Penang’s capital city, George Town, was acknowledged as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2008, making it a thriving modern city and a destination of culture, heritage and traditions. The homestays in Penang, an alternative to conventional hotels, offer affordable and comfortable accommodation for tourists where they can stay with the locals, away from the city's hustle and bustle. Better yet, you'll get the chance to experience the true culture and lifestyle of the locals in a laid-back atmosphere. Imagine experiencing a stay in a kampong where you get to do Malaysian cultural activities such as fishing, rubber tapping, fruit picking, crafting and so on. Additionally, you'll get the chance to exchange stories with the locals, savour local home-cooked meals and possibly be a part of a wedding celebration. If that’s not exciting enough, you could also get one organised for yourself!
Located within Balik Pulau, Jalan Bharu offers an idyllic Malay Kampung lifestyle with exciting outdoor activities. While here, enjoy a fascinating sunset view and silhouette of villages against the scenic blue sky. Take a mountain bike ride along three readily available bike trails with breath-taking views of some light jungle, paddy fields, village areas and palm oil plantations. Sungai Samagagah is a unique stretch of fisherman villages with houses reminiscing the 19th century of Penang. Seafood is a must-have when you visit Sungai Samagagah. If you love pampering yourself, enjoy Jalan Bharu’s traditional massage and herbal steam bath.
Must-dos at Jalan Bharu:
· Herbal Farm – all about herbs and its medicinal functions
· Tropical Fruit Farm – taste the variety of tropical fruits and enjoy fruit-picking during the harvest season
· Titi Kerawang Waterfall – enjoy a fun dip in the local waters
· Nutmeg Factory – where the nutmeg fruit is made into different products, ranging from jam, massage oil, snacks etc.
· Balik Pulau Night Market – where you can eat and shop like a local
· Traditional delights – witness the making of local traditional snacks i.e. kuih bahulu (cake), muruku(spicy snacks), kerepek gunting (local crisps), dodol (sticky caramelised sugar) and more
A village surrounded by impossibly green forests and tropical fruit farms with fresh and windy air, Kota Aur is located 20km from Butterworth and 40km from George Town. If you are inclined towards agro-eco tourism like visiting fruit farms, deer-rearing farm and those along the lines, Kota Aur would be perfect for you. Stay with the locals at their kampong homes made out of timber or brick, experience their culture and traditions first-hand and get the feel of living in a village environment with paddy fields.
Must-dos at Kota Aur:
· Kuala Muda – seafood galore
· Discover the art of of Tomoy (Muay Thai kick-boxing or martial art)
· Muda River – cruise along the Muda River and see the array of wildlife at Kota Aur
· Merdeka Beach – sunset by the beach
Pulau Betong is a small village offering loads of fun activities that’ll take you back to nature, and hearty meals that portray the true culture of the northern region. Pulau Betong is a remote island, not accessible by any transportation other than a boat. For an experience of an adrenaline rush, try out mountain hiking at Pulau Betong. If not, take the leisurely option and enjoy cloth weaving or batik painting.
Must-dos at Pulau Betong:
· Visit to the paddy fields, banana plantations, vegetable gardens and nutmeg trees
· Everything you’d want to know about tropical fruits – durian, rambutan, mangosteen, jackfruit and longan
· Seafood galore
· Homemade delights – jeruk, keropok lekor and kuih bahulu
An island where man and nature co-exist in harmony, Pulau Aman spans 288 acres with a population of only 300 people. For a relaxing holiday, hang out at the sea for canoeing or catch your own fish for dinner. For on-land activities, visit a breadfruit orchard of delicious fresh fruits or jungle trek around the island to explore Pulau Aman.
Must-dos at Pulau Aman:
· Telaga Emas – the 'Well of Gold', a unique well that never runs dry even during the worst draught
· Batu Perompak – the 'Pirate’s Rock'. The haunt of pirates who plundered the waters around the island
· Sukun Crisps – a local favourite. Its taste is sure to beat your normal potato chips
Sungai Chenaam offers a calm and peaceful homestay for those who seek an escapade from city life. Sungai Chenaam is located near the beach with its surroundings filled with lush greenery and windy atmosphere all year round. At Sungai Chenaam, discover agricultural activities such as harvesting grains at paddy fields, plucking coconuts from trees, as well as hand-picking vegetables and fruits. Explore breeding activities of cockles, chickens, prawns, earthworms and organic eels. Eco-tourism activities at Sungai Chenaam boast the rearing of various farm specimens including tiger prawns, cows and goats. Here, you can even work with the farmers to milk a cow or goat for a truly wondrous experience.
Must-dos at Sungai Chenaam:
· Sightseeing – mangrove area filled with thousands of white storks
· Must-try local dishes – catfish curry, ulam, keropok ubi and keropok lekor
· Traditional games – sepak takraw, kite flying/wau flying
· Traditional entertainment – silat, boria, nasyid, berzanji and marhaban
Located at about 25km from Butterworth and 32km from George Town, Mengkuang Titi is a comprehensive village that still retains its rustic traditional charm and culture. The traditional homes of the villagers here exude a cozy ambience for visitors as they are beautifully crafted with wooden structure and intricate architecture. At Mengkuang Titi, you’ll enjoy a wide spectrum of vibrant culture and exciting art activities. Indulge in the natural wonders of its agriculture, cottage industry and traditional games today.
Must-dos in Mengkuang Titi:
· Mengkuang Dam - the largest water storage in Penang with a capacity of 23,639 million litres of water. Also features a well-landscaped garden with rubber and pine trees as well as wildlife
· Learn to make – kuih bahulu, a traditional and scrumptious Malay cake. Kuih bahulu is also a popular snack during festive seasons
· Experience rubber-tapping, and how latex is processed into rubber sheets
· Join the villagers in plucking coconuts from trees and savour its delightful water
A sanctuary of fresh fruits and local delicacies, Sungai Duri is a popular place to visit during fruit seasons. Seasonal fruits available here are durians, rambutans and mangosteens, and non-seasonal fruits such as papayas and pineapples are grown here all year round. If you’re a fan for everything local, you can register yourself for do-it-yourself workshops where you’ll make local delicacies such as dodol(sticky snack of caramelized sugar) and keropok (chips), as well as handicrafts including mats and baskets. Experience the wonders and cultures of the northern region at Sungai Duri.
Must-dos in Sungai Duri:
· Savour freshly-made ketupat rice by the women folk of Sungai Duri
· Visit to tropical fruit orchards and indulge in freshly picked fruits
· Get unique souvenirs made from coconut shells or bamboo
· Witness traditional entertainment: silat, kompang and marhaban
Teluk Bahang is home to different kinds of tropical fishes, reptiles, corals and butterflies. A popular tourist spot for its stunning beaches and wonderful people, Teluk Bahang Homestay offers a kampunglifestyle experience in a relaxed atmosphere with an ambience of nature at its best. Trekking to the Penang National Park, Pantai Kerachut, Mukah Head and the Teluk Bahang Forest Park is a must when at Teluk Bahang. For a more relaxing option, take a leisurely walk around Teluk Bahang and get to know the local fruits and trees indigenous only to Malaysia. Seafood lovers must not miss tasting seafood in different types of cuisines!
Must-dos in Teluk Bahang:
· Explore and discover rare and exotic orchids at the Orchid Farm
· Savour exotic fruits of Penang at the 25 acres Tropical Fruit Farm
· Jungle trek within Mukah Head or relax at the Monkey Beach, a broad bay protected by the Mukah Head cape.
· See turtles laying eggs at Pantai Kerachut, a turtle sanctuary
· Visit Entopia Penang, a tropical sanctuary for our planet’s little denizens from those that fly freely in the sky to the ones that creep stealthily beneath the ground
· Visit the Batik Factory and create a batik piece of your own!
Get a taste of an agricultural experience at Sungai Semilang. Named after the catfish (ikan sembilang) for its high population within the village’s river, Sungai Sembilang offers some exciting happenings and traditional delights, filled with flora and fauna within its natural settings. Get adventurous and book yourself in for some exciting fishing activities including saltwater fishing, freshwater fishing and cage fish farming. Go a step further into the techniques of fishing by taking a lesson on the secrets to cockle fishing at Sungai Semilang.
Must-dos at Sungai Sembilang:
· Explore the pineapple plantation that spreads over the village and learn how to make delicious food and condiments using the fruit
· Taste the village’s speciality – catfish curry
· Try-out the nectar-like drink made from nipah palm