Banana Pancake Trail: Penang

From Kuala Lumpur, next up on our Indochina trip was Penang.  I’m going to say it early on so that it’s out of the way…I love Penang.  In fact, just like Hong Kong and Singapore, I could also live here.  If not for the humidity, I would definitely make this my second home.

And it doesn’t get more picture perfect than UNESCO World Heritage George Town with its well-preserved colorful shophouses and charming buildings. Penang is a food-lover’s dream, too.  If you are looking for cheap and delicious food, look no further than the Gurney Hawker Center.  We went there on our first day and treated ourselves with our favorite Malaysian dishes like Assam Laksa, Char Kway Teow, Oyster Omelet and fresh sugarcane juice.  We walked unfamiliar streets and discovered this little pharmacy that sells medicine with costs a quarter of the price compared to what we get back home.  And I bought a lot of OTC meds.  I can’t believe how cheap they were.

barber shop penang
MG sitting on the bench just in front of a neighborhood barbershop
ecco cafe penang
In Penang, there’s a lot of walking. So expect to see a lot of people also sitting down, perhaps, tired from walking all day. Exhibit A – MG at Ecco Cafe’s new location at 68 Lebuh Acheh.
A little rundown building along Love Lane
chulia street
Chulia Street on a Saturday night

We again stayed at Chulia Heritage Hotel because it was near everything.  Lots of cafes, restaurants, buses pass through Lebuh Chulia, and it’s cheap.  We arranged a Street Art tour for my friend so she can experience riding a rickshaw while weaving through the streets of George Town looking for art on the walls of crumbly buildings and houses. We did this on our first visit and we enjoyed it so much.  Our “manong” or Uncle was so accommodating, he even brought us to Noordin Mews (our hotel) which was not part of our agreement.

Ta Kam Hong Penang
Goldsmith’s Guild or Ta Kam Hong is one of the largest and oldest goldsmith guilds in Malaysia. Interesting history right here.
penang street art
Best way to explore the town is on a bike or rickshaw.
the camera museum penang
The Camera Museum along Muntri with its larger than life vintage camera replica.
ta kam hong
Chinese lanterns
assam laksa vendor gurney drive
Our favorite Assam Laksa stall in Gurney Drive Hawker Center
penang bus
The bus is the cheapest mode of transportation in Penang.

My friend didn’t enjoy it, unfortunately.  According to her, the street art landmarks were close to one another that she could have just walked to each one without the rickshaw ride.  She totally missed the point of doing this tour.  The rickshaw ride was part of the experience.  Not everything has to make sense, right?  Sometimes you just have to enjoy the moment.  And then there were other things that she didn’t find worth her precious time…

It’s really crucial to choose your travel partner wisely.  It could literally make or break the trip.  They say solo travel is over-rated.  Well not in this case.  I would rather travel solo than travel with someone you’re not obviously compatible with.  Having to deal with misunderstandings and petty things during travel would drain you and can ruin any trip.

yeng keng hotel
The aftermath of every Yeng Keng buffet breakfast
yeng keng hotel 1
Nasi Lemak, a local breakfast dish. Bali is also big on Nasi Lemak but it looks and tastes different from this one in Penang.
old trafford burger
Old Trafford Burger is not limited to serving burgers made with beef or chicken. They also serve rabbit meat burger. We didn’t get to try it. We are not adventurous when it comes to food. But we eat insects. In Phnom Penh, we ate huge black ants. They were sour.
ecco cafe penang3
Ecco Cafe is our favorite pizza pasta place.
ecco cafe penang1
First time to try Ecco Cafe’s Truz. There’s banana in the pasta sauce. Kinda weird but it’s delicious.
The mugshot cafe
My mugshot at The MugShot Cafe, our breakfast haunt (Actually we hangout here whenever we visit Penang).


Here are more highlights from Penang:

  • Cappuccino and Bagel at Mugshot Cafe
  • Cheap breakfast buffet (Malaysian cuisine) at Yeng Keng Hotel
  • Cheap dulcolax and other meds at a local pharmacy
  • Pasta Truz at Ecco Cafe (new location)
  • Sent a postcard to myself
  • Delicious meals from the Gurney Drive Hawker Center
  • Bus rides that stopped in front or near our hotel (no more walking)
  • Managed to get lost only once (With several trips here, I still get lost once in awhile).
  • Beef burgers and coconut juice at Old Trafford Burger

If it’s your first time in Penang, you might want to check out my top things to do here. For more upscale accommodation, why not try Noordin Mews which is also in the city center and is just a short walk from the bus terminal.

Thank you for following along our Banana Pancake Trail adventure.


Not fond of DIY tours?  You can join one of these tours, and don’t forget to compare hotels, vacation rentalsrooms, or even homes for your trip before you go. And never leave home without Travel Insurance!







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