Take a ride up the Penang hill in this historic funicular train.
Take a ride up the Penang hill in this historic funicular train.

Find a mix of East-meets-West heritage, rich historical museums and mouthwatering food that will set your taste buds tingling. Let’s check it out Penang Malaysia things to do — 9 awesome things to do in Penang from cooking curries to zip-lining with Living Nomads below.

Penang city
Penang city
Kek Lok Si Temple Penang
Kek Lok Si Temple Penang
Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion -Blue House Penang
Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion
where to stay in penang malaysia best areas to stay in penang best places to stay in penang
Penang streets
where to stay in penang malaysia best areas to stay in penang best places to stay in penang
Georgetown Penang

1. Hunt for Murals in Georgetown

PenangStreetArt-14
Penang Street Art

Hop on a trishaw and streak through the bustling streets of Georgetown as you ferret out Lithuanian artist Ernest Zacharevic’s oil painting murals on the crumbling UNESCO heritage walls. This graffiti art, created as part of the Georgetown Festival of Arts and Culture back in 2012 and scattered across the capital, merges real-life objects with graffiti. Check out Cannon Street, where a painted boy “stands” on an actual chair; or make a turn into Armenian Street to see the artist’s best-known “Children on a Bicycle” mural (above), in which two painted kids ride a real bike perched against the wall.

marufish_penang street art wall malaysia
See Ernest Zacharevic’s colorful murals scattered across the city. (Photo: Marufish/Flickr)
Image by: Penang trip guide blog.
Georgetown street art. Image by: Penang trip guide blog.

george town penang street art (1)

2. Do a Street Food Marathon

street_food_penang_best_things_to_do_when_traveling_to_penang_malaysia2

5-best-street-food-penang

5-best-street-food-penang
Street food along Gurney Drive in Penang, Malaysia

street food penang

While the better-known Gurney Drive Hawker Centre boasts a motley collection of tourist-driven food stalls, the New Lane Hawker Centre remains a local favorite thanks to its authentic Malaysian touch. Gorge on hot skewers slathered with nutty satay sauce, or some char koay kak—chewy rice cakes stir-fried with crunchy bean sprouts and pork lard. Having trouble sniffing out the best of the best? Enlist help from Food Tour Penang ($300), whose foodies will whizz you in and out of alleyways to taste the best of Penang.

Treat yourself to some authentic Malay Street Food. (Photo: Blue Moon in Her Eyes/Flickr)
Treat yourself to some authentic Malay Street Food. (Photo: Blue Moon in Her Eyes/Flickr)

street food penang

street_food_penang_best_things_to_do_when_traveling_to_penang_malaysia1

New Lane Hawker Centre: Lorong Baru, 10400 Georgetown, Penang. Opens 4pm-2am, foodtourpenang.com

3. Satisfy Your Inner Architecture Nerd

Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion -Blue House Penang
Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion

Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion -Blue House Penang

Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion -Blue House Penang

Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion -Blue House Penang

Architecture lovers, assemble! Penang’s colonial history means that it’s brimming with beautiful buildings: Set out for the Blue Mansion (14 Leith St., Georgetown, Penang, pictured left), which got its name from its eccentric blue-washed walls. The 19th century mansion breathes a European flair into traditional Chinese architecture with Gothic louvered windows and geometric tiles. After that, swing by St. George’s Church (1 Lebuh Farquhar, Georgetown, Penang), the oldest Anglican Church in Southeast Asia, to catch a glimpse of its tall Doric columns and sharp steeple.

The stunning Blue Mansion stands out with its distinct indigo color. (Photo: Stephen Bugno/Flickr)
The stunning Blue Mansion stands out with its distinct indigo color. (Photo: Stephen Bugno/Flickr)

4. Go Back in Time

Brush up on Penang’s history (and duck out of the blazing sun) at one of the city’s museums. At the Colonial Penang Museum, you’ll uncover handwritten documents by Captain Francis Light, who founded Penang in 1786. Head up the hill in Batu Maung and you’ll find yourself in the Penang War Museum, a fortress built by the British army and later captured by the Japanese. You can still see the World War II-era interrogation chambers hidden in the maze of tunnels.

Reminisce the past of Penang (and cool down from the blazing heat) in the city's museums.
Reminisce the past of Penang (and cool down from the blazing heat) in the city’s museums.
  • Colonial Penang Museum: 7 Jalan D.S. Ramanathan, 10350 Penang, (+60) 17-666-2789.
  • Penang War Museum: Lot 1350, Mukim 12, Daerah Daya, Batu Maung, 11960 Penang, (+60) 4-626-5142.

5. Ride the Funicular

Penang hill Malaysia
Penang hill Malaysia

Sit back in this historic funicular train and drink in the incredible views around you as you make the ascent up Penang Hill. Once you reach the top, grab a pair of binoculars and head towards the viewing deck, where you’ll be thrilled by the undulating landscape of the city. Make sure to book a guided nature walk ($29 weekdays, $38 weekends) for a mild trek through Penang Hill’s ancient tropical rain forest. You’ll feel reinvigorated as you breathe in the crisp air and watch birds swoop across lush canopies.

Penang-Hill

penang hill
Penang hill

Take a ride up the Penang hill in this historic funicular train.
Take a ride up the Penang hill in this historic funicular train.

Jalan Bukit Bendera, 11500 Air Itam, Penang.

6. Learn to Cook Malaysian-style

Become the next Malaysian MasterChef at Tropical Spice Garden, a former rubber plantation which now boasts a cooking school enveloped in the jungle’s exotic fauna. Pick out your favorite herbs and spices amongst the overwhelming variety and cook up an authentic bowl of laksa under the guidance of professional local chefs. Classes are limited to 10, so book in advance to secure a place.

Learn the secrets to cooking delicious Malaysian food to impress at your next dinner party
Learn the secrets to cooking delicious Malaysian food to impress at your next dinner party

$447 per person. Lot 595, Mukim 2, Jalan Teluk Bahang, 11050 Penang, (+60) 4-881-1797.

7. Feel the Thrill at Escape Theme Park

Peel your eyes off your smartphones and send adrenaline pumping through your veins in this amusement park enveloped in a natural environment. With the motto of “low tech, high fun”, this amusement park is all about having fun in nature and will make you feel like a kid again as you swing like a monkey from tree to tree, climb to the top of Gecko Tower, or go zip-lining across ravines and treetops on The Flying Lemur.

gecko_tower penang zipline
Unleash your inner spider-man climbing the narrow Gecko Tower.

$158, $105 for children under 12. Tue-Sun 9am-6pm. 828 Jalan Teluk Bahang, 11050 Penang, (+60) 4-8811-106, escape.my

8. Shop for Mementos from Chowrasta Market

Soak up the cheerful atmosphere and browse the fresh produce at this training ground for your haggling skills. Fill up your bags with nutmeg and pickled mangoes, or a pair of handcrafted Nyonya beaded slippers, as you make your way through the sea of crowds jostling for goods under enormous sun umbrellas. Don’t miss out on the street food stalls for authentic Malaysian eats.

market penang
Head to the market for good vibes and fresh produce.

Lebuh Tamil, Georgetown, Penang.

9. Eat the Best Chendol

Beat the heat with a big bowl of chendol: coconut milk brimming with worm-like pandan jellies and shaved ice, garnished with kidney beans and palm sugar syrup. Ask any local, and they’ll point you to Penang Road Famous Teochew Chendul for the best chendol in town. It’s a refreshing respite from the beating sun and a must-try for the sweet-toothed.

foods of penang cream
The best place to try out this traditional Malay dessert.

27 Lebuh Keng Kwee, Penang Rd., Georgetown, Penang, (+60) 4-262-6002, chendul.my

Where to Stay

On a Budget: Below $1000

The Loft Suites at the Palanquinn Heritage Suites boast a spacious living room and natural sunlight in the bathroom equipped with a retractable roof. A stone’s throw from this boutique homestay, you’ll find a handful of attractions, including the Gurney Drive Food Market and the Reclining Buddha Temple.

Get at room at the Palanquinn
Get at room at the Palanquinn

From $571; accommodates three. 39 Bangkok Lane, 10250 Georgetown, Penang, (+60) 18-471-4039, palanquinn.com

You can check rates & availability for this hotel on Agoda.com or Booking.com.

In the Middle: Below $1500

Clove Hall will spoil you with its Peranakan décor steeped in colonial history. Enjoy a night of Anglo-Malaysian luxury in the signature Clove Suite, where you can laze on planter’s chairs and drift off to sleep on the king-size four-poster bed draped with mosquito nets.

Palanquinn Heritage Suites penang 2

$1,295; accommodates two adults and two children. 11 Clove Hall Rd., 10050 Georgetown, Penang, (+60) 4-229-0818, clovehall.com

You can check rates & availability for this hotel on Agoda.com or Booking.com.

High-End: $2000 and above

History has bestowed a touch of elegance on the Eastern and Oriental Hotel, a heritage hotel established over 130 years ago that has borne witness to both World Wars. The Corner Suite, a new addition to the hotel in 2013, will give you a taste of luxury with its expansive living area and sea views, while all the modern amenities bring you back to the 20th century.

Eastern and Oriental Hotel penang
Sleep like royalty in The Corner Suite at the Eastern and Oriental Hotel.

$2,513; includes breakfast for two adults and two children. 10, Lebuh Farquhar, 10200 Georgetown, Penang, (+60) 4-222-2000, eohotels.com

You can check rates & availability for this hotel on Agoda.com or Booking.com.

The wall painting of Penang

Are you looking for more top things to do in Penang: Tours, activities, attractions and other things? Let’s check it out at here.

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