3 Days 2 Nights Penang Weekend Break (January 2016)

Day 1 – Singapore to Penang

We haven’t visited Penang for quite a few years now. When the children were younger, we used to drive to Penang directly and enjoyed Ferringhi Beach, Penang Hill, Georgetown, shopping and dining. So to commence our travel plans this year, we took a very short weekend break to Penang Island just to explore Georgetown area, do some shopping and enjoy the local food there.

Our flights schedules by Air Asia were as follows:

Singapore to Penang 11.45 am to 1.05 pm

Penang to Singapore 9.55 am to 11.20 am

We would be staying at Merchant Hotel in the middle of Jalan Penang close to many attractions and within easy reach for local food.

So our departure came as we made our way to Changi Airport on a Friday morning. Since we were travelling light and had no check in luggage, we went straight through custom and immigration at Terminal 1 and had a late breakfast at the McDonalds at Terminal 2. We took our time to head to the departure gate and eventually boarded our flight to Penang.

Boarded the plane early
Boarded the plane early

It was a full flight and we were sitting at the back of the plane. This was however the noisiest flight we had flown on any plane just like taking a bus across the Causeway to Johor. The plane was full of passengers from a certain country that talked non-stop ignoring and not listening to instructions from the air stewardess. A guy even stood up to rummage the overhead locker while the air stewardess was demonstrating safety procedures as the plane was taxiing for takeoff. Another lady got up to go to the toilet when they plane was about to land and the air stewardess had to shout at her to return to her seat. Hilarious indeed. Anyway, this was the first time we were flying with Air Asia.

Other than those incidents, our flight was uneventful and we landed at Penang Airport ahead of schedule near to 1 pm. Interestingly, we had to disembark via the mobile staircase instead of the usual aerobridge. It was a good experience as we had the privilege to take pictures of the bright and pretty yellow colour plane as we proceeded into the terminal building.

Pretty yellow Air Asia plane
Pretty yellow Air Asia plane


Nice plane at Penang Airport
Nice plane at Penang Airport

Immigration clearance was smooth and shortly we were out of the airport. Just as we stepped outside the terminal building, we saw bus 401E passing by and we rushed to catch the bus not far on the left along the road. There were some passengers alighting and some boarding so we managed to board the bus. Bus fare was just RM$2.70 per person.

Bus ticket from airport to Komtar
Bus ticket from airport to Komtar

We took our seats and enjoyed the ride to town. As it was a Friday afternoon, some stretches of the road was congested due to people going to mosque and their cars took up a lane on the road. After some time we reached Queensbay Mall where a number of passengers alighted. We then continued on our journey and arrived Komtar around 2.20 pm. This was pretty good timing and cost effective as well.

We entered Prangin Mall to find a decent restaurant for lunch. We worked our way up each level and finally decided to have lunch at Home Recipe Restaurant. We ordered the weekday set lunches and topped up for soup, drinks and desserts. The set lunches were reasonably priced.

Home Recipe Restaurant
Home Recipe Restaurant

We took our seats near the edge and had a nice view of the mall from above. Our food came and we tucked in to enjoy our lunch. The main course was pretty tasty however, the soup was not up to standard and the mango pudding was dilute. Drinks were fine though.




Inside view of Prangin Mall from Home Recipe Restaurant
Inside view of Prangin Mall from Home Recipe Restaurant
Beef Rice set lunch
Beef Rice set lunch
Chicken chop set lunch
Chicken chop set lunch

We did a quick survey of the mall, entered Parkson Store which smelled of cigarette smoke so we quickly left. The mall was having some promotional event on the ground floor but we were not really into shopping mood yet so we left the mall and headed towards Jalan Penang.

Outside Parkson Store
Outside Parkson Store
Clothes department inside Parkson
Clothes department inside Parkson
Men's clothes department inside Parkson
Men’s clothes department inside Parkson
Another clothes section inside Parkson
Another clothes section inside Parkson
Inside Prangin Mall
Inside Prangin Mall

As we walked into Jalan Penang, the first side street on our right Lebuh Keng Kwee was attracting a crowd. This was where the famous Teochew Chendul was located. So we joined in the crowd, queued and bought ourselves a bowl of chendul for RM$2.50. This dessert was really good and hence, the crowd.

Famous Teochew Chendul Stall
Famous Teochew Chendul Stall
Queue at Famous Teochew Chendul Stall
Queue at Famous Teochew Chendul Stall

Tourists were taking pictures of this stall and soaked in the local atmosphere of this place, even though it was quite hot and humid on a hot day. This place had become a mini attraction. There were more food stalls further up the street. There was a fried kway teow stall where we were tempted to try but we thought better reserved our stomach for dinner.

Stall helpers serving at Famous Teochew Chendul Stall
Stall helpers serving at Famous Teochew Chendul Stall
More food stalls not far from Famous Teochew Chendul Stall
More food stalls not far from Famous Teochew Chendul Stall

After the nice dessert, we walked further along Jalan Penang. We passed Ho Ping Café where we had a meal there many years ago and the unmistakable Cititel Hotel was right in front of us further down the road. We knew Merchant Hotel would appear soon as the hotel would be just slightly further across the road from Cititel Hotel.

He Ping Cafe along Jalan Penang
He Ping Cafe along Jalan Penang
Cititel Hotel in front along Jalan Penang
Cititel Hotel in front along Jalan Penang

So we walked past Cititel Hotel and Merchant Hotel was just across the road from Cititel Hotel after Jalan Muntri. Being a hot day we were perspiring when we entered Merchant Hotel to process our check in matters handled by a female staff and it took a while. Meanwhile, a group of Caucasian tourists turned up at front desk for check in and another male staff attended to them. The group of Caucasians was given welcome drinks but we were not served. Anyway, the welcome drinks were just very small cups of tea or juice.

Small hotel lobby near front desk
Small hotel lobby near front desk

This lady staff seemed to be less competent. The Caucasian group of tourists collected their keys ahead of us while we were just two of us came ahead of them during check in. Finally, we got our keys and we deposited RM$100 cash with front desk to be returned to us upon check out. We told her we would be checking out very early at 6.30 am on the second day to catch our flight out of Penang and we would miss breakfast because breakfast would only be served from 7.30 am onwards. We were told to return the next day to inform them to see what could be done.

Restaurant in Merchant Hotel
Restaurant in Merchant Hotel

With check in procedures settled, we went to our room on the 8th floor. We were given a room with the windows facing a void so no room view to talk about. The advantage was we would be insulated from all the road noise but with no sunlight coming into our room, the room looked dull. The room however, was spacious and quite clean but very hot and humid as the air-conditioner had not been turned on probably for quite some time.

Nice room with plenty of space
Nice room with plenty of space

The king bed was good, very firm and comfortable. The pillows were too flat but good thing we had two pillows each. Because we had no window view, our room was a little dark even with all the lights turned on.

Nice and clean spacious room
Nice and clean spacious room


Comfortable bed that is firm
Comfortable bed that is firm

TV is wall mounted in front of the bed next to window with curtains covering the void. There are only 8 channels but they included HBO, Discovery Channel and BBC so should be good enough for English speaking foreigners. Password for wifi is indicated on the room telephone and it works pretty well.

Curtains covering window of void and wall-mount TV
Curtains covering window of void and wall-mount TV
Bathroom entrance at the end of the room
Bathroom entrance at the end of the room

Bottled waters and coffee and tea facility were provided and minibar was free but it consisted of only 2 packet drinks and another bottle of water in the fridge. Nothing to shout about but still better than none.

Bottled water, coffee and tea plus electric kettle
Bottled water, coffee and tea plus electric kettle
Free mini bar in the fridge
Free mini bar in the fridge

Bathroom is quite spacious with a deep bathtub but it doesn’t come with shower curtains so the floor would be wet after shower. There is also a small step after the entrance into the toilet which pose a hazard when rushing into the toilet at night.

Nice and clean bathroom
Nice and clean bathroom
Clean deep bathtub
Clean deep bathtub

So our room was pretty alright especially with the location being strategically located in the middle of Georgetown. Red Garden Food Centre is just behind the hotel and a bus stop is right outside the hotel along Jalan Penang where we could hop on to the free CAT tourist bus to go places.

It was just 3.45 pm and too hot to venture out to explore the streets. So we relaxed and watched TV for a while before heading out to explore and have dinner. The room was quite spacious and it took a while for the air-conditioner to cool down the room.

When it was already 6.30 pm, it was time to head out to see what Georgetown had to offer. Before heading out, we went to the 11th floor and walked up to the roof top to have a good view of the surrounding to orientate ourselves.

Great view of Georgetown from Merchant Hotel rooftop
Great view of Georgetown from Merchant Hotel rooftop
Beautiful view of Georgetown from Merchant Hotel
Beautiful view of Georgetown from Merchant Hotel

It was still very bright when we were up there and the views of Georgetown from the rooftop was great. We could see all the way to the ferry terminal where a big cruise was anchored there.

Nice cruise anchored at at the ferry terminal
Nice cruise anchored at at the ferry terminal
Nice view of waterfront in Georgetown
Nice view of waterfront in Georgetown
Waterfront area of Georgetown
Waterfront area of Georgetown

Towards the left we saw a nice rainbow up in the sky that welcomed our visit to Georgetown after quite a few years. We truly enjoyed this marvelous sight. It was a great feeling indeed to see a rainbow in the sky on a bright day.

Nice rainbow over Georgetown
Nice rainbow over Georgetown

Right in front was Penang Hill with the setting sun piercing fiercely through the clouds in the distance. Slightly front left was the unmistakable Komtar that used to be the pride of Penang in the yesteryears where we had dinner at the top to enjoy the splendid view of Penang from above looking as far as the Penang Bridge beautifully lit up at night.

Sunset time from Penang Hill
Sunset time from Penang Hill
Penang Hill view from Merchant Hotel
Penang Hill view from Merchant Hotel
Setting sun piercing through the clouds
Setting sun piercing through the clouds


Sunset over Georgetown with Komtar standing out in town
Sunset over Georgetown with Komtar standing out in town
Penang Bridge in the distance from Merchant Hotel
Penang Bridge in the distance from Merchant Hotel

It was wonderful to be able to look around this UNESCO Buffer Zone from Merchant Hotel to see what this place had to offer after all these years. This short orientation from the top of the hotel was useful before we head out before sundown.

Komtar standing out over Georgetown
Komtar standing out over Georgetown
Jalan Penang below outside Merchant Hotel
Jalan Penang below outside Merchant Hotel
Pretty view of surrounding area near Merchant Hotel
Pretty view of surrounding area near Merchant Hotel

So we walked back into the hotel and passed a small gym with three pieces of equipment that seemed to be in working condition. Back to front desk, we checked with the staff about the area and dining options around Georgetown. These two new staff were much better than the staff who processed our check in earlier. They were friendly and gave us great details on how to explore this area. Another 3-D map given to us was really useful as well.

Small gym on top floor of the hotel
Small gym on top floor of the hotel
Equipment in the gym
Equipment in the gym

We then exited Merchant Hotel, turned left and walked into Jalan Muntri. At the first junction on Leith Street, we could see Red Garden Food Centre on our left not far away after the car park of Merchant Hotel. Actually, the Chocolate Boutique Shop is just right beside the hotel car park before Red Garden Food Centre.

Jalan Muntri looking towards Cititel Hotel
Jalan Muntri looking towards Cititel Hotel

We skipped Red Garden Food Centre where we would come back for supper after exploring Georgetown. We walked on along Jalan Muntri and the beautiful rainbow was still visible in the sky seemingly guiding us along the way. It was a lovely sight indeed.

Rainbow in the sky from Jalan Muntri
Rainbow in the sky from Jalan Muntri
Pretty sight of rainbow in the sky along Jalan Muntri
Pretty sight of rainbow in the sky along Jalan Muntri

We passed interesting cafes, shops and hostels as we continued our walk along Jalan Muntri. These old buildings were quite well preserved but the street was quite empty during this time.

Interesting hostel with street arts on wall
Interesting hostel with street arts on wall
Nice restaurant along Jalan Muntri
Nice restaurant along Jalan Muntri
Nice restaurant along Jalan Muntri with charming ambience
Nice restaurant along Jalan Muntri with charming ambience
Bicycles for rent
Bicycles for rent

Eventually, we reached Love Lane at the end of the road. We had a quick look around, turned right and walked on towards Lebuh Chulia where we would look for dinner along the road. Along the way, there were interesting cafes, shops and guesthouse like Jalan Muntri.

Love Lane shophouses
Love Lane shophouses
Love Lane street arts on walls in side lane
Love Lane street arts on walls in side lane
Interesting shop along Love Lane
Interesting shop along Love Lane
Shops along Love Lane
Shops along Love Lane
Pretty shophouses along Love Lane
Pretty shophouses along Love Lane

When we reached Lebuh Chulia, the traffic junction was quite busy. A 7-11 convenience store was there with a street art piece on the wall outside the store. There were shops on both sides of Lebuh Chulia and not far on our left, we could see many street food stalls across the road.

Love Lane outside 7-11
Love Lane outside 7-11
Junction of Love Lane and Lebuh Chulia
Junction of Love Lane and Lebuh Chulia
Shop houses along Lebuh Chulia opposite Love Lane
Shop houses along Lebuh Chulia opposite Love Lane
Shops along Lebuh Chulia
Shops along Lebuh Chulia
Street foodstalls ahead along Lebuh Chulia
Street foodstalls ahead along Lebuh Chulia
Love Lane junction
Love Lane junction
Shops along the road
Shops along the road
Street arts outside 7-11
Street arts outside 7-11

So we crossed the road and walked towards the roadside food stalls. The rainbow could still be seen in front of us on the left. It was really pretty. We walked along the road and checked out the food stalls.

Beautiful rainbow along Lebuh Chulia
Beautiful rainbow along Lebuh Chulia
More shops along Lebuh Chulia
More shops along Lebuh Chulia
Food stall at Lebuh Chulia
Food stall at Lebuh Chulia
Busy food stall at Lebuh Chulia
Busy food stall at Lebuh Chulia
Lebuh Chulia hawker centre
Lebuh Chulia hawker centre
Lebuh Chulia hawker street food stalls
Lebuh Chulia hawker street food stalls


Lebuh Chulia hawker centre food stalls along the road
Lebuh Chulia hawker centre food stalls along the road
Food stall along the road
Food stall along the road

We decided to have Penang fried kway teow and had a fresh coconut and hoped to order more food after this. There were not many tables and chairs around the small lane at this hawker centre. We did manage to get a table after the left over plates were cleared by the hawkers.

Fried Kway teow stall
Fried Kway teow stall
Food stalls along side lane
Food stalls along side lane
Ordered fried kway teow from this food stall here at the side lane
Ordered fried kway teow from this food stall here at the side lane

Our food came but it also starting to drizzle. So we ate hurriedly to avoid our food and drinks getting additional seasoning from the rain. The fried kway teow portion was small and tasted fine but not the best we had tasted in Penang. Perhaps we were eating too quickly and we could not enjoy our food because of the drizzle. So no more additional food for now due to the light rain.

Another food stall across the road
Another food stall across the road
Lebuh Chulia hawker centre
Lebuh Chulia hawker centre

After this meal, we went around to roam the streets for street arts but it was also getting dark. The rain however had also stopped. Soon we were near to Komtar again so we walked towards 1st Avenue Mall next to Prangin Mall that we didn’t cover early in the afternoon.

TCM Store in Georgetown
TCM Store in Georgetown
Penang bus on the road
Penang bus on the road
Major road junction in Georgetown
Major road junction in Georgetown
Street art in Georgetown
Street art in Georgetown
Indian restaurant in Georgetown
Indian restaurant in Georgetown
Nice colonial building in Georgetown
Nice colonial building in Georgetown
Another piece of street art in Georgetown
Another piece of street art in Georgetown
Shops selling lanterns across the road
Shops selling lanterns across the road

It was already 7.45 pm when we entered 1st Avenue Mall. This mall was clean and modern. Parkson Store is an anchored tenant taking up a few floors. This Parkson Store was pleasant without cigarette smell and after a quick look around, we exited Parkson and checked out other shops.

Outside Prangin Mall
Outside Prangin Mall
1st Avenue Mall ahead
1st Avenue Mall ahead
1st Avenue Mall promotional events
1st Avenue Mall promotional events

H&M has a shop here which is quite big with two floors of shopping space. Brands Outlet is there as well. Likewise Best Store and also Royal Sporting House where we went in for a look but with no discounts going on we left the store.

Nice modern 1st Avenue Mall
Nice modern 1st Avenue Mall
Brands Outlet Store
Brands Outlet Store
Parkson Store
Parkson Store

Of course there are cafes and restaurants in the mall but we were not keen for another meal here. We were planning to have supper back at Red Garden Food Centre next to Merchant Hotel. 1st Avenue Mall though clean, new and modern, crowd seemed to be absent.

Nice but quiet mall
Nice but quiet mall

Next we went over to Prangin Mall again via a connecting bridge which was very convenient. Prangin Mall even though is an older mall, crowd size seems to be better than 1st Avenue Mall. Perhaps this mall is more established. In addition, there are more smaller shops selling stuff that are more reasonably priced.

Walked into Prangin Mall from bridge connecting 1st Avenue Mall
Walked into Prangin Mall from bridge connecting 1st Avenue Mall
Inside Prangin Mall
Inside Prangin Mall
Front view of Prangin Mall
Front view of Prangin Mall

We spent a little more time now to look at clothes and shoes. There was an event going on at ground floor. My wife did some shopping while I roamed around to take pictures.

Fashion shop in the mall
Fashion shop in the mall
Polo shoes shop
Polo shoes shop
Events on ground floor of the mall
Events on ground floor of the mall
Sales event on ground floor
Sales event on ground floor
Clothes on sales on ground floor
Clothes on sales on ground floor

After shopping, we went to the bus stop next door outside the mall to wait for the free CAT bus to go back to Merchant Hotel. The CAT bus came after about ten minutes and we boarded the bus. We alighted near the Police Station near Jalan Penang and walked back towards Merchant Hotel.

CAT bus stop outside Prangin Mall
CAT bus stop outside Prangin Mall

Jalan Penang looked a little different at night when lit up. It was a pleasant walk along Jalan Penang and we walked into Leith Street before Cititel Hotel. We could see Red Garden Food Centre not far away.

Night scene along Jalan Penang
Night scene along Jalan Penang
Local bakery on Jalan Penang
Local bakery on Jalan Penang
Restaurant at Jalan Penang next to bakery
Restaurant at Jalan Penang next to bakery
Cititel Hotel junction at Leith Street
Cititel Hotel junction at Leith Street
Night scene along Jalan Muntri junction
Night scene along Jalan Muntri junction
Hotel at Jalan Muntri junction with Leith Street
Hotel at Jalan Muntri junction with Leith Street
Georgetown Wines opposite Red Garden Food Centre
Georgetown Wines opposite Red Garden Food Centre

When we reached the food centre, it was already near 9 pm and the place was quite crowded. There were not many empty tables left. We found a table on the outer edge in the middle and settled down to order food for supper. There are many food stalls here and those having supper here would be spoilt for choice.

Barbecue stall at the corner
Barbecue stall at the corner
Japanese food stall
Japanese food stall
Satay and barbecue chicken wings
Satay and barbecue chicken wings
Many food stalls in Red Garden Food Centre
Many food stalls in Red Garden Food Centre


More food stalls in Red Garden Food Centre
More food stalls in Red Garden Food Centre
Plenty of food stalls in Red Garden Food Centre
Plenty of food stalls in Red Garden Food Centre
Fruits and seafood stalls
Fruits and seafood stalls

We had satay and barbecue chicken wings and wanton noodles as well. The food took a while to come as the food centre was crowded with diners enjoying their night out. The food was good but we still preferred the satay at Chong Pang Hawker Centre in Yishun back in Singapore. Our satay back home comes with nice peanut sauce and the satay meats are well cooked and tasty.

Barbecue chicken wings
Barbecue chicken wings
Wanton noodles at Red Garden Food Centre
Wanton noodles at Red Garden Food Centre

Red Garden Food Centre is quite a touristy place attracting many diners who are foreigners. Music entertainment was provided at night and everyone was having a great time eating and chatting the night away. The ambience was indeed good to while the evening away alfresco style, a little hot and humid though.

Busy night at Red Garden Food centre
Busy night at Red Garden Food centre
Good ambience at Red Garden Food centre
Good ambience at Red Garden Food centre

We were getting a little uncomfortable having walked a lot around Georgetown feeling hot and humid. So we decided to head back to Merchant Hotel next door after the Chocolate Boutique Shop. It was very easy to walk through the car park to enter the hotel lobby.

Outside Red Garden Food centre
Outside Red Garden Food centre

Soon we were back in our room this time nicely air-conditioned as we left the air-conditioner running due to the hot climate here. Furthermore, the hotel corridor was not air-conditioned so the room would be quite warm and would take some time to cool down.

The deep bathtub was great for some good soaking. After a nice shower, we felt great again comfortably enjoying HBO movies and chatting with the children back home.

As the night drew on we had to call it a night. We would have another full day and night in Penang before flying off early morning the following day. We were pleased with our activities for the day.


Continue to Day 2

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