Jun 13, 2014

Penang - Short Getaway Must-Dos

Two years later, I am back at Penang! This time I am the impromptu tour guide, bringing my parents around. Based on my experiences from my two trips, here's a short list of the must-dos in Penang.

I've recently added Danbo to my family... so you will see Danbo almost everywhere in the pictures that follow. :P Be warned ... Cuteness ahead... :P

What to see?

Pinang Peranakan Mansion

My personal choice of the must-see destination in Penang would be Pinang Peranakan Mansion. In fact, it's a hotspot for wedding shoots as well. On the two visits I made to the mansion, there were couples doing their wedding shoot, in their gowns and suits. It is also the location where Mediacorp's "小娘惹 The Little Nonya" was shot.


Do not worry about their no photography and videography note posted on their official website. When I bought the tickets, they specifically told us we can take photographs. And everyone is doing so, as well.

A well preserved mansion that acts like an museum for Peranakan artefacts, it recently added an annex. This annex is air-conditioned and offers more services, such as a Peranakan restaurant, souvenir shops, and even a jewellery counter that sells pre-loved antique Peranakan jewellery. There were more displays of Peranakan jewellery and accessories.

Remember to take off your shoes before you take the stairs to the second storey of the mansion.

Street Art

In conjunction with the George Town Festival, George Town was revitalised with guerilla street art.

I didn't manage to find all street art... too many!

Here're the ones I located:

Notice the two very similar ones, which I labelled "2012" and "2014"? They touched up the paint and added a "half bicycle" permanently to that art installation.

The tourism board of Penang even produced pamplets on George Town's street art. You can grab one at the airport!

Sleeping Buddha - Wat Chayamangkalaram Temple

Wat Chayamangkalaram Temple houses a 180-foot long Sleeping Buddha.

It is currently undergoing some renovation. Colours are being revitalised:

Remember to take off your shoes before entering the temple's premises.

Next to Wat Chayamangkalaram Temple is the Burmese Buddhist Temple.

Find out where other gigantic Buddha statues are located:

What to eat?

Char Kway Teow - Penang Style

This is my favourite hawker haunt in Penang - Gurney Drive Hawker Centre, also known as Anjung Gurney. If you stay at G Hotel. This food paradise is just a few steps away. Facing G Hotel, on the right is Gurney Plaza, and then next, on the right is Gurney Drive Hawker Centre.

It's an open-air hawker centre, with loads and loads of local cuisine options.

And I highly recommend you to try Stall 71 Char Koay Teow. (It's spelt differently from our version: Char Kway Teow) RM6 per plate. I think they increased their prices, but they also increased their manpower, so it's now more efficient, though the queue is still as long.

This is how it was in 2012:

Now there is another auntie who is frying Char Koay Teow, and more helpers to keep track of orders, payments and washing.

Penang's char kway teow is different from Singapore's. You have to try it. And this stall's chay koay teow is very well-fried, ingredients are fresh too. Prawns are big and fresh~

Stir-fried Bittergourd with eggs 苦瓜炒蛋- Song River Cafe Style

Yes! Bittergourd. Nope, your eyes aren't playing tricks on you. You must be wondering why am I recommending bittergourd dishes to you, instead of what Song River Cafe is famous for - their Bak Kut Teh.

Song River Cafe 松花江餐室 is featured in several travel guides on Penang.

Mmm.. actually I think their Bak Kut Teh was just so-so.

But their stir-fried bittergourd with eggs is heavenly! The best bittergourd dish I have ever tasted. Yeah.. even better than Okinawa's, and Okinawa is the place that is famous for their bittergourds!

Bittergourd doesn't taste bitter anymore.. somehow.. I wonder well. But it blended very nicely with the eggs. Note it's 蛋花, and not the usual fully cooked eggs we often see at our foodcourts.

It seems easy to make.. since ingredients are simple and easy to source - eggs, bittergourd and soya sauce. But... I can't achieve Song River Cafe 松花江餐室's delicate balance.

65,Persiaran Gurney, 10250, George Town, Pulau Penang

Where to shop?

Again, if you stay at G Hotel, shopping malls are very near you. Besides the just-next-door neighbour, Gurney Plaza. There is now a new mall called Gurney Paragon Mall, just on the left of G Hotel, a few more steps away.

Gurney Plaza is huge and has almost everything. Branded shops like Coach, Chanel, Armani Exchange and so on... And it has late night entertainment options like cinema theatres (Golden Screen), KTV (RedBox) and even the gym (Jatomi Fitness). Of course, not forgetting all the dining options and pubs and coffee joints (You have both Starbucks and Coffee Bean just opposite each other).

A&W is no longer located in Gurney Plaza. *Weep* A loss of another Singaporean favourite. (To understand the irrational craving for root beer float and curly fries - there are no A&W outlets in Singapore, after they moved out in 2003.)

Gurney Plaza, Persiaran Gurney, 10250 Penang, Malaysia.

Now, more about the new cousin in the neighbourhood, Gurney Paragon Mall. The biggest draw... it has H&M and Kate Spade! And of course, it's new. Very new. Likely just opened within these two years, as when I was visiting Penang 2 years back, the mall was still in the midst of construction. Since it's the new kid on the block, not all shops are filled. Maybe about 90% is filled.

163-D, Persiaran Gurney, 10250 Penang, Malaysia.

Where to take a break from all that walking and shopping?

Coffee Elements

Since we are on the topic of shopping, let me introduce you to Coffee Elements.

We had Cafe Latte, Energy Refresh, (I was told by the staff it's like a lemon-grass drink. But it's more than that! I loved my drink. 有甘甜的 aftertaste.) Red Velvet Cake and Carrot Cake.

Somehow.. the carrot cake was a hit between my parents. You can try ordering this for your seniors next time you are nearby.

3rd floor of Gurney Paragon Mall

Cozy in the Rocket

If you were exploring downtown at George Town, then do not miss "Cozy in the Rocket". Tucked in Lebuh Armenian area.

A quick observation... perhaps due to the boom of street art in George Town, there are now a lot more tourists, especially around Lebuh Armenian area. They are more popup stalls catering to tourists too.

Actually I was on the search for "Amelie Cafe", which I visited with Huishan 2 years back. At that time, "Amelie Cafe" was featured in Straits Times!

A quaint little cafe with style of its own- "Amelie Cafe" back in 2012:

I could not remember the exact location... but vaguely remembered it should be around Lebuh Armenian or thereabouts. Then I stumpled upon "Cozy in the Rocket", also a cafe, which emits similar vibes as "Amelie Cafe", but not quite her, as "Cozy in the Rocket" was way bigger, and it is air-conditioned! It's like an oasis to us, as it was a really hot and sweaty afternoon exploring George Town on foot.

And... it's only now.. when I am back, that I found out that "Cozy in the Rocket" is actually the upgraded version of "Amelie Cafe"! Not only it is air-conditioned, twice its size, brighter... the toilet facilities are way better and cleaner as well! By the way, Amelie Cafe is now defunct, as "Cozy in the Rocket" replaces it.

Now... the layout in "Cozy in the Rocket":

They served drinks, coffees, pasta and desserts.

I highly recommend their desserts! Too bad, I only ordered one that day. But it was wonderful! Must try!

Coconut Panna Cotta

Read on to find out my more extensive review of "Cozy in the Rocket".

262 & 264, Lebuh Pantai, George Town, Penang.

Opening Hours:
11am - 4pm, Closes on Mondays

Where to stay?

For both of my stays, I used G Hotel as my accomodation. Basically because of its location. Just next to the mall, no worries about catching a late-night movie. And it is just a few steps away from the yummy local food paradise, Gurney Drive Hawker Centre.

Other perks:

  • Free wifi in room and lobby. Signal is pretty strong.
  • Free complimentary welcome ice-cream
  • Free bar (drinks in fridge are free)
  • Included breakfast buffet (I loved their spread!)

And I managed to get an extra bed without extra charge when they ran out of twin rooms for my superior room reservation. It costs RM1650.10 for 2-nights in a Superior Room (king bed with extra add-on bed) for 3 people. Hence, it costs about SGD110 per person per night.

Comparing with my previous stay, I think their standard of service has improved, too.

It is about 40min away from the airport. From the airport to the hotel, if you booked via the airport taxi counter, it's at the fixed price of RM44.70.

From hotel to airport, it is a fix price of RM40.

I always asked the hotel staff to help me call for cabs. I can also check with them on the prevailing rates. Seems like now taxis don't go by the meter. They still do on my first trip 2 years back.

That's all~ Hope you find this guide useful as you plan your trip in Penang!

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