South-East Asia has long been a hotspot for backpackers. It is cheap to travel around and offers some spectacular sights and adventures. The state of Penang is found on the peninsular side of Malaysia, a country well known for its lavish rainforest, breath-taking beaches and buzzing cities. Penang is a perfectly woven mix of culture, cuisine, nature, bustle, and arts; it is an infamous hub of interesting harmonies where you can encounter situations, knowledge and experiences that cannot be found elsewhere. Penang is the perfect place to base yourself while on a backpacking adventure, and here are five reasons why.
Imagine your favorite cocktail, how the proportions of liquors to bitters and sodas are perfectly aligned and measured in different quantities to create the masterpiece. And don’t forget the fruity garnish. Culture in Penang is not that different. Malaysia has one of the most interesting cultural mixes in the world, and it is very prominent in Penang. People of Malay, Chinese and Indian backgrounds reside here, but there is also a clear European influence on architecture. Traditional Chinese religions are practiced alongside Islam, Buddhism and Christianity. Penang gives you an insight into so many different ways of living, making it one of the best places for backpackers.
Cost of Living
In general, it is cheap to live in Asia. A dollar goes a long way; you can live with a little bit of luxury for not a lot of money. You can find cheap, spacious, and modern rooms, apartments, or houses in Penang easily. Using a service like PropertyGuru makes finding these available listings even simpler. They clearly list the price and details of the Penang room for rent so you can find exactly what you are looking for from a backpacking base, for a price that is almost astonishing. Not only is rent cheap, but so is food, healthcare and all other daily needs. You can live off very little, meaning you have more to splash on those typical backpacker traveling experiences.
World Famous Food
It has been argued by many a traveler that you can find the best food in the world in Penang. With an immense infusion of culture, comes an explosion of global cuisines. There are some absolutely outstanding dishes that you must try while in Penang, but make sure you take a bite from each of the different influences: Malay, Chinese, Indian and Javanese. Each of these countries has brought across their best and favorite dishes, and unlike here, the flavors and spices are not watered down to suit the palates of the people. Not only can you taste sensational curries, noodles, and rice dishes, but there are endless amounts of snacks and sweets to tickle your tastebuds. Making Penang your base lets you dip your toes into the true essence of Asian cuisines, all in one place.
Alongside the immense influx of culture, Penang hosts some luxurious landscapes and scenery. Penang Hill, just outside of the main city of George Town, is the most accessible way of indulging your senses into the natural world of Malaysia. The funicular train takes you on the journey to the top as you watch cityscapes transform into dense jungle. The top doesn’t only offer you spectacular views of the city, bust hosts some quirky and interesting attractions too. The Habitat is a virgin jungle reserve that has been made accessible through canopy walkways that nestle amongst the treetops, and there is even a zipline so you can soar amongst the tropical birds. Be prepared to have small dragons intersect your hike to the pristine and untouched beaches in Penang National Park. If you’re feeling more adventurous, trails in Teluk Bahang Forest Park are rarely ventured, but there are multiple dipping pools and picnic areas for a relaxing day away from the city.
The huge food culture in Penang means George Town is alive all day and all night. There are people constantly bustling about, food vendors selling goods at the side of the streets and locals taking their time to enjoy the culinary delights at all hours. Not only this, the plethora of religions that are practiced here sees continuous streams of people going to pay their respects, pray and talk to their God. Mosques sit opposite Chinese Temples that back on to Cathedrals and Churches; religion is a prominent part of daily life for the locals, and one that they are willing and open to teach you about. There are murals to discover all around the city, markets to explore and museums to visit. A new experience is always waiting for you just around the corner.
Penang offers you everything: culture, religion, food, mountains, jungle, wildlife, beaches. You feel welcomed and at home, but are continuously having interesting experiences, exciting adventures, and meeting fascinating people. Plus, there are multiple (and incredibly cheap) direct flights to numerous other places across Asia, making Penang the perfect backpackers’ base.