For an island so compact, there’s certainly a lot to see and do in Penang. Not only is its capital, George Town, one of Malaysia’s great cultural and heritage sites, it’s also the country’s best culinary destination and a tropical holiday favorite.
A lot of history and tradition has certainly been cooking in this island since it was established in the 1700s. But this last decade has also given the island a facelift with George Town’s cultural and architectural renaissance happening alongside the fresh strokes of contemporary street art. The tourism industry is quick to jump in on this renewed vigor to draw in the holiday-goers, of course, ultimately giving us an amazing array of gorgeous hotels and luxurious resorts.
If you’re planning a visit to the holiday island soon, here’s where to stay in Penang.
Where to stay in Penang – best hotels and resorts on the island
Quick tips – choosing the best place to stay in Penang
- If you want to be in the center of Penang’s cultural and culinary heritage, stay in George Town. You’ll be right in the middle of Penang’s UNESCO Heritage Site, with quick access to all the island’s street art, delicious food, and architectural wonders.
- If you want a relaxing tropical holiday, stay in Batu Ferringhi. You’ll be close to Penang’s best beaches, nature trails, and blazing sunsets.
- If you want the best of both – quick access to the city sights and a relaxing beachfront stay – check out these hotels. These hotels will let you experience Penang in comfort and style.
There’s a lot to see in George Town, Penang Island’s capital city. First established as a British colonial island in the 1700s, George Town’s strategic location gradually attracted people from multiple cultures, eventually turning it into a melting pot of Asian and European elements. Its unique architecture, culture, and townscape grant it UNESCO world heritage status. And if that’s not enough of a reason to visit George Town, its amazing street food and art scenes will certainly draw you in.
Best hotels in George Town
★Travelers’ Pick: The Edison Mansion tops our list of hotels in George Town with its great central location, rich colonial décor, and excellent service. Their rooms are comfortable and equipped with most amenities you’ll need during your trip, plus you get access to a 24-hour lounge with free-flowing snacks and tea. The only catch? They’re almost always fully booked so reserve your rooms early.
For a uniquely “Penang” experience, book a stay at the iconic Cheong Fatt Tze Blue Mansion, one of the island’s most important historical and architectural landmarks. You’ll live like royalty in this beautifully restored mansion where you can enjoy traditional Malaysian food and easily walk to George Town’s UNESCO heritage sites.
Before George Town’s UNESCO heritage status transformed the city into a hot holiday destination, most holiday-goers to Penang Island head straight to Batu Ferringhi. Lying on the northwest tip of the island, Batu Ferringhi enjoys brilliant sunsets and amazing views of the sea.
Penang’s most luxurious beach resorts can be found here, as well as seafood restaurants and water sports facilities. You can bring home beautiful batik pieces and unique souvenirs from the seafront night market, or brave the jungle trails of the Penang National Park. Or, simply laze away the days under the sun like a proper beach bum.
Best resorts in Batu Ferringhi
★Travelers’ Pick: Shangri-La’s Rasa Sayang Resort and Spa is all about giving you the ultimate tropical holiday experience. You’ll get to enjoy amazing views, easy access to the beach, lovely gardens and pools, bars and restaurants serving European and local dishes, impeccable customer service, and spacious and comfortable rooms in an overall relaxing resort environment. This is especially perfect for special events and anniversaries.
For a budget stay, check out Rasa Motel.
Sometimes, you just want everything. And Penang Island definitely has it – Tropical views, check. Amazing food, check. Cultural sites, check. And a fantastic hotel to come home to at the end of each adventurous day? Check out these luxury hotels in Penang.
Best hotels in Penang for cultural sightseeing and beach holidays
★Travelers’ Pick: Eastern and Oriental Hotel gives all-out luxury, colonial charm, and convenience with its seaside location right in George Town’s UNESCO Heritage site. You can easily do whatever you’re in the mood for – the streets of George Town are right outside waiting to be explored, or if you’re looking for a lazy afternoon under the sun, you can enjoy amazing views of the sea by the hotel’s outdoor swimming pool. Complete the picture with a cool cocktail from the in-house bar.
A close contender is G Hotel, a modern and luxurious hotel also in George Town’s UNESCO Heritage site. With breathtaking city views, a relaxing outdoor pool and garden, plus elegant and comfortable rooms, you’ll feel right at home in Penang.
Lastly, we have Seven Terraces, a beautifully-renovated heritage building near the coast and a few minutes’ walk to George Town’s heritage sites. While enjoying a magnificent central location, the hotel’s interior gives a restful vibe with its spacious rooms, swimming pool, and tropical courtyard. They also have an in-house Nyonya Restaurant where you can have a taste of Penang’s famed Peranakan dishes.
Map – landmarks and where to stay in Penang
Use this map to plan your trip to Penang. You’ll find the most popular landmarks plus locations of our recommended hotels in Penang.
Top tips for your holiday in Penang
Malaysia’s cultural and culinary island is an amazing holiday destination. You’ll be spoilt for choice and you’ll find your days filled with amazing activities and delicious experiences. Plan to spend at least 3 days in the island – that will just about cover the major cultural landmarks and an introduction to the island’s unique cuisine.
- 3 days in Penang – Plan your trip with this comprehensive 3-day itinerary and travel guide to Penang. It’s a long read but gives a complete overview of the island’s attractions. You can also download the travel guide here and save for later.
- Getting around – You can use the Rapid Penang buses or the Penang Hop On Hop Off buses to get to most of the island’s tourist landmarks. For a faster and more convenient ride, get private cars via the Grab ride-sharing app. You could also get a rental car to explore outside the city, but I don’t recommend driving around George Town.
- Stay connected – Get a Malaysian SIM card as you enter the country. Their data plans are really cheap and mobile Wi-Fi is a great thing to have when navigating in George Town.
- Eat up! – When in Penang, you have to eat the local cuisine! Whether you go for a street food crawl or for fine dining, Penang’s cultural heritage is best enjoyed on your plate. If you want a local guide to give you insights into Penang’s dishes and culinary heritage, join a food tour like this.
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I hope this guide helps you plan your trip to Malaysia! Penang Island is a great holiday destination for city lovers and sun worshipers with its fantastic array of cultural sights, culinary pickings, and luxurious hotels.
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