If you know the Wagoner Family, you know we love to take Hop On Hop Off Bus when we can. We find it fun and easy to get around a location with the kids this way and it has yet to disappoint us. Remember our time on the Original Bus Tour in London and in the rain when visiting Portugal? Well, this time we did experienced it island style with Hop On Hop Off Penang (HO HO). We found it a bit funny that it is also called HO HO! Instant thoughts of that delicious Hostess product or even Santa!
Penang is an island and we found out that the Hop On Hop Off Bus is fairly new here. They launched in Penang November 2014 and have really set up a great tour. Just like most of the bus tours, you have a choice of 24 or 48-hour tickets. We opted for the 48 hours, just to be sure we could see all of the sights. This was our first time on a tour with scenic jungle and sea views, rather than just the city. Not to worry, as one of the bus routes takes you around the city of Georgetown too!
Hop On Hop Off Penang Routes
They offer two circular routes. The city route takes you around Georgetown, but also out to the botanical gardens, Penang Hill and the largest temple around, Kek Lok Si. The beach route takes you out past Batu Ferringhi to the Penang National Park, Escape and more.
We stayed our first 2 nights in Batu Ferringhi at the Golden Sands Resort along the beach. We then moved into our Airbnb rental for 2 weeks at the Miami Green Condos. Lucky us, Miami Beach is stop 22 on the beach route! So all we had to do was walk down the street and decide which way we wanted to go. We could go towards Georgetown or out towards Penang National Park.
Hop On Hop Off Penang Bus Stops
The HOHO Stops are clearly marked and are easy to find. One of my favorite things at our stop is the sign with louvers, to signal the driver that you would like to be picked up. I had to laugh, as Alan just found it by being curious about a handle in the middle of the pole. We thought this was brilliant. Does anyone want to pick this guy up?
Day 1 on our Hop On Hop Off Penang City Route
We opted to take the Beach route from our condo at stop 22 into Georgetown. We stopped off at Penang Hill for a bit over an hour. Alan and the kids took the funicular up to the top and had a great time.
Following our time there, it was time to feed the bellies. We enjoyed the view from the sun deck and passed the enormous Kek Lok Si Temple. There was a bit of a haze in the air, so it didn’t come out too well in the photo.
We hopped off in Gerogetown and found a bite to eat at a small Chinese cafe. We roamed around a bit, but it was getting hot and we were getting tired.
We decided to go ahead and get back on a City Route bus, so we could just view the city from inside the bus with AC! Brilliant idea.
We ventured past the jetties and the cruise port and also the Blue Mansion. Anya really wanted to hop off at the Blue Mansion, stop 16, as there is a cat cafe nearby. It was pushing 4:30 pm and we didn’t want to be stuck in the city during commute time.
We made it all of the way to stop number 1, where we can change bus lines. There are actually 2 locations, to change from city to beach and beach to city, those are stops 1 (Gurney Plaza) and 9 (Georgetown – Chowrasta).
Of course when we hopped off of the city route at stop one and waited for the beach route, we decided to go get an ice cream instead. You see, Gurney Plaza is just a big shopping mall, with AC of course. Once we had our treat it was back out to the bus stop. Within a few minutes our bus arrived and in no time we were back at Miami Beach, stop 22. We just walked up the hill to our condo, stopping to admire the monkeys along the way.
Hop On Hop Off Penang Beach Route – Day 2
We also spent a day on the beach route, which was very scenic. Of course we walked down the road from our condo and hopped on at stop 22, Miami Beach. This time we headed west along the coast and out to the Penang National Park. With every twist and turn we had jungle on one side and the beautiful sea on the other.
Of course we passed through Batu Ferringhi, a strip with many large resorts (Golden Sands Resort and Shangri-La). At the far end of the strip is the Hard Rock Hotel and Cafe. Following that was a bit more rustic Penang and an amazing Chinese Cemetery on the hillside. If you didn’t know, I am just fascinated with cemeteries. The history and tradition, as well as love and thoughts that go into them are wonderful. This wasn’t a stop on the route, so I just had to view as we passed by.
The beach route also brings you back into town and does a quick dip into Georgetown at the exchange stop, one and nine. We stopped off at Gurney Plaza for some lunch and then, hopped off again at stop 18 to check out the Straights Quay and Royal Selangor visitor center. Here they offer a course named “The school of hard knocks“, teaching you how to pound your own pewter bowl. We all wanted to do it, but what were we then going to do with 4 pewter bowls on our travels? We played out front of this center for a bit and checked out the “Green” projects.
Another great day out and about. Of course when we returned to our stop, late in the afternoon, we were greeted by our crazy neighbors.
Our Favorite Bus Features
- Service –
Every bus we hopped on and off was staffed with very nice people who spoke English very well. Because this is a new attraction to the area, the audio recordings for the route have not yet been made. The attendants do let you know what stop is next, but for now you need to review your guidebook to learn more about the stops. They are just trying to finalize the route and sights before making the final recordings. They should be available Summer 2015.
- Free wifi –
I know we are on a tour and should always be paying attention, but we did tap into the free wifi to check email. It was great to have access on the bus.
- Air Conditioning –
Obviously this is only valid if you are inside the bus, and not on the open deck up top. The AC in the bottom level of the bus really rocks. In fact we sometimes were a bit too cold. It also works well up stairs and you have better views. There was one bus we hopped on that was almost entirely enclosed with cloth seats.
- Open Air Sun Deck
Depending on the time of day, we would opt for the seats that were on the top opened sun deck. Those are better to take photos!
- Guide-Books –
I have to say this was one of the most comprehensive guidebooks we have seen for a tour like this. Each page features a stop, as well as what to do there, food to eat and so on. It is very thorough and it is really a book! We are going to keep the book and do a bit more exploring on our own as well. The kids like reading through it and picking the stops, which interested them the most.
It will be a nice improvement when they get their audio commentary recorded. They do have staff members announcing the upcoming stops and occasionally, they will reference a sight you are passing by. It was difficult to hear what they were saying if there was any noise on the bus or outside, which there always was. The guide-book is wonderful, but it is so much faster to just listen, so you can see the sight rather than read and miss it.
Hop On Hop Off Penang Info
Website: Hop On Hop Off Penang
(Please visit site for tickets and pricing, but children under 5 are Free!)
Hours: 9 am – 8 pm Daily
Features: Free wifi, Air Conditioning, Guide Books, Over 50 attractions, Disabled and Stroller Friendly
Intervals: 20 – 30 minutes (possibly longer during commute time 5 pm – 7 pm)
Disclosure: Our tour was hosted by the Hop On Hop Off Penang and all opinions are our own.
There are also many organized tours for you to enjoy from being active on walking or biking tour, to enjoying a food or wine tour. There is so much to do and Viator has so many great offers for you.