Penang

Ice Sculptures (5)
Two years ago, I suddenly visited Penang. Honestly, I’d never imagined nor planned to stop in this small yet stunning island. This plan appeared out of the blue some weeks before I booked a ticket to Malaysia. So, I can guarantee that this ‘expedition’ to Penang was somewhat of a spontaneous idea.
As I mentioned before, this island is not sizeable; not as huge as the mainland. In only two days, you can go around this city. Penang gives you a particular impression, making you feel that you are not in Malaysia, but in another town with its own uniqueness, culture, food, habits and ambience. You won’t find any skyscrapers – some maybe, but not as many as in the capital city. Fewer cars as well – mostly the locals prefer motorcycles as a main mode of transportation rather than cars. Fewer tourists – though I did see many, but not as crowded as in Kuala Lumpur.
Penang is located in …. (Let me check my Google Maps and Wikipedia). As they said, Penang is located on the northwest coast of Peninsular Malaysia, by the Malacca Strait and divided into two parts (which I didn’t realize before). First is Penang Island, where the capital city is George Town, and the other is Seberang Perai which is located on the Malay Peninsula. I have only been to George Town, but I wouldn’t mind visiting the other part someday as well. 

How do you reach George Town?

PicturePuduraya Bus Terminal (Kuala Lumpur)

Surely it’s easy. You won’t even need to waste time thinking about how to reach this place because it requires no effort. If you are a real backpacker, I guess you won’t spending much time on the bus or train, will you? The ticket you can buy in Pudu Raya in KL. The price varies, ranging from 20 dollars to no more than 30 or 40, I believe. The time also – you can choose the earliest one, or the latest one. I chose the bus which departed at 5 pm. Not a great choice, in terms of time, as I arrived in Penang at 10 pm and had a hard time going by ferry to the island. So, I suggest you take the middle one, at least about 10 or 11 am, so you can show up in the harbor at about 3 pm and continue your journey to the island by ferry.

What kind of transportation should you choose if you are a spoiled and rich traveler?

Still the same: bus or train or AIRPLANE. Don’t underestimate this island! They do have their own airport – Penang International Airport. It’s small but it’s quite comfortable to fly from KL to Penang by plane. You can choose Air Asia of course. They always offer really good prices for local destinations. The airport itself is located in the south of the island – Bayan Lepas. Ppfff… I didn’t even know that the airport was there. If only I had known it, I would have used the plane… as I was a spoiled but not-so-rich traveler.

Was the bus comfortable?

It was unmistakably comfortable. The seat is normally reclining, so you can adjust as you wish, as long as you’re not disturbing your neighbors. The place for the legs was spacious, so you won’t get cramps or panic attacks from not moving your feet after too long while sitting in the same position. The bus usually stops at one gas stand. When they fill the tank, you can visit the toilet for a while. In total, it takes 5 hours to reach Penang. 

After the bus, what should we do?

Take the ferry or taxi. Again, it depends on what kind of traveler you are. It was late at night; we brought many bags with us. That’s the reason why I chose a taxi which costed me about 30 dollars. The real backpackers must admonish me, yeah, me too. But, again I was lazy and preferred to use the most comfortable.
For the ferry, you can buy the ticket directly on the harbor. The price for one person is about 1-2 USD. So it’s really cheap compared to the taxi.  

How about the hotel?

Penang offers you more than Kuala Lumpur can do. They have various types of hotels with friendly prices. For backpackers, I suggest you go to Love Street. Despite its name, which sounds so intriguing, ambiguous and suspicious, Love Street gives you a lot of choices for affordable hotels or hostels or guest houses. For your information, I also have no idea why they call it Love Street as I didn’t find and love club or something like that around that place. What they have is restaurants, cafés, inns and some normal entertainment. I didn’t stay in this place as I had mistakenly booked a hotel far from the center of entertainment! Tunes Hotel, it might sound familiar for low cost airline lover. Yeah, it’s from the same company as Air Asia. So, you better visit Love Street for hotels. Moreover, it is close to the beach.

How about the transportation on the island?

Motorcycle
Penang is part of Asia. Asia is not complete without motorcycles. Undoubtedly, you will find a rental everywhere. I have no experience with it though. You can rely on Google now.
HOP-ON HOP-OFF BUS
​This bus is available in Penang. What I could say about this bus is: cozy. The bus is a double-decker bus, with an open roof on the second floor as with any other bus for tourists. You can stop them at the bus station. But, don’t get confused as the bus is divided into two main routes. Red is to the south, Green is to the north.
Ticket can be bought directly on the bus or online. I bought mine on the bus itself and they also accept credit card if I am not wrong. It costs 40 RM for adult and 19 RM for child/student/disabled for 24 hours. If you would like to buy for 48 hours, the price will be: 70 RM for adult and 38 RM for child/student/disabled. For a single trip you can pay 20 RM (adults) and 10 RM (children) but I suggest you buy for 48 hours if you’re eager to discover this island fully. For more information, you can visit this site:
​http://www.myhoponhopoff.com/pg/index.php?pageid=1 
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