Finding the best Penang nightlife venues
You could be forgiven for thinking that the Penang nightlife sounds a little boring, but trust me, once you relax into it you will be surprised how much fun it can be.
The island has loads of really good places to drink and have a good time. Most of these are located in Georgetown and Batu Ferringhi beach where there is a nice shopping district and a traditional night market. Both these areas have plenty of good bars and lounges where you can drink and hang out with the friendly locals.
Batu Ferringhi, a popular beach location
The main area where all the action happens is Penang Street. Here you will find lots of really delicious places to eat, drink, and go clubbing. For those of you who don’t know about Malaysian food, well, it is a mix of native Malay, Chinese, Indian, and even Thai. This means that there is literally every taste from East Asia all in one place.
Even after 3 years here I still keep finding great new places to eat as well as delicious new foods to enjoy. A nice touch is that many of the street-food places and restaurants stay open until quite late, meaning that you can grab a quick bite without having to worry about the time.
Penang Street has a walking zone which helps give it that little extra boost in atmosphere. Up and down it, mixed in with restaurants, you will find bars. I often meet friends in some of the quieter ones to get warmed up and then later head to the busy ones to get the night going.
For single travellers hoping to meet some nice local Malaysian women,
Georgetown is your best bet. As I said earlier, Penang has become a
hotspot for groups of Middle Eastern and Chinese men who are looking for
This has changed the Penang nightlife scene a little, but
don’t let it put you off. The locals still really love us westerners, so
you can still meet ladies here quite easily.
still follows the traditional Asian code of 'keep it out of sight', more
and more 18+ bar signs are popping up everywhere.
These are the places
where you will find lots of Chinese and Middle Eastern men, all after
the pay to play girls inside. If this is your thing then the majority of
clubs will have Chinese, Filipinos, Thais and some Vietnamese.
most ‘specialist’ 18+ bars will have African and some Middle Eastern
women on show.
A little Northwest of Penang Street is Gurney Drive where you will also find plenty of bars and a few clubs. This area is not as vibrant as Penang Street but it still is worth checking out. Because the Penang nightlife scene is relatively small, if you stay around the place long enough it is inevitable that you will end up heading out to Gurney Drive sooner or later.
It is a really nice change of scene and is more focused on the expat community who prefer to get away from the endless stream of tourists that are to be found elsewhere.
Batu Ferringhi Beach
Batu Ferringhi Beach is located about about 5 or 6 miles northeast of
Georgetown. The road hugs the coastline and it takes quite a bit of time
to get out there. I usually give it 35 minutes to drive out on my
scooter, but if there is traffic it can take a bit longer.
The nightlife out at Batu Ferringhi tends to be a little more Asian focused than in Georgetown. This is because a lot of visiting Chinese tourists stay out there while on holiday. As a result there are lots of bars that are orientated more around Asian tastes, such as singing shows and karaoke. You can still find plenty of good bars here with the added bonus of being right on the beach too.
All in all, Penang’s nightlife really can be great. At first glance, you might feel a little disappointed but as you relax into this tropical island, like me, you will really come to appreciate it in a whole new level. The locals are generally very friendly and on more than one occasion I’ve been invited to a table when they have seen me sitting alone. The girl situation is nowhere near as easy as in Thailand, but somehow this adds to the fun of the place.
For me, the best thing about the Penang nightlife is that it will let you blow off some steam but still have some fun without ending up burned out like you get in Thailand. So, if you are looking for a nice tropical island where you can relax and enjoy life, then it is definitely worth a look.