Penang Island is a peninsula linked to Malaysia mainland by a 13.5 Km long bridge. This is not the best spot for nice beaches or diving, but you’ll feel the colonial heritage and enjoy an easy 2-day getaway from Singapore. Food and shopping are also on the menu. It’s an easy destination for a 2 day getaway from Singapore.

Singapore to Penang journey details

Connections from Penang

Penang is ideal for a 2 or 3 day weekend from Singapore. If you have more time, you can combine your trip to Penang with a stop in Kuala Lumpur.

Getting to Penang from Singapore

There are many direct flights from Singapore Changi to Penang (PEN).

Getting there: Tiger: 7:50 PM– 9:20 PM on Fridays (1h25 flight)
Coming back: Tiger: 9:50 PM – 11:15 PM on Sunday
Return tickets from SGD 150 per pax

Get your ticket NOW to enjoy the best fares. Use Skyscanner to find the cheapest flight.

Penang airport is of medium size and offers some facilities. There are food stalls and souvenir shops.

Getting to Georgetown from the airport

The airport is located 18 km south from Georgetown. Depending on your arrival time, you can either:

  1. Take the bus #401: 45 min ride, 3 RM, until 10PM
  2. Take a cab (with prepaid coupon available at the airport): 20 min ride, 40 RM.

Roads in Penang are in good condition and are easy to drive. If you plan to travel around the island, renting a motorbike or a car can be a good idea.

You can rent a car at the airport from Hawk Rent a Car or Hertz (From SGD 100 for 2 days)

Rent a motorbike in Georgetown: You’ll find many bicycles or motorbikes (RM 30 max a day) rental services along Jalan Chulia (the main road through Chinatown).

Bring along your driving license and your raincoat (trust our experience…)

Where to stay in Penang?

The best is to stay in Georgetown to discover the small town and travel across the island from there. Many accommodation options are available  from budget guesthouses to 4-star hotels. Use the below Agoda box to book your hotel.

Or, if you prefer, you can book with

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To see & to do in Penang

Penang is a large island and there are many activities available. A lot of them are in Georgetown but you can also do a few things outside of the main city.

Discover Georgetown

Wandering in Georgetown. You’ll see the usual Chinatown & Little India districts, a colonial area with its town-hall & Supreme court, the jetty,etc. Don’t forget to visit:

  • Perenakan Mansion: You might be familiar with Babas or Nyonyas, also called Perenakans. While visiting this mansion, you’ll understand their unique way of life which is a mix of Chinese-Malays and British culture. This mansion is a typical home of a rich Baba from the last century, composed of hundreds of antique pieces and collectibles. Visiting Hours: Mon – Sat from 9AM to 5PM. Closed on Sundays and Public Holidays. Guided tours at 11:30 AM and 3:30 PM sharp. Entrance fees: RM 10 / adult
  • Chew Clan Jetty is located along Weld Quay nearby the ferry terminal. This is a unique Chinese settlement with wooden houses built on stilts along the wooden pier, dating back to late 19c. This place is still inhabited by fishermen and their families. It is a must-see (although you might feel a bit like a voyeur walking in the floating village among the houses and families). “Free” entrance.

Kek Lok Temple

Kek Lok Si Temple – the Temple of Supreme Bliss, constructed in 1893, is one of the best known temple of the island. The 7-storey pagoda combines a Chinese octagonal base with a middle tier of Thai design, and a Burmese crown.
Visiting hours: daily from 9AM to 6PM. Located near Air Itam, 8 km away from Georgetown. Free entrance for the temple, RM 2 /pax for the Pagoda. The taxi from Georgetown will cost around RM 25 (SGD 10)

Penang National Park

Penang National Park is less than 45 minutes by road from GeorgeTowm. In the park,  you can walk on some well paved trails (starting off from Teluk Bahang entrance) which can be from 1.2km to 7km long.

If you’d rather hike, you should definitely head to the Penang Forest Reserve, 15 min away from Teluk Bahang (the entrance to the National Park). This forest offers 4 clearly signed trails (you won’t need guide), from 1h to 8h hike. See details here. Free admission but you’ll have to register at the entrance.

Penang Hill

Penang Hill is highest hill resort of Penang, at about 830 meters high. The temperature there is cooler than in the city or low lands. From the top, you’ll enjoy a nice relaxing view. There are 2 ways to reach the top:

  • 1-2h hike: a 5km tarred road called the “Jeep track”, which is only opened to Hill residents cars (but open to all pedestrians) will lead you to the top of the hill. It starts at the entrance of the Penang Botanic Gardens
  • Funicular train: Operating hours: daily from 6:30 AM to 10PM. Return trip RM 30 (SGD 12) /adult. Half price for children.

Tropical Spices Garden

The Tropical Spices garden offers 3 trails (starting from the Front Office).  Each trail takes from 20 to 30 min to complete. You’ll see hundreds varieties of tropical spices and herbs used as cooking flavorings, medicine, dyes and perfumes. You can chose to visit the garden by yourself or follow a guide who will explain the use of the main spices. The garden is located in the North of the island, 20 km from Georgetown, about 40 min drive.
Visiting hours: daily from 9AM to 6PM, self-guided: RM 15 (SGD 6) /adult & RM 10 (SGD 4) /child. Guided tours: RM 25 (SGD 10) /adult & RM 15 (SGD 6) /child.
If you like cooking why don’t you attend a hands-on cooking class at the spice garden? Have a look at the scheduled classes here.

Butterfly Farm

The Butterfly Farm hosts around 4000 butterflies of 120 different species! Will you spot your favorite one? Visiting Hours: Daily (including Public Holidays) from 9AM to 6PM. Entrance fees: RM 27 (SGD 10) / adult & RM 15 (SGD 6)  / child.

Beach

Beaches are not the best attraction of Penang but if you want to cool down and enjoy a swim, you can go to Batu Ferringhi Beach. It’s approximately 20 min from Georgetown by car.

More info to prepare your trip

You will find Wifi in most restaurants and hotels in Georgetown (and in Penang in general).

What to pack for Penang

Your main bag

That’s the one you leave at the hotel. Ideally you want to avoid checking in your luggage when flying. So check the weight and dimensions for hand carry luggage with your airlines (some airlines will allow only 7kg, some will allow up to 10kg). From head to toes.

  • Short sleeves tops: your main outfit. Everybody will see them on all your pictures. You really want to take that old Mickey Mouse T-shirt? Be mindful that you will be in a different environment so it might be a good idea to adjust your wardrobe.
  • Long sleeves tops: to protect yourself from the sun (if you’ve stayed for 5 hours on a motorbike with short sleeves you know what I mean) or to enter religious buildings or to protect yourself from mosquitoes in the evening.
  • Pullover. Yes I know, you’re going to a country where the temperature never goes down below 25 degrees and you need to pack a pullover? You will thank us when you’re back. Remember that flight during which  you were freezing? Or this museum where the aircon is set to the “polar bear” temperature?
  • Short/skirt (you should be able to chose the appropriate one by yourself).
  • Trousers for the same reasons you need to take long sleeves tops. Jeans are usually not a good option. They are heavy and keep you too warm.
  • Underwear: well, you know. If you plan to walk or ride motorbikes for long hours, take something comfortable as the combination heat + friction can make you regret this sophisticated silk underwear. Cotton is good.
  • Shoes: one pair of flip flap and one pair of confortable shoes. Remember that you are going to spend most of the time on your feet. Forget about high heels and leave your Westons at home.
  • Swimsuit: even if you don’t plan to go to the beach, you never know. A nice river, a swimming pool, a heavy rain? Always have one with you.
  • Raincoat and protection for your bag. Even if you are visiting the country during the “best season”, you never know what the sky will be like.
  • Torch: take a pocket torch with you if you visit countries where the power is not reliable… Can come very handy when stuck in the dark in your room.
  • Toilet bag: Shampoo, soap, toothbrush & toothpath, deodorant, sun screen, tiger balm. Ideally, all these in miniature formats.
  • Sleeping bag liner (if you plan to stay in very cheap or dirty places, not required if you are staying in a 5-star hotel…)
  • Your IT stuff: iPad, eBook, laptop, chargers, memory card, batteries, etc.
  • Dryer sheets: they will help keep a fresh smell in your bag.

Your small bag

That’s the one you keep with you, all the time. Hence, a backpack is the best option.

  • Your passportcashcredit cards and other life saving items like your insurance card with emergency contact details. Not a bad idea to put them in a zip-lock bag  in case it rains. It will keep your documents dry.
  • Your driver’s licence if you plan to rent a car or a motorbike (some countries are quite particular about this so take it with you in case you are not sure, even for a motorbike rental).
  • Your emergency medical kit: painkillers, mosquitoes repellent, dressing/plaster, disinfectant, anti diarrhea, eyewash
  • Tissues and toilet paper (you will thank me later). Remember that in a lot of countries, you will not be provided napkins when having a meal.
  • Water – plastic bottles are a good option as they are lighter than a gourd/flask.
  • Biscuits (always buy some before you go when you are not sure what you will find. Always have “emergency” biscuit  and water in case you cannot find food around and need to recharge batteries)
  • Sunglasses: you’ll need them. Take them even if it’s raining. Weather can change very fast in the region.
  • Scarf (krama, or any kind of fabric that you can use to put around your neck, put on your head to protect it from the sun, cover your shoulders in temples, dry your sweat, etc). Can come very handy in some situation. It will not stay clean for long so it’s wise to pick a dark color…
  • Camera and its protection.

Beach pack

Remember that this one comes on top of the Regular pack (above)

  • Beach towel or equivalent (pareos / sarongs are lighter)
  • Snorkeling equipment: mask, scuba, (fins?)
  • Shoes you can wear on the beach or in the water (to protect your feet from being cut by corals)
  • Dry bag if you plan to go on a boat and want to keep your stuff dry.

Well, you will probably adjust your bag after a few trips. Remove the stuff that you have not used and add the one that you missed. Post a comment to share your tips!

Happy packing (it’s the worse part of the trip but it’s worth it…) and travelling!

Malaysia

Malaysia

  • Language: Bahasa Malaysia
  • Time zone:   Kuala Lumpur GMT +8 hours, no time difference between Malaysia and Singapore
  • Currency: Malaysian Ringgit (MYR)
  • Phone: + 60
  • Electricity: 220V 50 Hz

Immigration and airport taxes on arrival

A lot of nationalities are exempt of visa to enter Malaysia. You can check on the Malaysia Immigration website. If you are arriving by:

  • By air: On busy weekends, expect to wait for quite a while at the immigration counter
  • By land: If you are driving from Singapore remember to have your fuel tank full to 3/4 when crossing the border. Buy a Touch & Go card (to pay for taxes, tolls and fees) and remember to take it with you when going to Malaysia. More details on the card on the Touch and Go website.

National Public Holidays in Malaysia

2015

Day Date Holiday Comments
Wednesday January 01 New Years Day All regions except Johor, Kedah, Kelantan, Perlis, Terengganu
Tuesday January 14 Mawlid Birthday of Prophet Muhammad
Tuesday January 14 Birthday of The Sultan of Negeri Sembilan Negeri Sembilan only. Always celebrated on 14 January
Friday January 17 Thaipusam Hindu festival. Kedah, Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya, Johor, Negeri Sembilan, Perak, Penang, Selangor only
Sunday January 19 Sultan of Kedahs Birthday Kedah only. Always celebrated on 19 January
Friday January 31 Chinese New Year 1st day of 1st lunar month
Saturday February 01 Chinese New Year 2nd day of 1st lunar month
Monday February 03 Federal Territory Day (observed) Kuala Lumpur, Labuan, Putrajaya only. Anniversary of the formation of the Kuala Lumpur Federal Territory in 1974
Tuesday March 04 Anniversary of Installation of the Sultan of Terengganu Terengganu only. Always celebrated on 4 March
Tuesday April 15 Declaration of Malacca as a Historical City Malacca only. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site on 7 July 2008
Friday April 18 Good Friday Friday before Easter Sunday. Sabah, Sarawak only
Saturday April 26 Birthday of the Sultan of Terengganu Terengganu only. Always celebrated on 26 April
Thursday May 01 Labour Day International Workers Day
Wednesday May 07 The Sultan of Pahang Hol Pahang only. Marks the death of a state Sultan
Sunday May 11 Mothers Day 2nd Sunday in May. Not a public holiday.
Tuesday May 13 Wesak Day Birth of Buddha. Observed on the day of the full moon in May
Saturday May 17 Birthday of the Raja of Perlis Perlis only. Always celebrated on 17 May
Tuesday May 27 Isra and Miraj Kedah, Perlis and Negeri Sembilan only
Thursday May 29 Public Holiday Perak only. Mark the passing of the Sultan of Perak
Friday May 30 Harvest Festival Sabah and Labuan only
Saturday May 31 Harvest Festival Sabah and Labuan only
Sunday June 01 Harvest Festival Sarawak only
Monday June 02 Harvest Festival Sarawak only
Saturday June 07 Birthday of SPB Yang di Pertuan Agong Kings Birthday. 1st Saturday in June
Sunday June 29 Beginning of Ramadan Johor, Kedah and Johor, Kedah, Malacca only
Monday July 07 Georgetown Heritage Day Penang only. Georgetown was given Unesco World Heritage Site status in 2009
Saturday July 12 Birthday of the Governor of Penang Penang only. 2nd Saturday in July
Tuesday July 15 Nuzul Quran All regions except Johor, Kedah, Malacca, Sabah, Sarawak
Monday July 28 Hari Raya Aidilfitri Eid Al-Fitr
Tuesday July 29 Hari Raya Puasa Holiday Second day of holiday for Eid Al-Fitr
Sunday August 31 National Day Independence Day
Saturday September 13 Birthday of the Governor of Sarawak Sarawak only
Tuesday September 16 Malaysia Day Became a Federal Holiday in 2010
Thursday September 25 State Holiday Kelantan only. Allow voting in by-election
Saturday October 04 Birthday of the Governor of Sabah Sabah only. 1st Saturday in October
Sunday October 05 Hari Raya Haji Festival of Sacrifice
Monday October 06 Hari Raya Haji Holiday Holiday in lieu. Second day of Festival of Sacrifice
Friday October 10 Malacca Governors Birthday Malacca only.
Wednesday October 22 Diwali The festival of lights. Except Labuan, Sarawak
Friday October 24 Birthday of The Sultan of Pahang Pahang only. Always celebrated on 24 October
Saturday October 25 Awal Muharram Islamic New Year
Sunday October 26 Awal Muharram (in lieu) Kedah, Kelantan, Terengganu only.
Monday November 03 Public Holiday Pahang only. Marks football team winning the Malaysia Cup final
Tuesday November 11 Birthday of the Sultan of Kelantan Kelantan only. Always celebrated on 11 November
Wednesday November 12 Birthday of the Sultan of Kelantan Kelantan only. Always celebrated on 11 November
Saturday November 22 Birthday of the Sultan of Johor Johor only. Always celebrated on 22 November
Thursday November 27 Birthday of the Sultan of Perak Perak only. Always celebrated on 27 November
Saturday November 29 The Sultan of Johor Hol Johor only. Marks the death of a state Sultan
Thursday December 11 Birthday of The Sultan of Selangor Selangor only. Always celebrated on 11 December
Thursday December 25 Christmas Holiday Internationally observed Christian holiday

* check the exact date as it varies from one year to another. When a public holidays falls on a Sunday, the following day will be Public Holiday. There might be some special public holidays in some states. Please refer to this website.