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.
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.
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!
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 10kms in the heat and asking several times in broken Thai (no one understood)…gave up! Then 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 stopped.
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.
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.
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”.
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!