Just like many other exchange students, I had to take advantage of the crazy long study period before finals to travel. Weirdly enough, NTU gives us like around 10 days of studying before the first exam starts. It is definitely different from schedules back in Canada where we barely get around 3 days. Hence, with two of my friends, we decided to do a trip to Penang to enjoy the beautiful city as well as the cheap food options.
Because the flight ticket to Penang was surprisingly more expensive during these dates, we decided to buy bus ticket to arrive in Penang. I am still not sure if it was a good call because we ended up spending more than 15 hours in a bus because of the long time it took to go through the customs. Furthermore, this caused us to be out of shape to start exploring right away.
After arriving, we checked into our hotel room which had a really nice view, but horrible wifi. Penang’s data plans are overall pretty horrible so be ready to get annoyed at the wifi there. We first went out to eat some Laksa accompanied by lychee juice which was super delicious.
Afterward, we explored the area a bit more, but the hot weather got the best of us and we went back to the hotel to relax until it was late at night.
Finally, in the evening, we went to a hawker center where we enjoyed some of the most classic Malay dishes: Bak Kut Teh, Popiah, Dumplings, tea, etc.
This was definitely the most packed day of our trip as we went to two of the main attractions in Penang. To start off the day, we caught an uber that drove us to Penang Hill. After an eternal wait to catch the tram, we were finally at the top of the hill. There, we got the chance to visit the small, but super cute OWL Museum.
Next, it was of course time to see the view of Penang from the top of the hill. We took the rest of our morning walking around the area as there were many picture spots.
Afterward, we caught the tram down and went to eat at the famous Laksa at Pasar Air Itam Laksa. It was the best Laksa ever with fresh ingredient and flavorful soup. Everything about this dish was done perfectly.
After a filling meal, we walked up to the beautiful Lek Kok Si temple, which was nearby. The temple was really big and there were many levels to explore. From the huge souvenir shop, to the smaller temples, up to the beautiful Guan Yin statue, this is definitely a spot worth visiting.
At night, we went to the Penang New Lane Foodstall where there were MANY MANY food stalls ready to sell delicious Penang dishes such as the oyster omelette and the Char Kway Teow.
Day 3 was also a pretty packed day. In the morning, we woke up going to the Food festival: Occupy Beach Street happening that day. It is a unique event where every dish costs only 2RM!! That is crazy pricing, even for Malaysia. So, yeah, we filled our belly with delicious Indian and Malay food. This included a really tasty fried Char Siu Bread and Tandoori omelette. Probably the best meal we got in Penang.
After a great meal, it was time to start exploring the city by walking around everywhere. Georgetown is a beautiful UNESCO recognized historical site and there were of course many many attractions to go explore. While walking around Penang, you will get the chance to see world famous street art that are beautiful and interactive. I would recommend getting a neighborhood map so you know where to walk to to see these arts, We also got the time to walk around the Armenian Street which had many cute souvenir shops.
This led us to the beautiful Khoo Kongsi temple, which was situated around the street art neighborhood. You will have to pay to enter inside the court where it is hidden. It is a beautiful, beautiful temple so I say it is definitely worth spending some money to visit.
While walking around, we also arrived at the Chew Clan Jetty which consists of many artisan shops on top of water. It was a pretty cool experience, especially when you reach the end and get to see a beautiful view of the sea around Penang.
At the end of the day, we went together to the Prangin mall where one of us sadly had to leave to go back to Singapore by bus. Before that, we got time to shop and buy some cheap goodies. We also ate a sumptuous Chinese meal that tasted super good. Seriously, food wise, Penang cannot disappoint!
By day 4, we started to ruin out of activities do in Penang and our visiting speed also decreased drastically. Since our hotel was close to the Blue Mansion, we decided to start the day off with a guided visit there. The Blue Mansion also called Cheong Fatt Tze is the old mansion of a rich Chinese businessman who established himself through trading all across Asia. He had many houses around the continent, but chose Penang’s house as his favorite. The architecture was gorgeous to look at and of course, the blue paint gave it a unique character.
Afterward, we went to eat at a new and upcoming Laksa place. The place was recommended by a blogger online, but we found the food just okay. Not bad, but not as impressive as the one we got two days ago.
Next, we redid a few things we already did yesterday. For example, we got the time to go back to the Chew Clan Jetty and shop a bit at Georgetown.
From there, we walked to the Kapitan Keling Mosque. It was a beautifully build building, but because it was prayers time, we decided not to try going in.
Of course, a day wouldn’t be complete without good food. We had the chance to try the super refreshing and mind blowingly delicious “Penang Road Famous Teochew Chendul”.
We also went to try out durian cheesecake which was another hit. However, it was way too big and even as two people, we had difficulty to finish eating it.
Finally, at night we went to the Hawker center near our hotel and ordered all of our favorite foods: dumplings, satay, oyster omelette, and mango rice.
Our flight back to Singapore was scheduled late in the evening so we practically had a whole day before going to the airport. By searching online, we discovered that Gurney Drive was a beautiful region of Penang popular with tourists and famous for its food stalls. We hence went there early in the morning, only to realize that these stalls open late in the afternoon. Disappointed and too tired to walk around much, we decided to hide in the mall before finding another destination. Inside the mall, we found a cheap Din Tai Fung: for 8$CAD, you can get a ten xiao long bao plate as well as unlimited tea. We ate until full before leaving the small town that is Gurney Drive.
Since we were in the neighborhood, we decided to go visit the two local Buddhist temples: Wat Chayamangkalaram and Dhammikarama Burmese Temple. What I liked about these two temples is that they were both beautifully decorated from the outside, had many paintings illustrating the biggest moments of Buddhism and had English description to let visitors understand them.
Afterward, we went to the Pinang Peranakan which is a building that is bigger than the Blue Mansion. In this case, the building was preserved through time to let visitors explore the life of Baba and Nyonya. Since we missed out on the English guided tour of the mansion, we sadly didn’t get to learn more about its history. Either way, it was a beautiful building with many well maintained rooms to explore. It also had a small museum with different Baba and Nyonya artifacts.
Finally, we ended the day by going to eat some Chendul, Laksa and Char Keow Teow before officially calling it a day and heading to the airport. Yes, of course we had to end the trip with some food. 😉