Penang was way better

Penang Island, Malaysia

As promised before when I shared my experience spending one month in KL as a remote developer, It’s time to share with you how was Penang compared to KL.

Planning

Some of you asked me on Instagram about why did I choose to visit this Island, well the truth is that I didn’t actually, but a friend of mine suggested it as it was the most known city in Malaysia for digital nomads. Meaning that I came here knowing nothing about this place and wanted to know as much as I can about it once I get there which is why I didn’t search anything about it while being in KL.

Flight (one way)

I booked 2 weeks earlier one way ticket from KL to Penang Island with Air Asia which I recommend as they are the best airlines here in Asia, the ticket cost me about $ 17.85 with extra luggage that didn’t get lost.

Housing

I Booked 2 weeks earlier as well, and I used AirBnb once again, the rent cost me approximately ~ $ 420 for the entire big apartment which has:

  • 2 rooms, one has a 2 persons bed
  • 2 bathrooms with hot water
  • Large salon with a large couch and a TV
  • A balcony and a large kitchen
  • High Speed Wi-Fi

Here’s a link if you want to have a look at the listing: Here

I booked it as 1 adult.

Transportation

I didn’t know that there are free buses with free Wi-Fi here in Malaysia until I rode one in Penang which actually used to take me to Queensbay mall where I could make groceries, the good news were that Grab finally worked after I changed my SIM card twice from Umobile to Celcom and eventually Maxis which I highly recommend.

Work

The place I booked didn’t have a desk nor any comfortable chair, so I used to work from my bed or at the kitchen, often times I visited @Cat penang co-working space which was the affordable one and the nearest, there was a React/Ruby event there and I requested to give a talk about building dynamic/static apps using Gatsby which they accepted and loved.

Tourism

Turns out, Penang is the most touristic Island here in Malaysia due to many reasons but the most known one was food, it had so many different types of food which I’m personally not interested in as I was learning to cook my own food. Still you won’t find further away places like beaches to be full of tourists.

Weather

The weather is much better than it used to be in KL, it’s not polluted, less hotter and wasn’t raining all the time.

Modern spots

I visited two modern spots:

  • Escape theme park: The most known water park in Malaysia, that has more activities such as wall climbing, adventuring, hill riding etc.., I had some difficulties making the decision to visit it as I didn’t have any sleep at all the night before, but after checking it online, I didn’t want to miss the chance to have some fun, so I purchased the ticket online which gives you a pass code that you can use to get in, you can topup using their ATM look alike machines if you would like to buy some food or drinks inside the park as bringing your own stuff is not permitted.

    They do refund your buses tickets if you came by the bus, in my case I booked a Grab drive which I don’t recommend except if you want to save time.

  • 3D Museum: The best 3D Museum you could find in Penang, it costs X (insert price) for the ticket.

    I didn’t know that there were workers inside who would gladly take pictures of you with the art, so I suggested the idea of going in together with a total stranger who turned out to be a solo traveler as well named Natalia, she was friendly and laughed at my suggestion but gladly accepted, it was a nice evening as it’s always good to know strangers and their mission in life.

  • Penang Hill: if you like places full of tourists and pricey, go ahead and pay a visit to the place, I don’t recommend it at all.

Natural spots

Beaches

The first thing you might want to visit is more likely: the beaches, Penang has some amazing beaches such as Batu Ferringhi and Monkey beach where you can swim or just sit at the beach and enjoy the sunset.

I suggest taking the bus to get to Batu Ferringhi which is the cheapest option unlike I did which was booking an expensive Grab ride.

As for Monkey Beach, I highly recommend hiking inside the forest directly to it or to Kerachut Beach in case the bridge was blocked then take the fury (small boat) to Monkey beach which will cost you about $ 3.5, make to negotiate if they suggest touristic prices, you will have to pay the same price to get back to National park.

Traditional spots

  • Thean hou Temple (not free): This is a Chinese temple with an old museum that contains the history of Penang Island, I would recommend it if you’re curious like me about the history of this Island which was habited by Chinese at first between the 18th and 20th centuries, the Island got colonized as well by the British army and was founded by their king Francis Light who named it George Town but eventually it got renamed to Penang.
  • Kek Lek Si: The biggest Buddhist temple in Penang, I tried to visit it but unfortunately it was closed already, so make sure to get there earlier before 6pm.

To conclude, Penang is a must visit place for remote developers like me, the cost of living is cheaper than KL, you get fast Wi-Fi & mobile data for an affordable price, you could ride the free or $ 0.4 Bus to get anywhere you want on the Island, you can order food with affordable prices and the rent is really cheap compared to the West. Shout out to the strangers I met during my month there, it was nice meeting you all!

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