The Hop on Hop off (HoHo) bus is a good way to see almost all the famous attractions of Penang, even if you just want to stay on the bus and not take a single step.
It is an especially good option for the young and the elderly, who might not be able to walk long distances. They can hop off at an attraction, spend a little time there, and then hop on again to the next attraction.
The HoHo buses ply the City route every 20-30 minutes, depending on traffic conditions. For the Beach route, the buses appear according to a fixed schedule, but at longer time intervals.
The Hop on Hop off was very convenient for us, since there was a stop right outside our hotel.
It also stopped right outside the major attractions that we planned to catch, such as Entopia and Blue Mansion. Do note that the bus stops at Entopia for 20 minutes, since it makes a loop u-turn there. It’s worth factoring that into your travel time, especially if you intend to catch a certain museum tour timing (e.g. at the Blue Mansion).
It was quite pleasant riding on the top deck along the Beach route in the morning, since it was breezy and not too hot, given the shade of leafy trees throughout the route. It’s also quite scenic as we caught glimpses of the coast line.
If it’s too sunny, there are ample air-conditioned seats both on the top and lower deck, for a cooler ride.
I would say that the HoHo bus is best suited for those who have a very relaxed schedule and are happy to sit through a leisurely ride.
To switch from the Beach Route to the City Route, you have to drop off at the Gurney Drive Interchange, and wait a bit for the connecting bus. Do note that the last bus to the Beach Route hotels depart from Gurney Drive at 7pm, so you have to factor in enough time from say Armenian Street in Georgetown, to arrive on time.
After you embark on the City Route bus at Gurney Plaza, it will bring you to the Botanic Gardens, then up to the sprawling Lek Kok Si temple (we saw throngs enjoying famous Assam Laksa at a nearby coffeeshop) before winding back towards the centre of Georgetown. At present, it doesn’t go to Penang Hill, since it is still closed due to the landslide from the recent typhoon.
Along the City route, we appreciated being able to sit in air-conditioned comfort on the upper deck of the bus. Regardless of where you are seated, you’ll be able to hear an informative short introduction of every stop when you are nearing it. If you sit inside, you can view interesting videos on Penang’s attractions and cultural activities as well.
There is a stop at Chowrasta, near the famous Teochew Chendol. We took some advice from a local, and patronised the stall opposite it instead, which was set up at the same time, and tastes more authentic (specifically, the gula melaka and red beans) to locals.
We left the kids to swim in the hotel with the gramps one afternoon, and had a most interesting tour of Blue Mansion, or the Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion.
The story of its owner, who was the richest man in China at the point when he passed away in 1916, was as fascinating as the house was beautiful.
Of course, the old streets of Penang are fascinating to stroll around, not least for their street art and quaint alleys.
With good food, interesting sights and convenient transport, it’s not hard to see why Penang is one of our family’s favourite destinations!
Note: Thanks Penang Hop on Hop off, for the complimentary tickets for our family!