Penang isn’t well known for its digital nomad or remote-working expat scence, so you might be suprised to learn that Penang Cafes are easy to find, WiFi loaded and rather delightful spots to work remotely from.
When I first heard of Penang it was within the context of ‘Let us tell you about a place we hated’. But, I persisted all the same and as it turned out, I loved it. Penang is an excellent destination loaded with tropical weather, great food, lots of nature and low living costs.
I believe some of the main reasons it is only beginning to blossom as a digital nomad hotspot is the lack of co-working spaces and short-term lease condos with high speed internet. Although this issue is beginning to resolve, Penang is well suited to people who enjoy working out of cafes.
If you love the atmosphere of hopping around the city & taste testing different coffees and teas while you get to working on that latest project, then Penang might just be perfect for you.
If you’re thinking of where to head next in your work around the world, or just arriving in Penang with no idea where to go to get those important emails sent – I have put together a bit of a list (and map) of my favourite Penang cafes to work from.
Favourite Penang Cafes #1. Mr Pot
124C, Persiaran Gurney, Georgetown
We stumbled upon Mr Pot by accident one afternoon when strolling down around the Gurney Plaza area with a looming deadline. It is open air (but, with a roof) and looks out across the water toward mainland Butterworth. Aside from the plethora of mosquito bites (take repellant!) it was a lovely place to stop. Very casual, with a bunch of expats hanging out drinking beer and picking up a well priced meal. The free Wifi was good and the food was cheap (for western food), looking out over the ocean was a nice change of scenery too.
- Open 24 hours
- Open air/get to enjoy the light of day
- Opposite the ocean/harbour views
- Extensive & reasonably priced menu
- Not as airconditioned as other places (due to open air) on really hot days
- Mosquitoes (again, because of open air)
Favourite Penang Cafes #2. Coffee Elements
In All Seasons Place, Lebuhraya Thean Teik, Bandar Baru Air Itam
We had to go adventuring to find this spot. We were staying in Air Itam, a nice, genuinely local suburb south-west of George Town. Awesome hawker food everywhere, but not a western style cafe for miles! After a few days of working from the bedroom and the plastic tables of a food court we finally ventured out to find Coffee Elements. All Seasons Plaza was about a 30 minute walk away (which feels more like a few hours when you do it in the searing heat of midday, mid Febuary Malaysia) but it was worth the effort. Got a delicious burger and enjoyed the free wifi and amazing hot chocolates for hours. It is upstairs in the plaza, not in the main stretch of cafes so a little tricky to find, but worth the hunt.
- Excellent Food
- Really nice atmosphere, Trendy vibe
- A bit pricey
- In a complex that is overall quite expensive
- Out of the way, down in Air itam
Favourite Penang Cafes #3. Secowan ’n Such
205, Jalan Hutton, Georgetown
This cute little cafe is hidden out behind new world park off Jalan Burma. They offer a lovely food selection and do great sandwiches late into the evening even after the neighbouring cafes have closed up their kitchens. Great selection of teas too (I love that kind of thing).
- Great selection of teas, cakes and sandwiches.
- Good, free wifi and good service, nice atmosphere.
- Fairly reasonable prices: Around 8.90 for a tea, 12-16rm sandwich, 16-20rm for a main/pasta.
Favourite Penang Cafes #4. De Moonlight Cafe
Lebuh Acheh, Georgetown.
This gorgeous little retro hideaway is nestled in amongst the centre of George town. We stayed and worked here for a number of hours, enjoying a few cold beers and snacks while we worked away.
- Very central location
- Fun, retro vibe
- Interesting menu
- Friendly staff, nice service
- Food is a bit snack-orientated and adequate but not amazing
- A little more expensive than our usual tastes
Favourite Penang Cafes #5. Double Shot
25-G Jalan Gottlieb, Penang.
You won’t stumble upon Double Shot if you are just sticking to central George Town, however if you explore up to the other end of Jalan Burma it’s definitely worth a stop. It was the closest cafe to our home at Bodhi Heart (near the botanical gardens), and quickly became our local favourite.
- The fastest Wifi we found on the island
- Exceptional service with staff who came to know us
- Good dinner deals on a tasty pasta or chicken parmigiana
- Very nice cakes and good coffee
Favourite Penang Cafes #6. Kopitiam
3911, Jalan Burma,Georgetown.
The first time I visited Kopitiam was a disaster. The breakfast was terrible and the TV was blasting some relatively traumatising plane crash news coverage (well, traumatic for us ex-flight attendants who were struggling with anxiety and PTSD). However, I returned again toward the end of our time in Penang and had a lovely experience of delicious iced milo and a nice atmosphere with good wifi, so go and try it for yourself!
- Great central location
- Delicious and well priced drinks (Iced Milo was a winner!)
- Breakfast wasn’t good – maybe go work here with a coffee rather than a meal (I only tried the breakfast – the burgers look tasty!)Open reasonably late
Favourite Penang Cafes #7. Mango Tree Place Hideaway
494, Lebuh Pantai, Georgetown.
We stumbled upon mange tree hideaway by absolute fluke in a desperate attempt to escape the searing midday sun. The guy working was exceptionally friendly and fun, and I was impressed by their Gluten Free cake offerings.
- Amazing tea selection – recommend the earl grey lavender
- Lot’s of tasty cakes & great gluten free offering
- Exceptionally friendly service
- Dont open until 12pm, and we went back another day and they weren’t open either, so not entirely sure of hours
Favourite Penang Cafes #8. Moustache Houze
24, Lebuh Campbell, Georgetown.
Moustache houze was recommended to us from another digital nomad who had been exploring George town. It’s in the Chinese part of George town and offers a funky retro feel with power points and comfy chairs.
- Nice environment
- Popular remote working spot
- No meals on the menu – just coffee and cakes
#9 Bonus Mention: Old Town White Coffee
With branches all around Penang (and usually you’ll find one within metres of any Starbucks) but at a much more affordable price, and good wifi (that doesn’t expire after an hour like Starbucks does). They also offer a range of meals, not just snacks. If you’re stuck for a cafe to work at, I recommend these guys over Starbucks.