Things to Do in Penang

What to Do in Penang - Sights, Activities, and More

You'll find plenty of interesting things to do in Penang to keep you busy for a while, and you'll need to go get some exercise anyway after enjoying what is considered the epicenter of Malaysia's street-food scene!

Historic clan houses, colonial history, a national park, UNESCO World Heritage status -- Penang has enough sights and activities to entertain every style of traveler, from long-term backpackers to traveling families on shorter jaunts.

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Food in Penang

Food Court in Georgetown, Penang
Greg Rodgers

Penang is the place to sample all those Chinese, Indian, and Malay foods that you've been wondering about. Noodles can be bought on the street for less than US $1; delicious Indian Muslim food is served on banana leaves while Bollywood music fills the air in Little India.

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Things to Do in Georgetown

street art in Georgetown

TripSavvy / Jess Macdonald

Penang's sprawling settlement of Georgetown is dotted with small-yet-pleasant attractions. Two full days could be spent simply visiting the historic houses, Fort Cornwallis, the Cheong Fatt Tze mansion, and various clan shrines.

You'll even find the island's first cat cafe along with some eclectic street art and plenty of walking tours through Georgetown.

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Other Places to Visit in Penang

Snake Temple Penang
Greg Rodgers

While most people spend their time wandering the historic and colonial sites in Georgetown, escaping the city for some fresh, island air is a great way to spend a day or two.

  • Read about visiting Balik Pulau on the other side of Penang. When in season, Balik Pulau is the place to try a durian fruit!
  • Spend an afternoon exploring the beautiful Kek Lok Si Temple.
  • Are you brave enough to visit the bizarre Penang Snake Temple?
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Shopping in Georgetown

Signs in Penang

TripSavvy / Jess Macdonald

Although certainly nothing like the sprawling mall complexes found in Kuala Lumpur, Georgetown is home to a handful of shopping malls. The mom-and-pop shops in Little India and Chinatown provide plenty of opportunities to find unique souvenirs at half the price.

Continue to 5 of 6 below.
05 of 06

Penang National Park

Penang National Park
Greg Rodgers

Home to nesting sea turtles and pristine beaches, Penang National Park is small enough to explore in one exhausting day or two slow-paced days.

Two main trails give access to undeveloped, fine-white-sand beaches as well as a turtle sanctuary. A canopy walkway allows lucky hikers a glimpse of life above the jungle canopy.

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Transportation in Penang, Malaysia

Trishaw in Penang, Malaysia
Shankar S.

Most of Georgetown is easily walkable, but if the heat becomes too much, you can always jump on one of the free buses circulating through town. Trishaws offer a bit of cultural fun, but they don't provide much escape from the heat or exhaust in the city.

Some travelers opt to rent motorbikes in Penang and go explore the island. Penang has stricter enforcement than in other parts of Southeast Asia -- wear a helmet to avoid getting a fine!

Georgetown's bus system is modern and efficient; getting to other parts of the island is relatively straightforward.

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