Fomer Penang resident, Sharon Gourlay, shares the best things to do in Penang, Malaysia.
Looking for a place to visit with tropical weather, beaches and jungle, a historic city and the best food in the world?
Come to Penang! It has all of these things and more.
Although it is not just an island, the state of Penang is best known for its beautiful island, just off the coast and this is where you should visit.
Penang is a fabulous place. It’s modern while being tropical and gorgeous.
It’s easy to get around with many people speaking English, and it has an interesting cultural mix and heritage.
BEST TIME TO VISIT PENANG
Penang is located in the tropics and not that far from the equator so it is hot and humid year round.
However, it is less hot and humid in their dry season which is November to February.
December and January are the busiest times for tourists so visiting in February or November is the absolute best time.
Although March and April are also very pleasant.
RAIN IN PENANG
However, it is not bad to go at other times. Rainfall is usually over quickly and often occurs at night.
In all our time in Penang, there was only one day when it rained so much that it stopped us doing things.
A bigger concern can be the haze – pollution which is caused by fires in Indonesia.
Most years this isn’t a big concern in Penang but when it is bad, it can be very bad with it not being a good idea to go outside.
It varies each year with when is a bad time and how bad it is but it can occur from anytime from June.
WHAT TO DO IN PENANG, MALAYSIA
If you are looking for a beach holiday, you can have it in Pulau Penang (Penang Island), or if you are looking to learn more about the world, you can have that too.
Either way, you can eat great food and have a great vacation at a great price.
We called it home for a year with our kids and it was one of our best years ever. It’s a very nice and easy place to be.
PENANG HAS SOMETHING FOR EVERYONE
In this Penang travel blog, I’m going to share with you our best things to do in Penang Island.
I will then help you plan your trip further with some information about how to get to Penang, share the best time to visit is and some of the best places to stay in Penang once you make it here.
So, let’s start! Here’s my list of what to do in Penang Island.
1. TAKE A FUNICULAR TRAM UP PENANG HILL
Penang Hill is the best place in Penang to start your adventure as you can see so much of Penang from here! It’s also noticeably cooler than the rest of Penang so great if you want to cool down.
Getting to Penang Hill is half the fun of this attraction in Penang.
You can walk (it’s steep!) but I highly recommend the two-kilometer funicular tram ride.
The tram rides up the steep hill and is actually quite thrilling on the way down. Make sure you sit at the bottom of the tram for the full effect.
Once at the top, there are a variety of Penang Hill attractions in addition to the view which is great on a clear day.
There is a skywalk, mosque, Hindu temple, an owl museum, many animals, a playground, canopy walk, zip line and a variety of nature trails.
With all the options of what to do in Penang Hill, it’s easy to spend a few hours here.
I particularly enjoy the Hindu Temple which is very tranquil at this location with the views, cooler air, and chanting.
If you are hungry, there are two food courts. One is full of juice and icy treat options and this is the perfect time to try a Malaysian Ais Kacang (shaved ice dessert with many random things added).
Private Penang City tour with Penang Hill and Kek Lok Si Temple.
Discover the streets of Georgetown a UNESCO World Heritage Site, along with temples including Kek Lok Si and a ride the funicular to the 2,733-foot (833-meter) summit of Penang Hill
Hours: 6:30am – 11pm (ticket office shuts 9:45pm)
Cost: RM30 return for adults, RM15 for kids.
There is a discount for Malaysians.
2. HAVE SOME QUIET REFLECTION AT KEK LOK SI TEMPLE
Not far from Penang Hill is another of the top places to visit in Penang Island.
Kek Lok Si Temple is the biggest Buddhist Temple in Malaysia and it’s in a beautiful location built against the mountains.
There is a massive temple plus some pagodas and a few other temples.
The garden areas are also very nice and are home to fish and tortoise ponds where it’s nice to just sit for a moment and take it all in.
Thanks to its mountainous setting, there are a lot of stairs but you can take an inclination lift between the temples to save some walking.
Hours: 9am – 6pm
Cost: It’s free to enter the temple grounds and RM2 for adults to enter the pagoda. It costs RM6 to use the inclination lift for adults.
3. LEARN ABOUT PENANG’S PAST AT FORT CORNWALLIS
Another of the top Penang things to do is to visit Fort Cornwallis by the sea in George Town.
Fort Cornwallis is the largest remaining British fort in Malaysia, and it has many information boards and a museum section.
It’s where the British first arrived on what was virtually an uninhabited island at the time in 1786.
It established the port of Penang helping to shape what was to become a big centre of trade.
The fort covers a reasonable size area and is a nice, peaceful park as well.
Hours: 9am – 7pm
Cost: RM20 for adults, RM10 for kids with discounts for Malaysians
4. ENJOY GEORGE TOWN’S HISTORIC CENTRE
George Town’s center is UNESCO World Heritage listed thanks to its unique architecture, culture, and townscape.
You need to set aside at least a couple of hours to wander around this Penang famous place to visit.
There are neighborhoods to visit within it as well with Little India, its famous Chinese shop fronts and colonial architecture left by the British.
It’s also easy to visit with it being centrally located within the most popular parts of Penang.
Some area to explore include Love Lane, Armenian Street and around Queen Street, Chulia Street and Market Streets for Little India.
There are also some Penang points of interest to visit to learn more the history of this area at Peranakan Mansion and Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion.
For a better idea of what you will find in George Town, check out this photo walk.
Full Day Penang City Tour – Explore different neighborhoods of Penang and visit the Clan Jetty (Small floating Village), Penang’s oldest temple, St. George Church and Fort Corwalis.
Penang Self Guided Tour – A Self Guided Audio tour that can be explored at your own pace.
Tours can be cancelled up to 24 hours in advance for a full refund.
5. Go On A Avenue Artwork Hunt!
In recent times, George City has grow to be recognized for its avenue artwork and also you positively have to preserve a glance out for this as you discover issues to do at Penang.
The artwork depicts pictures from Penang each day life and from its previous and it’s enjoyable to attempt to spot it as you stroll round. They make for excellent pictures particularly the bicycle above the place you may sit on the bike to your personal picture of you exploring Penang.
Some high locations to go in Penang to seek out this artwork are Armenian Avenue, Chulia Avenue and Muntri Avenue.
6. Take Some Foolish Images At Made in Penang Interactive Museum
The 3D Museum craze is nicely and actually alive in Malaysia and, at this Penang vacationer attraction, you may mix taking some attention-grabbing 3D pictures whereas studying among the historical past and tradition of Penang.
As a substitute of conventional museum reveals, right here you will see isometric artwork the place you pose at sure spots so that you grow to be a part of the paintings. Some function Penang’s previous, some are simply enjoyable.
There are additionally some miniature scale fashions of Penang and a film on Penang’s historical past and tradition.
Hours: 10am – 6:30pm
Value: RM35 for adults and RM25 for youths.
7. See Some Monkeys At The Penang Botanical Gardens
One other greatest place to go to in Penang is the Botanical Gardens – excellent if you wish to see extra of Penang’s nature and love monkeys!
Created by the British in 1884, the gardens are nicely taken care of and have an enormous number of unique and indigenous plant species.
In a peaceable location, there are 12 areas with many various plant varieties together with a proper backyard, tropical rainforest jungle monitor, and a cactus home.
It’s additionally attainable to take a path from right here up Penang Hill. It solely takes an hour, however it’s steep and you’re more likely to see many monkeys and macaques.
Be cautious concerning the monkeys within the park and I like to recommend not taking a picnic right here. They are often very cheeky and stand up very shut in the event that they assume there’s any likelihood of meals and they’re recognized to chunk individuals.
Hours: 5am – 8pm (attempt to keep away from 12:30-2pm the place many enclosures are shut)
8. Cool Down At Youth Park
Visiting Youth Park was certainly one of our favourite actions in Penang once we lived there and I particularly suggest this Penang greatest place to go to in case you have children.
However, even if you happen to don’t, it’s a pleasant place to take a hike and revel in nature or you may have a piece out on the copious train tools they’ve right here!
In addition they have many swimming swimming pools and an enormous playground in addition to many fountains. The situation is gorgeous in opposition to the mountains and it feels cooler right here than elsewhere due to many bushes.
I really want it over the close by Penang botanical gardens due to all of the bushes. It’s rather more nice to stroll round.
In case you are searching for a spot to relax in Penang, that is my high decide!
Hours: 6am – 5:30pm
9. Be Freaked Out At Snake Temple
For a distinct Penang vacationer spot, you may go to Snake Temple. That is near Penang Airport so it may be a very good first Penang attraction place to go to or a last one earlier than you allow.
This temple is a standard Chinese language Buddhist temple which was in-built 1850 by a monk, Chor Soo Kong. The legend is that he constructed it so the snakes close by had a sanctuary.
The snakes are free to come back and go so typically you could discover loads (particularly round festivals when there are extra choices to entice them) and typically there might not be any.
There’s additionally a “snake breeding space” the place younger snakes are raised.
It’s solely a small temple and I wouldn’t name it a Penang should go, nevertheless it’s cool for someplace completely different to go to.
Hours: 6am – 7pm
10. Fly In The Sky At Batu Ferringhi Seaside
The preferred seaside space in Penang is at Batu Ferringhi and it’s one of many high Penang vacationer locations and the place the vast majority of one of the best lodges are situated.
Whereas it’s a common location, it’s nowhere close to as crowded as related areas in locations like Thailand and a while right here might be fairly pleasurable. It’s the realm the place we lived.
The water is sort of calm and there are some good, clear stretches of seaside. It’s straightforward to get a spot to your self however word that jellyfish generally is a downside – I used to be stung myself when simply wading!
There are reasonably priced water sports activities on supply although and it is a excellent spot to go parasailing! My husband and children liked it and it’s straightforward to do different actions as nicely.
When you want a slower tempo of seaside motion with some food and drinks, the Bora Bora by Sundown Bar is our favourite place to sit down and soak all of it in.
11. Get Again To Nature At Penang Nationwide Park
Penang Nationwide Park could be the smallest nationwide park in Malaysia nevertheless it packs a giant punch and is unquestionably price having in your Penang to do checklist.
There’s a vary of jungle trails right here together with to among the nicest seashores on the island.
You too can go on a cover walkway which is as much as 15 meters excessive and simply a straightforward 20-minute stroll from the doorway to the park.
The highest issues to do in Penang, Malaysia at this park are to go to Monkey Seaside or the Penang Turtle Sanctuary. Monkey Seaside is a beautiful stretch of seaside house to macaques.
You may hike to those locations or take a ship from the doorway to the park. There’s additionally a campground at Monkey Seaside. It’s greatest to go to on a weekday to keep away from crowds.
Hours: 8am – 5pm
Value: Free! However it’s essential to register on entry to get a allow.
Add ons: The cover walkway is RM5 for adults and RM3 for youths. It’s essential to negotiate the price of boat rides with the operators beginning at RM50 a method.
12. Eat Every part You Can At A Night time Hawker Centre
The best possible locations to go to in Penang at evening are an evening hawker middle. They not solely have nice vitality however are stuffed with low cost and attractive meals.
Hawker facilities are a group of meals stalls, form of like a meals courtroom however extra fundamental trying and often open air. These are the right locations to attempt as a lot of the wonderful meals in Malaysia as you may.
They are often very low cost though if it’s actually low cost, there often received’t be a lot meat or greens added and it’s probably to not be as tasty.
Some nice hawker facilities are:
Lengthy Seaside Kafe in Batu FerringhiGurney Drive Hawker CentreNew Lane Hawker Centre in George City
There’s an additional bonus if you happen to go to Lengthy Seaside Kafe, and you’re searching for what to do in Penang at evening, as that this hawker middle can be surrounded by an evening market excellent for purchasing some souvenirs.