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George Town, Penang, Malaysia is a top travel destination – and it’s easy to understand why! Penang Island boasts incredible street art, delectable local cuisine, lush nature, amazing beaches and a well-preserved history. For our trip, we created an absolutely perfect Penang Itinerary – and we are sharing it with our fellow travelers.
How Many Days in Penang, Malaysia?
In our Penang, Malaysia Itinerary, we outline the best way to spend 5 days in Penang. We think that is the ideal amount of time to visit all of the George Town Penang attractions, abundant nature and sunny beaches.
However, we understand that some travelers are planning a Penang one day trip, while others only have 2 days in Penang or are trying to plan a 3 day Penang itinerary. To help travelers create the best itinerary to Penang, we outline alternative Penang itineraries for shorter stays at the end of the article.
About Our Penang Itinerary 5 Days
Our Penang 5 Day Itinerary covers the best Penang destinations. We highlight the top things to do in George Town Penang – as well as feature top Penang Island tourist spots, like beaches and temples.
For each day, we detail what to see in Penang and include informational details about each attraction. Additionally, we provide a useful Penang attraction map with tourist spots so that you can easily route your way to each sight.
At the end of this Penang Itinerary blog post, we include pertinent information – like how to get there, where to stay and what to pack. This Penang travel guide has everything you need to plan your trip!
Save, Pin or Bookmark our Penang attractions blog so that you can use it while planning – and during – your trip to Malaysia!
George Town, Penang History
Before we jump into what to see and do in Penang, Malaysia, let’s talk a little about the history of Georgetown Penang.
The city of George Town in Penang, Malaysia is the country’s second-largest city (after Kuala Lumpur) – and the Penang tourist spot. Many of the top things to do in Penang are in the historical core of George Town, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, but there are top attractions in Penang just outside the city center, too.
Origins of Georgetown
Understanding the history of George Town in Penang, Malaysia is essential in making sense of the differing architectural styles and sights in the city.
Established as a port by the British East India Company in 1786, George Town officially became a British Colony in 1867. It wasn’t until 1957, when George Town became independent.
Because of the many different cultures that settled in George Town, the architecture is incredibly varied. Temples are found just steps from mosques and traditional Peranakan row houses are found just around the corner from grand colonial structures. The differing styles are what makes the George Town historical core the most interesting place in Penang. Read more about the history of Penang on wiki.
Penang Street Art
Whether taking a Penang 1 day trip or creating a 5 Day Itinerary Penang, seeing Street Art should be part of your trip plan.
After earning the UNESCO World Heritage Site title in 2008, the city sought ways to present its history – and “Marking George Town Street Art” was the winning idea in 2010. Using steel rods, a team of artists created 52 sculptures that humorously tell the story of the town. The popular project, which integrated art into existing features on buildings, paved the way for other street artists.
Penang Art District
In 2012, Lithuanian artist, Ernest Zacharevic, painted a series of murals in George Town called “Mirrors George Town” that depict scenes of everyday life. His street art often incorporates tangible items into the murals and invites viewers to be interactive with the art. Since 2012, Penang has been flooded with artists leaving their mark on buildings all over town.
Street Art Penang: What To See
Because seeking out street art is one of the top things to do in Georgetown Penang, we have included the most popular Penang wall art murals in our Penang trip plan. That said, there are numerous works of art throughout the town that are lesser known, but still interesting.
Keep your eyes open for art throughout the city! Also, you can pick up a Penang Street Art map from the airport or tourist information center.
The Best Penang Itinerary
Our day-by-day itinerary outlines what to see in Penang, Malaysia. In addition to Penang must see sights, we also include a few unusual things to do in Penang.
DAY 1: Visit Penang Itinerary
Day 1 of our Penang trip itinerary begins near the Penang port, Swetternham Pier, and includes the top 30 places to visit in Penang in George Town. We outline a self-guided walking tour of the must-visit places in Penang. In the afternoon, cool down with a cold drink at a café. Then, partake in the best night attraction in Penang, feasting on fabulous street food.
What To Do in Georgetown Penang
Spend the day on a self-guided Penang city tour that features the best George Town, Penang attractions. On our self-guided George Town day tour, we have highlighted 30 Penang historical sites, Georgetown attractions and Penang street art sites.
Georgetown Penang Attractions Map
We’ve included a Penang attractions map of sights at the end of the post that include markers for all 30 stops on our outlined George Town city tour. You can also pick up a Penang tourist map at the airport or tourist information center if you would rather find the Penang, Malaysia tourist spots on a paper map.
Walking Tour Penang: A Self-Guided George Town, Penang Sightseeing Tour
Seeing George Town sights is a must-do in Penang! Gorgeous architecture and intriguing art murals are the highlight. No need to worry about where to go in George Town, Penang – our outlined Penang city tour itinerary includes the best places to visit in George Town, Penang – both street art and historical architecture.
Our walking tour in Penang could take as little as 3 hours – but we recommend slowing your pace, savoring the sights and spending an entire day sightseeing in George Town.
#1 Queen Victoria Memorial Clock (Jubilee Clock Tower)
Start your Penang day tour walking expedition at the Queen Victoria Clock. Standing at Light Street and Beach Street is the Memorial Clock that was dedicated to the queen in 1897 to celebrate her Diamond Jubilee.
#2 Fort Cornwallis
Canons can be seen on the walls of Fort Cornwallis, a fort built in the 18th century by the British East India Company. It is one of the top places in Penang to learn about the history of the city.
#3 Penang Town Hall and City Hall
Two historic places to visit in Georgetown Penang that are still used as originally intended are the Town Hall and City Hall. Built in the 1880s by the British, the Town Hall was used for social functions and administration offices. The City Hall building was completed in 1903.
#4 St. George’s Anglican Church
Designated a National Treasure of Malaysia in 2007, St. George’s Anglican Church, which was consecrated in 1819, is one of the top Colonial tourist attractions in Penang George Town. The Neo-Classical structure features Doric columns, a gable roof and an octagonal steeple.
#5 Church of the Assumption
Designated a World Heritage Church, the Church of the Assumption dates to 1860 and is one of the oldest Catholic churches in Malaysia.
#6 Cheong Fatt Tze Blue Mansion
Designed as a traditional Chinese house, the Blue Mansion was built in the 19th century by Cheong Fatt Tze, a successful business man, for his family. Today, the landmark building is both a museum and a boutique hotel and it’s one of the most interesting places in Penang to visit.
Tours are offered (for a small fee) a few times a day. Note: Although this is one of the top Penang, Malaysia tourist spots, you may not have enough time to tour the mansion if you are only spending one day in Penang.
#7 Trishaw Man Mural
As we mentioned, street art is a tourist attraction in Georgetown Penang – and the Trishaw Mural is the first artwork featured on our walking tour.
The 50-foot wall mural of a trishaw pedaler was painted by Ernest Zacharevic in 2012 and is one of his largest murals in the city.
#8 Thean Hou Temple
Renovated in 1995, the Thean Hou Temple features intricate stone carvings that depict Chinese stories and Hainanese culture. Although the temple is a Penang, Malaysia tourist spot, it is also a place of worship.
#9 Kung Fu Girl Mural
Also known as the Little Girl in Blue, the Kung Fu Girl mural was painted by Ernest Zacharevic and incorporates the building’s windows into the work of art. For many visitors, this artwork is a George Town sightseeing must-see.
#10 The Indian Boatman Mural
Painted by Russian artist Julia Volchkova, the Indian Boatman mural is located on Stewart Lane, which is also called Boat Alley – a lane that once housed the Hainanese Mariners building.
#11 Goddess of Mercy Temple
Built in 1728, the Goddess of Mercy Temple is the oldest Taoist temple in the city. The temple is a Penang must-visit; both tourists and devotees visit with offerings and to light joss sticks.
#12 Pinang Peranakan Mansion
The opulent Peranakan Mansion museum is one of the historical places in Penang. Visitors can learn about the lifestyle of wealthy Peranakans (who are locally-born Chinese people, also called Babas and Nyonyas).
#13 Little India
Located in the heart of the city, the colorful Little India district is one of the top places to visit in Penang. Covering three streets, Little India is known for textile shops, Bollywood music and Indian cuisine. Visiting the Little India district is one of the top things to do in George Town, Penang.
#14 Sri Mahamariamman Temple
Built in 1833, the Sri Mahamariamman Temple is the oldest Hindu temple in Penang. The entrance tower (gopuram) is 23-feet-tall and features incredibly detailed statues of gods and goddesses. Note: Visitors can only enter the temple from 6:30am to 12noon and from 4:30pm to 9:00pm – so if you want to go inside, be sure to keep an eye on the time while exploring George Town.
#15 Kapitan Keling Mosque
Built in 1801 and renovated in 1930, the Kapitan Keling Mosque sits in the center of the city in the Tamil Muslim neighborhood (and just steps from the Sri Mahamariamman Temple). The mosque was the first Muslim structure built in Penang.
#16 Yap Temple
The small, but classic, Yap Temple is a clan temple of Lum Yeong Tong Yap Kongsi House and one of the Penang interesting places to see. Inside the temple, the Yap family ancestral tablets are on display.
#17 Sun Yat Sen Museum (formerly Sun Yat-sen Penang Base)
Built in 1880, the residential dwelling was used by Sun Yat-sen (known as the founding father of the Republic of China) as the headquarters of his political party in the early 1900s. It was from this site that Sun Yat-sen gave a rousing speech, which led to the China Revolution of 1911 and the overthrow of the Qing dynasty.
#18 Penang Islamic Museum
Dedicated to the role of Islam in Malaysia, the Islamic Museum is housed in the 1860 villa. It is one of the places to visit in Penang Island to learn more about the diversity of Penang.
#19 Lebuh Aceh Mosque
Built in 1808 in the heart of the Muslim settlement, the Lebuh Aceh Mosque is most-known for its unusual Egyptian-style minaret.
#20 Reaching Up Mural
A painting by Ernest Zacharevic, the Reaching Up street art mural depicts a little boy standing on a chair and reaching up toward a small, square window.
#21 Leong San Tong Khoo Kongsi
The Chinese clan, Khoo Kongsi, can trace its lineage back 650 years. On your Penang visit, find the impressive clan house that is hidden among shophouses and dwellings.
#22 Armenian Street Penang
Once called Malay Lane for the Malays that settled on the street, in the early 1800s, the name was changed to Armenian Street for the Armenian traders that took up residence there. Today, the street is multicultural and is popular with tourists, who come in search of street art. Strolling the length of the lane is one of the best things to do in George Town, Penang.
#23 Hock Teik Cheng Sin Temple
The pretty Taoist Hock Teik Cheng Sin Temple was built in 1845 – and was once the meeting place for a secret Chinese society (which is why a Kuan Kong statue is placed on the roof).
#24 Children on Bicycle Mural
One of Ernest Zacharevic’s most loved pieces of artwork in Penang, Children on Bicycle is a small painting of two kids enjoying a bike ride…on an actual bike. It’s one of the best places to visit in Penang to see how real items can be incorporated into street art.
#25 Seh Tek Tong Cheah Kongsi Clan House
The ornate Cheah Kongsi dates to the year 1873 and incorporates multiple architectural styles, including Malay, Straits Chinese and European influences.
#26 China House
The China House is a conglomeration of shops, cafes and galleries, which are housed in three historical buildings. The popular bakery is one of the best places in George Town, Penang for dessert – as the China House offers 30 different cakes.
Top Tip: Keep an eye out for the many opportunities to take fun Penang photos throughout the China House.
#27 Boy on Motorbike Mural
The Boy on Motorbike Mural, created by Ernest Zacharevic, depicts a familiar scene in the city: a motorbike driver looking over his shoulder for oncoming traffic. The mural incorporates the building doors and an actual motorbike in the painting.
To the left of Boy on Motorbike is Boy with Pet Monster Mural. Also, painted by Ernest Zacharevic, Boy with Pet Monster Mural captures the imagination of a child. This is one of the most popular and best places to visit in Penang for Street Art.
#28 Children Playing Basketball Mural
Artist Louis Gan (who is both deaf and mute) created Children Playing Basketball, utilizing a real basketball hoop.
#29 Brother and Sister on Swings Mural
The most popular painting in Penang by Louis Gan is Brother and Sister on Swings, which is on (now named) Step By Step Lane. The artwork uses a swing set and features the painting of two young kids standing on one swing, while the other swing is open for people to become part of the artwork. Top Tip: Go ahead, take a seat and snap a picture – posing with the artwork is one of the fun things to do in George Town, Penang, Malaysia!
#30 Chinese Clan Jetties
There are six clan jetties in George Town – and a top place to visit in Penang. Rather than sidewalks, planked boardwalks line the neighborhood of houses that stand on stilts over the water. Visitors are free to walk around, but should be mindful that they are essentially in someone’s ‘front yard’.
Chew Jetty is the most commercialized and tourist-friendly of the clan jetties in George Town. Shops and cafes line the walkway and boats docked along the planks offer tours to visitors. However, respectful visitors are free to explore the other jetties as well.
Kuan Yin Floating Temple Buddhist (Hean Boo Thean Temple) sits at the end of the Yeoh Jetty and is dedicated to the Goddess of Mercy. Originally a small shrine on stilts, the temple was overhauled in 2012 and now features lights that illuminate the sea after dark.
After Your George Town Penang Walk
That wraps up our self-guided walking tour in Penang! After visiting the George Town attractions and famous places in Penang, give your feet a rest and cool off for a bit. Either head for a café, rest in the air-conditioning of your room or dive into the hotel pool (more on where to stay at the end of the post).
In the evening, delve into the wonderful world of Penang food! We feature the best places to eat in Penang later in the article.
Looking for a Penang tour guide to lead the way through George Town? While our self-guided tour is one of the best free things to do in Penang, we understand that some travelers would rather the company of a professional guide for their city tour. Book one of the popular Penang tours – like this one. The private Penang city tour features the best of the city and includes hotel pick up!
DAY 2: Penang Activities on Penang Hill
Penang island attractions aren’t limited to the city of George Town! On Day 2 of your Penang itinerary, check out the top things to do in Penang Hill.
Located just 3.5 miles from George Town is a range of peaks, generally known as Penang Hill. Developed in the late 1700s as a British retreat, the hilltop remains popular today for it’s cooler temperatures and stunning views.
There are multiple Penang top tourist attractions around Penang Hill. Temples, gardens and nature walks can be combined together to crate a one-day trip in Penang.
Getting from Georgetown to Penang Hill
Going to Penang Hill – and including multiple sites on your Penang day tour itinerary – requires transportation. While it is possible to use public transport to get to some of the attractions, we recommend taking a taxi or using the Grab app.
Renting a car for the day is another idea, but not an option we would recommend. Alternatively, you could hire a private driver or book a Penang Hill Tour Package.
Ascend to The Top of Penang Hill
The top things to do in Penang Hill…is go to the top of the hill! Although it is possible to trek to the top, riding the funicular is one of the fun things to do in Penang. The Penang Hill Railway transports passengers up the steep 1+ mile slope in about five minutes.
Once at the top, here are a few ideas of what to do in Penang Hill: Take in the vista from the viewing deck, take a nature walk to explore the flora and fauna and learn about the history of Penang Hill (including Bel Retiro and the bungalows).
Top Tip: Buy Skip-the-Line tickets in advance – this is essential if you plan on visiting more attractions near Penang Hill on this one-day Penang itinerary!
Kek Lok Si Temple
Located at the base of Penang Hill, Kek Lok Si Temple is one of Penang’s top tourist attractions.
The Buddhist Kek Lok Si Temple, which faces the sea, was built from 1890 to 1930. The complex is comprised of several structures – the most impressive being the seven-story, nearly 100-foot-tall Pagoda named Ten Thousand Buddhas. Also on site is a 99-foot-tall statue of Guanyin, the Goddess of Mercy (which was erected in 2002).
Top Tip: Book a private combo tour to Penang Hill and Kek Lok Si Temple for a better experience!
Penang Botanical Garden
The Botanical Garden is a top place to visit in Penang – and it can easily be included on your Penang Island tour on Day 2 of your itinerary.
The Penang Botanical Garden, which was founded by the British, dates to 1884. Often called Waterfall Gardens, the park has numerous sections and is comprised of tropical rainforests, as well as collections of rare plants.
Walking paths weave through the park, where visitors might encounter resident monkeys. The Botanical Gardens are one of the most beautiful places in Penang to enjoy nature.
Arulmigu Balathandayuthapani Temple
Located near the Penang Botanical Gardens, the Hindu Arulmigu Balathandayuthapani Temple is a peaceful Penang place to go – and is a must-see sight to include in your Penang day trip itinerary.
Nicknamed Waterfall Hill Temple, the origins of the temple date to the 1800s. (Although, the current temple was just built in 2012). The temple features the largest Lord Murugan temple outside of India – and to reach the hilltop temple, visitors must climb 513 steps.
Top Tip: The temple is closed mid-day, re-opening at 4pm – which is why we include it as a last stop on your Penang 1-day trip itinerary.
DAY 3: Penang Beach and Temples
On Day 3 of your Penang trip plan, you will embark on another one day trip in Penang to see iconic temples and spend the afternoon on the beach.
The two temples we recommend visiting are located just north of George Town in the Pulau Tikus suburb – and they sit on opposite sides of the street. Because they are on the way to the beach, it is an easy detour to visit the temples, too.
While there are several beaches in Penang, Batu Ferringhi is – by far – the most popular. Most of your day – and into the evening – will be spent partaking in the best Penang beach activities.
Getting from Georgetown to Batu Ferringhi
As the Batu Ferringhi Beach is a Penang must visit, there are several ways to get there. The bus is the cheapest (but also the longest) method of transport. While a one-way taxi can cost around 75rm, it also only takes about 25 minutes to get there.
Visit Penang Temples
Before sinking your feet into the sand, make a quick stop to see two beautiful temples. Pro Tip: You can use the public bus to get to these two temples…then continue your journey and hop on the bus to Batu Ferringhi.
Wat Chaiyamangalaram and Dhammikarama Burmese Temple
The Wat Chaiyamangalaram and Dhammikarama Burmese Temples are both found on the same street, Burmah Lane, standing on opposite sides. It is a popular place in Penang for both locals and tourists to visit.
The typically Thai-style Wat Chaiyamangalaram features one of the largest reclining Buddha statues in the world. Dhammikarama Burmese Temple dates to 1803, making it the oldest Buddhist temple in Penang, and is a colorful temple.
As an island, one of the top Penang places to go is the beach, which is why we recommend including Batu Ferringhi in your itinerary for Penang. Hands down, Batu Ferringhi has the best beach on the island.
Boasting a 2.5-mile stretch of sand, the Penang beach in Batu Ferringhi is the most popular for both tourists and locals. The city evolved from a quaint fishing village to a resort haven in the 1970s.
The top things to do in Batu Ferringhi are beach activities, but other Batu Ferringhi attractions include a night market, cultural events and nature activities. We highly recommend staying into the evening to visit the Batu Ferringhi Night Market – it is a top Penang place to visit at night!
DAY 4: Discover More Things To Do in Penang Georgetown
After two long days of Penang day tours, spend Day 4 of your Penang Itinerary relaxing in George Town. Wander the streets without purpose, visit museums that you skipped on Day 1, go shopping or take a cheap ferry boat ride across the Straits of Malacca.
Explore Penang George Town without a Checklist
We featured some of the best places to to in Penang in our walking tour of George Town, but – trust us – there is so much more to see in the city! Slow down the pace of your vacation in Penang and spend a few hours just rambling around town, letting your instincts guide the way.
We guarantee you will find fun photo ops and other cool stuff to do in George Town when you just set off without a destination in mind. In fact, we think this is a must do in Penang!
More Fun Activities in Penang
After a morning of freely exploring the city, spend the afternoon at a museum, shopping mall or on a ferry boat.
We detail more options for top Penang, Malaysia things to do in more detail below.
DAY 5: Penang National Park Day Trip
What we love about longer Penang trips is that it really gives you enough time to discover the great diversity of the island – which is exactly what you will do on Day 5 of your Penang, Malaysia Itinerary. On the last day of your trip, go to the national park – one of the best things to see in Penang.
Penang National Park
For many people, the national park is one of the top Penang highlights of a trip. Home to secluded beaches and dense forests, Penang National Park can provide a full day of adventure.
Penang NP is Malaysia’s smallest national park, but it offers an abundance of outdoor activities. Visitors can go jungle trekking, take a boat to visit the pristine Monkey Beach, stop by the Penang Turtle Sanctuary and hike up to Muka Head Lighthouse.
How To Get to Penang National Park (and How To Get Inside)
Travel in Penang is fairly easy using the local buses. From George Town, take the 101 bus to get to Penang National Park. The ride takes about 1.5 hours and costs 4rm.
Once at the park, although it is free to enter, visitors are required to register with the park service (so bring a copy of your passport).
Rather than sorting out the details on your own, join a guided Penang tour – like this half-day tour!
What To Do at Penang National Park
The National Park in Penang is a haven for nature lovers. The park features hundreds of species of flora and fauna – and it is a top spot to encounter wild monkeys.
Trails lead through the thick canopied forests to stunning, untouched beaches – but it is not an easy trek. Hikers should bring plenty of water and be prepared for high humidity.
Travelers who do not want to hike can hire a boat to take them to islands, but it can be pricey.
More Things To Do in Teluk Bahang
Just outside the national park is the town of Teluk Bahang – and there are a few reasons to hang around after spending time in nature.
Escape Theme Park
The Escape Penang Theme Park is an adventurous and fun attraction. The waterpark features pools and slides – as well as an obstacle course and ziplines.
Penang Butterfly Farm
The Entopia Butterfly Farm in Penang is one of the fun things to do in Penang for families. The educational venue features butterflies and other insects – as well as lush gardens.
Tropical Spice Garden
A landscaped garden of herbs and spices, visitors can tour the grounds at their own pace with a helpful audio guide (via the app). Just be sure to grab some insect repellent for the mosquitos!
Penang Food and Drink
Some people say the best thing to do in Penang is eat – which is why we dedicate an entire section of this Things To Do in Penang blog post to food. Even on a short trip to Penang, visitors should get a taste of the local food. We also include a few tips for where to go in Penang at night for a few drinks.
Penang Foodie Haven
If you are wondering what to do in George Town, Penang for dinner, there is no need to agonize. Some foodies have labeled Penang as a Food Capital of the World for the incredible street food offerings that can be found throughout the city. In fact, many people travel to Penang just for the food (and we don’t blame them!).
Penang food attractions include an array of cuisine – such as traditional Malay, Chinese and Indian dishes. We’ve heard it’s nearly impossible to have a bad meal in Penang, but we have a few meal suggestions for those interested in creating their own Penang food trip itinerary.
Not all of the recommended spots are open for dinner (but are great choices for breakfast or lunch!); use the provided link for opening times and other information.
Street Food in Penang
Grazing on street food is one of the top things to do in Penang at night. Some of the best places in George Town, Penang for street food are in hawker stalls – and we always recommend eating from the stalls with the longest lines (which usually indicates the best food!). If you don’t have dietary restrictions, be adventurous!
What and Where to Eat in Penang
We are highlighting the must-eat dishes in Penang – and the best place to eat them! We don’t have a separate Penang Food Map, but you will find all of our recommended dining establishments on our Penang Map below!
Char Koay Teow
Char Koay Teow (also sometimes spelled Char Kuey Teow) is a stir-fried noodle dish that ranks as a Malaysian favorite – and many stalls specialize in making this one and only dish. We like ours with chicken, shrimp and duck egg, but no cockles.
Recommended Place to Eat Char Koay Teow: Tiger Char Kway Teow located inside Kafe Ping Hooi, but they often run out of food by noon! Top Tip: Another stall at the cafe is Lobak King – order Siu Yuk Fried Pork and Lobak.
An Indian dish of marinated chicken roasted in a tandoor (clay oven).
Best Restaurant in Penang for Tandoori Chicken: Kapitan, open 24 hours. Also order Cheese Naan.
Popular Malaysian street food, Murtabak is an omelet pancake folded around meat and vegetables and often cut into squares.
Top Restaurant in Penang for Murtabak: Hammediyah, a 100-year-old Penang restaurant; also order Nasi Kandar.
Like a spring roll, a thin crepe wrapped around a mixture of ingredients (turnip, jicama, beans, sprouts and bean curd being some key items).
Top Hawker Stalls in Penang for Popiah: New Lane Hawker Stalls.
Oyster Omelet (Oh Chien)
An egg-potato omelet made with small oysters and accompanied with spicy sauce.
Where To Get The Best Oyster Omelet Penang: New Lane Hawker Stalls.
Originating in Penang by Indian Muslims, Nasi Kandar is a rice-based dish that comes with a variety of side dishes, such as fried chicken, beef or calamari and is topped with a spicy curry sauce.
Best Penang Restaurant for Nasi Kandar: Line Clear, which opened in 1930, is open 24 hours and is accessed via a narrow alley.
Considered the national dish of Malaysia, Nasi Lamek is a meal of fragrant rice garnished with cucumber slices, fried anchovies, peanuts, fried egg and sambal – a spicy sauce. It originated as a breakfast meal, but is now eaten any time of day.
Top Penang Foodie Breakfast Spot: Ali Nasi Lemak for a snack portion.
Crispy Duck with Rice
Chinese-style duck with rice. Crispy duck with noodles and crispy pork are two other popular items.
Top recommended spot: Kimpo Famous Roasted, located inside Red Garden restaurant.
Noodle dish topped with char siew and pork-filled dumplings.
Best Street Food Wanton Mee: Chulia Street Wanton Mee Cart (the one with the longer line!).
A Malaysian fruit salad with spicy, sweet and sour sauce.
Best Place for Rojak: Gurney Drive Hawker Center
Penang Night Market
There is a Penang night market every day of the week – but in different places each night. The most popular one in George Town is the Macallum Street Night Market.
International Food Penang
Need a break from Malaysian fare? There are a few international restaurants that might suit your palate! For a taste of Mexican, go to Holy Guacamole (quesadillas and tacos highly recommended!).
Food Tour Penang
If you are feeling timid about the experience of eating street food in Penang, let a guide lead the way on a Penang Food Tour! Local guides know where to find the best food in Penang – and sometimes share insider secrets with visitors.
There are several food tours Penang that feature superb dining experiences – start your search for the top-rated tours on Get Your Guide.
We often struggle in Malaysia to find bars that fit our style and budget. As a predominantly Muslim nation, alcohol is not widely sold (or consumed) and it is never cheap. That being said, there are a few places to visit in Penang at night for a cold beer that should be on your Penang travel itinerary.
- Antarabangsa Enterprise– This liquor store with tables out front offers the cheapest and most fun drinking experience in George Town.
- The Original Reggae Club – Chill bar where ladies drink for free until 9pm.
More Things To Do in Penang, Malaysia
Need more ideas to fill the days in your Penang itinerary? Well, we have a few more suggestions for Penang sights and activities. Use this list for ideas on the afternoon of Day 4 of our Penang Itinerary.
There are numerous museums in Penang. We already mentioned the Blue Mansion, the Peranakan Mansion and the Islamic Museum – but there are many other Penang museums to visit.
- Penang State Art Gallery – A good place to learn about the culture and people of Penang.
- Penang War Museum – Built as a British fort, but used as a POW camp by the Japanese during WW2.
- Penang House of Music – Learn the history of Penang music in this highly-rated museum. Buy tickets in advance!
- Interactive Museums – Fun spots for Instagram photo ops, there are several museums in Penang that are designed to be interactive – like the Upside Down Museum, 3D Trick Art Museum and Made In Penang Museum.
Shopping in Penang
There are ample opportunities for Penang shopping – from wet markets to local products to mega malls. We are highlighting a few of our top choices.
- Hin Bus Depot Sunday Market – If you happen to be in Penang on a Sunday, support local businesses and artists at the Hin Bus Depot.
- Chowrasta Market – For a traditional Malaysian shopping experience, head to Chowrasta – a wet and dry market, recently renovated.
- Gama Department Store – Visit the Malaysian Gama Department Store for a look at everyday shopping.
- KOMTAR Mall and Viewing Platform – The 68-story KOMTAR building is an attraction on its own, but the lower floors host numerous stores and boutiques. Buy your ticket to access the top floor viewing deck in advance of your trip!
- Escape Penang – We already mentioned this as an activity on Day 5, but it’s worth repeating. Escape is an adventure theme park that is fantastic fun for the family! It is often ranked as one of the most fun things to do in Penang with kids. Learn more here!
- Snake Temple – As the name indicates, it is a temple filled with live snakes. Read more.
- Penang Spa – Pamper yourself with a traditional spa treatment! Read reviews for the best spa in Penang.
Google Map Penang
This Penang Travel Map includes all of the attractions and restaurants featured in our itinerary for Penang. Zoom into the map (using the + in the lower left corner) and click on the markers for detailed information. You will also find the numbered sights that correspond to our Self Guided Penang Walking Tour on the Penang Map.
Use this link to Google Maps for an online version of our Penang tourist attractions map.
Additional Penang Suggested Itineraries
Our above Penang tour itinerary features the top things to do in Penang in 5 days. However, we understand that vacation time is limited and not all travelers are planning 5 days on the island.
To help, we have created ideal trip plans for shorter time – that squeeze in as much sightseeing as possible! Tourists planning a Penang 1 Day Itinerary, a Penang 2 Day Itinerary or a 3 Days Penang Itinerary can use our suggestions to create a perfect trip!
Pro Tip: Get (and stay) organized for your vacation to Penang using our Trip Planning Printables!
Penang Half Day Trip
Visitors with only a half day in Penang will be challenged with creating a succinct trip plan. However, it is possible to see a lot of the city in a short time! On a DIY half day trip to Penang, we recommend using our outlined Self-Guided Tour to the top sights in George Town.
Alternatively, visitors can book a Penang City Half Day Tour that highlights the best city sights – like this one!
Penang Itinerary 1 Day
For visitors limited to one day in Penang sightseeing, we created an ambitious Penang itinerary that focuses on the absolute best things to do in George Town, Penang and the surrounding region.
Begin your one day trip to Penang with one of the best activities in George Town: exploring the city on foot. Use our Self-Guided Walking Tour to discover the city sights.
Because we think even a Penang 1-day trip itinerary should include sights outside of the city center, spend the afternoon at one of the must-visit places in Penang beyond the George Town. Select one place to see – like Penang Hill (buy your skip-the-line ticket in advance!) or one of the temples.
End your Penang one-day trip by feasting on local Penang food specialties from street vendors or at top-rated restaurants.
Penang Itinerary 2 Days
Planning what to do in Penang in 2 days allows for more sightseeing and island exploration – but it is going to be a jam-packed trip! Our recommended Penang 2-Day Itinerary looks like this:
Day 1 – Take a quick self-guided tour of the best places in George Town, Penang. In the afternoon go to Penang Hill or Kek Lok Si Temple. If your hotel has a pool, cool off with a swim before indulging in tasty Penang Food for dinner.
Day 2 – Take a day trip outside of the city center to the best nearby attractions. First, visit Wat Chaiyamangalaram and Dhammikarama Burmese Temple and then continue north to Batu Ferringhi for an afternoon of sea and sun at the popular Penang beach. Stay for the Night Market.
Penang Itinerary 3 Days
Deciding what to do in Penang in 3 days is a little easier – as you will have much more time to explore at a more relaxed pace! We recommend a Penang 3-Day Itinerary that looks like this:
Day 1: Tour George Town, Penang (as outlined in our Self-Guided Walking Tour) at a more leisurely pace, including time to relax in cafes and visit museums – and maybe even swim in your hotel pool in the afternoon. At night, join one of the Penang Food Tours or set off to explore the food scene on our own.
Day 2: Spend the day at the beach in Batu Ferringhi – but first stop and see the temples on the north side of George Town. Stay in Batu Ferringhi for the Night Market – and when you get back to George Town, hang out at one of the bars.
Day 3: On the last day of your 3 days in Penang, spend another day outside of George Town – this time going to Penang Hill, Kek Lok Si Temple, the Botanical Gardens and Arulmigu Balathandayuthapani Temple (time your visit to the temple for sunset, if possible).
Alternatively, you could create a 3 Days Penang Itinerary by following the above Penang 2 Day Itinerary and then on the third day, take a trip to Penang National Park.
Penang Itinerary 4 Days
With 4 days in Penang, you have ample time to create an itinerary that showcases the best of Penang (and have plenty of time to devour more incredible Penang food!). Our Penang 4-Day Itinerary looks like this:
Days 1, 2 and 3: Follow the above Penang 3-Day Itinerary.
Day 4: Choose between a day in nature at the national park or day of shopping near George Town. Alternatively, fill your last day by visiting some of the unique museums.
Penang Travel Tips and Trip Planning
Now that you know what to do in Penang, Malaysia, we have a few tips about how to get to Penang, where to stay and our top packing hacks. You can find all of our travel tips on our Travel Planning Page.
Planning a Trip to Penang
We have shared top tips for how to plan your Penang itinerary – but you need to stay organized as you make your plans! Use our printable Travel Planner to keep track of your research and bookings in Penang and throughout Southeast Asia.
Getting to Penang
The best way to get to Penang is by plane via the Penang International Airport (PEN). That said, the city can also be reached by car, bus or cruise ship. Our preferred method of getting anywhere is by flying (we are JetSettingFools, after all!) and we flew to Penang from Phuket, Thailand and departed on a flight to Bali, Indonesia.
Budget conscious travelers may opt to take the bus, but the time and hassle is not worth it, in our opinion. It’s also tempting, when looking at a map, to plan a stop in the Cameron Highlands between KL and Penang – but bear in mind that getting around Cameron Highlands without a car is incredibly difficult. Here is information about the bus from Penang to KL.
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Getting around Penang
There are many options when it comes to getting around Penang. In George Town, we walked everywhere – but hiring a trishaw is a unique way to get around the city…and there are plenty of peddlers who are willing to cart tourists around! Outside of the city center, options are: taxis, Grab taxis (cheaper, download the app), public bus, private guide and Hop On Hop Off Bus.
Where to Stay in Penang, Malaysia
We think the heart of George Town is the best place to stay in Penang. We stayed in a Chulia Street Penang hotel, Chulia Mansion. The reason we loved this hotel was for its central location, affordability, incredible included breakfast, rooftop views and complimentary wine. While it does not have a pool, it does have a rooftop hot tub, which felt great after long days on our feet!
However, there are many Penang Hotels to choose from in – or close to – the city center. Where you choose to stay will likely depend on your Penang trip budget, but start by checking out these top-rated hotels (based on guest reviews!) for your upcoming trip: The Edison George Town, Campbell House or Tien Hotel Residence.
Budget travelers looking for a fun place to stay might want to check out Wassup Youth Hostel – which gets fabulous reviews!
Looking for a posh beachfront hotel? Check rates and availability at the Shangri-La Rasa Sayang Resort in Batu Ferringhi Beach.
What To Pack for your Penang Trip
Whether visiting on a Penang day trip or spend an entire week in Penang, you will want to make sure you are properly packed for your trip. Get your Free Packing Checklist to make sure you don’t forget a single thing!
Walking Shoes for Penang
We cover some ground in our Penang Itinerary! While Penang is a very walkable place, you will want to pack comfortable shoes! I like to wear these shoes by Columbia – and Kris prefers wearing his Merrell trail shoes for both city and nature exploration. For short walks in the city and nighttime feasting, I wear my favorite flip flops.
Best Travel Camera to Photograph Penang
Penang is an incredibly beautiful city filled with unique architecture and intriguing artworks. It is best to use a real camera (rather than a mobile phone) to capture the sights! We travel with a DSLR Canon Rebel and use an everyday 18-135mm lens (it is the only lens we have to carry!). The camera is easy to use and takes excellent, high-quality photos – plus it’s a great budget camera for travelers!
Penang Weather-Appropriate Gear & Day Bag
Travel Insurance for your Penang Vacation
If you haven’t already obtained travel insurance for your trip to Malaysia, consider traveling protected with World Nomads.
We Want To Know: What are your favorite things to do in George Town, Penang? What would you add to our Penang Itinerary? Give us your best tips and advice in the comments!
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