: If you prefer to have the roti on the side of the curry (like me), so it doesn't go soggy, you have to ask for it to come like this. This is called Kuah Asing (Pron. quar ah-sing). Go early, as the famous the beef curry usually sells out by 10 am and get there before 8 am if you are not wanting to queue. Seen on YouTube HERE (at 4:10 sec).
    HOURS: 7 am-Noon (or until it sells out)
    ADDRESS: HERE

     A MUST visit 

  • TEMPLE  | Kek Lok Si temple | This is the largest Buddhist temple in Malaysia and is situated in the area of Air Itam - a 20mins drive out of Georgetown and it's is one of the best-known temples on the island. TIPS: If you are coming from Georgetown, get a Grab, it will cost around $12 RM. ($4.30 NZD). The entrance to the temple is very steep and some drivers will take you to the halfway point where the shops are. From there you can take the elevator to the top. Alternatively, you can ask the driver to continue past the middle section (which is where the pagoda is) to the upper section which is where the huge kuan yin statue is, and this will be as close to the entrance as you can go via car. 2. Don't bother paying extra for taking the train up to the giant monument, nothing super interesting up there that is worth the cost and the time queuing, especially at the weekend. The lower part is free. As seen on YouTube HERE (at 1:31sec).
    HOURS: 9 am - 6 pm
    ADDRESS: HERE
    While in this temple area, visit these two famous noodles places below in the same suburb.

  • NOODLES | Curry Mee from Air Itam Curry Sisters | We visited this area on a Tuesday, so this wasn't open when we went but wanted to include it in this itinerary as it is a really famous spot. Curry Mee is a dish that is unique to Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia drawing from Malay, Chinese and Indian influences. It is usually made up of thin yellow noodles or/and string thin mee-hoon (rice vermicelli), with spicy curry soup, chilli/sambal, coconut milk, and a choice of dried tofu, cuttlefish, chicken, egg, mint leaves and cockle. This particular stall started in 1946 so it truly is a Penang institution! Seen HERE (at (9:55 sec).
    HOURS: Open from 7:30am-1pm. Closed Tuesdays
    ADDRESS: HERE

  • ASAM LAKSA | Air itam Penang laksa | Arguably the most Penang famous dish, Asam laksa is not like the coconut based laksa (curry mee) some might know. This one is fish based (but not fishy in flavour) and is packed with lots of interesting flavours and textures! The flavour is complex and really unique, and a must try when in Penang. Seen on YouTube HERE (at 2:10 min) and on Mark Wiens HERE (at 9:15 min). Take a seat and they will come to the table to serve you.
    HOURS: 10:30am - 7pm
    ADDRESS: HERE

     A MUST visit 

  • SIGHTS | The Blue Mansion | Ground Floor, 14, Leith Street, Georgetown, 10200 George Town, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia. Beautiful home with gorgeous architecture and century-old tile work. Kinda looks like Morocco! Seen on YouTube HERE (at 10:21 sec)
    TOUR HOURS: 11:00 am, 2:00 pm and 3.30pm. Duration: 45 minutes. $16.00 RM ($5.70 NZD) per adult
    ADDRESS: HERE

  • SNACK  | Teochew Cendol | Cendol is an iced sweet dessert that contains droplets of worm-like green rice flour jelly, coconut milk and palm sugar syrup and is the perfect thing to help cool you down. ‘Penang Road Famous Teochew Cendol’ is the most well-known spot for cendol in Penang. Look for the big cubist street art on the wall up high of a boy eating cendol. You can opt to sit and order inside for air conditioning - also especially good if the line outside is too long. Order the rojak too! See it on YouTube HERE and on TripAdvisor HERE.
    HOURS: 10:30 am - 7pm
    ADDRESS: HERE

  • DINNER | Tek Sen Restaurant | We didn't end up being able to get a table here as it was absolutely PACKED on the two-midweek nights we tried to come, so I have left it highlighted as a must-see for that reason. It has a great reputation among locals, and the crowds proved that it was somewhere special to eat. This Chinese restaurant with a Malay twist, this is an extremely popular spot with locals and tourists. The reviews can be read on TripAdvisor HERE and seen on Mark Wiens HERE.
    HOURS: 12 pm - 2:30 pm for lunch, 6 pm - 8:30 pm dinner, closed Tuesday
    ADDRESS: HERE

     A MUST visit 


 

DAY THREE

  • Breakfast | char quay Teow | We stayed on the very central street called 'Lebuh Melayu' and our Airbnb host recommended the char quay teow at the end of the street for breakfast. There was a cluster of a few little stalls and an open-aired dining spot where you could eat. I got a takeaway, and it was really delicious. I tried the duck egg version (as we can't get that back home) and I found it quite rich, I would definitely just get a regular egg next time. 
    HOURS: Mornings only
    ADDRESS: Corner of Lebuh Melayu and Lebuh Carnarvon

  • TEMPLE  | Khoo Kongsi temple on Cannon street | The Khoo Kongsi is a large Chinese clan house with elaborate and highly ornamented architecture, a mark of the dominant presence of the Chinese in Penang, Malaysia. The famous Khoo Kongsi is the grandest clan temple in the country. It is also one of the city's major historic attractions.  $3.50 entry
    HOURS: 9 am - 5 pm
    ADDRESS: HERE

  • BRUNCH | Nasi Padang Minang | Unfortunately, we didn't get time to eat here, but I wanted to keep this in the itinerary to let you know about it. Apparently, it's best to come before rush hour. They usually close after 5 pm. Sit in the booth area as the loose tables area a bit cramp. A buffet style / help yourself. Order the stuffed fish (Ikan Belah Belakang), deep-fried cencaru sambal (mackerel stuffed with sambal), beef rendang, Tempe Try their Ikan Goreng chilli - it’s apparently delicious. Seen on YouTube HERE and on TripAdvisor HERE.
    HOURS: 11 am -3 pm. Go as close to opening as you can because it gets very busy!
    ADDRESS: HERE

  • COFFEE & CAKES | China House | This is a very long cafe, it is almost like many many different shops conjoined. When google mapping it, you will see that it has two different address accesses, which are a block apart. This is because this cafe is that big. Apparently, they serve the best cakes in Penang, and they have over 50 to choose from! The tiramisu cake is worth ordering and their drinks are great. We stopped in here 3 times - a great place to pop in for a cold drink and air con break if the heat outside is getting to much. 
    HOURS: 9 am - 1 am
    ADDRESS: HERE
     A MUST visit 

  • SHopping | sixth sense | This is a gorgeous boutique filled with linen, cotton and silk clothing and also a great range of accessories and homewares. It is located right next door to (the cake end of) China House. 
    HOURS: 10 am - 7 pm Monday - Saturday, 12 pm - 5 pm Sunday 

    ADDRESS: HERE
     A MUST visit 

  • SHopping | sEANG hIN LEONG | I found this little shop on accident, and it was located just around the corner from our accomidation. It is one of the last remaining rattan and bamboo seller in Penang. Here I brought some gorgeous wooden bowls, chopsticks, hand fans and other woven delights. 
    HOURS: 9 am - 6 pm
     Monday - Saturday, Sunday closed
    ADDRESS: HERE
     A MUST visit 

  • THEME PARK | ESCAPE | We did not get here, but if you are looking for something fun, or have a family with you, this theme park is located approx. 35 mins from Georgetown and has a variety of attractions and things to do including wet and dry zones. It is much cheaper to book online on their website HERE and in advance to get the best value for money - should cost around $158 RM ($56 NZD) for two people. Read on TripAdvisor HERE. NOTE: Bring shoes and socks for the adventure/dry zone, as you will need to be wearing these to be allowed on. See on YouTube HERE (at 1:15 sec) 
    HOURS: 10 am - 6 pm, closed Monday
    ADDRESS: HERE

  • DINNER | Restoran Kimberley | Kway chap (also sometimes spelled kuay jab) is a Chinese, more specifically Teochew, a noodle soup that consists of flat wide rice noodle rolls, served in a rich but light at the same time meat-based broth. At Restoran Kimberly, they serve kway chap with duck. See it on Mark Wiens HERE. I asked for no coagulated blood in mine and they were more than happy to make it how I wanted. Once your done, take a walk along Kimberly street to find more delicious food stalls!
    HOURS: Opens from 5:30 pm  - 11 pm, closed Thursday
    ADDRESS: HERE

     A MUST visit 

 

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