7 Awesome Things to Do in Penang, Malaysia

By Two Monkeys Travel - Contributor September 17th, 2015 Posted in Asia Travel Blog, 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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47 thoughts on “7 Awesome Things to Do in Penang, Malaysia

  1. I think the plastic bag is a no … others are good – we gotta stop promoting single use plastics for the good of the planet

  2. Where should I stay? Hostel/affordable. I will be there 2 days one night. I need to get to airport by noon. How much is taxi from Georgetown?

    1. Hi Aida, I only stayed for 2 nights there but I suggest you stay longer. We flew to Kuala Lumpur from Penang.

  3. How come you drank the coffee but you don’t even remember the price of it ? I really wanted to know the price now 😀 , Anyway I have seen all the pictures and its incredible. Penang hill is really a cool place so if i ever plan to visit i would definitely go there , and all the credit goes to you 😀 because it is you who told us about it , by sharing review information and pictures, and these pictures of motor bike and swing are really cool !!

    1. Hi Pinky, it has been almost 4 years since my trip to Penang so I can’t remember the price of the coffee. But I’m sure it’s affordable. Hope you get to visit Penang, I would love to return there, too!

    2. Hi Pinky, coffee in the bag is cheap… less than RM5.00 (PhP60.00). I was there last Feb 2017. And, of course, it would be cheaper if you do not buy at the tourist sites… go to hawker sites, or the kopi tiam downtown… They also sell fresh soya milk, sugar cane, milo in this take-away form… BTW, Penang is known for their coffee. Coffee is taken at EVERY meal (which is like, 5 meals a day – breakfast, lunch, high tea, dinner, supper). My mom’s a Penangite and you can’t fool a Penangite when it comes to food and drinks… They are very particular!

  4. WOOOOOOW! #TrulyMalaysia I would definitely start saving now for my future jetset and Malaysia will definitely be on my bucket list! What a great experience you got right there!

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