Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Batu Ferringhi, Penang: The beach holiday with lots to do & eat!

This travel post is written by Corsage who blogs at A Dollop of Me. With her two petite travellers, Bubbles (4.5yo) and Bun (2yo), and the extended family, she visited Penang in June 2014 and stayed at Golden Sands Resort in Batu Ferringhi.

This holiday is suitable for families who want a laid-back couple of days with good food, horse-riding, children's programmes, and everything else that comes with the sun, the sand and the sea. 

Our family enjoys beach holidays and chose Penang because this was to be an extended family trip, and its close proximity was a plus for us. My parents-in-law and my husband's siblings joined us for this trip, much to the delight of my children!

Penang is also the birth-place of my husband, and the island where he spent the first half of his childhood. Penang Island has always been one of my must-go destinations, and I am glad to have experienced a little of what this lovely place has to offer. 

About Batu Ferringhi

Batu Ferringhi is a beach front in Penang that boasts a long stretch of white sandy beach, and a parallel row of hotels and many dining options. Jalan Batu Ferringhi, the road that runs alongside the beach front, comes alive every night when the street-side market opens. While it is clearly an area for tourists, there is a laid-back charm to this place, where the drivers do not honk, and the sound of the sea fills the air.

Where To Stay In Batu Ferringhi:

Golden Sands Resort, Rasa Sayang Resort & Spa, Hard Rock Hotel, Lone Pine Hotel

There are many hotels and resorts that are available on this stretch, catering to different needs. We stayed at Shangri-la's family-friendly Golden Sands Resort, which has a few pools, an in-house Kids' Club and Adventure Zone, and serves up delicious buffet breakfasts. The resort offers babysitting services and breastmilk storage facilities for nursing mothers!

Golden Sands is situated next to Shangri-la's other property - the more luxurious Rasa Sayang Resort & Spa. When we dined at the restaurant or used the Spa facilities at Rasa Sayang, we were given the option to pay by charging to our room! I thought it was a lovely gesture between these two resorts under the Shangri-la umbrella. Our children enjoyed the free rides on buggys that ferry guests between these two hotels too!

Besides these two hotels, our next bet will be on another family-friendly resort - the Hard Rock Hotel. We have already marked this out as our next place to stay should we visit Batu Ferringhi again, as we have heard good reviews from our friends. Hard Rock Hotel also has a Lil Rock Kids Club, and kids-focused rooms equipped with amenities and decor specially catered for children.

Another place worth mentioning is the legendary Lone Pine hotel. This boutique hotel is known as the first beach hotel to have been built along the Batu Ferringhi coastline. It was converted from a 10-room bungalow in 1948, and a new wing was built alongside the colonial-style blocks after the hotel's refurbishment in 2010. 

Where To Dine In Batu Ferringhi

This area has a large variety of eating establishments. From street side vendors to established western restaurants like The Ship (best steaks), there is a lot on offer for everyone. 

Here are a few places that we dined at and enjoyed:

1. Ferringhi Garden Restaurant
34, A, B & C Batu Ferringhi
11100 Penang, Malaysia
Tel: +60 4-881 1193

This restaurant boasts lush greenery and a large number of well-tended plants for guests to admire. The type of plants are changed with the seasons, and are always a draw for visitors. The grounds also include a water feature with running water, and a pond with pretty koi. It is not hard to see how this restaurant is a popular place for romantic dinners and intimate events. We went with our children, and found that it is also very child-friendly, with attentive servers, good food options for children, and lots for them to look at and explore. 

Our favourite dish was "Seventh Heaven", a delectable seafood platter that included Lobster Thermidor, grilled squid, mussels, crab, prawns and fish. It was really good! The restaurant serves a large variety of local and western dishes, and gorgeous desserts. 

2. Beach Corner Seafood Restaurant
Jalan Batu Ferringhi (Next to Tarbush Restaurant, facing the sea)
Tel: +60 12-4729113 or +60 16-4222113

Beach Corner is like a large zhichar place, with large round wooden tables and a casual atmosphere. It serves up authentic Penang cuisine at great prices. Here, you can find Penang Choon Piah, Assam Prawns, Inchi Kabin (nyonya fried chicken) among other yummy dishes. The sea breeze that comes through the restaurant adds to the ambiance. I missed taking photos of some of the food we had, but my favourite was a yam and duck stew. It was really lip-smackingly good!

3. Danish Briyani House
Jalan Batu Ferringhi (Diagonally opposite the Golden Sands Resort)

We visited this place because we were curious what "Danish Briyani" was! It turns out that there is nothing Scandinavian about the food, and that "Danish" is the name of one of the owners. This eatery has two floors, with the upper one being air-conditioned. Besides a wide variety of Indian rice, meats and wraps, they also offer kid-friendly dishes like pizzas. We found their food pretty good. 

4. Spice Market Cafe Buffet
Garden Wing, Lobby Level
Rasa Sayang Resort & Spa
Tel: +604-888 8888

We enjoyed a lovely International Buffet dinner here on our last night in Penang. There are special discounts on certain weekdays (call to enquire), and an adorable buffet station for children! The sashimi, rojak, meats and desserts were lovely. With the currency exchange rate now, this buffet is good value for money for travellers from Singapore. 

5. Tree Monkey @ Tropical Spice Garden
Lone Crag Villa, Lot 595 Mukim 2
Jalan Teluk Bahang
11100 Penang

Tel: +604-881 3493/4

This rustic eatery is a short drive away from the Jalan Batu Ferringhi. Set on higher ground in the midst of the Tropical Spice Garden, you can opt for tables that overlook the sea. The cuisine served is Thai, with a few Western options like pizzas and pastas. After our meal, we enjoyed a short walk around the lush garden grounds, where there is a cooking school, and a souvenir shop. 

(Across the road, there are a few small street-side stalls that sell roasted corn, ice-kachang, and laksa, among others. We were too full to try, but they looked good!)

Five Things To Do In Batu Ferringhi

I was scrolling through my photographs to jog my memory about how we spent our time in Batu Ferringhi. Just like most holidays, the time just flew by, and although we were there for five days, it felt like it was not enough! 

Here are five things you can do (and we had fun doing!), besides eating, that is!

1. Enjoy the Sea, Beach and Pools
What is a beach holiday without this? Wade in the sea waves or splash around in the hotel pools. There were warning signs about jellyfish in the sea, but it should be alright to play in the water nearer the shore. It was to my pleasant surprise that the long sandy beach was really nice! The clean, white, sand is great for sand play, or just to lie on to sun bathe, read or sleep. The sea stretches out as far as the eye can see, truly a relaxing sight. 

2. Attend the Kids' Club
Petite travellers can be signed up to attend drop-off activities at the Kids' Club, that include a variety of scheduled events like cooking, arts and craft, and even Segway rides! Younger children can enjoy accompanied play in the indoor playground, out of the sun (or rain). 

3. Go on Rides!
There are plenty to choose from! Older children can indulge in various water sports, including para-sailing, jetskis, and banana boats etc. My children, who are younger, enjoyed a horse ride by the beach (it was so very lovely!), a trishaw ride along the main road, and as mentioned earlier in the post, free buggy rides within the hotel compound. Both the horse rides and trishaw rides cost between MYR$20-40, depending on the distance you go.

4. Wander Through the Night Market and Mini Funfair
At night, the Jalan Batu Ferringhi comes alive. There are plenty of shops to poke around in, and food stalls to try out. If shopping and eating are not your thing, you can also take the children to a small funfair tucked behind the night market stalls. There are a few game booths, and some carnival rides like the Ferris Wheel - all kid-friendly choices.

5. Indulge in a Massage or a Spa Treatment
When the children are occupied you can treat yourself to a nice foot or body massage. There are budget options on the beach itself (starting from around MYR$30), where there are little huts where you can get massages done. There are also other massage places you can try along the main road too, at varying prices too. If you want something more luxurious, Chi, The Spa at Rasa Sayang is a recommended choice. Roboman and I managed to get some time out for a couple spa treatment there, and it was so. very. good!

I hope you enjoyed this post! Besides Batu Ferringhi, Penang also has the charming George Town to explore. There will be a post on that by another Petite Traveller contributor soon!

*The post on George Town, Penang is up! Read it here.

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