5 Most Useful Living Tips For Foreigners To Penang Island

Following the crowning of UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2008, Penang has seen a boost in the tourism industry. Penang has been in the top three with approximately 11% of the total registered hotel guests of the country. The tourism industry is relatively vibrant in Penang as the average hotel occupancy rate in Penang was recorded higher than the country, with 63.5% and 64% recorded in 2011 and 2012 respectively compared to the country 60.6% in 2011 and 62.4% in 2012.

What are the 5 most useful living tips for foreigners to Penang Island? We shall explore from different angles includes transportation, food, accommodation, laundry and money matters.

Transportation

Public transportation is not as convenient as to her other neighbourhood island cities such as Singapore, Taiwan or Hong Kong. There is no MRT and subway service in Penang. As a result, transportation in Penang is highly dependent on motorcycle vehicles and cars. According to the Road Transport Department, there are more vehicles in Penang than there are people! Rapid Penang is one of the leading bus operators in Penang. Foreigners are encouraged to visit Rapid Penang if you are considering having more economical methods to travel around the Penang Island. There are various packages offered to both locals and foreigners from Rapid Penang such as purchasing a Rapid passport for only RM30 and enjoy a week of unlimited travel onboard all rapid Penang buses.

Accommodation

Hotels in Penang, in general, are located in the North-East district along the beaches in Batu Ferringgi that are mainly catered for local and foreigners for vacation, while most of the smaller budget and boutique hotels are predominantly located in the historical city of George Town. The promotional rates of boutique hotels are between RM350 to RM500 per rooms per night. Apart from the North-East District, the South-West District- Bayan Baru- is well positioned to be the upcoming and dynamic growing locations in Penang too. Due to its neighbourhood of industrial areas that housed a few hundreds of MNCs, South-West District are one of the preferred retail/shopping destination for working professionals, families, visitors and MICE (meeting, incentive, convention, exhibition). So, visitors to Penang for business purposes can explore the hotels, homestay or rental houses in Bayan Baru area.

Food

Penang street food is food paradise of Asia. Penang has won many awards and recognitions in food industry, such as ranked in CNNGo’s Asia’s 10 Greatest Street Food Cities in 2012. Renowned travel guide publisher Lonely Planet has listed Penang as top culinary sport for 2014, British daily The Independent reported. Penang was known for its hawker fare and the “must tries” were char koay teow, Hokkien mee, asam laksa, nasi kandar, cendol, mee goreng, fried oyster, etc. Foodies don’t need to worry as to where to taste these authentic local cuisines. Food will never be an issue in Penang. It is so convenient to get food all around Penang Island, as we can get many restaurants, hawker centres, and food stall, everywhere. It is not too exaggerate to mention food is at your doorstep when you are in Penang!

Laundry

Visitors who stay in Penang for a period of time may concern where to get the laundry. Laundry in Penang is conveniently found especially in those high population areas. Visitors who stay in hotel may have to pay a surcharge of laundry items which may be pricy if compared to do the laundry at laundry shops. Laundry shop in Penang normally charge price per KG for normal cleaning. Example for normal cleaning services including wash, dry and fold normally range from RM3-RM4/kg. However, bear in mind that if your clothing does not meet minimum loading per machine, normally the laundry shop may still charge the customers for minimum loading price, which may be around RM12-15/loading. Another option to save the laundry cost, visitors may explore homestay or vacation house rentals which most of them provides washing machines to their guests.

Money matters, Banking hours and Government Offices

Travellers are advised to bring a combination of traveller’s cheques, cash and credit cards. Credit cards are widely used in larger shopping malls and hotels. Smaller shops accept transactions in cash only. Foreign currency can be exchanged in banks, airports and money changers around the Island.

All government offices operate on a five-day week. Offices are open from Mondays to Fridays and are closed during the weekend. If a public holiday (for festivals and special occasions) falls on a non-working day, the following day will be declared a holiday. Working hours are from 8.00am to 5.00pm, Monday to Friday. There is a long lunch break on Fridays (12.15pm – 2.45pm) to allow the Muslims to perform their prayers.

Banks are open from Mondays to Saturdays and are closed on Sunday and Public holidays. Bank working hours are from 9:15am to 4:30pm while Friday and Saturday observe a shorter working hours, i.e Friday from 9:15am to 4:00pm and Saturday from 11:00am to 2:00pm. Only major branches are open on Saturday. Most banks are closed on the first and third Saturdays of the month, so, visitors are advised to obtain further information on local banking hours upon arriving at their destinations. However, for financial matters that can handle through ATM machines, ATM machines are operating 24 hours throughout 365 days.

Please visit Happy Homestay Malaysia to find out safe, clean and affordable stay in Penang Island.

10 Tips For Enjoying Your Summer "Staycation"

Have you ever returned from a vacation feeling exhausted? There are benefits to traveling, but sometimes a quiet week at home is simply the more relaxing and restorative option. Many Americans are opting to save money and reduce their carbon footprint by enjoying a “staycation”.

The staycation is a key piece of jargon these days. As you probably guessed, it’s a hybrid of the words ‘stay’ and ‘vacation,’ which is actually what the noun describes: a vacation which involves staying where you are, or staying close to home.

It’s important to choose an actual beginning and an end to your staycation. Just because you’re staying at home, it’s still a vacation and it’s really important to get into that mindset.

Don’t get stuck on the idea that you’ve been there, done that just because you’re limited to a 100-mile radius. You likely haven’t even scratched the surface, so go into this with a positive attitude.

A staycation doesn’t have to feel second-best to a get-away. With a little planning, your frugal week could be everyone’s favorite “trip.”

10 Staycation Tips

1. Got a friend with a pool? Offer to bring burgers and hot dogs for everyone. You’ve supplied the food, they’ve supplied the pool – everyone’s enjoyed the day.

2. Movie marathon – rent your favorite TV series and watch the whole season over a weekend. Serve “make it yourself” pizzas, set up a sundae bar, and have bowls of buttery popcorn within reach.

3. Be a shutter fly. Take photos of your home town from the perspective of a visitor. Go to the top of the tallest building in your town and admire the view. If you take some especially good shots, you can always enlarge and frame them for gifts.

4. Check out the local country flavor. Join in the watermelon seed spitting contest at the county fair, cheer for the local minor league baseball team, and make a splash at the community pool.

5. Camping in one’s own backyard offers the sights and frights of sleeping beneath the stars, but with none of the hassles of loading up the gear and four-wheeling into the mountains. To make the experience as authentic as possible, make the house off-limits for everything but bathroom breaks.

6. Pamper yourself. If you can’t afford the time or money it would cost to go on a traditional vacation, you can spend a fraction of the money at a day spa getting a heavenly massage that will leave your body relaxed and your mind clear.

7. Be a Hotel Guest. You don’t have to get off an airplane to stay at a hotel. It’s surprisingly relaxing and you can enjoy all the fun things that most of us don’t have in our own homes: room service, brand-new little soaps, whirlpool bath tubs, pools and saunas, fun attractions in walking distance, maid service, etc.

8. Offer your home to a student in a summer exchange program.

9. Volunteer at a senior center and you’re sure to meet people with fascinating stories to tell.

10. Get a season pass to the local water park, zoo, or amusement park.

5 Travel Tips to Save on Your Next Vacation

Traveling to a new destination for a vacation can be fun and exciting, but also a little stressful. There are plenty of things to consider in the process of planning the travel itinerary and finding the best possible deals. Let’s take a look at a few of the options to help control costs on your next travel adventure:

Travel off-season

A simple solution to get the best prices on travel and the hotel is to travel off-season (also referred to as low season). Beyond the best prices for flights and a luxury hotel or resort, there will be a lot less crowds to interrupt the sightseeing tours. For instance, a trip to Europe can be delayed until September for the low-cost travel experience and the weather is still quite favorable in most parts.

Be flexible with flights

An indirect flight can take longer to arrive at the intended destination, but a flight with a stopover often leads to the most cost-effective travel option. Also, the day you fly can have a noticeable impact on the price. In most cases, a midweek flight will save a lot of money for a family vacation compared to flying at the weekend. Simply making a few minor changes like this can save literally hundreds of dollars.

Avoid high baggage fees

Make sure to weigh the luggage before leaving home to avoid the often over-inflated charges associated with exceeding the baggage limit.

If any extra items are left over with no space in the main luggage, there are plenty of ways to get creative by using a decent hand-luggage bag or even a luggage jacket. A stylish and practical luggage jacket is much like a normal jacket, but gives the extra room to conveniently pack in a few extra items to help control baggage charges.

Avoid the most popular places

A simple strategy to cut costs is to avoid the most popular places. For instance, a European city like Paris can be so expensive, but there are other great alternatives that can be just as charming, such as Athens and Budapest. Alternatively, a trip to Costa Rica is typically quite pricey, but a neighboring country like Nicaragua may be a more attractive option.

Book last-minute

Booking last-minute can help to score a great deal in certain areas of the travel market. While it isn’t likely to be helpful with airfare costs, there are plenty of tours and cruises that give great discounts if able to leave things very late. An empty ship or tour is never a good thing, so these companies will do whatever is necessary to bring in extra customers. Typically, the booking needs to be left until one or two weeks before the departure date to get the price discounts.

Tips for Renting a Condo Abroad

Whether you are looking for a vacation rental in the short-term or somewhere to stay for a longer period in a foreign country, there are now many excellent condo and villa rental agencies operating around the world. Whether you are planning a family break in Latin America or in Asia, finding a condo for rent can be tricky however, so here are a few tips to help you make the right choice.

One of the most overwhelming factors that many people find about finding accommodation to rent in the short term or long-term is the amount of choice that is available on the market. This can make it very difficult to narrow down options and find a place that you will be safe and comfortable staying.

The first thing to do is to make sure that you are booking through a reputable travel agency or villa rental company. There are plenty of professionals offering top-notch service around the globe for reasonable prices, and although it can be tempting to try to book even cheaper accommodation through a private person, this is not without some risk.

Booking through an agency often ensures a certain standard of service, hygiene and safety, and many have money back guarantees and excellent customer service. When travelling abroad to a country and looking for a condo for rent – especially for the first time – using a trusted expert can make all the difference to the quality of your experience.

A professional agency will have everything in place to ensure that you enjoy your stay, including clean accommodation, services such as chef services and transportation, excursion advice and tickets, excellent customer service and travel assistance, and much more.

Of course, it is important to thoroughly check the reputation of any company before you make your booking through them – not all professional agencies are made equal and you should look on independent review websites in order to glean good idea of other people’s experiences of using the company to find great holiday accommodation.

The next tip for renting a condo or villa abroad for your trip is to carefully consider your location and the features that you want in your property. This can often make a great difference in price, which can mean that you make some significant savings or end up paying more than necessary.

There are often several types of condo accommodation, including city or town centre condos, beachfront condos, or ones with stunning views situated high in the hills of a particular area. This choosing of a location should be important to you – whether the convenience of being close to town having spectacular views to enjoy every morning, or something else entirely.

Also consider how much space is necessary. Many people are keen to choose villa accommodation, but can find that although this is luxurious, the space is simply too much for them and a waste of their money. Instead, a smaller condo for rent as part of a larger villa can offer a great deal of the privacy of a full villa rental but can be a lot less expensive.

Lastly, it is important to ensure that you see full, detailed pictures of the accommodation before you make your booking, including the size of your living areas, facilities and any communal spaces. This will decide whether you are disappointed or thrilled with your experience, as well as have all the space and amenities you need at your disposal.

Asking for visual and contractual proof of what you will be getting in you accommodation package will give you more guarantee of a great break in the country of your choice, and will also give evidence of a reputable and reliable agency offering different packages of villa and condos for rent.