Penang for families

Penang is a popular choice for a short getaway for families with young kids (that’s us!) because of the variety of activities available. A quick research led us to decide on the combination of nature walk, water activities, mural art appreciation and places that might interest the kids. We were mindful not to pack many activities within a day because we wanted to allow for more space when travelling with kids since tantrums and meltdowns could happen. 😅

So our 4D3N trip to Penang with two other families started on a mid-week morning. The flight lasted slightly more than an hour and by the time we cleared the custom and reached our hotel, it was already 2 o’clock. We wasted no time and walked to the building next to our hotel and started our first day of activities!

It was this Jurassic Research Center that caught my attention initially. But The Top Penang offers much more than this and we decided on The Top Fun Pass in the end since it allows multiple entries on a same-day visit to all attractions in the Avenue of Adventures and Rainbow Skywalk at The Top Penang except Augmented Reality Virtual, Formula One, The Gravityz & TOP Capsule.

I think the kids were fascinated by the various kinds of dinosaurs but Dan was petrified. He clung on to me for the entire time we were in there so we had to move on quickly. There was no opportunity for me to read the relevant information or to relate it to the girl. I, just had to move on.

Once we were out of the Jurassic Research Center, the kids were treated to an hour of fun at the indoor playground (so pls bring along socks) while some of the adults went for a 30-minute 7D show which was rather uninteresting, I regret to say. We spent the rest of the time having fun dancing, riding on bumper cars, having hands-on Science experiments at Tech Drome (so good!) and ended our time at The Top with a breathtaking view of Penang at the Rainbow skywalk.

Surely we won’t miss the local food when we were here. You won’t too, will you?

Day 1 | Flight –> The Top Penang –> Dinner

Day 2 | Penang Hill –> Street Art Murals –> Ferry to and fro Butterworth –> Dinner

Rise and shine! We were all ready to take the tram up to Penang Hill and hike to the canopy walk. Fresh air greeted us as the tram reached its destination up the hill and we were all ready to go. Mid-way through the walk, the kids cried hungry and tired and we figured it would still be a while before we could reach the canopy walk. Aborted that idea, headed back to the tram station and had our lunch at A&W. ✌🏼

Travelling with a bunch of preschoolers means that our itinerary has to be flexible and allows for changes to be made. There are some who still take naps and as parents, we understand the importance of rest for these young ones. So after a walk around Penang Hill, we checked back to the hotel for a swim and the kids went to nap rather quickly, giving the moms some time to sneak out to the mall. ✌🏼

Once the kids were refreshed, we headed out to explore the mural art. It was fun, and would be more interesting if the kids could join in with much enthusiasm. Alas, they were complaining of hunger, thirst and tiredness as we looked for the various artwork and had to settle for a much needed tea break.

Since the mural art street is near to the jetty, we walked across to take the ferry to and fro Butterworth. We had fun running to catch the next ferry and the kids enjoyed the ride. They were fascinated that vehicles and humans could be on the same ferry. ⛴

Day 3 | Breakfast –> transfer to Bayview resort –> Entopia –> Dinner

Breakfast or all kinds of meals should be enjoyed with folks with the same palate. The whole gang agreed on Dim Sum breakfast and we found our way to Tai Tung Restaurant.

We soon checked out of the hotel and headed to Bayview Resort for a different kind of adventure.

At Entopia, we were filled with amazement as we interacted face-to-face with many beautiful butterflies in the garden as well as bugs and some reptiles. We signed up for a one-hour workshop (RM 16) which enabled us to have a close encounter with rhinoceros beetle (and its larva), hissing cockroaches and …a gentle snake!

Took so many photos but I think it’s best to refer to my IG (I store photos there). Make it a one-day trip! The kids were entralled by the creatures and the adults, too.

The day slowed down as we returned to the hotel and enjoyed a bit of the beach before we headed to a Tze Tchar stall for dinner.

Day 4 | Beach life + departure

We spent the bulk of the morning relaxing in the premise of the hotel. The kids were excited about the waterplay area and had a good workout through swimming.

I wish I could spend more time just bumming at the beach, with a book in one hand and a glass of juice in another. Alas, such a life would not happen as long as our kids are still young. Give us a few more years?

This trip has been a rather relaxing and at the same time, a fulfilling one. We were treated to good food and the kids had one another for company. We weren’t rushing from places to places and thus could slow down our pace to be present for one another.

It was a wonderful trip.

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A dozen things to do in Penang

How do you plan a trip to Penang that could accommodate and satisfy a family of six which comprises an infant and folks in their 70s? We did it the slow and relaxing way – sightseeing via a van. Here is a summary of the recent family trip to the Pearl of the Orient.

#1. Book a hotel along Gurney Drive: You will not go hungry because there are numerous stalls along this road and the most popular one has to be Anjung Gurney. Here, you will find local delicacies like Assam Laksa, rojak, Char Kway Teow, etc. However, we find that the dishes are overpriced. Still, it makes for a good experience. Bring along a mini-fan.

IMG_0874 IMG_0899If you are like me and my aunt-in-law who love to buy Tambun Biskut (local biscuits), purchase them at their authorised boutiques or risk paying more. 

IMG_1362On the other end of Gurney Drive, opposite Northam hotel is a beach cafe that faces the sea. There are stalls selling local food and is less crowded. Personally, I prefer this to the previous one which is overrated, in my opinion.

Aside from the food, this road is made popular by having the best view of the sunset. Just outside the Georgetown City, Gurney Drive faces the sea of Penang and having a hotel room facing this view can provide a truly relaxing experience. Now that we are travelling as a family, I’ll make sure the hotel has ample facilities that we can enjoy in the event that we have to stay in due to bad weather or when the elderly folks are tired. For me, a spa and a good pool are good enough.

Relaxing pool

Relaxing pool

#2. Mural art in Georgetown. Ok, I must be honest with you. I’m in Penang in search for the mural art by Ernest Zacharevic. We had it easy. Our tour guide cum driver took us to the various sites where the artwork can be found. My sister-in-law and I went crazy over them and sprang out of the van the moment we arrived at each spot. You see, there were many tourists who wanted to take a picture with the painting as well so you’ve got to act fast. Sadly, the colour of these paintings have faded and some are barely visible.

Boy on a bike

Boy on a bike

The following would be some museums/attractions that we chose to go for and they are all in Georgetown. The best way to explore this UNESCO world cultural heritage city is by foot.

#3. Khoo Kongsi. Completed around 1906, the temple belongs to the Khoo Kongsi clan. The temple features fine Chinese architecture and craftsmanship. Be wowed by it.

Khoo Kongsi Temple

Khoo Kongsi Temple

#4. Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion. This is the famed ‘Blue Mansion’, former home of tycoon Cheong Fatt Tze. Guided tours are at specific timing and it is an hour long. There are 16 B &B rooms but they are not cheap.

Front view of the mansion

Front view of the mansion

One of the rooms was open for us to view and here they are – a basic room with shower facilities.

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Interior of one of the rooms

Interior of one of the rooms

www.cheongfatttzemansion.com

#5. The house of Yeap Chor Ee. This house was turned into a social history gallery tracing the journey of Yeap Chor Ee, a young immigrant who came to Penang in 1885. Nothing spectacular though I was more intrigued by the restaurant found at the back of the house – Sire Museum Restaurant. If you dine here, you could visit the gallery for free.

Entrance to House of Yeap Chor Ee

Entrance to House of Yeap Chor Ee

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Kitchen of Sire Museum Restaurant

Kitchen of Sire Museum Restaurant

#6. Pinang Peranakan Mansion. A must-go if you want to know more about Peranakan culture. It houses a good number of Nyonya antiques and collectibles, showcasing the Peranakans’ opulent lifestyle as well as their customs and traditions.

Pinang Peranakan Museum

Pinang Peranakan Museum

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#7. Chew jetty. This is one of the clan jetties around and you’ve guessed it, we chose this because one of the mural art pieces is found here but it is nearly beyond recognition.

Welcome note to Chew Jetty

Welcome note to Chew Jetty

Children in a boat

Children in a boat

Open kitchen

Open kitchen

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#8. Crossing Penang bridge and riding on Malaysia’s oldest ferry service. Penang Bridge is Asia’s longest bridge and it offers a spectacular view of Penang. This bridge is the pride and joy of Penang and a national landmark. Our van took us across the bridge and we came back via the ferry.

Ferry ride

Ferry ride

#9. View from the top of Penang Hill. We went up to the top through the Penang Hill Railway though you can climb up the hill. This is a funicular railway that will bring passengers all the way up to Flagstaff Hill.

Breathtaking view from the hilltop

Breathtaking view from the hilltop

#10. Culinary experience. I’ll be honest. One of the reasons I visit Penang is for the food. I love street stalls and local food and our guide recommended some good places for us to try their local food. Here’s some:

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Nyonya Baba Cuisine
44, Nagore Road, 10050 Penang. 
My peranakan in-laws endorse their food. Try their otak, spring roll and nutmeg drink. Actually, all other food is sedap (delicious)!

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Best Cendol in town! You could also order laksa and rojak here.

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How can I not go for Dim Sum? Our guide brought us here.

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If you want malay food, try Line Clear. Tables are along the alley.

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Hakka cuisine at Ke Ren Lai along Gurney Drive

Char Kway Teow stall

Char Kway Teow stall

One of the street stalls

One of the street stalls

#11. Learn more about spice from the Tropical Spice Garden. If I was to go back to Penang, I would spend more time in this garden and enrol myself in the cooking class. There is a lot of information that could be gathered just by walking through the garden and if you have a guide, that’s even better. However, be warned that there are mozzies! Lots of them! There is also a restaurant that serves Thai-Asian-local cuisine if you are tired and just want to chill. Lastly, never leave home without buying the vanilla pod! They are relatively cheaper here. I bought some. 🙂

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Spices galore! How can you resist them?

Spices galore! How can you resist them?

#12. Tembun, anyone? We bought a lot of souvenirs in the form of food items back. As I have mentioned earlier, go to the authorised stores. There, you can taste the products and you can be certain they are the real stuff.

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The popular ones are Ghee Hiang and Him Heang

So, these are the 12 things we did in Penang. We did not have sufficient time for high tea at 1885, E&O hotel (what a disappointment) and if you want to go for it, do make a call for reservation!

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We booked a van and the tour guide cum driver and this made our trip so much easier. Less walking which is good for the elderly folks. However, Georgetown should really be done on foot.

If you love beaches, spend a day at Batu Ferringhi. It reminds me of Kuta Beach area, Bali.

There you have it – our 4D 3N trip to Penang.

More pictures can be found on my FB page.