Penang, Malaysia: Tropical Paradise from $12/Day

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Penang, Malaysia: Travel cheap to a tropical paradise known for spicy foods scattered among charming colonial buildings starting at about $12/Day.   Penang, Malaysia is known for its food and you are unlikely to be disappointed by the fish, chicken or the beef dishes, but if you are vegetarian or vegan, the local restaurants will have almost nothing listed on the menu you can eat. But many food stalls will whip together a vegetarian meal that even Buddha would love.  There are also many western style restaurants and Indian restaurants with vegetarian dishes listed and many pure vegetarian/vegan restaurants.

Penang, Malaysia, Sunset
Penang, Malaysia, Sunset

This is Dan of VagabondBuddha.com.  

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Things to Do in Penang, Malaysia:  

 

    1. Street art/murals.  George Town, Penang, Malaysia is famous for the street art you see around town.  Take one of the bicycle rickshaw tours and they will take you to the favorite murals as they peddle you around the George Town area.  Or, you can just walk the path shown in various blog posts about Penang.  

  1. Hike to Monkey Beach.  Hike the trail at Penang National Park to Monkey Beach.  From the park entrance just ask the ticket seller where the trailhead is to Monkey Beach.  Make a full day of it, see the next post.   
  2. Day Trip:  Ride scooter-drive up the coast of Penang, Malaysia. Rent a scooter in George Town and ride up the coast for the day to the Penang National Park and Monkey Beach.  It makes a great full day trip.  Stop at beaches along the way and the Floating Mosque.  Then when you arrive at the National Park, walk the monkey trail along the beach and take pictures along the way.  You can rent a scooter for about $6-8 dollars for 24 hours.   
  3. Penang Hill Railway.  Grab the 204 city bus in George Town and ride it up to the tram that takes you up the mountain for an amazing tram ride to see the most amazing view of Penang, Malaysia.  
  4. Live Music.  Go listen to live jazz, blues, or rock at China House.      Walk all the way to the back through several restaurants.  
  5. Chew Clan Jetties.  A settlement living over the water on stilts right in George Town area.    
  6. Little India.  When it cools down in the evening walk around Little India for some great sights, sounds, smells, and foods.  
  7. Floating Mosque.   Make a day trip of seeing the floating mosque in Penang, Malaysia.  See #3 above.  
  8.  CF Food Court.  Like many other parts of Asia, Penang, Malaysia has large open food courts where many separate family-owned stalls assemble and sell food to the public.  The stalls usually surround tables where people can eat the food they buy at the stalls.  There are many different types of foods to choose from including, Malay, Chinese, and Indian, so there is something for everyone.  Meals are $2-4.  
  9. Pinang Peranakan Mansion.  See how the wealthiest Chinese merchant in Penang, Malaysia lived.  It is now a museum that includes everything, furniture, art, clothing.  It will give you a real look into the world of the wealthy in this part of the world.  
  10.  Yap Kongsi Temple.  Chinese Temple.  Make sure to walk the street from the temple to the jetties. See below.
  11.  Cheah Kongsi Temple.  Must see.  Interesting because of the temple paintings but also the furniture and construction.  
  12. Lebuh Armenian:  People Watching.  Make sure to walk on Lebuh Armenian from the Yap Kongsi Temple (above 11) past the CF Food Cart (above 9) to the Chew Clan Jetties (above 6).  There is a great coconut snow cone machine on the left and a great vegan restaurant about halfway down.  
  13.  Bar Hop:  Check out the bars around Love Lane and Lubuh Chulia.  There is usually live music, cheap beers and a few restaurants of western food and outdoor eating for cheap local food.  

Accommodations: If you are on a tight budget there are dormitory hostels you can stay at for $5/night in the George Town area of Penang.  Try to stay in George Town.  Anybody who wants to stay in a hostel will want to be in the fun walkable area, which is George Town.  Hotels in George Town are listed for around $25.00 night but there is always at least one running a sale for about $10/night.  Airbnb.com service apartments go for around $30.00/night.  I stayed in the swank hotel for $25.00/night but you can pay $200/night if you like.

Food:  If you are a fan of spicy food, the word “Penang” already has some meaning for you.  For years I ordered Penang Curry at Thai Restaurants without a thought.  But now I know the birthplace of my favorite spicy dish.  I am a vegetarian and I enjoyed a vegetarian sushi restaurant I found called Sushi Kitchen.  I also enjoyed Woodlands Vegetarian Restaurant, Sri Ananda Bahwan, Tofu Village Restaurant.  There are many to choose from.   The local food courts are about $3/meal and high-end restaurants are around $12/meal.  

Transportation:  I flew from Chiang Mai, Thailand on AirAisa.com to Penang, Malaysia $99.00.  The flight went from Chiang Mai to Kuala Lumpur, and then to Penang.  The taxi to my hotel in George Town was $30.00.  I was going to Penang as a first stop on my tour of Malaysia.  But I met other digital nomads in Penang who were there from Thailand on visa runs.  Upon leaving Penang, I went to Cameron Highlands by bus.  The bus took about 5 hours and cost about $15.00.  Taxis around George Town are $2 but it is all walkable.  Buses are about $1.00

Internet: The Internet, in general, will not be an issue for you in Malaysia.  It is more about where you choose to stay rather than the bandwidth of the country in general.  The only exception was in remote areas of Malaysia.  But in Penang, just change your hotel or hostel to get the connectivity you need.   Just walk in and try the Internet until you find the bandwidth you need.  

Visa: Malaysia is generous with 90 day Visas for many foreigners.  Over a 3 month period, I circulated in and out Malaysia three times and they renewed my 90-day visa on all three entries with an additional 90 days.  They didn’t ask me where I was staying or for proof of a departure ticket.  That is how Thailand was a decade ago.

Walkable Areas: The George Town area of Penang is walkable.  The rest of the island will require taxis, buses or vehicle rental.  

Weather: The weather in Penang is fairly warm and consistent year round.  The average high for the day, year-round, runs from 87-90 F which is 31-32C.  The average low for the day year-round runs 73-76 F, which is about 23-24 C.  The rain season is August through November but heaviest in the middle of that period, September and October.  

Exercise:  Since I stayed in the George Town area of Penang, where there are no parks or running paths, I just ran on the sidewalks and the streets.  There is a lot to look at so I never got bored while I run.   I carry 6ft rubber bands of varied resistance with me that I use for resistance training.  I will make a video for you someday of my training.  I think of it as a travel gym because it fits in my luggage.  I run for about 20 minutes 3 days per week, Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, and I train with the rubber bands after my run.  On Tuesdays and Thursdays, if I am feeling tight, I like to stretch or do yoga.  I watch Adrienne and follow her when I want to do yoga.  

Thank you for reading this post about the George Town, Penang, Malaysia.  Please leave a comment below, subscribe to our youtube channel, like this post on Facebook or share this video with your friends.  Your time is greatly appreciated.  

Also, please visit Vagabondbuddha.com often if you would like to learn how to wander the planet being healthy wealthy and wise.  Dan of VagabondBuddha.com.

Have an amazing day!  Here is the estimated cost of living in Penang, Malaysia:

Cost of Living, George Town, Penang, Malaysia: Monthly Multiplier
Expense Cost Low Medium High
Airbnb (1 Bedroom Apt) $30.00 0 14 30
Moderate Hotel $12.00 0 12 0
Backpacker Hostel $5.00 30 4 0
High End Restaurant $12.00 1 4 8
Neighborhood Restaurant $3.00 30 44 48
Food Cart $2.00 30 12 4
Subway/Train/Metro $0.00 20 26 8
Bus $1.00 20 10 0
Taxi $3.00 6 10 20
Total Per Month $350.00 $828.00 $1,208.00
Total Per Day $11.67 $27.60 $40.27

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