It's a tough choice to decide on the best place to stay in Penang as there are many amazing areas with their own charm. Each neighbourhood has its special vibe, attractions, and drawbacks. Penang Island is a small yet vibrant state located on the northwest coast of Malaysia. The island has many cultures, delicious food, and beautiful sights.
So, to help you decide on the best place to stay in Penang Island, we've put together a comprehensive guide covering each area with its pros and cons. Even better, we've broken this down to suit whether you're a solo traveller, a couple, a large group, a digital nomad, or a family.
Our guide will focus exclusively on the areas on Penang Island. Therefore, it will only cover neighbourhoods before the bridge. We've chosen each neighbourhood based on its unique charm and the type of traveller it will suit. Whether you want a relaxing stay or an action-packed adventure, this guide should come in handy.
We will help you make the right decision when looking for a unique place to stay in Penang. Read on to discover each area and find your perfect match.
- Where to Stay in Penang
- Georgetown (Best area to stay in Penang)
- Other places to stay in Georgetown
- Batu Ferringhi (Best area to stay in Penang for family)
- Tanjung Bungah location (Best area to stay in Penang for couples)
- Gurney Drive (For luxury shopping)
- Bayan Lepas (For digital nomads)
- Sungai Dua (For budget travellers)
- Bukit Mertajam (Best 'non-touristy' neighbourhood)
- Bukit Bendera
- Places to stay in Penang based on budget
Where to Stay in Penang
This island has several diverse neighbourhoods that offer unique lifestyles. Georgetown is known for its heritage buildings, bustling streets, and street food. That makes it perfect for those who love the action. If you're a backpacker or a solo traveller, stay in Georgetown to meet fellow travellers and make new friends.
|Best area to stay||Georgetown|
|Best for families||Batu Ferringhi|
|Best for couples||Tanjung Bungah|
|For luxury shopping||Gurney Drive|
|For nomads||Bayan Lepas|
|Budget friendly||Sungai Dua|
|For local vibes||Bukit Mertajam|
Batu Ferringhi is a popular tourist destination for its beaches, water sports, and night market. Families wanting to stay near the action may choose Batu Ferringhi, as you don't have to waste time travelling. On the other hand, Tanjung Bungah is a quieter residential area. It's the best place to stay in Penang for couples that need a peaceful, romantic holiday.
Bayan Lepas has plenty of coworking spaces, which is great if you are a digital nomad who wants to work remotely while on vacation. Finally, Gurney Drive is an excellent option for travellers who wish to enjoy a luxurious holiday with its upscale hotels.
We absolutely recommend Georgetown if you love a vibrant street food culture as we do. There is also the convenience of being close to all the action when you stay on Penang Island. Furthermore, Georgetown is also an excellent option for travellers exploring cultural landmarks, shopping districts, and the street art scene.
Our favourite place in Georgetown is to stay near Chulia Street because of all the street food. In fact, we feel that Chulia Street is the best place to stay in Penang for food.
Georgetown (Best area to stay in Penang)
Georgetown is regarded as one of the best places to stay in Penang with family. This neighbourhood is the capital of the island and a UNESCO World Heritage site! It is famous for its charming heritage buildings and bustling streets. The ambience is vibrant and energetic, with various cultures and traditions.
Georgetown is ideal for those who love to be in the heart of the action, with plenty of street food, cultural landmarks, and shopping options. So whether you are with friends, backpackers, couples, or even families - everyone can enjoy the exciting buzz of Georgetown!
The best area to stay in Georgetown Penang is Armenian Street. This area is known for its charming heritage buildings, street art, and cultural landmarks. The pros of staying in this area include its central location, unique atmosphere, and amenities. The streets have cute cafes, art galleries and colourful street art. However, the cons of staying in Georgetown are that it can be crowded and noisy, especially during peak tourist season.
Georgetown can suit travellers on any budget, with various accommodation options available. So whether you want the best place to stay in Penang for cheap or prefer luxury options, there's something for everyone.
There are budget guesthouses, mid-range hotels, and high-end luxury hotels. Travellers on a budget should look for budget-friendly guesthouses or hostels, such as Chulia Mansion. The hotel is in the heart of Georgetown, within walking distance of many popular attractions. For example, some popular attractions include the Khoo Kongsi Temple and all the famous street art.
If you’re looking for comfortable yet charming accommodation, then we recommend Campbell House. It is a mid-range boutique hotel that we keep returning to. Plus, the ground floor of Campbell House is connected to Il Bacaro, which is easily one of the best Italian restaurants in Georgetown.
Alternatively, those looking for luxury can opt for high-end hotels like Edison George Town. The elegant and historic hotel is a luxurious and comfortable stay. We also think it's one of the best places to stay in Penang for couples!
This spot is one of the best areas to stay in Penang for families with small children because of all there is to do. You can visit the unique attractions and enjoy local food without going too far. You can also spend the day admiring the street murals and visiting the cute cafes dotting Georgetown.
Armenian street itself is populated with many beautiful street art, gift shops and old Colonial architecture. From there you can head towards Sia Boey Urban Archeological Park where there is a mini park for children to play, and also historical and archaeological remains of the old Colonial city for your family to observe and appreciate.
Next, you can head towards the Rainbow Skywalk, at TOP Penang, offering thrilling town views from 250 m above sea level. Georgetown is definitely one of the best places to stay in Penang with family.
Other places to stay in Georgetown
If you want to explore some of the other best areas to stay in Georgetown Penang, consider Chulia Street, Love Lane and Lebuh Farquhar.
Chulia Street is in the centre of Georgetown's bustling nightlife scene, offering easy access to bars, cafes, and restaurants. Furthermore, this is a vibrant and bustling area. There are so many reasons why one should consider staying on Chulia Street.
For example, this convenient location offers access to many tourist spots, such as the Street Art Trail, Goddess of Mercy Temple, and Penang Museum and Art Gallery. There are also plenty of restaurants, cafes, and street food stalls in the area, serving a wide variety of local and international cuisine.
Chulia Street is known for its lively nightlife, with many bars and clubs. It is a popular spot for backpackers and budget travellers. Additionally, the area has many affordable hostels and guesthouses.
Furthermore, staying on Chulia Street also offers the opportunity to experience Georgetown's unique culture and history. The site is known for its multicultural heritage, with Chinese shophouses, Indian temples, and mosques all coexisting nearby.
For a quieter and more peaceful option when you stay in Penang Island, try Love Lane. It offers a mix of charming cafes, bars, and shops. For those who want to be up close to the action but still have a peaceful retreat, this is the best area to stay in Georgetown Penang for family.
Love Lane is centrally located, which makes it a convenient base for visitors who want to explore Georgetown's many attractions. In addition, it is within walking distance of many famous landmarks, such as the Khoo Kongsi clan house, the Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion, and the Penang Peranakan Mansion. Love Lane is also home to several cafes, restaurants, and bars, which offer a range of local and international cuisine and a vibrant nightlife scene.
In addition, traditional shophouses line the streets that have been restored and converted into guesthouses, boutique hotels, and hostels. Staying in one of these heritage buildings is an experience, as they offer a glimpse into the city's rich cultural heritage. Love Lane is also a popular spot for backpackers and solo travellers. Its popularity makes it an ideal place for those looking to meet fellow travellers and make new friends.
If you want to stay near Georgetown but still have an ocean view, then we recommend the Eastern & Oriental Hotel at Lebuh Farquhar. This 5-star hotel in Georgetown has luxurious suites with antique furnishings and modern amenities. It features a swimming pool, fitness centre, and spa and offers fine dining at its various restaurants - including a traditional English tea salon and a French fine dining restaurant.
Otherwise, you can choose to stay at The Blue Mansion, which is just minutes away from Lebuh Farquhar. This 4-star hotel is also a UNESCO Heritage building that became more renowned as movies such as Crazy Rich Asian used it as a film set. You will be able to experience living in a grand Chinese-style mansion that was built at the start of the 19th century.
Batu Ferringhi (Best area to stay in Penang for family)
Batu Ferringhi is one of the best areas to stay in Penang for families. This neighbourhood is located on the island's north coast and is renowned for its beautiful beaches, water sports, and vibrant night market. The ambience of this area is laid-back and relaxing. You will hear the sound of waves crashing on the shore and feel the gentle sea breeze.
Batu Ferringhi is an ideal location for families with small kids, as there are plenty of activities to keep them entertained. Some examples include beachcombing, swimming, and playing in the sand. Therefore, it is one of the best areas to stay in Penang for families.
The pros of staying in this area include its picturesque location, access to numerous amenities, and relaxed atmosphere. In addition, Batu Ferringhi is an excellent option for families since the beach is safe for swimming. However, the cons of staying in this area are that it gets crowded during peak season. Furthermore, water sports can be pricey.
If you're looking for a luxurious experience and some of the absolute best places to stay in Penang with your family, consider visiting one of the many beachfront resorts at Batu Ferringhi! We recommend you check out Shangri-La's Rasa Sayang Resort or Lone Pine. These Penang resorts offer romantic rooms with private balconies and excellent amenities such as an outdoor pool, spa, and fitness centre.
However, if you're looking for a more budget-friendly option, don't worry! Batu Ferringhi can be an affordable option for budget travellers. There is a wide range of budget and mid-range accommodations available here such Bayview Hotel. Alternatively, families on a budget should look also for guesthouses or small hotels for good value. You will surely agree that one of the best places to stay in Penang with family is Batu Ferringhi.
Some unique things to do and see in the area include visiting the Batu Ferringhi night market for local souvenirs and street food. You can also admire butterflies at the Penang Butterfly Farm and visit the Tropical Spice Garden to learn how to cook using local herbs and spices. The scenic beach also makes it the best place to stay in Penang for couples!
Georgetown vs Batu Ferringhi
Whether to stay in Georgetown or Batu Ferringhi depends on your preferences. Georgetown will be the best option if you're interested in exploring Penang's historical and cultural attractions. Furthermore, Georgetown is ideal for those looking for the best area to stay in Penang with their families since it is more affordable.
However, Batu Ferringhi is the perfect choice if you're looking for a beach vacation with water sports. The resorts available there also make it ideal for a staycation or a relaxing holiday. Ultimately, it depends on your interests and what you want from your trip.
Tanjung Bungah location (Best area to stay in Penang for couples)
Tanjung Bungah is a charming coastal neighbourhood between Georgetown and Batu Ferringhi. It is an ideal location for those who want to be close to the city and the beach. The area boasts a peaceful and relaxing atmosphere, with a mix of expats and locals living in the area. It's an excellent choice for couples looking for a unique place to stay in Penang for a romantic getaway.
Tanjung Bungah is an amazing spot if you're looking to be in close proximity to the beach and other main attractions. Given that it is a coastal town, you can also have a go at the watersports that are available here. This spot is perfect if you're looking for a chill and romantic yet fun vibe. Ultimately, this neighbourhood offers good value for money for those seeking a quiet escape. Furthermore, it is generally less expensive than staying in the more touristy areas.
However, one of the main downsides of staying in this area is that it may not be suitable for families with small children. If you are considering bringing your family with kids, there are very few kid-friendly activities in Penang around here. There are better choices if you want to be in the heart of the action or have a wide range of Penang nightlife options.
Accommodation picks for Tanjung Bungah
The luxurious hotels and quiet beach make Tanjung Bungah one of the best places to stay in Penang for couples. For example, Mercure Penang Beach and Rainbow Paradise Beach Resort are two amazing beachfront Penang hotels. They offer spacious, romantic rooms with breathtaking ocean views, private balconies, and modern amenities. For more budget-friendly options, there are many affordable guesthouses and a range of other different options for different budget groups.
Tanjung Bungah activities
Staying in Tanjung Bungah means having easy access to local food markets, cafes, restaurants, and popular attractions like the Straits Quay Retail Marina and the Floating Mosque.
In addition, this neighbourhood is known for its scenic beachfront, and visitors can indulge in water activities such as jet skiing and parasailing. Because it's just 10 minute's drive from Gurney Drive Food Court, it's also one of the best places to stay in Penang for food. The food court is a perfect place to satisfy all of your cravings!
Otherwise, take advantage of Tanjung Bungah convenient location of being in between Batu Feringghi and Georgetown. Both areas are just 15 minutes drive away, so do consider visiting the attractions in those areas too during your stay.
Gurney Drive (For luxury shopping)
Along the coast of Georgetown is Gurney Drive. This area is an excellent option for high-end shopping, fine dining, and luxury living. For those looking for the best area to stay in Georgetown Penang and the opportunity to splurge on a Penang staycation. Treat yourself to a fancy hotel here.
Visitors come here to enjoy the beautiful seaside promenade, high-end shopping malls, and fine-dining restaurants. The ambience is sophisticated and exclusive, with five-star hotels and luxury apartments lining the streets.
The pros of staying in this area are the access to high-end facilities, proximity to the beach, and stunning sea views. This spot is best suited for those looking for Penang luxury accommodations and experiences. Furthermore, it is definitely one of the best places to stay in Penang for couples celebrating a special anniversary. However, this spot may not be as suitable for those looking to save money.
Accommodation in Gurney Drive
For a luxe experience, you should check out G Hotel Gurney. It has modern and stylish rooms, a rooftop infinity pool with sea views, a fitness centre, and a spa. The hotel also offers award-winning dining options.
Since Gurney Drive is safe and near the beach, this area is best suited for couples and families who want to indulge in their holiday experience and stay in a Penang luxury hotel.
Other activities in Gurney Drive
Although the accommodations are luxurious, you can still get budget street food here. The Gurney Drive Hawker Centre has many street food options. So, Gurney Drive is one of the best places to stay in Penang for food if you want to try out a wide range of delicious local delicacies. You can also visit the Gurney Plaza shopping mall and take a sunset stroll along the promenade.
Bayan Lepas (For digital nomads)
Bayan Lepas is at the southern end of the island. The city is best known for being an industrial zone. It is also where the main International Airport is situated. While tourists do not usually stay in this neighbourhood, it is a unique place to stay in Penang if you want serene, quiet accommodation.
Budget-wise, Bayan Lepas is generally affordable and offers good value for money. However, it is a lot quieter than Georgetown. You might find that there is not much nightlife going on here. Furthermore, if you want to try Penang street food, this is not the best place to stay in Penang for food. Georgetown is a better option for interesting experiences and excitement.
Coworking spaces in Bayan Lepas
Bayan Lepas is suitable if you are a digital nomad who wants to work in a quiet neighbourhood. You would also be near the Bayan Lepas Free Industrial Zone, a potential client base for digital nomads looking for work.
Several coworking spaces cater to the needs of digital nomads and remote workers. For example, Common Ground, Regus, WORQ, The Startup Space, and Co-labs Coworking. They offer flexible workspaces with meeting rooms. Some also have private offices and event spaces. These workspaces also have internet and printing facilities. Moreover, these coworking spaces are easily accessible via public transportation.
Activities to do in Bayan Lepas
Visitors can explore the Snake Temple or go shopping at Queensbay Mall. The Snake Temple is a popular tourist attraction renowned for its harmless resident pit vipers. Furthermore, visitors can witness traditional Chinese practices and rituals performed at this temple.
Sungai Dua (For budget travellers)
Sungai Dua is a small town along the east coast of the island. The town has a laid-back ambience with local restaurants and cafes serving delicious, affordable food. In addition, its picturesque location makes it an ideal destination for nature lovers who want a unique place to stay on Penang Island.
Sungai Dua is a perfect place for anyone on a budget, which includes friends, backpackers, couples, and families with small kids looking for the best place to stay in Penang for cheap. The area's pros include its affordability, relaxed atmosphere, and proximity to top attractions. However, you will get little nightlife here and limited public transportation. Ultimately, Sungai Dua suits those seeking a cheap, comfortable stay amidst nature.
Sungai Dua accommodation
Sungai Dua offers a quick getaway location for those looking for a Penang staycation without spending too much. Choose the U Hotel Penang for a budget-friendly modern hotel with modern amenities. Or go for the classy AC Hotel by Marriott Penang. It has spacious rooms with modern amenities like a spa and swimming pool.
Activities in Sungai Dua
Some unique things to do in the area include visiting the Sungai Ara Waterfall, and trying local delicacies such as nasi kandar and laksa. Sungai Dua also has convenient access to Balik Pulau where there are many durian estate farms. We recommend going 2 Acres Cafe where you can enjoy durian while sipping on delicious coffee too.
Bukit Mertajam (Best 'non-touristy' neighbourhood)
Bukit Mertajam is the iconic capital of the Seberang Perai Tengah district, which is located on the main peninsular of Malaysia. Please note that it is not on Penang Island.
It is an excellent option for those looking for an off-the-beaten-path destination. This area is known for its relaxed atmosphere and trendy cafes and bars. Furthermore, Bukit Mertajam is suitable for all kinds of travellers. The site has a mix of budget and luxury accommodations to cater to various budgets.
The pros of staying in Bukit Mertajam include its laid-back vibe, proximity to popular attractions, and variety of dining and entertainment options. In addition, Bukit Mertajam is an excellent place to stay if you want to reconnect with nature. However, some cons to consider are that it may not be as exciting as other areas. In addition, it has fewer options for shopping or nightlife.
Its prime location allows you to enjoy outdoor activities such as hiking, biking, trekking, and exploring the stunning natural attractions of the island. This is truly one of the more unique places to stay in Penang. Additionally, it is one of the best places to stay in Penang for cheap.
Bukit Mertajam accommodation options
While there are plenty of Penang hotels that you can choose to suit your budget, here are some of our recommendations. You can stay in The Iconic Hotel, which features stylish rooms with modern amenities, a restaurant, a bar, and a rooftop infinity pool with town views.
If you’re looking for long-term accommodation, then we recommend the Sky Residences Prai. It is not a hotel but a residential apartment that offers spacious rooms with free Wi-Fi, flat-screen TVs, a restaurant, a fitness centre, and a swimming pool.
Activities in Bukit Mertajam
Some unique things to do and see in the area include visiting the Bukit Mertajam Recreational Forest, and trying local delicacies at the hawker stalls. If you have access to a car, you can also cross Penang Bridge to get to Georgetown area in 30 minutes.
Otherwise, you can also drive to Taiping (30 minutes away) and Ipoh (1.5 hours away), which are also popular travel destinations in Malaysia. Fitting a day trip to go to either of the two cities would be ideal if you’re staying in Bukit Mertajam area.
Bukit Bendera, also known as Penang Hill, is a popular tourist destination northwest of the island. Visitors, especially photographers, are attracted to the hill's natural beauty, breathtaking views of Georgetown and Penang Bridge, and fun activities to do on the hill. So if you're looking for a reason to stay in Penang Hill - now you have it.
This unique place to stay in Penang is accessible by the Penang Hill Funicular Railway, which provides a scenic and exciting ride up the hill. This area suits families with small kids and couples looking for a romantic getaway.
The main pro, if you stay in Penang Hill, is the serene atmosphere of the hill’s forest. You are away from the hustle and bustle of the city. You also have access to good food at Kopi Hutan, an amazing rainforest cafe, and The Habitat, a UNESCO-recognised tropical nature reserve.
However, one of the major cons is that the accommodation here is expensive and you're far from the main city attractions. So if you're looking for the best place to stay in Penang for cheap, we recommend avoiding Bukit Bendera.
Additionally, Bukit Bendera is high on a hill. If you don't like high-altitude areas or have trouble breathing when the air thins at high altitudes, it's best that you avoid this neighbourhood.
You'll have several options if you're looking to stay in a Penang luxury hotel. For instance, you can choose from the Bellevue Hotel Penang Hill. This hotel has comfy rooms with modern amenities. It also has a restaurant and a terrace with panoramic views of the island.
Or try Hickory on Penang Hill. It's an eco-resort that offers a homey hill villa nestled in the rainforest. This accommodation provides a unique and tranquil experience for your stay in Penang Hill.
We recommend that even if you don't stay there, you visit the hilltop. You will admire breathtaking panoramic views of the island and the sea from the several viewing platforms. This is definitely a great way to spend your stay in Penang Island!
Apart from visiting The Habitat and Kopi Hutan mentioned above, you can also go trekking on several rainforest trails on the hill. There is also an Islamic Mosque and Hindu Temple which you can visit while you’re at Bukit Bendera.
Nearby the foot of Penang Hill, you can go to Kek Lok Si Temple, which is just 5 minute's drive away. It is the largest Buddhist temple outside of China and also a UNESCO World Heritage site. Moreover, if you stay in this area, you will be in close proximity to the famous Ayer Itam Asam Laksa as well as Ayer Itam Sister Curry Mee.
Places to stay in Penang based on budget
Based on our experience, here's our rough guide to accomodations prices in each area. You can definitely still find cheap accomodation in more expensive locations.
|Cheap||Sungai Dua, Bukit Mertajam|
|Affordable||Bayan Lepas, Tanjung Bungah|
|Mid range||Georgetown, Batu Ferringhi|
|Expensive||Bukit Bendera, Gurney Drive|
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