Air Itam

Air Itam (also spelt Ayer Itam or Air Hitam), is a town in central Penang Island (Pulau Pinang). Located west of George Town, Air Itam is largely a suburban area home to the famous Penang Hill, or Bukit Bendera, and the gigantic Kek Lok Si Temple.

Understand

Orientation

Orienting yourself around Air Itam is fairly straightforward. If anything, the biggest challenge is knowing where George Town ends and Air Itam starts as both now merge seamlessly together. For the purposes of this article, Air Itam begins west of Jl Masjid Negeri and Jl Scotland.

Central Air Itam is situated around three main streets: Jl Air Itam, Jl Pasar and Jl Balik Pulau. This area is often overflowing with pedestrian activity and a barrage of traffic courtesy of the popular local markets and businesses that help to congest this major, yet tiny road. To the north, along Jl Bukit Bendera, is the Penang Hill (Bukit Bendera) base funicular train station. Taking a ride on the funicular lifts you up to the top of the hill, offering scenic views and a much cooler climate.

Directly to the south of central Air Itam is the township of Bandar Baru Air Itam, more commonly known as Farlim. Largely a residential area, Farlim runs along Lebuhraya Thean Teik and is littered with housing estates and condominiums. Much of Air Itam's amenities, including banks, supermarkets, pharmacies, clinics and laundromats are found here. Northeast of Farlim and east of Central Air Itam, is Kampung Baru, another residential area, which runs along Jl Air Itam, and is the most common route from George Town.

Climate

 Climate Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
 
Daily highs (°C) 32 32 32 32 32 32 31 31 31 31 31 31
Nightly lows (°C) 24 24 25 25 25 25 24 24 23 24 24 24
Precipitation (mm) 67 75 159 178 217 177 173 216 287 370 224 120

Check Air Itam's 7 day forecast at MET.gov.my

The climate in Air Itam is very much similar to George Town. Expect year round hot and humid days that are often broken with a cooling afternoon shower. Evenings are much cooler than the daytime, but rarely drop below 20°C. Being further inland than George Town, Air Itam tends to experience slightly less rainfall and lacks the cool breeze that occasionally blows in from the Strait of Malacca.

As an exception, Penang Hill tends to be much cooler compared to the coastal plains of George Town and Air Itam. Elevated 833 m above sea level, Penang Hill offers much welcomed cool climate once described by Isabella Bird, a 19th century travel writer, as 'delicious'.

Get in

By bus

Using the extensive Rapid Penang public bus network is a cheap and convenient way to reach Air Itam. Most people will be coming in from George Town, with bus 203 terminating within the town centre near the local market and Kek Lok Si. Another option is bus 204, which terminates at the base of Penang Hill, via Air Itam town centre. Bus 201 and 502 will also pass through the town centre and are also good options to take.

For those in Bayan Lepas, the Airport or near Queensbay Mall, bus 306 passes near the town centre. You must alight at Jl Air Itam and walk for about 20 minutes or take another bus. From Balik Pulau, bus 502 will also pass through the town centre before continuing on to George Town.

By taxi

Taking a taxi to Air Itam is naturally the more expensive option, but is a good option if you are travelling late at night. A fare from KOMTAR, George Town, to Air Itam should cost around RM20-25, Batu Ferringhi around RM30-35 and RM45 from around Bayan Lepas. Keep in mind a 50% surcharge is applied after midnight. Whenever you do take a taxi keep in mind that most taxi drivers will attempt to inflate the fare and refuse to use the meter, so haggle furiously to ensure you are not ripped off.

Get around

The main town area of Air Itam is fairly compact and easy to walk around on foot. However there are many cases where footpaths do not exist and walking along the side of the road is common. Doing so is considered safe but do keep an eye out for traffic, wide open gutters and other hazards. Walking between Kek Lok Si to the base of Penang Hill is a leisurely walk, taking about 20 minutes and passes the War Memorial Park. If you are bothered waiting, bus 204 is another way to travel between these two popular areas. Venturing beyond the town centre on foot may not be the best option thanks to the hot and sweaty weather of Penang, but taking the bus to the outlying areas is a good option.

See

Main prayer hall at the Jade Emperor's Temple
Kek Lok Si

Do

View of George Town and Seberang Perai from Penang Hill

Buy

Eat

A piping hot bowl of Assam Laksa

Drink

If you are in Air Itam to look for bars and clubs, then you are definitely in the wrong place. Those looking for the party scene should head on over to George Town. If you are looking for an alcoholic drink your best bet will be to have one with a meal at certain restaurants, kopitiams and hawker centres. Take note that Muslim establishments will not serve alcohol. Another option would be to purchase liquor from a convenience store or local supermarket to enjoy back at your room. Out of respect to Muslim locals it is best not to consume alcohol in public streets.

Sleep

Air Itam Dam

Most people stay in George Town or Batu Ferringhi as they are close to Air Itam. There are also very few choices available, so prices tend to be more expensive here.

Connect

Telephone

The area code for Air Itam is 04, the same code used by the rest of Penang in addition to Kedah and Perlis. International calls should be dialled as +60 4 XXX-XXXX.

Most of the Air Itam area has full network coverage from all of the major mobile telephone networks. There may be some mobile coverage black spots, particularly on Penang Hill away from the major tourist area or if you plan trek around the hills. Public telephones are available and scattered throughout, mostly found around the major town centres within Air Itam.

Go next

There is still plenty more of Penang to visit, simply hop on one of the local Rapid Penang buses.

This article is issued from Wikivoyage - version of the Monday, June 01, 2015. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.