Enjoy a walk down Gurney Drive, Penang

April 10, 2016 Explorer Gabor 1 Comments


Whilst I've been to Kuala Lumpur many times, until recently I'd never taken the 40 min flight to check out Penang.  It doesn't have the flashiness of KL or the same amount of glitzy shopping malls and hotels, though it is an interesting place for a short break

Gurney Drive, also known as Persiaran Gurney, is a popular esplanade running along Penang's waterfront. Looking across the water you can see Butterworth and the port, whilst historic Georgetown is located at the end of Gurney Drive.

I was in Penang for the weekend on a business trip, staying at the Hotel G, a fairly new, trendy hotel at the top end of Gurney Drive.  Guests were mostly wealthier families and business travelers, enjoying the hip decor and waterfront location.  The hotel room was stylish and comfortable with all the usual amenities you would expect from a trendy hotel. Breakfast and lunch at Taste Cafe were the usual buffet-style mix of Western and Asian food, though they did have a pretty amazing chocolate fountain.

Gurney Drive
After checking in it was time to explore Gurney Drive further by walking the full length, which was around 2-3km each way. Whilst late afternoon, it was quite warm and humid but not insufferable. The first thing you notice walking the Drive is the smell.  It's pretty bad and reminded me of raw sewage. The sidewalk was in fairly good condition making it overall, pretty good walking conditions.

Afternoon traffic on Gurney Drive
Like any popular esplanade, the Drive was bumper to bumper traffic.  One side of the Drive is lined with bars, restaurants, hotels, apartments and the occasional colonial-era bungalow. The other side, a rocky shore with the occasion patch of grass and bench seats.  Families gathered in spots along the Drive to take in the water and sea breeze, whilst young lovers met on park benches to discretely hold hands.

Looking across to Butterworth

One of the nicest aspects of walking down Gurvey Drive is the view.  It's very relaxing looking across the water and you can see why families and young lovers enjoy this spot.  Closer to Georgetown many small fishing boats were moored close to the shore making it even more picturesque.

When walking down the Drive I noticed quite a few people sitting at bars on the other side of the road, enjoying a drink, taking in the view and people-watching.  It looked such a good idea, that on my return to the hotel I stopped at Mr Pot's for a beer.  Even though I'm not much of a beer drinker, a nice, cold Asahi was just what I needed to cool down on a warm afternoon whilst watching the sun slowly set.

Nice cold beer at Mr Pot
There was such a buzz on the Drive that whilst it was getting late I wasn't ready to return to the hotel. Next stop was Gurney Plaza, a big shiny shopping centre featuring a mix of local and international brands.  Starbucks and Swarovski rubbed shoulders with big fashion brands and local outlets like FOS.  By this stage the sun had truly set and Gurney Drive was a hive of activity. The shopping centre was crowded with teenagers and twenty-somethings hanging out at what was clearly a place to be seen.

Before returning to the hotel I called into the Gurney Drive Hawker Centre, an outdoor market of vendors selling local cuisine.  Stalls abound with dishes I couldn't pronounce, though I did recognise a variety of steamboats, char kway teow, laksa, curry and satay dishes. Whilst it looked tempting, I had a long business trip ahead of me and, not wanting to risk an upset tummy, took the easy way out and enjoyed dinner at the hotel.

Popular Gurney Drive Hawker Centre
The best bits:  the view and people-watching from the bars along the waterfront
The so-so bits:  the smell, it's pretty bad though you can ignore it after a while

If you are planning a trip to Malaysia for business or leisure, consider a short break at Gurney Drive in Penang.  I would have loved more time so I could explore historic Georgetown.  It's on my list to explore when I'm next in Penang.

Looking for ideas and inspiration for your next holiday adventure?  Head over to read my Travel Tips then check out Travel Planning for tips on planning your next short break or family vacation.

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1 comment:

  1. This looks like an amazing place to visit. Thanks for the photos!