For a relatively small town, George Town, the capital of Penang state in Malaysia, and largest city on the island of the same name has a surprisingly broad choice of hipster cafés, many of which serve as good work places, mostly found in the old town. Unfortunately, Malaysia has the second slowest internet speeds in South East Asia (after the Philippines) so we didn't find anywhere with very good wifi, though moderate to acceptable speeds are ubiquitous.
These were our favourite places to work. All have free drinking water. Expect to pay around RM10 (€2.10) for a black coffee in most.
Though this cute little place has rather small tables, perhaps not the most comfortable chairs and very few power sockets, they do have a nice range of teas and lovely churros, which are vegan if served without the sauces, though they do not have soy milk for hot drinks. The atmosphere is cosy and conducive to conversation, and staff are happy to leave you alone for hours.
With friendly staff and several power sockets plus comfortable chairs, this place only lacks decently fast wifi to make it an ideal digital nomad workspace, especially if you want to play some D2 or trade some diablo 2 items in your spare time. The wifi as its best is passable, though would be frustrating for intense surfing or photo uploading. There is a cute bike theme throughout and the calm atmosphere makes it an easy place to concentrate. Unfortunately, they do not have soy milk and serve nothing vegan.
Possibly the most hipster café we found in town (notice the cardboard dinosaur skeleton hanging from the ceiling!), this place has super friendly staff and serves delicious, freshly made juices. The chairs are perhaps not the most comfortable, and there are very few power sockets, but the wifi is decent and they are the only place we found (other than Starbucks) that has soy milk!
The Twelve Cups
With comfortable chairs, big-enough tables, several power sockets and pretty fast wifi (relatively for Malaysia), this place is probably the most digital nomad friendly we found in Georgetown. There’s also lots of natural light and staff are friendly and unobtrusive, though perhaps the music is a little too loud. They have next to nothing vegan (that means no soy milk, sadly), but the (very sweet) rose water tea is nice enough.
Bricklin Bar Café
Inside the old Hua Hin bus depot that now functions as a cool art space, this delightful little café is a great place to work. With a few power sockets hidden under the benches, comfortable chairs, reasonably fast wifi and pleasant, non-generic music, it serves as a good place to get stuff done. Nothing vegan is on the menu, nor do they have soy milk, but their unsweetened iced teas are worth trying.
With a few comfortable chairs and tables and the occasional power socket, this place can be a decent place to work if you find a seat. Unfortunately, the wifi is slow. While they do offer soy milk, they don’t have anything specifically vegan to eat, except maybe one or two of the vegetarian main meals on the menu which could perhaps be veganised if you ask nicely. Staff are pleasant and helpful but also happy to leave you alone.
By Jub from Tiki Touring Kiwi: If you appreciate your private space, this new (as of May 2016) co-working space @CAT is perfect. With three separate connections, the wifi is possibly the fastest in Penang (9 up/9 down). Along with plenty of power sockets, air conditioning, nice views and a large kitchen, it's everything a digital nomad wants in a co-working space. There isn't a strong community there yet, but at RM200 (€45) for 24/7 access each month, it's a great deal.
You can also download this guide in the GPSMyCity app!
I saved these places to a list on Foursquare that you can see here and easily save, and below is a map showing the locations of all the cafés mentioned in this post:
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