Dos and don’t in Penang

1. Bring a small foldable umbrella
Penang is unbelievably hot. Given the absence of trees. Umbrella is also useful in case of sudden tropical rain showers.

2. Buy a Mobile wifi sim card
At the airport to your right as you exit the immigration counter. I got a 5 day Internet for 20 MYR or 25 MYR for 300 MB and phone calls. Phone calls are unnecessary since I’ve no friends. Just in case I need to book restaurants. Internet connection is very useful for checking what to do from other bloggers. While locals are friendly, they may not go to the same places as you prefer. Especially when it rains, something to do while waiting for rain to stop.

3. Bring a big bottle of water
Hydrate yourself at all times. Its so hot here despite being an island.

4. Hop on the CAT free bus shuttle
Not only is it free. Its convenient and regular especially if you’re visiting the UNESCO sites within Georgetown core area. It also has free wifi. There’s a stop near my hotel. Watch out for the trishaw puller wall mural. Ironically we spotted it while looking out the window of lift lobby on 12th floor at E&O. It gets you to Komtar, Armenian street wall murals and the ferry jetty. We paid 16 MYR for a 5 min taxi ride from our hotel to Komtar which we could have gone for free on the shuttle. Taxis don’t go by meter from the hotel. We found a taxi stand below the Trishaw wall mural. Mr Sina Govindasamy 0174813579. He goes by the meter. So a trip to Komtar will cost about 5 MYR. He came over to our hotel to fetch us to the airport.

5. Get free maps from airport counter
The maps are separated by themes such as the one on Peranakan or the one on wall murals which details the location and CAT bus stations.

If you’re not sure, get the white taxi from airport. You pay at a counter and get a slip, then queue for taxi. Cost 44.50 MYR standard government fixed rate.

6. Keep one ringgit notes early in case you need to take public bus
Especially early in the morning, small hawkers don’t like to give out too much change. Keep the loose change for them. Taking the public bus 204 to Penang Hill, it helps to have the one dollar ringgit ready. Each ride is about 2MYR per pax from Komtar.

7. Bring plastic bags or carry on
Many shops don’t provide plastic bags. For environmental responsibility reason. Except for tourist shops which do provide.

8. Penang people are friendly
But maybe shy. I find the CAT bus drivers very helpful. So do let them know where you want to get off, surprisingly most do watch out and call you. Malaysia boleh.

9. Penang is very walkable
Except from 12pm to 5pm – in my view. After 6pm on weekends, walk and don’t take public transport if you’re going to the core area. The traffic jam is very bad. We spent 1hr on the bus for a stretch that was only 10 mins on the Friday night before. I think its because many Malaysians from other cities drive up too? You reckon?

10. Walk around in daylight as well as at night. Somehow the place looks different under different lighting. Especially Love lane. Walk towards and walk away as sometimes a wall mural may be hidden in the wall on the opposite side. We missed the trishaw man initially. Bring good walking shoes. Watch out for traffic. Cars, bicycles and scooters. Be safe. Don’t assume cars will stop for you. On a few occasions, we saw cars dashing across the red light. (Although we can’t tell if they’re from another state. )

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