Back to Penang for half a day while on a cruise holiday aboard Sapphire Princess!
For those who have yet gone on a Princess cruise or are considering to go on one, check out my blog posts on my cruising experience with Sapphire Princess last year:
Sapphire Princess Cruise Review (Part 1 of 3) – The Best Holiday Experience Ever
Sapphire Princess Cruise Review (Part 2 of 3) – An Endless Supply of Food
Sapphire Princess Cruise Review (Part 3 of 3) – Having Fun All Day Long
The Cruise – Sapphire Princess
This time round, we went for the 5D4N Straits of Malacca: Southeast Asia (Singapore -> Penang -> Langkawi -> Port Klang/Kuala Lumpur -> Singapore) cruise. Currently, Sapphire Princess is in East Asia (China/Japan/Korea route) but Diamond Princess will be offering this same itinerary again in December 2016 and early 2017.
Just a quick update on the cruise we had. Well the production show (“Born To Be Wild”) wasn’t as good as the last time – substandard singing & choreography. There was a “Windows of Malaysia” folkloric show too that wasn’t really our cup of tea and also a magic show by Daniel Ka that was so old-school and predictable. People would just leave the theatre midway because it was that boring. We ended up staying in our cabin watching movies which we didn’t mind – just plain relaxing and doing nothing was still a joy.
My biggest disappointment was perhaps the soft serve ice cream from Sundaes Ice Cream Bar which I used to like a lot in my last cruise but not anymore now because it was too sweet and cloying that I felt so sickly just after one mouthful. Other than that, we still enjoyed the food in general (especially our daily dinners at the dining rooms and the coffees & light bites from International Cafe), trivia games, speed bingo, pool and casino (we suffered a big loss this time, lol) if we weren’t out gallivanting at each port of call. Oh, and we managed to hit the gym as well, haha. Didn’t manage to burn enough though as we ate TOO MUCH, oops.
Anyway, Georgetown (Penang) was our first port of call. The last time we were here, we weren’t really prepared to explore the place as we hadn’t done enough research given it was a last minute trip so this time we pinpointed a list of local food gems to check out but alas, we only had limited time so couldn’t complete the list. Nonetheless, I still want to share some of these great eating places that I feel are worth visiting when you’re in Penang.
If you’re going Penang while on a cruise, most likely your ship would dock at Swettenham Pier Cruise Terminal. From there, it is really easy to get around on foot in Georgetown unless you’re thinking of going shopping at Gurney Plaza which is much further but still accessible via taxi. Not sure if the taxis by the cruise terminal are willing to go by meter but yes, be prepared to be harassed by tour operators and taxi touts who charge ridiculous prices. We couldn’t be bothered with them and that was why we decided to go exploring ourselves which was probably the best way to experience the town.
MAPS.ME – The Best Offline Map App for the Traveller
If you already have a Malaysian prepaid SIM card, then you can easily access Google maps if necessary. However if you don’t intend to get a SIM card, then I highly recommend you to download the MAPS.ME app on your phone so you can have access to maps offline without internet connection.
Here’s a screen shot of the map I used while in Penang. As you can see, I’ve added green pins on the map which are local food places that I want to go as well as a red pin that indicates where the two nearest shopping malls are. The cruise terminal is on the extreme right hand side. This handy map app just makes it so easy for us to go around without fearing getting lost especially when some of these eating places are located in inconspicuous spots. I just need to turn on my GPS to trace our walking direction so tracking down those tricky spots is just a breeze.
For this post, I’m just going to feature the first food stop we made and also a general overview of Penang on foot. The rest of the eating places that we went to will be covered in separate posts after this.
The streets of Penang are filled with art murals like this. Photography enthusiasts, snap away!
Even hotels are jumping on the bandwagon, lol.
Little India is very near the cruise terminal. We spotted several Indian snack and sweet shops but it was this stall at the junction of Lebuh Pasar (Market Street) and Lebur King (King Street) that caught our eye…
…with its colourful array of Indian sweets, kacang putih and…
…assorted murukku, chips and more.
The husband wasn’t keen to buy any snacks because there were already so much food on-board the ship but I just couldn’t resist buying 2 packs of murukku which only cost RM2 each. We munched on them while watching movies in our room. They were so fresh and good! Yum.
Opposite Vikram’s is this ice cream shop that specialises in coconut and durian ice cream if you may be interested.
Shopping in Georgetown, Penang
And for the shopaholics, you can check out Prangin Mall and 1st Avenue Mall that are located next to each other and are about a 15-minute walk from Little India. If you take the shuttle bus provided by Princess Cruises, it’s USD8.00 per person per way (pier <-> 1st Avenue Mall) which I don’t think it’s worth paying as it’s so much more fun to walk and explore the old quaint streets of Penang.
Hubby and I checked out both malls and we only bought white coffee – I can’t start my day without a good cuppa coffee! Penang is perhaps the best place to buy white coffee and there are just so many different brands to choose from.
In the malls, expect to see familiar shops and brands like Cotton On, H&M, Charles & Keith, Royal Sporting House, Guardian, Watsons, Sakae Sushi, Starbucks and more. Prices wise, I would say they were comparable with Singapore’s. Some stuffs might be cheaper due to the currency exchange rate but don’t be too quick to make a purchase ‘cos not everything is worth it!
Our cruise ship arrived in Penang at 3pm on a Tuesday and though we had like 8 hours to spend before the ship set sail to Langkawi before midnight, we took probably just 4 hours or so because most shops and attractions like the Pinang Peranakan Mansion (where Channel 8’s drama serial “The Little Nyonya” was filmed) and Penang Museum were closed by 5pm.
In fact, most shops on the streets including eateries were closed by the evening and that was also the main reason why we didn’t get to visit all the eating places on my list. But we still managed to enjoy a good bagel at the Mugshot Cafe, a delicious plate of nasi kandar at Line Clear, traditional coffee & toast at Toh Soon Cafe and probably the best chendol in the world at Penang Road Famous Teochew Chendul – all of which I would feature in separate posts this week. Stay tuned.
For info, Princess Cruises offers various excursion packages (prices range from USD29.95 to USD99.95 excluding taxes) to the butterfly farm, batik factory, Buddhist temples, wet market, Penang Museum, Little India, spice garden, pewter centre and more. So if you prefer to join a tour, you have these options which you can book beforehand while on the ship.