7 Awesome Things to Do in Penang, Malaysia

7 Awesome Things to Do in Penang, Malaysia

Two Monkeys Travel - Contributor Asia, Travel Blog, Travel Guides 47 Comments

Situated on the northwest coast of Malaysia, Penang is one of the most developed states in the peninsula, making it a popular tourist destination.

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Its capital, George Town, was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2008, thanks to its numerous Chinese style shop houses found all over the island. Visitors will not have any problem in getting into Penang as they can utilize any form of public transport – car, bus, train or plane.

7 Awesome Things to Do in Penang, Malaysia

Should you have an extra day or two when you visit Kuala Lumpur, consider taking the train to Penang and immerse yourself in its diverse culture and delicious cuisine.

Looking for a place to stay in Penang? Check out our list of cheap hostels in Malaysia, or you can easily find cheap Penang hotel on Traveloka.

Walk around George Town

Named after King George III, George Town is a melting pot of different cultures, including Malaysian, Chinese, and Indian. Walking around town will give you a glimpse of a Penangite’s daily life. Marvel on the town’s rich heritage influenced by its European colonizers, starting with Love Lane, Pitt Street, King Street, and Carnarvon Street. If you prefer to view the city at night, make sure not to miss Chulia and Campbell Streets. Beach Street and Light Street also boast some of Penang’s best colonial architectures. It’s not a UNESCO World Heritage site for nothing.

7 Awesome Things to Do in Penang, Malaysia

Drink coffee from a plastic bag

When I rode a bus going to Batu Ferringhi, I found a plastic bag filled with iced coffee by the driver’s seat. It even has a string that will allow you to hang it when both hands have to be busy. Being a coffee addict, it became my goal to try it. And luck was with me, as it was readily available in one of the food shops in Batu Ferringhi. You can even choose your preferred strength. I can’t remember how much it costs, but I’m sure it’s affordable.

7 Awesome Things to Do in Penang, Malaysia

Stroll along the shore in Batu Ferringhi

Some of Penang’s popular beaches are located in Batu Ferringhi, a long stretch of white sand beach filled with unlimited choices for your dining and accommodation needs. For those into water sports, this is an ideal area for activities such as jet skiing, parasailing, and windsurfing. If you prefer to have a quiet time by yourself, you can opt to walk along the shore, and listen to the sound of the waves crashing on your feet. Batu Ferringhi also offers a vibrant nightlife provided by the bars and gastro pubs nearby.

7 Awesome Things to Do in Penang, Malaysia

How to get there:

From Penang International Airport: Take Bus 102, which departs every 60 to 80 minutes from 6:00 a.m. to 11:15 p.m. Fare is RM 4.00.

From George Town: Take Bus 102 along Chulia Street (in front of 7-Eleven), which departs every 15 to 20 minutes from 5:30 a.m. to 11:20 p.m. Fare is RM 2.70.

From KOMTAR: Take Bus 101 at the end of the first lane of the bus station under the KOMTAR building, which departs every 10 to 20 minutes. The fare is RM 2.70.

Check out some of the cool and cheap tours you could do in George Town.

7 Awesome Things to Do in Penang, Malaysia

See the sea of clouds from Penang Hill

Sure, we’ve seen clouds up close when we ride the airplane, but going up to Penang Hill and looking down at the city is a different experience altogether. At 830 meters above sea level, this hill, also known as Bukit Bendera, will provide you not just with a cooler temperature but a majestic panoramic view of George Town and the eastern coast of Penang Island.

7 Awesome Things to Do in Penang, Malaysia

A funicular train will take you from the foot of the hill to the summit in just a matter of minutes. Once you arrive, you are free to roam around the area to check out other sights. Don’t miss the Sri Aruloli Thirumurugan Temple, one of the oldest temples in Penang. The hill is also perfect for nature lovers, as you will have the chance to explore the Hill’s flora and fauna. Have a taste of Malay cuisine from the food stalls found near the Owl Museum.

7 Awesome Things to Do in Penang, Malaysia

7 Awesome Things to Do in Penang, Malaysia

Admission fee: There is no entrance fee to Penang Hill, but you will have to pay for the funicular train that will take you to the top. Round trip fare is RM30 for adults and senior citizens, RM5 for children 4 to 6 years old, and RM15 for students. Operating hours are 6:30 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. daily, with ticket counters closing at 10:30 p.m.

7 Awesome Things to Do in Penang, Malaysia

How to get there: Take Rapid Penang Bus 204, as this is the only bus that will take you to Penang Hill station. It departs every 25 to 40 minutes from 5:50 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.

Click here for more information.

7 Awesome Things to Do in Penang, Malaysia

Feast on local food

As Malaysia’s unofficial food capital, Penang will bring any foodie to a state of nirvana. Indulge yourself in a wide array of local cuisine, from char kway teow to ice kacang. If on a tight budget, food stalls are abundant in the streets of George Town, offering affordable yet filling dishes. I suggest you try the lok lok, their version of shabu shabu. Price per stick varies, the vegetables being the cheapest and the meat items being the more expensive ones. Over all, it is still the more budget-friendly option, and you’ll have fun mixing and matching everything.

7 Awesome Things to Do in Penang, Malaysia

7 Awesome Things to Do in Penang, Malaysia

7 Awesome Things to Do in Penang, Malaysia

Be a part of interactive street art

Want to interact with artwork for free? Then look for Ernest Zacharevic’s murals and other street paintings scattered all over the city. These beautiful works of art were part of the Mirrors George Town project in 2012 and has been a staple in almost every Penang itinerary, with tourists hopping from one street to another. Other artists have also contributed to this project, such as Louis Gan and Simon Tan.

7 Awesome Things to Do in Penang, Malaysia

7 Awesome Things to Do in Penang, Malaysia

Check out the funny wrought iron caricatures

Aside from Mirrors George Town mentioned earlier, Penang has another series of installation art that is worth checking out. Known as Marking George Town, this street art exhibition was commissioned by the Penang State Government a year after the capital was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. A total of 52 iron sculptures tells the story of Penang’s heritage in a funny yet informative way. If you want to see every caricature, you can pick up a free Marking George Town map in the airport. It indicates the exact location of every artwork, plus a short history about it.

Marking George Town map can also be be downloaded here.

7 Awesome Things to Do in Penang, Malaysia

This Malaysian state is overflowing with diversity, and one visit will never be enough. There is something about Penang that will make you come back, and you’ll never regret if you do. Don’t forget to include it on your bucket list!

7 Awesome Things to Do in Penang, Malaysia

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How to get to Penang:

By plane – There are numerous flights to and from Penang and its neighboring countries. In our case, we flew in from Singapore and flew out to Kuala Lumpur. Check the flight availability of your preferred airline.

Check out some of the cool and cheap tours you could do in Kuala Lumpur.

By train – KTMB travels daily from Kuala Lumpur to Butterworth, Travel time is approximately 6 hours. Upon arrival in Butterworth, proceed to the ferry terminal to board the ferry that will take you to Penang Island. Visit KTMB’s official site for more information.

By car – Take the North-South Highway to get to Butterworth. Travel time is between 4 to 5 hours, with toll charges. Once you are in Butterworth, you have two options: cross the Penang Bridge or transport your vehicle via the ferry for a minimal fee.

By bus – Most bus lines depart from Pudu Sentral, while a few depart from the KTM Old Railway Station Kuala Lumpur. Travel time is around 4 hours. Standard fare ranges from RM37 to RM42. Those with extra services such as Wi-Fi, personal television, and meals could charge from RM74 to RM103. Once they reach Penang, the buses will terminate in Penang Sungai Nibong bus terminal, which is 20 minutes from George Town. From there, you can either take a taxi or hop on Bus 401 that will take you to George Town for RM2.50.

Transportation Tip: If you’re looking for the cheapest way to book the Trains, Buses, Ferries, Transfers on this route, we use 12Go.Asia to compare the prices!

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Monkey DividersRecommended Hotels

Budget – Dream Catcher Travelers Refuge

Mid Range – Seven Terraces

Luxury – Shangri-La’s Rasa Sayang Resort & Spa

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Looking for other articles? Check out our DIY Travel Guides Around the World. For cheap and luxurious places to stay while traveling, here’s our ultimate list of best hostels and hotels!

Have you purchased your Travel Insurance? If not, check out this article on why travel insurance is so important and how to choose the right insurance for you. 

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About the Writer

Named after a The Beatles hit song, Michelle Caligan is a self-proclaimed expert when it comes to scoring cheap airline tickets, dubbing herself as a “seat sale slave.” This acquired skill has taken her to many places, exposing her to various cultures and tradition.
A CouchSurfing newbie, she is currently based in Manila, Philippines, where she works as a content producer for an entertainment website.

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Comments 47

  1. Malaysia has always been close to our culture. Going there must be quite an adventure that will excite the senses. The interactive art is such a nice touch in the city. How I wish our country would appreciate art more

    1. Hi Maria, the art culture in Malaysia, especially Penang, is really thriving. It’s a big draw to tourists as well. Hope you get to visit someday!

  2. Thanks for this article, this is one plave that I would love to visit in Malaysia. Most of my friends love Penang 🙂 I love how artistic its wall. I’m also looking forward to do some foodtrip!

  3. I would love to return to Malaysia and visit Penang too, I didn’t have enough time when I first visited. It looks like there are a lot of things to do there and also to eat. I loved Malaysian food. I’ll have to try that bagged coffee also, how cute is that!

    1. Hi Joanna, you will find that bagged coffee everywhere in Penang. Even bus drivers have it! Hope you return to Malaysia!

  4. I would love to visit Malaysia. I’ve heard the food is delicious. And who can resist coffee in a bag? But I also like shabu shabu so I’m sure I would enjoy the lok lok. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Hi Stella, you will definitely enjoy the food in Penang. And if you’re on a budget, the lok lok is the best choice!

  5. That coffee is awesome! I want that haha. Never seen it before. I’m impressed. Penang Hill definetely looks great as well. Would love to visit that. The thing I love the most is the interactive street art. That looks like so much fun! Great pictures. I wish that would be in more places. Malaysia is quite far away for me (I live in the Netherlands), but I would love to visit one day.. Even if it’s just for this awesome coffee!

    1. HI Carola! Hope you get to visit Malaysia soon. There are so many good food and amazing places to taste and see.

  6. This is fascinating! What a great place to explore. The food looks delicious… Malaysia is on my MUST VISIT List, I’m very excited to one day adventure into Penang!

    1. Hi Neonalton, you should visit Penang when you are going to Malaysia. And stay for a few days to enjoy the place, there are lots of things to do there. 🙂

  7. My friends and I are planning an out of town trip on summer and thinking of going somewhere in Asia. I actually wanted to explore Malaysia while the others have a different place in mind. I hope I can visit the place even if I’m travelling solo or with my friends. Though it might take a while because I’ll give birth soon and I still need to look out on the baby for the first few months. Hopefully soon.

    1. Hi Theresa, traveling alone to Penang is possible. Malaysia is a tourist friendly place and perfect for first time solo travelers.

  8. I have never seen an iced coffee in a plastic bag before, though I grew up drinking soft drinks in plastic bags. Being a coffee-addict myself, it’s now my goal to experience drinking coffee from a plastic bag once I visit Malaysia 🙂

    1. Hi Bernadette, the coffee in the plastic bag is really delicious. I’m sure you’ll see lots of these in Penang and other Malaysian states. Enjoy your trip!

  9. I know nothing about Penang, but after reading your post I want to visit! It looks amazing – and Penang Hill just incredible. Kaz x

    1. Yes it is, and there are more things to do there that’s not on this list. Hope you get to visit soon! 🙂

  10. What an amazing place. I have to confess that until reading this the only thing I really knew about Penang was the famous curries. Loved the photos too.

  11. Malaysia is on my travel list! Great tips, I’ll bear them in mind when planning my trip. Thanks x

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