Planning an itinerary for Penang can be exciting and overwhelming at the same time. There are so many things to do in the Pearl Of The Orient: the food, heritage sites, beach, jungle – there is indeed much to explore!
It is incredible how a relatively tiny island can fit countless unique places to visit. Regardless of whether you’re an adrenaline junkie, a gastronome, a history fan… Penang has something in store for you.
But what should you do first upon arriving in Penang? Where should you go or what should you eat for dinner? If you’re feeling a little overwhelmed by all these questions, fret not; this 3-day Penang trip itinerary is here to save the day!
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At a glance, this article will cover:
- 19 Best Places To Visit In Penang At Night: A Comprehensive Guide
- Penang Attractions For Kids: Your Ultimate Guide
- Where To Stay Penang In Penang: A Comprehensive Guide
- Hiking Penang Hill: Your Complete Guide
- 23 High Tea In Penang Spots In 2022
- 21 Breakfast in Melaka Spots You Must Try In 2022
- 17 Seafood In Melaka Restaurants (Delicious And Affordable!) 2022
- Malaysia Itinerary 3-Weeks: Secret Tips From A Local!
3-Day Itinerary For Penang
Day 1: Georgetown, Penang
The moment you land in Penang, exploring the island’s capital city Georgetown, has to be at the top of your list.
As one of the world’s UNESCO Heritage Sites, Georgetown is a melting pot of Malay, Chinese, Indian, and British architectural styles. Georgetown offers some of the best restaurants in Penang, famous tourist attractions, and many other activities.
The city’s charm is undeniable, thanks to its multiculturalism, primarily reflected through houses of worship and some of the best food in Penang.
You don’t even have to worry about getting around because Georgetown is pedestrian-friendly. Although best explored on foot, you can always hop on colorful trishaws and stop anywhere between chic cafes and art-filled streets.
- Have Breakfast At Bee Hwa Cafe
There’s no better way to kickstart your day than having breakfast Penangite style. Stepping into Bee Hwa Cafe, you can feel the Malaysian 90s vibe. The old-school style Kopitiam serves more than 20 dishes on the menu. Although they serve authentic Chinese food, the cafe is Muslim-friendly.
Speaking of what to order, I don’t know where to start! But the curry mee and prawn mee are a must-try. If you prefer something lighter, toast and butter is an excellent choice too.
Location: 10, Lebuh Dickens, 10050, Georgetown, Penang.
- Capture Moments At Art Streets Penang
As you stroll along some of the streets around Georgetown, you’ll come across various mural street art pieces that are big and small, namely, ‘Little Girl In Blue’, ‘Children in a Boat’, ‘Boy on a Bike’, ‘Little Boy with Pet Dinosaur’, ‘Reaching Up’, ‘Little Children on a Bicycle’, ‘The Awaiting Trishaw Paddler’ and ‘101 Lost Kittens’.
These thriving tourist attractions in Penang depict the rich history of Georgetown streets. Apart from Lithuanian artist Ernest Zacharevic, local artists such as Desmond Yeo and other muralists from Artists For Stray Animals (ASA) are also responsible for translating the rich history of Georgetown streets via mural art.
Location: Jalan Penang, Muntri Street, Weld Quay, Lebuh Leith, Armenian Street, Ah Quee Street, and more.
- Explore The Picturesque Places Of Worship
In Georgetown, you’ll see Muslim, Buddhist, Christian, and Hindu places of worship located side by side. It speaks volumes about Penang’s multiculturalism and harmonious lifestyle.
The architecture and enchanting history behind these beautiful buildings are reasons tourists flock to Penang every year. The best part is, you can travel from one of these places to another on foot! Here’s a list of houses of worship you should visit:
Location: Junction of Lebuh Buckingham and Lebuh Pitt
- Built in 1810
- Indo-Moorish design
- Looks magnificent at sunset
Remarks: Non-Muslims are welcomed at all times except during prayers. Being decently dressed is a must before entering the mosque but you can borrow a robe/headscarf if you’re not fully covered
Location: Lebuh Acheh
- Built in 1808
- Unique Egyptian-style minaret making it stand out from other mosques
Location: Lebuh Farquhar
- Founded in 1786 by Sir Francis Light
- The first church in Malaysia built by the British
- Houses the only pipe organ in Penang
Location: Chukia Street
- Built in 1869
- The only Teochew-style temple in Georgetown
- Built with many intricate sculptures
- Bagged the UNESCO Asia-Pacific Heritage Award for Culture Heritage Conservation in 2006
Location: Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling (Masjid Kapitan Keling Street)
- Built in 1728
- Penang’s oldest temple
- Features classic Chinese architecture
Location: Jalan Kebun Bunga (Kebun Bunga Street)
- Built in 1854 in the chokkattan style (a layout similar to a plus sign)
- Penang’s largest and most famous Hindu temple
- Mostly made of Burmese teak
- Hundreds of religious paintings hanging on the walls
Location: Between Lebuh Pasar and Lebuh Chulia.
- Built in 1833
- The oldest Hindu temple on the island
- Detailing includes shining diamonds and precious stones
- A typical example of Hindu architecture
- Houses over 40 statues of deities and lions
Location: Lebuh Farquhar.
- Built in 1817
- Southeast Asia’s oldest Anglican church
- Greek-styled architecture, and design
- Houses Sir Francis Light’s memorial in a Greek temple form
- Visit The Clan Jetties
Penang’s Clan Jetties are one of the most compelling attractions in Georgetown. It’s a quaint water village made up of wooden houses built atop the water on stilts.
An old Chinese settlement over a century old, The Clan Jetties houses various Chinese clans where initially, there were seven jetties, but one was destroyed in a fire. The most tourist-friendly jetty is the Chew Jetty, which bears the most stilt houses, the furthest walkway, and a temple that’s worth a visit.
The place might be touristy, but it’s still a residential area. So, it’d be best to keep your noise to a minimum level and respect the “no photography” signs.
Location: Weld Quay
- Experience British Empire At Fort Cornwallis
Located on Penang’s north-eastern coast, Fort Cornwallis is reachable from the Clan Jetties in about a 20-min walk. The star-shaped bastion is Malaysia’s largest remaining British fort. It will take around 10 minutes to stroll along Fort Cornwallis’ perimeters.
You’ll hear the 1812 Overture playing through a speaker while looking at a Malaysian man clad in full British regalia – it’s a bizarre experience! If hunger strikes, get some midday snacks from a nearby famous food court, Padang Kota Lama Food Court.
Location: Lebuh Light.
- Strike A Pose At Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion
Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion, fondly known as the ‘Blue Mansion’, was once owned by Chinese tycoon Cheong Fatt Tze. Today, it’s a beautiful museum showcasing the architectural style preferred by the Peranakan (wealthy Straits Chinese of the 19th century).
The award-winning historical building also operates as a boutique hotel called The Blue Mansion by Samadhi Penang.
Location: 14, Leith Street, 10200, Georgetown, Penang
- Eat Cake At China House
Walking into this place will make you feel like you’re the coolest person ever. Well, at least that’s how I feel! The trendy cake house/cafe/restaurant/art space is a place you cannot miss if you’re in Penang.
China House’s interior is attractive. They occupy three heritage houses with an upper floor, and the space is long and narrow. Heck, it’s so long to the extent that they have to open two entrances.
Writing about the eclectic, artsy vibe of China House will require more than one page, so you have to experience it yourself!
Location: 153 & 155 Beach Street/183B Victoria Street, Georgetown, Penang
- Have Dinner At Love Lane
While you stroll along Love Lane, stop by at Wheeler’s Cafe for dinner. They serve great coffee and generous portions of delicious food at a reasonable price. If you’re unsure what to order, go for their signature dish – the Espresso chicken or double cheeseburger!
Location: 67, Lorong Love, 10200, Georgetown, Penang
Day 2: Penang Hill and Kek Lok Si Buddhist Temple
After a full day of exploring the city, you deserve to get away for a breath of fresh air. For this adventure, wear comfortable walking shoes, bring plenty of water, and a half-full tummy!
- Getting To The Top Of Penang Hill
Getting up to Penang Hill depends on your energy level and appetite. There are two ways to get there:
- Take the funicular train which will bring you directly to the top.
- Hike all the way up! (Recommended)
The funicular train (Penang Hill Railway):
- The ticket price (to and fro) for foreigners is $7.11.
- Take Rapid Penang bus 204 to the Penang Hill Lower Station where you can purchase your tickets.
Hike All The Way Up!
Hiking is the best way to get to the top of Penang Hill. The breathtaking view as you hike up, the rare orchids, or the animals you’ll bump into are worth the muscle pain. I promise!
Although the trails are obvious, mind you, it’s not an easy hike as the tracks go all the way up to the highest point (833 m above sea level). But fret not; there are plenty of rest stops along the way.
- Soak in panoramic views over the island from SkyWalk, the highest viewing point in the city.
- Go on Nature Walks to explore stunning views of the nature reserves and colonial-style bungalows.
- Have ais kacang (a generous amount of fresh fruits and pearls atop shaved ice, finished with a scoop of ice cream).
- Be Amazed By Kek Lok Si Temple
Once you’ve had your share of Penang Hill, head over to Air Itam to admire the magnificent Kek Lok Si Buddhist Temple.
The largest Buddhist temple complex in Malaysia, Kek Lok Si, offers a fascinating sight of 10,000 Buddhas Pagoda. If hiking Penang Hill wasn’t enough, you can do more by climbing up to the highest levels of the temple where a humongous 35.6 meter high Kuan Yin (the Goddess of Mercy) statue awaits.
Besides being the religious center point for the massive Penang Chinese community, the temple is also the central hub for festivals and celebrations.
- Have Dinner At Gurney Drive Hawker Center
The Gurney Drive Hawker Center is definitely one of Penang’s crowd pullers. Savor more of Penang’s local dishes such as curry laksa, pasembor (Malaysian-Indian salad), satay (skewers), char kway teow (stir-fried noodles), and many more.
Day 3: Penang National Park And Batu Ferringhi
Your third day in Penang should be saved for exploring the Penang National Park. If you’re an adventure seeker, a trip to Penang means you can’t miss this activity. Make sure you have a bottle of water and sunblock ready!
Hiking to Monkey Beach is quite challenging, no thanks to humidity and the scorching hot sun. To make life easier, you can opt for a 20-minute boat ride from the park entrance to take you to Monkey Beach. Fun fact: the beach got its name for a reason. You better watch out for those handsy furry friends!
If you think Penang has nothing to shout about its beaches, Kerachut Beach will prove you wrong. Deemed Penang’s most pristine beach, Kerachut is also a favorite nesting spot for turtles.
And that explains the existence of a turtle sanctuary and a research center that is committed to these enchanting creatures. The center is open to the public all year round.
- Practice Your Bargaining Skill At Batu Ferringhi Night Market
On your way back to Georgetown, stop at Batu Ferringhi to enjoy the night breeze. You can also shop for souvenirs at the night market. You can find various items sold at the market, including handbags, t-shirts, arts and crafts, and the list goes on.
The beautiful beach and glorious coastline are just some of the reasons you’ll find most of Penang’s luxury resorts here. Don’t miss watching the sunset on the beach while gobbling down Penang’s street food from the night market.
Very well, that should cover your Penang itinerary for 3 days. If you prefer to have a Penang itinerary for 2 days instead, you can combine Day 2 and Day 3 for a full-on outdoor experience!
Where To Stay In Penang
Staying in Georgetown is a sure way to experience Penang at its best. You don’t need to rent a car, let alone drive, and almost everywhere in Georgetown is walkable. But of course, you can always explore the town with a trishaw or book a Grab car.
- Le Dream Boutique Hotel – from $66 per night.
- Museum Hotel – from $64 per night.
- Areca Hotel – from $56 per night.
- Modern Hotel Georgetown – from $42 per night.
- Lang Hoose – from $36 per night.
- Neo+ Penang – from $34 per night.
- Summer Tree Hotel – from $33 per night.
- Armenian Street Heritage Hotel – from $30 per night.
- Ink Hotel – from $24 per night.
How Many Days In Penang Is Enough
Although it depends on your time and budget, traveling around Penang is doable in at least three days.
However, Penang has this magic that could charm anyone who steps foot in it. Some of its nooks and crannies will make you a returning traveler. So, use this 3-day Penang itinerary to begin your adventure.
What Is The Best Month To Visit Penang
The state welcomes you all year round but the best time to visit Penang is from November to January.
That being said, Penang, like the rest of Malaysia is a mixed bag of rain and sunshine. There are elaborate Christmas and New Year’s Eve celebrations so those are the loveliest times of the year to visit!
Is It Expensive To Visit Penang?
It’s not expensive to visit Penang if you follow this 3-day Penang itinerary. A maximum of $50 should suffice for a day’s expenses.
If you plan to stay longer, a one-week trip typically costs around $650 (MYR2721 for one person) only. Ultimately, you can still get the best of Penang with a limited budget.
- Budget trip – allocate $35 to $45 per day.
- Comfortable trip – allocate $50 to $70 per day.
- Luxury trip – between $80 to $100 per day.
Let’s see the breakdown of how much money one can possibly spend in Penang.
- Hawker center food: Between $1.50 to $3 per meal.
- Dinner: Between $2.50 to $7.50.
- Fancy restaurants: Between $15 to $30 per meal.
- Hotels/Airbnb: Between $30 to $80 per night.
- Hostels/dorms: Between $13 to $27 per night.
- Grabcar: Between $2 to 4 for most trips within Georgetown. $7 to get to Georgetown from Penang International Airport.
- Bus: $0.40 to $1 per ride even for long-distance trips.
- SIM card: $9 for seven days.
No doubt, there are other unmentioned off-the-beaten tracks and hidden gems, but this 3-day itinerary for Penang is here to guide you. Every place listed in this article is a must-visit for first-time Penang travelers.
If you want to soak in this ‘chillax’ realm thoroughly, try waking up early, say 6.00 am, to jog around Georgetown. You’ll be dazzled by Penang’s old-world charm, reflected through the early risers among hawker stall operators, how they are happy living life by sticking to the more straightforward and familiar way of doing things.
With that being said, 3 days in Penang might not be enough but you’re always welcome to extend your stay.
So, have you packed your bags yet?