Only a full day has passed for us in Penang, and I’m already feeling spoiled by how far the value of our money will take us in this country. Although alcohol is still almost as expensive as back in Australia, the rest of this country is uber cheap. I’m talking all-you-can-eat buffets with seafood and cooked-to-order food for 19 ringgit or 5.9 AUD (6.3 USD) in the very touristy sections of the city. I’m going to go on a limb and say that would cost in the $50 range in Sydney. At the market, we got 3 coffee drinks for a total of 4 ringgit, and a bottle of water only costs 1!
Even though I would probably still come to Malaysia and stay in hostels and restrict myself to a daily budget if I were on my own (with a few splurges here and there), it’s a joy to see what you can get by spending what one would spend on a budget holiday in Australia over here. It’s a different world for sure.
The first day was full of relaxing and splurges and surprises. Here’s how I made the day in Penang so great, and you can, too:
1. Sleep in ’til 9:30am; head to breakfast buffet at 10am.
When you’re used to working and getting up early, getting to sleep in past 8am is always a treat. We would have slept later than that (we had a long trip getting to Malaysia), but we didn’t want to miss the brekky buffet provided at the hotel because it is both awesome and free.
2. Go out shopping for the afternoon in Georgetown.
If you’re staying in a swanky place like The Golden Sands, there is a free shuttle bus that takes you from the hotel to the Georgetown shopping malls several times a day. There you can buy clothes, hit up the nearby markets or enjoy some typical Malaysian beverages.
3. Go for a swim in the warm pool at the hotel.
When you’re tired of shopping, you can catch the free shuttle back to your hotel and get changed into your swimming gear. There are 3 pools out back to enjoy, and boy is that water warm! There hasn’t been a time I can remember in the past few years where I wasn’t wishing my pool water was warmer. Not here!
4. Follow that up with Happy Hour drink specials by the poolside while looking at the beach.
The Golden Sands hotel is right on the beach, so while you are poolside, you are also sort of beach-side. We chose to grab a couple of mojitos and sit in our lounge chairs with view of the crashing waves in the distance.
5. Go to dinner at The Wizard of Food.
Across the street is a food place called The Wizard of Food, so how can you not go? It’s actually quite good. I got the veggie curry and asked for a bit of spice, but instead they made it almost too spicy. The key word is “almost” because I do love my spice — although it did keep others from wanting to eat my meal (win!).
6. Walk through the street markets for about an hour.
Street markets will invade the sidewalks until the late hours of the evening, selling just about anything and everything you could think of. We walked through sections of clothes, shoes, lighters, makeup and food, but the one thing we couldn’t find: DVDs.
7. Head back to hotel with Tiger Beer in hand, watch TV and sleep.
It had been a long day already, so Pat, Pat’s brother and I decided to head back to the hotel to see if there were any movies on TV. Of course, a couple of Tiger Beers had to join us on that journey.