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Travel Tips For Penang Malaysia

Updated on September 17, 2011

Penang Malaysia


I normally strongly recommend booking your accommodation online in advance, and this is still a good idea if you are visiting Penang. However you can still get great value and reasonable rates just walking into hotel in Penang. Accommodations in Malaysia are considerably more expensive than in Thailand and other popular tourist destinations in South East Asia. While you can normally find a basic clean and comfortable room in Thailand for under $20USD, you will likely not be overly impressed with the places you get in Malaysia in this price range. I normally try not to pay anymore than $30-40USD while travelling in South East Asia, however I prefer to spend a little more in Penang rather than stay in a dirty hotel. I will offer my opinion on a few of the places where I have stayed.

The Citadel
- The Citadel is one of the largest and most prestigious hotels in Penang. It is located in a convenient location near Chulia St. Prices range from $50-60USD per night. You will not be disappointed with this hotel, The Citadel has all the bells and whistles that you would expect from a 4 star hotel.

Oriental Hotel - I have stayed at the Oriental and I would say I could stay there again if for some reason I could not afford to pay the extra for a better hotel. The price is affordable at $30USD per night. The hotel is not particularly clean, there are stains all over the carpets in the hallways and in the rooms, water damage in many spots. I believe they do have free wireless Internet.

Grand Continental
- The Grand Continental is another option in the $30-50USD per night range, maybe similar to the Oriental but a little bit cleaner.

Paramount Hotel - Decent, relatively clean basic rooms for $15-20USD per night. A good option if you are on a budget.

Baba Guesthouse
- Reasonable rates and a decent location near the water.

Chulia St. Guesthouses-There are plenty of places all along Chulia St. offering backpacker accommodation for under $10USD per night, I would not want to stay at any of them, but I suppose it wouldn't kill you?


Eating out in Penang can be quite inexpensive, especially in the Chulia St. area. There are a lot of restaurants offering local Indian and Chinese food for affordable prices.I find the Indian food to be the best value, especially coming from Thailand where Indian food is usually quite expensive. There are a few places that I will tell you about where you can get great food without paying an arm and a leg.

Recommended Restaurants

Passage Thru India - This is without a doubt my favourite Indian restaurant in the world, and I have eating in many. I look forward to travelling to Penang just so I can eat in this restaurant. They have the most amazing curries, and the best Tandoori chicken I have ever had! I would normally not order Tandoori chicken because it is not one of my favourite dishes, however a friend of mine ordered some and offer to let me try it, now I order it every time I go to Penang. The Passage Thru India is legendary amongst travellers and anyone who has been there can tell you it is amazing. The prices are not as high as you might think by looking at the elite Malaysians that frequent this restaurant. You can get a meal for less than $10USD , lunch for 2 with 2-3 dishes and naan bread might cost you $20USD.

Happy Garden Restaurant - Affordable Chinese food, the Happy Garden is known for having great home made spring rolls.

Kashmir - Located in the Oriental Hotel, this is an upscale Indian restaurant with great curries and naan breads. A little on the pricey side, not as good as the Passage Way To India.

Muslim Coffee Houses - Penang is full of these Muslim coffee house style restaurants. They are open 24 hrs a day, and they do not serve alcohol. You may notice locals do not use cutlery in these restaurants they eat with their hands. They will have cutlery for people who want it. Almost all of these places have great curries and breads for only a few bucks. Highly recommended for those who are on a budget. Some of these places are better than others, but for the most part you can't go wrong with any of these places.

Ferringhi Grill - The Ferringhi Grill is the spot for western food in Penang, I have eaten here and the food is pretty good. I prefer to eat Indian while in Penang, but if Indian is not your thing, then try the Ferringhi Grill.

Gurney Drive Hawker Night Market - For local Malaysian Hawker food at reasonable prices. A great spot for tourist to eat like the locals, many of the customers here are Malaysians. This is a great place for those on a budget.


Penang is a very interesting city with a lot of culture. There are many sites to see and historical monuments. There is also a surprising nightlife scene in Penang. Malaysia is a Muslim country and you might think that it is difficult to find a place to have a drink? Well not in Penang! There are plenty of pubs with live music and entertainment catering to locals as well as tourists. I will let you know what I have enjoyed doing while I was in Penang.

Cable Car Ride Up Penang Hill - This is a must, a great view from the top of the hill.

Shopping - Penang has many flea markets and vendors as well as modern shopping malls.

Nightlife - The Soho Pub is just one of many places to enjoy a drink with the locals. For people that like loud music and dance clubs (I am not one of them) Slippy Senoritas is the place to go.

Chulia St. - This is one of the most interesting places I have come across in my travels, Chulia St. is filled with people from all over the world passing through town. This is Malaysia's version of Kao San Road. There are plenty of cafes to sit and have a drink, read a book or possibly strike up a conversation. In the past these cafes used to show pirated movies on a big screen TV and this would draw a large crowd of tourists. This may or may not be an option depending on how strict the local authorities have been enforcing copyright laws.

Langkawi Island - There are ferry's from Penang to Langkawi daily. Langkawi has perhaps the best beaches in Asia. I would strongly recommend Langkawi to couples, and people looking for a quiet relaxing getaway. There is almost no nightlife in Langkawi and there is not a lot to do aside from the beautiful beaches.


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    • alocsin profile image

      alocsin 6 years ago from Orange County, CA

      Interesting article. I have been going back to Penang every year for about 15 years now and am very familiar with the island. As far as I know, there is no Citadel hotel. However, there is the well-known Cititel Hotel on Penang Road, near the corner of Chulia Street. Could this be the hotel you're talking about?

    • PaperNotes profile image

      PaperNotes 6 years ago

      Awesome tips. I must bookmark your hub for reference when we visit Malaysia.Thanks.