Why Malaysia’s Penang Island didn’t do much for me

Sitting on the top floor lounge space in our hostel, me and Lee were full of optimism about taking on Penang’s renowned street food and incredibly famous beaches. After all, all the research i’d done had said nothing more than amazing things about the island.

Penang, noted as the “ Crown jewel of Malaysia “ was in all honesty a load of boll*cks.

And i’ll tell you why..

Bus W*nkers

So we decided, more due to cost that, from Kuala Lumpur to Penang we’d take a coach.
Booking the bus through www.easybook.com was painless, and i’d highly recommend their service.
But our dick of a bus driver decided he didn’t want to drive us to the correct drop off point on Penang island, so confirm with the company when you check in at the bus terminal, that the bus is going where you have paid to go.
We ended up getting the ferry across.
Ball ache.

Bus W*nkers
Only the cool kids sit at the back. Ballers

Boats N Hoes

The ferry was actually quite pleasant. And cheap! Like most transport we’d soon discover.
We met a little Malaysian dude who showed us the way to the boat.
The ferry costs 1.20RM each for an adult, which is like 25p. Bargain!
After a few selfies with our new best bud for his Instagram, we grabbed an Uber and headed to our hostel.

Boats N Hoes
Ferry cheap: under 2RM per person

Welcome to our crib

After scouring the Hostelworld app, we’d decided upon Tido Hostel, in the heart of Georgetown.
I’m a bit of a bitch when it comes to wanting a “ clean “ hostel, and there isn’t too much choice in truth. But Tido was super clean so i was happy.
No hot water though, but its actually quite refreshing.

Welcome to our crib
Tido Hostel is arguably the finest hostel in Georgetown

Lee is hungry… again

Penang, also known as a food paradise, i’d expected so much more. This is kind of where it all fell apart for us. We are miserable fucks when we are hungry, and the food here just wasn’t up to it. The renowned street vendors just didn’t satisfy our hunger. I’m sure there are some gems, we just didn’t find them. One of my favourite asian dishes, Mee Goreng… was more like Mee Go-wrong!
Subway it is then..

Asian food
Time for squid intestines and chicken eyes

Suns out guns out

So after the disappointment of the famed street food, surely the beaches would be nice? They were ok. Well, we were spoiled in our weeks before with the beaches of Phuket so understandably Penang came up a little short.
Dont expect crystal clear blue sea. Nor powder white sand that you see on the postcards.
We did manage to actually eat a good meal there though… a rice dish called Nasi Goreng. Unfortunately this was the only nice dish we’d end up having.

Suns out guns out
Beach please. Not the best beach we’ve been to but it was ok


The northeastern corner of the island is Georgetown. Home to 95% of all the hostels in Penang. This is where you’ll find most of your nightlife. Me and Lee had planned to visit all the roof top bars, but due to wind or refurbs, we didn’t end up getting to any of them.
The streets are as you’d expect in Asia, pretty hectic and noisy. And smelly. After all, they had their sewage basically next to the pavement. Sh*t hole.

Georgetown drainage
Literal sh*t hole. The drainage runs openly next to the road


After spending 3 days and nights in Penang, trying a few beaches, eateries and street food vendors, it was clear the island wasn’t for us. I’m well aware there are people who have had a great time here. But i’m just giving my honest opinion, something that i was struggling to find on the net. Nothing short of “ amazing “ is all i could find.
Just be aware of that before you book your flight or bus.
In hindsight i’d have chosen Langkawi over Penang.
Best part of our weekend in Penang?…. the coach journey back to Kuala Lumpur.