Last Updated 07/05/2022.
There is an incredible selection of things to do in Penang with kids and for adults and we list many of them below. We also give you some tips and ideas on visiting Penang and getting around Penang is a popular vacation or holiday destination and so has plenty of things to do for tourists as well as historic and cultural attractions. 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.
Things To Do in Penang
We’ve spent considerable time in Penang with our children and without, so let’s look at things to do in Penang that are fun, interesting, enjoyable, or family-friendly.
Most of Penang’s attractions are great for kids. They are fine for adults and couples too.
I wouldn’t say Penang was our favourite place in Malaysia, we really like Kuching Sarawak, and Ipoh Malaysia, and of course, busy Kuala Lumpur. But Penang has charm and is a popular tourist destination.
Culture lovers will most likely base themselves in Georgetown, and beach lovers in Batu Ferringhi. Most recently we took the ferry to Penang from Langkawi, which was quite eventful, the ferry broke down halfway.
We really enjoyed that stay right in the heart of the old city of Georgetown.
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Things To Do in Penang – List
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 do in Penang and places and attractions to see.
- 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
- Parasailing, 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 upmarket restaurants.
Highlights of Penang 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 inside a large complex, there is plenty to explore.
This temple is also known as the Temple of Supreme Bliss and was founded back in 1890.
The complex contains many buildings, pagodas, prayer halls, and decorative bell towers and admission was free other than for the Sky Lift (funicular railway type device) and pagoda.
Allow up to a half-day for your visit. 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 good place for the kids to spot monkeys.
It’s also a great place to get some exercise, head here for a hike or run, there are jogging trails and of course, toilets and
Here you can see splendid long-established tropical trees including rain trees, cannonball trees and ebony trees.
If you’re not used to a tropical climate and the plants that thrive there, you should find this Penang attraction pretty interesting.
Penang Botanic Gardens are also known as the Waterfall Gardens because of a nearby waterfall. The gardens lie in a valley adjacent to Jalan Kebun Bunga and were founded by the British back in 1884.
There are 12 well-kept areas to the gardens
- Cactus House
- Fern House
- Horticulture Centre
- Jungle Track
- Lily Pond
- Formal Garden
- Perdana Plant House
- Tropical Rainforest Jungle Track
- Fern Rockery
- Walkway Aroids
- Recreation Park
You can check the official Penang Botanic Gardens website for openings and special activities.
It states that the gardens are open from 5am to 8pm daily and that admission is free. There is a tram service, there is normally a charge to use this. The gardens state that they are wheelchair accessible.
The Botanic Gardens in Kuala Lumpur are also very good.
Food and Eating in Penang
There is good Indian and Chinese food to be found in Penang, alongside western foods such as pizza and burgers.
The best Indian food we sampled in Penang was in Little India in Georgetown.
In Batu Ferringhi the Long Beach Food Court is a popular choice, we also found Middle Eastern food and seafood restaurants.
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 and adults can enjoy lounging by the pool.
There are restaurants and fast food available at several outlets here and it backs right onto the beach at the main Batu Ferringhi promenade.
The Snake Temple
An ornately decorated temple in the south of the island, made atmospheric by incense and pit vipers.
Do not touch! We really enjoyed the snake temple, taking an Uber there from Georgetown was easy and cheap.
The small reptile museum and zoo right next door (this had an entry fee) was a big winner with my family. They had the biggest python any of us had ever seen, and we live in the tropics.
The snake temple itself is pleasant, there were a few snakes around the alters and in a walled garden.
We didn’t feel we were in any danger from the snakes but obviously, if you have any kind of snake phobia or fear, cross this off your list of things to do in Penang!
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.
We got to Entopia by bus but it wasn’t easy. I’d recommend taking an Uber instead.
Visit Entopia here. Allow about half a day for your visit and we thought this butterfly and bug collection was better than the one in KL.
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. You can walk here from Georgetown if you don’t mind a walk.
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 desserts.
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 normally 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 and Uber or Grab cars 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 likely 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 can be sensational, with mum and dad and the kids having private sleeping areas and a whole bunch of child-friendly special features. Your child may feel like a rock star!
- The Eastern and Oriental Hotel. George Town A glorious old white building and likely the most expensive hotel on our list of Penang hotels. It’s right in UNESCO listed George Town. The rooms are stunning, very colonial, and the genteel pool faces the ocean. I’m staying here next time!
- Shangri-La’s Rasa Sayang Resort & Spa Batu Ferringhi A good beach-facing luxury resort hotel. More expensive than the Hard Rock and Parkroyal. Has beautiful pools and gardens.
- Golden Sands Resort by Shangri-La. Batu Ferringhi A cheaper resort hotel facing the ocean in Batu Ferringhi, has a nice mini-waterpark for kids.
- Holiday Inn Resort Penang. Batu Ferringhi. Seems to be closed now.
- Cheong Fatt Tze – The Blue Mansion Stunning old mansion building with fantastic George Town location, not massively expensive, but not “budget.”
- Museum Hotel, George Town (good value)
- Hard Rock Hotel Penang. Batu Ferringhi. The Hard Rock Hotels are pretty good value and if I was heading to Batu Ferringhi on vacation, I’d stay here. We always enjoy these hotels and the water park and kids’ play facilities were great for our children and young teens.
- Parkroyal Penang Resort, Malaysia. Another Batu Ferringhi resort with a nice pool facing the beach. Same sort of prices as the Hard Rock Hotel.
Backpackers and Budget Travellers
Batu Ferringhi is quite expensive, there really isn’t a whole lot on offer at the backpacker end in this beach resort town.
George Town is more interesting and has more food options, and has some lovely places to stay, often in converted vintage shophouses.
If you’ve stayed in these old buildings before you’ll know that the wooden floors and thin walls can make them noisy, but they have a lot of charm.
- Islander Lodge Guesthouse. Great Reviews, Has Rooms for 4. From under $50/night. We’ve stayed here and it was nice, but it’s not in the same league as the hotels above. Great location for foodies too!
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 2022 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. Our Index of all our Malaysia content is here. Enjoy your trip to Malaysia and be certain to investigate the Thaipusam festival.
Other places you should see in Malaysia include Ipoh, Malacca, and if you can, Kuching in Sarawak Borneo. These would be our favourite places in Malaysia to go on your family adventure travel bucketlist.