Penang, Malaysia: What To See & Do

This is a guest post from Rhyn Chan, a content creator and freelancer who loves the food in Penang. He currently resides in Singapore.

Along the west coast of Malaysia lies Penang – two major cities connected by culture, ferries and bridges. This state is recognised by their biggest cities: George Town on Penang Island, and Butterworth on the mainland.

The heart and soul of Penang resides in George Town, an urban-scape which surprisingly enough is mostly untouched by the ravages of development.

As a traveller, here’s everything that need to know about Penang.

How to travel in Penang

Taxis and Grab

The Uber of Southeast Asia. [I’ve added the direct link to Grab’s website that lets them download the app into their phones.]

The best places to visit are scattered around George Town. If you’re flying directly into Penang, hailing a taxi or a Grab (the equivalent of an Uber in South-East Asia) is your most convenient option. It shouldn’t cost you more than US$10 for a single trip from the airport to George Town, and you can opt to pay by cash or credit/debit card.

On top of that, Grabbing from your hotel to sightsee can cost as little as US$2.50 per trip!

Here’s a really important tip! If you plan to take buses, always ask the bus driver where you wish to go to first!

The main public transport system is known as Rapid Penang. They have a free fare service called Central Area Transit, marked “MPPP” on the electronic signs that will transport you around various parts of George Town. If you wish to move beyond the city center, bus journeys can cost between 33¢ to US$1.50.

Car Rental

If you’re travelling in a large group and your hotel offers parking, then renting a car might be an option for you to look into. As long as you have a valid driving license in your home jurisdiction, you can easily convert it so you can drive in Malaysia. 

Companies like HERTZ and Avis are stationed in Penang and you can easily rent a car, purchase insurance and get ready to drive your way around the island filled with discoveries of every kind!

Attractions in Penang

Penang Hill

This could be the peak of your journey around Penang (literally and figuratively). Here, you can witness an incredibly spectacular sunrise envelope this lush island.

For the adventurous, be prepared to wake up in wee hours around 5am. Book a Grab and travel about 30 to 45 minutes to the base of Penang Hill where you will need to board the funicular to the top.

Once you’ve arrived, purchase return tickets to board the funicular. For adults, it costs about US$8 while a child between 4 to 12 years old costs US$4. Any younger and they ride free in your arms or pram!

Kek Lok Si Temple

On one of the highest hills of Penang, you will find the largest Buddhist temple in Malaysia, Kek Lok Si Temple. [What does “Kek Lok Si” mean in Hokkien?]

Gardens, pagodas and the Four Heavenly King pavilions are contained within this zen place of worship. The tranquility and peace that emanates from this religious site is a testament to the religious diversity of the Malaysian community.

Penang Bridge & Ferry

When you want to visit the mainland, there are two ways to get there: the first is by land, and the other is by sea.

While you can take a leisurely drive down the Penang Bridge, as a visitor you might want to try the ferry for a more scenic ride. Make sure you pop out of the car and spend your 30 minute journey walking around and admiring the blue panorama!

Ferry costs are US$2 for a car, 30¢ per adult, and 15¢ per child.

What to eat in Penang

Penang’s known for their food; consistently delectable and well-formulated recipes that attracts everyone! Whether you’re a local or a tourist, you simply have to try the local food while you’re here.

Penang Laksa @ Air Itam

Sweet, savoury and spicy all in a bowl is the must-eat Penang Laksa, or Assam Laksa; thick rice noodles coated in a generous serving of broth boiled in an ingredient circus of mackerel, tamarind paste, and coriander. This dish is bound to delight your tastebuds.

If you want great Assam Laksa, the best I’ve found is located at Air Itam, relatively at the base of Ke Lok Si Temple. On Google Maps, the listing is named as Penang Air Itam Laksa.

Chendol @ 2 Lebuh Keng Kwee

Walk down the streets of Lebuh Keng Kwee alley and you’ll find about three to four different stores with names that are clearly trying to game the Google system. If you were to search for “Famous Chendol Penang”, you’ll see multiple entries!

So the question is, which is the true, original recipe?

The actual shop is parked right outside a coffee store, pictured below.

Look out for this view while hunting for chendol!

What’s special about this cold dessert on a warm, summer day is a special ingredient called Gula Melaka. It is basically palm sugar with an interesting sweetness that’s distinctly different from run-on-the-mill refined sugar.

That sweetness, combined with the various ingredients like milk, red beans and jelly noodles makes for a fantastic end to your lunch hunts!

Nyona Kueh @ Moh Teng Pheow

This is, by far, my favourite place to savour small bites of Malaysian snacks or dessert. Everything is made in-house, everything is served fresh, everything is 1980s.

The faded sign is the only tell-tale signal that that is the correct shop. While it might exude a hipster vibe, the reality is that the owners prefer the same environment to preserve the authenticity of all their dishes.

With so many options to dive into, my suggestion would be to pick a minimum of five to six different snacks to share between two people. Feeling peckish? Order more! Each piece starts at just 12¢! (Yeah, you should definitely order more)

WANTED – Japan Hosts for our Next Round of Filming

Flag of Japan

EDIT: Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, plans to film in Japan have been suspended. Please check back after the outbreak subsides for more information.

Tattle’s crew will be heading to Japan in spring 2020 for more videos of great local experiences! Each video will feature a different local experience host, running an experience for Tattle’s filming crew.

If you live in Japan (or you know anyone who does) and think you have a special experience to share, whether that’s a food tour, photo tour, walking tour, or artistic experience – we’d be happy to add the experience to our marketplace, and film a 3-minute promotional video with you.

Continue reading “WANTED – Japan Hosts for our Next Round of Filming”

Contest Closed Due To Health Reasons

Hi Everyone,

After a long discussion with our team, we’ve decided to cancel the Travel Experiencer contest for the time being due to health and safety concerns.

With the emergence of a new epidemic in China and spread to some other areas in Southeast Asia, we have unfortunately chosen to halt our plans to film in Vietnam in February and March 2020, as travel to Southeast Asian destinations will be difficult and/or inadvisable for the foreseeable future. We don’t want to put our own team at risk, and we also don’t want to risk your health either.

We hope to be able to bring this back at a future date. In the meantime, we will continue producing quality content for you guys. To all of you who entered the contest, we’re sorry it came to this, and we hope to be able to make it up to you in the future.

The Tattle Team

Here’s what you’ll need to create an experience

To create an experience on the Tattle app, you will need to provide the following information. Private indicates information you will need to provide, but which is not made public – for everything else, it will be visible on the profile page for your experience.

Host details:

  • Your name
  • A profile photo – with your face clearly visible
  • Your nationality and location of residence
  • A brief bio that tells people who you are, and why you make a good host:
    1. Tourists love choosing people they can relate to, so feel free to talk about some of your hobbies.
    2. It also helps to mention credentials that relate to your experience – if you’re running a food tour, knowing that you are a food critic or a chef will give you added credibility!
Continue reading “Here’s what you’ll need to create an experience”

Tattler Tips: Mexican Food in Vancouver

Tattler Tips is a series of articles written by passionate locals, providing their own unique perspectives on things they love about their cities. This one is written by Vivian Davidson, a foodie in Vancouver, Canada, who has been with us since our early days as Secret Informant!

I come from a very eclectic cultural background, mostly European – my father is German and Scottish, and my mother is French and Spanish. I lived in many countries growing up including Mexico, the US, and Canada, but have proudly called Vancouver my home for over 15 wonderful years! Growing up I shadowed my excellent chef of a mother in the kitchen and learned a lot from her – not only about how to cook food from all over the world, but also about how important culture and social factors are when understanding, making and enjoying any meal that is made.

My mom taught me to love the process of cooking, as well as the enjoyment of trying different foods from around the world. It is no surprise that I am self-proclaimed foodie who loves to frequent unique, different and varied restaurants in Vancouver, a city that is as multi-cultural as it is beautiful. I chose to write about Mexican restaurants because I spent several years living in Mexico, and my mom really enjoys cooking the cuisine a lot and so we would often make delicious Mexican dishes together, where she would methodically teach me to make and thoroughly detail in terms of the dish’s cultural and historical relevance.

Continue reading “Tattler Tips: Mexican Food in Vancouver”

Tips & Tricks for Being the Ultimate Tattle Experience Host

As a Tattle Host, you want to create the best possible experience, impress your guests, and get better ratings and reviews from them – because that’s what will make you stand out. Here’s some ways to do that …

Top 6 Tips and Tricks

6. Give your guests extra information

During the experience, give your guests additional information about the area that they can use on their own. Chances are that the end of the experience may not be the end of the guests’ day, and as such they will be looking for more things to do – especially around the area where the experience itself ends. It could also be a great chance to learn more about your guest (as you can ask personal questions about things like food preference or favourite activities) and form a better connection with them through casual, but helpful, conversation.

Continue reading “Tips & Tricks for Being the Ultimate Tattle Experience Host”

Tattle Ambassador Help: How to Identify a Potential Host

experiences map

As a Tattle ambassador, your job is to identify potential hosts for Tattle and get them signed up with Tattle, creating new travel experiences across the globe – but a lot of you will be asking, “What exactly does a potential host look like? How do I know where to start?”

Don’t worry, we’re happy to give you a lot of tips to give you some ideas!

Continue reading “Tattle Ambassador Help: How to Identify a Potential Host”

What does a Tattle Experience look like?

Our team enjoying a cloudy day in Whistler, Canada.

A Tattle Experience is a carefully crafted experience hosted by a passionate local. It’s a window into the local culture – where you get to eat, play, live, and adventure the ways the locals do. Something much more authentic and down-to-earth than your conventional tour. But beyond that? It could be anything.

Continue reading “What does a Tattle Experience look like?”

How is Tattle transforming travel?

The tour we booked at our hotel seemed like a reasonable deal – it included a cool activity, transportation to and from the starting point, and a “party” with complimentary drinks. However, upon arriving at the venue after a long 30-person bus ride and “enjoying” our watered down alcoholic punch, our eyes drifted to the pricing board – not only did the venue offer free transportation for small groups, but the entire experience cost only a small fraction of what we had paid for the “all-inclusive” tour. After waiting for the stragglers of the group to get back on our bus, we couldn’t help but feel disappointed by the whole experience as we rode back in silence.

How many of you have ever felt that way?

As travellers ourselves, we want to see the world as it is – something that the traditional tour package never quite managed to achieve in our eyes. Too often, a travel company just gives you a 5-day tour where they plan out the entire itinerary. Sure, there’s lots of people that are happy with that, but that’s not us.

Even when we buy a partner tour from a hotel or cruise line – they just put us on a bus to an attraction and let their guides show us around, while charging an exorbitant price. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could find locals who were willing to provide us a more authentic local experience? More down-to-earth, more personal, where you could truly see your destination like a local – what these big companies claimed to offer, but just never could?

Continue reading “How is Tattle transforming travel?”

Wanted: Experience hosts in Malaysia to film with us!

Tattle is pleased to announce that in early 2020, we will be releasing a new batch of videos featuring travel experiences in Malaysia! Each video will feature a different local experience host, running an experience for Tattle staff members who will be visiting the country soon.

If you live in Malaysia (or you know anyone who does) and think you have a special experience to share, whether that’s a food tour, photo tour, walking tour, or artistic experience – we’d be happy to add the experience to our marketplace, and film a 3-minute promotional video with you.

Continue reading “Wanted: Experience hosts in Malaysia to film with us!”