Penang is the most popular tourist destination in Malaysia after Kuala Lumpur, and if you go there, it’s easy to see why – it is honestly so beautiful and unique. If you are short on time, I’ve put together an itinerary for you to make sure you don’t miss any of the best stuff if you’re just spending one day in Penang!

How to spend one day in Penang - one day itinerary for Penang, Malaysia

How to get to Penang from Kuala Lumpur

  • BUS:

This is the most economical option, costing about $10 USD (40RMB) one way. The trip takes about 4 to 5 hours. Taking the bus in Malaysia is a bit complicated, so stay tuned for my guide on that, coming soon! Keep in mind that if you only want to spend one day in Penang, you’ll probably have to stay at least overnight if you’re coming in on the bus.

  • PLANE:

You can find cheap flights for less than $100 return, fly time is 55 minutes. However, take into account the time and cost of getting to the airport from where you are staying in KL. If you are short on time during your trip to Malaysia, this is the best option. We did this to make the most of our one day in Penang. We arrived about 9am and flew out around 10pm (ahem, would have if our flight hadn’t been delayed… but that’s another story for another travel failure post day!).

Check flight prices to Penang

Morning – Kek Lok Si Temple

This temple is one of the largest in South-East Asia, and it really is extremely vast. You could spend a whole day walking around here and never get bored of the intricate designs, the wonders of the architecture, the bright colours. It’s also so full of culture and history, there is a lot to learn if you stay alert.

Where to eat in Penang

Lunch in Penang Road Famous Laksa

As the name suggests, this place became famous after its specialty laksa dish gained popularity. Laksa is a typical Malaysian dish which you should definitely try! With that in mind, all around this area are so many different specialty food stalls and restaurants, so feel free to explore and decide the best food in Penang for yourself.

Afternoon – explore Georgetown

  • Street art

You’ve probably seen the pictures of the famous street art that’s dotted around the town. The art is unique and inspiring and there is more than you probably realise! However, it’s not that easy to find a specific one you’re after. There are no signs around or anything like that. While I was there I found this map which points you to all the main wall arts in George Town – it gives you directions to each spot. Very useful!

  • Longest coffee house in Penang

This is so much more than just a coffee house. It is a maze of artwork, table games, ponds, and fun, not to mention amazing desserts and drinks (although on the pricey side for Malaysia). For us it was just one of the few places with decent air conditioning to escape the early February heat.

  • Chew Jetty

how to spend one day in penang - chew jetty

Photo by Mark Paz

Chew jetty isn’t your usual pier – it is full of life. People still live in the ‘clan jetty’, in houses that rise above the water. As you walk along, there are also people selling all sorts of things, and plenty of colours and artwork. From here you can also view Penang Second Bridge, which is the longest bridge in Malaysia and one of the longest in the world.

Dinner – night market

Penang has at least one night market happening every night in different locations (you can find them here). This is the best way to get a taste of the local food and culture – and also eat for cheap!

If you’ve still got room, there are also many places around George Town specialising in traditional deserts. Basically, Penang is a foodie’s paradise!

Evening – train up Penang hill (optional)

If you have time to make it up Penang hill and watch the sunset, it’s the perfect way to finish your day.

This is the only activity in this itinerary which will cost money, but at $7.50USD (30RMB) it’s worthwhile to get up to the highest point in Penang (Penang hill) and get a panoramic view of the city.

> More information about Penang hill and how to get up there

Is one day in Penang enough?

You could definitely spend more than one day in Penang if you have the time. It’s one of those quirky little places where you can always find something interesting to do or see. It has history, art, culture and nature. It’s one of my favourite places in Malaysia so I would say if you have more time, spend it in Penang!

That being said, it is a small island and is relatively easy and cheap to get around. Most of the main activities can be covered in one day in Penang with no problem.

Staying the night (or staying longer)? Find somewhere to stay in Penang

If you are planning a short trip to Malaysia, here’s how to make the most of your time there.


PSA: I’ll be posting a lot more about Malaysia on here and on my Instagram in the next few weeks – so make sure you’re following along!

Planning a trip to Penang? Let me know your plans in the comments! Or if you’ve been, let us know what you thought about it.

Don’t forget to pin this for reference!

How to spend one day in Penang - one day itinerary for Penang, Malaysia

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4 Comments

  1. I’ve seen photos of Penang’s street art in so many places now, it all looks so incredible! My favourite is the one of the kids on the swing- not pictured in your post, but I’m sure you’ve seen it. I’d definitely make the effort to visit Penang next time I’m in Malaysia. Last time it was just a quick 2 day layover in KL on my way from LA to China, but I’m dying to go back and see more of the country!

    • Suzie Reply

      The good thing about Penang is that it is so close to KL, even if you’re just in Malaysia for a couple of days you can easily spend at least one day in Penang! Definitely check it out next time you’re there 🙂

  2. I loved Penang and spent five days there- three in Georgetown and two by the beach. I’d say some of the national park hikes are definitely worth doing if you’ve got the time!

    • Suzie Reply

      would love to go back there and hike – that’s what I missed 🙁

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