From Crown Penang
Crown Relocations has made every effort to present accurate information. However, regulations, rates and other
variables are subject to change and Crown Relocations cannot accept responsibility for the errors that might
result. Should you have any questions or need additional information, please contact your local Crown
I N T R O D U C T I O N
What is special or unique about your city?
Founded in 1786 by an adventurous English Trader, Captain Francis Light, the island of Penang is
known as "The Pearl of the Orient" and sits off the northwestern coast of Peninsular Malaysia. Today,
Penang is comprised of Penang Island and a strip of the mainland on the adjacent coastal area known
as Seberang Prai (Province Wellesley). It is the oldest British settlement, rich with history, and its
tropical beaches, cultural diversity and famous cuisine add to its allure. Its name (pronounced
"Pinang" in Malay language) was derived from betel nut trees growing in abundance before the British
set their feet on the island.
Penang's state capital, Georgetown, is the largest city in Penang with a population of 250,000 people
and is considered the "pulse" of Penang. It is a vibrant city with lots to do and it too, is full of history
and culture. Georgetown was added to the UNESCO's World Heritage listing, which has resulted in an
influx of private and public investments and creative energy. Here you can visit the State Museum and
Art Gallery located on Farquhar Street, which is the perfect starting point to many of the town's
Penang is also known as the Malaysian food haven, because you can enjoy cuisine from all parts of
the world. In a couple of words, Penang food is both famous and fabulous. With a large amount of
daily fish and seafood at its fingertips, Penang is a natural leader when it comes to seafood. There are
many unique restaurants to try, but you have not truly enjoyed Penang food until you have tried the
local hawker food stalls. Penang hawker food can be broken down into several varieties: Nyonya,
Chinese, vegetarian, Indian, Malay, Hakka-styled Western, seafood and desserts. A couple of the
main favorites are Malay style chicken rice and char koay teow and Chinese satay and nasi lemak.
Another great thing is prices are cheap and reasonable!
Once you get settled here and find your way around, we think you're going to love it!
What are a newcomer's first impressions of your city?
Locals are taken back by Penang's beauty, but also by the friendliness of the locals, the perfect
weather and the delicious food.
One thing they are usually unprepared for is the abundance of motorcycles (small ones at that) that
are fast and unpredictable - squeezing their way through the narrowest spaces (including cars) to get
Are these impressions likely to change?
In the future, their impressions of the traffic congestion may change because there are plans to build
elevated highways to ease the traffic situation in Georgetown. Penang state government also has near
future plans to introduce a light rail system within Georgetown. Both of these things will help a lot!
What is the local language?
The official language is Bahasa Melayu. However, English is widely spoken, written and understood
and is the language used in business. Other major languages are Hokkien and Tamil. Quite a number
of Penangites are able to speak three or four languages. Many rural areas may have fewer people that
can converse well in English, so knowing a few words in the local language is always appreciated by
How easily could I live in this city without knowing this language?
The majority of the shopkeepers and owners of food establishments speak and understand English,
so Bahasa Malaysia is not really necessary. Most taxi drivers understand English, but when a driver
with limited English is encountered, some local phrases/directions would be helpful to know.
Here are some simple phrases in Malay:
Selamat datang - Welcome
Terima kasih - Thank you
Selamat pagi - Good morning
Selamat tengah hari - Good afternoon
Selamat petang - Good evening
Selamat malam - Good night
Jumpa lagi - See you again
Apa khabar? - How are you?
Baik - Fine
What are good things to remember in order to avoid offending the other residents of this city?
Some tips to avoid offending residents of Penang are:
Always take your shoes off when entering someone’s home.
Do not point with your index finger.
Do not raise your voice or get angry when trying to communicate with Malaysians.
With the exception of handshakes, there is no public contact between the sexes.
Kissing in public is frowned upon and should be confined to your home. This includes even
husbands and wives.
When introducing a man and a woman, it is recommended that the female's name be said first.
Keep your hands out of your pockets in public.
When passing an object, or touching someone (such as shaking hands), do so with your right
hand as the left is considered unclean.
Feet are also believed to be unclean, so do not show the soles of your feet or point them towards
another person in public.
Drug trafficking is a mandatory death penalty.
You are not expected to tip a taxi driver but you are expected to tip porters.
How might the local weather affect my daily life?
Penang is a tropical island and the climate is uniformly warm and humid throughout the year. f you are
not used to the humidity, this might be hard at first, but before you know it, you will get used to it.
Temperatures range from about 27 degrees Celsius in the morning to about 32 degrees Celsius
during mid-day. Afternoon thunderstorms are common throughout the year, although September to
November are considered the wettest months. Most offices and modern shopping malls are equipped
with air conditioning, as are the apartments and houses that expats live in. If walking or shopping on
the streets of Georgetown, light cotton clothing and a hat are recommended.
Is there anything else I should know about the overall character of your city or its people?
Living in Penang is very relaxed and most residents are pretty laid back. So much so, when making
appointments with contractors, don't expect them to show up at the agreed time.
Also, sometimes the locals may say "yes" to you even though they may mean "no." This is because
they don’t like to disappoint and try to avoid conflict at all costs. When interacting with Malaysians, be
firm but friendly with requests, and don’t point out their mistakes.
Malaysia - general tourism info:
Information on attractions, maps, and recommendations on what to do in Penang:
The Star - popular local newspaper:
Information on Penang:
V I S A S A N D P E R M I T S
As a foreign resident, what is my status in your country?
All persons entering Malaysia must possess a valid national passport or other internationally
recognized travel documents valid for travel to Malaysia. These passports or travel documents must
be valid for at least six months beyond the date of entry into Malaysia.
Commonwealth citizens (except for India, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Sri Lanka), British protected
persons or citizens of the Republic of Ireland and citizens of Switzerland, the Netherlands, San Marino
and Liechtenstein do not need a visa to enter Malaysia.
Citizens of certain countries which include Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Iceland,
Japan, Republic of Korea, Luxembourg, Norway, Sweden, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Turkey, Italy, United
Arab Emirates and the United States of America do not require a visa for a visit not exceeding
Citizens of European Countries, Baltic and Commonwealth of Independent States, Afghanistan, Iran,
Iraq, Libya, Romania and Syria do not need a visa for a visit not exceeding two weeks.
When your flight arrives in Malaysia, you will be given an Embarkation Card to complete and present
to immigration authorities. The immigration authorities retain a portion of this card and a portion is
given to you. You must keep this card with your passport, as it will be required the next time you leave
A Social or Business Pass will be granted at the port of entry into Malaysia. These passes allow an
individual to stay in Malaysia for a period of one to three months and may be extended for one month
upon application to the immigration department.
What kinds of visas are available?
No visa is required for a stay of up to 90 days.
The visa is an endorsement or sticker on a passport to indicate that permission has been granted to
enter Malaysia. A visa can be obtained from Malaysian Overseas Missions before arrival, but it must
be used within its validity period (normally 3 months). However, for a permission to stay, a pass for an
approved period will be stamped in the passport at the point of entry.
Do Note: Citizens of Israel, Serbia and Montenegro are not allowed to enter Malaysia for any
purpose without prior approval from the Malaysian Government.
There are three (3) types of visas issued by the Malaysian Government to foreign nationals:
Single Entry Visa: Issued to foreign nationals who require a visa to enter Malaysia mainly for a social
or business visit. This is normally valid for a single entry and for a period of three (3) months from the
date of issue.
Multiple Entry Visa: Issued to foreign nationals who require a visa to enter Malaysia mainly for
business or government-to-government matters. This is normally valid for a period within three (3)
months to five (5) years, from the date of issue.
Transit Visa: Issued to foreign nationals who require a visa to enter Malaysia on transit to other
countries. Foreign Nationals on transit without leaving the airport precincts and who continue their
journey to the next destination with the same flight do not require a transit visa.
The types of passes issued are as follows:
Visit Pass (Temporary Employment): This is issued to persons who enter the country to take up
Employment Pass: This is issued to any foreigner who enters the country to take up a contract of
employment with a minimum period of two years.
Visit Pass (Professional): This is issued to foreigners for the purpose of engaging in short-term
contract with any agencies. The validity of the pass varies but does not exceed twelve months at any
Dependent’s Pass: This is issued to the wife and children of any foreigner who has been issued with
an Employment Pass. This pass may be applied together with the application of Employment Pass or
after the Employment Pass is approved. The wife and children of any person who enters the country
on a visit pass (temporary employment or professional) will be issued a visit pass (social).
Student’s Pass: This is issued to any foreigner who enters the country for the purpose of taking up
studies in any approved educational institution
Training Pass: This is issued to any expat who is in Malaysia for any type of training.
What is required to obtain these visas?
The Malaysian immigration authorities issue Employment, Professional, Dependant, Student and
Training Passes. The expat’s employer who acts as his or her sponsoring organization must obtain
these passes. Documents that the expat will have to provide for the application of the Employment
and Dependant Passes are:
Four passport-sized photographs.
Employment contract which details job title, functions, salary and duration of contract.
Two copies of expat's resume, academic certificates, testimonials (all copies must be certified true
and stamped with company stamp).
Two copies of the main pages of passport, including page with entry stamp and Embarkation
Card. If the spouse's passport does not carry the married surname, a certified true copy of the
marriage certificate will be required. Please note that Chinese, Indian and Philippine nationals
must provide certified true copies of the whole passport.
Marriage certificate -- if printed in a language other than English, you'll need to provide a
translated copy with proper attestation by the respective embassy in Malaysia.
Birth certificate of accompanying children -- if printed in a language other than English, please
provide translated copy with proper attestation by respective embassy in Malaysia. If applicant has
stepchildren, custody letter or letter of adoption must be provided with proper attestation by the
respective embassy in Malaysia.
Proof of sufficient funds
Are spouses permitted and/or likely to find work?
Unfortunately, there are not many work possibilities for accompanying spouses in Malaysia. However,
a spouse is permitted to work if he/she can find an employer who is willing to be the sponsoring
What are the main forms of identification and how does a newcomer obtain them?
Every Malaysian is issued an Identification Card (IC). The IC number is often requested as a form of
identification. An expat who is issued an Employment Pass will also be issued an IC card.
For other foreigners, a passport number is sufficient. In fact, you'll be required by law to carry a copy
of your passport with you all the times.
Are there any other important permits I must obtain, or places where I must register right away?
All foreigners are encouraged to register at their respective embassies. This will enable the embassy
to contact you without delay in case of an emergency. It will also help you network with other people
from your country of origin.
What items should I avoid bringing into the country?
Avoid bringing in the following items into the country:
Firearms/dangerous weapons/limitation firearms (Note that there is a mandatory death sentence
for illegal possession)
Antique goods (these require a national museum permit)
Swords (require an import permit)
Obscene and pornographic materials
Narcotics (there is a mandatory death sentence if convicted)
Toys resembling firearms
Also note that alcohol is subject to high duties/taxes in Malaysia -- between 150 to 250 percent of the
estimated value of goods, depending on the alcoholic content.
Importation of videotapes is subject to approval by the Film Censorship Board, which will view and edit
the tapes before releasing them to the owners. A fee will also be levied for each tape.
Importation of fax machines, cordless phones, cellular phones, modems, the Standard Industrial
Research Institute of Malaysia (SIRIM) must approve answering machines and similar items. You'll be
issued a permit by SIRIM, which should take about a month.
Please contact Crown Penang for the most comprehensive, up-to-date list of restricted and prohibited
Is there anything else I should know about entering and remaining in the country legally?
Keep in mind: every foreigner entering Malaysia must possess a passport that will remain valid for at
least six months after arrival.
Malaysian government links/information:
M O N E Y
What is the local currency?
The local currency is the Malaysian ringgit (RM or MYR), which is divided into 100 sen.
What denominations does it come in?
Bank Notes: 1, 2, 5, 10, 50, 100, 500 and 1000RM
Coins: 1 cent, 5 cents, 10 cents, 20 cents and 50 cents
The value of the ringgit is currently around RM3.75 to US($)1.00 dollar. (Rates are subject to change without
What is the best way to exchange currency?
There are numerous banks in Penang, both local and international. Currency can be exchanged at
any of these banks or at licensed foreign money changers. Traveler's cheques can only be exchanged
for Malaysian ringgit at some authorized money changers, as well as at commercial banks or hotels.
What are commonly-used forms of payment for everyday purchases (such as groceries)?
Cash is most commonly used, but credit card purchases can be made at most major grocery chains,
Will I be able to use my credit card around town? If not, list when I’ll need cash.
Credit cards are accepted at most department stores, hotels, gas stations, larger restaurants and
large supermarkets. Keep in mind that some smaller stores that accept credit cards will charge an
extra two to four percent for the purchase.
Also, if you pay with cash, many times you will receive a discount for doing so. In addition, taxis only
take cash, as do the street markets and stalls.
By what method are bills (such as rent and utilities) paid?
Payment is made directly to the provider/landlord by either cash or check, or at the post office. Some
utility companies have phone and internet banking access (through a local bank account).
What are the requirements for opening a bank account? At what stage of the settling-in process should
I open it?
To open a bank account, you must furnish a valid passport and a letter of employment confirmation. It
is best to open the account as soon as possible after arrival. Foreign currency accounts are available
at major local banks and international banks.
Will foreign residents be able to find banking services in their native languages?
Yes, there are major international banks that offer services in English and other languages.
Are there any restrictions on services for those who are new to your country?
Some utility accounts (i.e. telephone) require a refundable deposit from a foreign resident in order to
establish the service.
What are typical banking hours?
Hours vary from bank to bank, but generally they are as follows:
Monday - Friday: 9:30AM to 4PM
Saturday (second and forth of the month only): 9:30AM to 12:00PM
Are automatic teller machines (ATMs) available around the clock?
Yes, you can find ATM machines all over the city as well as at most large supermarkets.
Is there any other money information that might help me?
Things to keep in mind:
Traveler's cheques can sometimes be difficult to cash if you're not in an urban center and some
currencies are only cashed through the banks.
Currently there is a large amount of credit card fraud in Malaysia, so it is wise to limit the use of
your credit card and be wary of having the card removed from your sight (i.e. by a restaurant
employee, shopkeeper, etc).
The Touch N’ Go card is a stored value card that is very useful for toll roads and transport on the
light rail system. The card can be purchased at the designated stations located at various toll
booths around the city and can also be topped up at these stations or at the ATM machines of
The debit card system is not currently used for purchases in Malaysia.
A C C O M M O D A T I O N
What are the top factors to keep in mind when searching for a place to live in your city?
When searching for a place to live, some important factors to consider are safety, location preference
and individual needs. Depending on your preferences, you may want to find a place close to work,
school, shops, medical facilities and most importantly an area that is secure and safe. Choosing the
right place to live is essential to having a pleasant and safe stay in Penang. Also, it’s important to
select an area that suits your lifestyle.
What are the most popular neighborhoods in your city for expats?
Most expatriates moving to Penang choose to live in one of the following areas:
Jesselton: This is an up market residential area in the north east area of Penang island besides
the Turf Club and Penang Hill. Located close-by is Youth Park, a recreational area and the
Botanical gardens. It is a 5 minute drive to Penang Sports Club and an International Primary
School. Distance to Bayan Lepas, Penang Bridge and Penang International Airport is approx. a
20-30 minutes drive.
Pulau Tikus & Gurney Drive area: Located north east of Penang Island, it is quite a diverse
area complete with general consulates, an international primary school, bungalows, link houses
and low rise condos. Bellissa Row is a popular and trendy shop, cafe, and restaurant area. The
main street, Jalan Burma links city center Georgetown to Pulau Tikus. There is a wide selection of
homes that range from older renovated stylish detached and semi-detached houses, terrace
houses to low-rise condominiums. There are 4 private hospitals in the Pulau Tikus area and one
major shopping center, Plaza Gurney. Bayan Lepas, Penang Bridge and Penang International
Airport is approx. a 20-30 minutes drive away.
Tanjung Bungah and Tanjung Tokong: Tanjung Bungah and Tanjung Tokong are very popular
residential areas that have all basic amenities within a 5 to 10 minutes driving radius. It has 2
shopping complexes, which are Island Plaza and Prima Tanjung. Tanjung Tokong has expanded
tremendously in the last few years with the development of Tanjung Sri Pinang on reclaimed land.
There is an American international school in Tanjung Bungah. Distance to Bayan Lepas, Penang
bridge and Penang International Airport is approx. a 30-40 minutes drive.
Batu Ferringhi: Batu Ferringhi is north of Penang Island and is the tourist belt of Penang with
many tourist attractions and beautiful beaches. The reason why Batu Ferringhi has become more
popular amongst expatriates is because an International School (British curriculum elementary
and high school) moved to Batu Ferringhi. The distance to Bayan Lepas, Penang Bridge and
Penang International Airport is between 40-50 minutes drive.
Bayan Lepas, Bayan Baru, Batu Uban: With the opening of Queens Bay Mall, E-Gate with its up
market eateries, Tesco, the second link (2
bridge expected completion 2013) connecting Penang
Island and mainland, this area has become the new expatriate location, especially for singles and
couples without children. An International School opened in Bukit Jambul and another one in Balik
Pulau which is 30 minutes away. You will find service apartments in these areas to cater for short
term foreign assignees. There are 2 private hospitals available in this area.
Do expats tend to buy or rent their homes?
Expatriates usually rent rather than buy. If you do wish to buy a house as a foreigner, the property will
have to have a value of more than RM250,000. You will need approval from the Foreign Investment
Committee. Banks provide foreigners housing loans up to 60% of the property value.
Typically, will I be required to pay additional money up front (such as a deposit) before moving into
leased housing? If so, how much is common?
When renting, it is normally expected to pay a two month deposit in advance. This does not include
the first month's rent.
Are utilities generally included in the price of rent, or are they extra?
Typically, utilities are not included in the rent (unless you are residing in a serviced apartment).
Water, electricity and gas are all extra. Deposits of about 40 to 50 percent of the month’s rental price
are also required for the utilities.
Are there special security concerns I should be aware of in regards to my home or choice of
Living in Penang is generally safe. However, you may want to take the same precautions you would
take back home. For example, if you are living in a house, it may be advisable to install a security
system. Robberies, although not too common, do occur.
It is recommended that you check out local police reports before deciding on an area to live. These
reports provide factual information on types of crimes and how often they occur. This will most likely
be a determining factor on whether you choose to live in a certain neighborhood or not.
I’m not sure if I should bring my appliances. What is the electric current, Hz and plug shape in your city?
The electric current in Penang is 220 volts. The electrical Hertz (Hz) is 50.
The socket types are generally the UK-style three-prong with occasional two round pin socket styles.
Any appliances from countries with 110V and 120Hz will require transformers.
The TVs operate on PAL, so if you are coming from a country that runs on a different system (i.e.
NTSC), your TV and DVD/VCR sets should be multi-system.
Type G - Rectangular blade plug
Do you have any other accommodation information that might help me?
Please contact Crown Penang for help with your home search.
Sri Sayang Resort Condo:
Aurora Court Service Apartment:
Century Bay Service Apartment:
E D U C A T I O N
What types of schools do most expats in your city choose for their children?
Most expats tend to send their children to private schools. Keep in mind that there is usually a waiting
list. It is recommended that you contact the school of your choice as soon as you arrive so you are
able to obtain a spot on the list.
What are some examples of these schools?
There are a number of private foreign schools available in Penang such as:
The Dalat School - American curriculum for grades 1 to 12 and there is a boarding facility
St Christopher’s Primary School - British curriculum; International primary school and Malaysian
children from the ages of 3 to 11.
Uplands School - British and International curriculum; nursery to sixth form and boarding facility
Tenby School - International curriculum and Malaysian curriculum
Fairview School - International curriculum and Malaysian curriculum
Prince of Wales Island International School - British curriculum
Penang Japanese School - Japanese curriculum
Penang Taiwanese School - Taiwan curriculum
For more information on schools and their availability, please contact Crown Penang.
Is there a lot of competition for spots in local schools?
Due to the many options available, getting a spot in either your first or second choice is feasible.
However, it is recommended that you contact the school of your choice as soon as you arrive so you
are able to guarantee a spot on the list.
Are pre-schools also widely available (for children approx. 2 to 5 years old)?
Outside of the programs available for 3 to 4 year olds in the international schools, there are not a large
variety of pre-schools for English-speaking children in Penang. The most popular one is Montessori,
but it has only a few locations. There is a lot of competition for placement spots so it is recommended
that you contact the pre-school of your choice as soon as you get settled. For more assistance contact
How are most kids transported to and from school?
The international schools usually arrange school buses. The fees vary depending on the distance to
the schools. Also, private bus services are available at most schools and arrangements for these are
usually made through the schools. It is recommended that you contact the school of your choice to
find out more information. Also, many parents form car pool and take turns driving the children.
When does the typical school year start and end?
The international school year usually begins in mid-August or early September and ends in June or
July. However, this depends on each school so it is advised that you contact your child's school for
Is there anything else I should know about local schools?
All international schools require application fees, which are non-refundable. Please contact Crown
Penang with any questions about admissions and fees or to arrange a school search.
Uplands International School: www.uplands.org
Dalat International School: www.dalat.org
St. Christopher's International Primary School: www.scips.org.my
Prince of Wales Island International School - www.powiis.edu.my
H E A L T H
Are there any vaccinations I should get or other health precautions to take as I prepare for my move to
Vaccinations are not required for entry into Malaysia, but the following are highly recommended 4 to 6
weeks prior to arrival:
Hepatitis A & B
Typhoid - for travelers who eat and drink outside major restaurants or hotels
Yellow Fever (especially if you are traveling from a Yellow Fever infected area)
Japanese encephalitis: for long term (1 month) travelers to rural areas or those who many engage
in extensive unprotected outdoor activities in rural areas, especially after dusk
Rabies: for travelers with direct contact with animals
Routine Immunizations: tetanus-diphtheria, measles-mumps-rubella, polio and varicella
Also, the normal childhood vaccinations of measles, mumps, rubella (MMR), diphtheria, tetanus,
pertussis (DTP) and polio should be up-to-date. It is also wise to check vaccination requirements with
the consular office. And, you should also consult your home country's vaccination regulations for
re-entry on home leave or repatriation.
Before I get sick, what should I know about seeking medical care in your city as an expat?
Many find the health care in Penang to be reputable. There are numerous hospitals and clinics with
English-speaking doctors, many of who have been educated in the UK or Australia. Most expats utilize
the private medical centers and health care is provided on a user-pay basis. If you have your own or
company insurance, it is typical to pay for services first and then submit for reimbursement afterwards.
Payment at most medical centers can be made by cash, credit card or bank draft.
For more information, check with your company’s human resources department or contact Crown
What is the word for "doctor" in the local language?
The word doctor is pronounced the same but spelled like "Dokter."
What is the best way to locate a suitable health care provider?
Most insurance companies can provide a list of doctors and specialists in each area. Another
alternative that is often helpful is asking a friend, co-worker or neighbor for their recommendations.
Also, a list of doctors and their specialties should be listed in the local telephone book.
Do expats in the area tend to leave the city/area/country to seek medical care? If so, why and where do
No, most expats are comfortable with the quality of care in Penang. Occasionally, some expats may
go to Singapore if seeking practitioners with specific specialties.
What is the number to call to summon help in an emergency? List medical/fire/police.
For all medical and police related emergencies dial 999; for all fire department related emergencies
dial 994; If you are dialing from a cell phone , just dial 112.
What do I do if there's an emergency in the middle of the night—or at another time when my normal
doctor/clinic is unavailable?
If an emergency occurs in the middle of the night either call one of the numbers above and wait for an
ambulance or have a family member or friend drive you to the closet major hospital in your area.
Major hospitals have 24-hour emergency clinics, so identifying the closest 24-hour emergency clinic
from where you live is an important first task once you have had a chance to settle in.
How will I recognize a pharmacy? What is it called in the local language?
The pharmacies (for Western prescription medications) are located within the hospitals or medical
clinics. General non-prescription medications can be purchased at any of the pharmacy chains --
Guardian or Watson’s. Pharmacies are known as farmasi in the local language.
Is the water safe to drink?
It is highly recommended that you do not drink tap water unless it has been boiled, filtered, or
chemically disinfected. Also, do not drink unbottled beverages or drinks with ice, do not eat fruits or
vegetables unless they have been peeled or cooked and do not eat cooked foods that are no longer
Penang Adventist Hospital:
Hospital Pantai Mutiara:
T R A N S P O R T
Will I need to drive my own vehicle to conduct my everyday life (work/school/shopping) at my
Depending on the location of your residence and how comfortable you are with driving in the city will
most likely be the determining factors on whether you decide to drive your own vehicle or not. Taxis
and buses are quite useful within the central part of the city, but as you get further into the suburbs,
having your own car will make life easier.
How can I legally drive a vehicle in this city?
It is legal for foreigners to drive in Malaysia with a foreign driver's license for up to three months from
the last date of entry as stated on his/her passport. You can also drive legally in Malaysia using an
international driving license up to a maximum of 12 months from the last date of entry as stated on
Expats are encouraged to convert a foreign license to a Malaysian license, as it is a legal form of
identification and will ensure a much smoother process in the event you have an accident and need to
file an insurance claim. In order to convert to a Malaysian driver's license, you will need to have a valid
Employment Pass or Dependant Pass, but you will not have to take a driving test.
What side of the road do people drive on?
Similar to the United Kingdom, people drive on the left-hand side of the road. If you are not familiar
with this, take your time and be extra cautious.
Describe typical public transportation an expat might use to get around the city.
Penang's public transport system is efficient and moving around by taxi's, buses, and trishaws
(three-wheeled vehicle) is fairly inexpensive. Taxis in Penang do not use their meters. The taxi ride
price will be negotiated before the ride takes place Motorcycles and bicycles are also fun and
inexpensive ways to get around. You can either own these or rent them.
If you are adventurous, try the bus system. Getting the routes down may be challenging at first, but
once you do, it is a very reasonable way to get around town.
Could an expat also use public transportation to get out of the city—to surrounding towns, recreation
areas or suburbs? If so, list options.
Yes, besides using taxis, there are many buses that will take you to most major centers in Peninsular
Malaysia. The main bus terminal in Penang island is Komtar for local rides and Sungai Nibong
terminal for domestic departures and on the mainland is Butterworth. You may also use the ferry or
the Penang Bridge to cross over to the mainland. For trains, the railway station is situated in
Butterworth. Furthermore, domestic and international flights leave from Bayan Lepas International
In regards to transportation, are there any safety issues I should be aware of?
Traffic accidents are probably the number one health hazard in Malaysia. Bus and Taxi drivers drive
aggressively, so you need to be alert and aware when traveling by either mode. And if you are driving
yourself, it is recommended you learn your way around during non-peak hours before attempting to
drive during peak hours.
Where do I buy tickets/tokens/etc. for the major public transportation?
If traveling by bus, a ticket collector will collect your money after you have taken your seat. For journey
to neighboring states, you are required to purchase tickets at the respective counter at Komtar, Sungai
Nibong or Butterworth before boarding the bus. If traveling by train, your tickets can be purchased at
the station. Tickets are also available at the KTM counter at the Penang jetty.
Executive bus service:
National train service - KTM:
S H O P P I N G
What are the items that I should bring with me because they’re not available (or are too expensive) where I am going?
With the increased diversity of goods now available in Penang, it will be fairly easy to find many of your familiar
products. However, just to be safe you might want to bring favorite brands or over-the-counter medications and
Will anyone have particular trouble finding clothes that fit?
Most of the clothing is sized for the Asian market, so bathing suits, lingerie and other manufactured clothing is not
designed for the Caucasian woman over 5’ 5” in height. Shoes are also limited to the lower end of sizes (i.e.
women’s' U.S. size 8 and below, men’s' U.S. size 10 and below) in many styles. However, there are a many shops
now such as MNG, Topshop, Parkson or Metrojaya and Factory Outlet Store that carry some larger-sized foreign
brands of clothing.
What grocery stores do expats in your city shop at?
The most popular grocery stores expats shop in are: Carrefour, Giant, Cold Storage, and Tesco . And, for those
who do not feel like going out to shop, there is a local van company that will come to your house and bring all kinds
of products (including beer and wine). If they don’t have a particular item at the time, they will deliver it for you later
in the day. Another popular and fun way to shop is by going to the local wet market. Most wet markets are open
from early morning till lunchtime.
Where can other household items (such as cleaning materials and home furnishings) be found?
Cleaning materials and supplies can be found in the local grocery stores mentioned above. For home furnishings
and other household items, most shop at Lorenzo, Parkson, Courts Mammoth and other shops in the shopping
Also, Malaysia is a great place to buy custom-made furniture from local rosewood or Indonesian teak. Good quality
Persian carpets are also a good buy, as well as Chinese antique furniture.
Where can I find the local shops in Penang?
Penang is definitely a shopper's paradise, with hundreds of retail establishments
located conveniently in and around the city. The main shopping areas in Penang are
concentrated in Jalan Penang, Lebuh Campbell, Lebuh Kapitan Keling, Lebuh
Chulia, and Lebuh Pantai. Few places can compare with Penang for its variety of
and reasonably cheap prices. During the annual Penang Shopping Carnival, one can
take delight in bargains galore. Bargaining is still very much a part of life in Penang,
hence one should not be afraid to haggle over prices or to ask for discounts,
especially in smaller shops.
What are factors that might affect my shopping habits in this country/city?
Many Malaysians shop for meat and vegetables from local food markets where the food is fresh daily and the
prices are lower than at the grocery stores. Expats may find shopping at these markets fun and exciting. Night
markets are also popular haunts in Penang. They usually operate in the suburbs. From early evening, stalls begin
to line roadsides that are specifically closed to traffic for the markets. These markets locate themselves in a fairly
large designated district and the venue for their operations move nightly. Some return to the same spot weekly,
others circulate on a large basis, thus returning to one spot once or twice a month. The night markets are
frequently well-patronized and sell foods of all types, knick-knacks, cheap clothes and t-shirts, audio and video
cd's, as well as household items. Sometimes, it is at these markets that some exotic and unusual items, like fruits
that are difficult to find as they are only growing in small out-of-town villages or some rare potted plants, make their
appearance. Many Penangites often visit night markets in their districts for a leisurely "eat and stroll" evening with
their friends and families. As for the supermarkets and major shopping centers, they generally operate from 10AM
to 10PM daily, including Sundays.
N E T W O R K I N G
How close-knit is the expat community in this area? How do I get involved with it?
As in any foreign country, expats will inevitably seek each other out. In Penang there is one
international women's association called IWA.
One thing to note is that, due to the diversity of people in the city and the ease of using English, there
tends to be a decreased reliance on the expat network as you live in Penang for a longer period of
time. For more information on any of the clubs above look them up in the local yellow pages, visit the
websites below or contact Crown Penang.
Beside expat groups, what is the best way to make social connections outside of work?
Most expats socialize with neighbors, colleagues and friends. Many meet new people at the nearby
country clubs or social clubs. Places of worship are other good places to meet people. Or, as
mentioned above, volunteering your time to an organization or charity event are great ways to meet
people and get involved in the community at the same time.
Where can I meet other singles in this city?
Most singles meet others at bars, clubs or through friends and colleagues. The local newspapers and
magazines always have listings of the city's clubs, hot spots and upcoming events. There are also
several reputable singles networking associations that arrange evening and weekend activities such
as dinners at restaurants, sightseeing and touring. For more information please contact Crown
Are there any unique networking opportunities for accompanying partners?
Accompanying partners can often network through social clubs or through schools, if they have
children. Or, they can volunteer their time to an organization or charity. There are also a number of
activities organized by expat associations that include educational, sporting and social outings. Some
international schools also offer opportunities for involvement in a variety of programs on a volunteer
Alliance Francaise de Penang:
Malaysian Nature Society:
Malaysia Culture Group:
International Woman's Association - Penang:
Malaysian Germany Society
Y O U N G P E O P L E
How well-equipped is this city for those raising infants/toddlers? Specifically, are there public places to
change diapers, maintained playgrounds, etc?
When it comes to baby changing facilities in public places, Penang is not very well equipped, although
they do exist in some public places. Also, there are very few well-maintained playgrounds throughout
the city. Additionally, it is important to note that Georgetown is not very well-suited for pushing a
stroller, as the street side areas are crowded and sidewalks are uneven with many curbs and steps.
Where can I get a list of reliable childcare providers/nannies?
The best resource is usually the expat associations and their networks. Neighbors and colleagues are
also great resources for recommendations. And, your neighborhood Community Center is also a good
resource in finding reliable childcare providers within the area. You may also want to contact nanny
agencies or placement agencies that offer professional sourcing of qualified care givers or contact
Discuss any safety issues for children in this city.
The concerns of parents in Penang are the same as those in other very large urban areas. The
biggest hazards here would be heavy traffic, open cement drains, taxis not equipped with safety belts,
lack of fencing around pools and balconies that are not equipped with appropriate railings. Children
should always be accompanied and supervised by an adult and should never talk to strangers. It is
recommended that you speak to your local school to find out whether there are any particular
concerns specific for your area.
What are the most popular kid-friendly attractions in the area?
Some fun and cool things that kids love to do and visit in Penang are:
Bukit Jambul and Reptile House
Penang Botanic Gardens
Tropical Spice Garden
Water sport Center Jalan Batu Ferringhi
Adventure Zone in Batu Ferringhi
For more information on the attractions listed above, check out the websites listed below or contact
What are the most popular activities for kids after school or on weekends?
Most schools have after school activities, such as competitive school sports teams and various special
interest clubs. They also enjoy going to the movies, game arcades and shopping with friends. And,
they like to just hang out with their friends at each others homes.
What's it like to be a teenager in this city? Are there any particular challenges I should be aware of as a
Living in Penang as teenager can be an exciting and fun experience, but like many parents those in
Penang have their concerns about safety. Given certain security risks in neighboring countries with
regard to gatherings of foreigners, teenagers are asked to maintain a good degree of awareness when
out at public places. Schools are excellent at disseminating information on security matters to all
school children and parents. There have been times when the freedom of teenagers has been
somewhat restricted by the schools, but these periods are infrequent.
Much of the life of teenager revolves around the school that they attend and the neighborhood that
they live in. Most teens are involved in some after-school programs, whether in sports or drama club.
And, as mentioned above, they love to go to spend time with their friends and do fun things. Most
teens generally move about the city rather freely using taxis and public buses.
The legal drinking age in Malaysia is 18, but the Malaysians tend to be rather generous about allowing
most foreign teens to order a drink at local bars without checking age. Drug possession is punishable
by death in Malaysia. Consequently, access to any illegal drugs is severely limited within Penang and
doesn’t pose a problem among the teenage group.
Adjustment to any new place takes time, but we feel once they get settled in and meet new friends,
they are going to love it here!
Are there any organizations/social groups in the area that cater exclusively to young people ages 12-17?
Most of the activities for teenagers are provided through the schools, but there are a few church
groups and other groups through the expat organizations. There are a number of recreational
opportunities that the youth may participate in. These include scuba diving, mountain biking, wind
surfing and jungle trekking.
I want my child to get the most out of our stay in this country. Are there any specific opportunities to
teach young people about the local culture?
Some of the international schools offer Bahasa Malaysia language classes for students. If your
children are not involved with this aspect of the culture, it is easy for them to take part in any of the
numerous festivals and celebrations that happen throughout the year. Functions are held at local
shopping complexes, expat organizations, hotels and other public places in conjunction with such
events as the Lantern Festival (Chinese), Deepavali (Indian Festival of Lights), Lion Dances (Chinese
New Year) and Hari Raya (Malay New Year).
Things to Do and See in Penang and surrounding areas:
Penang Botanic Gardens: www.sukpp.gov.my/KebunBunga/main.html
Butterfly Farm: www.butterfly-insect.com/butterfly-insect/aboutus.html
Bukit Jambul and Reptile House: www.cuti.com.my/Sub/Penang/guide_orchidhibiscus.htm
Bird Park in Kuala Lumpur: www.impressions.com.my/birdpark/birdpark_kl.htm
Tropical Spice Garden: www.tropical spicegarden.com