7 Free Things to do in Penang


Can i visit Penang on a tight budget? Yes you can. Perhaps in this posting i will share what you can see and do all the free things in Penang..

Simple tips to travel cheap in Penang, eat cheap at the markets and you jump on the free bus. Getting a good look at Penang – on the cheap – is simple because most of Penang’s temptations are free! Yes free! For instance, the street art, a major drawcard for Georgetown, is free. The stunning national park and turtle sanctuary, is free. Furthermore, those that are not free are cheap. The food in Penang, also a leading attraction, doesn’t have to be expensive. In fact, it is the hawker food which attracts all the foodies around the world to Penang to taste her delights!

Let’s check out my list of 8 things to see and do in Penang for free…

1. Penang Street Art

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photo credit : penang.ws

The street art, a relatively new addition to Penang, has become a major tourist draw card.  There are many street art trails to follow including the wall murals by Ernest Zacharevic and “Marking Georgetown” a series of metal sculptures which narrate Penang’s colourful history with humorous illustration and historical facts.

2. Taman Negara Pulau Pinang

photo credit : justgola.com

Taman Negara Pulau Pinang is known as the world’s smallest national park… Yes i repeat, the smallest national park in the world. But believe me, size doesn’t matter in this case! This park has a turtle sanctuary, the Meromictic Lake (where fresh and salt water don’t mix), a nice swimming beach, two main hiking tracks through rainforest to Penang’s most pristine beaches, plenty of free camping grounds and lots, lots more.

Cost – Admission free
Hours – Open daily 08:00 – 17:00
Food – No food available inside the reserve.
Don’t forget – good walking shoes, a picnic lunch, plenty of water, sunscreen, hat and swimsuit

Penang Turtle Sanctuary 
Cost – Admission FWalk ree
Hours – Open daily from 10:00 to 16:30 (closed for lunch between 13:00 & 14:00)

3. Walk to the Top of Penang Hill

photo credit : huislow.com

The shortest track is the jeep track, a 5km road which starts just outside the entrance to the Penang Botanical Gardens. Being the shortest route, it is also the steepest. Note: jeeps, motorcycles, bicycles and pedestrians shared this road.

There is also a trail that follows the course of the funicular train from Air Itam. Called The Heritage Trail, it consists predominately of concrete steps.

Also from the Penang Botanical Gardens, there is a walk that leads up to Penang Hill from the Moon Gate. It is a steep but pleasurable trek with ample wildlife to see, Macaques, dusky leaf monkeys, giant black squirrels and a multitude of insects and butterflies. DO NOT FEED the animals – a RM500 fine is applicable.

For those not wanting to walk and willing to spend your money to experience the top of Penang Hill, there is always the funicular train. It leaves from Air Itam.

Funicular Train

photo credit : kosmo.com

Cost – For foreign visitors RM30/Adult and RM15/Child (AUD $10.00 or USD $7.20/ Adult)
Hours – Open daily from 06.30 to 23:00 (last train from top station). Ticketing counter closes at 22:00
Departure times – departure times vary depending on the time of day (see below).

Penang Hill Funicular Railway Timetable





4. Explore Georgetown

photo credit : flickr.com

Experience the diversity of Penang’s history as you explore the streets that still clearly illustrate the origins of this culturally diverse place.

Armenian Street
Armenian Street is a delight to explore. This street has street art, Chinese lanterns, trishaws, arts, crafts, and souvenir shops and cafes. If you don’t have a long time in Penang this is the place to go to see the art and experience old Georgetown.

Cannon Street
A lot of us will agree that this street described as quirky, off-beat, quaint and artsy. It has many good cafes, small restaurants, art shops and antique shops.

Little India
Little India is full of ‘Bollywood’ music, colourful saris and the aroma of sandalwood incense and pungent curries. I would recommend you to have your lunch in one of the shop here.

Chulia Street
An eclectic array of Colonial, Indian and Chinese style buildings, this street could be considered the main hub for tourist. Chulia Street has lots of accommodation, cheap street food as well as typical western establishments, local boutiques, car and motorcycle /bicycle rental.

5. Penang Botanical Garden

photo credit : holiday gogogo

The botanical gardens provides a lovely place for a walk, a picnic or an early morning jog. You can easily spend a couple of hours here wandering through the varieties of flora collections or watching the antics of the cheeky monkeys.  TYou can also find the Palm Collection, Pine Collection, Herb Garden, Fern Rockery, Cactus House and the Formal Garden. Furthermore, it is home to long-tailed macaques, the dusky leaf monkeys, and black giant squirrels, as well as many birds, butterflies and insects. 

Cost – Admission free
Hours – Open daily from 05:00 to 20:00 (including public holidays)
Food & Beverage – Available from the Botanical Shop
Facilities –  Picnic area, access for disabled person, jogging track, gazebo
Amenities – Public toilets
Address – 673A, Jalan Kebun Bunga, Pulau Tikus, 10350 George Town

6. Clan Jetties

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photo credit : penang.ws

These water villages, are over 100 years old. There are six jetties to explore, each named and dominated by a certain clan. Go for a wander along the wooden boardwalks and explore this living heritage of Penang. Chew Jetty is the most touristy and it is insta worthy place for you to visit.

Cost – free to walk along the Jetties.
Location – Weld Quay, Georgetown
Please remember – These are peoples homes – be respectful when taking photos.

7. New Gurney Drive Food Court

photo credit : thehive.asia

Finally this is not really free if you buy something to eat, but seriously some of this food is really cheap.  It is worth a visit just to experience a typical night market! It is the place for hawker fare with many stalls selling a huge variety of hawker delights at very reasonable prices…

Cost – Free to visit!… and food is cheap but not free :p!
Hours – Open daily from 18:00 to 24:00
Location – Persiaran Gurney, George Town (right beside Gurney Plaza Mall)

So if you are planning to visit Penang with a tight budget, trust me you will still able to enjoy it to the most. I will share in the next posting how to move around in Penang for FREE.


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