Explore Penang Like Never Before with Top Places to Visit in Penang

Penang is a hot spot for tourists and visitors traveling to Malaysia. It offers a blend of endless attractions, inspiring experiences, and many more to the visitors. Boasting a vibrant multicultural background with strong influences of Chinese, Malay and Indian cultures, it serves as a starting point to discover the Baba-Nyonya culture of Malacca and Penang as well. You just need to apply for a Malaysia visa and proceed with your travel plans to get the best experiences offered on your way.

Being a hot hub for trading, there are many Penang attractions which you should not miss out during your Malaysian holidays. With modern skyscrapers and world-class shopping malls, there are still places to visit in Penang which carry the essence of the island. We have handpicked some of the most popular Penang tourist attractions which would help you cover things to do in Malaysia during your trip. Our list contains an eclectic mix of family-friendly destinations, amusement parks, natural and man-made attractions, and endless quirky offering set for all age groups.

Why Penang is the best place to visit?

With its rich cultural heritage, vibrant street art scene, stunning beaches, and mouthwatering cuisine, Penang stands out as one of the best places to visit in Malaysia. As the food capital of the country, Penang satiates food-lovers with its amazing local dishes like Penang Laksa, Char Kuay Teow, and Assam Laksa. The street art scene in the capital Georgetown is also quite remarkable with artistic wall paintings and quirky steel wire sculptures adorning the shophouses and alleys.

The unique architecture of Georgetown, with a blend of Malay, Chinese, Indian, Peranakan, and European influences, gives the city an endearing old-world charm. while showcasing the beautiful heritage of Penang. Natural scenic beauty abounds on the island as well, from the golden beaches of Batu Ferringhi to the verdant flora of Penang Hill and Tropical Spice Garden. The many historic buildings, clan jetties, temples, mosques and churches provide glimpses into the cosmopolitan history and culture of Penang.

Best time to visit Penang

The best time to visit Penang is from January to April when the weather is pleasantly cool and dry. With mostly sunny blue skies and low humidity, these months allow travelers to fully enjoy all of Penang’s outdoor attractions. The average temperature ranges from 22°C to 34°C. Many cultural festivals also take place during this summer season in Penang. Some of the big events are Thaipusam, Chinese New Year celebrations, Chap Goh Meh festivities, and the Penang Hot Air Balloon Fiesta.

The months of July and August tend to be wetter with more rainfall and slightly higher heat. While beach lovers can still enjoy the sea and sand during these months, humidity levels may be unpleasant for some. For cultural enthusiasts, the George Town Festival held in July/August showcases performing arts, photography, and literature. November-February is when Penang receives more rain as the northeast monsoon arrives. But hotel and flight rates are cheaper this low season if you don’t mind occasional storms or showers.

Top Places to Visit in Penang

1. Old Georgetown Streets

Old Georgetown Streets

This place carries the essence of Malaysia. It is undisputedly named in the UNESCO listed heritage sites as well. Go back the clock and revisit the docks decorated with colonial and ancient architectural structures mixed with colors which are so soothing to the eye. Once a hot spot for trading in Southeast Asia, today there are several guided tours conducted in the city to explore and discover the rich heritage of Malay.

Location : Within the UNESCO World Heritage Site in downtown George Town
Timing : Open 24 hours

2. Penang Hill

Penang Hill

A summit of 821 meters above sea level is not sufficient to attract tourists. It is the colored colonial mansions, which are now guest houses or restaurants and the mesmerizing scenery that catch the eye of the tourists and locals alike. If you are a fitness freak, then explore the trekking path up the hill through the Botanical Gardens. For lazy bunch, a short 30-minute cable car ride will take you to the top of the hill. Enjoy spectacular views down the hill from the top.

Location : Air Itam
Timing : 6:30AM-7PM

[Also Read : Top Things to do in Kuala Lumpur]

3. Pinang Peranakan Museum

Pinang Botanical Gardens

An iconic mansion of a wealthy Baba merchant, this museum is not exclusively dedicated to promoting the Peranakan culture. There are several items on display such as furniture, opium beds, jewelry, women’s accessories, cutlery, houseware and much more – all well preserved as they are almost a century old. The place still carries the charm of the 19th century, and you should not miss this one.

Location : Church Street
Timing : 9:30AM-5:30PM

4. Khoo Kongsi

Khoo Kongsi Temple

This grand landmark is the ancestral home of the Khoo family. The well-preserved and ornate residence is a clear indication of the wealth and lifestyle of the rich traders and merchants who were once settled here. The entire family meets up at this place and is officially declared as the headquarters. Many Chinese immigrants who were traders have built grand houses as these, but many have not been able to withstand the impact of nature over the years.

Location : Cannon Square
Timing : 9AM-5PM

Also Check: Best Night Markets in Penang for a Perfect Night Out

5. Fort Cornwallis

Fort Cornwallis Georgetown , Penang, Malaysia

Well, the British rule in the region has left some beautiful landmarks such as the Fort Cornwallis. A grand structure was built during their colonial rule, but today the ruins exist only for the 10 foot surrounding wall covering the garden and a handful of buildings such as the prison, chapel, and barracks. The clock tower and this fort are some of the highlights of the British colonial rule in Penang which are still standing strong.

Location : Lebuh Light
Timing : 9AM-7PM

6. Camera and Asia Camera Museum

Camera Museum in George Town, Penang, Malaysia

The only two of their kind in this region, the Camera and the Asia Camera museums house close to 2000 varieties of different cameras among them. Tourists and visitors are given tutorial lessons on how to use these cameras. They are even allowed to touch these antique pieces. So, whether you are an amateur or a professional shutterbug, this place deserves a visit. A rare and unique experience before heading to the nearby beautiful beaches on the Malay coast.

Location : Muntri Street
Timing : 10AM-6PM

7. Penang Botanical Gardens

Penang Botanical Gardens

As a treat for nature lovers, this lush green environment is relaxing even for those who are not fond of it. Placed at the foot of the Penang Hill, adventure junkies can trek through the garden to reach the hill. With landscaped pathways and plenty to explore on the journey to the top, it is worth a try. Beware of the monkey troops as they are fond of your belongings and are never short of energy.

Location : Jalan Kebun Bunga
Timing : 5AM-8PM

8. The Butterfly Farm

The Butterfly Farm

Set in the year 1986, this houses approximately 4000 creatures of amazing butterflies. This is the world’s largest research and preserved areas for these wonderful insects. With over 120 species cocooned here, several iconic personalities do not miss out visiting this place when they step in Malaysia.

Location : Teluk Bahang
Timing : 9AM-5PM

9. Nattukotai Chettiar Temple

The Butterfly Farm

This is the largest Hindu temple existing in Penang that was built by the Chettiar community that immigrated from Tamil Nadu in South India. This temple is dedicated to Lord Thandayutha and has been laid out in the form of a cross. The place is calm and serenity that is unmatched in terms of places of worship in Penang. The interior walls are decorated with an array of paintings and it hosts several annual Thaipusam festivals.

Location : Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling
Timing : 7AM-7PM

10. Dharmikarama Burmese Temple

Dharmikarama Burmese Temple

One of the biggest Buddhist temples in this area opposite the iconic Wat Chayamangkalaram temple. This temple is a meeting point for the Burmese population settled in Penang and is one of the rare attractions existing outside Myanmar. Some of the other highlights of this temple include the vibrant colorful frescos and the unique gables.

Location : Lorong Burma
Timing : 10AM-6PM

Frequently Asked Questions about Visiting Penang

How many days are ideal to explore Penang?

Most travelers recommend spending at least 4-5 days to make the most of your Penang trip. This allows you sufficient time to see the top highlights of George Town, visit popular beaches, explore trekking trails on Penang Hill, and experience cultural attractions. Don’t try squeezing everything into 2-3 days or you’ll end up rushed and exhausted.

What is the best way to get around Penang?

Exploring by foot is great around George Town to admire the street art, architecture, clan jetties etc. Grab/Uber is useful to beat traffic and humidity. Hop-on-hop-off buses provide a commentary of top sights. Public buses like Rapid Penang are very affordable but routes are limited. Trishaws take you back in old-world charm but fares are steep. Rent a car if you wish to reach fishing villages and trails across the island.

What is Penang famous for, food-wise?

Penang is called the food capital of Malaysia, with signature dishes like Penang char koay teow (stir fried noodles), Penang assam laksa (a sour, fish-based noodles soup), curry mee (spicy soup noodles), pasembur (a salad of shredded vegetables, fried dough fritters, beancurd etc.), oh chien (oyster omelette) and cendol (a dessert made from shaved ice, green rice flour jelly, red beans and sweetened coconut milk). Local fruits like durian, mangosteen, langsat, rambutans and nutmegs should also be tried.

What traditional souvenirs can I buy from Penang?

Some authentic Penang souvenirs include carved wooden decoration pieces, beaded shoes and bags, batik prints, gold brooches, Peranakan beaded items, pewterware, local pottery, miniature paintings by street artists, local delicacies like nutmegs, belacan (shrimp paste) and tambun biscuits, as well as local crafts made from seashells, dried flowers, rattan and bamboo.

What is the best way to experience the local culture?

Wander through the living museums of George Town (Khoo Kongsi clan house, Pinang Peranakan Museum, Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion) or trishaw through old town streets admiring preserved heritage buildings. Explore street art and steel rod sculptures depicting cultural scenes. Walk along clan jetties of Chinese immigrants and Indian Muslim villages. Tour Islamic mosques, Chinese clan temples, Hindu and Sikh shrines. Enjoy traditional music, dance or theater performances at cultural shows. Don’t miss the annual George Town Festival in July/August too.

What Traditional festivals are celebrated in Penang?

The range of religious and cultural festivals celebrated in Penang across the year includes Chinese New Year, Hungry Ghost Festival, Mid-Autumn Lantern Festival, Wesak Day, St. Anne’s Feast, Thaipusam, Pongal, Songkran New Year, Hari Raya Aidilfitri, Navarathiri Kolu, Christmas and more - reflecting the diverse communities on the island. Cultural events are also held by various groups.

Any tips for female solo travelers?

Penang is generally safe, including for women traveling alone. However, apply all standard safety precautions - avoid isolated areas at nighttime, don’t walk alone on isolated beaches or trails, remain conservative in dressing at religious sites, avoid confrontations with strangers, and arrange certified local guides for treks. Staying at a hostel enables meeting other travelers. Remaining respectful to locals and learning some basic Malay phrases helps bridge cultural barriers.

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