You can escape further than you think this weekend
“If only we could have holidays more often.”
We all wish that, but the truth is that holidays are few and far between because of our budget and work commitments – or so we thought. In actual fact, weekend getaways to places beyond JB are actually very possible and affordable, and one such re-invigorating retreat is none other than Penang.
Filled with plenty of old-school local delicacies to feast on, snazzy hidden bars to explore, and exciting activities to get a thrilling adrenaline rush, Penang is the perfect mix of fun and relaxation. A flight over on budget airline AirAsia only takes slightly over an hour and fares for a one-way trip start from a mere $50, so read on to find out what your next weekend could be like:
1. Check-in: Areca Hotel
Conveniently located just a stone’s throw away from the CBD and most of Penang’s major attractions, Areca Hotel is a value-for-money resort-like accommodation with clean, spacious rooms, a good location, and beautiful old-meets-new decor.
A variety of rooms for individuals, couples, and large groups of friends are available, and their rates work out to be as low as about SGD$70 for their most affordable option – a reasonable price to pay for the convenience.
We’ve also sussed out a couple of photo-worthy spots for that amazing #OOTD shot, which can be found at the common hallway of the first floor and a quaint bamboo-lined alley right outside the hotel!
Address: No. 5 Jalan Khoo Sian Ewe, George Town, 10050 Penang, Malaysia
2. Massage: Deluxcious Hotel, Spa & Restaurant
Once you’ve checked into the hotel, head down to Deluxcious Hotel, Spa & Restaurant to kickstart your holiday with a well-deserved massage. It will set you in the holiday mood and get rid of all that work stress right away so that you can make the most of your holiday at full throttle!
Housed in a 19th-century colonial-style house, the massive 2-storey establishment is where you can get a whole range of Balinese massage and aromatherapy treatments that come with a complimentary spa meal with herbs infused in each dish.
We recommend that you opt for the Aromatherapy Massage (90 mins or 120 mins) because it uses a specific blend of lavender and chamomile oil that will send you into a deeply relaxed state – ever fallen asleep during a massage before? You will here.
Besides massages, Deluxcious also has manicure and pedicure services, facial, and a private karaoke room for you to belt out your favourite songs all the way till 3AM.
Address: 15 – 17A Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah, George Town, 10050 Penang, Malaysia
Spa Opening Hours: 10AM – 2AM Daily
Restaurant Opening Hours: 12PM – 11PM Daily
3. Food hunt: Penang Road Famous Teochew Chendul
Here’s where the feasting begins – Penang Road Famous Teochew Chendul. Well-known for selling old-school cult-favourites chendol, assam laksa, and rojak for the past 4 decades, this is where the good stuff is at.
Their signature chendol is made with rice flour instead of the usual green bean powder, which makes it creamier, sweeter, and softer than most. Each bowl only costs RM3 (about SGD1)!
Their rojak is also extra flavourful thanks to the shrimp paste added into their homemade sauce, and for those of you who prefer savoury to sweet, their assam laksa is flavourful and tangy, and comes with a generous heap of mackerel, onions, and pineapples.
Address: 27 & 29 Lebuh Keng Kwee, Georgetown, 10100 Penang, Malaysia
Opening Hours: Mon – Fri: 10.30AM – 7PM | Sat & Sun: 10AM – 7.30PM
4. Authentic Nasi Kandar: Restoran Hameediyah Tandoori House
Another must-visit when you’re in Penang, Restoran Hameediyah Tandoori House is the oldest Nasi Kandar restaurant in the entire state that has been operating since 1907. Choose from over 20 different sides and curries to go with your steamed rice, or dig into their murtabak, which is another one of their specialities.
Packed full with your choice of minced beef, chicken, mutton, or vegetable, their murtabak is fluffy and chewy, and even comes with a side of pickled onions – a tradition that many other restaurants have stopped following!
Their teh tarik is also not to be underestimated – comparable to the ones at the super famous No Name Teh Sarabat Stall opposite Kampong Glam Cafe, it’s milky, sinfully sweet, and served with an airy layer of froth.
Address: 164 Lebuh Campbell, George Town, 10100 Penang, Malaysia
Opening Hours: 11AM – 10.30PM
5. Food street: New Lane Hawker Centre
Night markets are a must wherever you go, and New Lane Hawker Centre is where you’ll find old-school food carts selling all kinds of traditional local grub like char kway teow, prawn mee, satay, BBQ chicken wings, and wanton mee.
Tables and chairs are set up in front of each food cart for their patrons to dine at, but because the food street is extremely popular with the locals, there aren’t many seats left by the time the sun sets. A single queue at the oyster omelette stall can stretch up to 30 minutes long!
Don’t fret if you can’t find an empty seat though – just head over to the nearby coffee shops with your food and grab a drink from there! We suggest Penang’s iconic nutmeg juice, which interestingly tastes like Ribena.
Address: Lorong Baru, George Town, George Town, 10450 Penang, Malaysia
Opening Hours: From 4PM onwards
6. Hidden bar: Out of Nowhere
Once you’ve conquered every food cart there is at New Lane, embark on a Narnia-like adventure at Out of Nowhere, a speakeasy hidden in Rabbit x Hold Up! Café, behind a… refrigerator.
That’s right, opening an unassuming orange fridge door will lead you to the bar’s entrance, and the edgy, industrial-themed watering hole is a stark contrast from the brightly-lit facade that sells coffee and ice cream in the day.
Drinks here are extremely Instagrammable – think cocktails with a whole frozen apple in it and tiki mugs – and cost not more than RM40 (about SGD13) a pop, but before you go crazy, let us warn you that their drinks aren’t for the lightweights.
Address: 73, Jalan Kuala Kangsar, George Town, 10100 Penang, Malaysia
Opening Hours: Sun – Thurs (Closed on Tue): 7PM – 1AM | Fri & Sat: 7PM – 2AM
7. Themed bar: Magazine 63
If you’re not ready to turn in for the night yet, drop by Magazine 63, an ancient Chinese-themed bar that’s hidden in plain sight with an entrance designed to look like it’s still under construction.
It’s deathly silent around the rusty metal gates and bare wooden planks, and we could never have guessed that behind this facade laid another hideout of the local Chinese with live band performances, a swanky bar counter, and neon lights all over.
Looking like a modernised Chinese inn similar to the ones you see in ancient Chinese flicks, drinks here are served straight out of porcelain teapots and wine flasks into iconic rooster bowls. Needless to say, you’ll feel like you’re a protagonist in a palace drama. /flips hair/
Address: No. 63 Jalan Magazine, George Town, 10300 Penang, Malaysia
Opening Hours: 8PM – 3AM Daily
8. Glass floor skywalk: The Top @ Komtar
Start your day right and treat yourself to a breathtaking bird’s eye view of Penang at The Top @ Komtar, the tallest building in Penang! Boasting an observatory deck and a skywalk with a glass floor on its 68th storey, you’ll be able to feel like you’re the King of the World, walking among clouds 249m above ground level.
Daredevils can take things up a notch higher by challenging themselves to a ropes course and flying fox right outside the 65th floor at The Gravityz Penang. There are 6 different challenges in total to complete, and let’s just say that there’s a high chance your legs will turn into jelly. Of course, there are emergency exits located along the course.
Address: 1, Jalan Penang, George Town, 10000 Penang, Malaysia
Level 65 Observatory Deck Opening Hours: Sun – Thurs: 11AM – 10PM | Fri & Sat: 10AM – 10PM
Rainbow Skywalk Opening Hours: Sun – Thurs: 11AM – 10PM | Fri & Sat: 11AM – 11PM
The Gravityz Penang Opening Hours: 10AM – 6PM Daily
9. Wall murals and cafes: Armenian Street
End your trip on a sweet note by strolling down Armenian Street, a hotspot for artsy wall murals and hipster cafes! It’s like Haji Lane but bigger and better, so snap away at some of the city’s most famous murals such as the one with two children riding a bicycle, a brother and sister on a swing, and a giant ginger cat.
Some of the cafes to keep a lookout for include Scoops, a grungy ice cream parlour right next to the kids-on-a-bicycle piece, TFros, a hair salon in the 20’s that’s now a dessert cafe, and Fruitmade, a smoothie and juice bar known for their vibrant drinks and over-the-top soft serves!
P.S. If you see streetside stalls selling bubble tea, get it. We found a RM6 Brown Sugar Fresh Milk and it was absolute heaven with creamy milk and bouncy, chewy pearls. That’s a steal at just SGD2, and you don’t even have to queue up to buy it.
Address: Lebuh Armenian, George Town, 10450 Penang, Malaysia
This post was brought to you by AirAsia.