Penang, a state Island in the West of Malaysia is one of the most visited places in the country. It appeals to both locals and foreigners alike. If you were to ask a Malaysian about Penang, first thing first, they would definitely tell you about the food it has to offer to the visitors. As for foreigners, this small Island possesses exhilarating things awaiting to be explored. There are too many attractions that you can engage while in Penang, but today, Tripfez will list down not 6, not 10, not 16, but 30 FREE things to do in the Pearl Island of Malaysia. Do take note that these are not stated in any particular order, so feel free to do whichever you desire first. Let’s start!
1) Unwind on the beautiful tropical beach
Being a tropical Island in the Andaman Sea, it is surrounded by amazing beaches. For instance, Batu Feringghi which is situated on the North Coast and approximately 20-minute from Georgetown is the biggest and most spectacular beach in Penang. What can you do here? Well, just come over and sunbathe, swim or stroll at the beach.
2) Go for an architectural walk-tour
If you are in love with architecture, Penang is the destination to go to. Vibrant Indan shops, European-design houses, Chinese row houses, and Malay authentic designs, it definitely will entice you to explore more of what this small yet interesting Island could offer in terms of its heritage and customs.
3) Check out a nutmeg ‘factory’
You can go and visit a family owned nutmeg factory which is located on a hilly road between the Penang National Park in the north and Balik Pulau town. You will be entertained by a cheerful and friendly daughter of the family and be served with a refreshing ice-cold nutmeg juice. Yummy! Then, proceed and check out other parts of the nutmeg tour and she will show you the flowers, nuts and seeds!
4) Pay a visit to the numerous Chinese Clan Houses
The Chinese Clan houses is a place that handles a lot of festivals and religious celebrations, meetings among the clans, education for the children as well as deciding on important issues about the clans. It is somewhat like a supportive backbone to the whole clan. Be prepared to witness Penang’s past by visiting the clan houses.
5) Visit the jetty that brings ferry from Penang to the Mainland
By doing this, you can experience remarkable views of Penang Island. You will be able to sightsee the brilliant Butterworth cargo seaport that has gigantic cranes. Be ready to check out all types of boats; speedboats, cargo boats, tug boats, and wood fishing boats!
6) Visit the temples around Penang
You don’t need to have a car to explore most of the temples around Penang. It is achievable to visit most of them just by wandering around the center of Georgetown. Perhaps you can be more adventurous and ride a bike or take the bus to reach the infamous Burmese, Thai, and even the Kek Lok Si temples.
7) Take a look at various traditional handicraft / craftsmen’s shops
Head over to the Malaysia Tourist Office and take a free brochure which gives you a walking or cycling tour of several traditional handicrafts shops. The brochure is well put together and you will have no problem locating the shops.
8) Hike up to the Penang Hill
Penang Hill, extremely well-known for its long hike and steep routes. If you are physically fit, it will take you approximately 2-3 hours to reach the peak and another one and a half hour to descend. You can choose out of the several routes available.
9) Whiteaways Arcade: Gateway to Penang’s colonial architecture, construction, and renovation
Via the white ways arcade, you can learn more about Penang colonial’s architecture. The construction, renovation, and evolvement over the years could be a gateway for you to be more informative about the history of Penang. This is a good way to return to the olden days via splendid buildings!
10) Camping and Hiking at PNP (Penang National Park)
If you enjoy outdoors activity, you shouldn’t miss this out. Penang National Park is exceptionally famous on weekends. If you want a more solitude adventure with nature, do come by during the weekdays.
11) Sightseeing at the Rope Walk Market (Lorong Kulit Flea Market)
Penang Flea Market, or Lorong Kulit in Malay is a distinctive market which is situated along Lorong Kulit. Here, you can see many antiques, second hand, and vintage items. There are a lot of new things as well. Located next to the UNESCO Headquarters Building, there is also the Lebuh Aceh Flea Market (Pasar Karat) which is opened daily commencing at 5pm.
12) Food galore at the Gurney Drive
This is the most famous hawker area in Penang which is also the best place for visitors to hunt for all the local Penang delicacies. It is best to come here starting at 5 pm onwards and it is separated into two parts, a HALAL area, and the Non-halal area. So, all the Muslim travelers can enjoy Penang foods without any uncertainty!
13) Discover the Batu Feringghi’s nightlife
Famous for many things, Batu Feringghi is definitely a lively and vibrant area in Penang. Equipped with a lot of bars, restaurants, and night market. This place is a good spot to check out accessories, apparels, souvenirs and even art.
14) Stroll around Little India
Situated on the King and Queen Street, Little India is the spot where you can find the best of Malaysian Indian ethnicity. Don’t forget to try out some vegetarian Indian delicacies to see the more of a “Bollywood” side of Penang Island through your taste bud.
15) Visit the Snake Temple
Not often a favorite among the famous spots in Penang, nevertheless, it offers a one of a kind experience if you were to set your foot in this temple. Here, you can see green vipers but for safety precaution, all of them has been de-venom. If you are afraid of the snake, then, this place is not for you. But who knows? Do you want to conquer your fear? Then, come over, it’s FREE anyway!
16) Explore the Street of Harmony
Penang is abundant with a diversity of culture. To experience it, try walking around along Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling or, the Street of Harmony. This is the intersection of the city’s four main religion whereby all the God’s houses of all four main religion in Malaysia gather. They are St. George’s Church, the Chinese Goddess of Mercy Temple, the Hindu Sri Maha Mariamman Kovil, and the Kapitan Keling Mosque. To add up, as you walk your way through until the end of the street, you will see many Chinese temple stalls.
17) Be artsy at the Penang Street Art Trail
Wall murals artist, a Lithuanian-born, Ernest Zacharevich has made up the Penang Street Art Trail back in 2012. It has since been Penang’s most famous attractions. The arts are all based on real-life people’s life that was snapped amongst Georgetown’s streets. Be ready to take Instagram shots of all these beautiful frescoes!
18) Enjoy the greeneries at the Botanic Gardens
Here, enjoy the freshest of air with lots of beautiful plants. Be mesmerized by the charming scents of palms, orchids, black lilies and even cannonball trees as you walk around. Don’t forget to check out the informative mini jungle trail and see what it is all about!
19) DIY bus tour
Hop on to the Central Area Transit (CAT) bus that will take you along Georgetown’s focal points. It will take you passing through many iconic buildings like the Blue Mansion, City Hall, the Goddess of Mercy Temple, Fort Cornwallis, St George’s Church, and the Eastern and Oriental Hotel. By riding on this bus, you will definitely be able to have a taste of the town’s diversity and celebrated architecture, FOR FREE!
20) Enjoy outdoor activities at the Teluk Bahang Forest Eco Park (Taman Rimba)
This is a favorite outdoor ground for local families and at times, you can see foreigners here checking out the place too. Relish the tranquility of nature away from the hectic city life and if you love hiking, Taman Rimba also offers not one, but five hiking trails with different levels of challenges and difficulties.
21) Penang Esplanade
Go to the Penang Esplanade which is a seafront promenade located just opposite to the Fort Cornwallis. Within distance, you can see famous landmarks and buildings such as the Queen Victoria Memorial Clock Tower, City Hall, State Legislative Assembly and Logan Memorial. On Sundays, the esplanade comes alive as there will be many shows organized by the Penang State Tourism Development and Culture.
22)Tanjung City Marina
Before 2005, the Tanjung City Marina was called the Church Street Pier and it is Penang’s initial city marina. It is a world-class marina and possesses 102 berths that can cater up to 140 boats and yachts at the same time. Just around the corner of Tanjung Marina, boat lovers will find their favorite nook which is a cool hangout spot too.
23) Go to Bazaars
Penang is a heaven for shopaholics as there are many bazaars here. If you could hold yourself from purchasing anything, then this activity can be considered as FREE. There would usually be many types of bazaars held at many spots around the city, so keep your ears and eyes wide open and be alert!
24) IBox Glass Museum
If you are seeking for something unique, a visit to the IBox glass Museum would be so worth it. It is the first glass museum in Malaysia and it has the longest glass painting of a batik motif. With such remarkable feature, it is still surprising that there is no admission fee to enter this museum. So enjoy it while it is still FREE!
25) Be dazzled at Khoo Khongsi ‘Light Up Night’
Do you know that the Khoo Khongsi is Penang’s richest, most detailed Chinese clan house? If you don’t, now you do! Here is the tricky part. It has an entrance fee, however, ONCE a month, which is the final Saturday of each month, the Khoo Kongsi would open its doors to public with a free ‘Light up Night’. During this day, you can experience spectacular illuminated courtyard, food stalls, and there would also be traditional Chinese performances such as Lion Dance, drumming and Chinese acrobatics. What a treat, right?
26) Visit the Youth Park or Penang Municipal Park
Possessing a massive playground with a lot of different areas that has exercise equipment, this place also has a pool. With all the greeneries around the vicinity, hanging out at this place is such a relaxing experience. Oh, and one more thing! You can spot monkeys here too. So that would be a definite PLUS.
27) Tour Penang’s historical Francis Light cemetery
Well, we don’t know if you would like to give it a try on this. But everyone has a different take on a tour to such any place. So, we will take a chance. Nevertheless, if you were to go for a tour at the Penang’s historic cemetery, you could learn facts about the cemetery itself and know more about the historically significant cemetery which is full of remains of those who have developed Penang back in the days.
28) Free music concerts
On the last Saturday of each month, commencing from 7:30 pm, there would be outdoor live music concerts which are located at the Gurney Paragon. Situated strategically beside the ocean, you can enjoy the breeze along with the serenading music.
29)Vibrant Chinese porcelain figurines and statues
Located at the Bee Cin Heong Company, this long and pink colonial building is a house of a large store which is full of everything Chinese! You will be able to see lanterns, figurines, festival goods, vases, charms and a lot more. If it is your luck that you happen to be in Penang on the final weekend of the month, you will be able to experience more FREE activities. Try seeking for advice at the Tourist Information Office, which has all the happenings on the last weekend of each month.
30) Keep fit
Why not try out something more physical and cool during your travel? Check out some aerobic classes or perhaps Tai Chi lessons at some of the parks around Penang. At the Penang Youth Park, they normally hold public aerobic sessions during Monday and Wednesday evenings starting at 6 pm. Meanwhile, at the Esplanade, Tai Chi classes is usually conducted every Monday to Friday starting at 7 am. Don’t forget to try it out. It is free anyway!
Who would have thought that Penang has a lot to offer even though it is just a tiny Island? Not only one or two activities but somehow, we managed to list 30 FREE activities. So, guys, don’t put our effort to waste, and the next time you visit Penang, do check out the listed places above.