50 things to do in Penang

Our critics' choice of the best things to do in this Unesco World Heritage Site, including food and drink, arts and culture

Things to Do

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The ultimate list for your ultimate Penang experience. Think you can check off all 50?

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Things to Do

Heritage

You haven't been to Penang if you don't soak up the city's rich, cultural heritage

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Things to Do

Attractions and activities

The best things to see and do outdoors

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Music and nightlife

Featuring music festivals, bars with a view, and where to party

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Things to Do

Food and drink

It's not just about assam laksa and char kuey teow; savour delicious Nyonya food, roti jala and more

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Food and drink

Restaurants

Enjoy a bowl of Penang's ubiquitous assam laksa

Just beside Balik Pulau’s old market is this humble stall offering assam laksa and Thai laksa which is a fish and coconut-based gravy laksa. The latter is such a crowd pleaser and addictive too. Another popular place for assam laksa is Joo Hooi cafe.Pasar Air Itam Laksa Jalan Pasar, Air Itam.Joo Hooi cafe 475 Jalan Penang, George Town.

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Restaurants

Savour the island's favourite stir-fry, char koay teow

The flat rice flour noodles stir-fried with dark soya sauce, a dash of chilli paste, garlic, bean sprouts, prawns and kucai leaves is very possibly the most popular hawker food among locals and visitors alike. To sample this, head over to the well-known Sin Hwa coffee shop or Ah Leng Char Koay Teow stall at Kafe Khoon Hiang. Kafe Khoon Hiang 358 Jalan Dato Keramat, George Town.Sin Hwa coffee shop 329 Jalan Burma, George Town.

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Restaurants

Beat the heat with an ice ball

Finely shaved ice packed tight into a ball and dipped half into palm sugar syrup and the other into rose syrup. Suck and drain the sweetness to quench thirst on a scorching afternoon. To experience this brain-freezing ‘odd ball’, look for any ice kacang stall and ask the vendor to make you one or try Penang Road Famous Teochew Chendul (next to Joo Hooi cafe).

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Restaurants

Get up close to the Peranakan culture through delicious Nyonya food

The Peranakan people were probably the first to invent fusion cuisine with their Nyonya food that marries Malay and Chinese flavours. Their curries are a tad creamier and their ingredients create a more delicate base for stir-fried vegetables or seafood. Although, the most popular one is Mama’s Nyonya Cuisine.Mama's Nyonya Cuisine 31-D Lorong Abu Siti, George Town. (+604 229 1318).KebayaSeven Terraces Lorong Stewart, George Town (+604 264 2333); 4 Logan Heritage, Lebuh Pantai, George Town (+604 261 2269).

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Arts and culture

Play hide and seek with Penang's street art

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Theatre

Catch performances and free film screenings at penangpac

penangpac is located on the sixth floor of Straits Quay mall and has a host of theatrical performances as well as foreign film screenings programmed throughout the whole year.

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Attractions

Climb the 500 steps to Waterfall Hilltop Temple

Waterfall Hilltop Temple is a splendid representation of the Hindu devotees. It’s a 500-step climb but at the end of it you’ll see a 180-degree view of Mount Erskine and Gurney areas. Before reaching this temple, there are three smaller temples at ground level that are worth a visit too. These temples are in the spotlight each Thaipusam with the one on the hill being the main star.

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Art

Contemplate on the paintings at the Penang State Art Gallery

Main art galleries such as Penang State Art Gallery at Dewan Sri Penang have exhibitions all year around plus their permanent exhibition and they organise art forums and workshops too. Tuanku Fauziah Museum and Art Gallery on the campus of Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) has on-going interesting exhibitions. Their permanent exhibit includes Nyonya and aboriginal pieces and Malaysian traditional musical instrument. Penang State Art Gallery Ground floor, Dewan Sri Pinang, Lebuh Light, George Town (+604 261 3144). Tuanku Fauziah Museum and Art Gallery Universiti Sains Malaysia, Gelugor (+604 653 3888).

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Music and nightlife

Nightlife

Dance the night away at Soju Room

For the agile and young at heart, shake to the beat at Penang Times Square's very own Soju Room. They play tracks according to the current music trend.

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Book a ticket to Penang's largest jazz festival

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Restaurants

Get dizzy with a glass of toddy at Ong Cheng Huat

In some seafood restaurants, this fermented coconut water is offered. Cloudy, sweet-sour and lightly fizzy, one place to try this drink is at Ong Cheng Huat.

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Enjoy vivacious drum beats at the Penang World Music Festival

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Nightlife

Chill with the musicians at The Canteen

Live music on weekends can easily be found in places such as Jammin’, a chill out place above Via Pre restaurant and there’s a lovely view of the pier from their balcony where you can sit, chat and sip their gourmet Italian beers. The Canteen has a range of bands range from indie music to pop and jazz. Despite their rustic feel, they have a good sound system. Jammin' Via Pre, Second floor, 5 Pengkalan Weld, George Town (+604 262 0560).The Canteen at ChinaHouse, 153 & 155 Lebuh Pantai, George Town (+604 263 7299).

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Lounge with a sunset view and a beer

Places such as Straits Quay, Bora Bora and QEII at the end of the pier on Pengkalan Weld, are great to go for drinks while watching the sun setting since they’re located by the water. Straits Quay Jalan Seri Tanjung Pinang, Tanjung Tokong (+604 899 5228). Bora Bora Lot 415, Jalan Batu Ferringhi, Batu Ferringhi (+604 885 1313). QEII Church Street pier, 8A Pengkalan Weld, George Town (+604 261 2126).

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