Penang is a tropical state of Malaysia comprising Penang Island and a neighbouring portion of the mainland. When tourists, travellers or holidaymakers talk of visiting Penang, they’re usually referring to the island, which is where you’ll find a number of family-friendly tourist attractions and beach-side resort towns as well as the bustling and historic state capital, Georgetown. There is an incredible selection of things to do in Penang with kids and for adults, we list many of them below. We also give you some tips and ideas on visiting Penang and getting around.
Things To Do, Penang
We’ve spent considerable time in Penang with our children, so let’s look at things to do in Penang that are family-friendly. Most of Penang’s attractions are great for kids. They are fine for adults and couples too.
List of Things To Do in Penang
We go into more detail on these tourist destinations in Penang further down the post, but here’s a list of the major things to see and do in Penang.
- Tour The Tropical Spice Garden
- Explore Fort Cornwallis
- Visit Kek Lok Si Temple
- See the reptiles at The Snake Temple
- Hire a Trishaw and Driver
- Enjoy Batu Ferringhi Beach
- Eat and shop at Batu Ferringhi Night Market
- Check out the street art in Georgetown
- Take tea at Suffolk House
- Enjoy Khoo Khogsi
- Penang Peranakan Museum
- Taste teas at a tea shop
- Enjoy Nasi Kandar
- Eat Indian Food in Little India
- Tanjung Bungah Floating Mosque
- Visit Butterworth by ferry boat
- Shop at one of Penang’s huge malls
- Take the Funicular Railway up Penang Hill
- Penang 3D Trick Art Museum
- Explore Penang National Park
- Eat at Chulia Street Night Market
- Parasailling, Jet Skiing, Parascending and more at Batu Ferringhi
- Penang State Museum and Art Gallery
- Visit the Butterfly Farm
- Water Park at The Hard Rock Hotel Batu Ferringhi
- Indoor Play and Slides at Batu Ferringhi
Things To Do in Penang, Family-Friendly
Book a Tour of Penang?
To see everything Penang has to offer quickly and easily, it’s possible to book a tour. Tours on offer include full days, half days and short tours. You can take a private tour, a food tour or be part of a group. You can check out and book any of the tours available on Penang here.
There is more than enough to keep you and your family busy on Penang for a couple of weeks, alternate historical or cultural sites with fun activities for the kids. Don’t forget to try the amazing food on offer too, from hawker stalls to up-market restaurants. Highlights for families include:
Kek Lok Si Temple.
Climb to the top of the Kek Lok Si temple complex, on foot and by funicular railway. There are shops and a turtle pool on the way up to keep the children amused. An extraordinarily pretty temple. We have a full post on Kek Lok Si with children, here.
Penang Botanic Gardens
A green oasis on Penang of great historical interest and a great place for the kids to spot monkeys.
Water Park and Pools at Hard Rock Hotel
Batu Ferringhi’s own mini water park makes a great place for the kids to swim and play, non residents can enter at a small fee.
The Snake Temple.
An ornately decorated temple in the south of the island, made atmospheric by incense and pit vipers. Do not touch!
Pinang Peranakan Mansion.
Glimpse into the opulent past. A wealthy home from times gone by.
Georgetown Street Art
Beautiful images of children, often incorporating “real” objects, can be found throughout Penang. Read more about Georgetown’s street art and the artist, here.
Escape Adventure Play
High ropes courses, zip lines and various other attractions for kids and adults. Visit Escape.
Entopia, the Butterfly and Bug Park
Bugs and butterflies are always a winner with the kids. Make sure they get a chance to hold the huge giant millipedes. Visit Entopia here.
A star-shaped fort from the days of the British East India Company. A great place for kids to run around and explore. We have a full post on Fort Cornwallis here.
Gurney Paragon Mall and Gurney Plaza
Large shopping malls, maybe not as glitzy as Kuala Lumpur, but still fun to visit, with cool places to eat. Try the shaved ice deserts.
Penang 3D Trick Art Museum
3D murals and life-size figures put your family in the picture. Lots of fun and great photographs to treasure.
Batu Ferringhi’s indoor play space has hours of fun and breathtakingly steep slides for your little ones.
Upside Down Museum
It’s exactly what it says, a museum where all rooms are upside down. Great for photos, in Georgetown.
Penang With Kids – Guide Book
Don’t forget your guide book, Lonely Planet Penang, Kuala Lumpur, and Melaka
Getting to Penang and Transport on the Island
Penang is an easy bus ride from Kuala Lumpur. Buses in Malaysia are excellent, comfortable and cheap. The bus takes you over the bridge, straight to the island where you can connect with local buses.
Penang also has its own island airport with direct and frequent links to most neighbouring countries, including Bangkok and Singapore. Find information on Penang Airport at their website.
The train will take you to Butterworth, on the mainland portion of Penang state. Find information on train travel in this part of S.E. Asia here. Kuala Lumpur to Penang is a 6 hour ride.
On Penang Island itself there is a good, modern bus service, although buses around Georgetown can be very busy and the roads winding. Bus journeys can be long. There are plenty of taxis on the island and in Georgetown, don’t miss the famous trishaws! You might also consider hiring a car if you really want to explore the island.
Finding Family Rooms and Accommodation in Penang
Travelling with children, we find it’s often easier to book hotels in advance rather than travelling on-the fly. We would certainly recommend booking online for Penang as we didn’t find it a very easy place to find accommodation on foot.
You will find all styles of accommodation, at all price points, from typical backpacker hostels to luxury 5 star hotels.
Most visitors to Penang either stay in Georgetown or in Batu Ferringhi.
Trip Advisor’s Top Hotels for Penang Include
If you’re looking for a family-friendly hotel in Penang for a special trip or vacation, I’d certainly look for a resort with a pool. You will most want to cool off in Penang. We highly recommend the Hard Rock Hotel at Batu Ferringhi, my boys loved the water play facilities there and the location is perfect for reaching many of Penang’s attractions. The kids’ suites are sensatioal, with mum and dad and the kids having private sleeping areas and a whole bunch of child-friendly special features. Your child will feel like a rock star!
The Eastern and Oriental Hotel. Georgetown Check rates on Hotels Combined here.
Shangri-La’s Rasa Sayang Resort & Spa Batu Ferringhi Check rates on Hotels Combined here.
Golden Sands Resort by Shangri-La. Batu Ferrighi
Holiday Inn Resort Penang. Batu Ferringhi
Cheong Fatt Tze – The Blue Mansion. Georgetown Check rates on Hotels Combined here.
Museum Hotel, Georgetown ( good value)
Hard Rock Hotel Penang. Batu Ferringhi Check rates on Hotels Combined here. (good value)
Parkroyal Penang Resort, Malaysia. Batu Ferringhi Check rates on Hotels Combined here. (good value)
Backpackers and Budget Travellers With Kids
Batu Ferringhi is quite expensive, there really isn’t a whole lot on offer at the backpacker end in this beach resort town. Georgetown is more interesting and has some lovely places to stay, often in converted vintage shop houses.
Islander Lodge Guesthouse. Great Reviews, Has Rooms for 4. Under $50/night. Check availability here
There are so many things to do in Penang with kids and without, that I doubt you’ll have time to do them all. New tourist attractions seem to open almost daily along with the many natural and cultural things to do. We’ll keep you updated as we head into 2020 and yet another fantastic trip to Penang. If you’re looking for more information on Malaysia with kids you could also check out our complete guide to Kuala Lumpur with kids.