Penang Island is famous for its beautiful cultural diversity, and with more than 50% of the inhabitants from Chinese decent, there is a real Chinese feel to it. Penang is referred to as the food capital of Malaysia and is probably one of the best places to try the local cuisine.
To get to Penang you can either get a bus, train or fly directly there. We hadn’t planned this part of our trip and when we checked the flights were pretty expensive with checked bags. Instead we took the train from KL Sentral Station to Butterworth. Our return ticket cost us about €30 each and then the boat across to Penang island was just €1.
This was a pretty last minute trip so we just got a discount room on hotels.com. Think it was €50 for the two nights we were there. The hotel we stayed in was the Summertree Hotel and it was really basic, but fine for just two nights.
Penang is known for its food so of course, we took full advantage of this and tried some of the traditional Malay cuisine included Char Koay Teow, Satay, Popiah. We didn’t get to try the infamous Cendol dessert – but if you are in Penang the best place to get this is at Penang Road Famous Teochew Cendol on Penang Road, right beside Jooi Ha Cafe.
The hawker markets are the place to go for street food at really cheap prices. We went to Chulia Street Night Hawker to try some of these foods. It was small but had a good variety of dishes available.
Absolutely loved this spot. The interiors are on point and the food is amazing.
Jawi House Café
Jawi House Café is a Malaysian restaurant and is featured on many of the best restaurants in Penang lists. It is in the heart of the Armenian area of Penang and a short walk from some of the street art. We ordered two different rice dishes that come with a curry of your choice. It was absolutely delicious. A must visit if you are in Penang, but be sure to make a reservation if you are going in the evening.
If you like desserts (specifically cake!) you need to get your ass to China House. They literally have every kind of cake you could ever imagine. The slices are gigantic! Wash it down with a coffee or pot of tea for the perfect sweet snack.
The 12 Cups
Cute little coffee shop close to the port. We headed here to kill some time before our ferry back to Butterworth. They have unreal smoothie bowls and good coffee.
Things to do
Besides stuffing your face with the local foods, there is plenty to see and do in Penang.
This viewpoint looks over the entire island from about 712 metres above sea level. We took a taxi to the hill, where you can purchase your tickets. It is a short train ride up to the top. The views are spectacular and there are markets and places to eat all around.
We walked about 2km into the forest and went to a cafe called Monkey Cup. The surroundings were amazing and the coffee wasn’t so bad either! The cafe offer a free transfer back to the top of the hill where we took the train back down. Neither of us were too enthusiastic about going here to begin with, but it was probably the highlight of Penang for me.
The street art in Malaysia is just amazing and nothing compared to those we found in Penang. There is an area where there is a mural on almost every wall. It is easy to get lost wandering around looking for the next piece of art. Definitely a must see.
To get back to Kuala Lumpur, where we spent our last night in Malaysia, we once again took the ferry from Penang to Butterworth and the train to Kuala Lumpur. This service only runs twice a day and is likely to book out so definitely check before you rock up to the train station. We had an early flight out of KL so picked an airport hotel called YounIQ.
Bali, we are coming for you next!