Malaysia,  Travel Chronicles: Summer 2023

Solo Traveling in Penang, Malaysia Experience

This summer, I had the chance to Solo traveling in Penang for 4 days, and I was so glad that I put Malaysia on my solo travel itinerary. It was my first time staying somewhere that I had no familiarity with and had done very little research. I am usually a huge planner but this time, it was minimal. I decided to go to Penang after my friend who is originally from Malaysia and now working in Singapore recommended that I should go when I was planning my solo Asia trip. I know for a lot of females solo, it is nerve-racking to travel somewhere new by themselves, as a 24 year old 5’0 asian girl, I felt very safe Solo Traveling in Penang.

I loved the beachy and carefree vibes of Penang, and exploring Georgetown and Batu Ferringhi was very fun. Every corner I turned there was something new to see, whether that be food or street art. I also heard that in Penang, the drivers were quite reckless, but I didn’t think it was too bad. The only thing is that on the main big roads, the sidewalks aren’t made well, so it is the norm to walk on the road right next to the cars. It was an adjustment to get used to walking right next to the cars, but once I realized that all the drivers were used to this, I felt fine. I was out until around 9:30pm and at that time, there were still a lot of people out. There were even people on Armenian Street who were doing street performances and henna until late at night. If you want a more guide and curated tour, try day tours like Explore Georgetown Half Day City Tour!

Armenian Street in Penang, Malaysia Solo traveling in Penang
Armenian Street

While walking around in Georgetown, I noticed that there were a lot of stray animals around town, especially dogs. I think the only time that I was genuinely a little scared was when I was going through a narrow alleyway and I turned and saw a group of big stray dogs staring at me. I wasn’t sure what their next move was going to be, but I slowly and calmed walked past them and they just stayed at the same place, watching me go by. If your Solo Traveling in Penang and if your scared of stray dogs, watch out!

Dogs on the streets of Georgetown, Penang
Dogs on the streets of Georgetown, Penang

During my time in Penang, I decided that I wanted to take 2 days to fully relax by the beach and decided to go to Batu Ferringhi and stay at a hotel right by the beach. Batu Ferringhi is a beach resort northwest of George Town, on Malaysia’s Penang Island just one bus away (101) from the center of Georgetown. I really enjoyed the bus ride and looking outside to see the scenery change to a more beachy scenery.

Bus ride in Penang solo traveling in Penang
Bus ride in Penang

Batu Ferringhi Beach was a little annoying at first since they knew I was a foreigner and people kept coming up to me to ask if I wanted to buy their products/experiences like jet skis, food, or horse rides. But once I said no, they did leave me alone. Fortunately, when I went and put my stuff down, a mom with 2 children came and sat next to my belonging which made me feel safe to go out swimming without worrying about my stuff. While I went to go swim, I did make sure to have my eyes on my belongings just in case.

Batu Ferringhi Beach in Penang, Malaysia
Batu Ferringhi Beach

During my stay in Georgetown, I stayed at SAVV Hotel for 2 nights, and for me, it was about $35 per night on Adoga. I stayed in their cabin room with a sea view, and it was a very comfortable and large room. The bed and the utilities in the room was great. The only thing for me was that the view is from the 3rd floor and I felt like the gas station in front of the hotel was able to see inside. I didn’t check if it can be actually seen, but I think it was just a feeling I had. I did love the view at night since the road was still busy and lively, but the ocean was quiet, pretty and dark.

It had a great indoor and outdoor lounge and the staff there were so amazing and kind. I remember when I was checking out, one of the receptionists asked if I was solo traveling and he said that I was really brave for doing that, and honestly, until that point, I didn’t realize how much of an amazing thing that I was doing. Hearing something like that really made me grateful that I was able to solo travel to so many different places. Another staff also mentioned that her sister was in New York when I mentioned that I was from there!

The best part about this hotel is that it is situated right in front of the main road, and is just a few minutes walk from locations like the famous Clan Jetties of Penang, street art, Pinang Peranakan Mansion, and many food options. If you want to explore further out the island, there are also many bus stops around that street. I really recommend SAVV Hotel to anyone who is Solo Traveling in Penang!

room in SAVV Hotel, Penang, Malaysia Solo traveling in Penang
Cabin room in SAVV Hotel

My stay in Batu Ferringhi Beach was a bit different than what I was used to. When I solo travel, I usually stay in the most affordable place which usually ends up being hostels, but while in Malaysia, I decided to treat myself to Bayview Beach Resort since a dollar goes a long way here. Bayview Beach Resort is a 4-star hotel I paid about $60 per night. It was less than a minute from the beach, and had a private area by the beach where the pool, bar and where many lounge chairs laid. The best part of the room was the gorgeous view from the room’s balcony. I would definitely not be able to afford This kind of hotel with this many facilities back home in the US. However, the facilities inside felt outdated and the whole resort felt oddly empty but the location and the price made up for it.

Sea view room in Bayview Beach Resort solo traveling in Penang, malsyia
Sea view room in Bayview Beach Resort
Bayview Beach Resort's outdoor resort area view from balcony
Bayview Beach Resort‘s outdoor resort area (view from balcony)

Public transportation around Penang is easy for anyone who is solo traveling in Penang. When getting on the Rapid Penang bus, just inform the driver of your destination, and the driver would let you know how much it costs, and then once you pay the amount, you receive a ticket for the trip. Remember to prepare exact change as there will be no change. The only time that I felt a little odd was when I was on the public bus from the Penang airport to Georgetown, and I noticed the passengers were only all older males, but after getting closer to the city, the passengers got more diverse. Although I never used it, there is also a free CAT Bus (Central Area Transit), a free shuttle bus service that operates within George Town. For those who do not want to use public transportation, there is also Grab (southeast asian uber) available in Penang.

Rapid Penang bus solo travel in Penang, Malaysia
Rapid Penang bus solo travel in Penang, Malaysia

Food in Malaysia was a bit tricky for me since they are a seafood-heavy country, and I am allergic to shrimp. There were also many dishes that didn’t look like they had any seafood but had shrimp paste in them. A good example is Nasi Lemak, the most popular food in Malaysia. It is coconut rice served with sambal sauce, fried anchovies, fried peanuts, sliced cucumber or tomato, but the sambal sauce has shrimp so I can’t eat it.

During my stay, I ate at a food court, restaurants, a cafe, and a street vendor. The Jetty Food Court was located right next to my hotel conveniently located on the main road. It had a huge variety of options to choose from Malaysian, Thai, Vietnamese, and Western dishes. It did feel a little weird eating at the food court alone since the tables were huge and everyone seemed to be eating in groups, but once I started eating, I didn’t mind it anymore. My favorite food while solo traveling in Penang was Crispy Malaysian Lemon Chicken from a street vendor.

Crispy Malaysian Lemon Chicken from a street vendor in Penang, Malaysia
Crispy Malaysian Lemon Chicken

Overall, compared to Kuala Lumpur, I felt much safer and comfortable solo traveling in Penang. I really recommend solo traveling in Penang and I hope that you do it one day! When I solo travel, I make sure to always have data on me. I always use Airalo when I travel internationally since they have many data plans to choose from.

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