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Situated on the northwestern coast of Malaysia, Penang is familiar to Malaysians and Singaporeans, but has little traction as a holiday destination outside of South East Asia. It’s a pity really, since the little island-state has a mass of things to offer any intrepid traveller.

The capital city, George Town, is a congenial town with some of the best local cuisine in the entire country. Once a British colony in the 18th century, Penang still retains a few choice buildings and monuments from its past.

The new Penang is a far cry from its traditional past, with cheeky wall murals donning its walls, and Uber landing in the city. However, whatever Penang does in the name of progress doesn’t seem to be able to take away from the wealth of the land and its heritage culture.

Getting Around

The quaint city of George Town doesn’t have webs of train lines or large congested roads, but neither does it need them. The charm of the place lies in its ease and simplicity, taking you back to a time when cities weren’t as intimidating and cold.

In fact, trishaws are still a surviving trade in the town, albeit more likely to be used by tourists. It’s a good way to explore George Town, with the riders acting as unofficial tour guides.

The bulk of the city is accessible by foot, and for places that are slightly more far flung, the bus can do the job. Taxis are also an option, but few drivers want to abide by the meter, which may result in unwanted inflation. Visitors would be better off downloading the Uber app and booking one of their cars, as the rates would be much cheaper.

By Buses

Buses are a key mode of transport. Operated by RapidPenang, both bus stations and vehicles feature good signages and user-friendly instructions. You can even download the company’s app - Rapid Penang Mobile Icis - which gives you a GPS route planner, as well as an indicator of the buses’ arrival and departure times. 

KOMTAR is the main bus hub in George Town, and where most of the bus routes start and terminate. If you are visiting for more than a week, you can invest in a Rapid Passport (RM30) that grants you unlimited travel on all Rapid Penang buses for one week

By Taxi

While not as readily available as regular taxis, keep your eyes peeled for the blue SUVs branded with the words ‘Teksi Excuti’, as they generally abide by the meter.

A better solution would be to download the Uber app prior to landing in Penang. Simply key in your pick-up location, followed by your destination and the app will automatically generate a one-time fee for your trip. If you choose to proceed, the system will match you to a driver of the closest proximity to your pick-up point. Uber fares also tend to be relatively cheaper than regular taxis.

By Walking

George Town is probably best explored on two feet. With little surprises lurking around street corners, you wouldn’t want to miss the delightful nuggets of art, history or food if you didn’t branch off from the main streets. Walking tours are also very popular among visitors and most hotels would be happy to arrange them for you.

By Car Rental:

With your hands at the wheel and the wind in your hair, the world is yours for the taking.

Whether you find yourself in Asia Pacific, the US, Canada, Europe, the Middle East or Africa, make your car rental bookings through Ascott’s website and enjoy up to 5% off on self-drive car rentals (minimum 3 consecutive days rental) through AVIS and BUDGET - two of the world’s most renowned car rental companies.

Additionally, Ascott Online Advantage members are entitled for up to 10% off car rentals in the same countries with no minimum rental period, and can enjoy special member benefits at Ascott’s serviced residences. Sign up today.

For guests of Ascott’s serviced residences in Singapore, enjoy up to 20% off car rentals, valid for a more than 28-day self-drive period.

For more information on car rentals, visit the AVIS or BUDGET website.


By Trishaw:

The trishaw, an archaic three-wheeled vehicle that is peddled by a rider, is a quirky experience for new-comers to the city. Accommodating up to two passengers, the trishaw is a great way to tour George Town, with riders usually more than happy to dispense tips and stories about various parts of the city. 

Tip: Negotiate a comfortable rate for an hour-long tour prior to hopping on.