Penang For Digital Nomads: A Complete Guide

The island of Penang is rich in culture and one of the best places for digital nomads. Most famous for its capital city Georgetown and affordable cost of living, this city invites remote workers from all over the world.

If you are a digital nomad and this place has captured your attention then make sure to go over this comprehensive guide and learn everything.

Where is Penang Located?

Penang is an island in Malaysia. It is located off the western coast of peninsular Malaysia, lying in the strait of Malacca. The island is oval in shape and can be distinguished into two parts; Penang island and Seberang Parai.

Why Choose Penang as a Digital Nomad? Pros and Cons

There is no doubt that Penang is a beautiful and adequate place for digital nomads and remote workers. However, every place has its fair share of pros and cons. Let’s discuss Penangs’

Pros Cons 
Low cost of livingWeak freedom of speech 
Fast internet speedHumidity is high
Spacious Dangerous roads
Friendly locals
English is spoken widely 

Penang is also a great place in terms of political aspects. It is democratic and all genders are respected equally. It is a safe place for women and children and lgbtq+ members are treated well too. In addition to that, Penang also has great hospitals and a high education level.

How to Get to Penang?

You can get to this island through various means. If you are traveling from abroad, you’ll need to land in Malaysia first. You can enter Penang directly, take connecting flights, or land in a nearby city.

By air

If you are flying in from abroad, you can take a direct flight and land at Penang International Airport. It’s located 15km south of Georgetown so you can arrive here and take a bus or taxi to your desired location.

If you are already in Malaysia, services like Air Asia and Firefly also offer cheap domestic flights.


You can also get to Penang by train. The island doesn’t have a railway station per se but Butterworth station isn’t that far. Once you reach there, you can take a passenger-only boat and enter the Penang island.

The ETS train will take somewhere around 6 hours from Kuala Lumpur to Penang and allow you to see beautiful Malaysian sights along the way.

Transportation and How to Get Around Penang?

As most people would tell you, Penang is a very walkable city. However, that’s not the most suitable option if you plan on staying there for a long time.

The public transport system is unpredictable so that’s not the best option either. 

Hence, the best way to get around Penang Island is by scooter! You can buy a new one or look for an affordable used one depending on your budget. We recommend going for an automatic one since the roads are jam-packed and traffic is chaotic. 

If not, you can always take an Uber. it is reliable, safe, and affordable. Additionally, Grab taxis are also very popular and cheap in Penang.

Best Accommodation Options in Penang?

Penang has a bunch of accommodation options but firstly, you need to pick an area. 

Here are some of the best ones:

  1. Georgetown
  2. Butterworth
  3. Tanjung Bungah
  4. Bayan lepas
  5. Gurney drive
  6. Seberang Perai 

Once you have decided on the neighborhood, you can look for places and compare rates accordingly. You can also use sources such as Facebook groups, iproperty, speed home, and mudah to find accommodation.

Air BnB

Airbnb is usually the best option for digital nomads in a foreign country. However, they are quite costly in Penang compared to other accommodation options. The closer you get to the city center, the more expensive it gets. Understandably so, accommodation is also more expensive in major cities.


If you intend on staying for a while then we definitely recommend a rental. If you compare the cost, long-term rentals are cheaper than monthly accommodation

You can rent a basic apartment for a cost as low as 534$ (500€)/ per month but the facilities would be low quality as well. 

Penang has a range of options that cater to diverse people so if you have a high budget, Gurney Drive has more luxurious apartments.

Hotels & resorts 

You can always stay at a hotel or resort. Penang sure offers you a variety to choose from. Some are costly while others are not, you can choose one that fits your budget and other preferences.

Double Tree Resort

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Shangri-La’s Rasa Sayang Resort & Spa

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PARKROYAL Penang resort

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Angsana Teluk Bahang

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Vouk Hotel Suites 

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Internet Connectivity in Penang

The average internet speed in Penang Malaysia is 35 Mbps which is generally good. However, the speed and internet connection mostly depends on your location so make sure to check that out. As for SIM cards, there are a lot of local providers. U mobile has cheap SIM cards and data packages. They offer 4G/ month for a cost of 21.3$ (20€). 

You can get sim cards at the phone provider store or convenience stores.


If you want to avoid this hassle and avoid carrying a physical SIM card then you’d be happy to learn that ESIMs are functional in Penang. 

Compare these data package plans before choosing a provider.


Data Days Price 
Unlimited 5 days21$ (19.6€)
Unlimited 7 days29$ (27€)
Unlimited 15 days51$ (48€)
Unlimited 20 days62$ (58€)
Unlimited 30 days75$ (70€)


Data Days Price 
1 GB7 days4.50$ (4.21€)
2 GB15 days8$ (7.5€)
3 GB30 days10.50$ (9.8€)
5 GB30 days15$ (14€)
10 GB30 days 25$ (23€)

6 Best Places to Work From in Penang

Penang is a good place for remote workers as there are plenty of places you can work from.

CAT coworking space

Located in Georgetown, the cat coworking space is built in a heritage building. This is an amazing place for remote workers as it has a fast wifi connection and a work-friendly environment. They offer hot desks, private rooms, and even offices for affordable prices.

ADA serviced office

This place is located at the seaside mall and offers a great working experience. The beautiful sea view makes work so much calmer and productive while the amazing food adds to the intrigue. You can get a day pass or month pass depending on how much you like it.


MASCO is Penang’s largest co-working space that aims at improving digital nomads’ working experience. You can get hot desks, fixed desks, and private offices here. Apart from that, this place is also great for networking. 

Spaces Penang

Spaces is one of the best co-working spaces in Penang. It is located in the center of the UNESCO World Heritage Site and has a productive atmosphere. The place has the latest facilities and technology, making it perfect for remote workers.

Black kettle

If you prefer working from a cafe rather than a coworking space then consider going to the black kettle. This place is spacious yet cozy with amazing food and a calm atmosphere.

Wheeler’s coffee

Wheeler’s Cafe is another good cafe to work from. It is located in Georgetown, giving you plenty of opportunity to explore the sights after a workday. They also have good and affordable food.

Cost of Living in Penang

Penang is said to be an affordable place. Let’s see a rough breakdown of its cost of living.

Nomad’s cost of living$954/month (893€)
Cost of living for a family$1590/month (1489€)
hotel$336/month (315€)
Studio in the city center (1br rent)$231/month (216€)
Airbnb$905/month (847€)
Dinner $2.10 (1.97€)
Beer $3.15 (2.95)
Taxi $1.26/trip (1.18€)
Coca-cola $1.05 (0.98€)
Coffee $2.10 (1.97€)
Coworking desk $67/month (63€)

These cost of living estimates will only apply to you if you are living as an average digital nomad. Cost can always change depending on your lifestyle, price fluctuations, and spending patterns. However, most digital nomads will find these estimates to be accurate and see that Penang is a budget-friendly place.

Culture, Nature, and Food in Penang

Considering that Penang is home to a UNESCO heritage city, it is best known for its rich culture. Many locals speak the unique Hokkien Dialect but English is widely spoken and understood too. 

Penang is a multicultural country that is a concoction of culinary heritage and different cultures. These are well reflected in its architecture, local cuisine, and even its citizens. It is a cultural melting pot and you’ll find a lot of diversity in the region.

As for the food, it is called a “foodie’s paradise’ for a reason. If you are in the area then you make sure to try the infamous hawker food and “char kwey teow”.

Best Time to Visit Penang Malaysia

The best time to visit Penang is between November and January. That’s when the weather is cooler and perfect for sightseeing. You can explore the city and have a great time.

Penang is usually warm if not hot and humid most of the year. However, the rainy season lasts from April to June and decreases some of the island’s heat. 

12 Best Things to Do in Penang

If there is one thing you can be sure about in Penang, it’s that you’ll never be bored. Here are 12 best things to do.

1. Walk around Georgetown

Georgetown is the cultural capital city of Penang and truly a sight to behold. When you are in Malaysia, it’s almost mandatory to pay a visit to this place. You can walk around and explore British colonial buildings, Chinese shophouses, and mosques. When you are done with the historical sights, you can visit the modern skyscrapers and shopping malls.

2. Visit Verdant Penang Hill

This hill is located 821m atop Georgetown. It offers a great and breathtaking view to those willing to climb it. You can go hiking on a pleasant day and enjoy the refreshing air. You will also admire the greenery on your climb there.

It is a popular area and hangout spot on weekends.

3. Enjoy the cafes

One of the best things to do in Penang is explore and enjoy plenty of cafes. Penang has an abundance of cute and trendy coffee shops so make sure to visit most of them. Here are some of the best cafes to visit:

  1. Reggae cafe Penang
  2. The mugshot cafe
  3. Merry me
  4. My own cafe
  5. Bistro tang 

4. Enjoy the delicious street food

While cafes and restaurants are certainly amazing, there is something extraordinary about the Penang street food. Make sure to enjoy the local and multicultural food!

5. Visit kek lok si temple

Kek Lok Si is a famous Buddhist temple and a popular tourist destination located in Air Itam, Penang. It is the largest Buddhist temple in Malaysia and holds religious importance for Buddhists all over the world. You can admire the beautiful architecture and witness ceremonies as well.

6. Visit the Perang peranakan mansion

The Perang Peranakan mansion is a 19th-century museum that aims at displaying Perang’s rich heritage. The mansion is 120 years old and contains everything from unique crystals and art to antique furniture and jewelry. There is an entry fee of 25 Malaysian ringgit i.e. 5$ (4.68€) but after that, you can join the guided tour for free and explore the mansion.

7. Discover the street art

This activity is as interesting as it sounds. Penang is full of colorful street art so you can simply walk around the city and find marvelous art. Some pieces are more popular than others and you might even see lines to get to them. The art blends in with the rich culture of Penang so make sure to enjoy it.

8. See the colonial buildings

There is an abundance of colonial buildings in Penang that have sightworthy architecture. Places like Love Lane and Armenian Street house more of these sights and a simple walk through these areas will guarantee an interesting experience. 

9. Visit Batu Ferringhi

This popular destination is definitely worth a visit! Located only 30 minutes from Georgetown, the beach is the perfect place to go on a warm day. You can swim in the cool water, ride on jetskis, build sand castles, or simply go for a stroll. The beach is also a great hangout spot.

10. Visit clan jetties 

The clan jetties are nothing short of a historical landmark in Penang. They were built in the 19th century by Chinese immigrants. Even though the place has become more of a tourist site now, it still features a traditional village of rustic houses.

11. Go shopping

The shopping scene in Penang is definitely huge. There are a bunch of malls to choose from but they all promise a bustling environment and a fun-filled day. While some have food courts and karokes, others have cinemas. Either way, it can be an amazing experience.

12. Visit ESCAPE 

If you are in the mood for an unforgettable adventure then make sure to visit ESCAPE. It is a theme park that offers high ropes course, zip lines, slides, and climbing towers. The best part is that it even has a kid-friendly section.

Is Penang Malaysia safe?

Generally speaking, yes. Penang Malaysia is a safe place to visit. The locals are extremely hospitable and friendly, making it easy for you to fit in. The rate of petty crimes and criminal violent activities is low if not rare.

Despite that, we suggest taking precautions in a foreign country. Make sure to:

  1. Don’t walk alone at night
  2. Avoid isolated areas
  3. Travel via reliable and reputable taxi services
  4. Don’t carry too much cash
  5. Don’t carry flashy items

Visa Requirements in Penang Malaysia

The Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) offers a digital nomad visa and allows remote workers to work in Malaysia for 3-12 months. Here are the visa requirements for a Malaysia nomad visa:

  1. A valid passport
  2. Passport photo 
  3. Latest resume
  4. Proof of work history
  5. Bank statements
  6. Letter of good conduct
  7. Personal bond form


Are you convinced to pack your bags and move to this mesmerizing island? Penang has everything a digital nomad needs and wishes for. It is definitely a great choice for digital nomads because of the attractive sights, low language barriers, digital nomad community, and minimalism.

There are some technicalities you must consider before making a permanent decision and this guide aims at answering all of them. If this article helped you and cleared your doubts then we wish you good luck on your journey!

Contact us if you have any further queries. 

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