I have been in Penang 2 times now and trust me I will go again. It’s that beautiful and one place which you can revisit and enjoy. Though I have always spent 4 days in Penang, I know tourists can be short of time. So here I present a list of the top things to do in Penang. If you have more days on hand, you can plan a lot more.
THINGS TO DO IN PENANG
- George Town
Why would you visit Penang and miss the beautiful George Town in the center of the city? Most attractions in the city center are near George Town and invariably, you will always be in and around George Town. Take a tourist map of Penang, put on your favorite sneakers and explore George Town on foot. A self-guided walking tour is the best way to explore. Alternately, you can also book a guided tour with an English Speaking tour guide. The choice is yours. But spend a lot of time in George Town, it’s simply worth it. If you get tired, hop on to a Cycle Taxi or head to one of the nearest Pubs or Cafes to chill. There is no better way to explore George Town other than by foot. The map of George Town and it will show you the locations of all the art locations and just start walking. You will end up clicking a lot of pictures as George Town is a photographers delight. Fun Fact: The most well-known artworks in George Town are in fact all scattered throughout the small town. Hidden away in the alleys and the sidewalks, so its like a treasure hunt and imagine the joy upon finding one. George Town converts to a foodies heaven in the evening and suddenly food stall crop up offering a variety of amazing dishes. Don’t miss this.
- Visit Little India
Situated in the heart of George Town sits this quaint colony full of vibrant colors, smells, and experiences. You will never be less amazed. It appears that suddenly you landed in a different country altogether. Experience the amazing food, the colorful clothes shopping and the beautiful temples. Fun Fact: Don’t miss the food and the cheap shopping. There is a lot of variety at cheap prices.
- Visit Pinang Peranakan Mansion
If you want to visit a heritage house, impeccably maintained and still in its old glory, you should visit this place. It belonged to Chung Keng Kwee, a tin mining magnate from earth 19th century and one of the richest men in Penang in those days. The house appears less of a house and more of a beautiful museum.
- Visit Chew Jetty
This place is hidden away from the main road and you will surely miss it if you are not aware of it. A very interesting place that has almost a whole shopping complex on a fully functional jetty terminal. A very unique experience and that’s the reason you should experience it. You can also sit in any one of the dining outlets and relax and drink in the views of the sea and the travelers.
- Hike/ Trek up Kek Lok Si Temple – largest Chinese Buddhist temple
This one is further away from George Town and will take 30 mins by bus. A masterpiece and beautiful work of art, situated between lush green mountains is a very unique sight and so a must visit.
- Tropical Spice Garden: If you haven’t visited a Spice Garden in Asia, your travel is incomplete. The Spice Garden has more than 500 different species of tropical flora and is spread over 8-acre farmland. You can take your time and stroll through this green forest with wild smells and experiences. The tour comes with an audio guide that is very handy. You can take any trail you want and customize your tour. You can also add to the fun by heading to the restaurant or more by joining a cooking class
- Penang Hill: A couple of Hills are a part of this area, the highest being 800-900 meters above sea level. With temperatures around 5-7 degrees cooler than George Town offers a quick getaway to escape the island’s humidity and heat. You can reach here from Kek Lok Si Temple. The weather is pretty mild here and is a good place to enjoy the sunset, watch the fantastic views of the island city skyline and relax. This is one of the best ways to escape the heat and enjoy picturesque views of Penang. You can trek up the hill or take the Funicular. The funicular goes through some dense forests and up the hill in no time. The Funicular was built in the year 1923 and is one of the oldest funicular projects in the world. Use any of the hiking trails to the top but carry some water before you start the trek.
- Hiking in Penang National Park: The best part about Penang National Park is that it’s not very large. And so even people who are not used to a lot of activity can do it. It’s very uniquely set, with the sea (just 10-15 meters on one side) of the trail and lush green rainforest (just 10-15 meters) on the other. A very unique experience of the jungle and the sea in the same trail. On this trail, Monkey Beach is located on the northwestern end of the park and can be accessed by trail or by boat if you are lazy to walk. There are seral monkeys to be found, and in addition, it’s also a lovely beach. There are several trails you can choose.
- Stroll down Armenian Street: Nestled in George town is another colony just like Little India. This narrow street is called Armenian Street, and over the past couple of years has gained popularity for its street art and rich cultural heritage. Armenian Street gets its name from the influx of Armenian traders who lived along the road back in those times. Over a period of time, the Chinese culture and art took over this place while it only retained Armenian as a name. A Must visit nevertheless due to its street performances and lively atmosphere.
- Batu Ferringhi beach: This is a very beautiful beach and its close to George Town which makes it even more popular with tourists and locals. You will find a lot of beach shacks and plenty of options for watersports lovers.
- Fort Cornwallis: Built-in 18th century by the British East India Company, this they say, is the largest standing fort in Malaysia. I did not visit here because of the steep entry fee and there was not much to see or do. Just a simple heritage property with gardens.
- Penang Botanical Gardens: Popularly called Waterfall Gardens they have an exotic collection of flora and fauna, an orchid house, and natural jungle feel to it. It’s a great place for a stroll.