How to Spend 1 Day in Penang
Home to colonial architecture and some of the best street food in Asia, Penang’s charm is undeniable. The small size of Georgetown—the UNESCO World Heritage Site that serves as the island’s diverse cultural center—makes it easy to explore in just one day. Here’s what you need to know for the ultimate 1-day Penang itinerary.
Morning: Stir Penang’s Cultural Melting Pot
Dedicate the morning to discovering the diversity of Penang’s culture. Wake up early and embark on a morning sightseeing tour of Georgetown—traveling with a guide ensures you don’t get lost among attractions. Wander past the colorful colonial mansions; experience the sights and smells of Little India and Chinatown; and delve into the rich history of landmarks such as Pinang Peranakan Mansion and Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion. Walking tours typically reveal the iconic-yet-elusive street art scattered around Armenian Street and allow you to appreciate the finer details of Georgetown.
Afternoon: Head to the Hills
Devote the afternoon to exploring Penang Hill (Flagstaff Hill), where cooler temperatures provide a refreshing break from the downtown humidity. The 2,411-foot (735-meter) peak provides panoramic views of Georgetown, Penang Bridge, and the Straits of Malacca. You can access the hill via a challenging 2-hour hike—not ideal if you’re time-pressed—or via the funicular train. Waiting times for the funicular can reach two hours, so ensure you purchase a skip-the-line admission ticket in advance or visit as part of a guided tour, most of which stop at the spectacular Kek Lok Si Temple, the largest Buddhist temple in Malaysia, and include round-trip transport.
Night: Food, Glorious Food
Now that you’ve worked up an appetite, spend the evening enjoying Penang’s famous food. Guided street food tours provide an easy way to make sense of the hundreds of stalls and dishes on offer and can be individually tailored. Immerse yourself in the bustle of hawker centers to sample local delicacies such as char kway teow (rice noodles with king prawns), hokkien mee (rich fish soup with roasted pork), and chenda l (shaved ice topped with coconut milk and red beans). Complete your day with a cocktail on Love Lane, stopping at one of the quirky yet cozy bars with live music.