Recently, I had to leave Thailand to fix my visa and decided to try a new location, Penang, Malaysia! I have been to Kuala Lumpur before and had been hearing lots of good things about Penang!
This entry is to share information for what I paid for my flights, hotels, and my observations from spending four nights there.
Round trip ticket from Chiang Mai to Penang (had to stop in BKK both times) was around 12,000 THB through Air Asia. That is pretty expensive when you compare that to how much it costs to do a visa run from Chiang Mai to Laos, but I have been to Vientiane too many times and wanted to explore something new!
The taxi from the Penang airport into the city was 45 ringgit which is about 450 THB. Currency is super easy to translate, just add a 0 to Malaysian money and that is about the equivalent to Thai baht. (give or take depending on the rates)
I searched around for a while where I got dropped off and decided on the Oriental Hotel. Per night was between 80 – 90 ringgit, which isn’t cheap, but I needed wifi and at that point just wanted to drop my bags and relax.
I would highly recommend this hotel based solely on the service from the doorman, who became my friend, and the guys at the front desk. They were nothing but helpful from the first second and every-time I came up or down they asked me how I was, booked taxis for me, and recommended sites to see. One night I came back to the hotel around 7pm and when I walked in, they said ‘Where have you been? We haven’t seen you all day and were getting worried! We were about to call the police to look for you!’ They were good people, and when you travel, it never hurts to have good people in your corner.
The rooms were nothing special, but they got cleaned everyday, and the basic set-up was just what I was looking for.
Thai Embassy (website)
This was by far the easiest, fastest, and cheapest embassy I have been to. Granted, some days might be busier than others, but the set up was not conducive for massive crowds like you see in Laos. I filled out my application and was at the counter within ten minutes. I even got to pickup my visa the same day!
Around the city
I made it a point to not research too much or make an itinerary with what to do and see. For this trip I merely walked around and decided where to go based on what looked cool and how I was feeling. I was able to see most of the city this way. The city had nice ocean views with clear blue water, interesting side streets and markets, and great Indian food. I went back to the Coffee Bean almost everyday as they had great wifi and quiet places to do work.
Overall, it was a cool city with great food. I did not go out at all for the nightlife, but from the locals I spoke with, the city seemed to have some decent clubs and places to go out. If a cheap and fast visa run is what you are looking for, Penang is not your answer, but if you are looking to get away for a few days and explore Malaysia then Penang might be a good fit. Kuala Lumpur also has a Thai embassy, but in my experience KL was more expensive overall.
Feel free to ask any questions about this city, visa runs, or anything else. Hope you enjoy the photos!