Penang on a plate

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Carried my Genesis with me for this whole trip. Adjustable straps could fit clothes for three days and much more including camera, towel, toiletries, water bottle, and other odds and ends.

 The “On A Plate” series serves as a guide for novice and experienced travelers alike, narrating the journey as if it were a three-course-meal. Greenroom136 highlights the attractions available as appetisers (light engaging activities that can be done anytime), main course (an activity that requires a major portion of your time), and dessert (something sweet and memorable to save for the end of your journey).

The Genesis is the featured bag in this article, for more information do visit the product page at http://greenroom136.com/genesis. Version 2.0 of the Genesis is in the works, so do check us regularly for the big announcement!

Budget Preparation:

You can book a flight to Penang from KLIA2 can get as low as RM45 on promo from budget airlines, and then take a bus from the terminal to KOMTAR for just a few ringgit. Using ridesharing apps to get you around might cost you RM3-RM7 a trip, depending on how far you’re going. Prep at least RM 100 if you’re going for three days, or do the convenient thing and link your Grab with a debit or credit card.

Accommodation can be cheap if you buy online or use a mobile app, as these app providers offer big discounts to get people to use their service. I got my stay at Gurney View Inn for RM100/night for two guests, discounted from RM160/nightt.

Museums will cost you about RM10-15 per entry for Mykad holders. There are discounts for students and for holders of the Penang Travel Privilege Card which you can get at the Penang Tourist Centre in Georgetown, or order online from their website. (click)

There are honestly so many museums available, but any trip to Penang would not be complete without dropping into at least one of these five.

A list of notable museums to visit:

Wonderfood museum

Penang House of Music

Ghost Museum

Upside down museum

Pinang Peranakan Museum

 

 

 

 

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One of the oldest and most well known coffee stalls in Penang

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Creme brulee, and a fluffy bear in the latte! Served with almond biscotti. Coffee on the Table @ Lebuh Pantai, Georgetown

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Coffee on the Table @ 164, Lebuh Pantai, George Town, 10300 George Town, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia

First course: Appetiser

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Assam Laksa @ Lebuh Keng Kwee, George Town, 10100 George Town, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia

To begin your experience, most restaurants offer you an appetiser to stimulate your palate and put saliva in your alimentary tract. With Penang, I suggest you to start your day with breakfast at one of the many cafes and stalls scattered around Georgetown. These offer anything from ordinary local delights such as roti butter kaya or maggi sup (with cheese and egg), to more modern combination of coffee, pastry, and desserts.

One of the best places to go is Lebuh Keng Kwee, home to one of the most well-known Cendol stalls in Penang. There are many such stalls, and luckily you have a menu of flavors to choose from, whether it’s your favorite spicy and sour Assam Laksa, savoury wan tan mee, or sweet cendol.

 

To be honest with you, this Assam Laksa really packs a punch. So prep some tissues if you’re someone who sweats a lot while eating spicy food (like the author). Service here is not bad, but if it’s full house do expect to wait maybe 15-20 minutes for your order. Drinks here are slightly pricey at around RM2-RM3, but they serve em quick. One bowl of cendol might not be enough, so order two at a time especially if you’re a big eater (It’s really freaking good).

Also, just nearby is Toh Soon Coffee (photo above), which is a traditional coffee stall that has earned the moniker of “Best coffee stall in Penang”. So do check it out.

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Penang famous Cendol @ Lebuh Keng Kwee, George Town, 10100 George Town, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia

Traveling in Penang, the best food can be found by asking the locals, and I do strongly suggest you take your time in exploring. There’s just so much hidden treasure between even just Chulia lane and Beach St.

If you’ve never been, do drop by Jing Si Books & Cafe, which is owned by the Buddhist Association Tzu Chi. It has a very, very beautiful interior and an atmosphere of calming spirituality. They serve expensive teas here, however, and for food you’ll have to visit the vegetarian eatery just next door.

As for cafes, Georgetown is littered with them, but choosing the right one could be challenging. To take shelter from the afternoon heat, you might drop into Coffee on The Table on Lebuh Pantai. The decor is very pretty and vintage, and will definitely distract you from the price. This place serves their coffee sweet so ask for less sugar or none if you prefer. Each cup comes with adorable 3d latte art of animals such as a panda or a rabbit. Also, order their creme brulee!

 

Main Course

For your main course: charge your camera, load up your SD cards, and prepare to take a hike to Penang Hill. You can also book one of the many nature walks and trails available if you’re more of a off-the-beaten-path adventurer.

It is actually possible to walk up to Penang hill from Moongate (details here). There is a return promotion price (RM3) for all Mykad holders at 6.30am – 9.00am and 7.00pm – 10.30pm. The standard prices for tickets at the railway station are as follows:

 

Mykad Adult – RM10 (return) RM5 (one way)

Mykad Children – RM3 (return)

Student card – RM5

Senior Citizen – RM5 (fast lane)

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Love lock bridge @ Penang Hill

Fast lane tickets are available for all for an additional charge (except for senior citizens. This puts you in a shorter queue which can save you half an hour on a slow day.
After you take the train up, which takes about 5 minutes, you’ll reach an observation deck as well as a flight of stairs that lead up to David Brown’s restaurant and Tea Terrace. Ahead of you will be a road that takes you to the Owl museum and food court.
At the tea terrace, for about RM30 you can have a pleasant breakfast with a view overlooking Penang island from above the clouds. Choice of French, American, or David Brown’s, all of which served with a choice of orange juice, tea, or coffee.

 

Above the owl museum, the rooftop has a bridge that is filled with little locks tagged with the names of couples, just like the iconic love bridge in Paris. Locks cost you RM10-RM25 depending on how big a lock you get. The owl museum itself is worth seeing if you have an affinity for these winged night hunters.

Otherwise, not much to see. There’s a gift shop at the end that sells all kind of owl-related memorabilia. When you’re done here, do move along and instead appreciate the panorama of Georgetown and the nature surrounding you.

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Railway journey up or down Penang hill takes only about 5 minutes

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Paid binoculars, 50 sen per minute @ Penang Hill

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Owl Museum @ Penang Hill

 

Dessert

For the final portion of your trip, this is when you will want to visit museums in Georgetown. As mentioned before at the start of this article, there are loads of different curio-houses for you to choose from. We highly recommend you visit any of the five mentioned. Especially if you’re killing time for your flight, it’s excellent to just take an hour or two to enjoy posing with mummy sculptures and humongous plates of char koay teow!

The Wonderfood museum is definitely one for you food lovers out there. You can’t actually eat any of the exhibits, but the lifelike depiction of everyday hawker fare will definitely have you salivating. Some of the exhibits also send a meaningful message, such as the bloody cost of shark-fin soup. There are also displays pairing slices of fruit with self-searching and philosophical quotes.

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Wonderfood Museum @ 49, Lebuh Pantai, George Town, 10200 George Town, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia

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Careful not to drool on any of the exhibits! Wonderfood Museum @ 49, Lebuh Pantai, George Town

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Eurghh… Disgusting! (Luckily it’s fake) Wonderfood Musuem @ 49, Lebuh Pantai, George Town

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Famous art piece Mona Lisa, depicted with food. Wondefood Museum @ 49, Lebuh Pantai, George Town

You will also find some excellent photo opportunities here with rotting (fake) food, and an opportunity to see food through the eyes of the colorblind. There’s just so much to discover here beyond what you’ve already read.

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Viktor Tey, food and travel correspondent for Greenroom136’s blog

 

Another good museum is the Penang House of Music. If you’re lucky, the friendly owner will take you on a personal tour around the exhibits that celebrate the heyday of Malaysian music and culture, featuring artists like Ahmad Daud and P. Ramlee and many more.

The museum also has a VR room and a realistic 1950’s Cinema with seats that match the era, as well as a fully functioning radio studio that lets you record and be a radio DJ for a day.

There is a piano, double bass, and drums that are not only for display, but visitors can actually sit down and play if they like. Just ask any of the friendly staff for assistance.

Sadly, I was not able to take photos for the Penang House of Music as my SD had run out of memory :(

Here’s an important note!

Unlike museums elsewhere, most of the museums in Penang actually allow you to take photos with your own camera. But it is courteous to ask first before you do. Museums are a fun way to end your visit to Penang with some quirky photos for souvenirs.

One last thing! If you’re in Penang, do consider checking out The Top, which is a new attraction that has just finished renovation at KOMTAR tower.

At the 65th floor, there is an observation deck where you can have a beautiful 360 view of Penang island. However, at a steep price of RM98 for adult Mykad holders and RM50 for children with Mykad, it is a heavy investment.

There are other attractions bundled in with the ticket, such as the Jurassic adventure with robotic dinosaurs and a 7D discovery motion centre. However, there IS a much cheaper way of obtaining a stunning view of Penang from the same building, but just a few floors lower.

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TopView Restaurant & Lounge @ Komtar, Level 59 & 60, Jalan Penang, 10000 George Town, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia

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TopView Restaurant & Lounge @ Komtar, Level 59 & 60, Jalan Penang, 10000 George Town, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia

 

There is a restaurant on the 59th floor called TopView Restaurant and Lounge that has what also an excellent view of Georgetown and the causeway bridge.

For RM30 per person, you can either make a reservation or just walk in to enjoy coffee or tea with some cakes and cookies. Take a seat on comfortable armchairs right next to the ceiling to floor windows for a view of the horizon and beyond (obscured by a metal handrail however).

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Looks amazing! Tastes dry and bland.

A word of advice however: neither the food nor service here is particularly good, and this is reflected not only by my experience by those of other travellers giving reviews on the restaurant’s Facebook page as well as on Google maps.

That is the cheapest way to get that coveted skyscraper view of Penang island! If you want to spend a little more, you can opt for the Executive Lunch which is RM48/person, or dinner which is RM88/set.

But like I said, wouldn’t recommend the food here. It took me 30 minutes to ask for a glass of water, and after the 30 minutes I gave up and walked out.

Anyway, hope your experience will be better than mine at TopView, but don’t let that keep you from enjoying Penang!

With appetiser, main course, and dessert, you are now ready to make a meal of your trip to Penang. Hope you enjoyed having Penang on a plate. For more tips on navigating the concrete jungle, tune in for more Greenroom Presents!

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