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Located on the northwest coast of Peninsular Malaysia, Penang is made up of two parts, Penang Island and George Town. Penang Island is the ideal place for those interested in history and architecture while George Town mixes a blend of traditional with modern architecture. George Town is Penang’s capital where you will find street art and temples as you wander the streets of this fascinating place. Food is a huge passion in Penang and street food and hawker food are not to be missed.

Things to Do in Penang

Shopping in Penang

Beaches in Penang

Where to Eat in Penang

Nightlife in Penang

Hotels in Penang

Getting Around Penang

Best Time to Go to Penang

Flights to Penang

Things to Do in Penang

Penang has a huge list of things to see and do and architecture is at the forefront of the state’s attractions. Stunning temples, colourful parks and old colonial streets mixed with modern art make this an interesting place to spend a few days or more.

 

temple with large pagoda and trees

Kek Lok Si Temple

Kek Lok Si is also known as the Temple of Supreme Bliss and is said to be the largest Buddhist temple in Southeast Asia. The temple is located in Air Itam in hills regarded as significant and having the right Feng Shui for a temple. Construction of the temple began in 1893 and was inspired by the chief monk of the Goddess of Mercy Temple at Pitt Street. The most distinctive of the temples features is the seven-storey Pagoda of Rama V1, completed in 1930. Boasting 10,000 alabaster and bronze statues of Buddha, the design symbolizes the harmony between Mahayana and Theravada Buddhism, marrying a Chinese octagonal base with a middle tier of Thai design, topped with a Burmese crown. Opening times are 07.00-21.00 daily and admission to the temple is free however, there is a 2MYR charge for entry to the Pagoda.

Air Itam, Penang Island 11500, Malaysia

Image Source: Balou46

You may also wish to visit the temples of Dharmikarama Burmese Temple (24 Lorong Burmah, George Town, Penang Island, Malaysia) and Wat Chayamangkalaram (Lorong Burma, George Town, Penang Island, Malaysia).

beautiful Chinese mansion

Pinang Peranakan Mansion

Pinang Peranakan Mansion is Penang’s way of introducing visitors to historical Peranakan culture. The building is a recreation of a typical rich 19th century Baba Home, restored to a museum to exhibit the Baba-Nyonya cultural revival. Inside the museum you will find over 1,000 pieces of antiques and collectibles. Housed in one of Penang’s heritage mansions, it is truly a stunning sight. The décor features an eclectic mix of English tiles, Scottish ironworks and continental European art and furniture as well as the beautifully carved Chinese wood panels. Opening times are Monday – Saturday 09.30-17.00. Admission is 20MYR per adult and children under 6 go free.

29 Church Street, George Town, Penang Island 10200, Malaysia

Image Source: -Damian-

If you enjoyed this mansion you may also be interested to visit the Cheong Fatt Tze – The Blue Mansion (14 Lebuh Leith, George Town, Penang Island 10200, Malaysia).

“Penang is a wonderful state with a mix of history, culture, arts and food. Take a walk back in time when you visit the Blue Mansion built by the late Cheong Fatt Tze or track down the art installations around the island. When you’re done, eat authentic Penang Laksa or Nasi Kandar for a taste of the city.”

By Yafieda, http://travelchameleon.net

 

chinese temple with blue sky and clouds

Khoo Kongsi

Leong San Khoo Kongsi was built 650 years ago as part of the goh tai she that formed the backbone of the Hokkien community. A kongsi is a building where Chinese families of the same surname gather to worship their ancestors, representing the social and spiritual commitments between extended relations, ancestors and the outside community. At the height of the Khoo family’s prominence, craftsmen from China were commissioned to build this magnificent building. Leong San Khoo Kongsi is also known as Dragon Mountain Hall. Opening times are 09.00-17.00 daily. Admission is 10MYR per person.

18 Lebuh Cannon, George Town, Penang Island 10200, Malaysia

Image Source: WIL

white building with domed roof

Kapitan Kelang Mosque

Kapitan Keling Mosque is the largest mosque in George Town and is a sight to behold at sunset. The mosque was named after the ‘kapitan’ of the keling, Cauder Mydin Merican. The white building is topped with golden yellow Mughal style domes and stars that feature a single Indian-Islamic minaret from where the sound of azan can be heard. Kapitan Keling Mosque used to be much larger but now covers an area of eight acres as the rest of the land was claimed by the Government. Before visiting you must gain permission from the mosque officials and entry is only permitted to those wearing the correct attire. Opening times are 09.30-17.30 daily. Admission is free.

Chulia Street, George Town, Penang Island 10200, Malaysia

Image Source: Mohammed Al-Naser

wooden walkways with wooden buildings

Clan Jetties

The Clan Jetties form part of the Penang Heritage Trail and are known as one of the oldest Chinese settlements on the island. The houses on stilts can be found at the waterfront and house various Chinese clans. This water village is over a century old and each jetty is named after a Chinese clan. The Chew Jetty is the most famous of the jetties as it is the most tourist-friendly. After its construction in 1882, the waterfront was developed with public landing stages; these were used for the loading and unloading of goods and for mooring of the boats. Over time, each jetty was taken over by a clan and rivalry began, often leading to bitter fights and disputes.

Pengkalan Weld | 59A, Chew Jetty, George Town, Penang Island 10300, Malaysia

Image Source: Ah Wei (Lung Wei)

lilly pads in a pond surrounded by trees

Tropical Spice Garden

Penang’s Tropical Spice Garden is set over eight acres of secondary jungle and features over 500 species of flora and fauna. This is the only tropical spice garden in Southeast Asia and is a popular attraction for travellers with children. At this beautiful nature conservation complex you will find three garden trails that take around 20-45 minutes to walk. The journey takes you by stream crossings, waterfalls and structures engineered from recycled organic materials. The farm here was built using only natural and recycled buildings materials that were salvaged from pre-war shop houses or from local antique stores. The estate also recently opened a culinary school to allow visitors to try their hand at Malaysian cooking using herbs and spices found in the gardens surrounding the kitchen. Opening times are 09.00-18.00 daily. Admission is 26MYR per adult and 15MYR per child.

Lot 595 Mukim 2 Jalan Teluk Bahang | Teluk Bahang, Penang Island 11100, Malaysia

Image Source: Phalinn Ooi

wooden pier with old boats

Penang National Park

Penang National Park is known to be the world’s smallest national park but is still home to more than 410 species of flora and 143 species of fauna ranging from snakes, macaques and leaf monkeys to turtles and dolphins. The park was formerly known as the Pantai Acheh Forest Reserve and can be found on the west side on Penang Island. The park covers 1181 hectares of forest and 1381 hectares of wetlands, the waterfall and the pool are the perfect spot a swim. Take a walk over the canopy for a view of the park from metres above the trees. Opening times are 08.00-18.00 daily. Entry to the park is free; however, entry to the canopy walkway is 5MYR per adult and 3MYR per child.

Jalan Hassan Abas,Teluk Bahang, Penang Island, Malaysia

Image Source: Syed Abdul Khaliq

Mountain view from high above the trees

Penang Hill

Penang Hill is set 821m above Penang’s capital and was the first colonial hill station developed in the Peninsular Malaysia. The locals call it the Bukit Bendera and because it’s the last patch of tropical rainforest in Penang, the flora and fauna have been protected since 1960. During the day from the top of Penang Hill you can see the mountains of Langkawi and north Kedah, but take the journey up on a night time to be rewarded by the sight of George Town lit up. Over 100 species of birdlife inhabit the forest on the hillside including ordinary garden species to exotic deep forest birds.

Air Itam, George Town, Penang Island 10350, Malaysia

Image Source: Jorge Cancela

painting of a child on a motorbike on a red wooden door

Street Art in George Town

Spend an afternoon wandering the streets of George Town and see if you can track down the many famous street art paintings on the walls of the buildings lining the streets. The Street Art in George Town is preserved and is one of George Town’s most famous attractions. Kids will love having their photographs taken with the many fun exhibits from cats to children on bikes and much more.

Lebuh Pantai, Penang Island 10300, Malaysia

Image Source: Phalinn Ooi

“The first thing that comes into our mind about Penang is their street food and their vibrant showcase of street art. I love how Penang embraces modernity while retaining its traditions and old world charm. If it’s your first time there, go explore George Town, the colourful, multicultural capital, which is listed as UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site. Don’t forget to try their famous chendol while exploring too!”

By Benjamin, http://www.typicalben.com

 

painting of men taking photographs

The Camera Museum

Discover the history of the camera with the first Camera Museum in Southeast Asia. Opened in 2013 to coincide with Malaysia Independence Day, the museum can be found on the first floor of a refurbished 2-storey shop house. The museum holds over 1,000 cameras ranging from vintage to more modern day technology. The idea of the museum is to show the evolution and history of cameras in a nostalgic atmosphere where you can interact with the exhibits.

49 Lebuh Muntri | (Muntri Street), George Town, Penang Island 10200, Malaysia

Image Source: shankar s.

Old building of traditional architecture

Sun Yat Sen Museum

Sun Yat Sen Museum is a privately owned museum in George Town. The building was constructed in the 1870s and is witness to events that shaped world history, especially that of China. The plans to bring down the Qing Dynasty Government which turned China into a republic were first made in this very shop house. You will be taken on a guided tour of the building and given information about the history of the building and the events that took place here. The exhibits are small but the guide gives you all of the information you could possibly want and more.

120 Armeniam Street | George Town World Heritage Site, George Town, Penang Island 10200, Malaysia

Image Source: ????

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Shopping in Penang

lucky cat with price tag

Image Source: Craig Morey

If shopping is one of your favourite things to do on your travels then Penang has some fantastic malls to offer. Gurney Plaza (163-D Persiaran Gurney, George Town, Penang Island 11250, Malaysia) is a high end shopping mall with all of Malaysia’s famous brands. There are a huge range of places to eat within the mall if you wish to escape the heat for a little while and there’s even a cinema to enjoy a film with friends. Queensbury Mall (100 Persiaran Bayan Indah, Bayan Lepas, Penang Island 11900, Malaysia) is located a little out of the centre but is worth a visit if you love to shop as this is much bigger than Gurney Plaza. Enjoy the huge range of brands, eateries and more.

“Penang is Malaysia's new hipster-central. You'll find some fabulously hip cafes; and a vibrant shopping scene (check out Little India and Chinatown for bargains and cultural buys, and Gurney Plaza for your mainstream clothing and lifestyle brands). Penang is steeped in culture, and you'll find some amazing heritage architecture throughout George Town. Grab your camera; you're going to want to photograph these old buildings and temples!”

By Emily Quack, http://www.emilyquak.com

 

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Beaches-in-Penang

Beaches in Penang

There are many stunning beaches around Penang with some of the nicest being a boat ride away on nearby islands. Without the use of a boat, Batu Feringghi is by far Penang’s most developed beach where you will find a long stretch of soft, white sandy beach lined with oceanfront resorts.

Tanjung Bungah is a cosy seaside suburb located between Gurney and Batu Feringghi. This once fishing village is hidden among lush greenery and rocky landscapes. Watersports can be found here such as kayaking, canoeing and boats for rent.

To visit some of the beautiful beaches found on nearby islands, Pulau Jerejak / Jerejak Island, Pulau Aman, Pulau Kendi and Pasir Panjang have the quietest and most beautiful sands to relax in the peaceful surroundings.

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Food in Penang

Food-in-penang

Image Source: Yosomono

Food is among the top reasons visitors come to Penang as some of the hawker stalls and street food outshine some of the best restaurants. From fine dining to street food, Penang has it all.

Kebaya (2-16 Lorong Stewart, George Town, Penang Island 10200, Malaysia) is a fine dining restaurant located in the Seven Terraces Boutique Hotel and calls itself “a new approach to Classic Straits and Indo-Chinese cuisine”. The décor is stunning with antique pieces and the food certainly matches the style. If you are unsure what to try, owner Chris will pick a selection of things for you to try.

Mugshot Café (302 Lebuh Chulia, George Town, Penang Island, Malaysia) opened in 2007 and is a vibrant and friendly eatery where you can enjoy dishes such as soups, bagels, wraps and quiche. For dishes that are a little more filling, try the Kilmore Quay Fisherman’s Pie or the Beef Stroganoff to name but a few. All meals are prepared using fresh ingredients from local suppliers and all dietary requirements can be catered for.

Ferringhi Garden (34 A, B & C, Jalan Batu Ferringhi, Batu Ferringhi, Penang) offers a luxury dining experience with a dose of innovation. This garden themed restaurant with Mediterranean-inspired décor has a beautiful Al Fresco area where oil lamps cast a stunning light to create a cosy atmosphere. Choose from favourites such as curry laksa or the wagyu steaks.

“Penang, a foodie’s paradise! In the beautiful small George Town you will find some of the most delicious food in all of South East Asia. Be sure to check out el capitan for their 24hr fresh Indian cuisine and casually wonder the markets for great little hidden away pop up restaurants which will constantly amaze you."

By Jacob, http://jacobellwood.co.uk/

Long Beach Food Court (Jalan Batu Ferringhi, Batu Ferringhi, Penang) to try some of the local hawker favourites, this is the place to be. Classic dishes can be found in the food court such as char kway teow and satay. Besides Malaysian dishes you can order pizza and Japanese tepenyaki but you may find they cost a little more than the coffee shops.

Tek Sen Restaurant (18 Lebuh Carnarvon, George Town, Penang Island 10100, Malaysia) is a famous restaurant in Penang to both locals and tourists. Open for over 45 years, the restaurant is now run by the second generation and some say the food is now even better. Tek Sen offer traditional Chinese cuisine along with a wide range of Cantonese, Teowchew, Hakka and Peranakan dishes.

“The little island town of Penang is highly popular for its hawker cuisine. It is a well-known fact that even local Malaysians from all over the country, flock over to this exquisite destination in search of the best dishes. The famous Penang Char Kway Teow, Asam Laksa and Nasi Kandar are what every local and international foodie should experience. The need for a fancy meal is not highly prioritized, for taking your palette to the streets is where it should find its inspiration amongst culinary gems. Also just as famous as their food, Penang is also known for their mural art, located along Ah Quee street.  After all, searching for food and art is what Penang is all about.”

By Shivani, http://pen-my-blog.com/

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Nightlife in Penang

cocktails with ice and cherry and straw

Image Source: Soon Koon

Bora Bora (Lot 415, Jalan Batu Ferringhi) has been a local landmark since 2010 and is loved for the friendly and casual atmosphere. The bar sits on the beachfront of Batu Ferringhi and stays open well past midnight with beautiful sea views. Reggae and Jazz is the music most commonly played to keep the mood relaxed.

Monkey Bar (No. 3E Upper, George Town, Penang Island 11300, Malaysia) is a laid back European style bar selling everything from beer and stout to cocktails and tuak. Prices here are very reasonable and bar snacks of fries and wedges are available if you get a little hungry.

Brettos Wine Club (G-7-2 Bay Avenue | Lorong Bayan Indah 1, Penang Island 11900, Malaysia) offer their visitors an elegant décor in which to enjoy a glass of wine or two in this smoke free environment. The wine menu is extensive so you may have to pay more than one visit.

Slippery Senorita (Lot B3A, The Garage, No 2, Penang Road, 10000 Penang Malaysia) as one of Penang’s only nightclubs, they like to offer their visitors something a little different. The bartenders can be seen taking centre stage for some bottle juggling and fire breathing performances to entertain the guests. The nightclub opened in 2001 and has continued to impress the nightlife scene until the present day.

Three Sixty Revolving Restaurant and Sky Bar (25A Lebuh Farquhar, 10200 Penang) is the first rooftop bar in George Town. The two-level penthouse lounge tops the four-star Bayview Hotel in George Town and is perfect for happy hour as you sip cocktails and enjoy the best view of the city, in its full 360° glory.

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Hotels in Penang

night time scene of pools surrounded by trees

Luxury Hotels in Penang

There is no shortage of excellent hotels to choose from in Penang, whether you are blowing the budget and going five-star or being a little more moderate, there’s the perfect hotel for your stay.

Shangri-La’s Rasa Sayang Resort and Spa is located in Batu Ferringhi beach and is luxury at its best. Those who love to enjoy sports on their travels can take advantage of the golf course and tennis courts before taking a dip on one of the three pools to cool off. The spa is the ideal way to relax and refresh, ready for dinner at one of the five on-site restaurants followed by a drink at any of the three bars. Nearby sights include Penang National Park and George Town is just a 30 minute drive from the hotel.

G Hotel Kelawai is situated in Gurney Drive and is a short walk away from Gurney Plaza for those who love to shop until they drop. The smoke free hotel has its own restaurant where you can enjoy an evening meal after a long day followed by a drink at one of the two bars available on-site. A 24-hour fitness centre is available for those who like to stay in shape on their travels. When you’re ready to see the sights, The Camera Museum and Leong San Khoo Kongsi are within 3 miles of the hotel. Wi-Fi and free self- parking are available along with 24-hour room service.

Lexis Suites Penang is nestled on the beachfront in Penang so a day at the beach is just steps away from your room. If you prefer to stay poolside, the hotel has an outdoor pool where you can cool off from the mid-day heat. With a choice of two restaurants, dinner is covered for the evening. Each of the rooms has its very own plunge pool, free Wi-Fi and balconies where you can enjoy the last of the day’s sun.

Prices range from 471-875MYR per night. Prices are subject to change.

Wooden treehouse in the woods

Mid-Range Hotels in Penang

Malihom Private Estate is a boutique hotel of only eight rooms located in Penang in secluded surroundings for those looking for rest and relaxation on their travels. The hotel has their own on-site restaurant to enjoy a meal after a long day lounging by the pool before a drink or two at the bar/lounge. Tickets and tours assistance is available for guests wishing to go out and see the sights during their stay.

23 LoveLane Penang is located in historic George Town and is within easy reach of sights such as the Camera Museum, Pinang Peranakan Mansion, Leong San Khoo Kongsi and the Clan Jetties. The hotel has a restaurant and bar for visitors to relax on an evening if they wish to stay in the hotel grounds and a café is available for refreshments. Dry cleaning is on offer to guests and a car service can also be used to get to the local towns. Complimentary breakfast is also included with your stay.

Lone Pine Hotel is the ideal hotel if you want nothing more than a relaxing holiday as the hotel has its own private beach. For even more relaxation, the hotel features a full-service spa where you can pamper yourself ready for your evening meal at one their two restaurants. Other amenities include a laundry service and breakfast is available for a surcharge.

G Hotel Gurney is a family friendly hotel located in Gurney Drive, the perfect hotel for those wanting to visit Gurney Plaza for some retail therapy. The hotel is located in the entertainment district where water sports are very easy to find. The smoke free hotel offers many amenities for families such as a children’s pool, babysitting and in-room childcare, both at a surcharge. Adults can enjoy the health club and outdoor pool and a café and bar are also available for refreshments.

Prices range from 587-816MYR per night. Prices are subject to change.

panoramic corner building with white cars

Budget Hotels in Penang

Campbell House is a boutique hotel situated in George Town and is in easy reach to all the famous sights such as Leong San Tong Khoo Kongsi, Clan Jetty, Pinang Peranakan Mansion and the Camera Museum. The smoke free hotel features a restaurant, bar and café so if you want to spend a day at the hotel, you can. Breakfast is included with your stay along with free newspapers, free Wi-Fi and a library.

Maritime Waterfront Hotel is a waterfront hotel located near the Clan Jetty. Along with this famous sight, Leong San Tong Khoo Kongsi, Camera Museum and Pinang Peranakan Mansion are within 3 miles of the hotel. The hotel features an outdoor pool where you can cool off from the heat and a restaurant where you can enjoy every meal, should you want to. A fitness centre is available for a daily workout and free self-parking is also offered to guests. A rooftop terrace can be used to relax in the evening and watch the sun go down while you enjoy a drink from the hotels café.

Cheong Fatt Tze - The Blue Mansion is not only one of the main attractions in George Town, you can also stay in the hotel for a truly luxurious stay. With many of George Towns attractions close by such as the Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion, Camera Museum and Pinang Peranakan Mansion, this is the best place to stay if you want to see them all. The hotel boasts two on-site restaurants and a free cooked-to-order breakfast to enjoy before a day of sightseeing. Tickets/tours assistance is available to help you see all the sights and free Wi-Fi and free self-parking are also included in your stay.

Prices range from 409-627MYR per night. Prices are subject to change.

To find more hotels in Penang to explore this beautiful city, our Hotel Finder can find the right accommodation for you.

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rikshaw with colourful umbrella

Getting Around Penang

There are a few options when it comes to getting around Penang, trishaw, taxi, rented car, motorcycle, bicycle or public transport, you decide.

If you are visiting George Town and want to travel around the UNESCO Heritage Site then a trishaw is the best option as you can take in more of the sights as you relax. Of course you may also choose to walk and there are a few heritage trails that you may wish to embark on.

Getting around the island can be done using the Rapid Penang public bus service which is not only reliable, but is also air-conditioned.

The Central Area Transit (CAT) bus service also provides a free and convenient way to travel around Penang. The buses visit all major attractions, shops and city events and can be boarded at any of the specially marked stops on the route.

Renting a car or motorcycle can also be cost effective if you wish to travel around and see the areas around Penang.

Cycling is possibly the best way to explore the heritage city as you can take your time and make sure you see everything. Cycling tours are also available in George Town with Metrobike.

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ornate blue building with plants

Best Time to Visit Penang

Penang has what is known as an equatorial climate due to its location near the equator, this means Penang is hot and humid for the majority of the year. Humidity rarely drops below 75% during the day and 65% at night with September and October being the most humid months. This is also the time when Penang sees the highest rainfall, so this is the time best avoided if you want to avoid wet weather. To find clear blue skies and less rain, January-March is the best time to visit, however the weather stays relatively consistent until September.

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aeroplane in flight

Flights to Penang

Image Source: FotoNoir

If you are planning a trip to this destination soon, to visit the UNESCO Heritage Sites then we have daily flights to Penang to suit every travel need and budget. Penang is not only a beautiful place to visit but the mix of modern and traditional architecture is a unique experience. Be sure to make plenty of time to wander the streets of Georgetown and the many beautiful historic buildings while searching out the modern street art, take a bicycle to make the day even more rewarding.

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