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40 Best Things To Do In Penang – Visit Nature Spots, Street Food Haunts & Local Museums

Things to do in Penang

It’s a general consensus that Penang is among the top destinations to visit in Malaysia. Small it may be, the charming island fits more into its bag than seems possible – incredible food, historic cultural streets, jaw-dropping architecture, and lush nature spots are just some of them.

While the state is best known for its hawker food and street art, the fun doesn’t end at just those things. From thrill-seeking activities like having a paintball battle on a World War II battleground to laidback adventures such as exploring historic monuments and colonial buildings, we rounded up all the best things to do in Penang as recommended by locals.

– Active & outdoor things to do in Penang –

1. Discover Balik Pulau on an ATV with Penang ATV Eco Tour

Outdoor Activities Penang - ATV
Image credit: Penang ATV Eco Tour – Balik Pulau via Facebook

If tackling rocky trails and unpaved roads on an ATV sounds intimidating, try a guided ATV tour instead. With Penang ATV Eco Tour, you can go on a sightseeing ATV tour of the serene Balik Pulau, an area far off from the city of George Town.

Whether you’re looking to bask in the untouched nature of Balik Pulau, or try riding an ATV for the first time, this tour is an easy and leisurely one that’s perfect for groups of friends and families of all ages to try out.

things to do in penang - atv
If you’re opting for an adventure in the evening, a gorgeous sunset view will be visible during your ride.
Image credit: Penang ATV Eco Tour – Balik Pulau via Facebook

The trail extends over 10km long and takes approximately an hour to complete. A tour guide will lead the way and snap pictures of your adventure, so all you have to do is enjoy the ride and revel in your surroundings. You’ll get some prime views of palm trees, fruit orchards, vegetable farms, and the stretching mountains.

A single-seater ATV is priced RM100, while a two-seater is priced RM150.

Address: 298, Mukim I, Kampung Perlis, 11000 Balik Pulau, Penang
Opening hours: 9am-6pm, Daily
Contact: 013-480 3866 | Penang ATV Eco Tour’s website | Facebook

2. Take on the longest zip coaster in the world at ESCAPE Penang

Outdoor Things To Do Penang - ESCAPE theme park

A thrilling day awaits adventure-seekers at ESCAPE Penang. Before you daredevils roll your eyes, ESCAPE isn’t a tame scene with easy-going rides. The theme park is a full adventure course and large-scale water park, home to record-breaking exhilarating rides suitable for a wide age group.

Outdoor Things To Do Penang - zipline
Image credit: Escape Theme Park, Penang via Facebook

Set amongst a foliage of nature and lush trees, ESCAPE’s variety of rides, including obstacle courses, will have you feeling like Tarzan conquering the forest as you triumph through them. Start off high with Adventure Play, a ride comprising ziplining, tree-climbing, and rope-balancing at a height.

There’s also the Tubby Racer, which will send you skimming down a sloped hill on a tube at maximum speed.

Don’t miss out on the Zip Coaster, certified by the Guinness World Record as the longest zip coaster in the world. Similar to a zipline but with heart-stopping loops and drops, you’ll feel like you’re flying through the forest for the ride’s duration of 6 minutes.

Outdoor Things To Do Penang - ESCAPE

Another ride that has made it into the Guinness World Record books is the Tube Water Slide, where you’ll be whizzed down a whopping distance of 1.1km. There are also a variety of other water activities including Banana Flip, Family Twister, and Speed Racer – so enter the theme park and pick your kryptonite.

Admission: From RM128.80/adult | From RM85.40/kid | Free for senior citizens and kids age 3 and below
Address: 828, Jalan Teluk Bahang, Teluk Bahang, 11050 Tanjung Bungah, Pulau Pinang
Opening hours: Tue-Sun 10am-6pm (Closed on Mondays)
Contact: 017-797 7529 | ESCAPE Penang’s website | Facebook

3. Have a paintball battle at a WWII fort with War Zone

Outdoor Activities Penang - warzone
Image credit: War Zone via Facebook

The excitement level of paintball often depends on the venue of the game. This is why you won’t want to miss out on a gripping game of paintball on an actual World War II fort in Penang. Hosted by Penang War Museum, War Zone offers players a unique and exhilarating paintball battle experience on a historic site.

The base is set in a sprawling forest, with tall trees, brick walls, and towers of tyres to provide you with cover and claim victory with an accurate shot. There’s even multiple game scenarios and courses to level up the thrill factor.

Outdoor Activities Penang - warzone shoot
Image credit: War Zone via Facebook

Players will be provided with full equipment needed to become a warrior on the battlefield, including face shields and padded vests. Before the game, the staff will walk you through the directive, so first-time players need not worry about getting confused mid-game.

The packages offered do depend on the amount of people in a company. For groups with less than 10 players, prices start at RM110/pax. Do jio your friends for this activity, as groups with more than 10 players enjoy lower rates with packages Sergeant (RM60/pax) and Major (RM80/pax).

Address: Penang War Museum, No. Lot 1350, Mukim 12, Daerah Barat Daya, 11960, Batu Maung, Penang
Opening hours: 10am-12pm & 2pm-4pm, Daily
Contact: 012-436 0698 | War Zone by Penang War Museum’s Facebook | Instagram

4. Go rooftop go-karting at Kart Hauz

things to do in penang - kart hauz
Image credit: @nraqil___ via Instagram

If you’re looking for a go-karting experience that’s quite literally on another level, Kart Hauz is the place for you. This spot is a cut above the usual circuits you might have been to – its track is located on the rooftop of a mall. On top of the thrilling race, kart-racing enthusiasts can experience a stunning view of the surrounding mountains too.

Outdoor Activities Penang - kart hauz track
Image credit: karthauz

Adrenaline junkies will be in for an intense race. The 350m racing track features exhilarating twists and turns, all on an open-air car parking space of Design Village. Be rewarded with a spectacular view of the sky and mountains, and feel the wind in your hair, as you race it out with your friends.

Kart Hauz opens till 11pm too, so you’ll have the chance to enjoy a ride under the night sky with scattering stars.

Packages for families and the little ones are available as well. Depending on the duration of the race and type of kart, the price for a race here ranges from RM65-RM175/pax.

Address: Level 6, Design Village Penang Mall, 733, Jalan Cassia Barat 2, 14110 Bandar Cassia, Penang
Opening hours: 3pm-11pm, Daily
Contact: 011-2518 3268 | Kart Hauz’s website | Facebook | Instagram

– Family-friendly things to do in Penang –

5. Ride horses at The Countryside Stables

Outdoor Activities Penang - stables
Image credit: Countryside Stables via Facebook

Imagine you’re the main character of Netflix’s Bridgerton, with the clippity-clop of horse hooves and the wind in your hair as you gallop. You can experience a slice of this countryside lifestyle at The Countryside Stables.

Home to about 30 horses and ponies of various breeds, this Balik Pulau attraction is where you can ride horses and have a tour of the stables to get to know their names and breeds. For RM6, you’ll be allowed to feed the horses with hays and carrots as well – a wholesome activity for the kids.

An entrance fee of RM12/adult and RM8/child (ages 2-12) will be required before visitors can embark on a horse riding adventure.

Outdoor Activities Penang - stables horse
Image credit: Countryside Stables via Facebook

Reminiscent of a charming hilltop village, The Countryside Stables has a beautiful outdoor range and indoor arenas that are suitable for horse riding activities too. Roaming around on a lawn on horseback is an unmissable experience while you’re here, so opt for a guided leisurely ride. This costs RM25/pax for adults and RM20/pax for kids.

things to do in penang - horses
Image credit: Countryside Stables Penang via Facebook

If you would like to dive deeper into the basics of horse riding, go for the 1-hour Basic Riding Lesson (RM150/lesson) to ride horses with an instructor, while surrounded by the gorgeous countryside scenery. Do note that you’ll have to make advanced bookings for a lesson.

Address: Lot 10050, Jalan Sungai Burung, Kampung Sungai Burung, 11000 Balik Pulau, Penang
Opening hours: 2pm-7pm, Daily
Contact: 012-408 0678 | Countryside Stables’ Facebook

6. Explore a butterfly garden with a waterfall at Entopia

Things to do in Penang - Entopia
Image credit: @eeda_shiu via Instagram

Enter Entopia and feel as if you’ve stepped into a fairytale-like garden, with blooming flowers and butterflies all around you. Previously known as Penang Butterfly Farm, this nostalgic haunt among ’90s Penang kids has since reopened its doors at a new and upgraded facility in 2016.

Things to do in Penang - Entopia
Image adapted from: @wenziseah via Instagram, @eu_jinn via Instagram

Housed in a huge glasshouse conservatory, its main Natureland is one of several butterfly aviaries in Entopia that simulates a tropical rainforest. It’s filled with over 300 plant species, artificial tunnels, a waterfall, and even various reptiles.

Walkways guide you through the garden, while butterflies fluttering all around create a picturesque scene for photo ops.

Things to do in Penang - Entopia
Image credit: @_justlunar_ via Instagram

Nature lovers can find educational exhibitions at the indoor discovery centre, Cocoon. Learn more about butterflies, including their milestones and metamorphosis, and the diversity of their eggs, through technology-guided museum interpretations.

Not leaving the little ones out of the educational fun, Entopia offers family-friendly learning activities devoted to Mother Nature and various types of bugs too. The kiddos can spend time exploring live exhibits of butterflies emerging from their chrysalises with fresh wings to take their first flight.

Admission: RM45/pax for Malaysians | RM55/pax for standard tickets | Free for children age 3 and below
Address: No.830, Jalan Teluk Bahang, Teluk Bahang, 11050 Tanjung Bungah, Penang
Opening hours: 9am-5pm, Daily
Contact: 04-888 8111 | Entopia Butterfly Farm’s website | Facebook | Instagram

7. Burn off extra energy at Kids CEO Playland

things to do in penang - kids ceo playland
Image credit: @kidsceoplayland via Instagram

Let the kiddos burn off all that extra energy at Kids CEO Playland, which is recognised by the Malaysia Book of Records as the largest standalone indoor playground in the country. The 4-storey playland, which stands apart from the rest as it’s not located inside a mall, features play structures such as slides, climbing walls, ball pits, and a jungle gym.

things to do in penang - kids ceo playland
Image credit: @theqaysfamily via Instagram

A highlight here is the pastel-coloured crochet playground, where the kiddos can swing over, as well as bounce and crawl on, crochet nets. There are also play zones with building blocks, toys, and bricks for kids of all ages to get creative with.

things to do in penang - kids ceo playland
Image credit: @yayingz via Instagram

Admission: RM38/adult & RM28/kid
Address: 3, Jalan Perda Jaya, Kawasan Perniagaan Perda Jaya, 14000 Bukit Mertajam, Pulau Pinang
Opening hours: Mon-Fri 12pm-5.30pm & 17pm-9.30pm | Sat & Sun 10am-9.30pm
Contact: 018-988 9433 | Kids CEO Playland’s Facebook

8. Catch views of the coastline & sunset at Gurney Bay

things to do in penang - gurney bayImage credit: @heartpatrick via Instagram

After much anticipation, Gurney Bay opened to the public in February 2024. Though in its first-phase opening, visitors can already check out part of the 27-acre park that has a promenade that overlooks the sea.

things to do in penang - gurney bay
Image credit: The Star via website

The park has become a popular place to catch the sunset, with unblocked, open views of Penang’s coastline. Other facilities here include a public skate park and a playground.

things to do in penang - gurney bay
Image credit: @silentcontempl.tions via Instagram

There are future plans to add a hawker centre, beach and boardwalk, water taxi jetty, and more parking bays, with expected completion in 2025.

Address: Gurney Drive, 10250 George Town, Penang
Opening hours: 24 hours, Daily

– Nature spots in Penang – 

9. Stroll across a canopy walk at The Habitat on Penang Hill

Things to do in Penang - The Habitat Penang Hill
Image credit:
@thehabitatpenanghill via Instagram

A recent development in George Town’s iconic Penang Hill is The Habitat Penang Hill, an eco-park that lets visitors explore a rainforest. Perched on the summit of Penang Hill and spanning the fringes of the island’s oldest rainforest, the rainforest discovery centre was built to conserve, preserve, and protect the diverse ecosystem and biodiversity of the last remaining rainforest in Penang Hill.

Image credit: @edzyl_gu via Instagram

One of The Habitat’s famous attractions is the Curtis Crest Treetop Walkway. It’s a circular bridge rising above the forest’s canopy, where you can appreciate a soaring view of not just the surrounding lush nature, but also the rest of Penang from the island’s highest viewing platform.

Things to do in Penang - The Habitat Penang Hill
Image credit: The Habitat Penang Hill via Facebook

Other activities to check out here are the Langur Way Canopy Walk, a 230m-long bridge suspended within the dense forest canopy, the Calugo Zipline that’ll have you flying through nature, and guided tours to learn about the myriad of flora and fauna along the nature trail.

Things to do in Penang - The Habitat Penang Hill
Image credit: The Habitat Penang Hill via Facebook

Admission: RM60/adult & RM40/child
Jalan Stesen, Bukit Bendera Air Itam, 11500 George Town, Penang
Opening hours: Mon-Fri 9am-7pm | Sat & Sun 9am-8pm
Contact: 019-645 7741 | The Habitat Penang Hill’s Facebook | Instagram

10. Go for a morning walk at Penang Botanical Gardens

things to do penang

Often overshadowed by the more stand-out tourist spots on the island, Penang Botanical Gardens is a tranquil sanctuary of greenery that’s perfect for those who want to step away from the hustle and bustle of George Town.

Located at the foothills of Penang Hill, just minutes away from the city centre, this historical garden is a verdant paradise with an immense collection of flora. Marvel at the expansive greenery, alluring gardens, and stunning waterfalls while on your morning stroll or jog.

things to do penang - botanical

There are several hiking trails that lead up to Penang Hill from the Penang Botanical Gardens, including the Moongate Hiking Trail. While there is a staggering amount of trails in Penang that lead up to Penang Hill, the Moongate is a popular one that’s innocuous enough for hikers of all levels.

Monkeys swarm the grounds occasionally, so do refrain from having a picnic here – you wouldn’t want these sneaky friends snatching food out of your hands.

Address: Kompleks Pentadbiran, Bangunan Pavilion, Jalan Kebun Bunga, 10350 George Town, Penang
Opening hours: 6am-8pm, Daily

11. Feast on durians at Green Acres Orchard & Ecolodge

Things to do in Penang - durian farm
Image credit: Penang Green Acres via Facebook

There may be divided opinions on its taste, but there’s no denying that durians has the hearts of many Malaysians. If you want to savour all of the pungent smell and custard-y flesh of the King of Fruits, a visit to a durian orchard in Penang is a must.

Green Acres Orchard & Ecolodge in Balik Pulau is one of many organic fruit farms tucked deep in the hills. Operating for over 70 years now, the 16-acre orchard has always been more than just a durian farm. It’s also a nature retreat with two traditional wooden lodgings, where guests can experience the farm’s beauty with them.

Things to do in Penang - durian farm
Image credit: Penang Green Acres via Facebook

It also hosts Durian Tasting Tours during the durian harvest season, typically between the months of June and August. The tour covers the whole experience of picking durian in the woods to cracking them open and relishing the creamy sweetness in your mouth. There are over 500 durian trees at the orchard, which you will learn more about during tour.

Other local fruits are grown in the farm as well, such as jackfruit, cempedak, rambutan, nutmeg, longan, and rare wild herbs.

Outdoor Things To Do Penang - green durian
Image credit: Penang Green Acres via Facebook

The 2-hour Durian Tasting and Farm Tours are held from Thursdays to Sundays, when durians are in season. Guided tours are priced RM165/adult and RM800/kid – for groups consisting of more than 3 adults, the rates would be RM125 per person.

Address: Batu Itam, Balik Pulau, Penang
Opening hours: Thu-Sun 4pm-6pm (Closed from Mondays to Wednesdays)
Contact: 012-428 6368 | Green Acres Orchard & Ecolodge’s website | Facebook

12. Frolic about the Tropical Spice Garden

things to do in penang - tropical spice garden
Image credit: @ayunisxx via Instagram

With 8 acres of greenery, Penang’s Tropical Spice Garden is a verdant sanctuary that holds a diverse array of tropical plants, herbs and spices, and over 500 living specimens from around the world.

Located along the Teluk Bahang junction, the botanical haven invites nature lovers to explore their various trails and themed sections such as spice terraces, a bamboo garden, and a water garden.

things to do in penang - tropical spice garden
Image credit: @lord_isis via Instagram

Besides meandering through the lush forest, the garden also offers cooking classes guided by professional chefs using the spices and herbs grown within its grounds to concoct traditional Malaysian dishes.

things to do in penang - tropical spice garden
Image adapted from: @ernisml via Instagram, @kanopicoffee via Instagram

There’s also a small coffee shop tucked within the garden, Kanopi Coffee. They serve a small menu of Black (RM8) and White (RM9) coffee.

Address: Lot 595 Mukim, 2, Jalan Teluk Bahang, Teluk Bahang, 11050 George Town, Penang
Opening hours: Mon – Thu 9am-4.30pm | Fri – Sun 9am-6pm
Contact: 012-423 6797 | Tropical Spice Garden’s website | Instagram

– Instagrammable places in Penang –

13. Hike up Frog Hill for a stunning view of a blue quarry

Outdoor Activities Penang - frog hill
Image credit: @kowyujian via Instagram

When brainstorming for stunning outdoor attractions in Penang, there’s no way hiking would not be included on the list. Among the popular Penang Hill hiking trails is the popular and scenic trail, Frog Hill. Previously a tin mining site, Frog Hill is now an abandoned quarry with a landscape so gorgeous that it makes the steep hike for the view well-worth it.

Outdoor Activities Penang - frog hill quarry
Image credit: @tamilchellvan via Instagram

Though the journey to the top is a fairly short one, the presence of jagged rocks and steep slopes make the hike rather challenging. But push on for about 20 minutes, and you’ll find yourself standing at a viewpoint where the panorama of the quarry below is otherworldly.

Things to do in Penang - Frog Hill
Image credit: @nigel_photoz via Instagram

A terrain of rocky lands covered in patches of dark vegetation, hugging pearly blue moats – the view is so beautiful it will take your breath away.

Address: 14400 Tasek Gelugor, Penang
Opening hours: 24 Hours, Daily

14. Soak up views of George Town at The Top

Outdoor Activities Penang - the top
Image credit: The Top via Google Reviews

Jumping off a cliff with a mere rope attached to your body isn’t for everyone. And we totally get that. But if you crave for the view that you can only get from high above, then head to the Rainbow Skywalk at The Top, Komtar. It offers breathtaking panoramic views of George Town without any anxiety-inducing jumps involved.

Things to do in Penang - view
Image credit: @marwa.alshamii via Instagram

Jutting out from Level 68 of the building is a glass walkway suspended 816ft above the bustling city. At night, the glass bridge lights up in rainbow hues, hence its name.

Things to do in Penang - Rainbow Skywalk night view
Image adapted from: @devitaseptianap via Instagram, @belleaisa_ via Instagram

If you find yourself trembling in your knees at such a height in the open air, there is an Observatory Deck on Level 65. It’s a glass-floored area set indoors that offers visitors similar photo-worthy views of George Town from a different vantage point.

Admission: RM78/adult & RM58/child
Address: 1, Jalan Penang, 10000 George Town, Penang
Opening hours: Wed-Mon 10am-10pm | Tue 10am-7pm
Contact: 017-289 0800 | The Top’s website | Facebook | Instagram

15. Cycle through crooks & nooks of George Town to discover street art

Things to do in penang - street art
Image credit:
@the_random_muse via Instagram

Whether you think Penang Street Art is an overrated tourist trap or not, darting about George Town to pose with the collection of beautiful mural art is a great way to expose yourself to the charms and history of this heritage city.

Things to do in penang - street art wall
Image credit:
@luciegantier via Instagram & @luciegantier via Instagram

Gear up with a map, camera, pair of comfy sneakers and lots of sunscreen, and roam the labyrinth that is George Town to discover vivid artworks of common local scenes on time-worn walls of shophouses.

They fill the streets and alleyways of George Town like a quirky surprise in nearly every corner, but you could start your mural-hunt at Chew Jetty, and then head on to Armenian Street, Beach Street, or Cannon Street. If you’re not a fan of walking in the blazing heat, rent a bicycle or hop on a trishaw to explore the street art, while admiring the architecture of the heritage buildings as well.

16. Marvel at houses on stilts at Penang’s iconic Clan Jetties

Things to do in Penang - Clan Jetties
Image credit:
@26.9n via Instagram

Frolicking about George Town without visiting the famous clan jetties of Penang is simply preposterous.

Originally built by Chinese Hokkien immigrants from the Fujian province of China back in the 19th century, the clan jetties, or kongsi, are essentially villages made up of houses on stilts above the sea water. Each cluster of these traditional wooden houses on stilts belong to a specific family clan, with dozens of them to be found within the floating villages.

Things to do in penang - jetty lifestyle
Image adapted from:
@almagitana__ via Instagram, @2046cchang via Instagram

Though there used to be 10 of these settlements, only six remain. Each settlement is named after the surname of the different families, and each are still called home by the families’ descendants till this day.

things to do in penang - chew jetty
Image credit:
@dutchiedobali via Instagram

The oldest, largest and the most popular of the clan jetties is Chew Jetty, which welcomes visitors to stroll along its wooden piers and witness the authentic way of life of the residents. Explore the nooks of the village, with families going about their daily routines and morning prayers at their homes and temples, and drop by the handful of shops situated on the wooden piers that sell souvenirs and street food.

Things to do in Penang - Clan Jetties
Image adapted from: @eun._traveler via Instagram, @rheaxxyz via Instagram 

Perched amidst the blue sea on stilts, these jetties provide a gorgeous backdrop for Instagrammable shots as well.

Address: Pengkalan Weld, George Town, 10300 George Town, Penang
Opening hours: 9am-9pm, Daily

– Historic sites in Penang – 

17. Discover the history of Penang at Fort Cornwallis

Things to do in Penang - Fort Cornwallis entrance

Fort Cornwallis is a monumental gem of Malaysia that you may have learnt about in your Sejarah textbook. This historical fortress was built way back in the 18th century, during the British occupation of Malaysia, as a defensive structure and a military base.

Today, the fort stands as a UNESCO-recognised heritage site in George Town that’s open to the public to explore, offering history buffs and tourists alike a vivid snapshot of Penang’s history.

Things to do in Penang - Fort Cornwallis
Image adapted from: @ via Instagram, @hhhhyuqi via Instagram

There are various structures within the site, including mounted cannons, the second oldest lighthouse in Malaysia, gunpowder storerooms, barracks, and a peak-roofed colonial chapel. A famous bronze statue of Francis Light, the Captain who built Fort Cornwallis, is erected on a high plinth within the grounds of the fort too.

Things to do in Penang - Fort Cornwallis
Image credit:
@tl_trueliving via Instagram

There are eateries on the same grounds of Fort Cornwallis, where you can stop by when you’re done touring the historic site. There’s Kota Dine & Coffee that’ll fill you up with good local dishes, and Breakfast In The Fort with delightful breakfast spreads and coffee.

Address: Jalan Tun Syed Sheh Barakbah, 10200 George Town, Penang
Opening hours: 8am-11pm, Daily
Contact: 04-263 9855 | Fort Cornwallis’ Facebook

18. Explore the abandoned & storied Crag Hotel

Things to do in Penang - Crag hotel
Image credit:
@steinygirl_mom via Instagram

Perched atop Penang Hill are the remnants of Crag Hotel. The derelict structure has its fair share of stories that date back to the mid-1880s, when a Scotsman named Captain John W Kerr built a bungalow on Penang Hill and named it The Crag.

Things to do in Penang - Crag hotel
Image credit:
@azren.karim via Instagram

The grand residence operated as a hotel for a short period of time, when the famous Sarkies Brothers purchased the bungalow. But it was left abandoned when World War II broke out. After over a decade, the building was converted into a primary boarding school, then known as Uplands School, which was once been visited by the late Queen Elizabeth.

When the school moved to a new home in 1977, the former hotel was left abandoned again, weathering away over the years.

Things to do in Penang - Crag hotel
Image credit:
@naturisticme via Instagram

Its decaying form incited supernatural tales about the bungalow and caught the attention of many filmmakers, eventually becoming filming locations for award-winning films and series including Indochine and Indian Summers.

Today, the Crag Hotel remains untouched and is slowly consumed by vegetation.

– Cultural sites in Penang – 

19. Marvel at strings of lanterns at Kek Lok Si temple

Things to do in Penang - Kek Lok Si temple
Image credit: @lindakupper1 via Instagram

When you’re in George Town, an almost unmissable spot is Kek Lok Si temple. Apart from being an iconic site in Penang that was built more than a decade ago, it’s the largest and oldest Buddhist temple in Southeast Asia.

The grand temple sits on a 10-acre site that houses monasteries, prayer halls, temples, magnificent statues, beautiful gardens, and a fish pond. A visit here will keep you busy for a good hour or so.

Things to do in Penang - Kek Lok Si temple
Image credit: @vanissakaris via Instagram

It serves as an important house of worship for devotees, and stands as an architectural wonder. Here, you’ll find a 7-storey structure, also known as Pagoda of Rama VI or Pagoda of Ten Thousand Buddhas, which has 10,000 alabaster and bronze statues of Buddha.

Things to do in Penang - Kek Lok Si temple
Image credit: @phuket_photographytours via Instagram

But the star of the temple is the 36.57m-tall enchanting bronze statue of Guanyin, the Goddess of Mercy, that’s located at the highest peak of the temple.

To ring in Chinese New Year, the temple holds an annual light ceremony complete with a spectacular fireworks display. It’s an event that’s a key cultural highlight in Penang during the bai nian celebrations.

Address: 1000-L, Tingkat Lembah Ria 1, 11500 Ayer Itam, Penang
Opening hours: 24 hours, Daily

20. Make slithery friends at Penang’s famed Snake Temple

Things to do in Penang - snake temple
Image credit:
@joonbond via Instagram

The Snake Temple in Penang is a place of worship with a sinister twist – it houses actual slithery reptiles that roam freely within the temple. Built in the 1850s, this temple was erected in honour of the deity Cheng Chooi Chor Soo, also widely known as Chor Soo Kong, who was believed to have snakes as his disciples.

Things to do in Penang - snake temple
Image credit:
@dex__loh via Instagram

At the temple, you’ll find dozens of uncaged snakes slithering on tree branches within the temple grounds. They include pit vipers, green tree snakes, and pythons, which are said to be harmless, defanged, and under the supervision of their handler.

Daring temple visitors can request for a photo opportunity with a snake for a small fee.

Address: Jalan Sultan Azlan Shah, Bayan Lepas Industrial Park, 11900 Bayan Lepas, Penang
Opening hours: 9am-5.30pm, Daily
Contact: 04-643 7273

21. Marvel at the floating Tanjung Bungah mosque

Things to do in penang - floating mosque
Image credit:

Perched along the coastlines of Tanjung Bungah, the Floating Mosque is a famous landmark and the first mosque in Malaysia to be built on the sea. While the grand mosque is actually built on stilts, it gives a magical appearance of floating on water during a high tide.

Things to do in penang - floating mosque inside
Image credit: via Instagram

Erected to replace an older mosque which was destroyed in a tsunami, the floating mosque boasts a Moorish architecture – an ornate Islamic-influenced design – with touches of local designs. Its prominent minaret tower is an imposing and gorgeous one, and a symbol of Islam’s presence where the calls for prayers are announced during the day.

The mosque is opened to the public daily. Do note to dress decently with your arms and legs covered, and remove your shoes before entering.

Address: Jalan Batu Ferringhi, Tanjung Bungah, 11200 Tanjung Bungah, Penang
Opening hours: 5am-9.30pm, Daily

22. See one of the world’s longest reclining Buddha statues at Wat Chayamangkalaram

things to do in penang - Wat Chayamangkalaram
Image credit: @deboralazzati via Instagram

Among the plethora of Buddhist temples in George Town, there stands a pretty unique one: the elaborate Wat Chayamangkalaram. This Theravada-style temple, with gold embellishing and hipped gable-roofs, is the oldest Siamese temple in the state.

It also houses one of the world’s longest reclining Buddha statues measuring 32m long.

things to do in penang - Wat Chayamangkalaram
Image credit: @angelinagustiani via Instagram

The land upon which the temple was cleared in 1795, and given to the Siamese by the British in then-Malaya as a diplomatic gesture. The temple was later erected in 1845 by monk Phra Phorthan Kuad. According to legend, he had a love for a Penang-staple asam laksa and so devotees would offer the dish to his shrine.

things to do in penang - Wat Chayamangkalaram
Image credit: @deboralazzati via Instagram

Address: 17, Lorong Burma, Pulau Tikus, 10350 George Town
Opening hours: 24 hours, Daily

– Museums in Penang – 

23. Learn more about Penang culture at TeddyVille Museum

Things to do in penang - teddyville
Image credit:
@danielkurniawanhandoko via Instagram

Who says a visit to the museum has to be always intellectual? TeddyVille Museum will surely bring out the inner child in anyone.

Occupying two locations in Penang – one on Penang Hill and another in Batu Ferringhi – the museum exhibits a collection of teddy bears dressed and posed as Penangites to showcase the history and local culture of Penang.

Things to do in penang - teddy museum
Image credit: via Instagram

Find life-sized teddy bears resembling renowned figures who hail from Penang, such as P. Ramlee, Jimmy Choo, Nicol David, and Lee Chong Wei.

There are also collections of teddy bears from bygone eras, so visitors can learn about the origins and tales behind the legendary toy.

Things to do in penang - teddy
Image credit: via Instagram

TeddyVille Museum @ Batu Ferringhi
Admission: RM32/adult, RM26/pax for senior citizens and students & RM20/child. Get your tickets here.
Address: 56, Jalan Low Yat, Puncak Ria, 11100 Batu Ferringhi, Penang
Opening hours: 9am-6pm, Daily
Contact: 04-890 0535 | TeddyVille Museum’s Facebook

24. Explore Pinang Peranakan Mansion to discover 1,000 antiques

Things to do in penang - pinang mansion

A resplendent manor that’s brimming with rich history is the Pinang Peranakan Mansion. An architectural splendour that’s home to thousands of antiques and collectibles, the mansion is now a historic house museum that’s furnished with over 1,000 rare Peranakan antiques and collectibles from around the world.

Things to do in penang - pinang peranakan

Here, you can stroll through the lavish rooms and halls to get a glimpse of the affluent Peranakan lifestyle of the old days. Apart from the collection of Peranakan antiques around the mansion, there are also galleries that house varied collections of traditional Peranakan garments, embroideries, ceramic arts and glassware, and exquisite ornate jewellery.

Guided group tours are available at certain time slots, and are conducted in both English and Mandarin.

Admission: RM20/pax | Free for children age 6 and below
29, Church Street, 10200 George Town, Penang
Opening hours: 9am-5pm, Daily
Contact: 04-264 2929 | Pinang Peranakan Mansion’s Facebook | Instagram

25. Marvel at indigo hues at the historic Blue Mansion

Things to do in Penang - Blue Mansion
Image credit: Cheong Fatt Tze, The Blue Mansion via Facebook

Once the home and office of Cheong Fatt Tze, a Chinese tycoon in Penang, The Blue Mansion was built in the 1880s as a gift for the magnate’s seventh wife. The eccentric blue mansion contains 38 rooms, five courtyards, seven staircases, and a whopping 220 windows.

Things to do in Penang - Blue Mansion
Image credit: Cheong Fatt Tze, The Blue Mansion via Facebook

Visitors can stroll through the mansion’s stunning central courtyard and main hall to take in its magnificent Straits-Eclectic architecture and artefacts.

Things to do in Penang - Blue Mansion
Image credit: Cheong Fatt Tze, The Blue Mansion via Facebook

If a tour isn’t enough to fully immerse yourself in the opulent ambience and charm of these properties, you can also book a stay in one of their 18 artfully conserved rooms for RM635-RM850/night.

Things to do in Penang - Blue Mansion
Image credit: Cheong Fatt Tze, The Blue Mansion via Facebook

The majestic mansion isn’t short of dining options either. Indigo Restaurant offers a fine-dining experience that fuses Eastern and Western flavours in its dishes, while Cafe Mangga is a cosy brunch spot set under a gigantic mango tree within the compounds of the Blue Mansion.

Address: 14, Leith Street, 10200 Penang
Opening hours: 24 hours, Daily
Contact: 04-262 0006 | 04-262 5289 | Blue Mansion’s website | Facebook | Instagram

26. Learn more about Malaysia’s wartime past at Penang War Museum

things to do in penang - war museumImage credit: Penang War Museum via Facebook

It’s not every day that you come across a museum listed as a haunted place in Malaysia. But that’s Penang War Museum for you. This museum has a rich past that lends to this. It was once a British fortress in the 1930s, before it was taken over by Japanese soldiers as a prisoner-of-war base.

The nail in the coffin? A notorious soldier by the name Tadashi Suzuki was said to carry out gruesome murders and tortures at the base, and then the fortress was left abandoned for about 60 years before it was restored.

things to do in penang - war museum
Image credit: Andrew Tan via Google Reviews

Today, the museum welcomes visitors to learn more about old Malaya’s wartime past.

There are photo exhibits and relics on display here, including a guillotine stand that was used by the Japanese army. Visitors will get to crawl and climb through a 9m-long tunnel and explore lockup rooms that has remained intact despite the fortress’ storied past.

Do note that most of the exhibits here are located in the outdoors, so consider packing  mosquito spray with you. You’ll be free to explore the grounds on your own, with plenty of informative plaques next to the exhibits.

Admission: RM38/pax
Jalan Batu Maung, 11960 Batu Maung, Pulau Pinang
Opening hours: 9am-6pm, Daily
Contact: 016-421 3606 | Penang War Museum’s Facebook

27. Marvel at large-scaled Malaysian food at Wonderfood Museum 

things to do in penang - wonderfood museum
Image credit: @diracoolz via Instagram

A big part of Penang’s charm is none other than its food offerings that reign supreme. While the hawker stores await us, there’s another way to get up close with the beauty of local food. At Wonderfood Museum, you can see larger-than-life displays of Malaysian dishes, including Hokkien mee, asam laksa, and ice kacang, just to name a few.

things to do in penang - wonderfood museum
Image credit: @ieatliau via Instagram

Beyond just snapping photos with realistic food replicas at the museum, you can also find out where the best places are to eat these dishes in Penang on plaques next to them.

things to do in penang - wonderfood museum
Image credit: @cindybahari via Instagram

Admission: RM15/adult & RM10/pax for children and senior citizens
Jalan Batu Maung, 11960 Batu Maung, Pulau Pinang
Opening hours: 9am-6pm, Daily
Contact: 04-251 9095 | Wonderfood Museum Penang’s Facebook

28. Learn more about Chinese artefacts at Straits & Oriental Museum

things to do in penang - straits & oriental museum
Image credit: @straitsandorientalmuseum via Instagram

Straits & Oriental Museum is a humble museum that has since moved locations, from the St. Joseph’s Novitiate building to its current spot on 20 Stewart Lane, just behind the Goddess Of Mercy Temple.

Straits & Oriental Museum - shipwreck

Its collection of over 200 Chinese artefacts that were recovered from various shipwrecks remain on display, with visitors welcomed to learn more about ceramic wares from various Chinese dynasties and in varied glazes and styles.

things to do in penang - straits & oriental museum
Image credit: @straitsandorientalmuseum via Instagram

To learn even more about the delicate pieces beyond the plaques, join a free guided tour helmed by a knowledgeable guide. At the end of your tour, you can also enjoy a complimentary cup of coffee at Settlements Coffee inside the museum, which comes with each ticket.

Admission: RM20/pax | Free for kids age 12 years old and below
20, Stewart Lane, 10200 George Town, Penang
Opening hours: 10am-6pm, Daily
Contact: 011-1722 7007 | Penang Straits and Oriental Museum’s website

– Shopping in Penang –

29. Shop from local vendors at Hin Bus Depot

Outdoor Activities Penang - hin
Image credit: @rumahkacha via Instagram

The Sunday market at Hin Bus Depot is always packed. Called the Hin Market, it’s been here for years now and is a familiar haunt of many Penangites for a reason – it hosts local craft stalls and food vendors, all worth making a beeline for.

It’s a popular hunting ground for art and antiques aficionados to street food hunters, with a wide range of items to shop for such as dinnerware, books, handmade accessories, pre-loved clothes, and potted plants.

Outdoor Activities Penang - hin market
Image adapted from: @sweetpawshay via Instagram & @simplicitysomething via Instagram

Apart from shopping, Hin Market is also popular for gourmet goodies. There are vendors selling savoury meals and desserts. Opt to dine at picnic tables or on sun chairs scattered around the compound, or request for the food to be packed.

Outdoor Activities Penang - hin food
Image credit: @ong_suki via Instagram

As a city that takes its coffee culture seriously, there’s no lack of choices for you to get your coffee fix while you’re at the market too.

things to do in penang - hin bus depot
Art shows are regularly held at the exhibition space here.
Image credit: Hin Bus Depot via Facebook

While you’re at Hin Bus Depot, you can catch buskers and live acoustic performances, as well as art exhibitions, workshops, yoga sessions, and outdoor movie screenings that are held regularly here as well.

Address: 31A, Jalan Gurdwara, 10300 George Town, Penang
Opening hours: 10am-10pm, Daily
Contact: 014-909 8523 | 04-898 1606 | Hin Bus Depot’s website | Facebook | Instagram

30. Shop till you drop at iconic malls on the island

Image credit: CapitaLand via Facebook

Old among the new, modernity among the historic – that’s the charm of Penang. Once you’ve got your fill of heritage and nature, drop by Penang’s iconic shopping malls for some well-deserved retail therapy.

You won’t be disappointed with the options you’ll get on the island.

Frequented by locals, the premier shopping malls along Gurney Drive, such as Gurney Plaza, Gurney Paragon, and Gurney Walk, features a slew of renowned fashion brands, restaurants, and a cinema.

KKV home goods

There are other sprawling malls scattered around the island as well, including Queensbay, 1st Avenue, Prangin Mall and Straits Quay. In mainland Penang, there’s Sunway Carnival Mall, an up and coming mall that’s home to Penang’s first MUJI and KKV outlets.

31. Stroll along Straits Quay & dine with the view of the sea

things to do in penang - quay side
Image credit: Wikipedia

Penang’s first seafront retail mall, Straits Quay, is every bit as picturesque as it sounds. Standing in all grandiosity in Tanjung Tokong, the leisure complex houses a variety of retail stores and restaurants.

things to do in penang - quay side
Image credit: First Grill via website

There are over 20 dining options here, including casual ones like Subway and The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf to fancier restaurants such as Blue Reef Fish & Chips and Chorus By the Quay.

It also doubles as a convention and performing arts centre. During festive seasons in Malaysia, patrons will find a riot of performances, competitions, and pop-up markets taking place at the mall.

things to do in penang - quay side
Image credit: @oneflightabroad via Instagram

With a gorgeous view of the vast sea right outside the mall, Straits Quay is also the perfect place to go on  evening strolls at, or seaside brunches with friends and family within the stunning Victorian-style building.

Address: 3F-G-1 Straits Quay, Jalan Seri Tanjung Pinang, Tanjung Tokong, 10470 Penang
Opening hours: 10am-10pm, Daily
Contact: 04-891 8000 | Straits Quay’s website | Facebook

32. Bargain your best at Batu Ferringhi Night Market

things to do in penang - batu Ferringhi market
Image credit: @len_j_p via Instagram

Brimming with life and colour every evening along the shores of Batu Ferringhi, the Batu Ferringhi Night Market is where tourists get their fill of a true local experience with the cultural souvenirs, food, and activities that the market offers.

Makeshift stalls line along a 1km stretch, selling all sorts of goods such as clothes, footwear, trinkets, household items, and handmade crafts, all at a steal.

things to do in penang - batu Ferringhi market
Image credit: Ben Suda via Flickr

A market in Penang isn’t complete without a good feast, and local delicacies are what you’ll not be starved of in this night market too with stalls selling satay, laksa, rojak, and char koay teow.

Address: Jalan Pantai Batu, Taman Pantai Batu, 11200 Tanjung Bungah, Penang
Opening hours: 7pm-1am, Daily
Contact: 018-283 4117

33. Hunt out bargains at thrift shops in Penang

things to do in penang - thrift shops
Image credit: @tokyo_no18 via Instagram

While popular retailers await shopaholics at shopping malls, there are also a collection of thrift shops in Penang to head to for even more unique finds. Whether you’re looking for pre-loved designer goods or vintage streetwear at a steal, these stores will have you covered.

things to do in penang - thrift shops
Image credit: @vintage99___ via Instagram

A well-known store to head to for designer goods in good condition is Fujiyama Jeans & Tokyo No. 18, while Vintage 99 remains pops among locals for their range of trendy streetwear pieces.

– Restaurants, cafes & bars in Penang – 

34. Get a taste of traditional tau sar pneah at Him Heang

Things to do in penang - him heang
Image credit:
@sockpeng via Instagram

It is an unspoken rule that you haven’t really been to Penang if you have yet to set foot in Him Heang to treat yourself to some of their aromatic tau sar pneah.

Undeniably the most popular Chinese bakery in town, Him Heang has a long-standing reputation as the best place to get a fresh variety of handmade Chinese pastries. At present, the family-owned business is helmed by the third generation, occupying a grand 3-storey building on Burmah Road.

Things to do in Penang - Him Heang
Image credit: Him Heang Sdn Bhd via Facebook

You’ll want to devote a morning to head to the bakery and snag some baked goodness, as there’s always a queue at the shop even before it opens for the day. A must-buy item is their tau sar pneah, or tambun biscuits. These bite-sized balls with golden-hued pastry skin encasing a sweet-salty mung bean filling are sold in a box or a roll, priced between RM4.30-RM16.40.

Things to do in penang - him heang biscuits
Image adapted from:
@sophial208 via Instagram

After having spent all that time queuing, make sure you get other treats as well, such as Xiang Bing (RM9.50), which is similar to tau sar pneah but with brown sugar filling, and huge flaky pastries like Beh Teh Saw (RM9.90) and Qing Tang Ping (RM8.80).

Address: 162A, Jalan Burma, 10050 George Town, Penang
Opening hours: Mon-Sat 10.30am-2pm (Closed on Sundays)
Contact: 016-425 1168 | Him Heang’s website | Facebook

35. Feast on popular hawker food at Chulia Street Night Hawker

Things to do in penang - chulia stall

If you tell locals you have Chulia Street Night Hawker on your itinerary, they’ll nod in approval. A famous hawker spot that’s frequented by locals and tourists alike, this food haunt is where you’ll find some of the tastiest hawker dishes, including iconic ones such as wantan mee and curry mee.

Things to do in penang - wantan mee

Having been around for decades and manned by generations of family, vendors at this night hawker are masters at their craft, serving the same iconic dishes for years that have withstood the test of time.

Our recommendations include the crowd-favourite Mother & Son Wantan Mee (RM6-7) and a divine bowl of Chulia Street Curry Mee (RM5-6).

Things to do in penang - chulia hawker

Make space for some delightful local snacks as well, including the famous Penang Ham Chee Peng on Cintra Street that’s a stone’s throw from Chulia Street Night Hawker, and fragrant mini apam balik deftly whipped up by a petite auntie at her stall.

Address: Chulia St, 10450 George Town, Penang
Opening hours: Tue–Sun 6pm-12am (Closed on Mondays)

36. Start your morning with local food at Pulau Tikus Morning Market

Things to do in penang - pulau tikus
Image credit:
@isaacooi via Instagram

There’s no better place to immerse yourself in the daily life and culture of Penangites other than at the Pulau Tikus Morning Market, where you’ll find a vast number of stalls selling fresh produce, food, and knick-knacks of all sorts.

Always buzzing with action and ringing with the voices of stall owners and haggling customers, the market’s festivities start indoors where the wet section is, and spill to the surrounding vicinity and road outside. Street vendors line the roads, hawking all kinds of wares including a good array of snacks, confections, and breakfast foods.

Things to do in penang - pulau tikus market
Image credit:
@wahwaheats via Instagram

With the plethora of food options available at the market, there’s no way you’ll be skipping breakfast. Popular hawker dishes here are wantan mee (RM6-7), kuey teow th’ng (RM6-7), fried oyster (RM10-15), and curry mee (RM7-8).

Make sure to drop by the Nyonya kuih stalls for some post-meal snacks too, and get yourself a bag of warm, fluffy putu mayam (RM2 for 7 pieces) that are a must try here.

Things to do in penang - pulau tikus hawker
Image adapted from:
@foodie.lle via Instagram & @thestraitsdapur via Instagram

Address: 3, Jalan Pasar, Pulau Tikus, 10350 George Town, Penang
Opening hours: 6am-2.30pm, Daily

37. Dine at a semi-automated food court, Food Bayana

Food Bayana - interior

There are many notable hawker centre serving up delicious food in Penang. One that has stands apart from the rest is Food Bayana, a semi-automated food court in Bayan Lepas.

Food Bayana - station

Like a spot from the future, it’s equipped with robot servers, phone charging stations, and utensil sanitising machines.

Food Bayana - food

As for food, have your pick from over 30 stalls in the food court, serving everything from local cuisine to Western and Japanese foods. Do note that only e-Wallet payments are accepted here – that’s part of the charm of dining in a tech-forward food court in Penang’s Silicon Valley.

AddressNo.23B, Medan Bayan Lepas, Taman Perindustrian Bayan Lepas Fasa 4 11900 Bayan Lepas, Penang
Opening hours: Mon – Sat 10am-9pm (Closed on Sundays)
Contact: Food Bayana’s Instagram

38. Go cafe-hopping to sip on locally brewed coffee

Things to do in penang - cafe
Image credit:
@psylancer via Instagram

For an island that’s bursting with charms and pleasant delights at every nook and alley of George Town, it’s no surprise that there is also an abundance of cafes on the island, besides just the amazing hawker haunts.

In fact, a good cup of joe has become an essential part of Penang’s food and cafe culture, it isn’t hard to find a decent cup of coffee in any cafe here. From sleek modern coffee houses to cosy verdant cafes, you can bet you’ll be spoiled with choices that make for the perfect place to linger over a cup of coffee.

Constant Gardener Coffee

Things to do in penang - constant gardener
Image credit:
@brewdepartment via Instagram

Constant Gardener Coffee is a long-established coffee haven that’s Housed in the Penang Chinese Chamber of Commerce Building. This cafe doesn’t just charm with its zen ambience, they impress with their range of quality drinks and stellar brews as well.

Things to do in penang - constant gardener coffee
Image credit:
@cariesty_lim_ via Instagram

Customers rave about their rich Lattes (RM13), perfectly-pulled shots of Espresso (RM8), as well as their luscious hot chocolate drinks – Dark Hot Rich Chocolate (RM14) or Gardener’s Dark Magic (RM15).

Address: Ground Floor, Penang Chinese Chamber Of Commerce Building, 9, Lebuh Light, 10200 George Town, Penang
Opening hours: 9am-8pm, Daily
Contact: 011-6078 7883 | Constant Gardener Coffee’s website | Facebook | Instagram

Ome by Spacebar Coffee

Things to do in penang - ome
Image credit:
@d_chum via Instagram

Nestled within a labyrinth of heritage houses in George Town, Ome by Spacebar Coffee is a quaint cafe with a gorgeous verdant entrance that’s hard to miss. Speciality coffees are Ome’s forte and their coffees are simple, but well-executed and brewed with great precision.

Order a cup of White Coffee (RM10) or Hand Brew Drip Coffee (RM18), and pair them with some sweets displayed on their counter including Olive Oil & Zucchini Bread (RM13) or Dark Chocolate Pistachio Cake (RM15).

Things to do in penang - ome coffee
Image credit:
@iris.nihao via Instagram

Address: 1, Lorong Toh Aka, George Town, 10100 George Town, Penang
Opening hours: Sat – Wed 7.30am-4pm (Closed on Thursdays and Fridays)
Contact: 019-690 8259 | Ome by Spacebar Coffee’s Facebook | Instagram

The Alley

Things to do in penang - the alley
Image credit:
@psylancer via Instagram

An old-school shoplot with a sign that reads Kedai Gaharu Keat Seang is actually home to an OG Penang cafe, The Alley.

With a team of professional baristas – who snagged second place in the Malaysia Brewers Cup 2022 – their brews and pulls will not disappoint coffee connoisseurs. Sample their best with Pour-overs (RM16) or Cold Brew (RM13) or try their house blends such as a Piccolo (RM10) or Cold Brew White (RM15).

Things to do in penang - alley coffee
Image adapted from:
@thealleypenang via Instagram & @jhphotography_95 via Instagram

This homely cafe isn’t just known for their coffee. They also whip up the crowd-favourite Churros (RM12), which are glorious sticks of fried fritters, dusted in sugar and Oreo crumbs and served with a dip of your choice. 

Address: 5, Stewart Lane, 10200 George Town, Penang
Opening hours: Thu-Mon 11am-6pm (Closed on Tuesdays & Wednesdays)
Contact: 017-373 4829 | The Alley Penang’s Facebook | Instagram

39. Indulge in a variety of cakes at ChinaHouse

ChinaHouse Penang - bar

Sure, Penang is brimming with heavenly hawker food and local eats at every corner of the city. But one simply cannot say no to a good serving of sweet cakes.

ChinaHouse is Penang’s longest cafe, set within three combined heritage shophouses that span between two main roads. At the centre of it is an enchanting open-air courtyard with a pond. Hip yet timeless, the cafe is essentially a restaurant that offers multifaceted experiences by housing bars, tiny shops, an art gallery, performance art spaces, and even a mini library.

ChinaHouse Penang - shop

What ChinaHouse is most known for are their enticing array of cakes and pastries displayed in a glass box, coaxing everyone who steps foot into the cafe. The cafe is full of spirit – at night especially – and it makes for a great supper spot if you’re looking for some drinks and dessert in a lively ambience.

ChinaHouse Penang - dessert

Order a nightcap from the bar and their famous Tiramisu (RM23) and Salted Caramel Cheesecake (RM20) to share, as you jam along with the live performances held on occasional nights.

Address: 153, Beach St, 10300 George Town, Penang
Opening hours: 9.30pm-1am, Daily
Contact: 04-263 7299 | China House’s website | Facebook | Instagram

40. Have a nightcap at hidden bars in Penang

Things to do in penang - bar
Beso Rosado in Penang.
Image credit:
@klfooduo via Instagram

The nightlife in Penang doesn’t only involve hawkers and mamaks. In recent years, the island has become a hub of trendy cocktail bars and swanky wine bars. 

From snazzy hole-in-the-walls and alluring, well-hidden gems, to flamboyant and quirky watering holes, Penang has a comprehensive list of bars you can opt from to have a fun night out with your pals.

If you’re in the mood for a more sophisticated affair, take your pick from this list of wine bars in Penang – be it sensual bars, snug casual ones and under-the-radar gems, rest assured that the quality is always top-notch.

Backdoor Bodega

Things to do in penang - backdoor bodega
Image credit:
@champions1984 via Instagram

In true speakeasy style, Backdoor Bodega is a bar hidden right at the back of a clothing store called The Swagger Salon. The stylish bar earned a spot on the 2022 Asia’s 100 best bars list with their exquisite cocktails and signature creations that infuse local flavours.

Things to do in penang - bodega drinks
Image adapted from:
@eelynyyl via Instagram & @eelynyyl via Instagram

You’ll find intriguing creations such as the signature Kelapa Hotak (RM38) which is a rum-based cocktail infused with the flavours of Penang like coconut, pandan or nutmeg. There’s also the Ulam Mojito (RM38) – an eclectic rum-based drink infused with local herbs such as ulam, daun kesum and kaffir leaf.

Address: Jalan Gurdwara, 10300 George Town, Penang
Opening hours: Thu-Mon 8pm-12am (Closed on Tuesdays & Wednesdays)
Contact: Backdoor Bodega’s website | Facebook | Instagram

Over & Above

Things to do in penang - overabove
Image credit:
@aintnxheart via Instagram

Over & Above is a contemporary Japanese cafe during the day that transforms into a trendy watering hole when dusk falls. Bright and spacious, the bar is minimalist-themed with a stunning view that overlooks the stunning view of jetties and seas of the island.

Things to do in penang - overabove drinks
Image credit:
@overandabovemy via Instagram 

On their booze menu, you’ll find original and classic alcoholic beverages as well as speciality cocktails that serve 2-3 pax. Gather your friends for some drinks here – there’s Kyoto Tripper (RM98) served in a gorgeous dainty Japanese tea set, Pearl of The Orient (RM98) and Sugar Daddy (RM98).

Address: 3, Pengkalan Weld, 10300 George Town, Penang
Opening hours: Wed-Mon 11am-2am (Closed on Tuesdays)
Contact: 017-429 1964 | Over & Above’s Instagram

Good Friends Club

Things to do in penang - goodfriends
Image credit:
@goodfriendsclubpg via Instagram 

Nothing is more apt than having a hidden bar disguised as a Chinese kopitiam in the hawker haven itself. To spot the Good Friends Club, simply look out for a neon signage that spells “Good Friends Never Bojio”, which means a close pal would never not invite the uninitiated.

Things to do in penang - goodfriends drinks
Image credit:
@kitoki via Instagram 

In true kopitiam fashion, find drinks such as Kopi C-Peng (RM30), Milo Peng O Kao (RM35) and Lao Hao Peng Kao (RM35) on their menu, which are actually concoctions of local drinks infused with alcohol that are served in traditional ceramic cups. Other quirky innovations include Penang-Cillin (RM35) and Leng Chai (RM40).

Address: 39, Jalan Gurdwara, 10300 George Town, Penang
Opening hours: 8pm-2am, Daily
Contact: 010-550 1204 | Good Friends Club’s Facebook | Instagram

The best things to do in Penang

From devouring hawker food to participating in adrenaline-fueled activities, Penang offers an excitable array of things to do – you’ll never feel bored on this island. With food as feisty as the people, this island will have you coming back for more, time and time again.

Cover image adapted from: @yayingz via Instagram, @nigel_photoz via Instagram, Cheong Fatt Tze, The Blue Mansion via Facebook, @marwa.alshamii via Instagram, @ieatliau via Instagram, TheSmartLocal Singapore, @vanissakaris via Instagram, @heartpatrick via Instagram

This article was originally published on 25th October 2022, and updated on 14th June 2024.