Exploring Incredible Penang Island with Kids (2024)

There’s a lot of genuinely excellent things to do on Penang Island with kids. Some of our top activities in our 1 year around the world trip have been on Penang Island. Be sure to check out our Penang Island highlight blogs the Penang Tropical Fruit Farm and the Penang Heritage Trail Walk.

We spent a week exploring Penang Island and I’m pleased to report it was a week well spent. George Town is a city of around 800,000 people. The Island is mostly hills and jungle forest, so most residents live in Georgetown and the surrounding areas, making it a very lively city. It has been designated a UNESCO site due to its unique architectural and cultural townscape.

Take a look at our Penang Island with kids Reel on Instagram here.

Getting There

We flew directly from one of our favorite places in SE Asia – Langkawi Island into Penang International Airport which is based on Penang Island. The flights are well priced as it’s a reasonably busy airport – as are most Malaysian flights. Penang Island is connected to the mainland via the impressive 13.5km long Penang Bridge, making driving or via bus a good alternative option. Buses are very affordable in Malaysia, we use 12go Asia.

Renting a car would be an OK option as some of the more remote places are not well serviced by Grab. They will take you there, but it is hard to get a pickup to get home again when you are too far out of the city. However, particularly in Georgetown itself, parking would be tricky, and the ease and cost of Grab here is hard to beat.

We went with Grab and walked a lot – Georgetown is compact enough to make this a good option. If you want to venture to the western side of the island without a car, you will need to use the local buses as Grab often don’t go there. We did get stranded at the Penang Tropical Fruit Farm; but the owner dropped us off (for a small fee) at a nearby bus stop as they are aware of the issue and won’t leave you stuck.

Where to Stay on Penang Island with kids

If your interests lie in exploring Georgetown itself, we recommend a hotel in Georgetown as the UNESCO part of the town is walkable. Its distinct culinary scene is varied an impressive, you won’t lack for cost effective options here.

If like us, you’re looking to go a bit further afield and also looking for better accommodation prices, we stayed in a high-rise apartment in Tanjung Tokong, 20min north of Georgetown. We were on the 35th floor so had amazing city views. From here, we would walk to local markets and restaurants, or use Grab to go further afield. While we stayed for a week as we’re travelling slowly on our world trip, you could fit our highlights in, in 4-5 days.

What to do on Penang Island

Here’s our top recommendations for what to do on Penang Island with kids:

  • The Penang Tropical Fruit Farm. Our whole family enjoyed this, including the Grab trip through the jungle forest and the local wildlife.
  • The Penang Heritage Trail Walk. This one was an unexpected adventure and became a real highlight for us.
  • Exploring Georgetown. You will find impressive street art all over the town which makes for great photos. The streets are narrow, busy and there’s plenty of traffic so something to be mindful of. They’re also jam packed with things to keep you interested – a massive variety of shops, cafes and food stalls everywhere you go.
  • Clan Jetties Floating Village. This is an entire village floating on stilts and entry is free. You can walk out through the floating village where the locals live out to the jetty at the end. Most of the locals have a shop at the front of their house so there’s plenty to look at. Just make sure you stay respectful of their neighborhood. There are no barriers either, so we had to mind our 5-year-old pretty closely from an unexpected dip into the ocean.
  • Day and Night Markets. The morning market next to our accommodation was huge and impressive. It was mostly frequented by locals – a benefit of staying in the outer areas of Penang Island. We enjoyed a MASSIVE tropical downpour of rain and spent the afternoon sampling local food at the market watching the streets flood with sheets of rain.
  • Little India. In the main business district of Georgetown, you’ll get the essence of India here. You will find clothes, silks, fine jewelry, spices and food so good we went back multiple times. Our highlight was the Bombay Kitchen and Bar.

Other Recommend Activities on Penang Island

Before going to Penang Island with kids, we created quite the ambitious list of things to do there. Here’s the items we didn’t do but would explore if we went back to Penang Island.

  • Escape Penang. This is an outdoor adventure park with a variety of rides and games. Its highly recommended!
  • Penang National Park. This requires a bit of research before going with your children as jungle trekking in the Malaysian heat is a challenge in itself. From here you can visit Monkey Island and a Turtle Sanctuary.
  • Batu Ferringhi Beach. This is the main beach on Penang Island where you can enjoy water sports, night markets, the Adventure Zone Theme Park, restaurants, and of course, the beach! At certain times of the year jelly fish can be an issue so check before you swim.
  • Penang Hill Habitat. This is at the top of Penang Hill, you will need to take the funicular or walk-up Penang Hill. Here you can spend hours exploring the treetop, canopy and garden walks. There’s an adventure course with zip lining, abseiling and a rope bridge and with a bit of luck you will see the local wildlife.
  • Kek Lok Si Temple. This is regarded as one of the largest and finest temple complexes in Southeast Asia.
  • Entopia Butterfly Farm. Here you can visit both the Natureland living outdoor gardens and the Cocoon indoor discovery center. This one was high on our Penang Island with kids list.
  • Ferry to Butterworth. Butterworth is on the mainland and these ferries run every 20-30 minutes. The ferry trip itself is the highlight.

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