I had been residing in Malaysia for about four months when I decided to plan a trip to Penang. It is one of my preferred destination due to the variety of local food available and activities to do. On this trip, I explored George Town on days one and two, then moved base to Jalan Batu Ferringhi.
This area was packed with hotels, being located really close to the beach and night market. Any guesses as to which hotel I chose?
Well, I checked in to Hard Rock Hotel, Penang, and i would say the experience was worthwhile. It was like Hard Rock Cafe magnified manifold, with the rock theme retained throughout the premises of the hotel along with other exceptional facilities. For the convenience of guests, they had a buggy plying every hour from Hard Rock Hotel to the beach side.
Pasar Malam Batu Ferringhi
The night market, or Pasar Malam, was a shopper’s paradise.
I was looking for souvenirs and trinkets, as well as some casual tees to wear the next few days. I hadn’t realised how hot the city could get by noon and I hadn’t packed enough clothes to change them at least twice a day. After a much-needed siesta, I took a buggy from the hotel to the main market side.
The flea markets created an eclectic atmosphere with bright hues and happy colours everywhere, and I was wide awake. Tourists generally head here to get their shopping fix and locals from across the country gather their fake brands at reasonable prices from these shops. Think branded watches, bags, sunglasses and pirated DVDs and you have them all here.
I managed to buy a basket full of brightly coloured jewellery, pouches, wallets, sling bags, magnets, key chains and a lot of takeaways. Here’s my tip for shopping right: bargain, bargain, bargain. Bargaining is the key, which is how I managed to hoard more items for the same price.
Bora Bora by Sunset
Where there is a beach, there ought to be a cozy café offering Hawaiian vibes. And for that, there is Bora Bora by Sunset.
The moment I stepped in, I knew that this sunset bar cum restaurant was the ultimate place to unwind in Batu Ferringhi. It had shack-like gazebos imparting a tropical feel with lots of coconuts and grilled food up for grabs. Of course, they had refreshing beverages and sunset cocktails too. Indulging in a platter of fries, pasta and pizza with my buddies over a smooth sundowner is the time I’d like to re-live. Their grilled fish platter made with the fish of the day was exceptional.
The next day, I head out to explore other outlets offering great meals and drinks like Ferringhi Bar, Spot Lounge, Sigi’s Bar & Grill and the others along the line. Be it lazing by the beach, cocktails by the shore, parties at the sand or a quiet evening star-gazing, there is a lot that can be done on a visit here.
Foot massage and spa
When I am on vacation, I walk around a lot. I need to take up a relaxing session of foot massage at least once every trip. When I saw the countless foot reflexology outlets lined up opposite the night market, I thought what better way to relax than by pampering myself at night?
Penang is all about the old town and walking a minimum of 15,000 odd steps a day really got my feet tired. I had to relax those aching soles. Two points of inspection and I knew which one to go to – it had to be clean and it had to be free (without requiring waiting in the queue).
I took up a fish spa before the massage and got my feet club ready before hitting the sandy shores. Do remember, they shut by 12 A.M. Make sure you head there before midnight. You might get an extension till 12:30 – 01:00 A.M., depending on the crowd, but there is no guarantee.
Fine dining stretch
On my second visit, I treated my family to some delicious Lebanese food at Lebanon Restaurant along the Batu Ferringhi night market stretch. However, I heard it has now moved to Jalan Tanjung Bungah. This was family time done right. Every dish was delicious to the last bite and the atmosphere was warm and welcoming.
Besides Lebanese food, there were a bunch of other restaurants serving different cuisines opposite the night market, including Arabian, Mediterranean, Indian, Thai, and Chinese. The next day, I took them to try some Middle-Eastern and Mediterranean food at Tarbush, while some of them set sail to The Ship. It’s a restaurant that offers the best steaks in Penang and is famed for its seafood platters.
Batu Ferringhi Beach
A quiet walk along the beach, slippers in hand, is the best way to take in the calm expanse of the ocean. I walked on the sandy shores and sat by the waves to watch the sunset. Sometimes, these quiet moments are the best and most defining ones, leaving memories that last a lifetime.
The line-up of hotels opening out to the beach provides a great experience too. After seeing the Batu Ferringhi beach resorts on my walk, for my next visit I plan to book one with its own private bay.
I quite enjoyed spending some time doing nothing. On day 2, we reached the shore early for some water sports and indulged in various activities – riding a beach buggy, taking up a jet ski tour and horse riding.
Tip – look up the activities offered by your hotel and book a package in advance if possible.
- Weather really shouldn’t be a concern, unless you are on a diving trip as certain beaches are closed during the monsoon seasons.
- I visited Batu Ferringhi around mid-September, and I would say it was a good time to head there. The weather was pretty great. Although it did rain twice, it wasn’t heavy enough to hamper our activities.
- Sunset is the best time to visit this beach.
- Negotiate for better deals on foot massages. If you’re going there in a group, ask for a free fish spa or include a quick shoulder massage.
- Bargain well! Haggle from the very first instance at every shop of the flea market. The prices will inevitably come down after some negotiating.
- Getting a cab (including Uber or Grab) past midnight might be an issue. Make sure you pre-book one.
- Take a trishaw ride to reach the far-flung ends of the beach.
- Batu Ferringhi beach is extra fun on special occasions, like Diwali, the Indian festival of lights. You can catch a fireworks display as the clock strikes 12.
Can’t wait to get back…
Whenever I head to Penang, it’s an absolute must to visit Batu Ferringhi to get my beach fix. I love wandering along the 4-kilometre stretch, uncovering so many new restaurants and shops along the way. I missed quite a few by-lanes during my first visit but covered up for it during my second stint. There is so much to do here that you ought to spend an evening and stay the night in this part of the town. Some of the most luxurious and trendy hotels can be found close to the beach….
*secretly looking at some special deals to Penang as I type