Quite a long flight from the UK, but would totally recommend Penang in Malaysia as a super family friendly holiday. If you get a night flight, we found this made the plane journey with a little, much easier! Flight time from London-Singapore is 13 hours, and then 1 hour 30 mins from Singapore-Penang.
We stayed in the beach resort of Batu Ferringhi, and if you travelled to Thailand many years ago and were impressed with the white sand beaches and joy of it being very untouched, I would say Penang is like that now.
The beaches are beautiful and clean, the resort itself is relatively untouched, so you get to eat in all the local restaurants, which are delicious and super cheap!
We stayed in the Rasa Sayang Resort and Spa which is part of the Shangri-La group, and the whole experience was just perfect. The resort has its own private beach area, and so you get beautiful views from your room.
The rooms themselves are a good size and have traditional Malaysian decor. We chose to stay in the Rasa Wing of the hotel which means you get some exclusive extras, such as express check-in, daily afternoon tea, and cocktails in the Rasa Wing Lounge.
The extra you pay which I think is aprox £20 per day more than pays for itself, as you can have afternoon tea each day from 3-4pm, and from 5.30-7.30pm unlimited champagne/alcoholic beverages at the pre dinner drinks. Soft drinks are also free throughout the day at all the pool bars and restaurants.
To keep your littles amused there are 2 pools. A kids pool, and the main pool which children can use with an adult. There is also the beautiful beach, although the sea was fairly rough when we were there, and there were a lot of jellyfish, so be careful if you take your littles in.
There is a kids club called Cool Zone which is suitable for kids aged 5 to 12 years old. It features fun activities from 9.30am - 9.00pm to keep the kiddies entertained. Lunch and dinner are provided, and mobile phones are available on loan if you wish to be in contact with your child whilst they’re there.
For smaller children there are baby sitting services. We didn’t use it, but the option is there should you like a bit of me time.
Directly next door to Rasa Sayang is the Golden Sands Resort also by Shangri La. If you have slightly older children i would opt for this, as there was tons for kids to do including a splash pool, indoor play centre, and there were just lots more kids there, for them to play with, however my little was a bit small for all these fun and games, so we opted for slightly more luxury for ourselves at the Rasa Sayang.
Batu Ferringhi itself is fairly small, you can walk the length of the street outside the hotel in aprox 20 mins. On the street you will see all the local restaurants, and there is a night market everyday, selling some traditional Malaysian souvenirs as well as the usual holiday bits and bobs they sell!
Some of our favourite restaurants were :
Andrews Kampung - salt & pepper chicken to die for!
Tree Monkey - tricky if you have a pushchair as its quite a steep hill to get in
Ferringhi Garden Restaurant
Bora Bora by Sunset - on the beach so go for sunset
We also made the trip into George Town which is about 30 mins in a car and is the colourful capital of Penang.
George Town is a mix of Art, Heritage and excellent food. It has amazing street art which is on all the heritage buildings, and there is a trail that you can follow so you don’t miss any. Just wander for the day and take in all the sights, truly worth a visit.