A Super Easy 3 Day Penang Itinerary
Penang is one of the most popular destinations in Malaysia due to its great food, street art, heritage buildings, and beautiful beaches. With this three day Penang itinerary you will get to see a broad range of attractions, have a chance to visit some amazing beaches, ad of course get into the amazing food this island is world-famous for.
Georgetown is the main hub of Penang. This historical town has been listed as a UNESCO Heritage site just like Melaka in the south of Peninsula Malaysia.
The center of George Town is self if quite compact with plenty to do, but we will also show you some attractions well worth visiting further around the island.
How to get to Penang
The easiest way to get to Penang is by bus from Kuala Lumpur. Take the bus from Terminal Bersepadu Selatan (TBS) in Kuala Lumpur to Sungai Nibong Bus Terminal in George Town, Penang.
The trip takes about 4.5 hours with buses departing almost every hour. The trip costs around RM 40 (USD 10).
The Rapid Penang Bus (public transport) routes 401, 301, and 303 runs from the Sungai Nibong Bus Terminal to Chulia Street which is right beside the main backpacker zone.
Things to do in Penang
Day 1 – Wader Through Georgetown
Explore George Town – let’s kick off this Penang itinerary with a good old aimless wander the old streets of George Town. Ditch the map, take your time, and just absorb the local culture. You will find interesting street art down small alleyways, historical colonial buildings, and lots and lots of great food.
I highly recommend spending the entire first day exploring George Town without rushing it.
Visit the Clan Jetties – for a unique and local experience you can wander through the Clan Jetties over near Swettenham Pier. These are communities of traditional wooden stilt houses built over the water. Back in the day, the Clan Jetties were mainly a village for the immigrant Chinese fisherman.
Day 2 – Explore the Beaches
Penang National Park – located on the northwest end of Penang, this 23 square kilometer national park has jungle trails and some beautiful beaches to visit. Head to Monkey Beach on the north which is OK, or with a bit more effect you can reach Pantai Keracut Beach on the west.
Pantai Keracut Beach is only accessible by walking making it a beautifully secluded spot, the best beach in Penang. The walk from the national park entrance is about 1 hour one way. Bring enough water as there are no shops inside the national park.
Batu Ferringhi Beach – another nice beach town on the north coast of Penang. Batu Ferringhi Beach is located halfway along the coastal route from George Town to Penang National Park.
Day 3 – Explore Air Itam
Penang Hill – for a great view of George Town and the coast, you can take the Funicular Railway up the steep ascent. One section of this track is the steepest tunneled train track in the world. It’s pretty impressive riding this train to the top of the hill. Tickets cost RM 30 (USD 7) for a round trip.
The train up Penang Hill runs from 6.30am to 11pm. Visit around sunset for an even nicer view. Oh, and skip the hiking trail options, save your legs for Pantai Keracut Beach.
Kek Lok Si Temple – the largest Buddhist temple in Malaysia. It is located around 10 kilometers west of George Town the hill overlooking the district of Air Itam. If you don’t mind walking, it’s just 2 kilometers from Penang Hill Lower Station.
Where to Eat in Penang
Tajuddin Hussain – this shop serves Nasi Kandar, a dish that comes from the Indians who migrated Penang and traditionally sold street food in bamboo baskets. Nasi Kandar is a dish of rice with a selection of curry. This local shop is located a few hundred meters from the Chuila Street area. For more idea on what to order, check out this article by my favorite food blogger Mark Wiens.
Tek Sen Restaurant – this local restaurant has some great Chinese Malay foods, the other main subculture in Malaysia. The shop is located a really short walk from both guest houses listed below. My favorite food blogger Mark Wiens also wrote this article about the shop.
Transfer Road Roti Canai – if you haven’t had Roti Canai for breakfast yet, this is the place to do so. Open from 8am to 11am, you will have to visit in the morning only. It is a 10 miunte walk from the Love Lane area.
Chulia Street Hawker Centre – this is the place to go for great, cheap, street food. This street comes alive with lots of street stalls from 6pm to 11pm every night.
Air Itam Laksa – Laksa is another super iconic dish from Penang. Eat at this local restaurant when you visit Penang Hill and Kek Lok Si Temple.
Top Hotels in Penang
The main area for backpackers is around Chulia Street, Love Lane, and Lebuh Muntri. These streets are right in the historical heart of George Town. At night Love Lane turns into a lively bar street and is great for meeting other backpackers.
Old Penang Guesthouse ($) – a nice heritage building guesthouse located on Love Lane. They have both private rooms and dorms. As Love Lane is a bit party area it can be a bit noisy here too.
23 Love Lane ($$) – a series of heritage buildings that have been restored into an amazing hotel with 10 mid-range priced private rooms. 23 Love Lane is walking distance from downtown Penang, the local street art works, and a range of lively bars and restaurants.
Getting Around: Private and Public Transport
Exploring George Town by foot or bicycle is fine. Exploring further around the island, renting a motorbike offers the most flexibility. They’re available at hostels or motorbike shops in town.
The Rapid Penang Bus is a public transport system which can be useful for getting around too.
- Route 101 runs from George Town to Penang National Park via Batu Ferringhi
- Route 204 runs from George Town to Penang Hill an on to Kek Lok Si Temple
- Routes 401, 303, and 303 runs from the bus terminal to Chulia Street
If you are planning to rely on buses, you can also purchase the Rapid Bus Tourist Pass. This pass offers unlimited travel over 7 days for just RM 30 (USD 7).
Photo Credits: Clan Jetties by Poh Wei Chuen on Unsplash, Penang Street Art by Yaopey Yong on Unsplash, Penang Hill by Fidelia Zheng on Unsplash, Kek Lok Si Temple 1 by Geraldine Ng on Unsplash, Kek Lok Si Temple 2 by Geraldine Ng on Unsplash