Banking For Foreign Expatriates In Penang

If you’re looking to explore the opportunities of making Penang your next home, you’ve probably heard about the amazing reasons why a foreign expatriate should consider Living in Penang. However, you will definitely want to know more and compare the various personal banking products and services that are available to you.

banking in penang - 2

So whether you’re looking for a bank with a global reach, to have easy access to ATMs, or looking for personal financing options to help you explore the sights and sounds of Penang, we’ve compiled some of the best choices for you in this quick guide to banking for foreign expatriates in Penang.

First up, we’ll take a look at the foreign and multinational banks, followed by our choice of the best local banks to help you get your personal finances in order when you first arrive in Penang.


The Foreign and Multinational Banks

Citibank Malaysia

Citibank is part of the Citigroup and offers global banking services for foreign expatriates in more than 160 countries worldwide. There are over 11 Citibank branches in Malaysia, and Citibank is the only foreign bank to be rated AAA for 15 years in a row. In Penang itself, Citibank’s main branch is located on Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah, Penang and they also have another branch which is located in Bukit Tengah, Seberang Prai.

HSBC Malaysia

HSBC bank is one of the largest banking groups in the world, and HSBC Malaysia is also the largest foreign bank in Malaysia with over 40 branches nationwide. HSBC also has a network of over 6,100 offices in 72 countries across the world. If you are looking for Sharia-compliant banking services, HSBC also offers Islamic banking services via HSBC Amanah.

In Penang, HSBC has three branches with its main branch located on Downing Street being one of the oldest bank branches in the country.

Standard Chartered Bank

Standard Chartered is also one of the oldest foreign banks in Malaysia and its first branch opened its doors in 1875 in Penang, on Beach Street. Today, Standard Chartered has three branches in Penang with over 40 branches located nationwide in Malaysia. For Islamic banking services, you can also choose to open an account with their subsidiary, Standard Chartered Saadiq Berhad.

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The Local and Regional Banks


Maybank is Malaysia’s largest financial services group and is the fourth largest bank in Southeast Asia. It has a global network of 2,200 offices in over 20 countries and in Malaysia; Maybank has over 400 branches with 2,600 ATMs and self-service terminals across the country. In Penang, Maybank has over 32 branches and over 90 ATMs across the island and Butterworth.


CIMB Bank is one of the largest banking groups in Southeast Asia and has over 1,080 offices across the ASEAN region with more than 290 branches, plus over 2,200 ATMs and self-service terminals in Malaysia. CIMB also operates in 17 global markets and there are over 30 branches and 59 ATMs for CIMB Bank in Penang.

Public Bank

Public Bank is one of the largest banks in Malaysia, with over 180 branches and 1,800 ATMs and self-service terminals. Public Bank’s presence in Penang is spread out over 21 branches and more than 50 ATMs across the state.

There also other banks that offer their services in Penang, such as UOB, OCBC, Scotiabank, Kuwait Finance House and the Bank of China that you may want to consider during your time here in Penang.


Online and Mobile Banking

If you’re not keen on having to brave the seemingly endless queues at the bank, online or mobile banking is a great alternative that gives you the option of hassle-free banking at your convenience.

In Malaysia, there are over 18.8 million online banking (31 banks) and 6.6 mobile banking (13 banks) subscribers* who enjoy the convenience of banking on the go or from the privacy of their homes via the Internet.

The number of online banking subscribers in Malaysia has grown over 90% in the last five years and the banks in Malaysia have made it even easier for you to settle your bills, transfer funds and apply for credit cards and personal loans online.

*Source: Bank Negara Malaysia: “Malaysia’s Payment Statistics – Internet Banking and Mobile Banking Subscribers”

Whatever your final choice might be, we’re confident that you’ll come to enjoy the amazing lifestyle that only Penang can offer you in Southeast Asia. Selamat datang and enjoy your stay!

This guest post by Michael Vincent Mislos.  Find him on twitter @mmichaels_21

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Daniel - November 16, 2015 at 6:45 AM

Categories: Expat Talk, Practicalities   Tags:

I’m a guest on the Expat Chat Podcast

I was lucky enough to be asked to talk about Living in Penang on the latest episode of The Expat Chat Podcast.   Hosts Tony and Leanne find expats around the world and asks them about their experiences living overseas.  I’ve subscribed to the podcast and have a lot fun listening to the stories from around the world.  I really enjoyed getting to know them over coffee and hope to see them again in Penang.

Read more…

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Daniel - November 12, 2015 at 10:39 AM

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Tapirs, Tales and Trinkets event in Penang


Date: 29th August 2015

Time: 10:00am to 3:00pm( book launch first)

Place: Jonathan Yun Sculptural Jewellery

152 Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling

10200 Penang


What do tapirs, tales and trinkets have in common? When Jonathan Yun, anestablished sculptural jeweller, and Patricia Chew- a children’s author – come together, their combined synergy results in an unusual blend of their individual talents. The end result is tapir tales by Patricia and trinkets created by Jonathan, which are wearable and affordable.

If you wish to find out how this comes about, join them and Precious Page Resources, Patricia’s publisher and event organiser during this event at the Georgetown Festival. Let Jonathan kick start the event by fascinating you with how jewellers work with transforming a piece of metal into a beautiful piece of work. Jonathan will also surprise you with his unusual range of tapir jewellery which he designed specially for sale at this event. These limited edition pieces are ones which you would cherish for years to come.

After this, Patricia will give you a preview of the highlights of her third book, “The Mystery of the Missing Tapirs” during a short storytelling session. Meet the delightful characters from her book and share their laughter and woes as they solve the mystery of the missing tapirs in Evergreen Forest. Then the official launch of her book will take place where she will be on hand to sign her books.

Note: Patricia’s book is published by Precious Page Resources and will be distributed to major and independent bookstores throughout Malaysia and Singapore. For more information on her other books, please contact Precious Pages Resources . For more information on Jonathan’s jewellery, please visit his website at,



The author Patricia Chew.

She is the authoress of 2 children’s books, “Tony Tapir and Friends” published in 2010 and its sequel, “The Quest for the Great Pearl,” published in 2012. “Tony Tapir and Friends” has been reviewed in various magazines like the Straits Times “Little Red Dot”, “What’s Up” newspaper for children and Mediacorp’s “Animal Planet.”

Her second book launched on 13.01.13 in Penang Times Square was reviewed again by Mediacorp’s “Animal Planet” and SPH’s “Young Parents” where it was featured alongside the children’s book by ex-President Nathan of Singapore. The authoress was featured with her two books in Malaysia’s “Taman Ria Disney” magazine in June this year.

Formerly admitted as a Solicitor in England & Wales and as an Advocate & Solicitor in Singapore, she is no longer practising, but writes children’s books and tells stories in schools, malls and wherever the opportunity arises. The authoress is enthusiastic about sharing her passion for these endangered animals and wants to put a smile back on the faces of the readers as they enter into the enchanted world of these animals.

For more information, contact Patricia Chew at [email protected]

About the Artist

Jonathan Yun is a jeweler/artist based in Penang, Malaysia. He graduated from RMIT Australia majoring in fine metals. He has won several international jewelry awards and had participated in various exhibitions. Nature has been one of his passions and he is a certified divemaster as well as a fern collector.

Jonathan works mainly in silver as he finds the soft patina of silver fascinating and alluring. He works from his studio where each piece of jewelry is painstakingly sculpted out in jewelers wax and then casted out in sterling silver. Then the piece is hand finished and polished to reflect its beauty.

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Daniel - August 25, 2015 at 1:03 PM

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Upcoming Film Screenings

The arts are a big part of Penang life.  There’s galleries aplenty and the street art is world famous.  Film buffs will also be pleased to know that films are a part of that tradition as well.  In the next week there will be two film screenings that you want to know about.

Julian Cheah Film Week

Julian Cheah is the Hired Killer

Julian Cheah is the Hired Killer

Julian Cheah has become a good friend of mine in the last couple of years.  He’s a writer, director and actor and native Penangite.  I’m pleased to let you know that six of his films will be screened at PenangPAC at Straits Quay next week. 21 -26 July.

Here’s Julian in his own words:

The films are: Prince Of The City, The Hired Killer, Infected Paradise, Wild Justice, Killer Clown and art film Penyesalan Tak Berakhir (The Never-Ending Regret). Admission is FREE for everyone as this is not a profit-making event but intimate Q & A chatting sessions between people and me and the sharing of my emotions and experiences in the industry, where some can criticise my work and my presence in the field and I can assert my reasons for doing the films which I choose to do. A definite topic will be the stereotypical and sometimes disrespectful way that Asian men are depicted even today in modern Hollywood and how filmmakers can make a difference to this situation. The timing of the screening week coincides with my friend and film colleague Rod Manikam being in town so I look forward to having him joining me.

Movie Posters, stills and behind the scenes pictures can be found on the Julian Cheah Pictures Facebook page.  Dates of the screenings can be found on that facebook page as well.


Red Dot Cinema

Red Dot Cinema promotes independent short films from Asia and screens them around the region.  They are kicking off their latest Asia tour in Penang on 18 July 2015 at the Chai Diam Ma a local cafe on Queen Street in Georgetown.  This is a great opportunity to help raise awareness of Asian independent films and promote Asian cultures.

Tickets are RM 20 and can be purchased on line at

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Daniel - July 16, 2015 at 4:55 PM

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Bubur Cha Cha for Chap Goh Meh

The 15th day of Chinese New Year is called Chap Goh Meh, also known as Chinese Valentine’s Day.  It is a big deal here in Penang with events all over including a big gathering at the Esplanade in George Town hosted by the Penang State Government.  Read more about what the holiday is about in last year’s post.  Also visit the curated photo blog Living in Penang illustrated to see images from Instagram of the Chap Goh Meh celebrations.  Find out why young singles are throwing mandarin oranges into the sea.  This year I want to share one of the traditional dishes eaten during Chap Goh Meh, Bubur Cha Cha.


Bubur Cha Cha is the name for a Nyonya dish that is sometimes confused with a similar dish called Pengat.  It is a sweet dessert that is said to make the new year sweeter.  The Cha Cha is supposed to sound like ‘che che’ which in Hokkien means ‘prosperity’ or ‘abundence’.


This is a dish to be shared, so serve it to friends and neighbors today.  It is also the last day to hand out those red envelopes.  Children should be getting their last bit of loot before the river runs dry.

Bubur Cha Cha recipe


  • 1 cup cubed sweet potato – the orange variety – because orange is the color of Chap Goh Meh11008187_906182509402059_1341056860_n
  • 1 cup cubed yam, yellow and purple for more colors.
  • 100 g pearl sago
  • water
  • sugar
  • coconut milk
  • 2 to 3 pandan leaves, tied in a knot


  1. Boil Sago Pearls on their own in water until they are soft and translucent.  This should take about 15 minutes
  2. Steam the yam and sweet potato.  They should get soft but not mushy.  If you don’t have a steamer, sprinkle with water and microwave for 10 minutes.
  3. Bring 1 cup of water and 1/2 a cup of sugar to a boil.
  4. Drop to a simmer and add the pandan leaves.
  5. Add 1 cup of coconut milk and simmer for 4 minutes.
  6. Remove pandan.
  7. Add steamed sweet potato and yam, stir to coat.
  8. Serve over a heaping spoonful of sago pearls.


Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Daniel - March 5, 2015 at 9:57 PM

Categories: Food and Drink, Holidays   Tags:

Thaipusam in Malaysia, Singapore and on Instagram

I’ve written about Thaipusam in the past on this blog.  It’s a red-letter public holiday that is one of the Hindus’ most important days.  It is a colorful festive display with most of the celebrations focused in four locations: Penang, Ipoh, Batu Caves in Selangor, and Singapore.  Thaipusam is a really big deal.

It is also well captured on social media, especially Instagram. As a service to my readers, I’m curating the Thaipusam pictures that I’m finding on Instagram into a series on the Tumblr feed, livinginpenang-illustrated.  The Thaipusam pictures can be found under the hashtag #thaipusam.


Thaipusam images

Thaipusam at Batu Caves 2015

Batu Caves

Young Thaipusam celebrant

Young Thaipusam celebrant

Silver Chariot in Penang, with KOMTAR in the background

Silver Chariot in Penang, with KOMTAR in the background

Thaipusam Chariot procession in Singapore

ThaipusamChariot procession in Singapore

Find more images from Thaipusam on the Tumblr.

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Daniel - February 3, 2015 at 10:40 AM

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HypnoBirthing in Penang


There are many expats in Penang who have had babies while they were living here. We’ve had one, and we’re about to have another. There is a Certified HypnoBirthing Practitioner who works in Penang. Her name is Jaye Chan. She agreed to an online interview to help us understand what HypnoBirthing is and where in Penang we can find her services.

It is a pleasure to get to know you, Jaye. Let’s get started.

1) What is HypnoBirthing ® and how is it better than conventional birth practices?

HypnoBirthing ® is as much a philosophy of birth as it is a technique for achieving a satisfying, relaxing, and stress-free birth. Unlike conventional birth practices, which often marginalize the mother by distrusting her natural birthing ability and usher her into an anxious and restless mode by being so highly dependent on machinery and drugs and relying on unnecessary protocols and practices that are less effective and less humane, in HypnoBirthing ®, we see birth as natural, normal and healthy, with a natural rhythm and flow. When a healthy woman, carrying a healthy baby, experiencing a healthy labour, trusting birth, is free of fear, is undisturbed and is appropriately relaxed, her body will function normally without pain or incident. HypnoBirthing ® teaches you to release all prior programming about birth, to free yourself of limiting thoughts and emotions, and embrace the amazing ability of your body to birth your baby naturally, easily and comfortably. The techniques you will learn allow you to stay in control and calm during labour and birth and works very effectively with all types of birth – natural or surgical.

2) Am I giving up control when I am under hypnosis?

Although there are many misconceptions and misinformation about hypnosis, you are definitely not unconscious during self-hypnosis. When giving birth with HypnoBirthing ®, you will be conversant and in good spirits – deeply relaxed, but fully in control. You will be able to decide the extent to which you feel the sensation. You will experience your birthing calmly and relaxed, with your body’s natural anesthesia (endorphins) replacing the stress hormones that cause pain. When it is time for your baby to be born, you will be fully awake, aware and involved.

3) What is the process for having a HypnoBirthing ® birth?  How far in advance do I need to prepare?

It is always better to prepare yourself as early as possible to ensure a positive outcome. When opting for a HypnoBirthing ® birth experience, your body and mind need to be optimally conditioned, so that when the time comes, you can effectively enter into a deep relaxation state, which will bring your body into harmony with the birthing rhythm and the orchestration of your birthing hormones, making your birthing calmer, safer and easier. Hence, it is important to attend a HypnoBirthing ® course to increase your chances of having a successful HypnoBirthing ® birth. There are special breathing, relaxation and visualization techniques, meditative practice, attention to nutrition and positive body toning exercises that can be learned. Most importantly, it fosters an air of mutual respect for the birthing family, as well as the health-care provider in a conventional health-care system or an alternative setting. All this knowledge can help you in your preparation to have a beautiful HypnoBirthing ® birth.

4) Where can I read more about HypnoBirthing ®?

For more information on HypnoBirthing ®, you can visit the official website, or you can grab a book “Hypnobirthing: The Mongan Method” authored by Marie F.Mongan.

5) How can I find you, Jaye, online to ask more questions and to hire you?

You can find me through my website, or you can also contact me through my Facebook,, or through the Hypnobirthing in Malaysia Facebook page,

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Daniel - February 2, 2015 at 10:27 AM

Categories: Birth, Health, Kids, Practicalities   Tags:

Weird doesn’t have to be a bad word

How to Make Your Own LemonadeWhen I was growing up, I wasn’t allowed to call things weird. Especially if I wrinkled up my nose and said it dripping with disdain. That was the case when the family would be invited to a large 12 course Chinese meal and the foods that were served passed beyond the normative range of an American Born Chinese kid. Picture a large platter of fresh sushi on ice with two lobster heads as the centerpiece. Now imagine a 14 year-old getting freaked out because the decapitated lobster head facing him just moved its eyes to watch me eat its flesh.  My mother was quick to point out, the meat is “so fresh!”  That just wasn’t good enough for me.

Weird is part of being a TCK

Now the tables have turned and I’m the parent, and my children are the third culture kids.  They are finding things new and different and weird in this land of Penang.  There are new customs, new festivals and holidays, new foods.

If you’re unfamiliar with the term, third culture kid, let me recommend the book Third Culture Kids: Growing Up Among Worlds by Pollack and Reken. A TCK is a person who grows up outside their parents’ home culture. Expat parents should get familiar with the challenges and benefits that comes with being a TCK.  More resources below.

But my point is, I’m having to hear from my kids that things are weird.  I’m not entirely comfortable to say that they need to stop.  I think we just need to redefine the term.

Redefining weird

Let’s take the wrongness out of weird.  Let’s remove our egocentricity and see things from another perspective.  And now we realize that weird can mean different, without being bad.  An egocentric person would consider anything outside of my personal frame of normalcy to be wrong.

With this simple tool of allowing for someone else’s normal we take the first step towards living cross-culturally successfully.  We can go into these cross cultural situations and think, “that’s different, but I might like it.”  You can also give yourself (and your children) permission not to like it as well.

I’m finding that this new sense for the word weird to be freeing.  We are now free to experience the weird and look at things that are different.  We can keep our judgment to ourselves or to be discussed at home.

Now conversations can be like “Wow that’s weird.”  “I know cool huh?”

More TCK resources

Read at least one book about TCKs to familiarize yourself with the issues.

Participate in a twice monthly twitter chat under the hashtag #TCKChat (1st and 3rd Wednesday, 10am and 10pm).  For those of us in Penang that’s 11pm Wednesday or 11am Thursday.  Send me a message @livinginpenang and I’ll show you how to participate in a twitter chat.




photo by:

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Daniel - January 21, 2015 at 8:14 AM

Categories: Culture   Tags:

US Consular Officer coming to Penang

This came in from the US Embassy Kuala Lumpur. 


The U.S. Embassy in Malaysia is pleased to announce that a Consular Officer will be traveling to Penang to provide limited service in the area on January 28 2015 from 9am to 12pm.  During this visit, the officer will be able to provide notary services and take U.S. passport applications back to the Embassy for final processing.  Appointments are required.  Please email [email protected] to schedule your appointment.  We will provide information on the venue and required fees for each service when we confirm your appointment.

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Daniel - January 20, 2015 at 5:47 PM

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World Curry Festival


The World Curry Festival is coming to Penang

Are you as excited as I am?  The World Curry Festival will be coming to Penang Jan 30 to Feb 1, 2015.  For the last 5 years this has been a British event.  The aim was to establish Britain as one of the curry capitals of the world.  It’s true too.  Recently I hosted two families of Britons at my house, and as a joke I googled traditional British recipes.  Chicken Tikka Masala came up as the third search result.


For this 6th annual festival, they are taking it international, to Penang.  Curries from everywhere, not just Malaysia, will be represented.  It will be part of the Penang International Halal Expo and Conference.

Events include:

  • Gala Dinner
  • Curry Master classes
  • World Curry Festival Cooking School
  • Street Food
  • Market Stalls
  • Pop Up Restaurants
  • and more to be announced

World Curry Festival on Social Media

Facebook: WorldCurryFest

Twitter: @worldcurryfest


1 comment - What do you think?  Posted by Daniel - at 8:41 AM

Categories: Event, Food and Drink   Tags:

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