Perfect Penang Holiday Attractions: Things to Do and See

One of my favourite destinations for a family holiday is Penang – there are so many things to do in Penang whilst on vacation.  We have enjoyed it so much we have been there twice.

Penang has great beaches, fantastic food and a richly diverse cultural background that offers so many things to do in Penang on a family holiday with kids.

The island of Penang is located 13.5 km off the mainland of Malaysia.  It is so close you can actually drive across on the Penang Bridge and up into the island’s capital of Georgetown.

Penang is a thriving metropolis and unlike many other popular South East Asian holiday island destinations its main source of income is not from tourism but from manufacturing.  Because of this (I think) you’ll find plenty of Penang attractions – much more than the average holiday island destination.

In this Article Things to Do in Penang You Will Learn:

A list of over 20 things to in in Penang Malaysia

This post by Tips 4 Trips contains affiliate links*.  This means I may receive a small commission if you click on these links. Learn more at the bottom of this post.

5 Types of Activities for a Penang Holiday Vacation

Pack a day trip bag and let’s start exploring Penang.


Learn about Penang History

Learn about the diverse history of Penang. when looking for things to do in Penang.
Take a trishaw ride in Penang

Penang offers a rich history.  It was a port along the spice trade route, it has been colonised by Sumatra, then the British East India Company, before it became a major player in the Chinese opium trade, in WWII it was attacked by Japan, and finally in 1948 became a state of Malaysia.  In 1696 Penang lost its tax-free threshold and struggled financially for the next 20 years until it established itself in electronics manufacturing.  As a result of this diverse history, there is plenty to discover and much of it is within the UNESCO World heritage buffer zone.

Discover the Religious Temples

penang's Chinatown offers the chance to see inside many different religious temples.
The reclining Buddha in Wat Chayamangkalaram

If you want a quick look at the temples begin at Penang’s Chinatown.  Then you could travel up Penang Hill where there are also many temples, plus there are more temples dotted about the island.

  • Wat Chayamangkalaram
    • Where inside you will find the Reclining Buddha
  • Dharmikarama Burmese Temple
  • Hainan Temple
  • Kek Lok Si
  • Kuan Yin Teng
  • Loo Pun Hong

Shopping ‘Til You Drop

Plenty of shopping options to find when looking for thiings to do and see on a Penang holiday.
Batu Ferringhi night markets

Just as Penang offers a rich history and diverse culture so too does it offer variety in its shopping.  From upmarket exclusive shopping malls, to bargain basements, and touristy flea markets.

Eat Delicious Food

So much variety and delicious food to choose on a Penang holiday
Penang Hill food court

In Lonely Planet’s Kuala Lumpur, Malaka & Penang book it states:

People come to Penang to eat. Even if you thought you came to Penang for another reason…days revolve around where and what to eat.

  • Food Courts
    • For me, the place to eat is the food courts.  The food is delicious and cheap.
  • Restaurants
    • Generally, all the restaurants we ate at were lovely whether they were within a shopping mall or along the tourist strip.  My advice the more authentic and family-run the restaurant looks, the better the food.
  • Tourist Attractions

Bask in the Beauty of Nature

Lots of way to experience natural attractions in Penang
Iguana at Penang Butterfly Farm

As with many tropical islands the natural landscape, flora and fauna are stunning.  Don’t miss these key places to visit on your family holiday to Penang with kids.

There are a couple of places we have yet to explore during a family holiday to Penang.  This is one of the many reasons why I wish to return to Penang.

Plan Your Visit to Penang, Malaysia


Penang is 350km from Kuala Lumper.  Penang can be accessed by road via one of two bridges from the Malaysian mainland, or by air landing at the Penang International Airport.

Getting Around

Getting around in Penang is easy.  You can catch a taxi or bus.  We found the Rapid Penang bus system efficient, cost-effective and simple to navigate.  Another option if public transport makes you nervous is to take the tourist Penang Hop On Hop Off* bus or book a tour*.

Website and Information

Learn all that Penang has to offer on the official Penang Tourism website.


We’ve stayed at and enjoyed:

You can check out more great family-friendly Penang resorts HERE

Start Planning Your Penang Holiday

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  1. I love Penang too and it’s only 4 hours’ drive or a short flight from KL 🙂 There’s something special about Penang, isn’t it? For the past few years, I have been returning to Penang on a yearly basis mainly to check out the Georgetown Arts Festival (usually around July/Aug). Perhaps you can time your next trip to Penang during the festival – you will find art installations, exhibitions, plays, dance performances, etc. Unfortunately, I couldn’t make it this year.

    1. Oh, that sounds like a great thing to add to anyone’s travel itinerary, Kat. I must check out the Penang tourism website to see what other events are on.

  2. We Singaporeans are sadly guilty of going to Penang for the sole purpose of eating. The food is AMAZING. I’ve been in KL and actually ate Penang char kuay teow two days in a row this week! haha. I guess the history and culture is not all that different to ours, so it doesn’t hold the same fascination for us. I visited Penang more than 20 years ago and as I recall there was a crocodile farm, but I think it’s gone now. Did you hear any mention of it?

    1. No, I don’t recall hearing about a crocodile farm Michelle. But as it is here in Perth what was once a fashionable tourism attraction slowly looses flavour for newer, flashier and more eco-friendly.

  3. I haven’t been anywhere in Asia yet, but I hope I’ll get to see some of these beautiful countries someday. Thank you to introducing me to Penang. I’ve heard Malaysia is quite beautiful. #TheWeeklyPostcard

    1. Pleasure Anda, Malaysia is worth adding to your Asian travel wish list.

  4. I’ve been to Kuala Lumpur many years ago, but didn’t get the chance to visit Penang, even though it’s relatively closeby and I’d heard it’s beautiful. So, it was really nice to finally ‘visit’ Penang virtually via your blog 🙂

    1. I’m glad you enjoyed the virtual tour Birgit.

  5. I have not been to Malaysia yet and Penang looks like a great place to go.
    I love that they have lots to do in addition to the beaches. #TheWeeklyPostcard

    1. Me too Anisa, I think that is what makes it one of my favourite island destinations.

  6. Would love to visit Penang one day! I’ve recently been introduced to this city and it looks so amazing! #TheWeeklyPostcard!

    1. It really is wonderful Lolo – so much to explore.

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