When growing up in Europe, in the 90’s especially, people would ask me where I’m from and I’d say of course, Malaysia. What was popular amongst wanderlusters then, was the epic Asia trail, Phuket-Borneo-Penang-Bali . They’ve heard more about these spots , than they’ve heard of the capital cities. Endless sandy white beaches, clear water, tropical fish, beautiful silky waves…
Batu Feringghi is not what you think it is today, sadly, it seems so everywhere in the world. It takes the whole community’s constant energy and attitude to keep our environment safe and healthy. The hotels that line the coast do what they can, but our beaches needs work, there are obvious warning signs to watch out for jelly fish, you cant just lay in the sun because a horse or pony may trample you, a flying tourist on a parachute may land on you, and jet skis will tempt you back to your safe high-end resort where you will retreat on your sun lounge or resign to happy hour offers of your hotel.
If you’re that kind of tourist, you’re better off staying at Rasa Sayang by Shangri-la . If you’re ok with lots of group activities and enjoy the shrieks and splashes of big families with many little kids , you’ll enjoy Hard Rock Hotel further up. If you want to check out your next wedding venue or needing some low profile retro quietness , look out for Lone Pine.
I’d usually recommend my friends, with or without kids to source out homestay offers. Penang island has a few ranges of types of houses, apartments or rooms available for short term rentals, at probably half of the hotel rates published online, providing total independence and some double the size of what you’d get at a five star hotel.
One such place is called By The Sea. A low density, low rise private condominium with pool, security, a sweet playground slightly away from the main buildings and a modern gym, albeit limited equipment, but modern and in working order. You will also have access to the beach. Sunset is a great time to walk, when the buzz of the day has died down and the water sport activities close for the day. We have beautiful sunsets, so don’t forget your camera.
Short term rentals for me are convenient, economical and most importantly they have to be comfortable and clean. Upon check in, your host will act as the local island representative for the duration of your stay. Its really useful and such a reassuring welcome especially when you’ve just arrived from a long long journey, maybe even half way across the world! You’re NOT lining up to check in, you’re home!
You’ve got your own parking lot, you have privacy and the complete trust that no one will be looking into your luggage or toiletries.
Wifi on Penang island can be a little iffy. A lot of hotels, cafes or restaurants may offer it for free. But because so many tourists use them, it may lag, and can be frustrating when you want to Skype or call using the internet. Most short term rentals have wifi dedicated only for guests, uninterrupted and faster because of less traffic.
This little modern nook at By The Sea also has a laundry room complete with washer and dryer. Laundry at hotels are expensive, especially when you’ve got kids. And if Penang is just one of the stops on your world wide adventure you’ve got lots dirty laundry to air out;)
You can also use the induction cooker to make your own breakfast, heat up left overs the kids didn’t eat from last night, store ice cream in the freezer, keep your beer icy cold in the massive fridge and not have to mess with room service to bring extra ice.
Each room is fully air-conditioned and each unit is regularly serviced. You’re breathing in a fraction of dead cells of previous guests than massive vents from major hotels. Sorry, once you think of it…
Staying at By The Sea gives you a holiday at your own pace. Ask, always ask your island rep about anything you want to know, grocery shopping,where to eat, transportation, night markets, best jungle hikes, what to do with kids while in Penang. Also worth asking for a trusted babysitter if you need one. (Lots of Mommies on the island who understand what a holiday means for parents).
Thats one of the best things about homestay, airbnbs, and short term rentals, you’re guaranteed to meet locals and interact with them. And of course, don’t forget to spend time in George Town, our “capital city”, and ask about the bus routes!
Oh wow! I think I’ve talked myself into another stayacation.
Have a wonderful journey wherever you go! Be safe! and Just …BE!