We went to Penang recently and would like to share our experience here. We have always wanted to go to Penang with it being on the UNESCO heritage list. We have been to Malacca and few times and absolutely love it. Malacca is only a 4 hours bus ride from Singapore so it is very bearable. Penang is on the other hand, a good 9-10 hours bus ride.

We wanted a hotel that is right smacked in the middle of Georgetown. Penang has its hills and beaches but we wanted to visit what it is most famous for, the UNESCO heritage architectures. We went through a lot of hotels and finally booked the Ryokan. The Ryokan is a boutique hostel but they also have private ensuite rooms. We are not the typical backpacker type, dormitories are not an option for us. Ryokan's first hostel in Malaysia is located at Muntri Street, Georgetown Penang. It is right in the middle of the UNESCO heritage zone and is surrounded with a picturesque heritage architecture and historical places of interest.

We looked into the option of flying to Penang but as we decided our trip too last minute, the flight prices were sky high for a destination not too far from our tropical island. A round trip on the coach from Singapore Golden Mile to Penang is about S$150 during the Chinese New Year period. We are sure the prices are not usually this high but because a lot of Malaysia Chinese head back to their hometowns to celebrate the new lunar new year.

The coach ride is more or less comfortable. Be sure to pack something warm for the bus as it can get really chilly at night. If you can pre-select your seat, please be mindful not to select seats on the last row. We took the Konsortium coach and the seats on the last row is raised on a platform that leaves your feet dangling. That is in no way comfortable. Thank god the coach is not full and we can move to the unoccupied seats in front.

We arrived at the Ryokan at about 8.30am the next day, having departed from Singapore Golden Mile at 10pm. It was a good sleep-through. If you do not have severe back problems, taking the coach is not a bad option. It is a fraction of the price of a flight and you do not waste much traveling time. Simply sleep through it.

Our private room comes with an ensuite with rain shower, a king size bed, free wi-fi, cable tv, towels and bottled water. The walls and ceiling are very thin so you do hear a lot of walking around. It is especially disturbing when you try to sleep early. You will be sure to be woken by a lot of shuffling upstairs. Nonetheless, it is a value for money, clean and comfortable space in the middle of the UNESCO site.

If you need a reliable taxi driver in Penang, you can call Kamal to pick you up from anywhere you want. We used him through Ryokan, he services the guests there.

Kamal 0149492801
kamalesh2536 (at) yahoo (dot) com

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