Full of rich culture, beautiful historical monuments, and secluded beaches, Penang is a must on any itinerary for Malaysia. The region is also well known by both Malaysians and Singaporeans as having the best cuisine in the country, making it ideal for foodies!
But Penang has a ton of cool regions, and figuring out where to stay in can be challenging. So to help we’ve put together this guide on the best places to stay in Penang!
By using this guide, you will be able to get a good idea of the best place to stay based on YOUR interests. Whether you’re looking for the best party spot or a good place to relax as a family, our expert travel writers have written this guide to help you.
Let’s dive right into the best places to stay in Penang!
Quick Tips – Where to Stay in Penang
- George Town – Best neighborhood in Penang for your first time
- Butterworth – Where to stay in Penang close to everything
- Batu Ferringhi – Where to stay in Penang for nightlife
- Tanjung Bungah – Best neighborhood in Penang for families
- Bayan Lepas – Where to stay in Penang on a budget
- Gurney Drive – Best neighborhood in Penang for couples
- Seberang Perai – Where to stay in Penang for culture
Where to Stay in Penang
Looking for a specific place to stay? These are our best recommendations for places to stay in Penang.
Best Overall Hostel in Penang
This central hostel is ideal for backpackers visiting Penang. Located in the heart of George Town’s UNESCO World Heritage area, the hostel has excellent facilities for socializing with other travelers and indulging in some yoga during your stay. There are also lockers and WiFi available to guests.
Best Overall Budget Hotel in Penang
Located in Batu Ferringhi, this hotel is ideally placed for discovering the best Penang has to offer in terms of tourist activities. There are great beaches available a short walk away, with watersports and unique shopping options. It is also close to a vibrant night market famous across the island with locals and tourists.
Best Overall Luxury Hotel in Penang
This is by far one of the most luxurious hotels you can stay at in Penang. Customer service is their core focus, with full concierge services available. The facilities are excellent, with multiple restaurants on-site as well as a spa, fitness center, and large swimming pool.
Penang’s 7 Best Neighborhoods to Stay in
Let’s take a look, in more detail, at the seven best neighborhoods in Penang. Each caters to different interests, so be sure to pick the neighborhood that’s right for you.
(Best neighborhood in Penang for your first time!)
- COOLEST thing to do in George Town – sample the world famous cuisine.
- BEST place to visit in George Town – Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion, a UNESCO Award winning landmark.
George Town is the second largest city in Malaysia and the capital of Penang. This is the perfect destination for foodies as it is famed as the food capital of Malaysia. Visitors can also enjoy the multicultural atmosphere of George Town – with Malay, Indian and Chinese communities all calling the city home.
This is a great city if you want to experience Malaysia’s colonial history. There are numerous monuments and memorials across George Town to British colonists, as well as museums detailing the impact of colonialism. Many areas of George Town are filled with preserved colonial architecture, and the multicultural atmosphere comes from migrants to the area during this period.
The city also bursts with life during the night, when street vendors sell local delicacies and a wide array of bars, restaurants, and nightclubs act as meeting places for locals and tourists alike.
- Shop at local boutiques inspired by Malay culture
- See the colonial architecture of Armenian Street
- Sample Indian culture in Little India
- Get your creative juices flowing at The Camera Museum
- Enjoy the vibrant nightlife on Upper Penang Road
- Gain the best views of Penang at Komtar Tower
- Learn about local Buddhist culture at Wat Chayamangkalaram
- Rent a motorcycle from the many outlets across the city to get around like a local
- Enjoy activities like laser tag and virtual reality at the upscale malls
- Experience how locals live at the Clan Jetties, where you can see houses on stilts
Best Hostel in George Town
Georgetown Residences Penang is located in the heart of Georgetown, making it the ideal hostel for getting around easily. All the rooms are fully air-conditioned, with lockers for your valuables. There’s also a sun deck for relaxing and socializing, and yoga facilities available for all guests.
Best Budget Hotel in George Town
This hotel is also well located in the center of the Old Town. Despite the low price, Hotel Jen Penang doesn’t scrimp on the extras, with a swimming pool available on-site and a 24-hour reception allowing you to conveniently check-in any time. There are additional spa facilities and a buffet breakfast available for an extra fee.
Best Luxury Hotel in George Town
This luxurious hotel takes you back to the colonial era and lets you live like the wealthiest residents of Georgetown. Each room comes fully equipped, and rooms with terraces are available. There is a shared sun terrace for mingling with other guests, and great bar and restaurant facilities on-site.
(Where to stay in Penang close to everything!)
- COOLEST thing to do in Butterworth – visit the Butterworth Art Walk, a local attempt to rejuvenate the city.
- BEST place to visit in Butterworth – Bird Park is the largest wildlife center dedicated to birds in Malaysia.
Butterworth is a very well connected area to stay in Penang. Located on the mainland, you can visit Penang Island by bridge or ferry. It is also the main gateway to other areas of Malaysia, such as Kuala Lumpur. Also – if you’ll be in this area, you HAVE to check out our article about some of the other best Hostels in Kuala Lumpur.
Often missed by tourists to the region, Butterworth has recently seen a number of revival attempts. The famous Penang cuisine has made its way to the mainland and is often cheaper in Butterworth than elsewhere in the area.
There are also some excellent street art areas, as well as local boutiques showcasing local craftspeople. Butterworth is a little more industrial than other parts of the state; however, its quiet atmosphere is great if you can’t handle the bustling crowds of George Town.
- Visit the most beautiful temple in the city – Temple of the Ninth Emperor God
- Sample Chinese cuisine at one of the many hole-in-the-wall style restaurants
- Visit what remains of Pantai Bersih beach for a more secluded experience and great views to Penang Island
- Check out the Hawker Centres along Jalan Raja Uda
- Watch films from across South Asia at Lotus Five Star
- Join the locals at Apollo Market to pick up your groceries and souvenirs
- Get great Instagram shots at the secluded Tow Boo Kong Temple
- Do good by assisting Shammah Children’s Home with one of their local projects
- Catch a ferry for good views over the city and onwards to Georgetown and other parts of Penang Island
Best Budget Hotel in Butterworth
This hotel is located close to the harbor, making it perfect for quick trips to Penang Island. A 24-hour reception is available, as well as full room service. Though the prices are low, this hotel comes with great guest reviews. This makes it a great option if you are only looking for a base to sleep at night.
Best Mid-Range Hotel in Butterworth
This accommodation is also located close to the harbor and has some extra features to make your stay more comfortable. You will have your own apartment in the complex, giving you views over the sea towards Penang Island from a private balcony. You will also have access to a swimming pool, hot tub, and barbecue area for those days where you just want to relax.
Best Luxury Hotel in Butterworth
Though a little further from the harbor, these villas are the ultimate luxury experience for your stay in Butterworth. Each apartment comes with air conditioning, flat-screen TVs, and well-equipped kitchens. The complex also has a children’s park, making it a great option for families.
(Where to stay in Penang for nightlife!)
- COOLEST thing to do in Batu Ferringhi – shopping and eating at Pasar Malam, a famous night market in the area.
- BEST place to visit in Batu Ferringhi – visit the Tropical Spice Garden for an eco-friendly experience.
Batu Ferringhi is the most tourist friendly area in Penang. The town is known for its vibrant nightlife that caters heavily to the tourist market. If you are looking to get away from these major sites, you can also enjoy the secluded white sand beaches on the west end of the town.
The nightlife combines night markets, street vendors and bars to give visitors a unique south-east Asian experience. The beaches also burst into life at night, letting you continue the party outdoors in the gorgeous Malaysian warmth.
Even with all the tourism, Batu Ferringhi still retains some unique culture if you look a little further. There are museums and monuments located in the center of the town and out towards the west. You can also enjoy some delicious cuisine here, at lower prices than you would expect in George Town.
- Visit Tropical Fruit Farm to learn more about local agriculture and sample some Malaysian produce
- Enjoy watersports at the main beaches across the town
- Check out the world’s largest toy museum, and learn about what life is like for children in Penang
- Grab a boat to Muka Head Lighthouse for spectacular views across the ocean and towards the rest of Penang
- Hike in the Teluk Bahang forest area and discover rural life
- Visit the Butterfly Farm to learn the fascinating history behind butterfly conservation and witness multiple native and exotic species.
- Enjoy a massage on the beach
Best Hostel Batu Ferringhi
This guesthouse operates similarly to a Hostel, however, allows you a little more privacy with your own room. There is a communal balcony for you to meet other guests, as well as a kitchen. It is only a 15-minute walk to the night market, making it a great location for experiencing the best of Batu Ferringhi.
Best Budget Hotel in Batu Ferringhi
This is one of the best-rated budget options available in Batu Ferringhi, with a great location close to some of the area’s more secluded beaches. There is free Wi-Fi throughout the property, making it a great option if you need to stay connected on your trip. There is also an ATM on-site so you can securely withdraw funds.
Best Luxury Hotel in Batu Ferringhi
Located a little further out of the town, this luxury accommodation is fantastic for nature lovers. You will stay in a safari tent, where you can enjoy the open air and fully appreciate the Penang forest. Mosquito nets are provided, as well as an American style breakfast every morning.
(Best neighborhood in Penang for families!)
- COOLEST thing to do in Tanjung Bungah – try out the family friendly watersports on the beach
- BEST place to visit in Tanjung Bungah – see the colorful Floating Mosque
Tanjung Bungah is the ideal location for families looking for somewhere more relaxing, but still well connected. Located halfway between Batu Ferringhi and Gurney, it is a great location if you want to explore the rest of the island with day trips.
The town itself does not have many historical attractions, but adults and kids alike will enjoy the vast array of watersports activities located on the beach. From kayaking and windsurfing to snorkeling and diving, this is a great place to try out a new activity.
There are also some great food options located in slightly more upscale restaurants than elsewhere on the island. This is a good area to splurge and sample fine cuisine while on Penang Island. You can also try some more traditional offerings at the few street vendors on the main thoroughfares.
- Sample multicultural cuisine at the night market every Tuesday evening
- Check out the Toy Museum to learn about some of Malaysia’s most well-known toys and games
- Visit the Penang Avatar Garden to see where the movies were filmed and discover a magical new universe
- Discover native flora and fauna at the Botanical Garden
- Sample roti bakar and other Indian delights at the many Indian Restaurants across the town
- Sunbathe in peace at the secluded beach which has far fewer tourists than others on the island.
- Become one with nature on the hiking trails through the forests and hills surrounding Tanjung Bungah
Recommended Article – have you checked out our article about the best day trips from Kuala Lumpur?
Best Budget Hotel in Tanjung Bungah
This hotel is well located for accessing Tanjung Bungah beach. It has individual cabins as well as a homestay. Guests are given access to a hot tub, allowing you to relax after a long day of exploring. They also provide a car rental service for exploring other areas of the island.
Best Mid-Range Hotel in Tanjung Bungah
For a little bit of a step up, the Jazz Suites offer extra comfort to guests in their fantastic apartments. There is a large pool on-site, free WiFi throughout the property, and air conditioning in each room. There’s also a children’s playground, great for getting the little ones to let off some steam.
Best Luxury Hotel in Tanjung Bungah
This is the ultimate in luxury for your stay in Tanjung Bungah. Your private condo comes with three bedrooms, making it an excellent option for larger families. You will have a balcony with sea views, and there is a pool and a children’s playground available on-site.
(Where to stay in Penang on a budget!)
- COOLEST thing to do in Bayan Lepas – learn about Malaysia’s infamous durian fruit at Bao Sheng Durian Farm
- BEST place to visit in Bayan Lepas – discover rural Penang life in Batu Maung Fishing Village
Bayan Lepas is a large area connected to the mainland by a bridge. This is a great base for discovering the less touristy southern half of Penang Island. It is also very close to Penang Airport, making it cheaper for transfers.
Though accommodation is around the same price as elsewhere in the region, food and souvenirs are generally cheaper, making it a great option if you are sticking to a budget. As it’s a little more off the beaten path, it is also a quieter area, making it great for families and couples.
Bayan Lepas itself is quite industrial, but the surrounding area is filled with local villages and natural beauty. We suggest hiring a car if possible, as this gives you the best opportunity to explore a more authentic side of Penang.
- Visit the War Museum to learn about the darker sides of Malaysian history
- Get up close with native reptiles at the Snake Temple
- Discover marine life and learn about conservation efforts at Penang Aquarium
- Walk amongst local flora and fauna at Bukit Jambul Orchid & Hibiscus Garden
- Take in the great views from Bukit Genting Hill, a short and easy hike
- Learn about local farming life at Saanen Dairy and Goat Farm
- Shop ‘til you drop at Queensbay Mall and enjoy some upscale dining options
- Checkout the burgeoning art scene in Penang Artist Corner
- Look at work from some more established artists at Tuanku Fauziah Museum & Art Gallery
Best Budget Hotel in Bayan Lepas
If you’re simply looking for a cheap hotel that gives you a place to sleep, this is as basic as it gets. With this capsule hotel, each guest is given their own private pod with a bed and TV. Bathrooms are shared; however, they are well maintained and with lockers for storing your valuables.
Best Mid-Range Hotel in Bayan Lepas
For a mid-range hotel, Hotel Equatorial features some luxurious benefits. Located in the hills of Bayan Lepas, the rooms have great views over Penang Island and towards the sea. There is a large swimming pool on-site, and lush vegetation surrounding the hotel giving privacy.
Best Luxury Hotel in Bayan Lepas
This hotel has everything you could need for your stay and is well located, with sweeping vistas over the sea and the mainland. There is a large pool and full fitness center for guests to enjoy. You can also opt for a hearty meal at the brasserie available in the hotel.
Editor’s note – Take a look at our AMAZING guide to the best places to visit in Malaysia!
(Best neighborhood in Penang for couples!)
- COOLEST thing to do in Gurney Drive – indulge in some retail therapy at Gurney Paragon Mall
- BEST place to visit in Gurney Drive – check out Wat Chaiya Mangkalaram temple, the largest Thai temple in Malaysia
Gurney Drive is a tourist strip located close to George Town. It’s a great area for splashing out on shopping, dining, and nightlife. The main street along the beach provides excellent views across the sea, as well as some good examples of colonial architecture and local delights.
There are many hawker centers in the area where you can sample some of the finest cuisines Penang has to offer. It is also packed with shopping malls that allow you to pick up some great souvenirs, fashion, and other retail goods.
Gurney Drive is also filled with spas, where you can enjoy a little bit of pampering. These spas, along with the high-class restaurants and vast shopping areas, make it a great option for couples looking for a unique getaway in Malaysia.
- Pamper your feet at Kenko Reflexology and Fish Spa with the popular Asian fish therapy
- Stroll along the seaside for great photo opportunities and local boutiques
- Learn about Malaysia’s Catholic minority at the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit
- Enjoy lush vegetation and Buddhist rituals at the Penang Bodhi Heart Sanctuary
- Discover World War II relics where the occupying British forces tried to fend off Japanese invasion at Tanjong Tokong
- Gain a more peaceful insight into Buddhism in Malaysia at the Chooi Bee Keong Temple
- Mingle with Penang’s Burmese community at the Dharmikarama Burmese Temple
Best Hostel in Gurney Drive
Located just off Gurney Drive, the YMCA Penang is a basic hostel and hotel that is ideal if you are on a budget. Couples opting for privacy can select private rooms, while still enjoying the communal lounge and kitchen. Breakfast is provided for a small surcharge each morning.
Best Budget Hotel in Gurney Drive
This budget friendly hotel features beautiful decor that will make you feel like you are living in luxury. All the furniture is made by local artisans, and there is a creative feel throughout the hotel. WiFi is available in all the rooms, as well as 24-hour check-in.
Best Luxury Hotel in Gurney Drive
This hotel has luxury at its heart and will treat you like a celebrity throughout your stay. There is a full concierge service provided to all guests, as well as a large fitness suite and spa on-site for you to enjoy at your leisure. There are three restaurants available – perfect for date night!
(Where to stay in Penang for culture!)
- COOLEST thing to do in Seberang Perai – explore an abandoned quarry at Guar Petai
- BEST place to visit in Seberang Perai – take in the bright lights of Auto City
Seberang Perai makes up the large mainland area of Penang. Outside of Butterworth, there are many unique villages and lush natural attractions to discover. As this part of Penang is much less touristy than Penang Island, you will be able to take in the local culture and dive deep into Malaysian traditions and history.
The coastal areas are much more industrial, however, are packed with excellent food options and bustling nightlife. There are also some great examples of the flourishing art scene, with small local galleries available in almost every district – as well as quirky street art!
Seberang Perai is an excellent choice if you want to stay connected with the rest of Malaysia but do not want to stick to Butterworth itself. The whole area is very well connected with the central train station and is diverse in terms of attractions.
- Visit one of Malaysia’s largest Catholic churches in Bukit Mertajam
- Enjoy an excellent hike through the Bukit Mertajam Forest
- Visit the largest dam in Malaysia, Mengkuang Dam, and enjoy the calm scenery
- Get great photos of the Penang Bridge across the sea towards Penang Island
- Dive into rural culture at Permatang Rawa
- Save on international brands at Design Village Penang Outlets
- Interact with the Indian minority community at Arulmigu Karumariamman Temple
Best Hostel in Seberang Perai
This budget-friendly guesthouse offers both dorms and private rooms and is a great spot if you want to be located in the heart of rural Seberang Perai. Lockers are provided for all guests to store valuables, as well as air conditioning and WiFi throughout.
Best Budget Hotel in Seberang Perai
Located in the Seberang Jaya region, this hotel is excellent for exploring the nearby local culture. The rooms are basic but come with a small work area and WiFi. The check-in desk is available 24 hours, and the hotel is close to shopping malls and conference centers.
Best Luxury Hotel in Seberang Perai
This hotel is one of the best options available on the mainland side of Penang, with a full fitness center and large swimming pool available to all guests. The rooms are beautifully decorated with quality furnishings, and the on-site restaurant has a variety of cuisines influenced by a number of Asian cultures.
Final Thoughts on Where to Stay in Penang
Penang is a truly diverse region of Malaysia to stay in and offers the best of everything there is to see in the country. The world-famous cuisine makes it the ideal destination for foodies, with food influenced by many different cultures available in the small region.
Our pick for the best area is George Town. As the capital of the region, it truly showcases everything Penang has to offer – from great street food right through to historical and cultural attractions.
With a wide range of great hotels and hostels available in Penang, we hope this guide has helped you to find the ideal accommodation for your budget and needs.
Let us know about your favorite neighborhood in Penang in the comments below.
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