Celebrated as the culinary capital of South East Asia, Penang Island is a foodie’s paradise. It sits off the coast of the Malay Peninsula and is anchored by the UNESCO-listed city of George Town. Beyond the city is a tropical paradise with palm-lined beaches, sleepy fishing villages, lush jungles and sprawling farmland to explore.
Things to do in Penang Island
Most travellers gravitate towards George Town, which once served as an important trading hub for Europe and the Middle East. Over the centuries this led to a mishmash of British colonial buildings, Chinese shophouses and sacred mosques.
The upbeat Lebuh Cintra strip is a hotspot for nightlife, while the colourful Little India neighbourhood is brimming with sari stalls, spice markets and curry houses. Nearby is the Penang State Museum and Art Gallery, one of Malaysia’s top cultural attractions.
Rising more than 800 metres above George Town, Penang Hill offers sweeping views of the island. Work up a sweat on a hiking trail, or ride the funicular to the summit. Penang is laced with beaches, with Batu Ferringhi the most popular. If you want to escape the crowds, head west to Teluk Bahang.
From oyster omelettes and seafood spring rolls to buttery croissants and beautifully decorated cupcakes, eating your way through Penang is all part of the fun. If you’re adventurous, don’t miss the street fare on Gurney Drive.
Getting around Penang Island
In George Town, local buses are a quick and easy way to get around. If you’d rather not share your ride, you can hail a taxi or flag down a cycle rickshaw. If you’re confident on the roads, renting a motorbike or scooter can be a great way to explore the island. Most visitors fly into Penang International Airport, located around 16 kilometres south of George Town.