The 10 Most Beautiful Places to Visit in Penang

Michelle Leong

These places in Penang are so Instagrammably beautiful that you’ll have to bring a camera with you – and maybe one of those selfie sticks, too.

With extensive coastlines, thickly forested hills and not one—but two—bridges linking the island and mainland, Penang is never short of beautiful sights. But if you’re wondering about places you can take pictures of and lepak (mill around aimlessly) at, we have the top places for you.

1. St George's Church


St. George’s Church
© littlewormy / Shutterstock

Built in 1818, this is the oldest Anglican church in Southeast Asia. The architecture features elements of Georgian, neo-Classical and English Palladian designs, which were particularly popular in the early 19th century. Supported by four major columns in the front and an octagonal steeple reaching into the sky, this church is an architectural expression of goodwill and religion during the British colonial era.

2. Penang National Park, Penang

Forest, Park

Beach near the hiking path at Penangs National Park, Penang, Malaysia.
© Helissa Grundemann / Shutterstock

This may be the smallest national park in Malaysia, but its wealth of flora and fauna can rival that of any other site. With over 400 plant species and 150 bird species, this park is impressive for its living tropical ecosystem. The hills are dense, the beaches pristine, and long-tailed macaques friendly (as long as you don’t provoke them). Entrance is free.

3. Entopia by Penang Butterfly Farm

Botanical Garden

Entopia Butterfly Farm | © Michelle Leong
We’ve been here three times and we’re still ‘ooh’ing about it. With over 15,000 free-flying butterflies and hundreds of exotic plant species, who wouldn’t be sighing with joy? A standard entrance fee is RM 60 (USD $15) for adults, though you’ll get a discount if you have a MyKad. Be careful where you step, as a few of these delicate creatures enjoy sunbathing on the ground.

4. Penang Hill

Hiking Trail, Hill Station

If you want to infuse exercise into your vacation, try a three-hour hike at the Penang Hill. Dense foliage, long-tailed macaques and sweltering heat can be expected, so bring water and a hat. The most popular starting point is the arched Moon Gate at the Botanical Gardens, and if you time your hike correctly and arrive at the peak at dusk, this is the stunning view you’ll get.

5. City Hall


City Hall | © MMPOP/Shutterstock
© MMPOP / Shutterstock
Located at the western tip of Penang island, this neo-Baroque building is the home of the Municipal Council. Arched windows and serial colonnades form the exterior design of this establishment, which sits beside the Esplanade in front of the sea. You won’t be able to enter the building, but Instagram-worthy shots are easy to take from outside and the Esplanade.

6. Hin Bus Depot


Irene Navarro / © Culture Trip
Hin Bus Depot is Penang’s center of subculture. With an art gallery, kefir stands and wall murals, it doesn’t get any trendier than this. Millennials will love vegan eatery Wholey Wonder, while coffee connoisseurs will enjoy the light roast espressos at Bricklin Cafe. On Sundays, a handicraft market operates between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m., featuring song, food and wickedly sophisticated handiwork.

7. Pinang Peranakan Mansion


Pinang Peranakan Mansion, George Town
© Chris Mouyiaris / robertharding / Alamy Stock Photo
This early 20th-century home of a Chinese tycoon has been turned into a museum for all. Featuring East-meets-West architectural elements, including English floor tiles and Chinese carved wood doors, you can explore the opulent lifestyle and artifacts of the wildly successful Kapitan Chung Kwee Keng. A guided tour costs RM 20 (USD $5) and is well worth the fee.

8. Straits Quay

Shopping Mall

Straits Quay marina, Penang, Malaysia.
© Angela Royle / Shutterstock

Locals either come here to walk, jog, or make their dogs walk and jog. The promenade is the main feature of this modern mall, extending all the way to the Straits Green on one side, and a high-end residential compound on the other. The view of sunrise here is like no other, but if you prefer sunset, come by after 6.30 p.m. and you’ll be able to witness the sky turning shades of crimson, yellow and red.

9. Penang Botanical Gardens

Botanical Garden

This extensive garden is where locals come to power-walk and practice tai chi. Spanning 72 acres, this garden is further divided into 12 subsections, including the cactus house and horticulture center. Set up in 1884 on a former granite quarry and hosting hundreds of flora species, this expansive garden is probably the most popular park in Penang.

10. Eastern & Oriental Hotel


Patio overlooking the sea at the Eastern & Oriental Hotel in Penang, Malaysia | © Eastern & Oriental Hotel
© Eastern & Oriental Hotel
This quaint colonial-style hotel was the brainchild of the Sarkies brothers in 1885. Originally built to cater to the luxurious lifestyles of British colonialists and merchants, this hotel remains one of the most expensive hotels on Penang island. Hermann Hesse, Somerset Maugham and Rudyard Kipling were known to have spent time here. Feel inspired to write a book? It’s in the air.

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