BEST THINGS TO DO IN PENANG
Most of the tourists hot-spots & best things to do in Penang (Pulau Pinang) could be found on the island. If you are looking for a holiday destination brimming with beautiful historic buildings, ornate religious sites, sandy beaches, vast rain-forest jungles & all surmounted by a bustling urban life, you will not be disappointed in choosing the Pearl of the Orient as your next vacation destination.
Penang is also widely known as Malaysia ‘s food city and is a melting pot of cuisines. The great varieties of Malay, Chinese, Peranakan / Nonya, Indian & international cuisines on the island is one of the major attractions in Penang for both local & international travelers. Some of the best food can also be found along a busy street or even down an unnoticeable alleyway.
45 Best Things To Do in Penang
Sam Poh Footprint Temple or Tokong Jejak Kaki Sam Poh in Malay, is a small temple situated in Batu Maung Southeast of Penang Island. According to the legends, this seafront temple was built to commemorate Admiral Zheng He who left a gigantic 33 inches footprint on a rock during his visit in 15th century. The ocean view from the temple is truly mesmerizing with fishermen, boats, wooden bridges, coconut trees and the stunning Penang bridge.
02 Penang War Museum – Bayan Lepas
Penang War Museum, is located just within 1.5 km South of Sam Poh Foot print Temple. This 20-acre War Museum has a variety of historic hardware and items associated with the British army and its allies during World War II. It features the residence of British soldiers during World War II & all the relics were placed in several locations above and below the old British fortress. Tourists can explore through military barracks, old cookhouses, detention rooms, tunnels, and ventilation holes.
03 Snake Temple – Bayan Lepas
Snake Temple, is a Chinese Temple located in Sungai Kluang , Bayan Lepas within 5 km away from Penang International Airport. It is probably the only temple of its kind in the world. The temple is filled with smoke of incense and various cobras & pythons where these snakes are believed to be harmless by holy smoke, but as a precautionary measure, the poison glands had been removed but still retain their fangs.
Visitors are advised not to touch these snakes or place them on shoulder for a photo. Local worshipers believe that the snakes found here came to the temple by itself. The temple was built in 1850 to commemorate a Buddhist monk Chor Soo Kong, who moved to Penang from China. Next to the temple there is a snake museum where there are snakes galore and you can see a staff member occasionally handling an albino Burmese python.
04 Fisheries Research Institute (Penang Aquarium) – Bayan Lepas
Penang Aquarium (officially Akuarium Tunku Abdul Rahman in Malay), is consider a mini size aquarium situated in Batu Maung, Bayan Lepas. The aquarium has about 25 tanks which exhibit more than 100 species of marine and fresh water life & more than 10 species of aquatic plants. Entrance fee is cheap & affordable, Adult: RM5.00, Children: RM2.00 & free for Children below 7 year-old.
– Best things to do in Penang with children
05 Penang Second Bridge – Bayan Lepas
Penang Second Bridge (officially Sultan Abdul Halim Muadzam Shah Bridge), is the longest bridge in Malaysia & Southeast Asia with total length of about 24 km. This is the latest bridge completed on early 2014 connecting the island with the mainland Peninsular Malaysia. The bridge is also the first in Malaysia to be awarded with a Platinum rating in the Green Building Index (GBI). Along the bridge, you could see many islets & mountain which presents a guarantee stunning view.
06 Jerejak Island – Bayan Lepas
Jerejak Island (Pulau Jerejak), is a small island (362 hectare) located at the East of Penang Island. With merely 10 minutes ferry ride from the hustle & bustle of Penang Island, you could easily spend at least a day to enjoy all the outdoor activities like nature & historical jungle trekking, mountain biking, archery and pamper yourself with aromatherapy massage, foot treatment and body scrub on the island. This secret gem is also filled with lovely picture spots like a rainbow pier and a romantic beach swing.
07 Penang Bridge
Penang Bridge was completed in September 1985 with total length of 13.5 km. It connects the island to the mainland Peninsular and it is the 2nd longest bridge in Malaysia & 5th longest in Southeast Asia. The bridge was recognized as an outstanding engineering achievement at that time because the central structure is one of the earliest cable-stayed bridges in the world. Penang Bridge International Marathon was held here almost every year.
08 Chinese Clan Jetties – George Town
Clan Jetties, is located along the Eastern coastline of George Town close to Penang ferry terminal. Formerly known as Weld Quay and was created as part of a massive land reclamation project in George Town in the late 19th century. Weld Quay was home to the Port of Penang during the heyday of British rule, which was then one of Malaya ‘s main harbours. The famous Chinese Clan Jetties at this area was originally constructed to house the Chinese labors who work at the harbor.
At the same time, Chinese coolies employed at the harbor also established clan-based seaside settlements. Now known as the Clan Jetties, the wooden piers constructed by the Chinese were divided among the various clans based on their surnames, such as Lee, Yeoh, Chew, Tan, Lim & Koay. In recent years, Chew Jetty has been one of the focal points of Penang’s Chinese New Year celebrations. One of the best things to do in Penang to experience the Chinese living-style back in 19th century.
09 Museums – George Town
10 Penang Street Art – George Town
Penang Street Art from Lebuh Armenian (Armenian Road) to Lebuh Chulia have gained popularity in recent years for its rich cultural offerings and street art. Armenian Road is home to Ernest Zacharevic ‘s popular ‘Children on a Bicycle‘ mural and numerous other street arts, as well as Chinese clan houses, museums, and shop-houses selling antiques and souvenirs. In fact, all these street paintings could be seen in most of the streets around George Town. – Best thing to do in Penang with family.
11 Phantamania Magic World Penang – George Town
Phantamania Magic World, the first and only small scale magic & tricks theme park in Penang. This is the latest attraction on the island where it showcases various type of entertaining & shocking magic tricks. Great interaction between the performers and the audiences. Besides magic show, there are many 3D illusion, glass walkway as well as an ice cave in this venue. This is definitely a fun place to visit & your photo session with friends or family.
12 Batik Painting Museum – George Town
Batik Painting Museum, is located in an old shop house at Lebuh Armenian. If you are a batik lover, this will be the best place to witness great selection of batik paintings. The museum displays about 80 batik paintings. The museum shows the earliest batik paintings made in the 1950s by Chuah Thean Teng’s ‘Father of Batik Painting’ in Penang and the subsequent works of other Malaysian artists. This is definitely the only batik painting museum in Malaysia, and possibly in the world.
13 Asia Camera Museum – George Town
Asia Camera Museum, is probably the first camera museum in Penang & Southeast Asia. The museum was started on September 2013 & it displays more than 1,000 vintage cameras and photographic accessories. The museum is housed in a two-story old shop-lot, divided into dark room, obscure Room, and pinhole Room. In this museum, you have the opportunity to witness the history and evolution of cameras from the past 100-year ago. – Best thing to do in Penang for photographer.
14 Leong San Tong Khoo Kongsi – George Town
Leong San Tong Khoo Kongsi or Khoo Kongsi, is a huge clan-house built by an architect from China in 1902 and the construction was completed in 1906. This is a unique historic enclave and a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Penang. The house is decorated with amazing carvings and paintings on the inside and outside of the building. The hall is also beautifully decorated with lanterns and antique furniture. It has become one of the major historic attractions in Penang.
15 Ghost Museum – George Town
Ghost Museum, is a small and compact 3-floor horror museum just within 10 minutes walk from Khoo Kongsi. Unlike the normal haunted house, there aren’t any live “ghost” to horrify you. It is just a museum that showcases the ghosts of beliefs by race and country. From Malay ghost, Chinese ghost, Japan ghost or even zombie of Western countries. You name it they have it. They exhibit more than 20 types of ghost models from around the world. A fun place to take pictures with the ghost.
16 Sun Yat Sen Museum – George Town
Sun Yat Sen Museum or formerly known as Sun Yat Sen Penang Base offers a rare view of Peranakan heritage architecture and decoration that is both impressive and visually stunning at once. The museum is dedicated to Dr Sun Yat Sen, a Chinese nationalist who founded the Chinese Republic after his Xinhai Revolution effort in 1912. Once Sun first took his family to Penang in 1910, the building housed the Penang Philomatic Union readership club.
17 Upside Down Museum – George Town
Upside Down Museum, is another great place to take pictures. All the objects in this museum seems to be floating in the air, everything against gravity. This is a great tourist attraction in the middle of George Town and must go as early as possible before the other guests so you don’t have to wait too long until your turn. The staffs in this museum are very friendly where they will guide & teach you the best pose to take pictures. This fantastic museum establishment is highly recommended for tourists with kids.
18 Penang House of Music – George Town
Penang House of Music is an interesting place to learn about the history of music in Penang. Immerse yourself in the forgotten musical heritage of Penang with exhibits and interactive features, with a spotlight on the traditional music of Penang’s diverse communities; the defining period of the 1930s to the 1970s; as well as musical icons that have shaped the music of Penang and Malaysia. Visitors could play with the musical instruments and enjoy many other interactive features in the house.
– Best thing to do in Penang for music lovers.
19 The Gravityz – George Town
The Gravityz, a place to conquer your fear at the 65th floor of Komtar Tower. It is the world’s highest rope course challenge where you experience 6 obstacle courses (Confidence Path, High Bench, A Great Bridge, X-Point, Z-wire & G-Rocky) on top of the tallest building in Penang. Walk at a height of 239 m above ground & outside of the building with only a rope attached to your body & witness the 360 degree view of Penang. – Best thing to do in Penang for adventurers.
20 Jurassic Research Centre & Rainbow Skywalk at The Top Penang – George Town
The Top Penang, is the largest indoor theme park in Penang with a combination of 18 activities like 7D Discovery Motion Theater, Tech Dome Penang, Ocean Explorer, Penang Boutique Aquarium, The Gravityz, Penang State Gallery, UFO-X, Magic Mirror Maze, Zombie Outbreak, Jurassic Reserach Centre & many more. Jurassic Research Center here brings over 200 dinosaurs back to life & The Rainbow Skywalk offers stunning views of George Town.
21 Chulia Street – George Town
Chulia Street, is a great location for budget accommodation for those of you who want to explore Penang without spending a lot on accommodation. Many shop-houses along the road have been converted into hostels and guesthouses. The street is one of the oldest streets in George Town. It is estimated that the name Chulia Street (or originally Chulier Street) has existed since 1798. It is also famous as a food paradise in Penang due to the numerous shops and restaurants on the street serving local cuisine.
22 Hainan Temple – George Town
Hainan Temple or Thean Hou Kong, is one of the most beautiful temples in Penang with amazing architecture and carving works. The temple was built and funded by a group of Chinese immigrants from Hainan Island who dedicated the temple to the Taoist Deity Mazu (also known as Ma Chor Po) who is believed to be the guardian of seafarers. It was first built in 1866 and relocated to the present location in 1895. One of the must visit temple to witness the magnificent stone carving and amazing interior design.
23 Cheong Fatt Tze – George Town
Cheong Fatt Tze (The Blue Mansion), is a heritage building with indigo-blue outer walls located in George Town. Cheong Fatt Tze mansion was built around 1880 and is owned by Cheong Fatt Tze, a famous a Chinese businessman and politician of China. This unique traditional Chinese paradigm has 38 rooms, 5 granite-paved courtyards, 7 staircases and 220 vernacular timber louver windows was built according to the Chinese Feng Shui. This mansion is now used as a hotel and also a museum.
24 Church of the Assumption – George Town
Church of the Assumption, is located within the heritage core zone of the city. This World Heritage Church was founded in 1786 by a group of Eurasian immigrants who accompanied Captain Francis Light to Penang. This is the oldest Catholic Church in George Town and 3rd oldest in Malaysia. Also, it is one of the few churches in Malaysia with church bells that were cast during British rule. It houses one of Malaysia’s few existing, and oldest European-made air organs. Admission is free.
25 Penang State Museum and Art Gallery – George Town
Penang State Museum and Art Gallery, formerly the Penang Free School which was built in 1896 and 1906 in two separate phases. The museum is an important starting point for exploring George Town’s multi-ethnic history. This 2-storey museum displays the history of the immigrant community involved in the development of the present city. The museum also exhibits the paintings of Captain Robert Smith and the lovely engravings of William Daniell.
26 St. George’s Anglican Church – George Town
St. George’s Anglican Church, is the oldest Anglican church in Southeast Asia that was completed in 1818. The church was built with a mixture of Neo-Classical, Georgian and English Palladian styles of architecture. It was constructed entirely by Indian convict labor, on a solid plastered stone foundation, made of brick. The church was designed by the military engineer Robert Smith, who is known for his early Penang oil paintings that are now located within the Penang State Museum.
27 Penang Time Tunnel Museum – George Town
Penang Time Tunnel, is an interactive museum that divided into 2 main zone, one zone for 3D mural artwork and another exhibits about Penang’s history. The museum allows you to discover the old Penang as it all began in 1592 on every important phases in the development of the state and how this has changed over time. Apart from that you can also learn a little about the Japanese colonial era and how the island was bombed by their warships.
28 Penang City Hall & Town Hall – George Town
Penang City Hall, is the headquarters of the Penang Island City Council, the local government of George Town. A well-preserved colonial building constructed in 1903, at a cost of 100,000 Straits Dollars, when Penang was under British colony.
The Town Hall is a British-built administrative building which completed in the 1880 & it is located adjacent to the City Hall. The Town Hall and the City Hall both buildings are situated within the UNESCO World Heritage Site of George Town.
29 Fort Cornwallis – George Town
Fort Cornwallis was named for the then Lieutenant-General Charles Earl Cornwallis. The fort was first built by Captain Francis Light on the site with palm trunk stockade with no permanent structures, covering an area of 417.6 square feet. The main purpose of this fort was to protect Penang & Kedah from pirates at that time. Today, the only actual buildings still standing are the outer walls, but inside the fort there are still some original structures built over a century ago including cells prisons, detention rooms, weapons, etc.
30 Jubilee Clock Tower – George Town
Jubilee Clock Tower (Queen Victoria Diamond Jubilee Clock Tower), the 60 ft (18 m) high clock tower was presented by a local millionaire Cheah Chen Eok in 1897 to commemorate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria. It is one of the oldest & most famous architecture structures in Penang where it managed to stand bad weather and World War II bombings. The clock tower was slightly damaged by Japanese and Allied aerial bombardments of George Town during WW II, which caused it tilted to one side.
31 Pinang Peranakan Mansion – George Town
Pinang Peranakan Mansion, is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Penang. This green-colored Straits Eclectic building , built in 19th-century as the home of Kapitan Chung Keng Kwee, a prominent local Chinese tycoon. It was a replica of the usual Baba Nyonya Penang residence with Chinese carved wooden paneling, English floor tiles, and Scottish metalwork. The museum is now home to thousands of Peranakan antiques, artifacts, traditional clothing, grand dining table, etc.
32 Goddess of Mercy Temple – George Town
Goddess of Mercy Temple (Kuan Yin Teng), is one of the oldest Chinese temples in Penang. Pilgrims flock to this Taoist temple year round, particularly on the 1st and 15th days of each lunar month. The building is decorated with intricately carved dragons and a pair of sculptured stone lions that guard the temple at the main entrance. It is a focal point for Chinese festivities that draw devotees from across Southeast Asia, such as the annual feast days for Guan Yin and the Jade Emperor’s Birthday.
33 Little India, Sri Mariamman Temple – George Town
Little India, is an ethnic Indian enclave covering an area around Lebuh Queen, Chulia Street and Lebuh Pasar. It is home to the Penang’s oldest Hindu temple, Sri Mahamariamman Temple which was built in 1833. The temple was dedicated to the deity Sri Muthu Mariamman and features a gopuram (sculptured tower) of 38 Hindu deities. Little India is also famous for Malaysian Indian cuisine & becomes extremely lively during festival times like Deepavali and Thaipusam.
34 Kapitan Keling Mosque – George Town
Kapitan Keling Mosque, was built in 1801 and named after Caudeer Mohudeen, an Indian Muslim merchant who was also the Kapitan Keling, or leader of the Indian Muslim community. This historic mosque features a dome-shaped minaret that represents Moorish Islamic influence, and has been a prominent place of worship for over 200 years for local Indian Muslims. It is part of George Town’s World Heritage Site, and is situated in the city centre. Free tours operate during non-prayer times.
35 Penang Ferry – George Town
Penang Ferry, is a shuttle ferry service within the state of Penang, linking the island of George Town and Butterworth on the mainland. This cross-strait transit has been operational since 1894 by an individual, making it the oldest ferry service in Penang & Malaysia. At that moment, the ferry service was catered for passengers only, the ferries were later refitted to carry cars & motorbikes as well in 1925. Even though there are 2 bridges, you must experience the fun & witness the beautiful scenery along the ferry ride.
36 Penang Hill – Air Itam
Penang Hill or Bukit Bendera in Malay, is the best view point in Penang. Penang Hill covers a number of hills with the highest point at 833 m (2,733 ft) above sea level. The peak of the hill offers a panoramic bird’s eye view of the city and the Malacca Strait & fresher air with 5 to 6 degree cooler than the sea level. During the British colonial era it was used as a retreat, and it is now a popular tourist destination in Penang.
Most people take the funicular rail to the top of the hill, taking around 10 min to the top. Those who are adventurous and fit have the choice of hiking to the top of the hill, taking around 2-3 hours. You can walk around the hilltop when you reach the summit, stop for tea, enjoy a leisurely lunch, buy a souvenir, try photographing George Town and the Strait, or simply breathe deep lungfuls of fresh , clean hill-air.
37 Kek Lok Si Temple – Air Itam
Kek Lok Si Temple, is the largest Buddhist temple in Malaysia & Southeast Asia built since 1891 & completed in 1930. The main attraction in this hillside temple complex is the striking 7-storey Pagoda of Rama VI (Pagoda of Ten Thousand Buddhas) with 10,000 alabaster and bronze statues of Buddha, and the 36.57-metre-tall (120 ft) bronze statue of Guanyin (Kuan Yin), the Goddess of Mercy. The temple is colorfully illuminated with thousands of lanterns during the fifteen days of Chinese New Year, and remains open until late.
38 Arulmigu Balathandayuthapani Temple
Arulmigu Balathandayuthapani Temple, also known as the Waterfall Hill Temple or “Thaneer Malai” by local Indian community. The temple was built in the mid-19th century (1856), making it one of the oldest & largest Hindu temples in George Town. There are various statues of the deities in the temple and the main deity is Murugan. There are 513 stairs to reach the temple & there is a 7-storey 21.6m-tall gopuram at the hilltop. It serves as a focal point of the annual Thaipusam celebrations.
39 Botanic Gardens
Penang Botanic Gardens were established by Charles Curtis of Britain way back in 1884; it’s commonly known as the Waterfall Gardens by the local community because there is a little waterfall located within it. This garden has a high potential to attract many tourists and it has also been identified to be listed as the most beautiful park in the world. The recreation garden allows public to perform their daily exercises here. This garden also hosts an annual international floral fest as well as a world music festival.
40 Dhammikarama Burmese Buddhist Temple
Dhammikarama Burmese Buddhist Temple, is the oldest & historical Burmese temple in Malaysia which was founded in 1803. Established as a monastery, the temple serves as a retreat for Buddhist devotee, with quarters for monks, a lodge for preceptors and a library within the temple grounds. There are various Buddha statues and mythical creatures such as elephants, fishes and garuda symbolizing the “three realms of land, air and sea”. This temple is also the main venue for the annual Water Festival (Songkran).
41 Wat Chayamangkalaram
Wat Chayamangkalaram (Chaiya Mangalaram Thai Buddhist Temple), is the oldest Siamese temple in Penang. This Thai-style Buddhist temple was built in 1845 and is renowned for its 33 m (108 ft) reclining Buddha, one of the longest in the world. At the entrance the guardian dragon and statue are both ostentatious and spectacular. Quite similar to Dhammikarama Burmese Temple above, it is also a focal point within the city suburb for the annual Siamese Songkran and Loi Krathong festivals.
42 Tropical Spice Garden & Entopia – Batu Ferringhi
43 Water Theme Park & Amusement Centre For Kids
44 Penang National Park
Penang National Park, formerly known as the Pantai Acheh Forest Reserve has an area of 1,266 hectares. It was declared as Penang National Park in April 2003 to preserve and protect flora and fauna as well as objects with geological, archaeological, historical, ethnological, scientific, and scenic interests. This small national park includes simple jungle walking trails. You’ll see white sandy beaches (Monkey Beach), monkeys and a light house all along the way, spending up to half a day in the jungles far away from the noise of the city. – Best thing to do in Penang for nature lovers.
45 Penang Bird Park
Penang Bird Park is located in Seberang Jaya (mainland Peninsular) about 23 km from George Town. This park is the first and largest Bird Park in Malaysia. The 5-acre area is home to various species of birds with approximately over 300 different bird species from within and outside the country. This place is designed to resemble the natural habitat of these birds. Pelicans and flamingos also can be seen near the man-made waterfalls and large pool. One of the best things to do in Penang with kids.