Photo: Just eat.

Things to see and do

Use the quick links below to jump to a particular section of our sights and activities coverage for Penang.

Temples


Han Jiang Teochew Ancestral Temple
Lebuh Chulia, Georgetown

Originally known as Teochew Kongsi, the Han Jiang Teochew Ancestral Temple dates back to 1870 and has seen several restoration projects, one in 1936 then again in the 1980s. The most recent one, costing 1.5m ringgit, won a UNESCO Cultural Heritage Conservation award. The immaculately restored temple actually looks new and it appears unused for worship. Information about the site's history and ... Read more about Han Jiang Teochew Ancestral Temple .

Khoo Kongsi
Cannon Square, Georgetown

This clan house is the pride of Penang. In 2000, 4.2 million ringgit was spent on a restoration project and today it sits resplendent with its gold leaf and tile shard work. The original building was truly opulent and took some eight years to build. It was made from wood and just three weeks after completion in 1906 it burnt down. Superstitions abound that the clan house burned due to jealousy ... Read more about Khoo Kongsi .

Goddess of Mercy Temple
Corner of Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling and Lorong Stewart

As one of Penang’s oldest and most celebrated buildings, the Goddess of Mercy Temple is also one of the island’s most historically revealing. It was the Brits, of course, who laid claim to having ‘discovered’ Penang when Captain Francis Light founded Georgetown on behalf of the East India Company in 1796, but the reality is very different and this iconic temple is living proof that the ... Read more about Goddess of Mercy Temple .

Hock Tiek Cheng Sin Kongsi
Lebuh Armenian, Georgetown

This beautiful clan temple was built in 1892 in honour of the god of prosperity and the devotees are nearly all seeking good or better business. This kongsi operates under the supervision of the Penang Chinese trader association and, while tiny compared to the Khoo clan temple, the atmosphere certainly isn't lacking. The temple has been immaculately restored and has information for visitors on ... Read more about Hock Tiek Cheng Sin Kongsi .

Hainanese Temple
93 Lebuh Muntri, Georgetown
T: (04) 262 0202

Spend any amount of time in Penang, and you will discover that the island’s Chinese heritage is as diverse as it is fascinating. During the 19th century, dialect groups from across southern China converged here, each community bringing its own traditions, language and cuisine to add to Georgetown’s melting pot. The Hainanese Temple on Muntri Street represents the spiritual centre for one of ... Read more about Hainanese Temple .

Cheah Si Hock Haw Kong Kongsi
Lebuh Armenian, Georgetown

It's a mouthful of a name, but the Cheah Si Hock Haw Kong Kongsi (most refer to it as Cheah Kongsi) on Lebuh Armenian enjoys a very active clan association, which was originally formed in 1820. This makes it the oldest of the Straits Chinese clan associations. Once you pass its red painted cobblestone walkway, the kongsi opens up into a small garden. Find the small entrance to the main temple ... Read more about Cheah Si Hock Haw Kong Kongsi .

Ciji Temple
Lebuh Armenian, Georgetown

Located beside the Yap Kongsi and across the road from the Hock Tiek Cheng Sin Kongsi means you'll struggle for an excuse not to pop in here. Built in 1924, it's a Taoist temple and in good ... Read more about Ciji Temple .

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This Buddhist temple is the largest in Malaysia and sprawls up the hill dominating the town of Air Itam. To access the complex you have to weave your way through an ascending corridor of souvenir shops, after which you'll arrive at Liberation Pond, where you can pay 2 ringgit to feed the turtles living in the ironically named (for them) pond. Following the steps up you will reach the temple ... Read more about Kek Lok Si .

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Lorong Burma, Georgetown

These two temples on Lorong Burma lie across the street from each other. The lane and Burmese temple date back to the early 19th century when there was a Burmese village in the area. Wat Chaiya Mangalaram is a Thai temple, constructed much later, with a 33-metre reclining Buddha inside, one of Asia's longest. The workmanship on the pink lotus floor tiles is just as stunning here as on the ... Read more about Dhammakarama Burmese Temple and Wat Chaiya Mangalaram Temple .

Sri Maha Mariamman Temple
Masjid Kapital Keling, Georgetown

This Hindu temple is beautifully ornate and intricately decorated. The temple remains in use today, but is quiet. It is worth taking your shoes off to go and wander around the colourful walls and sculptures. There is no visitor information at all but the temple is South Indian style and was built in 1833, making it the oldest Hindu temple in ... Read more about Sri Maha Mariamman Temple .

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On first entering the incense-heavy interior of this recently restored heritage temple, you would be forgiven for suspecting the whole snake thing was dreamed up to get a handful of extra oglers through the ... Read more about Snake Temple (Hock Kin Keong) .

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Museums


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Universiti Sains Malaysia, Penang
T: (04) 653 3888 ext. 3261 and 3294

Penang is better known for its street food, local crafts and clan houses than for its contemporary art scene. However, if you are thirsting after a blast of modern then a little-known gallery and museum that deserves a lot more attention is yours for the taking. Set among the pleasant, rolling hills of the USM University campus, the Muzium and Galeri Tuanku Fauziah’s collection is housed in an ... Read more about Muzium and Galeri Tuanku Fauziah .

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Lebuh Faruquar, Georgetown

This quiet museum is housed in a white building opposite another set of white buildings belonging to the Penang Magistrate's Court. It's a great escape from the heat and hustle and bustle of Penang and will give you an excellent overview of the sights, culture and rich history of the island. Set over two floors are displays of traditional Chinese furniture alongside opium pipes and beds ... Read more about Penang State Museum .

The Camera Museum
49 Lebuh Muntri, Georgetown
T: (04) 261 3649

On the wall by the Muntri Street main entrance for The Camera Museum you will find printed: “Short cut to Chulia Street”. A cunning ploy, for who could possibly edge around the huge replica of a vintage camera straddling the entrance or cross the industrial-style gallery space hung with international or local photographer’s works; or sail past the striking mural of crouching ... Read more about The Camera Museum .

Pinaon Time Tunnel
39 Jalan Green Hall, Georgetown
T: (04) 261 9181

For a settlement that has existed less than 250 years, Penang has had its fair share of drama and its story is far more interesting than you might believe. Did you know, for example, that in the early 19th century the island’s predominant population was not Chinese, but Indian? Or that the now-tranquil Georgetown was once hit by 10 days of riots, when muskets and cannons were fired across the ... Read more about Pinaon Time Tunnel .

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3 Pengkalan Weld, Georgetown
T: (04) 262 6119

As one of Penang’s newest museums, opening at the end of 2013, this interactive, multi-media extravaganza urges you to “Rediscover Penang” and has the punters flowing in the front entrance. But does it merit the hype and more importantly, the 30 ringgit ticket ... Read more about Made in Penang Interactive Museum .

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Southern tip of Penang

The museum lies on top of the hill on the site of a British coastal defence against the Japanese. Built in the 1930s, it's comprised of underground military tunnels that used to house intelligence and logistics as well as POWs and possible torture sites. The complex was largely forgotten by everyone other than the kids who used to play in the tunnels before the museum was built. The grounds are ... Read more about War Museum .

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Interesting buildings


The changing face of Georgetown

The old traveller mantra, ‘Go and see it before it gets spoiled!’ has been used so many times that it’s almost become a cliche. Unfortunately, like all the best (or worst) cliches, it is also enduringly true and for some places it is already too late. Happily, though, Southeast Asia remains home to some places that have not, as yet, been affected too badly by the relentless march of the ... Read more about The changing face of Georgetown .

Fort Cornwallis
Jalan Padang Kota Lama, Georgetown
T: (04) 262 0202

Despite its history, Fort Cornwallis is curiously devoid of any belligerence and might indeed qualify as one of the most peaceful, breeziest spots in all Penang. Its lawns are green; its wide ramparts undulate, dotted with benches, and planted with sweet smelling ... Read more about Fort Cornwallis .

Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion
14 Lebuh Leith, Georgetown

Beyond the 21st century muddle of cars, garish signs and ugly expanses of tarmac and concrete, the houses along Lebuh Leith still conceal the ghosts of a bygone era, when Penang’s Chinese elite lived out their lives of luxury among the shady tropical gardens that once existed here. Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion, otherwise known as the Blue Mansion, has retained every inch of its original glory, and ... Read more about Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion .

Peranakan Mansion
29 Lebuh Gereja (Church Street), Georgetown
T: (04) 264 2929

Many cultures and traditions have shaped the development of Georgetown, but one of the most remarkable is that of the 19th and early 20th-century Peranakan Chinese, whose affluent and opulent lifestyles are celebrated at the Peranakan ... Read more about Peranakan Mansion .

Suffolk House
Jalan Air Itam, Penang
T: (04) 228 1109

The architecture of heritage Penang is so dominated by Chinese temples and shophouses that it is sometimes easy to overlook the British influences on the island. Most aspects of colonialism are, no doubt, best resigned to the past, but some of the buildings that the British left behind are worthy of praise. Suffolk House is one such example, where you can get a real feel for the British colonial ... Read more about Suffolk House .

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Lebuh Farquhar, Georgetown

If you are close by, it's worth taking a few minutes to marvel at this restored bit of history. The hotel was owned and operated by the Sarkies brothers, who were also responsible for Raffles in Singapore. Originally built in 1884, the hotel attracted the rich and famous and you can see their photographs displayed in period cabinets around the lobby. Rita Heyworth, Karl May, Orson Wells, ... Read more about Eastern & Oriental Hotel .

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Lebuh Armenian, Georgetown

Originally belonging to Syed Mohamad Alatas, a spice trader and the leader of the Acheen Street Mosque community during the Penang riots of 1867, it's believed this house was used as a base for the Acehnese leaders during their war against the Dutch. It's speculated that Syed Mohamad Alatas provided arms too. The mansion was restored in 1994 and has been converted into the Penang Islamic Museum. ... Read more about Syed Alatas Mansion .

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Natural attractions


The best views in Penang

There’s no denying that Penang is a photogenic island, and whether it’s urban perspectives, pastoral panoramas or seducing seascapes that float your camera lens’ boat, plenty of great vistas are to be found. Here are some of our favourite places from which to view ... Read more about The best views in Penang .

Penang National Park
Jalan Hassan Abbas 11050 Teluk Bahang
T: (04) 881 3530 or (04) 881 3500

As one of the Malaysia’s most popular tourist destinations, Penang lays claim to a number of ‘best-in-the-country’ accolades, including tastiest food, most beautiful clan houses and largest Buddhist temple. It also boasts Malaysia’s smallest national park, and although that may not sound like anything to brag about, a trek through this beautiful rainforest reserve is, for many travellers, ... Read more about Penang National Park .

Penang Botanic Gardens
Jalan Kebuh Bungah Penang
T: (04) 227 1354

Even in the centre of Penang’s Georgetown, nature is never that far away. Just beyond the suburbs, the encroaching jungle blurs the boundary between urban and rural Penang, and if you want to experience Malaysia’s rainforests without straying too far from the sanctity of the city, you need go no further than the Botanic ... Read more about Penang Botanic Gardens .

Penang Hill
Jalan Stesen Bukit Bendera, Air Itam
T: (04) 828 8861

Although much of Georgetown is predominantly Chinese in character, the settlement was actually founded by the British, back in 1786. Remnants of Penang’s colonial heritage are still to be found all over town, from the Palladian splendour of St. George’s Church to the archetypically English Eastern & Oriental Hotel, but nowhere is the British influence stronger than on Penang ... Read more about Penang Hill .

Penang Butterfly Farm

Advertised as ‘the tropical world’s first live butterfly and insect sanctuary’, Penang Butterfly Farm is a great place to bring the kids and is also a good rainy ... Read more about Penang Butterfly Farm .

Escape theme park
Jalan Teluk Bahang, Penang
T: (04) 881 1106

Penang is a green island in more than one sense of the word. Beyond the concrete suburbs that hug the eastern and northeastern coasts, much of the island is in fact covered in jungle and the local government is keen to promote its environmentally conscious side. The ‘Cleaner Greener Penang’ campaign is visible everywhere, and there has been a huge effort in recent years to tidy up the ... Read more about Escape theme park .

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(04) 881 1797

Ginger, cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, cardamom and vanilla evoke images of exotic tropical climes, gin-pickled, eccentric plantation owners, westward bound clippers and delicious, aromatic curries. The Tropical Spice Garden, in a jungle valley that was formerly a rubber plantation, a stone’s throw from the sea, is a great place to discover the heady world of spice, past and ... Read more about Tropical Spice Garden .

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Hiking, walking tours and itineraries


Little India

One of the joys of Georgetown is that you never quite know what to expect next. A walk down Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling, Penang’s ‘Street of Harmony’, allows visitors to appreciate the wealth of different cultural and architectural influences that make up this town. Within a matter of minutes you are transported from the colonial British enclave around St George’s Church into the heart of ... Read more about Little India .

Rickshaws

The island of Penang may be developing rapidly, but Georgetown’s cycle rickshaws are a real throwback to years gone by and taking a ride in one evokes a sense of ‘old Asia’ that complements the well-preserved architecture of the heritage ... Read more about Rickshaws .

Penang street art

Having been declared a UNESCO heritage city in 2008, it is no surprise that Georgetown is now capitalising on this status and establishing a strong reputation for the arts. The Penang Island Jazz Festival and the George Town Festival have become international events, and you don’t have to wander far through the streets of Penang’s heritage zone before you come across all sorts of small ... Read more about Penang street art .

Townbikes
5 Lorong Chulia, Georgetown
T: (04) 261 3719

Part of the joy of visiting Penang’s Georgetown is wandering its streets and taking in the sights, sounds and smells of its UNESCO-protected heritage townscape. However, getting the most out of Georgetown requires some degree of stamina when it comes to putting one foot in front of the other, simply because the hot, humid Malaysian weather is not always particularly conducive to spending lots ... Read more about Townbikes .

Penang's clan houses: A walking tour

Without doubt, one of the most atmospheric and photogenic parts of Georgetown is the area centred around Lebuh Armenian, where the narrow streets still conjure a sense of old Penang. Tucked away beyond the rows of shophouses, this is also where you will find some of the town’s most stunning and best-renowned kongsi, or clan houses, which have borne witness to Penang’s violent past and have ... Read more about Penang's clan houses: A walking tour .

Exploring Penang's clan jetties

Just when you thought you had explored every last corner of Georgetown and walked all of its historical streets, you might be pleased to learn that there is, quite literally, a whole new side of town waiting to be discovered. Beyond the shoreline that runs along Pengkalan Weld, Penang’s other-worldly clan jetties jut out over the tidal mud flats and seem to exist in a completely different time ... Read more about Exploring Penang's clan jetties .

Street of Harmony: A walking tour through Penang's cultures

Part of what makes Penang unique is its established mixture of cultures and faiths, but if you are only in Georgetown for a short time, how can you experience all of its varied customs and traditions? Conveniently enough, Penang’s 18th-century town planners have already solved the problem, and a short walk along Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling, otherwise known as the ‘Street of Harmony’, draws ... Read more about Street of Harmony: A walking tour through Penang's cultures .

How to spend a rainy day in Penang

The southwest monsoon typically dumps close to 400 millimetres of water on Penang during the month of October — it’s the wettest time of the year to visit the island. If you find yourself here during October, therefore, it probably pays to have a wet-weather plan up your sleeve, just in case, so here are a few ideas to get you ... Read more about How to spend a rainy day in Penang .

Free things to do on Penang

Let’s face it: budgeting while you’re travelling can become really tedious. There are times when you just want to let loose, forget about that dwindling current account or mounting credit card bill, and splurge. But what happens if an expensive diving course or a few-too-many all-night benders have left your wallet a bit light when you turn up in Penang? Well, don’t despair, because if you ... Read more about Free things to do on Penang .

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Churches


St George’s Church and the Protestant Cemetery
1 Lebuh Farquar, Georgetown, Penang
T: (04) 261 2739

St George’s Church is the oldest Anglican Church in Southeast Asia, although with its most recent restoration completed in 2011, it looks as fresh as it would have done when its first service was held on Christmas day, ... Read more about St George’s Church and the Protestant Cemetery .

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Shopping


Gerakbudaya Bookshop
78 Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling
T: (04) 261 0282

Before May 2014, Georgetown lacked one thing: an independent bookshop. Of course, secondhand bookshops and branches of bigger chains existed but a bookshop with a collection covering current affairs, politics, contemporary fiction and poetry, with an international and local focus, selected with passion and ... Read more about Gerakbudaya Bookshop .

What souvenirs should I buy in Penang?

Shopping for souvenirs and gifts for loved ones back home when you’re travelling can be a fraught affair. If left until the last moment, it often results in panic buying of things that seem a good idea at the time, but later just leave you asking yourself: Why? Undertaking this task in Penang might throw another headache into the equation, since unlike other parts of the world, the varied mix ... Read more about What souvenirs should I buy in Penang? .

Occupy Beach Street
Beach Street/Lebuh Pantai, Penang

You’ve fuelled up on a breakfast of eggs and kaya toast at a local kopitiam or braved the chaos of a dim sum restaurant and are now wondering what to do with the rest of your Sunday morning. Well, for a free, fun frolic to suit all tastes, look no further than Occupy Beach ... Read more about Occupy Beach Street .

Little Penang Street Market
Upper Penang Road

Upper Penang Road is best known as Georgetown’s party street, but if your Saturday sundowner session spirals into an all-night bar crawl, you may stumble out of a club the following morning to find yourself face to face with a whole different type of street party, in the form of the Little Penang Street ... Read more about Little Penang Street Market .

Straits Quay
Jalan Seri Tanjung Pinang, Tanjung Tokong
T: (04) 891 8000

There’s so much to see and do in Georgetown that it’s sometimes easy to forget that there’s a whole island to go and explore, and one destination outside the centre that is really growing in popularity is modern retail complex, Straits Quay. Set around what is undoubtedly Penang’s most exclusive marina, it provides a breezy contrast to Georgetown’s busy streets and is a perfect retreat ... Read more about Straits Quay .

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Day trips


Boat trips

Penang offers plenty of beautiful views, vistas and vantage points but for a different perspective of the island, heading out to sea is a must. For many, a boat ride is the perfect way to while away an afternoon, so here are some of Penang’s best ... Read more about Boat trips .

Batu Ferringhi, Penang, on the cheap
Park Royal Resort, Batu Ferringhi, Penang
T: (04) 881 1133 ext: 8207

Large resort hotels don’t have the best reputations among independent travellers in Southeast Asia. Hogging great lengths of shoreline, and unleashing hordes of package tourists on erstwhile unspoilt beaches, many would prefer to avoid these over-priced, under-sensitive ... Read more about Batu Ferringhi, Penang, on the cheap .

Matang Mangrove Forest Reserve

Just over an hour’s drive from central Georgetown, roughly 40 kilometres south of the mainland part of Penang state, lie what must be one of the northern region’s most unexpectedly rewarding attractions: the mangrove swamps of the Matang Forest Reserve in Kuala ... Read more about Matang Mangrove Forest Reserve .

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The waterside area of this fishing village is comprised of a couple of piers with fishy fishing boats moored to them, the odd derelict boat, a temple built around a giant's footprint and a large seafood restaurant and terrace. The giant's footprint is part of a rock formation where coins are tossed for blessings. If you fancy getting out of town for dinner, or lunching after visiting the War ... Read more about Batu Muang .

Bukit Genting Hill
Penang
T: (04) 629 9801

While most of Penang’s attractions are concentrated in the narrow, built-up strip of coastal belt on the eastern and northern coasts, there is a whole other side of the island to explore. Those who dare to venture off the beaten tourist track will be rewarded with an altogether more relaxed experience of Penang, and the chance to see what is arguably one of its very best views, from the top of ... Read more about Bukit Genting Hill .

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Festivals and events


Thaipusam in Penang

Of all Penang’s culturally varied religious celebrations, none is more colourful than Thaipusam. Every January or February, on the full moon of the 10th month in the Hindu calendar, festival frenzy descends on the island, drawing hundreds of thousands of devotees and spectators onto the ... Read more about Thaipusam in Penang .

The Hungry Ghost Festival in Penang
Across Penang

If you’re in Penang and feel like you’re being watched as you tuck into your bowl of asam laksa or char koay teow, you might just be right. The seventh month of the Chinese lunar calendar is known as the Hungry Ghost Festival, when the gates of the underworld are opened and a whole host of salivating spirits come out to roam the physical realm, in search earthly delights, entertainment and ... Read more about The Hungry Ghost Festival in Penang .

Lunar New Year 2014 in Penang
Across Penang

As the horse canters its way towards the zodiac calendar, Penangites are getting ready to welcome it with a fortnight of celebrations and ... Read more about Lunar New Year 2014 in Penang .

Ramadan in Penang
Across Penang

The holy month of Ramadan may not seem like the most obvious time to enjoy traditional Malay food but every evening, once the daylight hours of abstinence and spiritual reflection are over, Penang’s Muslims gather at Ramadan bazaars across the island to break the fast and spend quality time with family and ... Read more about Ramadan in Penang .

George Town Festival
90 Armenian Street, Georgetown
T: (04) 261 6308

July 7 marks an important anniversary for Penang. On this day nearly five years ago, the island’s capital Georgetown was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, confirming its position as one of Southeast Asia’s best preserved and most culturally significant historical towns. On the back of this distinguished accolade, it has since established a strong reputation for the arts and the annual ... Read more about George Town Festival .

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Mosques


Kapitan Keling Mosque
14 Lebuh Buckingham, Georgetown
T: (04) 229 3048

Kapitan Keling Mosque is one of the most prominent, and beautiful, landmarks in Georgetown, with its Mughal-inspired minaret tower and copper-clad main dome, oxidized to a striking black against the usually bright blue ... Read more about Kapitan Keling Mosque .

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Where to next?

Where are you planning on heading to after Penang? Here are some spots commonly visited from here, or click here to see a full destination list for Malaysia.


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