In short, it’s an intoxicating and exciting destination with plenty to see and do...
Penang is a state in Malaysia. The name Penang also refers to the island that’s connected to the mainland by the impressive Penang Bridge. Most holidaymakers bypass the attractions of the mainland for the chance to explore this island.
It’s well worth the detour and Penang holidays can be filled with sightseeing, lazing on the beach, marvelling at soaring temples, sampling street food, sharing the beach with inquisitive monkeys and shopping for gifts in Chinatown.
The Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur, is just three and a half hours to the south and the holiday island of Langkawi is only a couple of hours north. This makes Penang an excellent choice for a twin-centre holiday in Malaysia.
Known as the “Pearl of the Orient”, Penang island offers a condensed slice of mainland Malaysia, with excellent transportation links and accommodation to suit all, from luxurious high-end hotels to budget hostels.
Cross the Strait of Malacca from the mainland and be greeted with skyscrapers and temples that reach for the skies, plus traditional villages and excellent beaches where the pace of life is much slower.
To see the island in its full splendour, make your way up Penang Hill, or Bukit Bendera. You can do it the hard way, on foot, or take the easy option and hop aboard the Penang Hill Railway to earn sweeping views of the island. If you look hard enough, you'll see grand whitewashed colonial mansions, houses influenced by the Chinese residents, tropical forests, Buddhist temples such as Kek Lok Si and the sprawling capital of George Town.
Travel back down the hill to George Town to be entranced by a bustling and friendly city, where the sights, sounds and smells will form remarkable memories. Stroll along the Esplanade to see many of the attractions. Must-sees in George Town include Penang Botanic Gardens, which features a lovely waterfall, plus Penang State Museum and Art Gallery. Other attractions on the island worth a visit include the star-shaped Fort Cornwallis.
The island of Penang is a popular destination for families, groups and couples looking for a bit of beach life alongside sightseeing during their holiday. Penang boasts some incredible beaches that feature pale sands and turquoise waters.
Hire a car to the north of the island to find the best beaches. Batu Ferringhi is a popular choice as it’s also home to a very good night market. Monkey Beach attracts many visitors, too. Macaques that eat crabs will splash about in the surf with you here. Monkey Beach is located within Penang National Park, which also features the beaches of Teluk Kampi and Teluk Bahang. Also in the north is the beach resort of Tanjung Bungah.
If Penang starts to feel too big, the small islands of Pulau Aman and Pulau Jerejak afford an even more traditional glimpse of Malaysian customs and traditions. Jerejak housed a former leper asylum too. Luxury accommodation nestled among the lush green foliage can now be found instead.
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If you visit during September and October, expect rain. However, an average temperature of 30C is constant throughout the year...
Sitting near the equator, Penang is hot, humid and wet. The year is split into wet and dry seasons, though rainfall can be expected at any time. The year-round average temperature is 30C. The driest months in Penang are January, February and March, while the wettest months are September and October.
Most journeys to Penang will land when a festival or celebration is in full swing...
Chinese New Year; January: Be in Chinatown with Penang's large Chinese community to see in the Chinese New Year in style. There are parades and parties across the island.
George Town Festival; June/July: A month-long programme of arts, music, theatre and dance are the reward for summer visitors to Penang. There is plenty to experience around the city during the annual event.
International Dragon Boat Festival; June/July: Teams from around the globe, including the UK, compete in this dragon boat race at Teluk Bahang Dam. Cheer on your favourite boat from dry land as participants splash through the water.
Combine the best of beach and city breaks when you book a holiday in Penang...
Active types: Don your hiking boots and head off on one of the trails at Teluk Bahang forest park. Explore the jungle terrain and waterfall pools before stopping off at the forestry museum to learn all about the sights and wildlife you've just spotted.
Grown-up families: A visit to the intriguing Buddhist Snake Temple will let you get up close to slithery green pit vipers that inhabit the trees around the building.
Shopping: The beach at Batu Ferringhi may be the attraction during the day but, when the sun sets, the night market or “pasar malam” is the place to be. Held from dusk until late into the night, this colourful and bustling bazaar will give you the opportunity to buy everything from souvenirs and local food to accessories and bags.