I have an opportunity to spend a day and a night at one of these two "Pearls of the Orient" next month. Do any of our Asia-based or frequently-visiting Flyertalkers have any advice on which excursion to go on??
Please post or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org THANKS!
Matt- Based on conversations I've had with a travel photographer friend who has spent extensive time in both, Phuket is more of a tourist, resort beach area and Penang, for us food-a-holics, is a destination not to miss with lots of wonderful cuisine to explore. I'm jealous of a visit to either. Enjoy and Cheers.
I have not been to Penang, but I have spent a fair bit of time in Phuket. I would advise that you go to Penang.
Most of Phuket is very touristy, and Patong (the big town on the island) is the sleaziest place I have ever seen. It was interesting for one evening though.
In fairness, there are some beautiful places in Phuket. If you go I would recommend that you stay at the Amanpuri, the Banyan Tree or the Meridien Phuket Yacht Club. All are very nice resorts which are not infested with tourists. Make certain to visit Phi Phi island. In fact, if I were to go to Phuket again I would just stay on Phi Phi. It is spectacular.
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I have to say Penang but I'm biased because it's my hometown.
It really depends on what you are looking for. Phuket is quite built up though there are lovely resorts around. My last trip there was in 1988.
Penang still has a colonial sort of old world charm to it and Malaysia has a lot to offer. The local currency is low and you can stretch your dollars far here. Food is very cheap and even the hotels (which one are you staying?) have good and very reasonably priced foods.
If you are still game on Phuket - remember that April 9 for 1 week is the Thai New Year and most of the island is booked out already.
[This message has been edited by Celestar340 (edited 03-26-99).]
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A friend of mine just got back from an overland trip from BKK to SIN and he was most impressed with Malaysia including Penang and Cameron Highlands (been 25 years since I've been there). He prefers the prevalence of "locals", nature, good local food, and good value for money in these areas over the luxury resorts of the coast.
You don't want to be in Thailand around April 15. For one thing, it's the hottest time of year. But more important, every year at that time they have a festival called "Songkran" whose main purpose seems to be for Thai people to spray dirty water all over Westerners and laugh, laugh, laugh.
Sorry for bringing this thread forward, but it looks like at least a couple of us will be spending a day and a half in Penang. I would REALLY appreciate any hotel advice. We're looking for a resort-type hotel on the beach. I see there is a Holiday Inn resort (with rates starting at US$26/night!!!). Also on a short list provided by my TA are:
Park Royal Penang
and at the high end, Sangri La Sayang for $71/nite
Any advice is sincerely appreciated, and thank you for indulging my very parochial and very OMNI request on the Buzz
[This message has been edited by Matt Wald (edited 03-26-99).]
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IMHO I have visited both Penang and Phuket - and would suggest Penang. You can arrange for a local guide for a few dollars, - don't miss seeing the only shomaker left that makes those tiny shoes for lady's bound feet! Phuket has the typical "Elephant Show" tourist experience, in Phuket I could only recommend AMMANPURI - an excellant and EXPENSIVE resort on the beach - for a luxurious vacation - but to see interesting sights -go to Penang! Have a wonderful time!
Beach resorts are all concentrated in an area called "Batu Ferranghi".
The high end hotel you quoted is the Shangri La Rasa Sayang. It's sister property is the Golden Sands - which is value for money, next to the bigger one, on the beach, close to food outlets, but you can also use all the facilities and restaurants of the former property and just sign them to your room at the Golden Sands. There is also a 'bus' service that will take you to town (actually it's a shuttle service which links the town Shangri-La to the beach property) for a day of sightseeing.
A property that is nicer than the Shangri-La Rasa Sayang is the Mutiara. It is a bit further out than so it is more secluded and has more or less a beach stretch of its own. All the other ones are close together that you can walk from one to another.
The Bayview is also a nice one but honestly I'd stick to the ones above.