georgetown penang with kids
The Midnight Train (bus) to Georgia (Georgetown)
So before looking at what to do in Georgetown Penang with kids, let’s talk about the night bus. The night bus was….an experience. Careering through the night, stopping unannounced at service stations (as the driver switches all the bus lights on; thanks!), while I wouldn’t say it was unpleasant, it certainly wasn’t fun. The strangest moment was stopping, at around 2am, at a sort of bus station in the middle of nowhere, where all the cross-country transport seems to have a break. There’s a large cafeteria and a couple of hundred travellers eating, having a rest, and watching the Brazil vs Costa Rica World Cup match on the big screen. We’ve no idea how long we’re stopped for, so I disembark and enjoy the football and a 3RM burger, which wasn’t half bad, truth be told.
The children sleep, Heidi gets a couple of hours, and I manage an hour or so, before we arrive at Butterworth ferry port at 0430. We catch the first ferry over, and then a bus into the centre of Georgetown and find ourselves sitting outside a 5 star hotel using their wifi at 6am while we look for somewhere for breakfast that opens early. We’ve decided to wait until we arrived here to book a hotel, given that we’ve got the full day, but our brains are barely working.
We find Yin’s Sourdough Cafe online; it opens early, has wifi, and is one of the best bakery-cafes in the city, so we head there and settle down to some strong coffee and some superb french toast. Heidi looks after the two monsters while I head off to explore some hotels, before settling on the Rope Walk Guesthouse, which will be our home for the next few days. It’s slightly more than we wanted to pay, but we’ve arrived just before the weekend, so prices are higher and availability is less.
We’ve planned to stay two weeks here on Penang (the island), having read great things about the place. It’s extremely popular with tourists, and we’re struck immediately by how many white faces we see, compared to our previous trip up the east coast. This is apparently a popular stop with travellers coming down from Thailand, and we can see why. There’s the UNESCO World Heritage designation of the old town (where we are staying), rich history and culture, lots of street art (which the city has become famous for), and great food (including Little India) and museums aplenty.
We’re the kind of people who like to go off the beaten track, so it’s slightly disheartening to be just another 4 westerners in a popular spot, but it’s popular for a reason, right?
what to do in georgetown penang with kids: where to stay
We are staying just off Kimberley Street in Chinatown, and though a busy (and slightly noisy) area, we’re delighted with the location. The streets around us are filled with hole-in-the-wall restaurants, and at night the streets fill with hawker stalls cooking fried chicken, noodles, rice, duck, spring rolls, and much more besides. A plate of noodles with egg and chicken will set you back 5-6RM (£1 or so) and we didn’t experience anything that wasn’t really terrific. There are a couple of stalls selling a plate of noodles for 2RM (about 40p) and they’re also tremendous, if you’re on a super-tight budget. If you’re wondering what to do in Georgetown Penang with kids, Kimberley St dining is one.
Around us are a series of museums, including the Upside Down Museum (novelty value is high but it’s certainly fun, especially if you’re having a chill day, as we were when we went), the Penang State Museum, Penang House of Music, Pinang Peranakan Mansion, and the Asia Camera museum, among many more. We’re within walking distance of the Komtar bus station (from where you can catch local buses across the island), the Pacific supermarket, and the huge mall. A ten minute walk in the other direction is Little India, where we ate at Sri Ananda Bahwan and Karai Kudi, (the former we visited twice) and found them to be among the best Indian food we’ve ever eaten (we were around 50RM for us all and we left totally full).
AROUND LITTLE INDIA: FORT CORNWALLIS AND THE PROMENADE
PENANG HILL: a ‘what to do in georgetown penang with kids’ must
It feels touristy up here but not totally tacky, and we grab some food from the reasonably-priced cafe, then head to the playpark and then for a walk up the road which takes you further up the hill. This was the best bit, really; getting away from the crowds and into the peach of the forest. We watched monkeys play in the trees, and took in the view. Penang Hill is well worth doing, especially for the funicular. Top tip: sit at the bottom of the train on the way back down. It goes pretty quickly the children were in hysterics as we hurtled, rollercoaster-like, down the steep hill.
PENANG STREET ART
PENANG NATIONAL PARK
A Note on the Blue Mansion
HIN BUS DEPOT
food & drink highlights
coffee & friends, kimberley st
the mugshot cafe
iced coffees (kopi)