We have just returned from six days in Penang and had a very enjoyable time. We can understand why many fall in love with this little Island.
We stayed at the Traders Hotel in Georgetown for three nights and found the Hotel to be comfortable with decent sized rooms and quality furniture. The staff were very pleasant other than a lady in attendance at the club lounge. We enjoyed the seafood buffet but breakfast was better. Malaysian food is delicious and their chicken and meat curries are the best.
We enjoyed walking around Georgetown along the Esplanade and the Fort. There are many historic buildings that are worth visiting. We had a look around the Eastern & Oriental Hotel and loved the outfits the staff wore. It is a beautiful place and has some lovely antiques.
We took the ferry across to the mainland but when we got off we didn't think there was much to see so hopped back on and enjoyed the trip back. The funny thing is that you are not charged for the trip to the mainland and only charged for the return trip. We figured that was because nobody actually likes leaving the Island :).
We made the most of the rapid Penang bus transport. We bought a 7 day passport at the airport for 20RM. It is a great economical way of seeing the Island. Route no. 501 was outstanding. It took us around the North-Western side of the Island with stunning views of the Hills and Ocean.
The Traders Hotel has a shuttle service to the Golden Sands Hotel and we thought the Hotel had a special charm about it. The layout is excellant and we would have been happy to stay there. We did stay at the Hard Rock Hotel for a couple of nights and found it to be a very good Hotel, very modern, good staff, a fantastic pool and also had a very good layout. The beds were extremely comfortable (Asian beds tend to be harder) and we loved the double glassed sliding doors that opened fully onto our balcony overlooking the pool and Ocean. If you have a room on the ground floor you can walk straight off your balcony into the pool.
We found staying at the Beach area (Batu Ferringhi) was very relaxing and should have stayed there for the complete stay. Some would probably disagree but the area reminded us a little of the quieter places in Bali but with none of the negatives. The sales people are not pushy, their was plenty of security at the Hotels, the english language is much better understood, the food did not make us ill (and is nicer), the water although undrinkable is much cleaner, the roads are better and the diversity in nationalities is interesting.
We took a guided tour of the Spice Garden and we both found it to be very infrormative and interesting.
Although we did not go to any nightclubs we felt that in general Penang is a more subdued place than other touristy places. People tend to sleep in longer and settle down at night earlier. There is not a great deal of alcohol being drunk and holiday time is very family focused.
Malaysia is truelly a beautiful place and there is still so much more for us to explore. We are planning on going a little further North in the future to the Island of Langawki.