Penang is bursting with excitement and fun. It has stunning beaches, vibrant nightlife, delicious food and tropical drinks, all for a ridiculously affordable price.

There are a number of neighborhoods on offer, so deciding where to stay in Penang can be a challenge. That’s why we’ve created this guide, to give you the lowdown on the coolest places to stay in this awesome city.

We’ve also included the best accommodation and things to do in each area, so you can choose the place that’s right for your travel style and budget.

So, let’s get to it!

Where to Stay in Penang

Looking for a specific place to stay? These are our highest recommendations for places to stay in Penang.

Best Airbnb in Penang: Central Apartment – Great for City – Breakers

Central Apartment - Great for City - Breakers

Stay right in the cultural heart of Penang in this gorgeous George Town apartment. This affordable and well-maintained property is the perfect starting point from which to explore Penang’s eclectic city center.

Best Hostel in Penang: Kimberley Old House

Kimberley Old House

This hostel provides clean and comfortable accommodation at a very affordable price. Located centrally on Penang’s oldest street, you’ll be within walking distance of the best things to see in the city. Free Wifi and towels are included, and dorms or private rooms are available.

Best Hotel in Penang: Iconic Hotel

Iconic Hotel

This four-star hotel has an ideal location for exploring Bukit Mertajam, and has has many dining, sightseeing, and nightlife options on its doorstep. This hotel offers a sauna, an outdoor pool, luggage storage, and an airport shuttle. Thanks to its facilities and proximity to the center, this is our top hotel in Penang.

Penang Neighborhood Guide

FIRST TIME IN PENANG
George Town, Penang
FIRST TIME IN PENANG

George Town

George Town is the capital of Penang Island. It’s the second biggest city in Malaysia and is home to more than 700,000 people. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, George Town has an abundance of churches and temples, pre-war and architecture

ON A BUDGET
Sungai Dua, Penang
ON A BUDGET

Sungai Dua

Sungai Dua is a small town set mid-way along the east coast of Penang, south of George Town. A former agricultural area, Sungai Dua was developed as a residential zone in the early-1970s after the Universiti Sains Malaysia was established nearby

NIGHTLIFE
penang, beach
NIGHTLIFE

Batu Ferringhi

Batu Ferringhi is nothing short of paradise. Located on the north shore of Penang Island, this neighbourhood is known for white-sand beaches and stunning views, luxury hotels and mindblowing restaurants

COOLEST PLACE TO STAY
Bukit Mertajam, Penang
COOLEST PLACE TO STAY

Bukit Mertajam

Bukit Mertajam is our favourite neighbourhood located across the Straits of Malacca from Penang Island. The capital of the Seberang Perai Tengah district, Bukit Mertajam doesn’t typically fall on the radar of tourists

FOR FAMILIES
Tanjung Bungah, Penang
FOR FAMILIES

Tanjung Bungah

Tanjung Bungah is a stunning seaside neighbourhood located on the northern coast of Penang. It’s tucked between lively George Town and vibrant Bat Ferringhi and is skirted by lush, low hills

Penang is an island state that covers nearly 1,050 square kilometres, and is one of the most popular places to stay in Malaysia for travelers. Getting between the smaller neighbourhoods in Penang can be a bit difficult, so its crucial you pick an area that suits your needs.

George Town is the capital and largest city on Penang Island. It is a clean, safe and walkable city where you’ll find colonial architecture, historic landmarks, distinctive cuisine and atmospheric culture. With so much to explore, it’s the best place for anyone visiting for the first time.

South of George Town is Sungai Dua. This area is centred around the Universiti Sains Malaysia, creating a youthful neighbourhood. Here, you’ll find flavourful food and comfortable accommodation at affordable rates – perfect if you’re traveling on a budget.

Batu Ferringhi is an area known for its vibrant nightlife, and is home to one of Malaysia’s best beaches. Visitors here can enjoy a number of water sports, great bars and popular restaurants.

Bukit Mertajam is located on the mainland, and is the coolest place to stay in Penang. Off the usual tourist path, this neighbourhood is filled with interesting heritage, delicious food, and is closer to nature.

Finally, Tanjung Bungah is our top pick for families visiting Penang. It’s a friendly seaside town full of activities and water sports for all ages, so your trip can be as lively or laid-back as you like it!

Still not sure where to stay in Penang? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered!

We’ve been testing different packs for years now, and we’ve found our favourite: the nomad-tested Nomatic Backpack.

Want more deetz on why we love it so damn much? Then read our comprehensive review!

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Penang’s 5 Best Neighborhoods to Stay in

Now, let’s take a closer look at the five best areas in Penang. They all offer something different, so there’s something to suit everyone.

1. George Town – Where to Stay in Penang for the First Time

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, George Town is the capital of Penang Island. The city has an abundance of churches, temples, pre-war architecture, and a lively arts and culture scene.

From markets and hawker stalls to high-end restaurants and chic lounge bars, this city is also bursting with delicious food. With so much to do, George Town is the best place to stay to get to know Penang.

George Town, Penang
Get a taste of what the island has to offer

Best Airbnb in George Town: Central apartment great for City – Breakers

Central Apartment - Great for City - Breakers

Situated yourself right in the cultural heart of George Town in this wonderful Penang Airbnb. This affordable and well-maintained place is the perfect base from which to explore Penang’s city centre.

Best Hostel in George Town: Kimberley Old House

Kimberley Old House

This hostel provides clean and comfortable accommodation at a very affordable price. Located centrally on Penang’s oldest street, you’ll be within walking distance of the best things to see in the city. Free Wifi and towels are included, and the hostel provides dorms and private rooms. Laundry and bike hire services are also available.

Best Hotel in George Town: Campbell House

Campbell House

This fantastic four-star hotel provides comfortable and air-conditioned rooms with modern amenities. There’s also a terrace, a stylish lounge bar and a restaurant for guests to enjoy on-site.

There are plenty of shops and tourist attractions nearby, making it an ideal place to stay in George Town.

Best Hotel in George Town: Noordin Mews

Noordin Mews

This stunning hotel in George Town is within walking distance of the best places to visit in Penang, including Komtar and the Heritage Area. The hotel is highly recommended for its food and also offers a pool, library, and wellness services. Rooms are spacious and come with free Wifi, aircon, and a flatscreen TV.

Things to See and Do in George Town:

  • Admire the colonial architecture of Wisma Kastam.
  • Browse the stalls at the Night Market.
  • Enjoy a breath of fresh air in Penang Hill.
  • Excite your senses in Little India.
  • Go for a stroll along Gurney Drive.
  • Visit Penang National Park for some of the best hiking in Malaysia.
  • Marvel at the Goddess of Mercy Temple.
  • Party all night long at the bars and clubs on Upper Penang Road.
  • See the Made in Penang Interactive Museum.
  • Step back in time at the Penang State Museum.
  • Take a graffiti spotting tour through the city.
  • View the 33m tall statue of Buddha at Wat Chaiyamangalaram.
  • Walk across the Rainbow Skywalk, a glass walkway suspended 250m above sea level.

2. Sungai Dua – Where to Stay in Penang on a Budget

Sungai Dua is a small town set mid-way along Penang’s east coast. A former agricultural area, Sungai Dua was developed as a residential zone in the early-1970s after the Universiti Sains Malaysia was established.

This is also where you’ll find a vast array of cheap accommodation catering to the budget backpackers in Malaysia. From cheap and cheerful to hip and rustic, Sungai Dua is a welcoming and affordable area.

Sungai Dua, Penang
Source: Gilbert Goon (Shutterstock)

Best Airbnb in Sungai Dua: Make a saving with a houseshare

Make a saving with a houseshare

This private room in Sungai Due is suitable for couples or solo travelers. Guests have access to all amenities needed for a comfortable stay, including wifi, laundry facilities and access to the kitchen.

Best Hotel in Sungai Dua: M Qube Hotel

M Qube Hotel

This charming hotel in Sungai Dua is strategically located close to restaurants, sightseeing and more. This hotel has 42 recently refurbished rooms with A/C, slippers and relaxing beds. They also provide a car rental desk, a ticket service and on-site luggage storage.

Best Hotel in Sungai Dua: USM Designer Dwell

USM Designer Dwell

USM Designer Dwell is comfortable and colourful property located in Sungai Dua. It is a short walk to Universiti Sains Malaysia and there are plenty of dining options at its doorstep. Rooms in this charming hotel are equipped with modern amenities, including wifi and A/C.

Best Hotel in Sungai Dua: U Hotel Penang

U Hotel Penang

This excellent three-star hotel has comfortable and clean rooms with air conditioning and contemporary features. A short ride from George Town, this hotel is ideally located for enjoying Sungai Dua and exploring Penang.

Things to See and Do in Sungai Dua:

  • Choose from a dozen diverse food stalls at the Sri Nibong Cafe, a small hawker centre.
  • Devour savoury Asian food at Kampar Fish Jelly Restaurant.
  • Dine on delicious dim sum dishes at Maxim Dim Sum Restaurant.
  • Don’t miss the chance to eat all the food at Super Tanker Food Centre, a renowned spot for hawker food.
  • Eat, shop and drink your way through the colourful Sungai Dua Night Market.
  • Hike the nearby Bukit Jambul trail.
  • Rent bikes and tour the region on two wheels.
  • Sample sweet, savour unique and diving pancakes at Aki Pancake.

3. Batu Ferringhi – Best Area to Stay in Penang for Nightlife

Batu Ferringhi is nothing short of paradise. Located on the north shore of Penang Island, this neighbourhood is known for white-sand beaches, luxury hotels ,and restaurants.

This Malaysian oasis is home to some of the best bars, pubs, restaurants and lounges on the island. From a romantic meal to a few cocktails at sunset, you’ll find it in Batu Ferringhi.

penang, beach
Batu Ferringhi has the best nightlife in Penang
source: Mohd Fazlin Mohd Effendy Ooi (flickr)

Best Airbnb in Batu Ferringhi: Spot on the beach, prime for a party

Spot on the beach, prime for a party

This apartment is situated in between all the action, close to the beach and best bars in the area. The Night Market is also a short walk away.

The Airbnb in bright and spacious, and comes with a large kitchen and wifi. It’s a great space to relax and unwind after a big night on the town.

Best Guest House in Batu Ferringhi: Baba Guest House (by the Sea)

Baba Guest House (by the Sea)

This family-owned guest house is just a stone’s throw from Batu Ferringhi Beach. It’s also a five-minute walk to the main street where there are plenty of restaurants, bars and shops.

Rooms come complete with mosquito nets and air conditioning, so you’ll get a comfortable night’s sleep for a great price.

Best Hotel in Batu Ferringhi: PARKROYAL Penang Resort

PARKROYAL Penang Resort

The PARKROYAL Penang is a stunning five-star resort. It has a private beach, a swimming pool, bicycle rental and an on-site bar. There’s also a stylish lounge and restaurant, perfect for kicking off a great night.

Best Apartment in Batu Ferringhi: Sea View Apartments

Sea View Apartments

Guests staying in these apartments can enjoy access to the pool, fitness centre and free wifi. Each apartment includes two double bedrooms, as well as a kitchen, dining and living area. Free parking is also available – perfect if you’re hiring a car to get further afield.

Things to See and Do in Batu Ferringhi:

  • Bask in the sun at the famous Batu Ferringhi Beach.
  • Eat delicious local cuisine at Ferringhi Garden.
  • Enjoy a romantic meal with stunning sea views at Sigi’s Bar & Grill.
  • Indulge in tasty Malay dishes at Living Room Café Bar & Gallery.
  • Sample exotic drinks at Bay Lounge Lobby Bar.
  • See a beautiful display of fine Batick art at Yahong Art Gallery.
  • Sip cocktails at Feringgi Bar.
  • Stroll through the bustling Batu Ferringhi Night Market.
  • Take in the view over drinks at Bora Bora by Sunset.

4. Bukit Mertajam – Coolest Place to Stay in Penang

The capital of the Seberang Perai Tengah district, Bukit Mertajam doesn’t typically fall on tourist radars, making it the perfect off-the-beaten-path destination.

This is a great place to stay if you’re looking to get back to nature and explore the hills and parks of Penang. From its central location, you can hike, bike, trek, and explore the beautiful natural attracions Penang.

Bukit Mertajam, Penang
Source: Ianxztan (shutterstock)

Best Airbnb in Bukit Mertajam: Spacious 3-Pax Apartment

Spacious 3-Pax Apartment

Live like a local in this Airbnb in Penang! The apartment is bright and spacious, and comes with all the amenities needed for a comfortable stay. Wifi and laundry facilities are included, and the property boasts free parking and a garden. Local markets are closeby, and public transport is available for easy city access.

Best Budget Accommodation in Bukit Mertajam: OYO 510 Sri Indar Hotel

OYO 510 Sri Indar Hotel

Budget rooms in this hotel are furnished with all the basics, including toiletries, TVs and private bathrooms. Guests can also enjoy a free breakfast throughout their stay. The centre of Bukit Mertajam is a short walk away, and more of Penang’s best attractions can be easily reached by car or public transport.

Best Hotel in Bukit Mertajam: Iconic Hotel

Iconic Hotel

This four-star hotel has many dining, shopping, sightseeing and nightlife options at its doorstep. It offers a sauna, an outdoor pool, airport shuttle and luggage storage – so you can be comfortable no matter how long you stay.

Best Hotel in Bukit Mertajam: Vangohh Premier Hotel

Vangohh Premier Hotel

Rooms in the Vangohh Premier are outfitted with modern features and essentials. This five-star hotel boasts a swimming pool and valet parking, as well as free wifi. There’s also an in-house restaurant and bar, perfect for unwinding after a long day of exploring.

Things to See and Do in Bukit Mertajam:

  • Admire the beautiful architecture of St. Anne Church – one of the coolest places to visit in Penang.
  • Dine on duck egg char koey teow, a local delicacy.
  • Explore the lush and sprawling Bukit Mertajam Recreational Forest.
  • Get back to nature at Bukit Berapit, a hill full of durian, mangosteen and nutmeg trees.
  • Go to the Bukit Mertajam wet market.
  • Marvel at the Pek Kong Cheng.
  • Shop until you drop at Megamall Penang.
  • Strap on your hiking boots and head up Tokun Hill.
  • Trek through the jungles of Cherok Tokun Nature Park.
  • Visit the Mengkuang Dam, the largest dam in Penang and where you can enjoy a variety of water sports.

5. Tanjung Bungah – Best Neighbourhood in Penang for Families

Tanjung Bungah is a family-friendly and safe area of Malaysia located on the northern coast of Penang. It’s tucked between lively George Town and vibrant Bat Ferringhi and is skirted by lush, low hills.

A haven for water sports and aquatic activities, Tanjung Bungah is a neighbourhood where you can try your hand at almost anything.

Tanjung Bungah, Penang
Source: amrufm (flickr)

Best Airbnb in Tanjung Bungah: Treat the family with this stylish apartment

Treat the family with this stylish apartment

This apartment sleeps up to four guests and has two bathrooms. There’s also a full kitchen for preparing home-cooked meals, and parking is available on-site.

There’s a gym and swimming pool available for guest use in the block. It’s right next to Marina Straits Marina and Quay, and there are a number of cafes to explore.

Best Hotel in Tanjung Bungah: Rainbow Paradise Beach Resort

Rainbow Paradise Beach Resort

Enjoy four-star luxury at a fraction of the price at this excellent Tanjung Bungah resort. It offers large rooms with private balconies and kitchenettes, and guests can enjoy a full breakfast each morning. The resort also boasts a swimming pool, tennis courts, a modern gym and a relaxing spa.

Best Hotel in Tanjung Bungah: Lost Paradise Resort

Lost Paradise Resort

Families will love staying at this stunning Penang hotel. Set in Tanjung Bungah, this hotel is stone’s throw from the beach and delicious Penang restaurants. It offers an outdoor pool, a private beach and a pool just for kids!

Best Hotel in Tanjung Bungah: DoubleTree Resort By Hilton Hotel Penang

DoubleTree Resort By Hilton Hotel Penang

This DoubleTree Resort is ideal for families, offering large rooms with on-demand movies and stunning sea views. They provide a variety of services including an airport shuttle and childminding. There’s also free wifi, a swimming pool and an in-house restaurant – so you can enjoy a stress-free stay.

Things to See and Do in Tanjung Bungah:

  • Browse more than 150 retailers and shops at Island Plaza.
  • Dine on delicious seafood at Blue Reef Fish & Chips.
  • Eat yummy shellfish and seafood at Crab Village Restaurant.
  • Hike to the top of Mount Erskine and enjoy the panoramic views.
  • Shop for clothes, accessories and more at the massive Straits Quay Mall.
  • Rent boats, kayaks, and canoes from Penang Water Sports Centre.
  • Snack and sample your way through the Tanjung Bungah Night Market.
  • Snap a picture of the beautiful Floating Mosque.
  • Switch it up and eat filling German fare at Ingolf’s Kneipe German Restaurant.

Final Thoughts on Where to Stay in Penang

There are so many reasons to visit Malaysia, and Penang specifically. From cultural attractions and unique cuisine to stunning beaches and vibrant nightlife, there’s something for everyone..

Georgetown is the best destination for anyone visiting Penang for the first time, and is home to a number of great accommodation options. If you’re still unsure, you can’t go wrong staying at the Kimberley Hostel.

The Iconic Hotel in Bukit Mertajam is another great option. This hotel is centrally located and offers great wellness features, like a sauna and swimming pool.

And don’t forget to take out Travel Insurance for your trip! I have been using World Nomads for some time now and made a few claims over the years. They’re easy to use, professional and relatively affordable. They may also let you buy or extend a policy once you’ve started your trip and are already abroad which is super handy.

Getting an estimate from World Nomads is simple – just click the button or image below, fill out the necessary info, and you’re on your way!

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