Perfect family break in Penang
This diary entry is very late due to us having such a good time in Penang and Borneo and also lots of website issues. but better late than never!
So, after two busy city stops at Abu Dhabi and KL, we were all ready to have a relax and recharge our batteries. We also wanted to also leave our travels refreshed for the start of the new school year which will start the day after we return to the UK. We were all looking forward to our time in Penang as we would be briefly having three more adventurers join the travels, and it would be the first time we travelled overseas with this particular brother. We met with my brother and his family on our flight from KL to Penang and the little adventurers were super excited, here’s what we thought!
Where we stayed
Our accommodation for our four days in Penang was at the Golden Sands by Shangri La. We loved the look of the Golden Sands when we looked at options for Penang and weren’t disappointed. From the moment you arrive, there is a genuine focus of everyone at the hotel to ensure guests have an amazing time. You will be greeted by smiling staff always on hand to help and they will literally drop everything in order to assist you with any issues or needs. As we were a family of 10, the staff would always arrange for a table for all of us at breakfast and would help arrange the best transport and give us ideas to get us to our travel destinations. It was my nephew’s birthday on our check in date, and the hotel prepared a cake for him which I thought was a lovely touch!
The Golden Sands was so family friendly and they have spent lots of time and effort to ensure that the needs of the families are met. They have three swimming pools (which is where we spent most of our time!), one which is shallow for babies and young children and is under a canopy to avoid sun beating down on sensitive skin.
They have a mixed pool which both adults and children can swim and one super deep pool at 3m just for adults. The hotel is building a new Splash Zone, for water play for children and will be opened soon. They do have two water slides which are open and our little adventurers loved to use.
One thing that really impressed me about the hotel was the good value it offered its guests. From the exchange rate at the hotel, which was competitive to the street exchange shops to the excellent mini bar packages, I thought that the hotel really strove to provide families with the best of the experience. This was definitely one of the first hotels of this class which we have stayed at (and we have stayed at plenty) to offer such good value for money!
What we did
Activities at the hotel and in Penang are plentiful. We decided not to over do this part of the holiday and actually try and spend time together as a family. Despite this, we still managed to do lots of activities in those short few days.
I discovered Escape and was so surprised that more visitors to Penang do not visit the attraction. The attraction is a high ropes, zipline heaven. For those in the UK, its a mix of Go Ape and Crocky Trail, so it offers lots more than the traditional high ropes / zipline experience. We all visited the attraction and had a wonderful time, from the little adventurers to our teens, to the adults we all left exhausted but wearing huge smiles. The site is laid out with lots of high ropes / low ropes for younger children but also had a great mix of activities which can be done without any queueing. There were traditional games requiring team working skills, circus skills, they had lots of double swings and hammocks, just generally a good mix of things to do. I would wholeheartedly recommend this attraction, it is harder in the sweltering Malaysian heat (then the Lancashire rain) but its a great way to spend a family day out.
Maya had been pestering us for some time to have a try at parasailing so we agreed to let her have a try. My niece and nephew did a tandem para-sail together whilst Maya did one with an instructor. Maya was a little nervous at take off but when she landed she was full of smiles and was so proud of herself. I had been watching from the ground with my heart in my throat but all is well that ends well.
The boys always wanted a try at the parasailing but I refused as that maybe just a little too adventurous, even for us. Instead Doc and my brother took them on the jet skis. The children loved racing one another, one jet ski on its return to the shoreline did end up capsizing so if you are going to try this make sure you all have your life jackets etc.
Just outside the Golden Sands are the night markets of Batu Ferringui and are a great way to spend an evening or two. My little adventurers love walking around the stalls, looking at all the quirky and cool products that they sell and watching us haggle (unsuccessfully usually) with the market holders. I love the night markets and much prefer these to the mundane shopping centre which are everywhere. They are great to try new things and often much better way of meeting and chatting to locals and seeing some of the culture of a place you visit. One of the highlights of our trip was the visit to the candy floss man. I ha seen videos on the net of different shaped candy floss treats and we decided to try them. We had minions, butterflies, flower and love heart and watching the stall holder making the snack was a sight to behold!
We spoilt our adventurers in Thailand with massages on a daily basis. In Penang the massages were just as good but more costly (much cheaper then then UK). We would end the long, long days by having a massage each and it was a perfect way to get rid of all our aches and pains. The children are incredibly well-behaved in the massage parlours and unlike Thailand, I would be worried if you had smaller children making noise as the ones in Penang were really busy.
After our eventful visit 7 years ago we thought we would revisit this time. The ride up and down are really good and the attraction is opening new attractions all the time. The Habitat attraction will be lots of fun once it is completed but the others on the top aren’t the best. The little adventurers saw the toy museum and really wanted to go, the cost was minimal but in my view such a waste of time The children didn’t really enjoy it and it just eats away at another 30 minutes – 1 hour of the time that you are up the Hill. So I would recommend you check the activities on top of the Hill before visiting and decide what you want to do before.
Where we ate
Hard Rock Cafe
As you know I am no foodie but the rest of our group was! We decided to have somewhere to cool to eat for the teens birthday so we tried Hard Rock Cafe. The cafe do offer free shuttles from the hotels on the beach but we hadn’t realised that the walk would be so long and stupidly decided to walk down! Lesson learnt, we got the free shuttle back. The food was fantastic and the portions were HUGE! They had a great kids menu, were surprisingly really child friendly and overall it was a resounding thumbs up. We even had my nephew being sung Happy birthday by the band and the whole restaurant. Children are asked to leave by 10:30 before the live acts start so bear this in mind.
This is a food court on the Batu Ferringui stretch and I loved that they had such fantastic variety in the area. The place is not fancy but you have so many food options to choose from and the system of ordering is great. You walk up to whichever food you wish to try with your table number and they will arrange for your meal to be delivered to your table and you pay there. It was so much easier than other food courts and you can try Indian, Malaysian and Italian all in one meal 🙂
Overall, we had the best time in Penang. We laughed, played, the little adventurers got to spend lots of time with their cousin and it was a few days of pure happiness all round. We left Penang and the Golden Sands, very sad but with memories to last a lifetime!