In our Malaysia Road Trip Guide series, we’re featuring six of the best destinations in Peninsular Malaysia that Singaporeans can drive to for the ultimate road trip experience. For the fourth part of our series, we are featuring Penang Island. Penang is a popular destination among Singaporeans because of its tropical beaches, metropolitan city centre, and multicultural heritage.
However, Penang is quite a lengthy drive from Singapore. This makes it all the more important for Singaporeans to familiarise themselves with the area before they go on their road trip. Here’s our road trip guide to Penang.
Penang is approximately 7 to 8 hours away from Singapore non-stop from the Woodlands or Tuas Checkpoints. It’s the furthest destination on our list and passes through the other destinations we also featured such as Kuala Lumpur and Malacca. The fastest route to Penang Island is through the North-South Expressway. Once you get to the Penang exit, you will have two options to get to the island. You can either take the Penang Bridge or take the ferry. Toll fees through the Penang Bridge will cost you RM7. The ferry to Penang, on the other hand, will cost you RM7.70.
It is highly recommended that you take several breaks during your road trip to Penang. It is a must for a safe and comfortable journey to Penang. This is especially important if you plan to bring your kids with you. Luckily, there are multiple Rest and Service Areas where you can eat, stretch your legs, and use the toilet. There are 10 RSAs along the NSE going to Penang- Gelang Patah, Machap, Pagoh, Ayer Keroh, Seremban, Sg. Buloh, Rawang/Ulu Bernam, Tapah, Sg. Perak, and Gng. Semanggol.
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Penang Island is perhaps most renowned for George Town. As a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it’s one of the oldest cities in Malaysia. Along with historical sites, there are numerous other attractions in Penang that would make for an unforgettable vacation for the entire family. Here are some of the best attractions you shouldn’t miss out on in Penang.
- George Town (Penang, Malaysia)
Located in the Northeast of Penang, George Town is indeed a fascinating destination for a lot of foreign tourists. Aside from the beautifully preserved shophouses and colonial buildings, George Town is a vibrant city that offers tourists a lot of exciting attractions. There are numerous street murals spread all throughout Penang from artist Ernest Zacharevic. If you want to learn more about George Town’s rich history, check out Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion, Batu Ferringhi Beach, Clan Jetties, Khoo Kongsi, Penang City Hall, Fort Cornwallis, and Armenian Street just to name a few.
- Penang Hill (Bukit Bendera, Penang, Malaysia)
Once known as Strawberry Hill, Penang Hill is another excellent destination in the island. Penang Hill offers tourists unrivalled panoramic views of the entire island. It can be accessed through the funicular train or through a 3-hour trekking trail. With an average temperature of 200 to 270 Celsius, Penang Hill’s weather is also much cooler than the rest of the island. Aside from the great views of the island, there are a couple of attractions that can be seen atop Penang Hill such as the Kek Lok Si Temple and Bel Retiro.
- ESCAPE Adventureplay Theme Park (828 Jalan Teluk Bahang, 11050 Penang, Malaysia)
ESCAPE Adventureplay Theme Park is the ideal destination for large families. It’s an outdoor adventure park where you can do a variety of fun activities such as zip-lining, climbing towers, flying lemur, gecko tower, monkey school, and so much more. The park itself is surrounded by Penang’s lush forests. The outdoor park is open on Tuesdays to Sundays from 9am to 6pm. Ticket prices cost RM83 for adults and RM55 for kids.
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Since Penang is a famous tourist destination, you won’t run out of hotels to choose from. With varying price ranges, you will surely find one that suits your budget. Here are some of the most noteworthy hotels in the island based on popularity and location:
- Shangri-La’s Rasa Sayang Resort & Spa (Batu Feringgi Beach, 11100 Penang, Malaysia)
After a long drive, there is nothing like relaxing on a beach resort where the whole family can enjoy. Located in Penang’s famous Batu Feringgi Beach, the Shangri-La’s Rasa Sayang Resort & Spa offers guests a secluded paradise packed with all luxury amenities you need during a holiday getaway. This luxury hotel is perfect for couples and families.
- Le Dream Boutique Hotel (139 Jalan Pintai Tali, George Town, 10100 Penang, Malaysia)
If you plan on staying in George Town, Le Dream Boutique Hotel is a great choice. Ideally located in the heart of the old city, you will be within walking distance to shopping malls and other attractions. This boutique hotel is ideal for groups and families looking for a more specialised service.
- Jawi Peranakan Mansion (153 Hutton Lane, George Town, 10050 Penang, Malaysia)
History lovers will enjoy staying in this hotel. Part of the George Town Heritage Hotels’ collection, the Jawi Pernakan Mansion is one of the best hotels in the island that incorporates Penang’s old world charms. Exclusivity is their specialty with only 8 mansion rooms and 4 family suites. Couples and families will surely enjoy staying in this wonderful boutique hotel.
Penang Island is synonymous with street food. It’s named one of the top destinations in Southeast Asia’s ultimate street food experience. The reason why Penang is iconic when it comes to food is because of the diverse flavours in its cuisine. Influenced by various cultures, it’s a delicious melting pot you shouldn’t miss when you go to Penang Island. Here are just some of the best locations in Penang Island to you can get your affordable fix of favourites such as Char Koay Teow and Assam Laksa: New Lane Hawker Centre, Gurney Drive Hawker Centre, and Presgrave Street Hawker Centre.
Although quite far from Singapore, Penang is definitely worth the 7-8 hours you put in driving. With so many attractions to see and dishes to savour, it is a destination worthy of the long journey. Before your trip, do make sure to have your car assessed by a professional in order to ensure your safety on the road. Keep your travel and car insurance handy in case of any mishaps during your trip.