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We’ve seen the horrifying traffic jam at the Immigration Customs over the National Day long weekend. Should you risk your trip during the upcoming Deepavali long weekend? Is it worth it?
We say it’s all or nothing. The short 3-days break you get allows you to go for a short escapade to Penang right across the border. To save time on the travelling, we recommend taking a budget flight over or head in the wee hours of Saturday morning.
Travelling to Penang
Undoubtedly, the fastest and most convenient way to travel to Penang is by air. There are over 15 direct flights from various airlines that will bring you to the Pearl of the Orient from Singapore in 1 hour 20 minutes every day. However, just like usual long weekends, the cost of flying will definitely surge during this period too.
If you have a tight budget, travel by coach instead. The journey may sound somewhat daunting, as it may take up to 10 hours or more depending on traffic conditions. However, the cost is only a fraction of what you pay for your return air ticket!
To avoid the horrendous queue at the customs just like the recent National Day long weekend, opt for the overnight coach departing from Singapore. Coach buses typically travel via Tuas Link where there are lesser traffic and is more comfortable for an overnight drive. See below for an example of the coach fare:
The price difference between travel by air and by coach is at least S$216.92 per pax, but your travelling time is halved if you travel by air. Therefore, choose the option that suits you better depending on your budget.
Accomodation in Penang
The Prestige Hotel Penang
One of the top-rated hotels on Booking.com, Prestige Hotel is a spectacle to behold. Peranakan-inspired decor and gold trimmings are seen throughout the hotel, and a spectacular view from the rooftop is to-die-for.
Price: $111 per night
Hompton by the Beach, Penang
If you live for the sea view and love to hear the sound of waves, this is your perfect choice. Take a walk by the beach to catch the sunset or take a swim in the infinity pool to snap that insta-worthy photo!
Price: $68 per night
Hotel Jen Penang
The most convenient hotel on the list, Hotel Jen is located right in the heart of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Georgetown. With world-class service and the life of Penang at your feet, there’s no better way to stay than at Hotel Jen.
Price: $76 per night
Top things to do and see in Penang
Penang is a familiar place to many Singaporeans, given its proximity and slew of activities you can engage in the port city. Even if you have already been to the fascinating city, the city’s charms will continue to captivate you. From tantalising street food, quirky cafes, intriguing heritage sites to creative mural art, here are the 9 best things to do and see in Penang.
Visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site of George Town
Known for housing one of the largest pre-war building collections in Southeast Asia, George Town was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2008. Home to historic landmarks such as Fort Cornwallis and the Penang State Museum, the unique colonial architecture here draw visitors from all over the world.
Take a stroll along the streets or go for a trishaw ride (30MYR per hour) to soak in the nostalgic vibes and learn more about the Pearl of the Orient.
Snap photos with mural art
You can’t say you have been to Penang if you have not snapped any photos with their world renowned mural art. Have fun hunting each and every one of them in Georgetown to complete your photo album. Make each snap memorable with whimsical poses that interact with the quirky street art!
Experience nature at Escape Theme Park
Unlike the now defunct Escape Theme Park from Singapore, the one in Penang encourages visitors to reconnect with Mother Earth through physical quests that are engaging and exhilarating. The two different areas cater to every activity you’re seeking for: Adventure Play is for the adventurous interested in high rope activities while Waterpark will satisfy lovers of water obstacle courses
- Address: 828, Jalan Teluk Bahang, Teluk Bahang, 11050 Pulau Pinang, Malaysia
- Opening hours: Tuesday – Sunday: 10am – 6pm (closed on Monday)
- Telephone: +60 4-881 1106
- Price: Varies according to when the ticket is purchased. Find out more through its official website.
Explore the Clan Jetties of Penang
Located at Weld Quay in southeastern Georgetown, the Clan Jetties was home to Chinese immigrants in the 19th century. A rare sight to find in Singapore is definitely the zinc houses that were built on stilts to prevent seawater from entering the houses – residents still stay here! I recommend visiting during sunrise or sunset to capture the perfect picture for keepsake.
Cafe hop without breaking the bank
A meal in any cafe in Singapore would easily cost more than S$20, making cafe hopping an expensive affair here. But thanks to the strong SGD against MYR, you can cafe hop without breaking the bank at the bustling cafe scene in Penang.
From handcrafted coffee, fusion tea to freshly baked tiramisus and burnt cheesecakes, take in all the delicious food and beverages Penang cafes have to offer. Some of our favourites include Belle and Cream for burnt cheesecakes, homemade sourdough at Joies Cafe and banana milk espresso with a pretty slice of coconut peaflower cheesecake at Narrow Marrow.
Feast to your heart’s content
Of course, a trip to Penang is never complete without sinking your teeth into the wide array of mouth-watering street food. Penang char kway teow, assam laksa, curry mee, and chendol, the list of must-eat street food never seems to end. Let your sight and smell bring you to the best hawker places, such as roadside pushcarts and coffee shops, for a local gastronomic adventure. Or you can also make your way to the popular Gurney Drive Hawker Centre by the sea to enjoy everything under one roof.
Seek respite from the bustling city and heat for a breath of fresh air at Penang Hill
Just like Singapore, Penang’s heat can get a little overwhelming at times. To seek respite from the heat for cooler temperatures, get to the peak of the city with a ride on the world’s steepest funicular tunnel track. The best time for a tram ride up Penang Hill is in the late afternoon. The queue times are shorter then and you will be able to capture panaromic views of the beautiful sunset and city at night.
Enter the enchanting world of Pandora at Penang Avatar Secret Garden
You do not need to fly all the way to New Zealand’s Wellington to reenact the scenes in Avatar. All it takes is just a 10-minute drive from Georgetown to get to Penang Avatar Secret Garden. Situated behind Thai Pak Koong temple, the secret garden is the closest you can get to enter the enchanting world of Pandora.
Stroll beneath the “Aqua Trees” where vibrant LED iridescent rope lights are draped over tree branches to create the magical ambience. The LED lights are only switched on after 7.30pm so do time your visit wisely.
- Address: 336, Jalan Tokong Thai Pak Koong, Tanjung Tokong, 11200 Tanjung Bungah, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia
- Opening hours: Mon – Sun: 8AM – 12AM
- Price: 1 MYR (0.33 SGD)
Pose with innovative 3D glow-in-the-dark artworks at the Dark Mansion
If you think trick art is so passé, it’s likely you have not been to Dark Mansion. As the first and only 3D glow-in-the-dark trick art museum in Malaysia, it lets your creative juices flow by posing with different innovative artworks in the museum. Embark on an underwater adventure with fantasy sea creatures at the Underwater World, or explore the magical world of fairies and pixies in Fairytale Land.
- Address: 145, Lebuh Kimberley, George Town, 10100 George Town, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia
- Opening hours: Mon – Sun: 10AM – 6.30PM
- Price: 35 MYR per adult (11.56 SGD), 25 MYR per child or senior citizen (8.25 SGD)
- Phone: +60 4-251 9694
So there you have it, a short yet satisfying long weekend break in Penang, without using any of your annual leave! Happy holidays!
This article originally appeared on Shopback