If you’re looking to extend your Malaysia trip outside of Kuala Lumpur, why not head out to Georgetown, Penang? Despite being a small island, there are so many things to do in Penang, from fascinating UNESCO Heritage buildings to world-famous street art and food!
If you’re looking for what to do in Georgetown, this Penang itinerary for 3 days will convince you to plan your next trip to the food capital of Malaysia!
Planning a trip around Malaysia? You can check out this itinerary for 2 weeks that includes stops at five incredible places in Malaysia and these posts as well:
- Fun things to do in Ipoh
- Top things to do in Kuala Lumpur
- The best Melaka day trip
- Singapore and Malaysia itinerary on a budget
- Seven Wells, Langkawi: an epic waterfall in Malaysia
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Penang Itinerary for 3 days – Day 1
Start the first day of your Penang itinerary by strolling around Georgetown to uncover interactive street arts and visit beautiful Peranakan mansions!
Scout out the famous Penang Street Arts
One of the best things do to in Penang is hunting for
To mark Georgetown’s UNESCO World Heritage title, the Government commissioned a local artist to create metal sculptures all over the streets to illustrate the cultural diversity and history of Penang.
The street arts are found mostly in Lebuh Armenia, Lebuh Ah Quee, and Lebuh Canon. Some less famous street arts can also be found further away at Hin Bus Depot. The good news is that their exact locations can be found on Google maps! You just have to pin and DIY your own street art itinerary.
The best time to explore is early in the morning at around 8 am when the town is just starting to wake up. During peak season, the streets will be mostly packed with lines of tourists taking turns in front of the murals as from 9 or 10 am.
Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion( Blue Mansion)
One of the most popular attractions to add to your 3-day Penang itinerary is the Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion. With its striking blue color, it’s hard not to miss the historical landmark of Georgetown, Penang which was constructed by the Chinese businessman, Cheong Fatt Tze, for one of his many wives.
The Blue Mansion subsequently turned into a refuge for the homeless. It later fell into disrepair until it was restored to its former glory and converted into a boutique hotel.
Guided tours are conducted during the week at 11 a.m., 2 p.m. and 3.30 p.m. and during the weekend at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. The tour lasts for 45 minutes and costs RM 16 (US$ 3.90). It’s not necessary to book in advance and you only need to show up at least 15 minutes before the tour starts.
Pinang Peranakan Mansion
Built by the end of the 19th century, the Pinang Peranakan Mansion contains thousands of artifacts showcasing the lifestyle of wealthy Chinese families. Just like in the Blue Mansion, the inside features an indoor courtyard, built with the principles of Feng Shui, typical of traditional Chinese homes.
You can visit every day from 9.30 a.m. to 5 p.m. for RM 20 (US$ 4.85).
Check out the Esplanade (Padang Kota Lama)
Located in the civic district of Penang, the large green space features colonial buildings such as the Town Hall and City Hall overlooking the waterfront. You can either stroll around the esplanade or sample local dishes at the food court.
Make sure you don’t miss the Queen Victoria Memorial Clock Tower found by the Ferry terminal.
Penang Itinerary for 3 Days – Day 2
On day 2 of your Penang trip, head outside of Georgetown to visit the spectacular Kek Lok Si Temple and take in the view at the Penang Hill.
Marvel at Kek Lok Si Temple
Located among the hilly parts of Penang, Kek Lok Si Temple is one of the largest Buddhist temples in Southeast Asia. The architectural masterpiece not only features thousands of Buddha statues and colorful carvings but also boasts incredible views over Penang.
The inclined lift leading to the Goddess of Mercy statue will set you back RM 3 (US$ 0.70) each way. You could also walk alongside the road, but it isn’t really recommended since there are many cars passing by.
To access the Pagoda, you’ll have to pay a small entrance fee of RM 2 (US$ 0.50). The top of the Pagoda offers a perfect vantage point over the flower garden and the whole complex.
Kek Lok Si is open every day from 8.30 a.m. to 5.30 p.m. and during the Chinese New Year festivities, the temple is illuminated by thousands of lanterns until late at night!
One of the best things to do during your Penang itinerary is visiting Penang Hill. Also known as Bukit Bendera, Penang Hill offers scenic views of the whole island at a height of 833 meters above sea level. You can either take the funicular railway or if you’re fit enough you can instead hike up to the top.
The funicular railway operates from 6.30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Standard tickets for adults cost RM 30 (US$ 7.25) and RM 15 (US$ 3.60) for children. I went there in the afternoon and there was a 2-hour wait to buy tickets, so I highly recommend that you book online and go early, preferably during weekdays.
To get there, take the Rapid Penang bus route 203 or 204 from Georgetown. The trip takes about one hour and costs only RM 2 (US$ 0.50). Alternatively, you can take a Grab for about RM 15 (US$ 3.60).
Penang Itinerary for 3 days – Day 3
Spend your last day in Penang by visiting the different temples and Mosques in Georgetown, watching the sunset at the Chew Jetty and tasting the most delicious street food in Malaysia on Chulia Street!
Admire the architecture of Georgetown, Penang
Walking along the streets of Penang feels like stepping back in time. From colonial buildings to traditional shophouses, Georgetown looks like an open-air museum buzzing with culture and history.
Get a glimpse of Penang’s cultural diversity
If you want to experience the cultural diversity during your trip to Penang, head out to Kapitan Keling Mosque, one of the largest mosques in Georgetown, Penang. The Mosque is open every day from 9.30 a.m. to 5.30 p.m. and they even offer free guided tours.
A few meters away, you’ll find a Chinese temple, the Goddess of Mercy Temple and Lebuh Aceh Mosque on Lebuh Cannon.
Watch the sunset on Chew Jetty
The Chew Jetty is a floating village occupied by Chinese immigrants who built their homes on wooden stilts over the water. It has now turned into a popular tourist attraction in Penang with shops selling everything from food to clothes and souvenirs.
The Chew Jetty is a great sunset spot in Penang, but keep in mind that it’s usually very crowded at that time.
Eat all you can at the Chulia Street Night Market!
Every night along Chulia Street, hawkers set up their stalls from 6 p.m to serve the best street food in Penang. Wan Tan Mee, Satay, Nasi Kandar, Char Koay Teow, Lok Lok and Apong (Apom) are among the best food to try!
Have a drink on Love Lane
Just around the corner of Chulia Street, you’ll come across Love Lane which seems to attract mostly backpackers. The area has lots of hipster cafés and bars and comes alive every night. There are a few street arts scattered around if you want to check those out.
More time to spend in Penang?
If you have more than 3 days in Penang, you can explore these attractions which are found outside of Georgetown:
- Batu Ferringhi Beach – Don’t miss the night market where you can sample delicious local dishes and get your hands on some souvenirs!
- Wat Chaiyamangalaran Thai Temple – This Thai Buddhist temple is found a little outside of Georgetown and features colorful carvings and mosaics and a 33-meter reclining Buddha statue.
- Dhammikarama Burmese Temple – This temple found just a few meters from Wat Chaiyamangalaran Thai temple is also worth visiting.
- Tropical Spice Garden – Stroll around the three jungle trails to see the different spices and herbs growing around the garden. Don’t forget to bring enough bug repellent to avoid getting eaten by mosquitoes! You can buy your entry tickets here.
- Penang Botanic Garden – A serene garden with several walking trails where you can spot monkeys, squirrels and a few other animals.
- Avatar Secret Garden
- Penang National Park
- Monkey Beach
Where to stay in Penang?
Being a budget destination, it was very easy to find cheap hotels in Georgetown, Penang. Booking.com offers the largest choice when it comes to budget accommodations, so it’s always my go-to when booking hotels in Southeast Asia. Below is a list of hotels in Penang, from budget to mid-range options:
The 80’s Guesthouse
The 80’s Guesthouse is located on Love Lane and is perfect if you’re a backpacker and want to meet up with other travelers. Prices start from US$ 9 for a bed in a dorm room, including breakfast.
Hotel Chennai by Wink
I stayed at Hotel Chennai by Wink which is located on Penang Street, right in the center of Georgetown and most of the attractions were within walking distance. What I loved the most about this hotel is that I could watch both the sunrise and sunset from the rooftop area, which even has a jacuzzi! You can also refill your water bottle for free, thus reducing your plastic consumption. Prices start from US$ 15 for a single room with a private bathroom.
Blue Mansion (Cheong Fatt Tze)
The Blue Mansion is one of the most famous hotels in Georgetown, Penang! The hotel is a bit on the pricier side but you will definitely be blown away by the architecture and decorations. Fun fact: The Crazy Rich Asians movie was even shot here! Prices start from US$ 117, including breakfast.
How to get to Penang?
You can book bus tickets from either Kuala Lumpur or other parts of Malaysia such as Ipoh and Cameron Highlands on easybook.com or busonlineticket.com or 12go.asia. The bus will drop you off at Sungai Nibong Express Bus Terminal which is located 20 minutes from the center. From there, you can take a Grab for about US$ 4.
The high-speed ferry operates twice daily at 10.30 a.m. and 2 p.m. from Langkawi to Penang and will set you back only about US$ 19 each way. The journey takes approximately 3 hours.
You can either book online or in person, at least 2 days before departure.
Check the price and schedule on 12go.asia
Air Asia has direct flights from Kuala Lumpur to Penang from US$ 14, one way without checked luggage. Tickets for Malaysia Airlines and Malindo Air cost around US$ 17 and US$ 22 respectively.
If you’re coming from Penang Airport make sure to buy your sim card with 15 GB data at a discounted rate here!
How to get around Penang?
Since most of the attractions are concentrated in Georgetown, it’s fairly easy to walk around or you can hire a motorbike for about RM 50 (US$ 11.50).
Alternatively, there is the free Penang CAT shuttle bus that takes you to the main attractions around town. If you want to wander outside of Georgetown, you can either take the Rapid Penang bus for about RM 2 (US$ 0.45) or a Grab for less than RM 17 (US$ 3.90) for a 30 minutes ride.
I hope you enjoyed reading this guide for the best things to do in Penang in 3 days. Let me know if you have more questions about planning your Penang itinerary.