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:
- 1. Penang historical sites
- 2. Religious temples
- 3. Penang shopping
- 4. Delicious Penang food
- 5. The natural beauty
- Travel tips for visiting Penang
- Getting around
- Where to stay
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5 Types of Activities for a Penang Holiday Vacation
Pack a day trip bag and let’s start exploring Penang.
Learn about Penang History
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.
- Penang State Museum
- Fort Cornwallis
- Penang Hill
- Khoo Kongsi
- a clan house.
- Cheong Fatt Te Mansion
- It is now a hotel but you can take a tour*.
- Chew Clan Jetties
- Take a trishaw ride around the colonial district
Discover the Religious Temples
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
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
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.
- 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
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.
- Penang Botanical Gardens
- Entopia by Penang Butterfly Farm
- Tropical Spice Garden
- There’s nothing quite like showing kids how plants, food and spices are grown. It makes so much more impact than just telling them. Our son loved exploring the Tropical Spice Garden.
- Penang National Park
- The beaches
- So many things to do on the white sandy beaches like horseback riding, jet-skiing, banana boat rides, parasailing, and fishing trips.
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 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
- 6 Questions to Ask Yourself When Planning a Holiday
- How to Research a Trip
- How to Save Money for Travel
- How to Stay in Touch When You Travel
- How to Access Your Holiday Money Overseas
- The Ultimate Trip Packing List
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