Penang, one of the backpacker’s paradises in Malaysia is home to the UNESCO World Heritage Site and mouth-watering hawker foods. It’s undoubtedly a must-visit for all kinds of travelers traveling to Malaysia. We all know that trip planning always hit the bump when it comes to deciding where to stay. But if you’re planning a visit to Penang Island, rest assured, I got you covered. Read on and check out where is the best place to stay in Penang.
Before I continue further, let me clarify that I only cover Penang Island and not the mainland, also known as Seberang Perai. And there are mainly three parts which I will talk about – Georgetown, Batu Ferringhi, and Balik Pulau. Each has its own uniqueness, so you’ll have to decide what’s best for your taste.
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Enough talking. Let’s jump right into it, and see where you should stay in Penang Island!
Understanding The Map of Penang Island
Take a look at the map below. Here, you will see Georgetown, the main city of the island in the northeast. Batu Ferringhi is located on the northern side of the island, while Balik Pulau is hidden at the back of the island on the western side.
Fun Fact: Balik Pulau translate to “The Back of Island” in the Malay language.
Georgetown is the busiest part of the island, where the traffic is a nightmare during the working hours. Roads are narrow, loads of vehicles, just unpleasant to be stuck in there. There is a huge variety of accommodation here throughout the area for you to choose from.
Batu Ferringhi is the touristy part of the island. The beaches are occupied by water sports and water activities, especially when it approaches the sunset hour. However, it’s preferred by some backpackers as the pace is much slower there, making it more comfortable to chill out.
Balik Pulau has the least number of foreigners as compared to the previous two. This is because getting there is kinda troublesome, and there are not many things to do around. This destination is for those who enjoy staying away from the crowd and prefer to see the pre-developed Penang in an authentic way.
Note that none of these three destinations are close to Penang International Airport. Batu Ferringhi is the furthest from the airport, which is located in Bayan Lepas. It seems closer to Balik Pulau but it’s much more convenient to take a bus to the airport from Georgetown.
If you’re coming from Kuala Lumpur to Penang, you will be dropped off at Sungai Nibong Bus Terminal, which you’ll have to take the bus to Georgetown. Check out the article linked in the previous sentence to see how to do that.
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Know What Kind of Traveler You Are
Knowing what kind of traveler you are is the key to deciding where to stay in Penang. Each of the three areas is suitable for different kinds of travelers.
Spend Your First Few Nights in Georgetown
First of all, Georgetown is perfect for travelers who’re interested in visiting the UNESCO World Heritage Site and the attractions inside the area. It’s also great for those backpackers who are traveling Penang on a budget since there are a bunch of cheap backpackers’ hostels there.
In Georgetown, you’ll have the best access to all kinds of services, like public transportation, shopping, buying SIM Cards, etc. If it’s your first time in Penang, I will recommend staying in Georgetown for your first few nights in Penang before hopping into the other two areas.
It will also be much easier to take the public bus to both Batu Ferringhi and Balik Pulau from the main bus terminal in Weld Quay or Komtar Penang.
There are a huge bunch of things to do and places to visit in Georgetown, but a couple of days are probably enough to visit them all. I wouldn’t recommend going for all those museums and money-digging places though. I’m talking about having a walk in the heritage site, visiting the clan jetties, taking the train up Penang Hill, etc.
The only reason you should consider a longer stay in Georgetown is the extraordinary hawker foods. Penang has hands-down the best hawker foods in Malaysia, and we Penangites are always proud of it.
It’ll take some time to try them all out, so if this is your thing, you might want to add a few days staying in Georgetown.
Chilling Out in Batu Ferringhi
Batu Ferringhi is more of a getaway destination. You’ll love this place if you’re into beaches and bars, as well as night markets. Located near to the Penang National Park, this area is also a great ‘base of operation’ if you’re planning to go hiking in the national park.
The Batu Ferringhi beach and seaside restaurants are definitely the highlights of the area. Every evening, you’ll see loads of banana boats, jet skis, and parachutes from the beach.
Even though the beaches are not facing west, there are still some chances that you’ll catch the sunset from the right angle. After the sunset, go and enjoy the Batu Ferringhi nightlife!
Oh ya, the seaside restaurants in Batu Ferringhi are no jokes. You’ll find all kinds of cuisines served here, from Southeast Asian flavors to Western dishes. For example, Ferringhi Garden Restaurant is definitely worth it to check out.
Batu Ferringhi is also located close to Tanjung Bungah, where you can find tons of good restaurants. Pay a visit to Gurney Drive as well after going shopping in Gurney Plaza and Gurney Paragon.
Even though Batu Ferringhi is located near to Penang National Park, you’ll still need to take the Rapid Bus there. The bus fare is cheap, but sometimes if you’re having bad luck, you might need to wait for a little for the bus. The bus punctuality in Penang is a joke.
I highly recommend checking out Pantai Kerachut in Penang National Park on your visit!
See the Rural Side of Penang in Balik Pulau
Balik Pulau, unlike the previous two, is not really that backpacker-friendly. First of all, it takes some time to get there, and there are not many hostels to stay. There are quite a number of homestays though. Did I mention getting around Balik Pulau is pretty difficult too?
However, if you could embrace them, Balik Pulau is a perfect spot to experience the authentic pre-developed Penang. The way of life is much slower there, and the town is really small. Traffic still gets pretty jam sometimes though.
The best way to get around in Balik Pulau is to rent a bicycle from your hostel or homestay. It will not be cheap, and the quality of the bicycles is mostly laughable. But it’s the most convenient way to see all it has to offer.
If you come at the right time, you will also catch the magnificent view of golden paddy fields, right before harvesting as well.
Balik Pulau is pretty famous for its durians too, if that’s your thing.
The beaches in Balik Pulau is facing the west, making them perfect spots for enjoying the sunsets before having seafood meals in the restaurants.
Does Balik Pulau worth all the efforts? Well, that’s for you to decide!
Where to Stay in Georgetown Penang
Sim cityStay Hostel
Sim cityStay Hostel is one of the highest-rated backpackers’ hostels in George Town, Penang. The location is perfect, within a kilometer walk to the Penang Jetty and UNESCO World Heritage Site.
That makes it extra convenient to explore around without feeling lazy because it’s literally just outside.
The hostel also features free WiFi, so you get to do your trip planning for the next day at night. It’s perfect for solo travelers, having a rating of 8.8 from solo travelers who’ve stayed here.
Find out more about this hostel here.
Betel Nut Lodge
Boasting a rating of 9.6, Betel Nut Lodge is the best option you can ask for in the moderate-budget range.
Located in Lebuh Melayu, Betel Nut Lodge is a cozy refurbished 19th-century heritage building inside the UNESCO World Heritage Site area. And of course, they feature free WiFi throughout the building.
It’s only 200 meters away from Komtar, and just so you know, there are loads of great hawker foods within 5 minutes’ walk from this lodge. You’ll never have to worry about breakfast anymore.
Every room has air-conditioning to kill the extreme heat in Penang. Bicycle rental services are also available on site. And the staff is being loved by all who had their stay there!
Check out more about Betel Nut Lodge here!
The only luxury option I’d recommend is the Yeng Keng Hotel. Like Betel Nut Lodge, Yeng Keng Hotel is also a refurbished 19th-century heritage building. Located in Lebuh Chulia, this hotel is literally in the middle of everywhere you want to go.
It’s 15 minutes’ walk from Fort Cornwallis, Khoo Kongsi, Pinang Peranakan Mansion, etc.
The rooms inside feature a fusion of Indian and British decor. There is also a reading area for guests who love to enjoy their time reading in a quiet place. Laundry and dry cleaning services are also available on site.
The hotel also serves European and local breakfast. Yeng Keng Cafe and Bar, located inside the compound serves a mixture of Hainanese and Western cuisines. And please, try their chicken pie. It’s hands-down the best in Penang Island.
Find out more about Yeng Keng Hotel, one of the best Penang hotels here.
Where to Stay in Batu Ferringhi
To be honest, there are very few backpackers’ hostels with dorm rooms in Batu Ferringhi. Rasa Motel does not have dorm rooms, but they sure have affordable rates for comfortable rooms and beds.
Located just 3 minutes away from the Batu Ferringhi beaches, Rasa Motel has one of the most strategic locations. There is an in-house restaurant, as well as seating areas for some rooms. All rooms equipped with private bathrooms.
Interested in water sport activities? You can book with the hosts here! Likewise, free WiFi!
Check out more about this motel here!
HUPO Resort Pool Villa
Located just 8 kilometers away from the Penang National Park, HUPO Resort Pool Villa also features an outdoor swimming pool, a shared lounge, as well as air-conditioned rooms with a balcony.
The villa has all the facilities you would expect. There is a water park available on site, and several hiking trails are located just outside of the villa.
However, what the guests love the most here are the staff and the cleanliness. They have a 9.6 rating in Booking.com!
Book your stay with HUPO Resort Pool Villa here!
Shangri-La’s Rasa Sayang Resort & Spa
Shangri-La’s Rasa Sayang Resort & Spa is definitely one of the most well-known hotels in Penang. Other than being surrounded by 30 acres of tropical gardens overlooking the Batu Ferringhi Beach, the resort also features two on-site outdoor swimming pools.
Did I mention they also have a 9-hole golf course, an Eco Center and Adventure Zone? Guests can also workout at the gym and enjoy massages and aromatherapies at the spa.
The spacious rooms in the resort feature views of seas and hills, and are decorated with wooden carvings and colorful fabrics. They also offer free shuttle service to UNESCO World Heritage Site in Georgetown for FREE!
Check out more about Shangri-La’s Rasa Sayang Resort & Spa here!
Hard Rock Hotel Penang
Hard Rock Hotel is one of the most iconic hotels in the world, and it’s definitely lived up to its reputation in Batu Ferringhi Penang. The hotel offers contemporary-style accommodations along the Batu Ferringhi Beach. It houses a 26,000 square feet outdoor pool, luxurious poolside cabanas, and water slides.
Needless to say, the rooms offer views of the seas and greenery and are decorated with amazing designer furnishings. And it’s just 5 minutes’ walk from the Batu Ferringhi night market!
They also have an on-site gym and spa, and they serve one of the best breakfast buffets according to many guests.
The 3 on-site restaurants offer local & continental cuisines, Italian-inspired delights, and American foods.
Book your stay in Hard Rock Hotel in Batu Ferringhi here!
Where to Stay in Balik Pulau
Now, there are a lot of options in Balik Pulau if you’re traveling in a large group, like 5-12 people. There are around half a dozen of homestays available in this area, but be sure to book it earlier because they might run out.
Couple Homestay Option
Bao Sheng Durian Farm
If you haven’t known it yet, Balik Pulau is one of the most famous places in Malaysia for durians. And it gives you a lot of insights on how durian farm works if you stay in one of the durian farms in Balik Pulau.
Bao Sheng Durian Farm features a garden with an outdoor swimming pool with great views and free WiFi. Unexpectedly, there are also flat-screen TVs in some of the rooms.
Asian breakfast options are also available every morning for the guests. If you need a bicycle to explore around, there is also a bicycle rental service on-site.
Find out more about Bao Sheng Durian Farm here.
MaliHom Private Estate Lodge
MaliHom Private Estate is the most luxurious accommodation you can ask for in Balik Pulau. The sanctuary is surrounded by greenery and features an outdoor swimming pool and private rooms with rustic decorations.
The rooms in this estate feature private grounds and deck with amazing views over the Balik Pulau landscapes. Guests can also enjoy reading books in the library or enjoy a relaxing massage on the site.
The all-day restaurant serves local delights and international cuisines. The remote location of this private estate makes you feel isolated and free from all the chaotic Penang crowds and traffic. Definitely a paradise for a getaway vacation!
Book your stay with MaliHom Private Estate in Balik Pulau here!
Do You Know Where to Stay in Penang Now?
That sums up the best places to stay in Penang, and why you should stay in Georgetown, Batu Ferringhi and Balik Pulau. I hope you find this article useful in planning your trip to Penang, Malaysia. Make sure to share it with your friends who need it. Feel free to leave a comment below and let me know how you feel about this article. Till next time, enjoy your trip in Penang! Check out these 17 best things to do in Melaka if you’re heading there next.
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