Penang, also known as the Pearl of the Orient, sits on the north western part of peninsular Malaysia. It consists of Penang island and a part of the mainland called Seberang Perai (also known as Butterworth). The name Penang originated from the Malay word Pinang, which means betel nut tree (areca catechu). Penang island or Pulau Pinang in Malay literally translates to betel nut island.
The capital of Penang is Georgetown, which is gazetted as a Unesco World Heritage Site in 2008. Georgetown, which was named after King George III of Great Britain, is located on the north east part of Penang island. It is a vibrant city with an eclectic mix of old world charm and modern high-rise buildings. Georgetown is a well known as a melting pot of culture, food and architecture with its mixture of 19th century colonial buildings, colourful places of worship, beautiful beaches, diverse mix of street food and haute cuisine. There is always something to see, do or eat in Penang for everyone.
Penang is hot and humid all the time with temperatures ranging from 25 to 32 degrees Celsius.
Malaysian Ringgit (RM) is used in
denomination of RM1, RM5, RM10,
RM20, RM50 and RM100. Coins
come in 5sen, 10sen, 20sen and
No Smoking Areas
All air-conditioned areas and
eateries (air-conditioned and non
air-conditioned) are designated as
Fire): 999 or 112 (from mobile)
Penang Airport: +604-6434411
The national language is Bahasa
Malaysia. Majority of people speak
English as well. In Penang, some
people speak Hokkien, Mandarin,
Tamil and Hindi.
Malaysia uses the 3 pin plug (Type
G) and current is rated at 220 – 240
Penang International Airport is one of the busier airports in Malaysia. It is located in the south eastern end of Penang island and it takes around 30 minutes to drive to Georgetown. The airport is serviced by international flights from Singapore, Indonesia, Hong Kong, China, Vietnam, Taiwan and Qatar. There are various domestic flights to Penang from Kuala Lumpur International Airport, Subang, Melaka, Kota Bharu, Johor Bahru, Langkawi, Kota Kinabalu and Kuching.
Driving into Penang island is easy as it is connected by two bridges from peninsular Malaysia. Both bridges offer an amazing view of Penang island as you drive towards the island. The older Penang Bridge exits nearer to Georgetown while the newer Sultan Abdul Halim Muadzam Shah Bridge exits nearer to the airport.
There are many buses connecting major cities in Malaysia with Penang island. The main bus terminal is located at Sg Nibong which is about 10km from Georgetown. Some of the recommended express bus companies are Nice, Plusliner, Five Stars, Aeroliner and Konsortium.
Another option of getting into Penang is by train. A relaxing train ride from Kuala Lumpur will take you through beautiful and picturesque countryside. The journey takes around 5 hours. The train station is located in Butterworth and you would need to connect with a ferry to get across to Penang Island.
Getting around in Penang island is easy with various modes of public transport available.
Most locals prefer e-hailing services and the commonly used one is Grabcar. Just download the Grab app from the Apple AppStore or Google PlayStore, setup your account & you are good to go. Taxis are available also but most of them are reluctant to charge by the meter.
Rapid Penang public buses ply most of the routes within the island and on the mainland as well. The main bus terminal is located in KOMTAR in Georgetown.
There are also many options of car rental if you prefer the freedom of driving around Penang on your own. Car rental companies are located in the arrival terminal in Penang Airport and around town.
The iconic trishaw rides are available in some areas in Georgetown. It is a relaxing way to explore Georgetown with the breeze in your face while taking in the sights & sounds of the city. Please negotiate a price prior to starting your journey. The average rate is around RM30 for two persons for a one hour ride.
Whether you are looking for a unique gastronomic experience or to explore the old town charms of Georgetown or just to chill by the beach, there is something for everyone in Penang.
Penang represents a rich multicultural tradition, religion, culture and architecture with its diversity of ethnicities represented by the Malay, Chinese, Indian, Peranakan and European heritage.
Art & Architecture
Penang is home to the highly Instagrammable wall murals created by Lithuanian artist Ernest Zacharevic. He created 6 of this in 2012 at various spots in Georgetown which has now become major tourist attractions and very Insta-worthy locations. This has spawned many other creative wall murals around the city.
Georgetown UNESCO World Heritage site is a 2.5 square kilometre area which showcases the diversity of cultures and the influence of various communities which traded in that area during the early days of Penang with its booming port for the British East India Company. There are around 1700 historical buildings in this area and many of them are being painstakingly preserved.
One of the most famous well preserved heritage building in Penang is the Cheong Fatt Tze Blue Mansion located in the heart of Georgetown. There are guided tours around the mansion and one can also dine and even rent a room in this boutique heritage hotel.
With its myriad of cultures brought about by various communities at that time, various religious places of worship were also built. The most famous among all is Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling better known as ‘Street of Harmony’ where the Kapitan Keling Mosque, Goddess of Mercy Temple, St. George’s Church and Sri Maha Mariamman Temple all sit within walking distance
Penang is well known among food aficionados as a food paradise, be it for the famous street hawker food or fine dining cuisine. The diverse range of food caters to every tastebud from all walks of life and there is a cuisine for every taste and budget.
Among the famous local street food are:
- Assam Laksa
- Char Koay Teow
- Nasi Kandar
- Curry Mee
- Mee Goreng
- Nasi Lemak
- Penang Rojak
- Chee Cheong Fun
- Ais Kacang
- Teochew Cendol
- Hokkien Prawn Mee
- Koay Teow Th’ng
- Banana Leaf Rice
- Roti Canai
Nature & Adventure
Beaches are located at the northern part of Penang island, namely Tanjung Bungah, Batu Ferringhi and Teluk Bahang.
Penang Botanic Gardens is a beautiful well manicured park at the edge of Georgetown. It is also possible to hike up to Penang Hill from here.
Penang Hill or Bukit Bendera is a short 7 minute ride up the funicular train. It gives a wonderful vantage of point Georgetown and is a recommended spot for afternoon tea.
Entopia by Penang Butterfly Farm is located in Teluk Bahang. There are about 15000 butterflies fluttering around in this modern enclave which is an amazing sight and educational as well.