Photo: Just eat.

Eat and meet

Batu Feringghi

Bayu Senja is home to most of Batu Feringghi's trendier backpacker hangouts, like Sunset Bistro and Lab Beach Bar. These are probably the only places in town with real beach-bar atmospheres, and offer dishes priced in the affordable 5-40 ringgit range.

Back on the main road you'll find Guan Guan Restoran serving up dishes from a detailed Chinese menu, with the most expensive dish of sizzling fish on a hotplate costing just 20 ringgit. The friendly Indian owner of well-priced Helena Cafe next door mainly serves Indian dishes but also breakfasts and some Western food.

The main road offers plenty of more upmarket alternatives, mostly Chinese seafood, north Indian and Arabian places, as well as the in-house restaurants of the flash hotels. For a memorable splurge, Lone Pine Resort which is managed by the E&O hosts the 1941-established Bungalow Restaurant. It really is an old bungalow, and they really have got pine trees! The traditional menu hasn't changed in decades.

Batu Feringghi offers little in the way of nightlife. Bars in the hotels and resorts probably offer the best spots for a spot of drinking with friends. Outside of that, Lab Beach Bar, Sunset Bistro and the flash-looking Zippy Bar opposite the Park Royal are open till late.

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Penang is famed for its rich diversity of world cuisine thanks to its long history of being settled by migrants, and Georgetown is where you'll find the island's best restaurants. You don't need to pay top dollar to eat well here and you'll often come across an amalgam of different cuisines under the one roof -- don't be surprised to find Chinese, Indian and Indonesian cuisine all offered interchangeably.

Yin's Sourdough Bakery and Cafe
11 Pesara Claimant, Georgetown
T: (011) 2419 5118

Owner and chief baker of Yin’s Sourdough Bakery and Cafe loves what she does and wants her customers to love it too. The formula is simple: take a mixture of unbleached flour and filtered water, allow it a long fermentation, add a few natural ingredients, the expertise of craft bakers et voila! A range of baked goods so wholesome you’ll want to cartwheel across an alpine mountain roaring the... Read our full review of Yin's Sourdough Bakery and Cafe.

Joo Hooi Cafe
475 Jalan Penang (on the corner of Lebuh Keng Kwee) Georgetown

When it comes to food, you don’t really get more quintessentially ‘Georgetown’ than Joo Hooi Cafe on Jalan Penang. Not only does it dish up much loved Penang staples, but its low-brow, no-nonsense atmosphere and throngs of diners jostling for space will plunge you head-first and without reserve into the Georgetown gastronomic... Read our full review of Joo Hooi Cafe.

Tek Sen
18-20 Lebuh Carnarvon, Georgetown
T: (012) 493 9424

When you arrive in Penang and realise that just about every second shophouse is a restaurant, you might find it hard to decide where to eat. So how do you solve this culinary conundrum? Follow the steady trail of Penangites down Lebuh Carnarvon and bag yourself a table at Tek... Read our full review of Tek Sen.

The Daily Dose Cafe
8c Lebuh Carnarvon, Georgetown
T: (04) 261 2063

If you’ve come to Penang to experience its fantastic local cuisine, a cafe serving Mexican and Mediterreanean specials may not necessarily be top of your must-visit list. However, like Georgetown itself, The Daily Dose Cafe is a heady fusion of cultural influences, and with its pan-continental menu, great stash of wines and some of the best coffee in Penang, it is much more than your average... Read our full review of The Daily Dose Cafe.

Mews Cafe and Muntri Mews Hotel
77 Muntri Street 10200 Georgetown
T: (04) 263 5125

Many restaurants in Penang have attempted to take the relaxed continental cafe vibe and transfer it to the Asian setting, but none more successfully than Mews Cafe. With excellent coffee, a simple but stylish interior, varied menu and personable service, it gets the balance just right and successfully combines the best of European and... Read our full review of Mews Cafe and Muntri Mews Hotel.

Char Kway Teow
185 Macalister Road, Georgetown

Ask anyone from Penang which dish they would most readily associate with their home island, and the answer is quite likely to be char kway teow. While the likes of Penang laksa or Hokkien mee might be more obvious indigenous contenders, char kway teow holds a very special place in the hearts of locals, and although the dish can be found in various forms throughout Malaysia, the Penang version is... Read our full review of Char Kway Teow.

Chuan Bee Cafe
64 Lebuh China, Georgetown

Chuan Bee Cafe has become something of a living legend in Penang. The story goes that an Australian couple once chanced upon it, loved it and spread the word about it, and in-the-know travellers have made their culinary pilgrimages here ever... Read our full review of Chuan Bee Cafe.

Tree Monkey
Tropical Spice Garden Lone Crag Villa, Jalan Teluk Bahang
T: (04) 881 3493/4

Finding a restaurant that serves great food at reasonable prices is never going to be a problem in Penang. However, if you want to add ambience and sea views into the equation, the island offers few options — and this makes it all the more worthwhile to seek out one of Penang’s most romantic and atmospheric eateries, Tree... Read our full review of Tree Monkey.

Mugshot Cafe and Rainforest Bakery, Penang

With so much excellent local food on offer, you will never go hungry in Penang. However, if your belly is begging for bread and baked goods after all those noodle and rice dishes, it is useful to know where to go, and the Rainforest Bakery in Georgetown will definitely quell your... Read our full review of Mugshot Cafe and Rainforest Bakery, Penang.

Shaved ice desserts in Penang

The word ‘dessert’ takes on a whole new meaning in Southeast Asia and while Penang’s savoury dishes are a positive draw for travellers, the island’s sweet offerings are, perhaps, less so. If you are looking for rich chocolate cakes, fruit-filled pies or puddings served with cream or custard, prepare to be disappointed: the shaved ice dessert rules here in Penang. However, give a... Read our full review of Shaved ice desserts in Penang.

Ko Chai Lai
77 Lebuh Bishop, Georgetown
T: (016) 423 9937

A vegetarian friend recently asked for a meat- and fish-free char kuay teow at one of Penang’s hawker stalls. Minus the prawns, cockles, pork fat, prawn paste and Chinese sausage, the result was an uninspiring mess of noodles and a few beansprouts in a bland brown sauce. Perhaps the experiment was ill-advised, but there is good news for vegetarians, and it comes in the form of Ko Chai Lai... Read our full review of Ko Chai Lai.

Penang Laksa
475 Jalan Penang, Georgetown

As the culinary capital of Malaysia, Penang is quite literally bursting with flavour. Many of its famous dishes have almost become synonymous with the island itself, but none more so than Penang laksa, which found international fame in 2011 when it came seventh on the CNN ‘World’s Fifty Most Delicious Foods‘... Read our full review of Penang Laksa.

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Where to next?

Where are you planning on heading to after Penang? Here are some spots commonly visited from here, or click here to see a full destination list for Malaysia.

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