There are many beautiful beaches in Southeast Asia and Batu Ferringhi is definitely one of them. As we walked down the beach at sunset we watched the sky turn stunning shades of orange and pink as para-sailers glided by and tourists rode horses across the sand.
Unfortunately, the beach is one of the only interesting things about Batu Ferringhi. Once you get beyond the sand, this area of the northern coast of Penang, Malaysia leaves you a little bit disappointed.
The main road is filled with restaurants which offer really good food, especially since Penang is famed for its cuisine. Unfortunately, the average meal is two or three times more expensive than in nearby Georgetown. At most other destinations in Malaysia including Kuala Lumpur and Georgetown we have been able to get a very nice entree in a restaurant for around 6-7 RM ($1.90-$2.25). There was a sad moment when we realized that MacDonalds and KFC were our best budget lunch options. We didn’t come to Malaysia to eat Big Macs.
We wandered into the pool area of one of the high end resorts and I could see how Batu Ferringhi could be a totally different experience if you were travelling on a higher budget and enjoying cushy sun loungers, tables set for two overlooking the water, a waterfall pool and special live music nights.
However, the cheapest room in one of these resorts cost around $100 per night whereas on Koh Lanta in Thailand Lee and I rented a comparable private bungalow literally steps from the ocean for only $20 per night.
Also, the water around Batu Ferringhi didn’t feel as clean as some of other beaches I have swum in here. It is a bit murky, probably from all of the speedboats which zoom up and down the coast pulling para-sailers behind them.
When the only redeeming feature of Batu Ferringhi is the beach and there are so many other gorgeous beaches in this part of the world, it’s probably a good to look elsewhere. We opted to spend a little more time in the nearby UNESCO World Heritage city of George Town instead.