Malaysia’s Penang and on to Thailand

May, 2014
Penang is a hype of activity and very different to the rest of Malaysia! Travelling on to Thailand from this island to Thailand is easy by bus.

Malaysia: travel route over 10 weeks
A path well-travelled – 10+ weeks of travel in Malaysia

KL to Penang

The Terminal Bersepadu Selatan (TBS) bus station is extremely busy and reminds me of an airport. People and craft coming and going every 5 minutes.

When you purchase your ticket at this station for the Kuala Lumpur to Penang (RM38.50) journey, make sure you ask the ticket office the actual name of the bus. Don’t assume that if the company is the Etika Express then the bus is named the same.

Although we purchased tickets from the Etika Express, the bus was called the “Seasons” and we would have missed the bus. Luckily, I asked another passenger on the same platform for the bus to Penang at the ticketed specific time. This journey takes 5 hours.

Check out my blog on Kuala Lumpur for sites and places to eat.


Stayed in Georgetown for a few days, which is World Heritage listed. The architecture here is wonderful.

The street art in Penang is gorgeous and incorporates 3-dimensional art such as actual bicycles or iron-work people in varying scenes extending out from murals on walls, and much more.

Try to be patient (I’m not) when taking photos of the street art as these are also very popular with the local tourists; they love having many photos taken.

Perbadanan Muzium Negeri Kelantan – WW11 Memorial (RM2) is a good respite from the heat and houses an informative display of this era including some outside displays of airplane parts and turrets.

Malaysia: Penang Fort Cornwallis canon
Fort Cornwallis canon


Fort Cornwallis (RM2) on Pulau Pinang’s north eastern tip along the seafront was built in the 1700’s and worth a stroll around these wonderful metre-thick walls. There’s a small church inside the fort.

The history and also restoration of the Fort are documented with faded photographs and text. It’s also pleasant just walking around the grounds surrounded by this wonderful history in a picturesque setting with sea views, but bring the mosquito repellent as they’re fierce here!

Wat Chayamanangkalaram

Tried to find one of the world’s largest reclining Buddha’s, the Wat Chayamanangkalaram and apparently, a spectacular site to behold.

Sadly, after walking about 10 kilometres in the heat and asking several times in broken Thai (no one understood), we gave up!

Then, we had to get back into the city and buses were whizzing by but not stopping…

Finally, after walking a very long way, a bus to the city did stop.



Georgetown has an abundance of hotels and guesthouses at varying prices. Inside converted mansions and shop houses is where you’ll find accommodation with courtyards and period fittings; and, as predicted, some are in better condition than others. Throughout SE Asia it seems that the facades and lobbies are much better than the rooms.

Malaysia: Penang three-dimensional street art
Three-dimensional street art

The Heritage Lodge in Georgetown was pricey for the type of accommodation offered and quite noisy – this was supposed to include breakfast but it is a free for all and if you are not an early riser, then you don’t get any breakfast as there’s nothing left; nothing is replenished.


Hawker Stalls – Georgetown is famous for its hawker stalls, which are abundant, cheap, and serve up delicious food. Assam Laksa is famous here and locals travel from afar just to savour this dish here in Georgetown. So, make sure you try this before you leave as it is simply delicious.

Kompleks Makanan Medan Renong (seafront food markets) on Jalan Tun Syed Shah Barakah – A couple of the guide books recommend this market although, I wasn’t impressed as much the same food and quality is offered throughout the markets. Only tried chicken satay sticks (10 for RM6) accompanied with a stingey amount of peanut sauce. I have to admit though that the dish was very tasty.

Red Garden Food Paradise – Serves up a selection of scrumptious local and western food at cheap prices. Order the chicken and fried rice, which comes with a small bowl of soup for RM6 or choose from cheaper or much more expensive meals. Be aware, the beer isn’t cheap here (small beer RM10 or large beer RM15).

Armenian House  – Wonderful coffee but not cheap (RM9). Good toasted sandwiches (RM6) and cakes. Lovely building and great staff.

70’s Ice (78 Armenian Street, Georgetown) – A little stall that makes shaved ice into a condensed hard ice ball. Two or more types of syrup are poured over the ice ball and skewered, so that you can pick this up and suck or crunch into the ice.

An excellent way to cool down on a sweltering hot day in Penang.

Malaysia: Penang's 70's Ice Balls
Refreshing 70’s Ice balls

Try the Indian restaurant/café on Jalan Penang (up from the Oriental Hotel). Loads of cheap delicious great Indian dishes available at super cheap prices. Pick from ready-made dishes or order freshly made ones from the menu – service is fast and staff very friendly, and is very busy with locals and tourists.

Understandably, Malaysia is conservative when it comes to serving alcohol, drinking, bars, and Night Clubs. Penang however, seems to be the exception to the rule. You can buy almost anything on the island.

Just a side note: it is also well-known that Malay men frequent Thailand’s Hat Yai for “entertainment”.

Malaysia: Penang's Colonial architecture
Colonial architecture 

Leaving Malaysia

It is very easy to organise a mini-bus (RM75) to Hat Yai (Thailand) from the many agents in the Komtar Mall in Georgetown.

This journey includes the border crossing; checking-out of Malaysia and checking-in to Thailand. You receive a 30-day visa free on arrival in Thailand.

Once in Hat Yai, we waited almost 2 hours for a connecting mini-bus to Phuket Town, which is part of the ticket purchased in Malaysia.

I’m going to miss the amazing food in Malaysia. Although as I absolutely love Thai food, then I also can’t wait to eat my way around Thailand – call it a passion!

Visit my Nilla’s Photography Malaysia Gallery for more images. More blogs on Malaysia at Image Earth Travel.

20 thoughts on “Malaysia’s Penang and on to Thailand

Add yours

    1. There is a surprise at every corner. Quite beautiful. The little girl on a bike with her brother had been tagged on a while back but restored. One of great artists seems to be Tom Powell.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Absolutely. And whenever I go to the MOMA in NY I remember that all those “modern” artists are all dead. Picasso led us to Pollock who led us to Duchamps and eventualy three white empty canvasses. The end of art.
      Now, on the contrary, street art – to me – has revived art. Totally. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    3. Sadly, they are but what a legacy they’ve left for the world to enjoy and appreciate.

      I think it’s a wonderful visual art often delivered with a politically-charged message that reaches the masses for free, so, affordable to everyone. 🙂


    4. Nahh, forgotten all my Bahasa Indo, which is similar to Bahasa Malay. Doesn’t hurt to know a few words for the country in which you travel – always appreciated by the locals and shows a little respect I think. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

    5. Totally agree. Language is one of the many “layers” of travelling. And one of my favourite. Say a few words in the local language and the locals are immensely appreciative. Means you have made the effort to learn hello, goodbye, please, thank you. It is just politeness. Manners I would say. Or details like handing over things with two hands instead of one? You can see a look of recognition and thanks in people’s eye. 🙂
      Bene, bene, cara Nilla, buona sera, I have to run an errand. 🙂
      Ciao, ciao.

      Liked by 1 person

    6. Indeed it is and a critical layer to understanding a country as a local and not just as a traveller.

      I’m lucky enough to know enough Italian to make conversation with locals and can kind of understand a few other dialects, which can be difficult. It’s a much richer absorption of a country.
      A dopo 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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