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4 Days In Penang – The Best Activities On Offer For A Quick Visit!

Are 4 days in Penang Enough?

 

Surely you can’t see everything with only 4 days in Penang!?

That is correct sir (or madame)!

4 days in Penang isn’t enough to see everything, but it is enough time to see the best of what Penang has to offer. The best activities can be done with only 4 days in Penang. Deciding exactly what are the best activities is a personal choice.

But I hope to help in some way, with my own experiences on what was worth it, why it was worth it, and what was not worth my time.

This isn’t to say that you will run out of things to do if you stay longer, it’s just a realistic example of an itinerary of someone who is travelling through Southeast Asia, and only has 6 months, there are always things you can’t do, it’s just the nature of the beast.

With any luck, after reading this guide you will be able to maximise the enjoyment factor of your 4 days in Penang, and avoid all of the rubbish.

 

Click here to see a video of some of the activities you can do in Penang with 4 days up your sleeve!

What’s Penang All About?

 

If you’ve stumbled across this and want to know more about Penang before reading on, I have another post that deals more with general info, this post is specifically aimed at activities worth doing with 4 days in Penang.

*Disclaimer

Affiliate links may be present on this page. These are links to websites such as Amazon, where if you decide to purchase something, then they will offer me a tiny commission. This comes at no extra cost to you and is just a way for me to try and support myself and the blog. I only link to the best of the best with careful consideration, thank you.

Things to do With 4 Days in Penang

 

Ok, so 4 days isn’t a whole lot of time, you will need to try be as active as possible, and it helps if you can work to your own schedule, which means renting a scooter. This way you are free to come and go at any hour of the day, you won’t lose time waiting for buses, walking, or spend a lot of money on a Grab which is slower than riding a scooter anyway!

I will recommend some of these activities be done at certain times, this is to avoid massive crowds, which not only makes the activity better, but it means you get through it quicker. This is personal preference of course.

Although Penang is an island, this isn’t a relaxed tropical island with luscious beaches, jet ski tours or kayaking. This is a metropolitan type destination, history and culture are the main draw-cards here. If you want beaches in Malaysia, then go to Langkawi.

Anyway, let’s take a look at the things I managed to do with 4 days in Penang, in no particular order.

Kek Lok Si Temple

 

What is it?

This is the largest Buddhist temple in all of Malaysia.

It was built originally in 1890-1905 but it has had additions since then, the new bronze statue of Guanyin that sits atop the grounds was built in 2002 to replace another structure that was damaged by fire.

 

How much does it cost?

Entry is free, but there are costs for those who don’t want to walk up to the higher pagodas and would rather take the lift, however the fee is only 6 MYR, I went up for free by exiting the main compound and riding my scooter further up the hill on the road, there is another area to park up the top.

 

Opening Hours?

Google says: 08:30-17:30

However I find Google to be very unreliable with these sorts of things, I was there in the evening and it closed at 18:00 on that particular day.

 

What do you do here?

Walk around and look at the architecture, enjoy the peace and quiet, enjoy the view over Penang. Just check it out because it is cool.

 

How do you get here?

It is only a 20 minute scooter ride and it can be combined with visiting Penang Hill, which is another attraction nearby. Alternatively, a Grab will be really cheap, especially if shared by friends.

 

How long will I spend here?

I think that between 1 and 2 hours is plenty.

 

When to come?

I would recommend doing Penang Hill for the sunrise and then visiting this on the way back into town, this way it will still be early to avoid the heat, and also a lot less people will be here as the gates open.

If you happen to be in Penang during the Chinese new year then come at night, it is the only time of the year where they will light the temple up.

 

Do you recommend it?

Yes. Without any exceptions.

Travelling Southeast Asia can give you temple overload, which I get, but this is one of the better ones you’ll see.

KEK LOK SI TEMPLE

(Shot with the DJI Mavic 2 Pro).

Floating Mosque

 

What is it?

This is a very nice looking mosque that is built out over the water. It is massive and holds 1,500 worshippers.

 

How much does it cost?

Entry is free.

 

Opening Hours?

Google says: 05:00-22:00

This would be consistent with the early prayers that are held inside the mosque.

 

What do you do here?

This is a religious place, the reason you come here, other than to pray, is to walk around in silence and look at the building’s architecture. There are pamphlets on Islam at the front door.

The guy who worked here was super friendly and made the visit so enjoyable for me.

 

How do you get here?

You will drive straight past this on the way to the north-west of the island, it is on the main road that connects Georgetown with Batu Gerringhi and the national park.

 

How long will I spend here?

Less than an hour.

 

When to come?

It is open all day, but they do run prayers at different times of the day. Try to drop in on the way to the north of the island, or on the way back and chances are the prayers won’t be in session.

If you love photography, then obviously sunrise and sunset will offer the best light. Do not fly drones around during prayer time.

 

Do you recommend it?

Yes.

It’s different, and you can’t miss it as you head to the north of the island so why not stop for 30 minutes to check it out?

FLOATING MOSQUE

(Shot with the DJI Mavic 2 Pro).

Penang Hill

 

What is it?

The steepest funicular tunnel track in the world! It goes to the top of Penang Hill, which serves as a welcome respite from the heat of Penang and offers great views looking eastward into the rising sun and towards mainland Malaysia. 

 

How much does it cost?

Although you can walk to the top for free, I’d recommend you don’t do that if you only have 4 days in Penang, because there goes the majority of one day already.

Catch the funicular to the top.

For foreigners it costs 30 MYR for a standard ticket, but the price goes up to 80 MYR for the fast-lane ticket.

 

Opening Hours?

The funicular runs from 06:30 – 23:00. It runs at 15 minute intervals between 08:00 and 20:00, then at 30 minute intervals for all hours outside of that.

If you haven’t got a ticket online, you can just get there early and the ticket gate will open at 06:15.

 

What do you do here?

It is a lookout, you go up to the top, then you look, out over Penang and across to mainland Malaysia. It is a good spot to watch the sunrise.

 

How do you get here?

It is only a 20 minute scooter ride and it can be combined with visiting Kek Lok Si Temple on the way back after sunrise.

 

How long will I spend here?

You could spend 2 or 3 hours up here. I think 2 hours is a reasonable amount of time.

 

When to come?

First thing in the morning, for a number of reasons.

1. It gets crazy busy during the day and people have waited in lines for hours.

2. If you come early you don’t need to buy a fast lane ticket because you will get on the first train with a regular 30 MYR ticket.

3. The whole point is to watch the sunrise over the mainland and then watch it light up Penang and Butterworth across the bridge.

This will also allow you to visit Kek Lok Si Temple on the way back to Georgetown.

 

Do you recommend it?

Yes.

On the condition that you come early and watch the sunrise to avoid horrible lines and getting extorted into an 80 MYR fast lane ticket borne out of frustration.

PENANG HILL

(Shot with the Sony A7R III using the Sony FE 16-35mm f/4).

Penang National Park

 

What is it?

The national park is a small chunk of land on the very north-western tip of the island with jungle walking trails and beautiful beaches. Not all of the beaches allow swimming though, some are protected turtle hatchling sites.

 

How much does it cost?

Entry to the park is free, you just need to register at the entrance so they know who is in the park.

If you want to skip the hiking you can catch boats out to the beaches, the tickets are bought just outside the park entrance by the vendors. These boat tickets cost about 80 MYR/boat, so if you’re splitting the cost it isn’t too bad, but to go alone would be pricey.

 

Opening Hours?

08:00 – 17:00

 

What do you do here?

Hiking is what you do here, there are a number of jungle paths for you to walk, each leading to a different thing. See the image below for a rundown of the paths with approximate times that they take each way.

 

How do you get here?

It will take about 35-40 minutes on the scooter, all the traffic will be at the Georgetown end, once you’re out of the city it is a cruisy ride and quite enjoyable with all the curves along the coastline.

Otherwise catch Penang Rapid Bus 101, it will bring you all the way out to the national park, then back to Georgetown, it can be caught from Chulia Street in Georgetown. However it will take over an hour and a half.

Grab will not be expensive if shared. It is only 30 MYR each way which is really cheap considering the time it takes to go there.

 

How long will I spend here?

Depending on how much time you have, how much water you can carry, and how much you like hiking, anywhere from 2-5 hours. You can make it quicker by walking one direction, then catching the boat back to save time.

 

When to come?

I would recommend being here early if you are hiking, the jungle gets very hot and humid, so trying to avoid the heat is a priority, you can’t buy water inside the park.

 

Do you recommend it?

Yes.

Entry is free and you don’t have to walk any of the more challenging routes, you just go as far in as you feel comfortable. This part of the island is much more beautiful and the scooter ride here is good fun.

I unfortunately didn’t hike to Monkey Beach because I saw all the signs saying it was closed, but I later found out that that is a load of shit. The trail to Monkey Beach is open, they just say that it is closed to sell boat rides.

Luckily I just went for a walk to some other areas and then left without paying for the boat ride.

Ignore the signs saying that the trails are closed, they are still walkable and they only say this to get more people paying for the boats.

PENANG NATIONAL PARK

(Shot with the Sony A7R III using the Sony FE 16-35mm f/4).

Entopia Butterfly Farm

 

What is it?

A butterfly farm, that I probably shouldn’t have enjoyed as much as I did. It is an educational experience if you have the time to visit it properly, it’s definitely designed as a family activity, but I really liked it anyway.

 

How much does it cost?

Entry to the park for foreigners is 70 MYR, but you can find deals online for about 55 MYR on websites like Klook.

 

Opening Hours?

09:00 – 18:00 Every day.

 

What do you do here?

It is like a big garden, but it is almost like you are walking around on another planet, or in some fantasy land you would read about in a book. There are educational tours but you can walk around at your own pace and enjoy the show.

As you exit you go through a ton of interactive displays, all about the butterfly life cycle, as well as information about other bugs and insects. It is all done very well, as you would expect with the price.

As a solo male traveller, I don’t know what I was expecting, but it was really cool.

 

How do you get here?

It will take about 35-40 minutes on the scooter, all the traffic will be at the Georgetown end, once you’re out of the city it is a cruisy ride and quite enjoyable with all the curves along the coastline.

Otherwise catch Penang Rapid Bus 101, it will bring you all the way out to the Escape Theme Park and it is a short 250m walk south from there to Entopia.

Grab will not be expensive if shared. It is only 30 MYR each way which is really cheap considering the time it takes to go there.

 

How long will I spend here?

1.5 hours.

You can do it a lot quicker if you breeze past the interactive educational displays on the walk out, it is a long section with lots of different displays and animatronics. I think 2 hours is the maximum that you will spend here unless you stay to eat.

 

When to come?

Any time of the day, maybe after going to the national park and hiking, you can drop in here on the way back to town to cool off and relax.

 

Do you recommend it?

Maybe.

This isn’t an adventurous pursuit, so if adventure is what you want then drive on past. This is a calming and relaxing way to get out of the heat and see something quite unique. The 70 MYR fee will put a few people off I am sure.

I definitely don’t regret coming here though.

ENTOPIA BUTTERFLY FARM

(Shot with the Sony A7R III using the Sony FE 16-35mm f/4).

Explore Georgetown

 

What is it?

 

The historical centre of Georgetown near the port is all easily accessible on foot and you can breeze through the main highlights in one day.

For the sake of this guide I will cover some of the main activities in this area, the ones that are “highly recommended” by a lot of bloggers (I did them al but won’t be recommending them all). You can walk all of these in a circular path, I will list them in a counter-clockwise direction.

  1. Queen Victoria Memorial Clock Tower.
  2. Fort Cornwallis.
  3. Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion.
  4. Walk Chulia Street.
  5. Kapitan Keling Mosque.

While you are exploring, keep an eye out for the street art splattered about the place!

 

How much does it cost?

Queen Victoria Memorial Clock Tower:
Free.

Fort Cornwallis:
20 MYR (but you can just walk around  the outside for free).

Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion:
Tours are 25 MYR and only run 3 times per day.

Walk Chulia Street:
Free.

Kapitan Keling Mosque:
Free.

 

Opening Hours?

Queen Victoria Memorial Clock Tower:
24/7

Fort Cornwallis:
09:00 – 22:00

Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion:
Tours are at 11:00, 14:00 and 15:30.

Walk Chulia Street:
24/7

Kapitan Keling Mosque:
11:30-13:00, 14:00-16:00, 17:00-18:30.

 

What do you do here?

Queen Victoria Memorial Clock Tower:
Have a look on the way around the block.

Fort Cornwallis:
There is a paid entrance but there is minimal to be gained from going inside.

Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion:
The guided tour just shows you around the house.

Walk Chulia Street:
Look at the buildings, try some cafes, find some street art, try some street food.

Kapitan Keling Mosque:
This is mostly an architectural pursuit, just have a quick look around the outside.

 

How do you get here?

Walk, to all of them, it’s not far and it will get you going past some interesting buildings, cafes and restaurants.

 

How long will I spend here?

Queen Victoria Memorial Clock Tower:
5 minutes.

Fort Cornwallis:
20 minutes.

Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion:
If you do a tour it will take 45 minutes.

Walk Chulia Street:
You could be hours doing this, over multiple days, heading out for breakfast or dinner is always good in this part of the neighbourhood.

Kapitan Keling Mosque:
20 minutes.

When to come?

All of these can be walked around and observed from the outside at any time, but avoid the middle of the day when it is hot and there is no shade available.

 

Do you recommend it?

Queen Victoria Memorial Clock Tower:
Swing past it for sure, it won’t take you long.

Fort Cornwallis:
No. Don’t pay to go inside that is, just have a look from the outside and see the walls and cannons from there. Just read the Google reviews to see how little regard it seems to hold with travellers. I don’t really understand how some people recommend this.

Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion:
No. Just look from the outside, unless you’re a massive fan of one of the movies that it has featured in, or are mad into architecture. At the end of the day it is just a house, it’s not that exciting and I wouldn’t go out of my way to see it.

Walk Chulia Street:
Yes. This is one of the things that makes you feel like you’re a part of Penang, walking around trying the different restaurants, bars and cafes is good fun, especially at night with the street markets.

Kapitan Keling Mosque:
No. The floating mosque is better and there’s nothing to do here really, feel free to skip it.

GEORGETOWN

(Shot with the DJI Mavic 2 Pro).

Summary

 

It might seem like there’s a lot to take in there, but it really is doable with plenty of time to do other activities you might enjoy, like;

The reason I didn’t do them is because I am not really interested in 3D art museums, the spice garden would have been a let down after Entopia and definitely not worth 30 MYR, I have seen and held plenty of snakes before at other reptile parks and Komtar would have been cool, but I was going to go to Kuala Lumpur and go up the top of Menara Tower so I didn’t bother.

It’s important that you don’t blindly follow a blog post, if you think that a snake museum would be a great experience then go right ahead. To me though there are four absolute must-do activities in Penang:

  • Penang Hill for sunrise.
  • Kek Lok Si temple.
  • The national park.
  • Walking the streets exploring.

 

Possible Itinerary

 

This is just an example of the a way that you could use your 4 days in Penang, by grouping activities by their location.

Day 1 – National park, Entopia, and The Floating Mosque.

Day 2 – Penang Hill and Kek Lok Si Temple.

Day 3 – Walk around all of Georgetown exploring.

Day 4 – Do something that you want to do, forget about blog recommendations and do something that you like! Whether it’s a massage, shopping, literally doing nothing or prancing around the hostel pretending to be a horse and eating all the cereal. Go do you!!

The 1 Activity I Regret Not Doing

 

If I could have my time again, I would be sure to go to Escape Theme Park.

I only discovered this place because I kept seeing the signs for it as I was heading to the national park, and then by the time I realised what it was it was too late.

Escape is a massive theme park, with all sorts of activities, there is a dry section and a wet section, and the inner child in me would have been going off his tits with excitement had he been able to let loose here.

A Map Showing The Activities Locations

For references sake, this might come in handy when planning your trip. Once you land you will want a SIM card to look up this stuff in Google maps. Note that this location of Penang Hill is the location of the lower station, where you catch the funicular from and also where the ticketing station is. The peak of Penang Hill is Bukit Bendara to the north-west.

 

That’s it for this guide to 4 days in Penang, as you can see if you plan your days properly you can see a lot in a short amount of time.

 

Safe travels everyone!

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