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Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Malaysia: Why You Should Consider Hop-On Hop-Off Penang?



Let me start with a confession.

I don’t usually take a tour bus to travel around a city I’m visiting just to get to places of interests in that city. My preference would be either to walk around or take a public transport - like a local – to see as much of the city as possible. That way, you (sometimes) get to talk with a local, and more often than not, you might get some recommendations too on places to go or food to try, for example, that are not usually listed in travel guides or even travel blogs. Some might call this travelling the local's way.

This however changed when I tried Hop-On Hop-Off (HOHO) bus service in Kuala Lumpur a few months back. I started to appreciate how such a service could be useful, to a lot of people, including myself. This was why I was looking forward to trying HOHO Penang when I was in town for about 5 days for the #MyFascinatingPenang programme in August 2015, to see if the same holds true in Penang.

HOHO Penang offers two different routes that cover the city part of George Town, and the beach side of Penang. (See map here). The good thing is a HOHO ticket covers both routes, so you are free to make your plans and choose whichever route you like once you have your ticket, which can be bought on board the bus, by the way.


HOHO stop no. 13
Why do I say the service could be useful to a lot of people? Here are the advantages that I’ve personally learnt after using the HOHO Penang over 4 days on the Pearl Island.
  1. Coverage - HOHO Penang has 33 stops that can cover more than 60 places of interests in Penang. I know I wouldn’t be able to cover all 60 places in just one day or two, or even over the 5 days I was in town, but it’s good to know that I could go anyplace I'd like to cover without much hassle.
  2. Saves time – How? You don’t have to waste time waiting and checking which local bus to take to go to wherever you want to go, as HOHO Penang has done the job for you by covering most of the places of interests along their 2 routes. The routes are easy to understand, and the map of interesting places makes planning your trip even easier.
  3. Easy – It’s easy to use, and a day ticket can be used for 24 hours, e.g. if you start late in the day, say at 2 p.m. on a Monday, the day ticket is valid until 2 p.m. Tuesday. And there’s no need to worry about getting ready with some small change either for the ticket like you’d need to if you’re using a local bus. 
  4. Information about places – Sometimes we don’t know or are not aware of some interesting places because we might have missed them when we do our research (that is if we do it at all, heh! ;) ) about places that we want to cover. With HOHO Penang, they have a bus conductor who also doubles as a tour guide on each bus and these personnel would give a briefing and even anecdotes about places along the way while you’re on board the bus. Found something or someplace that intrigues you after listening to the guide? All you need to do is just hop off the bus at the designated stop, go explore the place, and then wait for the next HOHO bus once you’ve finished exploring. Easy or what?
  5. Personal recommendations – I mentioned about possibility of getting some local recommendations whilst travelling on a local bus. Having a guide on board HOHO Penang means that you can ask him/her for their recommendations. And the best thing is they are more likely to be at least conversant in English. 
  6. Air conditioned buses and an open deck area on the upper deck – This might seem trivial to some but you wouldn’t understand or appreciate air conditioners until after you’ve walked around a place or two under the blazing sun. ;) 
  7. Free Wi-Fi – Okay, this is just a bonus, an icing on the cake. Having a free Wi-Fi access whilst on the bus not only can help you with your *cough* research *cough* about places you’re going to, but also allows you to get connected with family and friends; and of course, upload the photos of the places you’ve just been to onto your Facebook, Instagram and/or Twitter account. After all, sharing is caring, right? ;)


HOHO Stop No. 12

So, you might ask, is there any disadvantage at all in using HOHO Penang?

Well, yes, I can think of one. 

It might not be as easy or as quick to get to some places if you need to head in the opposite direction. The City route especially, works in a circular manner, heading just in one direction. So if you miss a stop, or want to go back to the previous stop, you’d just have to continue ahead and go around in a circle if you continue using the bus. Similarly if you want to go to a nearby place but on 2 different routes, e.g. You’re in Gurney Drive area but would like to go to Padang Kota/ The Esplanade. These two places are somewhat near to each other but are located on 2 different routes. You’d need to take a HOHO bus (Beach route) to Chowrasta, get off and wait for the City route HOHO to travel to Padang Kota. So it might not be a bit practical there, especially if you’re in a rush.

However, if you plan well in advance, and are aware of where to go and get off, you shouldn’t have any problem.

So anyways… where else did I go with my HOHO Penang tickets? Read about 5 Places in Penang Which You Might Want to Skip but Probably Shouldn’t



Are you on Pinterest? Use these photos to bookmark and/or share this blog post ;)



Further Information

Hop-On Hop-Off Penang official website.


A Thank You & Disclosure Note

I would like to thank the organiser of My Fascinating Penang, My Amazing Malaysia, as well as the management of Hop-On Hop-Off Penang for the arrangement to use their service whilst in Penang. The use of HOHO Penang was sponsored as part of My Fascinating Penang 2015 programme. The sponsorship however has in no way affected my view of the service, other than the fact that it sure has some advantages for a lot of visitors, as listed above. ;)

Other official sponsors for the programme include, among others, the following: 

Hotels:
St. Giles Wembley, The Chambers Hotel, Ren i Tang Heritage Inn, Evergreen Laurel Hotel
Attractions:
Escape.My, Tropical Spice Garden, The Camera Museum, Made in Penang Interactive Museum
Transportation:
Hop-On Hop-Off Penang, Easybook.com



For all other blog entries on My Fascinating Penang, click here.

For more photos, please check out Ramble and Wander's Facebook page

21 comments:

Comments and feedback are always appreciated. So do leave one or two if you have the time. Thank you!

  1. It might not be the most romantic way to travel in a new city, but it definitely serves its purpose. I often do the HOHO bus. It's sometimes the easiest way to get everywhere you want to go with low cost. I'm a fan.

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    1. Yup, totally agree. I'm now a convert :)

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  2. The HOHO pass sounds like a good deal...much like an unlimited ride Subway pass in NYC. The flexibility and freedom to not always be finding pocket change really helps!

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    Replies
    1. Like any other pass, it's a good deal if you plan your day carefully to make full use of the pass, otherwise it might go to waste. But yes, the convenience that the pass provides is one of the plus factors to me.

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  3. I'm a big fan of taking a tour in a new city to get oriented and see places that might not have made my initial list. Your HOHO Tour sounds like a winner.

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    Replies
    1. Yes, I usually try to join any free walking tour on the first day of arrival in a new city to get oriented and briefly explore the city before doing it on my own at my own pace. This HOHO service is another option I'd now consider whenever I travel to a new city in the future.

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  4. There are certainly lots of advantages. I usually don't use these kind of services either, but you sound convincing :) And we loved Penang (which we visited on foot back in 2009)!

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    Replies
    1. Haha! Thanks! 2009? Time for a revisit maybe? ;)

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  5. I've done some hop on hop off bus tours before and some are certainly better than others. This one looks like it certainly has its advantages - thanks for sharing your experience!

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    Replies
    1. That's great to know. It's my second experience with HOHO and following the experience, I certainly would consider it the next time I travel to a new city.

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  6. HOHO is always a great and budget option. Thanks for the suggestion...will explore it.

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    Replies
    1. It might not be a budget option in some cases but they can provide value for money if we take into account of its advantages, and utilise it to the maximum.
      :)

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  7. I am an adocate for hop-on, hop-off tours in certain places! Not only are they a good way to get an idea of the city but they also serve as your transportation for a day or two. Great points you've made and I hope more people will see the value in these tours!

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    Replies
    1. Yes, I now believe some of them can provide value for money considering the advantages that they offer; and if we utilise it to the maximum.

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  8. Interesting. I'm more of a DIY traveler myself but sometimes there are tourist offerings like this that are more convenient and gives you almost the same experience with DIY. Thanks for the tip!

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    1. Yes, I'm like you too, a DIY traveller, which was why I was pleasantly surprised with the experience I had trying HOHO in Penang. If previously I wouldn't have considered it at all, nowadays, I'd certainly consider it in a new city that I go to, provided the price is right, of course.
      :)

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  9. I know a lot of people don't like these kinds of tours, but I always have. Since most of my visits are over short periods of time, HOHO tours make it easy to see a lot in a short amount of time. And like you mentioned, they also provide information that you might not have known about on your own.

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    Replies
    1. I'd never considered HOHO tours before but I guess I've learned something from the experience. They do have some advantages, more so when you utilise the ticket to the maximum possible.
      :)

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  10. I have always avoided these HOHO buses like a plague. I might have to rethink that during my next adventure.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, I usually didn't think much about these HOHO buses before but now, I would take them into consideration before dismissing them too quickly. I guess different places might offer different advantages.
      :)

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  11. Wow, wonderful tips.. I can really use this. I have been to Thailand and the Philippines. The last time I was in the Philippines (you are allowed 30 days on a tourist visa) I had to get my visa extended. I found out that I could have jumped on a plane and toured Malaysia for a day and then came right back to the Philippines and my tourist visa "30 days" would start all over again. I would much rather do that than sit in immigration all day trying to get an extension!! :) I would love to see Malaysia for a few days (maybe more) and I may follow your recommendations as I get familiar with the place. Thanks so much.

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