On your Malaysia vacation itinerary you probably have the city experience and shopping of Kuala Lumpur, the beaches of Langkawi and the scenic islands of Tioman and Genting. However, your tour to this country is never really complete unless you add the cultural experiences of Penang to it.

Known as the Pearl of the Orient, Penang is also the food capital of this Asian country. In fact it was also listed as UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site in 2008, so you will never be short of temples, natural marvels and beaches here. If you are planning a trip to Penang then we list the top areas where you can stay comfortably for a few days and avoid unnecessary commute and expensive accommodations. Take a look.

1. George Town – Where the Buzz is At

We start with the most popular area of Penang and the capital – George Town. It is a multicultural and colourful district, which has a lot of historical importance too. It was an essential trade hub in the colonial times and its influence can be seen in the British style architecture here. While the old times will take you back in history with its funicular railway, the new areas have skyscrapers and shopping malls.

Furthermore, you can visit Chinese temples, Mughal-style domes and mosques as well as well-trimmed, landscaped gardens. On the outskirts is the Kek Lok Si – a magnificent hillside Buddhist temple with a 7-storey pagoda.

The town paints a vivid picture with colourful graffiti, brightly coloured rickshaws, artistic graffiti and plenty of contemporary cafes.

Who Should Stay Here?

If you’re with your friends or partner and looking for a thriving nightlight, then this is the place to be. It has a range of luxury and budget restaurants, cafes and clubs. Additionally, the sightseeing spots are at a walking distance.

What’s The Catch?

Since this area has all the buzz, it can get quite crowded during season time and public holidays, not only by the tourists but also locals.

Where To Stay:

Budget: Museum Hotel and Chulia Mansion Hotel are both affordable and comfortable spaces to stay here.

Luxury: Georgetown has a few heritage properties out of which Eastern And Oriental Hotel is iconic. It was established in 1885, and still retains the imperial hospitality.

2. Batu Feringghi – Best Beach Experience

The next best place to stay in Penang after George Town is Batu Feringghi. First off, this place has a few of the best beaches in whole of Malaysia, so if you’re a beach bum you know where to go. Additionally, it has a range of water sports activities and attracts tourists and expats from the across the globe. So you are sure to meet interesting people looking to explore the country.

Compared to George Town and other places in Penang, Batu Feringghi has the best nightlife on the island. Every day you will find tons of people flocking to check out the famous night market here. It houses almost everything from local arts to food and even antiques.

Who Should Stay Here?

Beach lovers, adventure sports enthusiasts and those who want a unique nightlife experience should stay here during Penang visit.

What’s The Catch?

Besides the beach and party scene, there isn’t much to do here. So if you want to explore the cultural side of Malaysia or check out architecture, then this isn’t the place for you. In addition, it is quite far from the Penang international airport.

Where To Stay:

Budget: Holiday Inn Penang and EQ Feringghi Hotel will give you a comfortable room without emptying your pockets too much.

Luxury: Live the lavish life with a stunning beach view at Shangri La Rasa Sayang Resort & Spa and Hard Rock Hotel Penang.

3. Gurney Drive: Elite Travellers

Persiaran Gurney popularly known as Gurney Drive offers a whole different side of Penang. It features a number of upscale restaurants, five-star hotels and exceptional shopping.  In addition, it also has a host of street food stalls with exotic local items. Along with its serene seaside promenade, Gurney also had many historical sites dating back to the 1800s.

Who Should Stay Here?

Travellers looking to indulge in food and shopping along with good sites of Malaysia should stay here.  It is also a treat for history buffs.

What’s The Catch?

This area is probably the most expensive in whole of Penang so it is not ideal for backpackers. In addition, it doesn’t reflect Malaysia’s local culture as it is mostly populated with expats and city’s elite.

Where To Stay:

Budget: To find good and cheap stay here is a challenge by you can try the Burmathel hotel and Dwell by Palanquinn.

Luxury: G Hotel Gurney is the best place to stay here, followed by The Northam All Suite.

4. Tanjung Bungah – For a Quite Time with Family

Tanjung Bungah is actually a small suburb about 30 minutes from George Town, mostly populated by the locals who live and work in Penang. While the sightseeing and shopping spaces here are limited, it offers a perfect backdrop to relax after a hectic or adventurous vacation.

With a stunning beach landscape it becomes an ideal space for families to unwind and bond over indoor and outdoor games. In addition, it can be really affordable to live here and check out other places in Penang. Don’t forget to check out the toy museum and floating mosque here.

Who Should Stay Here?

Families or couples looking to unwind or simply want a budget stay in Penang while exploring the place.

What’s The Catch?

As mentioned the sightseeing options are limited here as well as the nightlife or fancy restaurants are a rare sight.

Where To Stay:

Budget: Besides hostels and private homes, 8 Boutique By The Sea and Baan Talay Homestay by the Beach offer affordable accommodation here.

Luxury: Luxfort 118 Service Suites and Lost Paradise Resort offer beautiful beach views in this peaceful town.

5. Bayan Lepas – Penang’s Finest Attractions

If you love exploring the depths of the country you’re visiting, then Bayan Lepas is a must for you. It has Penang’s most unique attractions such as the local aquarium with hundreds of different types of fish, the War Museum, a marvellous orchid and hibiscus garden, the Snake Temple and Penang’s biggest shopping mall.

Close to the airport, this becomes the perfect place for families and solo travellers to explore the city to its fullest. This small yet lively town is just right to complete your Malaysian vacation experience.

Who Should Stay Here?

Those who enjoy sightseeing and are looking for a mid-range stay in Penang.

What’s The Catch?

The nightlife here is quiet and you may not find many people outside after hours. Compared to the other area, Bayan Lepas can be tad expensive when it comes to accommodation.

Where To Stay:

Budget: While budget hotels are limited here, you can try advance booking at The Corum View and TH Hotel Penang.

Luxury: Hotel Equatorial Penang and Olive Tree Hotel can be ideal for elite travellers.

6. Seberang Perai – Exploring Malaysian Culture

While George Town and others make up one half of Penang, the other half is made up of Seberang Perai. Not as popular as the other district, this is more of a sleepy town that has many different local styles of living in one place. In fact, the local food and cultural diversity is what drives people here from across the country.

Tourists can check out the Temple of the Ninth Emperor God and the Bird Park when staying here.

Who Should Stay Here?

If you have time at hand, then Seberang Perai is a must visit, as it gives you insight into the true life of Malaysians.

What’s The Catch?

As mentioned it is a sleepy town, so it can be quiet after hours with little to do. However, often the locals are welcoming and warm here, making it ideal to learn more about the country.

Where To Stay:

Budget: Hotel Palm Inn and T+ Hotel Butterworth are ideal to save some money when finding a stay here.

Luxury: For a more lavish stay choose Ixora Hotel Penang and The Light Hotel (M) here.