Where to Stay in Penang (2019 • COOLEST Areas!)

In this EPIC GUIDE, we cover where to stay in Penang based on your travel style & budget. Check out the coolest areas in Penang!

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Penang bursts with excitement and fun. It has stunning beaches, vibrant nightlife, delicious food and tropical drinks, and all of it comes at a ridiculously affordable price.

But there are lots of neighbourhoods and figuring out which is right for you can be a challenge. That’s why we wrote this insider’s guide for where to stay in Penang.

Written by travellers for travellers, this guide breaks down the top five neighbourhoods in Penang by interest. It highlights the best activities and can’t miss attractions in each so you’ll know exactly which neighbourhood is right for you.

So whether you want to party, lounge on the beach, or explore the culture trail, we’ve got all the info you need to book with confidence and ease.

Let’s get to it. Here’s our guide for where to stay in Penang, Malaysia.

 

Quick Tips – Where to Stay in Penang

 

In a hurry? Here’s my top neighborhood for first timers:

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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
Places to Visit:
  • Party all night long at the bars and clubs on Upper Penang Road
  • Hike through Penang National Park
  • Admire the colonial architecture of Wisma Kastam

 

Where to Stay in Penang

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

 

Best Hostel in Penang: Huttonlodge

Huttonlodge is our pick for the best hostel in Penang. Located in vibrant George Town, this hostel is within walking distance of top tourist attractions and markets. There are also plenty of bars, restaurants, clubs and shops nearby. This recently restored guesthouse offers comfortable, clean and air-conditioned accommodations.

If you love hostels, you should check out our list of the coolest hostels in Penang!

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Best Hotel in Penang: Iconic Hotel

This four-star hotel has an ideal location for exploring Bukit Mertajam. It has many dining, shopping, sightseeing and nightlife options at its doorstep. This hotel offers a sauna, an outdoor pool, luggage storage, and an airport shuttle. All of this combined makes it our favourite hotel in Penang.

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Penang Neighborhood Guide

Quick Summary: The Best Places to Stay in Penang

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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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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Penang is an island-state located off the northwestern coast of Peninsular Malaysia. It is the second smallest state in Malaysia and is comprised of two distinct halves each bursting with history, culture, cuisine, and plenty of fun.

It covers an area of nearly 1,050 square kilometres. Although it isn’t a large state, Penang is quite fragmented, which can make getting between the smaller neighbourhoods a bit difficult.

Penang is divided into five main districts, which are further divided into suburbs, towns, neighbourhoods and villages.

To help you plan your time in Penang, this guide will highlight the can’t miss attractions and activities in the five best neighbourhoods.

Starting with George Town, 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.

South of George Town is Sungai Dua. An area is centred around the Universiti Sains Malaysia, Sungai Dua is a young and vibrant neighbourhood where flavourful food and comfortable accommodations are plentiful and inexpensive.

Travel north from the capital and you’ll pass through Tanjung Beach en route to Batu Ferringhi. These two towns are known for their stunning beaches, laid-back attitudes and a vast array of water sports activities. Here you can play hard both day and night.

And finally, cross one of the three bridges connecting the island to the mainland and you’ll arrive in Bukit Mertajam. Off the usual tourist path, this neighbourhood is filled with interesting heritage, delicious food, and is in close proximity to lush and magnificent nature.

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

 

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Penang’s 5 Best Neighborhoods to Stay in

Now, let’s take a look, in more detail, at the five best neighbourhoods and towns in Penang. Each offers a little something different to travellers, so be sure to pick the neighbourhood that’s the right fit for your travel wants and needs.

 

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

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 architecture, and a lively arts and culture scene. With so much to see and do, it’s no wonder George Town is our recommendation for where to stay in Penang if you’re visiting for the first time.

Penang is a well-known foodie paradise, and there’s no better place to excite your sense than George Town. From food markets and hawker stalls to high-end restaurants and chic lounge bars, this city is bursting with delicious and tantalizing food options from throughout Malaysia and around the world.

George Town, Penang

 

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 sense in Little India.

– Go for a stroll along Gurney Drive.

– Hike through Penang National Park.

– Look at the mercantile buildings that line Beach Street.

– 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.

 

Best Hostel in George Town: Huttonlodge

Huttonlodge is our pick for the best hostel in Penang. Located in vibrant George Town, this hostel is within walking distance of top tourist attractions and markets. There are also plenty of bars, restaurants, clubs and shops nearby. This recently restored guesthouse offers comfortable, clean and air-conditioned accommodations.

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Best Hotel in George Town: Campbell House

This fantastic four-star hotel provides comfortable and air-conditioned rooms with modern amenities. They have a terrace, a stylish lounge bar and a restaurant on-site. Plus, there are plenty of shops and tourist attractions nearby. All of this combined makes this our choice for where to stay in George Town.

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Best Hotel in George Town: The Edison George Town

With a great location, large rooms and wonderful staff, its no wonder this is one of our favourite hotels in George Town. It has a vast array of features including an outdoor pool and a library. Rooms are comfortable and well-equipped with modern amenities.

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

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. Today, Sungai Dua boasts a lively and vibrant student population, great restaurants and fun pubs.

This Penang neighbourhood is also where you’ll find a vast array of budget accommodations catering to all styles of travellers. From cheap and cheerful to hip and rustic, Sungai Dua has a vacation rental that’s perfect for you!

Sungai Dua, Penang

Source: Gilbert Goon (Shutterstock)

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.

 

Best Hotel in Sungai Dua: M Qube Hotel

This charming hotel is our pick for where to stay in Sungai Dua. It is strategically located and is 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.

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Best Hotel in Sungai Dua: 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. This charming hotel has 2 rooms equipped with modern amenities.

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Best Hotel in Sungai Dua: U Hotel Penang

This excellent three-star hotel comes complete with comfortable and clean rooms with air conditioning and contemporary features. They also provide bottled water, on-demand movies, and laundry service upon request. A short ride from George Town, this hotel is ideally located for exploring and enjoying Sungai Dua and Penang.

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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 and stunning views, luxury hotels and mindblowing restaurants. It also boasts a laid back atmosphere making it the perfect place to sit back, relax and while away the afternoon.

But that’s not all! This Malaysian oasis is also home to some of the best bars, pubs, restaurants and lounges on the island. From a romantic meal or a few cocktails at sunset, no matter what you’re after, you’ll find it in Batu Ferringhi. That’s why it’s our top pick for where to stay in Penang for nightlife.

Batu Ferringhi, Penang _ 2

source: Slilin (flickr)

Things to See and Do in Batu Ferringhi

– Bask in the sun at Batu Ferringhi Beach.

– Eat delicious local cuisine at Ferringhi Garden.

– Enjoy a romantic meal with stunning sea views at Sigi’s Bar & Grill.

– Have dinner and drinks at the Hard Rock Café.

– Hike through Penang National Park.

– 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.

 

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

This family-owned guest house is just a stone’s throw from Batu Ferringhi Beach. It’s 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.

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Best Hotel in Batu Ferringhi: PARKROYAL Penang Resort

The PARKROYAL Penang is a stunning five-star resort – and our pick for where to stay in Batu Ferringhi. It has a private beach, a swimming pool, bicycle rental and an on-site bar. There’s also a stylish lounge and tasty restaurant, perfect for kicking off a night on the town.

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Best Hotel in Batu Ferringhi: Roomies Suites

This hotel is an excellent base for your time in Penang. It is close to Batu Ferringhi Night Market, great restaurants and lively bars. This hotel offers clean and comfortable rooms with bottled water, tea/coffee makers and a relaxing seating area. They also provide luggage storage and a 24-hour reception.

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4. Bukit Mertajam – Coolest Place to Stay in Penang

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. However, it has an interesting city centre bursting with history and culture, delectable food and charming neighbourhoods to explore. That’s why it is our choice for the coolest neighbourhood in Penang.

This is also 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 all different types of terrain in Penang.

Bukit Mertajam, Penang

Source: Ianxztan (shutterstock)

Things to See and Do in Bukit Mertajam

– Admire the beautiful architectural design of St. Anne Church.

– 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 shoes and go hiking at 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.

 

Best Budget Hotel in Bukit Mertajam: Pice Hotel

This colourful hotel is your best choice for budget accommodations in Bukit Mertajam. It is close to the heart of the city with popular attractions, restaurants and shops nearby. This themed hotel offers comfortable rooms with unique décor. You’ll enjoy free wifi, bottled water, private bathrooms and modern amenities.

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Best Hotel in Bukit Mertajam: Iconic Hotel

This four-star hotel has an ideal location for exploring Seberang Perai. It has many dining, shopping, sightseeing and nightlife options at its doorstep. This hotel offers a sauna, an outdoor pool, an airport shuttle and luggage storage. All of this combined makes it our recommendation for where to stay in Bukit Mertajam.

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Best Hotel in Bukit Mertajam: Vangohh Premier Hotel

The Vanggohh Premier is an excellent hotel in Penang. It has 37 rooms each outfitted with modern features and essentials. This five-star hotel boasts a swimming pool and valet parking. There’s also an in-house restaurant and bar, perfect for unwinding after a long day of exploring.

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5. Tanjung Bungah – Best Neighbourhood in Penang for Families

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. A former fishing village, Tanjung Bungah is a resort area packed with fun, excitement, activities and attractions that will enthral kids of all ages. That’s why it’s our pick for where to stay in Penang for families.

A haven for water sports and aquatic activities, Tanjung Bungah is a neighbourhood where you can try your hand at almost anything. Whether you want to swim in the sea or play in the sand, this neighbourhood is designed to make sure you have a proper good time in paradise.

Tanjung Bungah, Penang

Source: amrufm (flickr)

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.

 

Best Hotel in Tanjung Bungah: 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, bottle water and kitchenettes. This resort also boasts a swimming pool, tennis courts, a modern gym and a relaxing spa. A tasty breakfast is also available.

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Best Hotel in Tanjung Bungah: Lost Paradise Resort

You and your family 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! Every room has its own theme and comes packed with essentials.

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

This DoubleTree Resort is our top choice for where to stay in Tanjung Bungah. Ideal for families, this hotel offers large rooms with bottled water, on-demand movies and stunning sea views. They provide a variety of services including a shuttle and childminding. There’s also free wifi, a swimming pool and an in-house restaurant.

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Final Thoughts on Where to Stay in Penang

Penang is a stunning destination that has so much to offer travellers. From historic landmarks and cultural attractions to unique cuisine, stunning beaches and vibrant nightlife, there really is something for tourists of all ages, styles and budgets in Penang.

In this guide, we’ve highlighted the five best towns and neighbourhoods to stay in Penang. If you’re still not sure which is right for you, here is a quick recap of our favourites.

George Town is our pick for the best neighbourhood with the most going on. It has historic attractions and tourist hot spots, great food, cool culture, and plenty of nightlife options. It’s also where you’ll find our favourite hostel, Huttonlodge.

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

Don’t forget to sort your travel insurance! We’ve put together a roundup of the best travel insurance for backpackers – check it out here, or if you’re low on time, get a quote from World Nomads now, our favourite travel insurance provider.

 

Do you own an awesome hostel, hotel or apartment? Want to be featured in our list? Email hostels@thebrokebackpacker.com to find out how.

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In this EPIC GUIDE, we cover where to stay in Penang based on your travel style & budget. Check out the coolest areas in Penang!

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