the best things to do in penang malaysia

The Best Things to do in Penang, Malaysia

The island of Penang attracts visitors for several reasons – because of its spectacular and well-preserved colonial architecture, it is a melting pot for various cultures, and also as it is Malaysia’s unofficial food capital.  Penang, however, is also a state of Malaysia, that has grown from “just” an island into a wider region of Malaysia. It showcases foreign influence that contributes to now a multicultural community.  Penang is a fabulous place – and there’s so much to see and do here, so here’s our guide to the best things to do in Penang.


Penang was first called “Pulau Ka-Satu” by native Malays which means “The First Island”. When the British East India Company arrived in Malaysia in the late 1500s, they set their eyes on Penang. However, they were only able to receive full ownership of the island in the late 1700s and changed the name of the island to “Prince of Wales Island”.  For nearly a century, the East India Company and the British Crown successfully expanded the Prince of Wales Island’s boundaries from the island onto the mainland, which then prompted the name change to Pinang or Penang. Today, Penang consists of Penang Island and the region of Bukit Mertajam, located directly across from Penang Island.

Georgetown (formerly known as Tanjung Penaga) is the capital city of the Malaysian state of Penang. It is situated on the northeast of the island. The names “Penang” and “Georgetown” are often used interchangeably, however, there’s a big difference between these two places. Georgetown, or George Town, is the main town of Penang Island, Malaysia’s sixth most populous city with over 700,000 inhabitants as of 2010. Greater Penang has a population of over 2.4 million, making it the second-largest conurbation in the country just behind Greater Kuala Lumpur.

Malaysia Travel Tips

Where to Stay on Penang Island

The easiest place to stay on Penang when you’re visiting for a relatively short time is in the capital city, Georgetown. There are great transport links here, a great selection of accommodation and some super food. Here are the best places to stay in Georgetown, Penang.

Campbell House, Penang–Georgetown: Campbell House is situated right at the heart of Georgetown Penang. This Georgetown hotel’s rooms are beautifully decorated and include black-out curtains, a flat-screen TV, a ceiling fan, a private bathroom with a walk-in shower, a hairdryer, slippers, a coffee maker, and free WiFi access. The top Georgetown hotel also offers Italian cuisine at Il Bacaro; where their must-try signature dish is Venetian Cicchetti, small plates of food eaten with glasses of wine. Campbell House in Georgetown provides is a glorious and luxurious place to stay in Penang’s main city. See room rates and availability for this top Georgetown hotel here.

Palm Mansion Boutique Suites, Penang–Georgetown: The Palm Mansion Boutique Suites is ideally located right in the center of Georgetown. Each room at this mid-range Georgetown hotel is equipped with a flat-screen tv with satellite channels, an attached private bathroom, and free WiFi. Room service is available here and there’s also a quaint coffee shop. This central Georgetown hotel provides laundry services and also has a small garden.  The Palm Mansion Boutique Suites is a lovely place to stay in central Georgetown. Check room rates and available dates here.

Veno Hotel, Penang–Georgetown: The Veno Hotel has an exceptional location right in the center of Penang’s Georgetown. The budget Veno Hotel’s rooms have a flat-screen TV, air-conditioning, iron/ironing board, an in-room safe, and a private bathroom with a hairdryer, toiletries, and towels. There’s free WiFi throughout. Veno Hotel offers an excellent, comfortable budget-friendly hotel. The Veno Hotel is really popular so check room rates and availability here!

The Best Things to do in Penang, Malaysia

Penang offers a visitor a variety of activities. There’s lots here for all interests –from exploring its colonial buildings, eating your way around the island, visiting temples and mosques, and hiking through its rich National Park and forests. You can then finish off your explorations by chilling out on Penang’s lovely beaches. Let’s start this guide to the best things to do in Penang Malaysia and help you plan your trip.

Spend some time in Georgetown, Penang

After Georgetown was renamed, the British constructed many buildings to house their own government functions and important people. Today, many of these buildings continue to be well-maintained and are still standing. Some are open to the public while others are being used as local government offices. You can explore the major highlights of Georgetown in a half day guided tour here.

You should plan on spending an entire day in Georgetown visiting historical sites. Exploring Penang’s Georgetown should include the famous Fort Cornwallis, the Blue Mansion, the Green Mansion, the Penang State Museum, the simply glorious E&O Hotel, and the Clan Jetties to name but a few. There are a lot of things to do in Georgetown where you can learn about its history. It’s very easy to spend 2-3 days just taking in what Georgetown has to offer.  There’s so much, that I wrote about Georgetown here.

Explore the Street Art of Penang

In 2009, the local government of Penang wanted to make the island more interesting to the public and to visiting tourists while also informing visitors about the island. Penang was already on the way to getting its UNESCO Heritage Town brand but still wanted to add more interesting reasons to visit. This led to the local council inviting local and international artists to create artworks around Georgetown under the “Marking George Town” campaign.

The plan worked and Penang received UNESCO World Heritage status, plus the street art actually generated buzz and invited more visitors to the island itself. You can now find on the digital maps where to spot the popular street art while most hotels carry a printed map to help you out. You can also join a tour of Heritage George Town and see the major street art with explanations about its history – see more details here.

The street art of Penang is filled with various unique designs and ideas that are related to the heritage of the island. There are 3D arts where the paint on the walk has a physical object attached to it. Some arts have texts written on them. All these arts are there to showcase life in Penang over the centuries.  I wrote about the artwork in my guide here.

Eat your way around Penang

Penang is truly an amazing destination for a foodie. The food you can find in Penang is as diverse as the culture of the island. Go to a hawker center where you will find plenty of food choices, you can also visit Little India or stroll through local markets. If you don’t know what to eat in Penang, the must-tries are char koay teow, Hokkien (prawn or mee), satay, fried oyster, and poh piah. Wash the food down with some refreshing nutmeg juice or a cold beer.   There’s lots more on the food of Penang in our guide here.

To explore the food of Penang there are a number of options that you can get involved in – here’s the best of them.

Explore the Island of Penang

One of the best things about Penang Malaysia is how you can easily explore the island on your own. The region is well-equipped when it comes to accommodating visitors and offering great transportation options.  I personally enjoyed Penang double-decker buses which took me from Georgetown to the other side of the island to the beaches. You can also take the ferry if you want to check out Butterworth and Bukit Mertajam. Many people, including us, opt for renting a motorbike or car which gives freedom and lets you explore on your own schedule. This is the best way to see as many places as possible especially if you have limited time in Penang.

Explore the Tropical Spice Garden in Penang

The Tropical Spice Garden is located in northwest Penang, not too far from the Penang National Park. It used to be 8 acres of jungle and was also a rubber plantation once. There are more than 500 species of flora and fauna here, and most plants are spices plants, the place also offers self-guided audio tours and cooking classes.  It is a fabulous place to visit.

It’s extremely well established, with a great variety of plants, spices, and superb information on the self-guided audio tour, which, is mind-numbing in its detail, but you don’t want to skip any of it in case you miss something interesting.

The garden definitely punches above its weight when it comes to mosquitoes per square inch of skin and is really humid, but we just kept spraying on the DEET, figuring that if it hadn’t killed us yet we at least had a few more hours left in us.

There are banana trees, pineapples, flowers, orchids, spices galore, and pepper plants. There’s also a huge swing and a stop-off for free herbal tea on the way to the end of the trail, at the top of the hill.  We took the audio tour and were there for just over 2 hours – there’s also an option for a live guided tour at 35 RM plus GST. There’s more about what’s available here.

Plan to spend about 2.5 hours during your visit and maybe a bit more if you plan to attend the cooking course that’s available here. Remember to bring good bug repellent if you don’t want to be spending time scratching yourself constantly.

  • Address of Tropical Spice Garden: Lot 595 Mukim, 2, Jalan Teluk Bahang, Teluk Bahang, 11050 George Town, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia
  • Opening Hours of Tropical Spice Garden: 9 AM to 4 PM from Monday to Thursday, 9 AM to 6 PM from Friday to Sunday
  • Entry Fees for Tropical Spice Garden: RM25 ($5.61) for adults and RM15 ($3.37) for children

Explore the Penang War Museum

Unfortunately, Penang is another city in Malaysia that was affected during World War II.  We’ve explored the Commonwealth Graves of Labuan, and understood more about the death marches on the island of Borneo from Sandakan to Ranau, but here in Penang is our first museum of World War II – there is another in Kota Bharu that we visited later in our trip.

The War Museum of Penang was an old fort built in the 1930s, It’s situated in Batu Maung in the South East of Penang Island.  The Penang War Museum is surrounded by encroaching development that reminds you of its presence as you ride or drive up the hill and walk around the site.  It now showcases war exhibits related to the war. You can crawl through the tunnels, explore the bunkers, and see artifacts. You can even sign up for paintball at the paintball center.

The Penang War Museum is situated in the middle of a jungle, although there are no scary creepy crawlies in the tunnels, mosquitoes are everywhere, make sure to pack that bug repellent. We spent nearly 2 hours in the museum, following the sometimes weird route round (you will have to backtrack several times) and you’re right in the jungle. The site is also not funded by the government, all fees go into the maintenance of the museum.  Plan to spend about 2.5-3 hours. If you don’t have a rental car or a motorbike you can take the bus here, to the bottom of the hill, and walk the remaining kilometer up to the museum.

There are a few tunnels that you can walk through, one short one that you can crawl through, and then one to climb up, we were glad we remembered to take a torch for the pitch black walkthrough, although you won’t need one for the crawl through (its all concreted and there was nothing nasty in there), the climb up is a ladder and you’ll just need to be careful with any day packs as it was reasonably tight.

It’s a good, not great, site, very extensive and extremely atmospheric, thought-provoking in the extreme was the photo of Corporal JP Smith who was stationed here in 1939.

His gravestone is in Kanchanaburi – and you can read about our visit to Kanchanaburi here and the extraordinary Hellfire Pass here.

  • Address of Penang War Museum: Jalan Batu Maung, 11960 Batu Maung, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia
  • Opening Hours of Penang War Museum: 9 Am to 6 PM daily
  • Entry Fees for Penang War Museum: RM22 ($4.94) for adults and RM12 ($2.69) for children above 5 years old

See Penang’s Snake Temple

It won’t be like it used to be, said Nigel, who visited the Snake Temple 25 years ago. And, of course, it wasn’t.  Now, it’s surrounded by tourist tat stalls, is well lit and, while yes it did have a couple of snakes in it, it wasn’t the picture of dark gloom, lit by wavering candlelight and hissing snakes that my Indiana Jones imagination had led me to believe.

Snake Temple was built in the 1850s designed with colorful decorations, burning incense, and live de-venomed pit vipers. It was dedicated to Chor Soo Kong, he was a priest who was believed to have extraordinary healing powers.  According to the legend tales, a local man once offered pit vipers to stay at the temple to escape from danger. Since then, the vipers have not left the temple. There isn’t much to see here, you can easily spend 10 minutes and then off to your next attraction.

There is a snake farm and exhibit if you care to spend the money (we didn’t) and five minutes after we arrived we were on our way.

  • Address of Penang Snake Temple: Jalan Sultan Azlan Shah, Bayan Lepas Industrial Park, 11900 Bayan Lepas, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia
  • Opening Hours of Penang Snake Temple: 9 AM to 5:30 PM, every day
  • Entry Fees for Penang Snake Temple: Free, parking fee is RM3 ($.67)

Explore Penang Hill

Penang Hill is one of the top things to do in Penang and you shouldn’t leave without visiting it. It’s pretty interesting how the temperature changes from sea level to 833 meters (2,733 feet). You can get to Penang Hill in two ways; going for a hike or riding the funicular, however, there is no one way better than the other since both offers very different experiences.

In 1823, Penang Hill was a British Hill Station while the funicular was built in October 1883. You’ll find one of the old carriages on display at the Penang State Museum in George Town and the track will take you up 1.99 kilometers (it’s the longest in Asia), through a 79-meter tunnel (the steepest in Asia with a pitch of 27.9 degrees.)

To find the best view while riding the funicular, you should sit in the front where you can see the stunning view of the ocean, some of the 52 hill bungalows, most of which are more than 100 years old – with the old Governor’s Bungalow having been built in 1789. You should probably spend 1.5-2 hours here, if you decide to hike, there is a bar and restaurant at the top and a food court at the back.

You don’t have to take the funicular train to the top, there is a jeep road or a trail to the nearby Botanical Gardens, but it seems rude not to. It’s easy to get to the base station on the bus, but we just parked our rental motorbike along with all the rest and took the funicular to the top for the views.

  • Address of Penang Hill: 422, Jalan Bukit Bendera, 11500 Bukit Bendera, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia
  • Opening Hours of Penang Hill: 6:30 AM to 11 PM
  • Funicular Fees for Penang Hill: RM10 ($2.24) for adults, RM5 ($1.12) for children (4-12), senior citizens, and students

Tour the Tanjung Bungah Floating Mosque

The Tanjung Bunah Floating Mosque is also known as the Masjid Terapung Tanjung Bungah in Malay. It is a modern mosque with little domes painted in blue. It boasts Moorish architecture and sits on stilts over the water. The Masjid Terapung Tanjung Bungah is located in the north of Penang, connected by a bridge to the island, it’s a popular place for a sunrise view and offers peaceful scenery in the afternoon.

  • Address of Tanjung Bungah Floating Mosque: Jalan Batu Ferringhi, Tanjung Bungah, 11200 Tanjung Bungah, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia
  • Opening Hours of Tanjung Bungah Floating Mosque: 6 AM to 9:30 PM daily
  • Entry Fees for Tanjung Bungah Floating Mosque: Free

Visit Penang’s Butterfly Farm – Entopia

Butterfly Farm also called Entopia is a charming attraction in the northwest of Penang Island just outside Penang National Park, next to Telok Bahang Dam. It is both an indoor and outdoor location where butterflies live freely enjoying different flowers. You’ll also find other insects, reptiles, and amphibians around the farm.

There are printed information boards where you can learn about butterflies and their life cycle, and you can also sign up for a workshop to understand more about silk production. You can also buy the ticket online, this will allow you to skip the line and go directly through the gates.

  • Address of Butterfly Farm: No.830, Jalan Teluk Bahang, Teluk Bahang, 11050 Tanjung Bungah, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia
  • Opening Hours of Butterfly Farm: 9 AM to 5 PM, closed on Wednesdays
  • Entry Fees for Butterfly Farm: RM69 ($15.5) for adult foreign visitors and RM49 ($11) for children ages 4 and above and senior citizens, RM49 ($11) for MyKad holders, and RM29 ($6.51) for children over 4 years old and senior citizens

Visit Komtar – the Top on Penang

The Top is a theme park that features three top attractions in the center of Georgetown. you can enjoy Rainbow Skywalk, Jurassic Research Centre, and Top Boutique Aquarium. There are plenty of activities to do here for visitors of all ages.  Plan to spend around 3 hours and finish off your visit by going to the 68th floor and enjoying delicious snacks while waiting for the sunset. You can also go to the open roof where you can take incredible photos You can buy a ticket for just one attraction or buy a combo ticket which will save you money.

  • Address of The Top: 1, Jln Penang, George Town, 10000 George Town, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia
  • Opening Hours of  The Top: 11 AM to 7 PM, closed on Tuesdays
  • Entry Fees for The Top: RM48 ($10.79) and up depending on the package you choose

Take Tea at Suffolk House

The Suffolk House is a colonial building turned into a fantastic family restaurant. It is an awesome place to have a high tea while you appreciate the spacious and lush green garden, overlooking the Sungai Air Hitam River.  

  • Address of Suffolk House: 250, Jalan Air Hitam, Georgetown, 10460 George Town, Penang, Malaysia
  • Opening Hours of Suffolk House: 11 AM to 11 PM

Take a Ferry to Butterworth from Penang Island

Butterworth is a city in the state of Penang situated on the mainland. Taking a ferry between Georgetown and Butterworth is one of the most popular things to do in Penang Malaysia because the journey is part of the everyday life of a local. The ride also offers a stunning sunset view of the Strait of Malacca.

There is a ferry that goes every 30-minutes and you can take it from two different ports on Penang; Swettenham Pier Cruise Terminal Super Fast Ferry or Pangkalan Raja Tun Uda Ferry Terminal (Pulau Pinang) both are in Georgetown and only a kilometer from one another. You can easily just buy your ticket when you arrive at the terminal.

Take a Cycling Tour of Penang

If you have been to Melaka (our guide is here), you already know how great it is to explore a Malaysian city by bicycle, and the same goes for exploring Penang. But instead of renting a bicycle to explore Georgetown, you should head out of the city by joining a countryside cycling tour where you will be away from the traffic of the city. Take off the beaten tracks and quiet roads of the countryside, and go with a well-informed local guide who will give you more information about the city and the attractions you will discover.  There’s more on this cycling tour of Penang here.

Visit Penang’s Escape Theme Park

Cool off from the usual humid and hot weather of Penang by visiting the Escape Theme Park. Apart from thrilling water slides and pools, you can also try ziplining, high rope courses, and climbing towers. You’ll find the Escape Theme Park near Penang National Park, and I recommend spending an entire day here.

  • Address of Escape Penang: Escape Penang: 828, Jalan Teluk Bahang, Teluk Bahang, 11050 Tanjung Bungah, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia
  • Opening Hours of Escape Penang: 10 AM to 6 PM, closed on Mondays
  • Entry Fees for Escape Penang: RM33 ($7.41)

Explore the Natural Beauty of Penang

Just like many parts of Malaysia, Penang also has some fantastic locations to enjoy nature and the wildlife of the island. You will have to get out of Georgetown but Penang is relatively small, you don’t have to spend hours in a vehicle to be around nature. But remember to pack plenty of mosquito repellent.

Visit Penang National Park

Penang National Park is on the northwest of the island. It is a 1,213-hectare of various plants, trees, and wild animals, and also sits right on the oceanfront. There is a canopy walk that many visitors of Penang come here specifically to see. There is also a Turtle Conservation Center where you can see turtles and learn more about them and the purpose of the conservation center.

  • Address of Penang National Park: Pejabat Taman Negara P. Pinang jalan Hassan Abbas, 11050 George Town, Penang, Malaysia
  • Opening Hours of Penang National Park: 8 AM to 5 PM, every day
  • Entry Fees for Penang National Park: Free, RM5 ($.90) for parking, there are other fees if you want to take a boat to Turtle Conservation Center

Enjoy the Rainforest at Taman Rimba on Penang Island

Taman Rimab Teluk Bahang is a rainforest just outside Penang National Park. This location is much loved by locals for its very well-maintained grounds and clean beach. It also has a waterfall which you can reach by just going on a quick hike. Taman Rimba has a forest museum as well where you can learn more about the flora and fauna of Penang.

  • Address of Taman Rimba Teluk Bahang: Lorong Rimba, Teluk Bahang, 11050 Tanjung Bungah, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia
  • Opening Hours of Taman Rimba Teluk Bahang: 8 AM to 6 PM
  • Entry Fees for Taman Rimba Teluk Bahang: Free

Explore Balik Pulau on Penang Island

Balik Pulau is a region on Penang Island, situated in the southwest of the island. It is a quaint village popular for locally-grown durians. This area is a great place to explore by cycling through the rice paddy fields, there are plenty of scenic locations for sunset views, and lots of places to sit and eat along the Sungai Samagagah River. Balik Pulau is a 50-minute drive from Georgetown which is best reached by either motorbike or taxi.

Go for a hike on Penang Island

Whether you’re looking for an easy hike or a challenging one, you can find plenty of hiking trails in Penang, most of them around Penang Hill. The most popular is the Moongate Station 5. It starts near the Botanical Garden and begins with a series of steps followed by a well-maintained trail. You can avoid the steps by going a hundred meters from the Moongate entrance toward the Botanical Garden.  You can also hike Bukit Hijau, Cangkat Tembaga Hiking Trail near Air Terjun Changkat Tembaga or Zi Zai Hill. If you prefer to hike with a local guide, then there are several options here.

Go on the Penang Zipline – the Flight of the Colugo

The Flight of the Colugo is a 5 zipline course inspired by the flying lemur. This zipline is open both to children and adults, however, for safety reasons, it is available for a limited time depending on the season and must be booked in advance. This experience is a cool way to enjoy the heart of Penang Hill and the spectacular view from the top deck while waiting for your turn.

  • Address of Flight of the Colugo (Habitat, Penang Hil): Jalan Stesen, Bukit Bendera Air Itam, 11500 George Town, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia
  • Opening Hours of Flight of the Colugo: 9 AM to 7 PM every day
  • Entry Fees for Name of Attraction: RM105 ($23.58)

Explore a Beach on Penang Island

All the beaches on Penang are pretty easy to get to, and although Penang doesn’t have the best beaches in Southeast Asia, you can still go, chill out, enjoy the relaxing views, wait for the sunset or sunrise, and sign up for some cool water activities.  Here are our top 3 beaches in Penang.

Batu Ferringhi Beach, Penang Island

Batu Ferringhi Beach is the most popular beach just up the northern part of Penang Island. It’s a must-visit if you want to try some watersports and enjoy sunbathing. The activities on Batu Ferringhi Beach include riding a jet ski, a banana boat, and trying out parasailing. There are plenty of restaurants on this 1.5 km beach.

  • Address of Batu Ferringhi Beach: Jalan Batu Ferringhi Batu Ferringhi, 11100 George Town, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia

Monkey Beach, Penang Island

Towards the west of Penang Island, along the coastline, you’ll find the remote Monkey Beach, north of Penang National Park. Although it is a quiet and nice location, there isn’t much to do here. There are some water activities, but they are limited. The beach is also pretty narrow, but well-shaded. It’s perfect for people who want to read a book and just relax. There are some snack shacks, but remember to bring some with you as well.

  • Address of Monkey Beach: Jalan Hassan Abas, Teluk Bahang, 11050 Tanjung Bungah, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia

Tanjung Bungah Beach, Penang Island

Near Georgetown, you can enjoy the sun and the sand at Tanjung Bungah Public Beach, although surrounded by low-rise buildings, it is still a nice place to chill out. Tanjung Bungah is known for boat excursions and water sports. It’s also a lovely spot to wait for the sunset while you enjoy a cold beer and snacks.

  • Address of Tanjung Bungah Beach: 11200, Penang, Malaysia

What to do at Night in Penang

Penang is popular for many things, but what many first-time visitors are not aware of is that Penang also knows how to have a good time once the sun has set. There are ample amount of restaurants, bars, and markets to keep you busy after you’re done exploring the island.

Go to Upper Penang Road for Nightlife in Penang

Upper Penang Road or UPR is near the E&O Hotel, a famous location for good nightlife in Penang. There’s a beer garden near the busy Penang Road, and if you don’t find places that interest you here, you can easily walk to Lebuh Farquhar, where you can find more bars with an overview of the ocean.

  • Address of Upper Penang Road UPR: George Town, Jln Penang, 10000 George Town, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia
  • Opening Hours of Upper Penang Road UPR: 4 PM to midnight

Chulia Street Night Market, Penang

Chulia Street is a lively street filled with shops, restaurants, and food stalls. But it’s mostly known for a night market where stalls offer local dishes at amazingly low prices. When you visit, you have to try wan tan mee, curry mee, and lok-lok. You can find some of the popular Penang street art here as well.

  • Address of Chulia Street: Chulia St, Georgetown, 10450 George Town, Penang, Malaysia
  • Entry Fees for Chulia Street: 6 PM to midnight, closed on Mondays

Head to Penang’s Love Lane

Adjacent to Chulia Street is Love Lane, another notable street offering outdoor seating for restaurants, spa businesses, and shopping boutiques. The street is filled with music, lots of people enjoying a drink, and the businesses even have AC to keep you cool during the warmer season.

  • Address of Love Lane: 54-56, Love Ln, Georgetown, 10200 George Town, Penang, Malaysia
  • Opening Hours of Love Lane: 24 hours

Batu Ferringhi Night Market, Penang

Batu Ferringhi Night Market is also called Pasar Malam Batu Ferringhi by the locals. There are dozens of small shops and roadside food stalls you can enjoy. These stores sell souvenirs, food, accessories, and clothes at good prices. Remember to bargain and walk around before buying anything to find the best price. Pasar Malam Batu Ferringhi is a nice location to head to after enjoying Batu Ferringhi Beach.

  • Address of Batu Ferringhi Night Market: Jalan Pantai Batu, Taman Pantai Batu, 11200 Tanjong Bungah, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia
  • Opening Hours of Batu Ferringhi Night Market: 7 PM to midnight

Map of Things to do in Penang

You can also see the Penang things to do map here

Map of Things to do in Penang

How to Get to Penang

Penang is a busy hub for Malaysia, meaning there are many ways to get here regardless of where you are coming from.

From Kuala Lumpur, the best way to get to Penang is by taking a quick flight, which is an hour. You will land in Georgetown and the flight ticket is between RM70-RM110 ($15-$25). You can look for flights from Air Asia and Malaysian Airlines, they both have plenty of daily schedules.  Check schedules for flights to Penang here.

From Langkawi, you have two options, you can either take a 45-minute direct flight or get on a 3-hour ferry ride. There are only 2 ferries a day, one leaves at 8:30 AM and the next one is at 2 PM. The boat ticket will cost you RM60-RM80 ($13.46-$17.95) while the flight is a bit more pricey at RM44.50-RM70 ($10-$15), you can check the flights offered by Air Asia and Firefly (budget Malaysian Airlines). You can see the schedules for Langkawi to Penang options here, or our full guide on how to go to Penang from Langkawi is here.

Finally, you can also take a bus from nearly everywhere in mainland Malaysia to Penang. You will most likely arrive in Butterworth and then take a ferry to Georgetown if that’s your main destination. Some buses will take you directly to Georgetown by taking the Penang Bridge.

If you’re heading, like we did, to Cameron Highlands, then our guide on how to get there is here.  And here are the best things to do in Cameron Highlands.

How to Get Around Penang

If Georgetown is going to be your base, you can use public transportation such as the local bus and the double-decker bus to get to popular areas of Penang. However, these two don’t always stick to the schedule and match your plan.

The best mode of transportation is renting a car or bike, this will give you more freedom and save you some time. You can use traditional taxis or install the app Grab, which will help you book a ride-hailing service.

When is the best time to travel to Penang, Malaysia

Penang is mostly hot and humid throughout the year. But you can avoid this by visiting Penang between November to January. Those months have cooler temperatures and are mostly dry, but it’s crowded. You can instead travel to Penang from February to April when the crowds are a little thinner.

Final Words on The Best Things to do on Penang Island

George Town and Penang for us were wonderful. There’s food to get fat for, friendly people, easy places to visit, and oodles of history in what feels like an amazingly well-put-together cultural melting pot that takes the best from each culture – or at least lets you pick and choose. Penang Island is a must-visit when you are in Malaysia. It’s beautiful, super culturally diverse, and holds so much history. Many parts of Penang are well-preserved and well-maintained. You can go hiking, visit an aquarium, and see a colonial building all in one day.

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