I tried the Hop-on Hop-off in Penang, Malaysia when I visited last 2016. This was my experience during the tour. There may be changes already as it has been three years already.
It is a double-decker bus tour throughout Penang Island that has two pick-up points – CITY and BEACH routes. The different routes cover the most popular and visited attractions on the island including the beautiful landmarks of Georgetown, a UNESCO cultural heritage and the second famous destination Batu Feringghi.
Where to avail tickets
The 24-hour ticket cost 45 Malaysian Ringgit. The tour goes by the Hop-on Hop-off concept at any designated stop with the choice of the ticket validity for 24-hours or 48-hours or a single trip. You can buy the ticket on the double-decker bus; Gurney Drive (Stop 1) counter and in Chowrasta (Stop 7) counter; in authorized agents and authorized hotels. Make sure to get a brochure of the Hop-on Hop-off Bus to have a detailed schedule and information about the tour. The brochures are found on the bus and on the counters.
There are 8 stops for the City Route. The different City stops are Gurney Drive, Penang Hill, Komtar, Chowrasta, UNESCO Heritage, Cruise and Francis Light Tomb (Stop 7). The schedule time for the City route may also depend on bad weathers, road closures and traffic congestion, especially during peak hours and weekends.
There are so many popular landmarks for the City route. The most visited are Gurney Plaza, Gurney Hawker, Botanical Garden, Penang Hill, Kek Lok Si Temple, Komtar Mall, Chowrasta Market, George Town UNESCO World Heritage City, China Town, Little India, The Goddes of Mercy (Kuan Yin Temple), Clan Jetty, Penang Ferry Terminal, Tanjung City Marina, Victoria Memorial Clock Tower, Penang Town Hill, Fort Cornwallis, Penang Museum & Art Gallery, St. George Church, Cheong Fatt Tze (Blue Mansion), Dharmikarama Burmese Temple and many others.
The pick-up point and the first and last stop of the Beach route are in Gurney Drive. There’s a schedule time for the beach route. The 10 stops for the Beach route are Gurney Drive, Straight Quay ,Flamingo, Miami Beach, Holiday Inn, Golden Sands, Hard Rock, Tropical Spice and, Entopia (Stop 15). From Taman Rimba, the bus will make a U-Turn going back to the different stops and the bus will interchange again in Gurney Drive.
There are 18 attractions for the Beach route. The destinations are Straits Quay Lighthouse Mall, Flamingo, Miami Beach, Holiday Inn, Batu Ferringghi Beach, Hard Rock Café, Tropical Spice Garden, Teluk Bahang Fishing Village, Penang National Park, Pantai Keratchut, Bt. Kerajaan Forest Reserve, Batik Factory, Toy Museum, Escape, Entopia Butterfly Farm, Taman Rimba, Teluk Bahang Dam and Teluk Bahang Forest Reserve.
Sightseeing from Hop-on Hop-off Bus City Tour
I waited at the Penang Time Square Mall (Stop 05) and availed the 24-hour ticket since my hotel was near the area. Since I already had my walking tour in Georgetown, I decided to tour it by bus and to see the different places from the top. But the main reason I went for this tour was going to Penang Hill and to tour the Beach routes.
Penang Hill is the second stop (Stop 02). It is the oldest British hill station in Southeast Asia way back late 1700’s. The highest peak stands at 833 meters above sea level. The funicular service started in October 2013 and the existing train is the 4th generation system which started in April of 2011. The Penang Hill funicular tunnel is 79 meters long and 3 meters wide with the steepness of 27.9 deg. It is the steepest tunnel track in the world.
Penang Hill offers a panoramic view of the city. At the summit, there is a flower garden, a mini bird park, and owl museum, bungalows, guesthouses, love-lock area, old train, restaurant and the historic Bellevue Hotel. The ride is every 15 minutes going down and going up. I went there during the day, but Penang Hills offer a different view during night time.
I ate at the highest restaurant in Penang Hill called The Summit. I also went to the two temples around Penang Hill.
After which I again traveled the City tour of the hop-on and hop off. I had a look at Kek Lok Si from afar, the State Mosque on the right side. I alighted at Gurney Drive Stop 01 to transfer to the Beach route bus.
Exploring the Hop-on Hop-off Beach Tour
From the bus ride, I saw Strait Quays, Masjid Terapung, Miami Beach, the gates going to the National Park and Tamban Rimba where the Teluk Bahang Dam and Teluk Bahang Forest Reserve were located.
I went down to Tropical Spice (Stop 19) and lingered at the white sand beach around the area. It was also called Teluk Bahang Fishing Village. I enjoyed a meal in the fishing village. At the far end are rock formations overlooking Batu Ferringhi at the left side. I went to Hard Rock Café to check the store and went to Batu Ferringhi.
Batu Ferringhi is the most popular beach area because of its winding stretch of the sandbar. Water sports are available in the area. Different restaurants, shops, hotels and hostels are found in the area. I explored the long stretch of the white sandy beach of Batu Ferringhi. I waited for sunset in the area while watching the different water sports activities in the area. I also enjoyed the view while I sat at the sand.
While waiting for the bus I checked out the night market. When the bus arrived, it was already night time and I enjoyed the cool breeze from the top of the double-decker. We were dropped off at Gurney Drive. You can also see the Gurney Plaza and the Gurney Drive Hawkers food stall.
I explored the different hawker’s food stall and bought Satay or Marinated Meat Skewers and Char kway teow or stir-fried rice cake strips. The Gurney Hawkers offers delicious hawker food in Penang Malaysia.