72 Hours in Penang, Malaysia

What! You’ve only got 72 hours in Penang? But there’s so much to do and so little time. Fear not, my friend! I’ve been there, done that and now I’ve got your itinerary sorted. If you’re also planning on visiting Kuala Lumpur and Singapore, and are equally pressed for time, check out my itineraries for ’24 Hours in Kuala Lumpur’ and ’48 hours in Singapore.’ Enjoy!

Day 1

Morning (8-10am): Coffee Addict

I normally advise having breakfast somewhere local and cheap so you can binge shamelessly and avoid the pangs of hunger until dinner time. However, if you’d prefer to eat out somewhere fancier but not too fancy, I’d recommend Coffee Addict. Situated in George Town, this location has trendy, creative interiors and a popular menu. It’s very reasonably priced and has much-needed air-con to prepare you for a sweaty day ahead.

Late Morning/Afternoon (11-3pm): George Town Interactive Art

After brekkie, make sure you grab a map and make your way across town to find interactive art pieces painted on the walls. There are 20 paintings that take you round the houses, literally, guiding you through the nooks and crannies of George Town. Set aside about 3/4 hours for this excursion, especially if you’re awful with directions like I am. And make sure you have plenty of water as Penang weather is boiling all year round.

Afternoon (1-2pm): Ais Kepal (Dragon Ice Ball)

So this corner shop was a piece of heaven sent directly by God himself. It’s on the map route, adjacent to the ‘Reaching’ painting and serves the Penang-famous ‘dragon ice ball.’ It will cool you right down. As you can see, it’s a ball of crushed ice doused with three flavours of syrup. But that’s not all! Oh no. There are peanuts on your way to the middle and a scoop of ice cream at the centre (which you get to choose). We both had mango, although Durian was also an option. Puke. Apparently this is the only place you can get a Dragon Ice Ball in the whole of Malaysia as the woman who owns the store invented the concept herself! Pop in and say hello.

Afternoon (3-4pm): Art Lane

At some point on your travels, you will end up somewhere near Art Lane if you follow the map. But you’ll need to pay attention because it can be easily missed. If you need a place to cool down and haven’t had enough of paintings on walls, check out Art Lane. It’s located in a dark alley and has random art pieces, sculptures and structures created by the community. As a result, the artwork is constantly changing and will definitely look completely different from what I saw if you were to visit. If you’re too tired though, it wouldn’t kill you to skip it.

Afternoon (5-6pm): Chew Jetty

The Chew Jetty is the most tourist-friendly jetty in Penang. It’s a living space on water inhabited by an ancient Chinese family: The Chews. Other Jetty Clans prefer to have their privacy. You can visit and see how the Chews live but make sure you ask if you want to take a picture of or with them. Many will refuse because, well, they’re not animals in zoos. I found this particularly hilarious as Chinese people are usually the worst when it comes to taking pictures of Black people on holiday…

In fact, it was here that a Chinese tourist attempted to take a picture of Massimo and was startled when he refused vehemently. Mass asked him why he wanted the pic and he responded “because you’re handsome.” Tufiakwa.

I’m sure we’re memes somewhere on the Chinese web.

Hands up if you understand ‘tufiakwa’ even though you’re not Ghanaian lol. Tell me what you think it means in the comments…

Evening (7-9pm): Holy Guacamole

If you’re staying somewhere in George Town, you’ll probably want to go home and take a shower. Luckily for you, the main eateries and bars are right on your doorstep. Holy Guacamole is located on Love Lane, it’s hard to miss because it’s packed to capacity and there are some flame-thrower buskers opposite. I don’t know how authentic the food is, I’m not a Mexican food connoisseur, but it was very tasty and I’d definitely recommend checking this spot out.

Night Life (10 till late): Out of Nowhere

A hidden speakeasy with elaborate Chinese decor and beautifully presented cocktails. See if you can find Out of Nowhere

Day 2

Morning (8-10am): Breakfast

I had this drink somewhere in Penang, between Georgetown and Gurney but I can’t, for the life of me, remember where. So this pic is here purely for you to comment if you know where it is (this is what happens when you let your husband have the internet on the trip). The drink was fab, the food was pretty average though. You are literally spoiled for choice for breakfast in Penang, especially if you’re staying in George Town. If I were to go again, I’d check Urban Green Cabin out. You should too! You’re welcome.

Late Morning/Early Afternoon (11am-1pm): Buddhist Temples

Day 2 is dedicated to Buddhist Temples. There are two situated a stone’s throw away from each other: The Reclining Buddha Temple and Dharmikarama Burmese Temple. They are both free to enter and you are also free to roam, just make sure you take off your shoes and leave them outside. Don’t wear expensive foot gear as there are thieves looming and the shoe sections are unmanned. A lot of the architecture is outside so make sure you take plenty of water and find shaded areas or you might not make it. Unless you have a special affinity for Buddhist temples, I wouldn’t spend too long here, especially because of the next destination.

Afternoon (2-4pm): Kek Lok Si

If you haven’t had enough of Buddhist temples yet, make sure you visit Kek Lok Si. This one is much larger and more of an architectural sensation than the others. The views are absolutely breathtaking. It’s free to enter, although there’s a charge of 10MYR (£2 or 10AED) per person to go right to the top.

Evening (7-9pm): Pin Xin Vegan Cuisine

After Kek Lok Si, head back to George Town for the most delicious vegan food you will ever taste. I’m an avid meat eater but believe me when I say this place rivals many restaurants when it comes to flavour. And it’s so much better knowing the food you’re putting into your body is good for you and doesn’t make your stomach bloat ridiculously. Hands down, Pinxin Vegan Cuisine was the best food I tasted in Penang, don’t miss out.

Night Life (10pm till late): Three Sixty Sky Bar

If you fancy ‘getting high’ on a night out, Three Sixty is the place to be. It’s a revolving restaurant with a rooftop bar with panoramic views of the city. Check it out.

Day 3

Morning (9-11am): Kafka

Because you have the luxury of three whole days in Penang, have a little lie in on Day 3. The previous days were tiring and you won’t be slowing down any time soon. Hit up Kafka for breakfast and prepare yourself for the day ahead!

Afternoon (1-3pm): Botanical Gardens

This place is absolutely stunning. Between these times, it will be scorching hot but there is plenty of shade provided by tall trees. Besides, you’ve been in Penang two days now, you should be used to the heat! A word to the wise, watch out for those monkeys as they can get aggressive. I took some up-close pictures of one and his cousin thought I was trying to steal his food. Next thing I knew, the whole clan gathered and chased me through the park! I narrowly escaped with my life…

NB: It’s absolutely free to enter. The Botanical Gardens are located at the bottom of Penang Hill and there is an option to hike up the hill (for free) or drive a 4×4 up the hill from here (for 180MYR per car, £36 or 180AED).

Late Afternoon/ Evening (4-7pm): Penang Hill

If you are not interested in hiking or driving up Penang Hill, there is an option to ride the Funicular Train to the observation deck. For a standard adult, it costs 30MYR per ticket (£6 or 30AED) or 80MYR for a fast track ticket (£16 or 80AED). There are concessions for Malaysian nationals, children and the senior citizens. You will need to queue for a while before entering a crowded carriage for 4 and a half minutes all the way to the top. On your way back, bear in mind the fact that there will most probably be crowds so it will take you a while to get back down.

Once you’re up there, you’ll be pleased to know that there are restaurants where you can see views across the city. There are also loads of other activities to do on Penang Hill so take some extra cash. Going at this time means you get to witness the city during the day time and just as the sun is setting and the city comes alive.

Evening (8-10pm): Gurney Drive Hawker Centre

It’s been exhausting, I know. What better way to end your three days in Penang than by eating with the locals? It’s a lot bigger than you may think so be sure to walk all the way through to see what’s on offer.

Night Life (11 till late)

Depending on how many Ringitts you have left, you can choose whether you want to go all out or take it easy. You could head back to George Town to spend your final night or, for the millionaires among us, you could head to The Bank for some live music and good vibes. See what I did there?

If you’re out of Ps (or should I say Rs in Malaysia), remember, there are loads of bars and pubs in G-Town so you can just have a walk around and choose wherever seems to fit your vibe!

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this itinerary, please give it a like if you did! And don’t forget to come back for my final post in this series, ’48 Hours in Langkawi.’ You can also follow my journey to Malaysia on my IG page @hdebrahampofo!

Out of all the days, which one is your favourite and why? What would you change? Let me know in the comments!

Love you guys, Helen x


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