Batu Ferringhi, George Town's northwestern-most suburb, is the most popular stretch of beach on Penang Island. Numerous hotels and resorts are packed within this 4km stretch of beach. While the beaches here are not Malaysia's cleanest, parasailing and other water sports complement the gorgeous view of the sea as well as Mount Jerai in the neighbouring state of Kedah.
Batu Ferringhi was one of the worst-hit areas during the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, but has since recovered with little impact to the booming tourism scene here.
The word Ferringhi was a classical Malay term which referred to a person of Portuguese descent. This word, in turn, was possibly derived from the Arabic word Ferringi, which denoted a Westerner. Therefore, Batu Ferringhi could mean the rocks where Westerners set foot.
The rocky terrain of this northern coastline probably was the reason why the place was called Batu Ferringhi. Yet another reason was a small rocky outcrop off the western end of Batu Ferringhi. The rock was once known as Ujong Batu, but became known as Lovers' Isle by the mid-20th. century.
The first Englishman to land on Penang Island was not Captain Francis Light, but Captain James Lancaster, a privateer and a pirate. In 1592, Lancaster landed at Batu Ferringhi and spent four months there, pillaging every vessel off Penang Island. His pillaging activities eventually caught the attention of the Portuguese who placed a bounty on his head. When he fled Penang Island, his ship, Edward Bonaventure was so heavily laden with loot that it barely limped into the Strait of Malacca.
After the founding of Penang Island by Captain Francis Light, a few bungalows were built in Batu Ferringhi, while a road, which is now Batu Ferringhi Road, had been built by the 1920s.
In 1948, one of the bungalows was turned into a hotel by its Australian owner. To this day, the hotel is named the Lone Pine Hotel.
Since the mid-1970s, more hotels began springing up in Batu Ferringhi. Helped by tourism marketing, tourists began to flock to Batu Ferringhi. Not long after, condominiums were built in Batu Ferringhi as well, offering unparalleled view of the Andaman Sea.
Batu Ferringhi was hard hit by the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.
In 2009, the world-renowned Hard Rock Hotel launched its Penang branch at the former Casuarina Beach Resort in Batu Ferringhi. Hard Rock Hotel Penang is the first Hard Rock Hotel in Malaysia.
The influx of tourists and water sports activities that involve the use of motorboats have raised cleanliness issues and environmental concerns. Water quality has degraded, attracting smacks of jellyfish.
The beaches themselves are a hive of activity. Various water sports activities attract tourists to the beaches, such as parasailing, water-skiing and banana boating. Horse riding along the beach is another option, as well as sunbathing.
Batu Ferringhi is also home to a famous night market. The Batu Ferringhi night market, which opens around 1900 hours at a stretch of Batu Ferringhi Road between Rasa Sayang Resort and Hard Rock Hotel, sells everything from pirated DVDs, dirt-cheap souvenirs and fashion accessories to high-quality decorations and Penang specialties. There are also food stalls selling Malay cuisine, Western food, seafood and local desserts. A recommended practice is to compare prices between different stalls selling similar items. The night market is also a good place to start practicing your bargaining skills.
Amongst the bustle of the Batu Ferringhi night market, food stalls sell Malay and Western food, as well as seafood and local desserts. Some of the Malay dishes being sold are satay and nasi lemak.
There are several restaurants along Batu Ferringhi Road, mostly offering seafood, although there are also a few Western and Arabic restaurants. Some of the known restaurants in Batu Ferringhi are as follows.
- Hard Rock Cafe is a rock and roll themed chain specialising in burgers and American cuisine.
- The Ship Restaurant, with its large iconic galley, specialises in Western food, including its much touted steak.
- Ferringhi Garden has a wide-ranging menu, as well as innovative mixed drinks.
- Khaleel Nasi Kandar Restaurant serves Indian Muslim cuisine such as nasi kandar and roti prata.
- Beach Corner Seafood
Numerous drink stalls also stand at the roadside and can come in handy under the hot tropical weather. In addition, Starbucks has opened an outlet right on one of the beaches in 2015.
Fierce competition between the numerous hotels are keeping prices low. The hotels listed below have three to five star ratings.
- Hard Rock Hotel
- Holiday Inn
- Bayview Beach Resort
- DoubleTree by Hilton Penang
- Lone Pine Hotel
- Park Royal Hotel
- Lost Paradise Resort
- Rasa Sayang Resort & Spa
Getting to Batu Ferringhi
Batu Ferringhi can also be reached from Teluk Bahang using both buses going in the opposite direction.
102 : Penang International Airport - Bayan Baru - Sungai Nibong express bus terminal - Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) Batu Uban entrance - Gelugor - Green Lane - KOMTAR - Kelawai Road, Pulau Tikus - Tanjung Tokong Road - Tanjung Bungah Road - Batu Ferringhi Road - Teluk Bahang
Batu Ferringhi Road remains the only major artery through this suburb. The stretch between Batu Ferringhi and the neighbouring suburb of Tanjung Bungah comes with sharp bends, so extra caution is advised if you are driving.
Penang State Government
N.22 Tanjung Bungah State Assemblyman : Teh Yee Cheu (Democratic Action Party)
Malaysian Federal Parliament
P.048 Bukit Bendera Member of Paliament : Zairil Khir Johari (Democratic Action Party)