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50 things to do in Penang: Attractions and activities

From bargaining at the night markets, watching the sunset on Batu Ferringhi and counting exotic birds at Penang Bird Park, these are the city's best things to do outdoors


Hop on the funicular train up Penang Hill

Penang Hill is easily accessible by the funicular train. Once on the hill, the cooler weather will encourage a lovely walk amid lush, greenery. There are spots for picnics if you care to pack food and drink before boarding the train.

Penang Hill Jalan Stesen Bukit Bendera, Air Itam (+604 828 8880).

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Air Itam

Enjoy Batu Ferringhi's romantic sunset with a friend

Sunset at Batu Ferringhi beach stretch is a sight to behold. Wait for an especially hot, scorching day because this will guarantee an array of fuchsia and vermillion that’ll fade into indigo at night fall. Beach resorts to stay in while enjoying this experience along Ferringhi are Lone Pine that’s a modern boutique style, fun-driven Hard Rock Hotel and the luxurious Rasa Sayang Resort.

Lone Pine Hotel 97 Jalan Batu Ferringhi, Batu Ferringhi (+604 886 8686).
Hard Rock Hotel Penang Batu Ferringhi beach, Batu Ferringhi (+604 881 1711).
Shangri-La Rasa Sayang Resort & Spa Batu Ferringhi beach, Batu Ferringhi (+604 888 8888).

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Batu Ferringhi

Unearth the secret ingredients to Penang's famous local food

Cooking classes are a terrific way to get to know the local cuisine and its exotic ingredients. Places that offer this regularly are the Tropical Spice Garden and Nazlina Spice Station. Both make these classes fun and satisfying. Nazlina will begin her class with a tour of a wet market in George Town and in both you’ll end up eating what you cook!

TSG Cooking School Tropical Spice Garden, Lone Crag Villa, 595 Mukim 2, Jalan Teluk Bahang, Batu Ferringhi (+604 881 1797).
Nazlina Spice Station 71 Lorong Stewart, George Town. (+6012 453 8167).

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Teluk Bahang

Enjoy the outdoors at ESCAPE theme park

Outdoor activities are aplenty with the new theme park, ESCAPE in Teluk Bahang. Here’s where balancing on tightropes hovering meters above ground and climbing a 30-foot tree will test your endurance and stamina.

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Teluk Bahang

Skip the Penang traffic and flag down a bus

A bus ride to Balik Pulau from Pengkalan Weld bus station is convenient. The ride will cut through the old part of George Town before hitting the expressway towards Jelutong, Bayan Lepas and the airport. This gives you a chance to have a quick view of the island and its morphing landscape of concrete jungle to lush, green hills.

Venture around the island by bus with Rapid Penang.

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Put your bargaining skills to the test at these day and night markets

Markets in Penang are either open daily in the daytime or weekly in the evenings. The well-known Bazaar Chowrasta has not only fresh produce but also second hand books and clothing. There are also Pulau Tikus market that has a cluster of food stalls with tasty hawker fare and night markets such as the one in Tanjung Bungah each Tuesday that has a good selection of local fruits such as jackfruit, durian when in season and rambutan.

Bazaar Chowrasta Jalan Penang, George Town.
Pulau Tikus market Jalan Pasar (off Jalan Burma), Pulau Tikus.
Tanjung Bungah market Jalan Tanjung Bungah, Tanjung Bungah.

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George Town

Cycle from Batu Ferringhi to Teluk Bahang for a workout

Cycle towards Batu Ferringhi and onwards to Teluk Bahang dam where groups of cyclists throng early each Sunday morning. It’s a long, curvy and hilly stretch but a quiet one and it rewards you with a breath taking view of the large dam at the top. Penang is becoming a cycle-friendly state with its new cycling policies.

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Brave the trekking routes at the Penang National Park

Penang National Park may be the smallest national park in the world but once you’re in it, you’ll not hold on to that idea. There are enough challenging trekking routes to test your stamina and they all lead to wondrous views of the water. Another way to access one of the loveliest beaches in Penang located within the park is by boat that you can take at the park’s entrance on Jalan Hassan Abbas.

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Teluk Bahang

Count exotic birds at the Penang Bird Park

The first of its kind here in Malaysia, this park’s in Seberang Perai on the mainland and houses over 300 species of birds from all over the world, half of which are unique to Malaysia.

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Tanjung Bungah