Traveling Penang… with Kids

We stayed in Penang for 30 days and this island just captured our hearts…

HOW TO GET TO PENANG FROM KUALA LUMPUR

  • Fly – more expensive option, but quickest
  • ETS train – more scenic, cheaper than flying but more expensive than the bus, takes longer than the bus.  After reaching Butterworth you need to catch the ferry to George Town.
  • Bus – cheapest, quicker than the train.  Also need to catch a ferry to George Town.

Our recommendation is the bus, very comfortable, spacious, airconditioned.  It took 4.5 hours to reach Butterworth.

The Ferry from Butterworth to George Town is a rustic ferry, with limited seats.  The duration is 20 minutes, we paid RM 1,20 per adult and the kids were free.  The return trip is also free for all. See our trip.

Ferry from Butterworth to Penang

The Ferry from Butterworth to Penang

WHERE WE STAYED

We decided to stay in Batu Ferringhi, because it has the most popular beach and it’s also a stretch away from the very busy city life of George Town.   Unfortunately the beaches are not that great for swimming, best for sunsets.

We rented a place through AirBnB in a complex with a swimming pool and a kiddies pool with a slide.  What a win! There’s a jungle gym for the kids, jacuzzi and also a gym to work out a bit after indulging in Penang’s delicious food! We got great discount for staying a month. This was our home away from home with lots of friendly people and loads of kids in the swimming pool every day. See our vlog.

TRANSPORT

  • UBER and GRAB are very cheap to get around. 
  • Local Bus system – To experience the everyday life of the local people of Penang we made use of the bus system.  There is no fixed time as to when the bus will ever arrive and when it does, be sure to jump up and down to ensure that it stops else you will have to wait indefinitely for the next bus to arrive.  Luckily there are always friendly people at the bus stop that will keep you company and give some advise 🙂 The kids were a major attraction on the bus and lots of photos were taken of them.  The Penang people just love kids.  Several times people got up to offer us their seats, extremely welcoming and friendly people.
  • Rent a car – we rented a car to explore the South @ RM60/day

BEST PLACES TO EAT

We initially bought groceries from TESCO to prepare food at home, but it is actually much cheaper to buy local food. These are the places we would recommend to eat:

  • I Love You Food court – the best pizza @ RM20.  The Indian food is delicious, cheap and the servings are decent.
  • Long Beach Food court – a wide variety of food choices.
  • Arati Vilas – very local, the best Indian food, they don’t always understand what you are saying, but they have the cheapest beer and the kids always left with a sweet free of charge.  Very friendly! We recommend the Tosai (pancake with sauces) and the Banana leaf chicken set.

    Banana leaf chicken set

    Banana leaf chicken set

  • Sri Ananda Bhawan Restaurant – A bit more upmarket, excellent Indian food. Great service and great recommendations for kid friendly foods.
  • Sea Pearl Cafe – Excellent for sunsets.  They only serve BBQ’d prawns (RM20/500g) and crab (cheapest we found).  First come, first serve. Very rustic. 

    Prawns served at Sea Pearl

    Prawns served at Sea Pearl

Tsunami Village – Never judge a book by its cover! The entrance resembles a mechanic workshop, but once you are in the restaurant area the view is magnificent.  The food is excellent, good prices.

Bora Bora – set on Batu Ferringhi beach, best spot for sunsets.

Sunset at Bora Bora

Sunset at Bora Bora

Miami beach cafe – this hidden gem was within walking distance to where we stayed.  Beautiful setting with the best roti canai and very friendly owners.

Making friends at Miami Cafe

Making friends at Miami Cafe

 

ATTRACTIONS

  • Penang National Park – we went to the Turtle sanctuary (Kerachut Beach) – we hiked with the kids for 1.5 hours.  It’s in the jungle, easy hike, shaded all the time.  Take some water and mosquito repellent with.  We organised a boat (RM100) to collect us at Kerachut beach and take us around to Monkey Beach where we spent some time on the beach.  Watch our vlog.

Penang Street art – So much fun getting lost in the town in search of the wall art located all over.  The walls were painted by an artist from London in order to make people aware of the rich history of Penang.  We took the most awesome photos of the kids and they enjoyed every second of it.  You can also rent a bicycle to explore the streets.  Watch our vlog. 

Chew Jetties – Not much to do, but it was great exploring these old wooden houses built on the jetties where some Chinese people still live.

Chew Jetty

Chew Jetty

  • Rent a car and drive over the two bridges connecting the island – the one bridge is 8km and the other is 24km.  We also explored the south of the island, not a lot of tourism, but some scenic spots.
    24km bridge connecting Penang to the mainland

    24km bridge connecting Penang to the mainland

     

  • Try out a durian fruit!! Like the locals say, it smells like toilet but tastes like ice cream.  People were piling up to buy durian and at RM40/kg!! So expensive, but it’s like an addiction…I hated it, but Eben got some durian for a second time! His vlog on durians will be published soon!
  • Try out the local foods – there are so many food vendors everywhere and the food was always superb! A great place in George Town was the Gurney hawker centre we there are load of local food.
  • Batu Ferringhi night market – this market must be over a 1km long, open every night. Loads of shirts, watches etc. 
  • Beach activities – On Batu Ferringhi beach you can rent jetski’s, parasail and much more.
  • Botanical gardens – Also known as the green lungs of George Town.  Lovely to go for a stroll or just sit on one of the  benches and admire the beauty of nature.  The monkeys are a nuisance, be aware.  Free of charge. See how a monkey try to attack Megan.

    Penang Botanical Gardens

    Penang Botanical Gardens

  • Snake Temple – this temple is filled with incense and venomous vipers are hanging in trees, one would think that they are sleeping.  They look dead but are very much alive.  My nerves were done.  Entrance is free of charge.  We visited the snake farm next door.  We paid RM8 per adult and RM6 per child. Very friendly owner with a passion for snakes.  We had our own private tour, very informative. View our vlog.

We fell in love with Penang, it’s friendly people and all the great food.  The streets are extremely busy and dangerous, so it was a bit stressful at times with the kids to cross a street. We would definitely recommend any family with young kids to explore this beautiful island in Malaysia.  View our vlogs on the places we visited in Penang. 

 

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