Penang, the legendary street foods heaven in Malaysia as portraited by numerous magazines and newspapers local or abroad. As a Penangite, I completely agree with that, but that’s not all. Penang is also home to a UNESCO World Heritage Site (and the super touristy Penang Hill…). Here’s one of the most asked questions for travelers planning their Penang itinerary – what to do in Penang in 3 days?
First of all, 3 days is quite sufficient to visit the popular spots in Penang but if you want something more ‘exotic’ and less touristy, you might need a couple of days more. One more reason to extend your stay depends on whether you have a strong desire for street foods or not.
So, here we go, things to do in Penang for 3 days. After that, street foods in Penang and where to find the best one. I just want to clarify that every person has a different taste preference so I only recommend those I love as a local Penangite. And of course, I hope you’ll find it delicious too!
So here are what to do in Penang in 3 days to help you plan your Penang itinerary. Let’s dive in!
- 1 Explore The UNESCO World Heritage Site in George Town
- 2 Enjoy The City View at Penang Hill
- 3 Watch Sunset in Batu Ferringhi Beach
- 4 Hiking in Penang National Park
- 5 Add The Underrated Western Side of Penang Island – Balik Pulau On Your Penang Itinerary
- 6 Go Adventuring in ESCAPE Theme Park
- 7 Admire The Beauty of Kapitan Keling Mosque
- 8 Join The Tourists in Kek Lok Si Temple
- 9 Learn The Peranakan Culture in Pinang Peranakan Mansion
- 10 Enjoy The Nightlife in Love Lane
- 11 Feel The Nature in Entopia by Penang Butterfly Farm
- 12 Morning Market in Chowrasta Market
- 13 Street Foods You Should Try in Penang
Explore The UNESCO World Heritage Site in George Town
- Recommend length of stay: Half day
A trip to Penang wouldn’t be complete without exploring the ancient town listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. It’s located in Georgetown and if you don’t know where to start, head to Lebuh Armenian (Armenian Street) and start from the Kids on Bicycle street art. It’s the most iconic and pioneering street art in Penang by Ernest Zacharevic.
Get a map there and start exploring all the street arts and historic buildings. Note that there are many ‘irrelevant’ museums around (I mean no offense, really) which are trying to dig your money but if you somehow find it interesting, I’m happy for you. If you don’t know what I mean, you’ll know when you get there.
Remember to visit the clan jetties area and get yourself some ‘ice kacang’ or ‘cendol’ to hydrate and refresh yourself. Penang is the hottest city in entire Malaysia, no joke. Be sure to hydrate yourself always! Don’t miss out Little India in Lebuh Pasar as well!
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Enjoy The City View at Penang Hill
- Recommend length of stay: 3 Hours (Visit at night for night view)
Penang Hill has been very well-funded lately to be developed into a tourist hotspot. There are a lot of new facilities, gardens, and tours. Most of them designed to, again, dig your money. Yup, I’m not kidding, I know I sound sarcastic here but I like being honest.
While you’re there, never visit the Owl Museum. It’s a waste of money, nothing impressive in there, and a big portion of the museum is owned by merchandise store.
Talked a lot about the downs, here are the great things to do in Penang Hill. Nothing beats the night view of Penang city from Penang Hill, but note that the train doesn’t operate until midnight so check the timetable and plan accordingly.
If you’re planning to hike up there by foot instead of taking the train, you can start in Botanical Garden. It takes around 2 hours to get to the top depending on your stamina. It’s a paved road all the way.
The ‘ice kacang’ and ‘mango ice’ are great up there too. Perfect for refreshing after a long hike.
Penang Hill is the perfect place for escaping the Penang heat too. It’s one place you should definitely add into your 3 days Penang itinerary.
Watch Sunset in Batu Ferringhi Beach
- Recommend length of stay: 3 Hours
If you’re a beach-goer, then you should never miss out Batu Ferringhi on your Penang itinerary. With tons of water sports and white sandy beaches, Batu Ferringhi is popular both among locals and tourists.
Batu Ferringhi may not be facing West but you will catch a good glimpse of sunset at the dawn into the hills. If you prefer a less crowded beach in Batu Ferringhi, the one behind Starbucks is my all-time top choice. You don’t have a buy from them though, there’s a small alley leading to the beach from the road.
Hiking in Penang National Park
- Recommend length of stay: Half Day
Further north from Batu Ferringhi lies Penang National Park. It’s the smallest national park in the country but you’ll spend a good whole-day in there exploring. There is public transport for RapidPenang to get there but it will take a good amount of time. Check it out here. Good news: There is no entrance fee to enter this national park!
While you’re there, here are my recommendations as there are several places you can get to. First, Pantai Kerachut (Kerachut Beach). It’s not as touristy as Monkey Beach (which I dislike because it’s so ‘commercial’ there…), has a very quiet and clean beach perfect for a picnic under the shady trees, and has a turtle sanctuary.
Muka Head Lighthouse is also a great spot to visit and chill if you have spare time and want to sweat more.
Boat services are also available here to get you from Penang National Park counter to the beaches inside the park.
Camping is allowed in Penang National Park but make sure you check in and register at the counter. I’m not sure about the requirements but feel free to call them. They have no official website but you can Google for their number.
Add The Underrated Western Side of Penang Island – Balik Pulau On Your Penang Itinerary
- Recommend length of stay: Half Day or Whole Day
It’s hard to imagine in such a small island, only the eastern side of Penang Island is heavily developed, while the western side remained the old way of living. Visiting Balik Pulau on your Penang trip itinerary allows you to rewind and refresh yourself from the crowds of the city.
Getting there might be a little troublesome because it’s actually quite far from the city. You could check the above RapidPenang bus route on how to get there.
While you’re in Balik Pulau, consider renting a bike and cycle across the paddy fields and explore around the towns nearby, stopping occasionally for snacks. It’s a very hassle-free town so make sure you’re not in rush to truly and fully enjoy the experience.
I talked more about Balik Pulau in this article of mine.
Go Adventuring in ESCAPE Theme Park
- Recommend length of stay: Whole Day
Another popular destination for those who’re wondering what to do in Penang in 3 days. ESCAPE Theme Park is famous among Malaysians, and even most Penangites visited the park at some point. What makes it so special?
ESCAPE Theme Park is the No. 1 Best Theme Park and Best Thing to Do according to Tripadvisor.
Equipped with numerous exciting rides and games hosted in a natural environment, this theme park has something for visitors of all ages.
Their aim is to provide visitors to experience the park with Low Tech, High Fun, which means there are not many fancy technologies around, just safety harnesses, helmets and more.
Sort of like the equipment you use in rock climbing. Even though Entopia by Penang Butterfly Farm (read about that below) is located very near to ESCAPE Theme Park, I do not recommend visiting them in one day.
This theme park will make you spend a whole day there, and it might still not be enough to take it all in. The ticket includes a visit to their Waterpark as well!
If you’re planning a visit, make sure to book the tickets online instead of walking in, as the ticket prices will be slightly cheaper. Visit their website to find out more about the ticket prices!
Admire The Beauty of Kapitan Keling Mosque
- Recommend length of stay: 30 Minutes to 1 Hour
Named after the ‘Kapitan’ of the Keling, Cauder Mydin Merican, Kapitan Keling Mosque is the largest mosque in Georgetown. The mosque was built in 1801 by the Indian Muslim (East India Company troops) settlers in Penang.
In the 1900s, Kapitan Keling Mosque used to be 18 acres in area, but after the land was claimed by the government officials for the construction of roads, the mosque sprawls only an area of 8 acres.
If you’re planning a visit to Kapital Keling Mosque, make sure you are properly dressed in long pants for both men and women, and your shoulders covered. Once you got the permission to enter, you’ll be able to explore the interior of the mosque with a huge spacious prayer hall with a chandelier hanged on the ceiling.
The mosque is also a great place to escape from the hectic city, as you’ll get to chill and rest on the benches in the gardens of the compound.
Fun Fact: The official religion of Malaysia is Islam.
Join The Tourists in Kek Lok Si Temple
- Recommend length of stay: 2-3 Hours
Kek Lok Si Temple is certainly not on any Penangite’s bucket list but it’s a destination I would recommend for first-time visitors in Penang. If you’re still not sure what to do in Penang in 3 days, put Kek Lok Si Temple in your Penang itinerary!
If you’re visiting Penang in January or February, then you’re in great luck. 15 days prior to Lunar New Year, Kek Lok Si Temple will be having light shows, with LED light decorations all over the roofs and buildings.
It’s been a tradition for decades, and it’s just gonna get more picturesque than ever. The light show lasts for a month so be sure to check the date before visiting!
The thing I hated about this temple is that they’re trying to hard to dig every single penny out of the visitors’ pocket. You’ll have to pay for literally anything and they have all sorts of things to make you pay.
You’ll have to pay for the not-even-one-minute train ride and buggy rides. They’ll try to sell you different kinds of charms, souvenirs, gifts, and even write your wish on a piece of roof tile for a whopping RM40.
As a local, I always walk all the way up and never paid for those train rides. A lot of travelers are not aware of that and paid with an annoyed face.
I absolutely don’t recommend buying the train rides either unless necessary. Chances are you’ll be squeezing out of your personal space with other tourists, especially now that Penang is receiving more Chinese tourists than ever.
Editor’s Note: Check out these awesome things to do in Melaka!
Learn The Peranakan Culture in Pinang Peranakan Mansion
- Recommend length of stay: 1-2 Hours
Built in the 1890s, Pinang Peranakan Mansion is a unique mansion portraiting the cultures and influences of the Peranakans, also known as Nyonyas and Babas.
Originally, the mansion was named ‘Hai Kee Chan’ by Chung Keng Quee, the Kapitan Cina of Perak and one of the richest men in Penang in the 19th century. The Peranakans or Straits Chinese was a unique community in the Straits (Penang, Melaka, and Singapore).
They adopted the way of life of local Malays and later colonial British, and ultimately created cultures and customs like no other in the world. In Pinang Peranakan Mansion, there are over 1,000 antiques and collectibles on display, offering a glimpse of the rich lifestyle a century ago.
The great thing about this mansion is that every piece of antique, furniture, interior wall is well-preserved. If you’re staying in Georgetown, you definitely should visit Pinang Peranakan Mansion.
I highly recommend this place. Tours are also available at a fixed time every day, so you’ll understand what everything on display and history is about. The entrance fee is RM10 per adult. Children below 6 enter for free.
Planning a trip to Malaysia? Check out this amazing guide to visiting Cameron Highlands!
Enjoy The Nightlife in Love Lane
Love Lane might seem like a quiet alley with several cafes and restaurants for office workers’ lunch during the day. But when the sun goes down and the bars open, it would be an upside-down vibe.
Due to the ridiculous price tags on beers in Malaysia and the fact that Muslims do not drink alcohol, bars aren’t that common compared to other Southeast Asia countries, like Vietnam. That’s why you’ll find bars clustered together in Penang and other parts of Malaysia, making them some sort of nightlife hubs.
Head to Love Lane if you’re looking for a way to chill out at night and is tired of just walking around. There aren’t many things to do at night in Penang anyway, get a cold beverage as a reward for your exhausting day exploring this beautiful island.
Check out more of the amazing nightlife in Penang here!
Feel The Nature in Entopia by Penang Butterfly Farm
- Recommend length of stay: Half Day
Entopia by Penang Butterfly Farm is highly recommended for those who’re traveling with kids. What makes Entopia special is that you’ll get to interact directly with the butterflies and insects flying freely inside the covered park. And there is a wide variety of butterflies with vibrant colors all over the park.
Fun Fact: Entopia boasts the most species variety of butterflies IN THE WORLD!
If you’re afraid of insects and… sleeky snakes, Entopia might be a huge challenge for you! Entomophobia problems. Sounds like a lot? Entopia has even more to offer!
Other than the park, there are a variety of exhibition zones and interactive games for your kids to learn about tropical nature in a practical way.
Another Fun Fact: Butterflies are attracted to sweat, so the more you sweated, the more likely butterflies will land on you.
Unless you’re super hungry, don’t dine in the restaurant inside the park, Tapestree Restaurant. It’s ridiculously overpriced and the foods are just not so appealing. The only bad thing about Entopia is the expensive ticket price, with RM65 per adult (RM49 for locals).
Morning Market in Chowrasta Market
- Recommend length of stay: 1 Hour
If you’re staying in Georgetown, head over to the Chowrasta Morning Market and enjoy the way of life of local Penangites. In the market, you’ll find people selling all sorts of things, from food ingredients to hardware and of course, street foods.
You might as well do some shopping here, but note that this is a market for locals, so don’t expect souvenirs to be found here unless you’re going to buy a pair of scissors back home as a gift.
Check out this post to find out how you can see Penang at under $20 per day!
Street Foods You Should Try in Penang
I’ll just briefly talk about a few street foods I think you should never miss in your Penang itinerary. I wanna just say beforehand that I didn’t cover all of them here.
I’m not a pro when it comes to introducing and describing foods so bear with me. Anyway, here we go.
Slightly spicy soup made of prawns accompanied with mee (egg noodles), bihun (vermicelli noodle), sliced fresh prawns, kangkung (water spinach), slices of hard-boiled eggs and sometimes, pork bellies.
The best place to enjoy this dish, in my opinion, is at Chowrasta Market.
White Curry Mee
You might have heard of curry mee but what’s white curry mee? Basically, it’s just curry mee, without the curry paste, yet. The best place to get a taste of it is at Hot Bowl Restaurant at Jalan Rangoon.
Before adding the curry paste, be sure to catch a taste of the original white soup. The restaurant will be flooded with customers during peak hours around 12 pm to 2 pm so make sure you arrive earlier for brunch.
Best dish for refreshing after spending hours under the hot sun in overwhelmingly hot Penang. Cendol is a bowl of ice covered with thick gula Melaka, cendol jellies, and kidney beans.
The best place to find it is none other than the Penang Road Famous Teochew Cendol. It’s located within walking distance from the Heritage Area, although it might still take some time to reach by foot. I don’t recommend driving there because it’s hard to find a parking lot there.
Penang Asam Laksa
The specialty dish of Penang. Penang Asam Laksa has a very strong and unique flavor that some people love while a small portion hated it. Its soup is a blend of spicy, sweet, and sour accompanied with thick, fat rice noodles, shredded fish, onions, cucumbers, mint leaves, sliced pineapples, red chillis, and lettuce.
While most of the magazines and online guides will direct you to Pasar Air Itam Laksa, I found that the best one is the one right opposite of it. Yup, it’s literally opposite of the most famous laksa stall. The stall is called Laksa Bisu (bisu is ‘mute’ in the Malay language, the stall owner is muted). It’s more authentic and traditional in my own opinion.
Char Koay Teow
One of Penang’s most delicious but unhealthy dishes, but still, most of the Penangites adore it. Char means stir-fried, while koay teow is sliced rice-cake strips. Many people claim that this is a Singapore dish but hell no.
It’s stir-fried over big flames with soy sauces, chili, a small amount of belacan, prawns, cockles, chopped Chinese chives, and bean sprouts. Adding an egg into the dish makes it perfect.
It’s hard to find a delicious and authentic Char Koay Teow in Penang, here’s my recommendation. Head over to the food court in Cecil Street Market, and find the Char Koay Teow store. The chef still insists on stir-frying the dish one-by-one instead of stir-frying them in bulk as most other stalls do.
If you could only choose one dish out of these 5 dishes on your Penang itinerary, go for Char Koay Teow.
Now you know what to do in Penang in 3 days. Time to plan your Penang itinerary.
So there you go, my recommendations for what to do in Penang in 3 days with joy. If there is anything you think worth adding into the 3 days Penang itinerary list, feel free to comment below!
Got a better suggestion for the foods? Let me know below, looking forward to hearing from you. If it’s your first time in Penang, check out this post on where to stay in Penang! Happy traveling!