Having just returned from our first trip to Penang I am looking forward to sharing a few of my thoughts and hoping some of my information can help would be travellers.
This forum has provided a wealth of information and I thank all those who have taken time not only to comment on my posts but also to message me with help...so THANK YOU.
I have LOADS to share but will not bore you all to death, I will touch on a few things I think maybe helpful and hopefully for those planning to go this will help and for those who have well and truly caught Penang Fever, hopefully it will provide you all with some great memories.
We travelled during the dates 20/7/13 – 30/7/13. We flew Perth-KL-Penang-KL-Perth, we had a “fly-thru” flight on the way there which was great because as soon as we checked the bags in at Perth we could forget about them, on the way home it was cheaper to stay o/night in KL (Tune LCCT Hotel) and fly the next morning than fly overnight so we had one night at Tune then flew home to Perth much refreshed.
All our flights were on time (even arriving early). If you are travelling with kids definitely book the entertainment set, best $15 I ever spent, you can share them as well if you hire a “splitter” for the earphones for 5MYR on board. Food is great and well worth purchasing. THE BEST Low Cost airline around.
GETTING A ROOM
We stayed at the Bayview Resort (please check my review for a more in depth report). We LOVED this hotel and were very happy with our room, the service, the food and the staff. We will definitely return. We had a 2 bedroom Family suite which was excellent.
A taxi from the airport to BF Bayview cost us a set price of 74MYR, you can catch the Rapid Penang, but it looked very busy and I didn’t fancy standing all the way to BF. If you are travelling on your own or a couple, catching the bus this would be a great way to save some money.
A taxi from Bayview to the Night Markets in BF cost us 10MYR the first night as I had gone off what a fellow TA member had told me, but one night we managed to get a taxi for 5MYR...only because we had run out of money and our driver was a sweetheart. But put it this way, it is not a very long walk and quite sobering after a few large beers and dinner.
The Bayview provided a shuttle at 7.30 each evening to the markets or we caught the Rapid Penang.
Rapid Penang – we found the public transport to be reliable, clean and cheap. Prices are listed to and from areas on several bus stops and you should have small change to pay. Sometimes we found they would accept much less for the trip...but not present us with a ticket (so we figured our money was probably going straight in their pocket). The bus pass prices talked about in information I have read has risen too
85 MYR - ADULT, 45MYR – YOUTH and 45MYR – aged 60 above this is for 1 months travel.
Heaps of mini marts everywhere, outside all hotels. There is also a massive Tesco about 15 minutes bus ride away, heading towards Georgetown at what we thought was Island Plaza..but it wasn’t as we passed Island Plaza on another trip, it is fairly close though.
Getting into the local cuisine
OMG, the food is divine. We enjoyed a mix of cultures trying Indian, Japanese, western and of course Malaysian. Our favourite place to eat was definitely Long Beach, the Spring Roll stall did not disappoint...YUMMY, but you do need to get there prior to about 7.00pm if it is busy. We arrived the first night with our mouths literally watering only to discover she was on holiday Oh Dear...but she was back the next night with her son and daughter helping out. I am sure it is her sister who runs the chicken stall next door...which is also divine. Another favourite place was I Love You Cafe, next door to Long Beach, across from Ocean Jupiter. The Teppanyaki stand was yummy, as was the waffle stand, my son Ben was their best customer. I Love You also had some great deals on drinks while we were there and it was one of the cheaper places to get a beer, which we actually asked to served to us on the beach, it was lovely. Bora Bora was great, but very busy – fantastic sunset, but the beach is crowded and packed with horse rides, jet skis and para-sailing. We booked a table which was a great idea, but were soon driven out by all the smokers, they sure were packing them in. Enca across the road from the Bayview was handy and served great food, the kids loved their pizzas for a snack and they will do room service for the Bayview.
On every OS trip we do, at least one of us goes down with flu like sickness or upset tummy. On our last trip to Malaysia both boys got sick straight after each other and we lost about 3 days nursing them back to health...NEVER AGAIN. We took all the precautions; flu shots and doses of Inner Health Plus prior to travel, we did not eat without first using hand sanitiser, drank only bottled water and had limited ice in drinks, when my tummy felt a little “off” I took about 4 charcoal tablets and by the next day it was fine. We ate in lots of different places and didn’t hold back. I am pleased to report that none of us fell ill...until we got home and then we all got head colds
My tip is it travel with the basic supplies, there are medicines readily available, but we took charcoal tablets, panadol, nasal spray, Imodium, hand gel and a basic first aid kit. Also don’t have your room air-conditioning too low, I think this can add to the chances of getting a cold if you are constantly going from tropical heat to freezing cold all the time.
We had 10 days in BF and we enjoyed having a mix of rest days and activity days. A few of the best things we did were.
Penang Hill – we caught the Rapid Penang to Komtar and then swapped buses to takes us to Penang Hill. It was 70MYR for a family of four to ride the train. The train ride up and down was amazing. Do not bother to pay for a buggy to take you around the summit, it is walkable. Unfortunately the sky was very hazy on all our days in Penang, but if you can pick a clear day it would be much better.
Escape – OMG OMG OMG, the best day out for a family. You do have to be a little bit adventurous and able to climb, swing and walk up steep hills. We caught the Rapid Penang and he dropped us off right outside the door which was very lucky for us as most drivers will keep going straight at the roundabout and continue onto the National Park. It was 210MYR for our family, great value in my opinion. My boys loved this place and the setting is gorgeous, eco friendly and amazing. They are in the process of building a water park opposite which would be great to cool off at afterwards that’s for sure. I think they expect that to open in July 2014
Night Markets – a great place to eat, shop and get a massage or mani/pedi. We frequented Nail Global near Ocean Jupiter nearly every night as they had a free fish spa for our boys while hubby and I were enjoying a massage, reflexology or a mani/pedi. The boys also got in the action and had some foot massages and reflexology.
Most stalls had fixed price, but here are a few prices we paid. T-shirts 10-15MYR, handbags anything from 20-100MYR depending on quality, I got a real fake Jimmy Choo bag and purse for 75MYR, very happy with that, boardies around 30MYR, hats 10MYR and many more trinkets for school friends back home from bracelets to book marks ranging in price from 3MYR. The kids loved to barter and were way better at it than us, must be those cute smiles.
Spice Garden – Again we caught the Rapid Penang. Somewhere I read a poster said it was not a long walk from Bayview..Umm, not so. It is a fair walk on winding roads with no footpath. I wouldn’t try it. Spice Gardens were lovely, tranquil and informative. The kids got a bit bored, next time hubby and I will go on our own. It cost 45MYR for us to enter and we could have done a cooking course for around 250MYR each I think, but we thought it a tad expensive...maybe next time.
GETTING THE BEST ADVICE
Some of my tips
Besides travelling with a medical kit and turning down your air-conditioning, I suggest;
Have toilet paper or tissue with you at all times, as even if you pay 20sen to use the toilet..that don’t guarantee paper. I helped out several fellow females in need.
Don’t always expect the toilet door to lock or even for there to be a toilet door (I Love You Cafe)..but you get over it.
Have bug spray for Spice Garden and Escape and other jungle experiences.
Smile all the time and ask what your taxi driver, waitress, chef or house maids name is, these are beautiful people and can surprise you with their stories.
Don’t get caught up over a few ringgit, remember you are on holiday and in the end it is only a dollar or so you might be arguing about.
If you hire a boat from near the National Park to take you to Monkey Beach, Turtle Bay and the Lake, first check
a) The weather ( it poured on us and made walking difficult)
b) That there are actual turtles to see
c) That there is water in the lake and it isn’t a swampy smelly bog.
d) That your boat driver does not abandon you on Turtle beach to go and collect other passengers (when you thought you had hired the boat exclusively). Lots of people were left for longer than their planned half hour and believe me 5 minutes at Turtle Beach is enough. The boat trip from the national park was a disappointing experience, but you live and learn and we came away with smiles on our faces regardless.
If you spend any time at KL LCCT, please check out the MASSIVE Lolly shop (this tip from my youngest son)
We booked a larger taxi to take us to the airport, as we had an extra bag on the way home (fancy that), we negotiated 100MYR for pick up at our hotel and drop off at airport. Happy to pay the extra as it was a very comfy ride and our driver was very pleasant. We were quoted 100MYR by Ocean Jupiter as well, but ended up going with the bookings guy opposite the Bayview.
The flight to KL took 40 minutes, so we arrived ahead of time again.
We walked to the Tune Hotel (using the Airport trolleys, which most people were doing), it took about 10 minutes and was quite safe and manageable. There is a food hall between the LCCT and Tune, but most of the stalls were closed, so probably better to eat at the LCCT if you need a meal.
The Tune hotel....well what can I say??? It was an experience that’s for sure. Please see my review for more detail.
GETTING READY TO GO BACK
Hopefully returning in January. My youngest is hoping his mate at the waffle stand hasn’t forgotten him or the dogs on the beach outside Bayview (who all had names and had gained a few kilos by the time we left). I will definitely stay at the Bayview again and this time try and check out a few more shopping malls. It was a great family holiday with loads to do or loads not to do, whichever way you want to play it.
WOW, this JBR got quite long in the end, sorry. I could have raved a lot more about beautiful Penang so consider yourself lucky. As I said in the opening I hope this helps fellow TA’s and please feel free to contact me as I will be on here regularly planning our next trip.