3 Days In Penang: Recommendations From A Tour Guide

3 Days In Penang: Recommendations From A Tour Guide
Beth
Beth 
Trip101 Tour Guide
Updated
| 7 min read

Set off the coast of Malaysia, Penang is a lovely destination for tourists. Its capital, George Town, is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Here, you’ll find wonderful examples of rich heritage, such as Cheong Fatt Tze and Khoo Kongsi. You can also enjoy great food thanks to the various communities that live here, including Malay, Chinese, and Indian.

Whether you like historical sites or pristine beaches, Penang is a great choice for a holiday. Although I recommend staying more than three days, you can get a good glimpse of some of its best sites in this time. So if you’d like to learn more about what you can do, check out my guide for 3 days in Penang.

Day 1

Introductory meal in George Town

Kek Seng Coffee Shop
Source: Beth Chong

After you’ve landed in George Town, I recommend going for a meal that will help to introduce you to the cuisine and culture of Penang. This is what I do with my guests, along with telling them interesting facts about Penang while they eat.

  • One of my go-to places is Sri Weld Food Court, which has a great array of local food, noodles, and rice dishes from the many local communities.
  • Or, you can go to Kek Seng Coffee Shop, one of the oldest surviving lunchtime coffee shops, for some local street food. They are well known for their shaved ice with durian ice cream.
Beth's tip

We have a lot of variety in food since Malaysia is a multicultural country. Whether you need vegetarian, vegan, or gluten-free meals, you’ll be able to find them here.

Check into hotel

Post your meal, check into your preferred hotel and freshen up before the next adventure. If you’d like to know my recommendations, you can check them out at the end of this article!

Tour of heritage attractions

George Town has plenty of attractions to keep you interested.

  • One of my favorites is Khoo Kongsi, a gem of a heritage attraction that still functions as clan association headquarters. It has been restored with care and pride and is a worthy place to visit for any visitor.
  • Those interested in exploring different cultures should visit Armenian Street and its surrounding area. This is where most visitors go to see our local colors, culture, and way of life. It has a traditional setting with old and new cultures mingling to showcase how the city is thriving.
  • Fort Cornwallis is the only intact British-built fort in the country, so it's another must-visit.
Beth's tip

I recommend walking around these areas, but if that’s not feasible for you, you can also rent a car.

Snacks at Little India

In the late afternoon or evening, head to Little India to try delicious snacks.

  • Putu mayong (string hoppers) are steamed rice noodles that are served with freshly grated coconut and jaggery sugar. Some of the noodles even have pandan juice added to the batter, which gives it a lovely scent and a slight green color.
  • If fried delicacies are more your thing, head to the corner of Queen Street and Market Street for pakoras, bahjis, vadai, and samosas with various fillings. Do try the sardine samosa.
  • Try roti jala at Ali Capati Corner. This is a yellow lacy bread that is cooked on a hotplate and served with chicken curry or dhal curry. It's lovely to see how it's prepared and lovely to eat it too.
  • Pair it up with a cup of teh tarik, a hot milky tea served by most Indian and Indian Muslim shops. The action of pouring the piping hot tea from one container to another helps to cool the tea a little and create a layer of froth that enhances the experience.

Baba Nyonya cuisine for dinner

I am a fifth-generation Nyonya, and therefore, had the privilege of learning how to cook Nyonya food from my grandmother, and aunties. It was our daily cuisine. As I had a typical baba (father) who was very particular about his food, I had to prepare the Nyonya dishes very carefully. I actually plan to incorporate this skill into my tour experience at some point. I love cooking and love seeing people enjoying my meals.

Baba Nyonya is a community of Malaysian Chinese who have been here for as far back as 12 generations. Traders from China came over to our shores and married the local women, which started this sub-culture and community. The cuisine that resulted from this is the pride of some parts of our country. Especially Penang and Melaka. However, the ingredients and preparations differ between these two states. Here in Penang, we have a stronger Thai influence.

Baba Phang has excellent food but a reservation is required. Some must-try dishes here are kacang botol kerabu (angle bean salad), tau ewe bak (soya sauce stewed pork), ince kabin (deep-fried marinated chicken), and Asam prawns (prawns marinated in tamarind).

Day 2

Rural Penang

The next day, wake up fresh and head to rural Penang, specifically Balik Pulau Bu. The paddy fields here offer a pretty view, especially if it’s the growing season. The fields will be vibrant green and so refreshing to see.

Beth's tip

Rapid bus 401E can be taken from George Town to Balik Pulau Bu. If possible, renting a car would be best for a trip around the island.

Beaches

Since Penang is an island, it has plenty of beautiful beaches. So, this is the next stop I’d recommend to you. Pulau Betong Beach or Pantai Pasir Panjang is a secluded stretch of beach that hasn’t seen too much development, therefore it’s pristine.

Beth's tip

I wouldn’t recommend swimming here. Just bring your camera along and take some nice panoramic shots of the beach.

Fishing village and lunch

In the same area as the beach, which is Pulau Betong, you’ll find the local fishing village, Pulau Betong Fishing Village, and the catch landing jetty. It’s not within walking distance but will take only a few minutes by car. Stop here for lunch at Jia Siang Seafood, which prepares Chinese-style dishes and meals.

Chop Kim Hoa Belacan Factory

After lunch, visit Chop Kim Hoa Belacan Factory for a look at the production process of their famous shrimp paste. Luckily, no tickets are required to visit. However, being able to get a look at the production process is very dependent on the shrimp catch of the day. There’s no way to know at what point of the process we would visit in, and there are times when it’s just the factory with the paste in containers in the fermentation stage. But visitors can have a look at what’s there.

Beth's tip

The factory has its products for sale at the office, in case you’d like to take some home.

Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion

Head back to Georgetown after the factory visit and rest up before continuing your tour. Your next stop can be Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion, a boutique hotel that won UNESCO’s Most Excellent Project in the Asia Pacific Heritage Award. There are daily tours by trained guides here which are informative and interesting. You can also stop here for dinner if you want, as it has Indigo Restaurant and Indigo and Café Mangga, which offer delicious local dishes.

Beth's tip

There are also other restored heritage buildings with dining options. For instance, Seven Terraces, a boutique hotel, has a fine-dining Nyonya cuisine restaurant—Kebaya Dining room. Fort Cornwallis also has Kota, a fusion restaurant.

Macallum Street Night Market

After visiting the mansion, explore some more of George Town’s hotspots. There are a few options, one of which is my current favorite night market, Macallum Street Night Market. It isn’t as crowded as some others, and it has a wider representation of food from all communities.

I recommend trying Lekor, a popular deep-fried fish-based finger food that is either a crispy cracker or a sausage and eaten with a yummy sweet and spicy sauce. It’s originally from the Eastern Coast state of Terengganu.

Beth's tip

The market is only open on Mondays, so you can plan your visit accordingly.

Penang National Park

If natural beauty is more your thing, you can skip both Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion and the night market. Instead, after lunch, head directly to Penang National Park, which features coastal, lowland dipterocarp. It also has a rare meromictic lake and a turtle sanctuary. It gives visitors a chance to go jungle trekking as well as spend some time on the beach.

The park will take about four hours to explore.

Beth's tip

The best option to go from attraction to attraction in Penang is to drive yourself. If you prefer public transport, bus services provided by RAPID are also available. Another option is to use e-hailing car services.

Day 3

Esplanade

Linear Park
Source: Beth Chong

In the morning, you can go to the new Esplanade. It’s been there for ages, but they have recently built Linear Park here, and it’s nicely landscaped. You can even watch cruise ships as they go by or as they come into the port. It’s quite scenic.

Beth's tip

If you are staying in George Town, the best way to get here is on foot. Take a morning stroll through the city and get to Linear Park.

My recommendations for hotels

High-end hotels

  • Eastern & Oriental Hotel
  • JEN Penang Georgetown by Shangri-La

More affordable hotel

  • Bayview Hotel Georgetown Penang

Budget hotel

  • Bishop Hotel

Eastern & Oriental Hotel (from USD 313)

Eastern & Oriental Hotel is the Grand Dame of our heritage hotels. Its rich history is fascinating, and the architecture will bring you back to the golden pre-war era. Thanks to its seafront views, garden with a pool, food and beverage outlets, and a heritage pub, it’s a pleasurable step back into the old-world comforts and charm.


Eastern & Oriental Hotel

Wifi Available

Address: 10 Farquhar Street

Parking Restaurant Room service Meeting/banquet facilities Bar 24-HOUR FRONT DESK Fitness centre Golf course (within 3 km)

JEN Penang Georgetown by Shangri-La (from USD 115)

JEN Penang Georgetown by Shangri-La is another top-notch option, which has well-appointed rooms and offers a stay within the buffer zone of UNESCO sites.


JEN Penang Georgetown by Shangri-La

Wifi Available Wheelchair accessible Visual Aid: Braille

Address: Magazine Road

Parking Restaurant Room service Meeting/banquet facilities 24-HOUR FRONT DESK Sauna Fitness centre Non-smoking rooms

Bayview Hotel Georgetown Penang (from USD 46)

On the more affordable (but still high-end) side is Bayview Hotel Georgetown Penang, an established hotel with a revolving restaurant on its highest floor. Its sky bar allows for great night views of the city below. It also has large rooms and comfortable beds.


Bayview Hotel Georgetown Penang

Wifi Available

Address: 25A Farquhar Street

Parking Restaurant Room service Meeting/banquet facilities Bar 24-HOUR FRONT DESK Non-smoking rooms Facilities for disabled guests

Bishop Hotel (from USD 31)

My recommendation for a budget stay is Bishop Hotel, right in the city and just next to the popular Little India. It has clean rooms and friendly staff, along with being an easy walk from the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Penang. There are countless restaurants, coffee shops, and street food all around the hotel.


Bishop Hotel

Wifi Available

Address: 32 Bishop Street 32

Parking 24-HOUR FRONT DESK Non-smoking rooms Family rooms Internet services Lift Luggage storage WiFi Available

Enjoy an exciting holiday in Penang

Penang has loads of fun beaches, historical icons, and culture to see. Follow the guide above for the best 3 days on this wonderful island.

Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.

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My interest in travel started from childhood and when I was a teenager, I went for my first solo backpacking trip to Paris and London. It resulted in my working in the Tourism Industry and...Read more

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