By the time we made it to Penang we were all looking forward to a relax by the pool and some time on the beach but if you are heading to the Island for some R and R, it’s not really the best place to come. We had 3 days in Penang and really wanted to combine relaxation with exploring.
South East Asia is full of amazing beaches, deserted Islands and remote hotels (think Langkawi or Koh Samui amongst others). Whilst Penang is busy, oh so busy and all about Street Food and creativity. We visited in late August and boy did it rain. So not much lounging by the pool for us! Here’s what we got up to during our three days on the Island.
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Penang International Airport
This was our first taste of the Island and unfortunately it’s not a great Airport. Baggage took quite a while to come through and the queue for taxis ate into our precious first day. We were staying in Batu Ferringhi. The furthest point on the Island from the airport and the taxi took an hour. The return journey was even worse. Well over an hour, awful traffic and the driver (booked by the hotel) almost crashed. A word of warning – we left plenty of time to get our flight to Langkawi but the queues at the airport were unbelievable. Over two hours just to check in. Please give yourselves plenty of time, my stress levels were through the roof by the time we got to the counter. And my daughter was almost at melt down phase!
Lone Pine Hotel
For our 3 days in Penang we were staying at the Lone Pine Hotel. I chose it as it is the oldest hotel in Batu Ferringhi and I was drawn to its boutique look and feel. Parts of our stay were great. The pool area was lovely And the location is fab, right by the night markets and on the beach. Unfortunately others were pretty bad.
Although spacious, the room was in desperate need of a refurb. The lack of sound proofing means you will be woken by the call to prayer every morning at 6am. We didn’t get a good night’s sleep the whole time we were there. Some of the staff were really helpful, making sure we had umbrellas and helping my daughter with a plaster after a cut knee. But others seemed to lack interest. We had to wait over an hour for dinner on our first night and the waitress did nothing to help the situation. Or offer anything while we were waiting. Piper did however hoover up her Spaghetti Bolognese when it finally arrived so the food was pretty good.
The beach is nice enough but could do with a good clean up. There are so many watersport companies it felt really busy and noisy. Although we managed a paddle we didn’t get to swim in the sea as there were lots of jellyfish.
We decided to spend our first day in and around Batu Ferringhi. After a nice big buffet breakfast at the hotel, headed out to explore the local area. It was a super-hot day and the broken pavements aren’t great for walking on. Meaning we didn’t get too far and ended up cooling off in Starbucks. Before walking back along the beach. The heavens opened on the way so we arrived back to Lone Pine soaked to the skin but laughing. We spent the rest of the day getting a lovely foot massage, dropping off laundry over the road (£5 for a huge bag) and playing in the pool.
We headed out to dinner and tried the Feringgi Grill, a short walk away at Shangri-La’s Rasa Sayang Resort but as we don’t tend to dress up for dinner we weren’t in the right attire. They also don’t allow children under 7 in the restaurant. The best they could offer us was a private dining room. It looked absolutely lovely but felt a bit like they were shutting us away. Not really our thing so we went looking elsewhere. They gave my daughter and I a rose on leaving which was a sweet gesture. We tried the Wooden pub over the road but only stayed for drinks. We ended up back at the hotel for a pizza and a game of pool in the hotel bar. Before an in-depth google of where to eat the following night!
On day two we wanted to explore a bit further. So took the hotels car into George Town which is about half an hour away. We visited the Penang Time Tunnel museum and 3D Art Gallery. It was great fun but slightly away from the centre of George Town. This meant we had quite a long walk in the heat when we had finished. You start your visit learning about the history of Penang which is fascinating. But not too interesting for kids so Piper rushed us on to the second part of the museum. The 3D gallery where you can have your photos taken with lots of different pieces of art. The pictures speak for themselves! We all loved being silly and the staff were very helpful, didn’t rush us and took some great family pictures.
After the museum we wanted to hunt down some famous Penang street art so after a quick ice-cream break followed our map to “Boy on a Bike” on Ah Quee Street. On our way, at Halaman She Tan, we wandered past a tiny open door. Inside was a free temporary art gallery with beautiful hanging poems. Piper was mesmerised. This is one of my favourite things about family travel – look through the door – you never know what you’ll find!
We managed to find 10 pieces of street art before the heat overcame us. And we aimlessly wandered around looking for an air-conditioned mall and a cool drink. This was easier said than done. So we jumped in a taxi back to Batu Ferringhi for a cool off in the pool instead.
Hard Rock Café and Bora Bora by Sunset
For dinner that evening we headed to the Hard Rock café. 10 mins up the road for a bit of familiarity and menu choices Piper was guaranteed to eat. We had a lovely meal and a nose around the hotel (which looks lovely!). Then we visited Bora Bora by Sunset for pudding (Piper) and drinks (us). I was desperate for a more “authentic” Penang experience which isn’t always easy with fussy little ones and wish we had visited here the previous night as the food looked delicious. But our visit was still lovely. Enjoying some cold beers watching the sun go down over the beach. I can highly recommend this place, not too expensive, with a great atmosphere and attentive service!
Feeling very full up we wandered back to the hotel through the night market. The place comes alive in the evening and is completely different to when all the stalls are packed away during the day. There are a huge array of goods to barter over. But we were too tired to shop and just enjoyed the people watching and general buzz of the place.
For the final few hours of our 3 days in Penang we needed to simply relax. We had just enough time for a big breakfast, swim and a rather stressful journey through the airport for the next leg of our journey. The beautiful Island of Langkawi.
There is so much more to see and do in Penang, we simply didn’t have enough time, we missed out on a lot of Street Food, Penang Hill, the Butterfly Park and loads of other things on my list – a great excuse to go back I guess! Do you think 3 days in Penang is long enough? Let me know in the comments below