Spread across Penang Island and Seberang Perai on the Malaysian mainland, the state of Penang is a vibrant destination combining must-visit culinary hotspots, historic buildings and lush natural scenery. Its capital, George Town, is known for its multicultural street food and interactive wall art. Outside of the city, you can sip coconut water on palm-fringed beaches, explore hillside temples and – if you're feeling active – go on hikes up Penang Hill and through Penang National Park.
Choose a Penang hostel in the UNESCO-listed George Town and you'll have the chance to stay in heritage buildings, from colonial mansions to traditional shophouses. Look out for Penang hostels which host parties in their bars with free cocktails. Most hostels in the city offer free Wi-Fi and breakfast, and a lot have pools so you can cool off from the hot Malaysian sun. For a quieter time, you'll find plenty of colourful hostels in Penang along the coast – some with balconies for wide-ranging sea views.
George Town is an action-packed base complete with lively bars, restaurants and markets to discover. It's a real cultural melting pot, with a mash-up of Indian, Chinese and British colonial architecture. The second most popular area to stay in Penang is beachside Batu Ferringhi. In this laid-back seaside town, you can lounge on the sand, try your hand at watersports or relax over a platter of fresh seafood in the waterfront restaurants.
Penang is known as the food capital of Malaysia, and one great place to sample delicacies like chicken satay, oyster omelette and fiery fish curries is at the night market on Lorong Baru. For incredible views – and a break from the tropical heat – take the funicular to the top of Penang Hill. The climate is slightly cooler and you can go on a refreshing stroll under the canopies of trees. At night, the bars along Upper Penang Road come to life with thumping pop music and enthusiastic karaoke.
Penang International Airport is 16km from the centre of George Town, and you can easily reach the city using the half-hourly bus service. Buy your ticket from the Rapid Penang desk on the ground floor of the airport and hop on numbers 102, 306 or 401E to get to George Town. If you're taking a long distance bus, it's likely you'll be dropped off at the KOMTAR bus terminal, underneath Penang's tallest building in the middle of George Town.