Malaysia Travel Guide: What you need to know about Penang
A Malaysia travel itinerary would usually play between its capital city Kuala Lumpur and Kota Kinabalu with its lush rainforest, beaches, and boardwalk. But not so far behind is Penang Island, a thriving tourist destination and Malaysia’s second largest city in terms of population.
A melting pot of diverse cultures and ethnicities, Penang Island is a destination for culture buffs waiting to be amazed at the state’s bold history and tradition.
Discover the charm of one of the holiday destinations in Malaysia as we feature Penang Island in today’s Malaysia travel guide!
Getting around Penang Island
The size of Penang is relatively small, making it easy for travellers to go around using the local transportation. If you want to check out Penang Malaysia points of interest, you can choose from a ferry service, old tricycle, bicycle, taxi or bus.
You can hail a taxi from your hotel, shopping malls, bus stops and at the airport. But keep in mind that at peak hours, you might find it difficult to find one so better to call in advance to book one.
Rapid Penang is the bus line that will take you around Malaysia attractions in this state. The schedule of departure depends on the routes; you may check the website for more information. Operating time of this bus line is from 5:30AM to 11PM, see website for scheduled departure for each route.
Penang Port is Malaysia’s oldest and only operator with ferry services that connect Georgetown (Raja Tun Uda Ferry Terminal) and Butterworth located at the mainland (Sultan Abdul Halim Ferry Terminal). It operates from 5am to 12am with an interval of 20-30mins during peak hours and 1 hour interval after 10pm.
Old rickshaw tricycle
The old rickshaw tricycle is the only means of transportation in Penang during the earlier days. It was used by locals as they visit monuments in the ancient streets of Penang and is still one of the means of transportation today.
Motorcycles or bicycles are another way you can explore Penang. With the availability of motorcycle and bicycle rentals all over the city (especially in KOMTAR area), you’ll be out and about exploring this place in no time!
Best time to travel to Penang
Penang generally has a tropical climate where it’s full of sunshine throughout the year. This makes it an ideal destination for a great family Malaysia trip. However, it is best to travel to Penang between December to March where the temperature is relatively cooler.
Name Zhouqiao – Penang Little India – George City Street Art
Penang City Hall – City Hall – Old Point Aberdeen Point Clock Tower – Convado Fort – Nyonya Museum – Longshan Church Qiu Zong Ancestral – Batu Duti Beach Night Market
Snake Temple – Flag Hill – Paradise Temple – Gurney Paragon Mall
Cheong Fong Tse House – Love Lane – Batu Duti Beach
TOP 5 Penang Tourist Attractions
George Town street art
Penang Street Art | Photo Courtesy: Only Penang
Popularly known for its British colonial buildings, mosques and Chinese shophouses, another beauty in George Town is the street art. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is known as the multicultural capital of Penang. Have your cameras ready as you capture the beauty of art spread out in the streets of George Town which are mostly made by 25 year old artist Lithuanian Guinness. Meanwhile, Yan Yilong is among the other local painters that also contributed.
Operating hours: Open all day
How to get here: You can ride the Rapid Penang Bus that will take you directly to George Town.
Chew Jetty | Photo Courtesy: AirAsia
Located near the Penang Ferry Terminal, the Clan Jetties are part of the Penang Heritage Trail. These water villages have been around for over a century and up until this day, none of the families living here pay tax since they don’t necessarily live on land. There used to be seven jetties but one was damaged by fire, leaving just six of what remains today. Each of the jetties are named after a Chinese clan – where the Chew Jetty known to be the most tourist-friendly. It also has the most number of stilt-houses and longest walkway.
Opening hours: Open all day
How to get here: Go to Surname Bridge and get off at the Weld Quay Station by free bus from Penang.
Situated six km from Georgetown, Penang Hill is Malaysia’s first colonial hill station. It consists of Tiger Hill, Western Hill, Government Hill, Flagstaff Hill and Bukit Laksamana.
This is a popular destination for a Malaysia travel adventure because of a fresher climate compared to Georgetown – 5 degrees cooler to be exact! Although not as green as the Cameron Highlands or Genting Highlands, the Penang Hill tropical boasts its equally beautiful tropical rainforest.
Opening hours: Sunday 6am to 10:30pm; weekends, school holidays and public holidays 6:30am to 10:00pm
How to get here: You can hire a taxi or ride a bus going to Penang Hill
Admission: Adult RM 30; Child RM 15 (both include cable car prices)
Love Lane which runs from Farquhar Street all the way to Chulia Street, holds the boundary between Georgetown’s core and buffer zones. Numerous historical shophouses have been converted to Malaysia attractions such as small hotels, quaint cafes and bars.
Opening hours: Open all day
How to get here: Take the Rapid Penang Free Shuttle Bus to Station No. 6. From Farquhar Street, make your way to Love Lane.
The Temple of Supreme Bliss
Kek Lok Si Temple also known as the Temple of Supreme Bliss was constructed over 100 years ago by a Chinese Buddhist immigrant. This majestic temple that sits on a hilltop is the largest Buddhist temple in Malaysia. Characterized by the beautifully-landscaped gardens, numerous temples and prayer halls, the Kek Lok Si Temple is definitely among the must-visit Malaysia attractions on your trip to Penang.
Opening hours: 9:00am – 6:00pm
How to get here: Take a bus and get off at the terminal station along Jalan Air Itam – a short walk from the base of Kek Lok Si Temple.
The diverse culture and ethnicity in Penang cook up some of the widely favoured dishes that are popular today. As important as the city’s attractions, the cuisine in Penang are some of the Malaysian traditional foods loved by many from around the world.
To get you started with your culinary journey, head over to the streets and make your way from there! Pop-up street restaurants are a common sight to see when you travel to Penang, or anywhere else in Malaysia. And a real Malaysia travel experience is never without a taste of the local cuisine. The streets of Penang is where one can truly taste the culture of the city when you’re standing side by side with locals taking a break from their day to day routine to munch on some tasty delicacies.
Consider trying out Kway Teow, Laksa, Fujian Shrimp Noodles, Hookien Haer Mee, Nasi Lemak, Hainan Chicken Rice if you’re looking for local food to fill your tummy!
As important as these attractions and food, the real treasure in Penang is the beauty and kindness of the people that live here. Take time to chat with some of the locals and know hear their story and love for their own place.
Looking to find more holiday places in Malaysia? Check out travel guides in Travel141 for your travel plans!