As many of you must know, we recently went for a short 4 day trip to Penang during the PSLE marking week. This post and subsequent posts will be about that trip. I decided to break up the trip into parts so I can post over a few days and also keep it more detailed. Another reason for the very detailed posts is so I have a good guide to Penang and if it helps anyone who is planning a trip there in the near future and they learn from our mistakes (and we had our fair share of them J), I’ll be so glad these posts come useful!
This time, we decided to ask our helper R if she wanted to join us for the holiday. Initially she was hesitant and said she did not want us to incur extra costs on her behalf, but both S and I reassured her that we would not have offered if we felt it was expensive and so she agreed and was super excited about the trip. She already had a Malaysia visa earlier in the year and I had gotten one a couple of months back for a work trip so we were good for visas. S, BB & GG don’t need visas for Malaysia as they are Singaporeans and all ASEAN country citizens don’t need visas to be a tourist in each other’s countries.
Penang is a 90 minute flight or a 10-12 hour drive from Singapore. Since S was not very comfortable about driving that long, especially on Malaysian roads, which can sometimes be unforgiving to Singapore registered cars, we decided to fly out there.
I researched a number of airline options and found that airlines which fly to Penang were SilkAir, AirAsia, JetStar and Tiger. SilkAir, which is the regional wing of Singapore Airlines, was my first choice. This airline also has code sharing flights with Singapore Airlines, Malaysia Airlines and Virgin Australia, but the flights for the five of us was very high, more than three times the cost of our final ticket! We figured we’d rather spend money on a better hotel and shopping rather than on a bare 90 minute flight, so SilkAir was out of the reckoning. JetStar which has code sharing flights with Emirates and Qantas did not have flights available for our timings as we wanted a morning flight, reaching Penang not later than noon. It was down to AirAsia and Tiger and we went for Tiger because Air Asia had loads of other charges (especially for non-members who use credit cards to purchase tickets) which increased the ticket prices substantially. The Tiger ticket was reasonable and we got to pay via the self-automated payment machines which are everywhere in Singapore. We also got 10 kg of carry-on baggage per person which was just nice for a bit of shopping in Penang without having to pay for check-in baggage.
The Tiger flight was ok, nothing much going on except that even water is chargeable! They were charging SGD 4 for a glass/bottle (I couldn’t figure that) of water which is sheer robbery considering security does not allow you to carry in any water!
We landed in Penang around 10:45 and immigration was a breeze! We had planned to rent a car at the airport itself as Singapore drivers can drive on Malaysian roads using a Singapore driving license. We were looking for a smallish car which could take 5 people plus some luggage. Our first choice of car rental company didn’t have the car we wanted, so we went to the one next to it. The company was called Seraya and though we just booked it without any research, it turned out well!
I got my mobile service provider’s unlimited data plan for Malaysia for SGD 15 per day which was very useful for mapping out routes. If we rented a GPS from the rental, it would cost us approximately SGD 10 per day, which made the data plan a good buy. I got the plan for just 3 days, thinking by the last day we could get to the airport on our own, but ended up getting Google Maps to work on the last day too!