If you are planning a trip to Penang, then you absolutely must make time for the many Penang hidden gems scattered all over this beautiful island.
Penang is a favorite destination among locals and tourists. In fact, if you are visiting Malaysia, you could very well spend your entire time in George Town with all there is to do.
Penang is the heart of Malaysia’s food culture. Immerse yourself in the relaxed atmosphere, the art, and the community. You may not want to leave!
Are you ready to explore the hidden gems in Penang? Let’s get started!
15 Penang Hidden Gems
- Find Famous Street Art
- Explore China House
- Chulia Street Night Market
- Penang Outdoor Food Courts
- A 15-20 Minute Hiking Penang Hill
- Hidden Bar Scattered Across Penang
- Penang Avatar Secret Garden
- Relaxing At Penang Botanic Gardens
- Trip To Clan Jetties
- Visiting Kek Lok Si Temple
- Shop For Food And Souvenirs At ChowRasta Market
- Camping At Monkey Beach
- Take A Trishaw Ride
- High Ropes Activity At Escape Theme Park
- Eating At Nasi Kandar At Deens Maju Nasi Kandar
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- Need safe and reliable transport to your accomodation? Book a private transfer here
- Feast your senses on the sights and smells of George Town on a half-day culinary tour, ideal for food lovers with limited time in Penang
- Or you can eat like a local, feel like a local with this street food tour
- You can escape to the countryside of Penang without the risk of getting lost on the way out of George Town on this action-packed half-day cycling tour
- Or you can avoid canned tours with itineraries that are set in stone with this customizable highlights tour of Penang. You can pick 7 attractions of your choice!
The Find Famous Street Art project was done to raise awareness of the streets’ rich history. In 2012, Ernest Zacharevic, a London-trained Lithuanian artist transformed certain areas into thriving tourist destinations.
In order to make strolling through Georgetown’s streets a little more exciting, Penang’s municipal council hired and charged Zacharevic with bringing new life to some of the atmospheric Chinese shop-houses around the inner city.
Below are some of the murals drawn by Ernest Zacharevic:
- Little Children On A Bicycle
- Boy On A Bike
- Little Boy With Pet Dinosaur
- Boy On A Chair
- Little Girl In Blue
- Children On A Swing
- Basketball Game
- The Real Bruce Lee Would Never Do That
- Cat In Blue Window
- Cats And Humans Happily Living Together
China House is located between Beach Street (Lebuh Pantai) and Victoria Street (Lebuh Victoria). It is Penang’s largest cafe, measuring approximately 400 feet (120 meters) from end to end. It has three adjoining buildings connected by a central courtyard.
China House is divided into 14 sections, meticulously designed to exude grace and elegance. Because of its vastness of size, it may take you nearly 2 minutes to get from one end to the other!
Kopi C is the most popular restaurant at China House. This Australian-style cafe is open all day and serves locally inspired dishes that appeal to both locals and tourists. It is open from 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Kopi C serves Western breakfast, salads, and sandwiches for lunch and simple, fast entrees for dinner.
Chulia Street is one of George Town’s oldest and liveliest streets – perfect for a night out. The Chulia Street Night Market is a collection of food stalls that have set up shop on George Town’s street-side every day around 6 p.m. It is a cheap place to eat in the evening and is popular with locals and visitors to Penang.
You will find a variety of food here and it is a perfect central location if you want to try a little bit of everything that Penang has to offer.
Penang Outdoor Food Courts are restaurant quality based solely on their longevity. More than half of the restaurants at this location are hidden food gems in Penang. Food courts are generally considered among the best places to eat in Malaysia because of the sheer variety that they offer.
Most of these Penang street food stalls have been serving their signature dishes for over thirty years, and some have been doing it for much longer.
Because they have mastered the dish, you can rest assured that the high quality and consistency are maintained.
Some of the popular food courts where you can begin your gastronomic adventures are:
- The Jetty Food Court
- Mount Erskine Open Air Night Food Court
- Esplanade Park Food Court
- Komtar Food Court
- New World Park Food City
The trek entirely is paved, and as such, you will be fairly comfortable getting on your bicycle and cycling the whole way. That being said, walking is truly the best way to enjoy this!
The views from the top are spectacular, stretching from Kek Lok Si Temple to George Town and across the Straits of Malacca to Bukit Mertajam and Kedah state.
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There are plenty of hidden bars or speakeasies that are scattered all over Penang – they are quite literally hidden gems!
These bars generally serve delicious food, a variety of drinks, and some even have live music. It is definitely something you want to do on a relaxing night out in Penang.
Make sure you know the secret passwords before trying to get in!
It comes to life as soon as the sun goes down. The tree towers over a life-sized checkerboard, and there are stairs and a wooden boardwalk for a quick circuit around the tree and back down.
You are bound to stand before it and feel completely lost and mesmerized by its beauty. Indeed a wonderful way to wind down after a long day of Penang adventures.
The Penang Botanic Gardens was founded in 1794 and it is located at the foot of Penang Hill. This beautiful space is just a short 10-minute drive from the city center, allowing for a quick getaway from the noise and chaos of the city.
It is a great place to go for walks and see some of the region’s and the world’s most diverse flowers and trees. This park is also generally considered to be the Penang national park.
A circular paved road around the gardens is a popular jogging path for local fitness enthusiasts.
The gardens also lead to you to Station 46, a popular rest stop for hikers and for those who want to experience being in a forest. It is a strenuous climb that will leave you drenched in sweat, but the views are worth it.
Another gem in the list of Penang hidden places, the Clan Jetties is the ancestral home of the immigrant Chinese workers during Malaya’s colonial era. Try to make your trip here during off-peak hours or weekend holidays as it is usually jam-packed with visitors.
That being said, this scenic space is an excellent opportunity to understand how life was in old Penang.
According to legend, the Clan Jetties, each named after a famous Chinese surname such as Tan, Chew, or Lee, was built to avoid paying a land tax imposed by the British colonial rulers. These large wooden houses are built on stilts above the water and at the time, houses like these were not subject to land tax.
There are also plenty of stalls here where you can purchase meaningful souvenirs and stop for a rest and have a wholesome meal.
The Kek Lok Si Temple is one the largest Buddhist temple in Malaysia and one of the largest in Southeast Asia.
Every year, before the Chinese New Year celebrations, this temple is decorated with hundreds of beautiful red lanterns and colorful LED lights, making a visit there a visually stunning experience indeed!
ChowRasta Market was founded in 1890 within the South Indian immigrant settlement area. The market’s name translates to “four crossroads” in Urdu.
ChowRasta is now Penang’s most prominent and greenest market because it is now the cleanest with good ventilation and certainly more spacious thanks to a few upgrades over the years to make the space more easily accessible.
Chowrasta Market is a vibrant gathering of residents conducting their daily shopping for fresh fruit and inexpensive and cheerful home items and clothing. It’s a great place to people-watch and buy local goods like tau sar piah (bean-paste biscuits), preserved nutmegs and pickled fruits at a much cheaper price than other tourist attractions.
The second-hand bookshops there, which has a collection of used books stacked to the ceiling, is a must-see if you are an avid book lover!
Monkey Beach is one of Penang’s most popular beaches located in the beautiful Penang National Park. It gets its name from the macaque population that lives in the forest behind the crescent of sand and this is definitely one of the Penang hidden places to make a trip to.
Swimming technically was not permitted throughout Penang around the year 2017-2019 due to the box jellyfish hazard which can be fatal. But today there are no such threats and usually, you can take a quick refreshing dip at Monkey Beach.
Trishaw Rides were the primary mode of transportation in old Penang, and the more or less 200 or so remaining trishaw drivers are an actual living heritage.
Admittedly, it’s a bit touristy, but sitting for a half hour or more as the lovely trishaw driver cycles you around town, often dishing out insider secrets only street-savvy men like himself know, is a delightful Penang experience.
We recommend booking your trishaw ride in advance online through Get Your Guide to ensure that you get a fair price and a trishaw at the best time for your holiday.
Try and schedule a ride just before sunset, starting at 6.30 p.m. as this is a perfect time to see George Town switch gears into its famous nightlife!
Escape Theme Park in Teluk Bahang is ideal for a full day of adrenaline-pumping activities. It has a lovely set of ziplines nestled in a patch of rainforest for maximum play value.
Climbing platforms and swinging across some of Teluk Bahang’s most pristine canopy can be enjoyed by both children and adults. Escape also has a newer park – Escape Adventure play – whic is a great alternative to the beach, complete with water slides and other fun water activities.
In addition, the park has the world’s longest mat waterslide, which is 1,111 meters long and lasts three minutes. Adrenaline junkies might be interested to know that this waterslide is suspended among the trees!
It opens from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m Tuesday through Sunday and is closed on Mondays for maintenance.
There are several ticket categories and online discounts available, with prices starting at RM 97.
Deens Maju Nasi Kandar is the go-to restaurant for one of Penang’s many signature dishes.
This is a rice based dish that you can adorn with various accompaniments such as as beef, chicken, squid, and fish cooked in a variety of curry sauces.
It has a pleasant flavour and the spices in the fried chicken were well-seasoned. The curry flavours will certainly ignite your taste buds.
What Are The Unique Places In Penang To Visit?
Penang is a treasure trove of heritage buildings, charming streets, religious sites, and more. Penang has embraced modernity while maintaining its colonial traditions. These are just some of the factors that make Penang a unique place to visit all year round.
Some of the unique places in Penang to visit while you’re there include:
- The Habitat Penang Hill
- Clan Jetties, George Town
- Entopia by Penang Butterfly Farm
- Historical Streets of George Town
- Fort Cornwallis
- Penang War Museum, Bukit Batu Maung
- Batu Ferringhi Night Market
What Are The Best Times To Visit Penang?
Penang is best visited between November and the end of January with rainfall is generally expected to be light, and temperatures will be more relaxed than the rest of the year.
During February and April, the weather is hot and humid both during the day and at night. However, you will have a good run of dry days and blue skies, making it a great time to visit if you can bear the heat.
Monsoon rain falls from May to November, but it only lasts a few hours and the weather becomes relatively more comfortable for the rest of the day. Moreover, because there are fewer visitors at this time of year, sightseeing is more enjoyable.
Penang Hidden Gems: Where To Stay In Penang?
Penang is also regarded as one of the best places in the world to stay, thanks to its tropical climate, low cost of living, high standard of health care, and welcoming immigration laws. There are luxurious, mid-ranged and budgeted hotels where you can stay during your visit to Penang.
Let’s take a look at some hotels for every budget:
5 Star Hotels in Bukit Mertajam
Mid-Range Hotels in Penang
Budget Hotels in Bukit Mertajam
Penang Hidden Gems: Where To Eat In Penang?
Meals in Penang are generally affordable, depending on where you choose to have them and the kind of meals you are looking to have.
Hawker food is generally cheaper than those at proper restaurants. And what is an adventure in Penang if you’re not having their famous hawker food for every meal of your day!
Some of the must-try foods in Penang include:
- Curry Mee
- Nasi Kerabu
- Classic Combination (Kaya + Toast + Half-Boiled Egg + Coffee)
- Yong Tow Foo
- Noodle Soup
- Penang Laksa
- Penang Char Kuey Teow
- Yau Char Kwai
- Big Breakfast Western Style
- Stir-fried Noodles (Chinese & Malay Style)
Tips For Planning A Trip To Penang
Planning a trip to Penang on a weekend getaway destination and looking for delicious food, stunning murals, and a lovely old-town atmosphere is simply so rewarding. It is because Penang is so adventurous and it welcomes you unconditionally.
Here are some things to bring with you when planning an adventurous trip to Penang.
Penang hidden gems are undeniably diverse, which is why many tourists, locals flock here. Thes hidden gems are definitely going to be worth your while.
Anyone who visits Penang will undoubtedly return with fond memories.
Finding hidden gems in Penang is akin to a collection of priceless micro-stories about the people and places that weave the fabric of modern-day Penang.
So go ahead and pick your colors and make your own tapestry of memories in Penang!
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