Things to Do in Penang with Kids: Malaysia Family Travel Guide

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Looking for things to do in Penang with kids? You’ll find plenty of them here. There are so many things to do in Penang with kids. In fact, I often recommend this little Malaysian island as a starting point for first-time family travel in Southeast Asia. It’s a great island to explore for family travelers.

Things to do in Penang with Kids - Our Family Guide: Cheong Fat Tze Mansion


Penang travel is safe, affordable, and welcoming, with a unique mix of the familiar and the exotic. Most locals are helpful and fluent in English (especially in the cities), and there are a dizzying array of cultures and cuisines to experience.

We love the food here — both the spicy and non-spicy versions.

Like the rest of Malaysia, the mix of Malay, Chinese, Indian and British history permeates everything in Penang. While Kuala Lumpur has the urban sprawl, this little island near the Thai border has beaches, parks and the UNESCO Heritage site, Georgetown. Want more of a tropical island vibe? Langkawi and Krabi aren’t far away.

We’ve been in and out of Malaysia with kids multiple times since 2013. I can say that Penang is one of our children’s favorite places in Southeast Asia. Below I’ve listed up a few of our favorite things to do in Penang with kids, as well as a few favorites of fellow family travelers.

Read more on Tips for Family Travel in Southeast Asia

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Things to do in Penang with Kids: Malaysia Family Travel Guide



There are many things to do in Penang with kids, but let me first share our family’s top 10 things to do in Penang with children. This isn’t everything I’d recommend, but it’s a good start. Did I miss something? Tell me about it.

Tropical Spice Garden

Spices and the spice trade played an important role in Malaysia’s history. At the spice garden, you get to learn a bit about the spices grown here and their uses — both in the past and present day. To the untrained eye, the place looks like an overgrown garden, but there is a lot to learn here.

You should definitely pay for a guide. Their knowledge and presentation made it interesting for all of us. I’d go as far as to suggest reconsidering your visit if you aren’t a horticulturist and don’t want to pay for a guide. Without this dude telling us the history and application of these plants, the kids and I would have grown bored rather quickly. But because he was there, it became one of our favorite things to do in Penang with kids.

Read our full review on the Tropical Spice Garden in Penang

Still wondering if it’s your thing? Read what others say about the Tropical Spice Garden.

Entopia (The Butterfly Farm)

Things to do in Penang with Kids - Our Family Guide - Butterfly Farm

This is one of the most popular things to do in Penang with kids and for good reason. Bring the camera, because everyone will want a picture when a butterfly lands on them. Expect hundreds of them fluttering around this indoor greenhouse.

Please do make sure the kids know NOT to touch them (even if they see other people pawing at them). Also, remember that the garden is only half of the facility. Save some time for the indoor exhibits as well. You will see spiders, snakes, scorpions and other creepy crawlies in there. Oh, nice cool air conditioning, too.

Can’t decide yet? Read what others say about Entopia.

ESCAPE Adventure Park

Things to do in Penang with Kids - Our Family Guide: Escape

This place is what happens when you mix a jungle gym, an obstacle course. and an amusement park. There’s plenty of action here, with zip lines, rope ladders, and other opportunities for a child to test their strength, balance, and imperviousness to danger. Parents of daredevils will consider this one of the best things to do in Penang with kids.

Keep in mind that kids below six aren’t allowed on many of the activities, and there can be long lines, depending on when you go (ie. school holiday season, national holiday). I would highly recommend arriving right when it opens. Then you have a choice to enjoy the most and leave earlier, or stay there all day long and be thoroughly exhausted.

Want to know second opinion? Read what others say about ESCAPE Adventure Park.

Adventure Zone

Things to do in Penang with Kids - Our Family Guide: Adventure ZoneIf you’re afraid of heights or your kids are simply too small for the Escape experience, then check out Adventure Zone. This is an indoor playground with plenty of slides, nets and padded corners. There are nets and bouncy-castle like hills to climb, as well as a maze-like structure that’s fun to play hide-and-seek in. This is of those things to do in Penang with kids that any primary schooler can enjoy.

It’s on the grounds of the Shangri-la Hotel, but you don’t have to stay there to go. Another benefit is that it is air-conditioned and has a cafe with wifi. You can have a coffee and check your mail (or actually work for an hour or two) while the kids wear themselves out. They sell water bottles, too, but at some exorbitant price that I refuse to pay. Kids get so hot running around — as do I while chasing them around — so we always snuck one of our own water bottles in.

Keep in mind: All children must wear socks, and any kids who do the super-duper slides (see pic) are required to wear a long-sleeved shirt. This is for a good reason: you’ll get a friction burn on your elbows/ankles if you don’t.

Wonder if your kids would enjoy? Read what others say about Adventure Zone

Penang National Park (Taman Negara Pulau Pinang)

Things to do in Penang with Kids - Our Family Guide: National Park

This hike at Penang National Park (Taman Negara Pulau Pinang) was one of our favorite things to do in Penang with kids, and we brought visiting guests to hike with us regularly. It is a mix of paved paths, steps and dirt trail.

It’s not a difficult hike (the first 20 minutes is the hardest/steepest) but not stroller-friendly at all, FYI.

Our usual routine was to hike to Turtle Beach where there is a refuge for baby sea turtles. From there, we have a hired boat meet us (80-100RM, depending on the number of people). The boat would then take us to Monkey Beach, where we stopped for a snack. After snack time and some rope swings on the beach, the boat would bring us back to the park entrance.

There is a canopy walk in the park, as well. It’s not en-route, which adds 10-15 min extra time for your hike. The canopy walk is not that long, and not that high above the ground. To be honest, it’s just ok for me, but kids may enjoy it.

Things to do in Penang with Kids - Our Family Guide: Monkey Beach

For the boat ride, there may be a number of stalls and dudes on folding chairs near the park entrance who will offer their services. In our experience, they are always more expensive than the main stand: a wooden pavilion right next to the main parking lot entrance (see image below).

Things to do in Penang with Kids - Our Family Guide: National Park Entrance

The hike usually took about 45-75 minutes, depending on how many kids we had in tow and how often we stopped for water breaks. We usually asked the boat to meet us at Turtle Beach 90 minutes later. That was usually was enough time for us to check out the turtle reserve or splash in the water for a bit before we headed out.

Monkey Beach has changed a lot over the years, and the reviews are more mixed than before. That’s because of more jetskis and other tourist stuff in the area, but I still think if a fun thing to do with kids in Penang.


Sunscreen and insect repellent are a must. And bring plenty of water, of course. We usually brought two large water bottles (one frozen, one unfrozen) and two small water bottles. The frozen bottle will keep providing cold refreshing water as it melts throughout the hike.

Read more Tips on Travel in Southeast Asia with Kids.

Penang Hill

Things to do in Penang with Kids - Our Family Guide: Penang Hill

The funicular train station here dates back to the 1700’s and is a major tourist attraction. This is a fun thing to do in Penang with kids, but avoid going on a weekend unless you must.

We foolishly went there on a Sunday when we were new to the area. As a result, we were completely stuck in the traffic on the way there. Then couldn’t find a place to park. When we finally arrived, there was a “2 hour wait” sign for the train, so we just left and came back the following Tuesday.

It can be enjoyable on a weekday, with nice views of the area (weather permitting). There are a few restaurants and minor attractions at the top of the hill.

Still unsure? Read what others say about Penang Hill.

Penang Hill is open daily from 6:30am to 11:00pm (last train from the top). Round trip tickets for the train to the top are 30RM for adults, 5RM for 4-6 y/o, and 15RM for students (up to University). You can get there by bus#204 from Komtar at 2RM.

Arulmigu Balathandayuthapani (a.k.a. Waterfall Hilltop Temple)

Things to do in Penang with Kids - Our Family Guide: Arulmigu Balathandayuthapani (a.k.a. Waterfall Temple)

A lot of people talk about Kek Lok Si as a cultural attraction. We went twice and just didn’t enjoy it: the grounds were filthy and overrun with souvenir shacks. This Tamil Hindu temple I’m recommending here, however, is simple and plain by comparison but is one of our recommended things to do in Penang with kids. It is at the top of a hill overlooking a nice part of Georgetown and the ocean beyond.

It’s not stroller friendly, but the 511 steps to the top are clean, wide and at a slowly ascending angle, making it an easy hike for kids and parents who enjoy climbing hills without huffing and puffing. The temple itself is interesting, too, especially if you aren’t as familiar with the Hindu deities.

If you’re in Penang with kids near the beginning of the year, the Thaipusam festival is observed by thousands of Tamil residents here and is definitely worth a visit. I’ll admit that it can be rough for some families — there is lots of piercing and other bloody expressions of spiritualism — so judge for yourself. This only happens during Thaipusam.

Arulmigu Balathandayuthapani is located on Jalan Kebun Bunga, about a 10-min drive from Gurney Plaza. They open at 6:45am and close at 12:30pm, but reopen from 4:30pm until 9:15pm. If interested, please check their website for a detailed prayer schedule.  

Penang Municipal Park (a.k.a. Youth Park, or Taman Perbandaran)

Things to do in Penang with Kids - Our Family Guide: Youth Park

If you want to meet local children and their families, then Penang Park is of the best things to do with kids in Penang on a weekend. That goes double if you just want to bring your kids to a big, clean green space. There are two large, nice public pools and lots of play and action going on. You’ll also find a skate park, a playground, exercise equipment and plenty of room.

There is a small cafe and snack bar, but no dependable lunch options in our experience. Occasionally a laksa or noodle stand is set up, but otherwise it’s only chips, ice cream, and coffee from the cafe.

As you can see in the picture, many (both kids and adults) play in the water wearing their clothes. You don’t have to do so, but be aware of Muslim modesty. If you wear revealing swimwear, you might be the center of the attention.

Penang Municipal Park is located on Persiaran Kuari road close to Arulmigu Balathandayuthapani, about 15 min. drive from Gurney Plaza. Plenty of parking, but it fills up quickly on the weekend.

Pinang Peranakan Mansion

Things to do in Penang with Kids - Our Family Guide: Peranakan Mansion

This place is an under-appreciated gem. Lots of people talk about the Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion as the place to see. We thought, however, the Pinang Peranakan Mansion was a much better option with kids for several reasons. At Peranakan, you’re free to walk around as you please. While at Cheong Fatt Tze, you must stay with a group guide enter/exit at designated times (only 3 times a day for a 45-min tour).

Read my full review on Pinang Peranakan Mansion and Cheong Fatt Tze

In my opinion, the Cheong Fatt Tze is understated, with less decoration and furniture. Peranakan Mansion, on the other hand, is wall-to-wall sensory overload. The walls, floors, and furniture were screaming with color and details, and the shelves full of garishly decorated bric-a-brac. The story of Cheong Fatt Tze and his home is very interesting, but my kids were ready to wander around, which is not allowed at the Cheong Fatt Tze.

Pinang Peranakan Mansion is open every day, even on National holidays, from 9:30am-5:00pm. It is located on Church Street in Georgetown. Admission is 20RM, but free for kids under 6 y/o.  

Within 10min walk, you can get to Penang 3D Trick Art Museum, Fort Cornwallis, Little India, Kapitan Keling Mosque, and more. 

Penang Movie Theaters

Malaysia has top-class cinemas, and unlike some places in Asia (I’m looking at you, Thailand and Japan), Malaysian box office prices for first-run movies are incredibly cheap. For example, tickets for two adults and two kids cost about 40RM (less than USD $10 at the time of writing). But there are a few things you should know.


  • Bring a jacket: I know, I know, Penang is hot and humid year-round. Thus, Malaysians love air conditioning, and their shopping malls can feel downright frosty. The movie theaters are even colder.
  • If your movie is in the theater now, see it soon. These cineplexes may have a dozen theaters, but movie turnover is fast and merciless here. In Malaysia, there are a lot of English language movies. There are also the latest films in Bahasa Melayu (Malay), Cantonese, Mandarin, Tamil, Hindi and occasionally other languages.
  • And finally, you can’t bring your own food and drink inside. Yes, I know, most theaters in the West are the same. When you’ve got used to carrying in a sandwich, a six-pack, and some dessert while living in Japan and Taiwan, I just have to mention it.

The malls with our favorite movie theaters Penang were Gurney Plaza and Gurney Paragon. They are less than a hundred meters from each other so check the times at both.


Malaysia is a great place to stay for months or longer, and there is enough to see and do in the country that you could return multiple times and not do the same thing twice. Once you’ve got the famous attractions out of the way and want to settle into more than one-off activities, you might want to consider these:

DLRC at Dalat International School

Things to do in Penang with Kids - Our Family Guide: DALAT DLRC

The Distance Learning Resource Center (DLRC) at Dalat International School played a huge role in our family’s time in Penang. The kids weren’t enrolled at the school. They didn’t wear the uniform or attend classes (we were homeschooling at the time).

Instead, for a fee, the kids were given access to the library, and they could join after-school clubs with the student body. These two things alone were priceless for us. A stocked English-language library, just when we were teaching our kids to read and write in English, and regular fun and play with kids around their age.

Over the course of a year, my girl took gardening, chess, paper mache and gymnastics, among others. My son took a handful of similar classes and was able to join the school’s soccer team.

Dalat International School is located next to Rainbow Paradise Beach Resort on the main road from Georgetown heading to Batu Ferringhi. There is a large sign facing the road. If interested, please check the school website for admission procedure to join DLRC.

Penang Performing Art Center (PenangPAC)

Things to do in Penang with Kids - Our Family Guide: Penang PAC

Our girl loves dance and drama, so she attended Penang PAC’s Holiday Art Camp two years in a row. It’s a week long, and she was there all day (bring-your-own-lunch). Each day the camp focused on a different aspect of the theater: acting, music, dance and art (they made their own costumes), all of which culminated in a performance on the final day. She loved it, and still talks about it to this day.

The Penang Pac now also has more drama classes for kids. Read more about it here.

Penang Performing Art Center is located at the same complex as Straits Quay. Holiday Art Camp is usually held at the end of Nov to early Dec. They have regular dance and drama classes from March every year. Our girl couldn’t join due to schedule conflicts, but it sure seems great. If interested, check their site for more details.

Kids Computer lessons in Penang

Once a week, the kids attended computer lessons at a place called KidsComp (now called Evo Learning Centre). We’d drop them off for group classes with local kids, where they learned how to use Microsoft Word, Powerpoint, and Excel. The projects felt like fun instead of work.

Our kids had never learned how to use PC at school before we left for traveling. Within 6 months they were comfortable creating their own powerpoint presentation.

Evo Learning Centre is located on 443 H Jalan Burma, about 5min drive from Gurney Plaza. They are very accommodating when we were there. If you miss a class and pre-notify them, they will reschedule your class for another date/time.

Kids Guitar Lessons in Penang

At Cornerstone Music in Tanjung Bungah, instructors Nixon and Sooli met with our kids every Friday for casual guitar lessons. They teach guitar, piano, drums, saxophones and more. They were very flexible to rescheduling lessons as long as we notified them earlier.

Cornerstone Music is located at 125 -U, 2nd Floor, Desa Tanjung, Jalan Tanjung Tokong, across from Island Plaza where Luxfort 118 Service Suites is in. You can contact Nixon by phone: +60 (0)12 473 1916

Soccer/Football for kids in Penang

Our son is obsessed with football, but before he played in Spain, we were looking for teams in every country we lived in. That includes Penang. If you have kids into soccer, then joining a local team is one of the best things to do in Penang.

Things to do in Penang with Kids - Our Family Guide: Soccer / Football

Basic Touch Football Academy

This group meets early Sunday mornings and is a mix of local Malay, Chinese and Indian kids, as well as some expats. When my boy attended, the focus seemed to be mostly on endurance and ball skills with a short scrimmage at the end of practice. S liked the team but wanted to play more than just Sunday, so our search continued…

They practice every Sunday at 8:00am and are open to boys or girls aged between 7 to 18 y/o. They offer a free trial. Usually, they gather at the field located off of Jalan D.S. Ramanathan (at the back side of Adventist Hospital). If interested, please check their facebook page for more details. 

Things to do in Penang with Kids - Our Family Guide: Penang Panthers 1

The Penang Panthers

This is a local team with local players. I think my son was one of the only non-Malay non-Muslim players (there were a few Chinese-Malay kids on the older team). When my boy wanted to play more than once a week, one of the coaches from other team suggested this group and told us where/when they usually play.  We just showed up and asked if our boy could join.

They said yes, and were very welcoming to us. That said, a lot of the coaching was in Bahasa Melayu, the Malay language. We occasionally had misunderstandings about a change of the time/location of a practice or game. I helped them set up some friendly matches with the local Japanese school.

The Penang Panthers usually meet at the ground of Penang Free School, off of Jalan Masjid Negeri at 5:00pm on Saturday and 8:00am on Sunday (start time can be extremely loose).

Soccer Experience

This isn’t a team or a league, but more of supervised play with an experienced coach. It was once held in an excellent indoor field near downtown, but when the property was sold it moved to the field on the campus of Tenby International School. This is closer to a babysitting service, to be honest, but my son still went twice a week, and I mention it here because it can be a place to meet other kids and local/expat parents, as there is a mix of families who attend.

This is closer to a babysitting service, to be honest, but my son still went twice a week, and I mention it here because it can be a place to meet other kids and local/expat parents, as there is a mix of families who attend.

Soccer Experience used to meet at the nice covered field on Jalan Kelawai until it was demolished. They now meet at Tenby International School at 17:30 on Mondays and Fridays.


Where is best for you and your family? If your main objective in Penang is to check UNESCO World Heritage locations, then stay in Georgetown.

The pros: easy access to almost all of the historic sites and the food options that surround downtown.

The cons: most of downtown is noisier and smellier than other neighborhoods.

Things to do in Penang with Kids - Our Family Guide: Georgetown with Kids

If your main objective is to relax, take in an attraction here and there, and just put your feet in the sand, then consider Batu Ferringhi. It is located at further north up a windy, two-lane road that snakes alongside the side of the island.

The pros: it’s quieter and more laid back. It’s also closer to Escape, the Butterfly Farm, the Spice Garden and the National Park.

The cons: it’s rather sleepy in the evenings, and requires a drive or bus ride for any activities in Georgetown.

Things to do in Penang with Kids - Our Family Guide: Monkey Beach

When we stayed longer-term, we chose an apartment in-between these two places in an area called Tanjung Bungah. The good part about this was that we were more-or-less equidistant from both Georgetown and Batu Ferringhi, and also in an expat-friendly place.

The kids had guitar lessons and computer lessons nearby, and there were a variety of reasonably-priced restaurants to keep us all happy. We were close to Indian, German, Vietnamese, Korean, burgers, and plenty of Malay hawker stalls. Most importantly, there was the international school nearby that had a distance learning program for the kids.

Where to stay in Georgetown

Eastern & Oriental Hotel

This exquisite building is a slice of Malaysian’s colonial history in and of itself. These impeccably restored buildings have seen two world wars, and the service and ambiance have an ambiance of a time long gone. The location puts you within walking distance of Georgetown’s historic district, and the lunch buffet here is quite amazing, as well.

Check current availability at Eastern & Oriental Hotel, or read what others say.

Chulia Heritage Hotel

Things to do in Penang with Kids - Our Family Guide: Chulia Hotel

This more budget-friendly option may not be for everyone, but we loved it. This is also set in a historic building — in this case, an old Chinese shophouse — although it creaks a bit more than the E&O above. The showers are separate, in private stalls down the hall, and the upper floor rooms branch off from a surreal while foyer. The Chulia Heritage Hotel is right in Georgetown’s historic district, so you have the city’s sights and great street food all around you.

Check current availability at Chulia Heritage Hotel, or read what others say.

Yeng Keng Hotel

If you are looking for heritage experience without the price of a 5-star hotel, Yeng Keng Hotel would make you happy. Right next to Chulia Heritage Hotel, Yeng Keng Hotel was originally built in 1800’s as a private residence and maintained very well by current management.

Check current availability at Yeng Keng Hotel, or read what others say.

Where to stay in Batu Ferringhi

Lone Pine Hotel

Owned by the folks at Eastern & Oriental, this is a well-designed hotel right on the beach. The meals here aren’t too shabby, either: we came here for their Christmas Buffet two years in a row. Close to long beach hawker center and night market.

Check current availability at Lone Pine Hotel, or read what others say.

Things to do in Penang with Kids - Our Family Guide: Where to Stay- Lone Pine Hotel

Golden Sands Resort by Shangri-La

This isn’t humble accommodation but rather a full-on resort with plenty of space, huge pools with mini waterslides, lounges, restaurants and service. Adventure Zone is built into its property. Also one of the best strips of beach on the island.

Check current availability at Golden Sands Resort by Shangri-La at,

Or read what others say about Golden Sands Resort by Shangri-La.

Hard Rock Hotel Penang

This hotel is very family friendly. They not only have the best pool on the island, but also offer a “kids club (for 4-12 y/o)” and a “teen club (for 12-18 y/o)” with no extra fee. This gives tired parents an opportunity to chill while kids tires themselves out. It is located towards the end of Batu Ferringhi road, less than 10 minutes from Tropical Spice Garden, Penang National Park (Taman Negara Pulau Pinang), and Escape. If you happened to be there on the 1st Saturday of the month, they have foam parties that are a huge hit.

Check current availability at Hard Rock Hotel Penang at

Or read what others say abut Hard Rock Hotel Penang.


We stayed at two different AirBnB apartments while in Penang and had interesting experiences. The first, in the Sri Sayang Building in Batu Ferringhi, was excellent. The owner understood the needs for long term travelers like us, and helped us accordingly.

The second, closer to downtown, started off as a challenge. We stayed at a place where it was secretly set in a “tenant only” complex which created small issues between travelers like us and residents there (some residents complained us using pool which was only for residents). And there were other challenges, but in the end it all worked out, the owners were nice and the location is pretty good.

Get US$40 off for your first stay at Airbnb!


Okay, so you probably already know that Penang is considered a culinary destination and that many food tourists have it on their bucket lists. We *love* Malaysian food! One of the best things to do in Penang with kids is EAT!

Unlike Chiang Mai, Thailand where chili pepper is cooked into most dishes, it’s easy to eat in Penang with children who can’t eat spicy food. Listed below are just a few of the many, many places we frequented. I’ve divided them into the top-3 areas where we ate most often: Georgetown, Tanjung Bungah and Batu Ferringhi.

Things to do in Penang with Kids - Our Family Guide: Where to eat in Penang — Dim Sum


Old Winston Cafe (Dim Sum Breakfast)

Chinese dim sum in this cavernous warehouse of a place is a treat, but it’s really easy to overeat. Let the kids try a few dumpling types at a time, but don’t get too many at first!

Read what others have to say about Old Winston Cafe

NR Sweets (Indian confectionary and Vegetarian Food)

As the name suggests, this place is best known for the Indian sweets in the glassed-in counter up front, but they also have a cheap and amazing vegetarian menu. In fact, we like their vegetarian meals. Their confectionary are bit too sweet for us.

Wonder if you’d like it? Read what others have to say about NR Sweets

Red Garden (Hawker Stalls)

There are many hawker centers in Georgetown, but this was one of our favorites. It’s right next to the Cheong Fat Tze Mansion, so it’s easy to find, and they seemed to have a wider variety of stands.

Along with the requisite Chinese, Malay, Indian/Sri Lankan and Western stalls, Red Garden also had Taiwanese, Filipino, Korean and Japanese food available. At one point they even had a great Western desserts stall, with killer brownies and crème brûlée (but that stall closed, sadly).

Still unsure? Read what others have to say about Red Garden

Sin Kim San Cafe (Hawker stalls)

NOT the most famous of hawker centers, but one we frequented a lot. Hokkien Mee and Curry Fishhead for me. Satay, popiah, oyster pancakes and pineapple pizza for the family. Yes, pizza. To our surprise, their pizza is pretty good for Hawker stall standard. Not frozen and microwaved pizza, but handmade baked in the wooden oven.

Want to try street Pizza in Penang? Read what others have to say about Sin Kim San Cafe

Nasi Kandar Line Clear

This is the famous Nasi Kandar (Indian-style curry rice) cafeteria in Penang. It’s good. It’s dependable, and it’s 24 hours. You pick your rice (white rice or biryani) and then add your choice of curried and cooked meats and vegetable in steel trays. This can be spicy, so ask what isn’t.

To be completely honest, I like our Lidiana (Nasi Malayu) for similar taste, but when in Georgetown, this is a good option to consider.

Need a second opinion? Read what others have to say about Nasi Kandar Line Clear

The Wan Tan Men Lady

I wish I could give you an address, but this little grandma just has a cart on the side of the road. The link here is for the exact location where I’d find her, but I have no idea if she’s still setting up shop there. This was my son’s and my favorite place for lunch.

Things to do in Penang with Kids - Our Family Guide: Where to eat- Ghee Thosai

Tanjung Bungah

Sri Ananda Bahwan (Indian, Sri Lankan and Malay)

This is another chain found all over Penang and many other cities in Malaysia. Dinners are good, but we went there mostly for roti and thosai breakfasts. I miss this more than almost any other food in Malaysia.

Wonder if your kids would enjoy? Read what others have to say about Sri Ananda Bahwan

Hamburger Inc. (Burgers)

This place just sets up a grill and some plastic tables in the parking lot of a bakery. Big beef, chicken and lamb burgers, with several varieties to choose from. Orders come with curry-flavored fries.

Lidiana (Malaysian)

Hands-down my favorite restaurant in Malaysia. It’s just an open-air cafeteria in a wall-less shack near the famous Floating Mosque, and it serves the best Nasi Malayu (Malaysian-style curry rice and vegetables) that I had in a year.

This place was in walking distance of our apartment and we ate lunch here at least twice a week. At least. I loved it so much that I wrote a full review on Lidiana.

Considering? Read what others have to say about Lidiana

Sunshine Bay (Chinese-Malay seafood)

Not far from the Floating Mosque, up a small hill, is this seafood grill. All manner of fish, chicken, tofu and shellfish are flash-fried here, and everything is good.

Popular dishes with us: Clams with vermicelli, XO Tofu, razor clams, some stir-fried greens and TomYam-style coconut shrimp (too spicy for the kids). The menu doesn’t have everything they offer each day. Ask what’s good today.

Wonder if your kids would like it? Read what others have to say about Sunshine Bay

K-Pot (Korean)

This is confusing, but there are TWO restaurants in Penang called K-Pot, and they are not affiliated with each other (at least not anymore). Both are good, but completely different.

The one I’m recommending and linking to has good gimbap, toppoki and other Korean lunch standards. Kimchee, egg and broccoli or some other green are brought to the table as service.

Need a second opinion? Read what others have to say about K-Pot

Ingolf’s Kneipe (German)

This place sometimes fills up before noon because of its excellent lunch menu. Huge portions, made on site. Stuff like sausages, schnitzels, bacon sandwiches and meatloaf. All excellent, and comes with large salads.

Just so you know, it’s more expensive and hard to find pork in Malaysia. That said, their lunch is fairly affordable.

Still wondering if you’d enjoy? Read what others have to say about Ingolf’s Kneipe

Batu Ferringhi

Long Beach Cafe (Hawker Center)

All your Malay, Chinese, Indian and Western favorites here. I wouldn’t say that this is the best hawker food in Penang, but it’s certainly the best in Batu Ferringhi, and was a frequent meeting point for us and other traveling families.

This is more or less our “go to” spot for dinner after our hike at Penang National Park.

Still unsure? Read what others have to say about Long Beach Cafe

Restoran Khaleel (Indian, Malay and breakfast)

The Nasi Kandar here is quite good (same goes for all the branches around the island), but we come to Restoran Khaleel for the roti in the mornings. I like mine savory, with egg and daal dipping sauce, the kids like theirs sweet, with bananas and condensed milk, but they beg us to get the supreme roti offered here, covered in honey and ice cream. We give in occasionally.

It’s located in a small shopping area, on Lorong Sungai Emas, across from Golden Sands Resort by Shangri-La

Golden River (Chinese)

You won’t find this place in the afternoon — just an empty shack with a stove locked up in the corner. But near sunset, they set everything up and open. Great Cantonese and Hainanese style Chinese food, with a few Thai-style dishes as well.

Wonder if it’s worth your money? Read what others say about Golden River.

Bora Bora by Sunset (Southeast Asian and Western)

Lots of people recommend eating here. You can if you like, it’s not bad, but I much prefer drinking here. As their name suggests, this is a great place to see the sunset.

The tables in the back are in the sand, so you can watch the days last rays fall as parasailers and horseback riders pass by. It’s a great place to chill with a few beers and friends while the kids play in the sand in front of you.

Don’t drink? Read what others have to say about food at Bora Bora by Sunset.


You can visit Penang with kids just about any time of year and expect warm, humid and sunny weather. The wet season is April to November, and the dry season is December to March. During the wet season, it can rain off and on for a few days, or just pummel down for 90 minutes and then be sunny again.

Either way, traveling in Penang with children is enjoyable almost any time, and you can swim year-round. But if you can be flexible and have time on your hands, I would recommend coming in the wet season for two reasons.

Avoid the hazy season

Firstly, spring to fall is low season in Penang, so hotels could be cheaper, and the streets and restaurants will be less crowded. Also if you haven’t heard about “the haze,” you should know that the deforestation of nearby Sumatra by forest fire can blow smoke towards Malaysia and Singapore, and it can really change your day.

For example, here’s the view from our balcony most days of the year:

Our Balcony View in Penang: Penang with Kids

And here’s that same balcony view when the haze rolls in:

Penang with Kids — Haze

Ridiculous, right? I used to suggest people visit in the high season simply because it is so nice to leave wintry weather for the balmy climes of Penang. Now, I would suggest the wet season because if the haze shows up, there’s a better chance that it will be washed away quickly. This doesn’t happen all the time, but Sumatra is being razed faster than ever now, so when and where the haze goes has become less predictable.

WEATHER: Penang with Kids

Penang’s weather is the tropics, and it’s very hot and humid. Don’t attempt to do too much in one day if you’re not used to this climate. Kids can get especially tired or irritated in this kind of heat.

A good rule of thumb is to have one activity planned per day. That’s it. Of course, you know your family’s capabilities best, but remember that staying out all day can be draining.


Unfortunately, Penang’s internet is not as fast and ubiquitous as Chiang Mai’s, and there isn’t that much public access to the web. Sure, Penang supposedly has “free wifi” island-wide, but it rarely worked when I tried it. I’m sure that some backpacker hostels have it, and there may be somewhere I just don’t know about (if you know somewhere, PLEASE contact me so I can share it).

You’ll find internet cafes and “cyber cafes” if you do a google search, but a lot of these places are more a place for locals to play Halo together. Am I wrong? I’d love to be wrong on this. We had an apartment and had high-speed wifi installed, so I stopped looking for places to work.

As for prepaid SIM cards for smart devices, Malaysia has a lot of options, and you can pick them up at any mall or at the airport. We went with Celcom because we were told it worked best in our part of Malaysia. That seemed to be right, but we had terrible reception on the east coast of the peninsula, where DiGi seemed to work better.

It’s easy to top-up your phone in Malaysia as well. Just go to a major convenience store chain and tell them which company you’re with. You pay, and they give you a receipt with a number you punch into your device through a few steps, and boom, you’re done.


Things to do in Penang with Kids - Our Family Guide: Burmese Temple

On Foot

One of our favorite things to do in Penang with kids is walk around Georgetown. You can do a lot of walking in Penang, but there are a few caveats. Most importantly is to watch your step, as there are many dips and trenches for the sewer, and you wouldn’t want to fall in there.

Also, sidewalks come and go — sometimes ending abruptly at a busy intersection. This can make pushing a stroller challenging in places. Also, there is no real way to walk between Georgetown and Batu Ferringhi, so you’ll need to ride some vehicle.

By Bus

Things to do in Penang with Kids - Our Family Guide: Getting around Penang by bus

Penang’s public bus system is one of the best in Southeast Asia. It’s clean, air conditioned, and runs with decent regularity, and we used these buses a lot. Since we stayed at the north part of the island, we used bus #101 frequently because it covers the road between Batu Ferringhi and Georgetown. Fares vary depending on distance, but most journeys are covered with less than US$ 0.60 per person. Children pay even less. Fees may change over time, so please check the Penang Bus System Website.

By Taxi

You can easily hail a cab at the port or near a shopping center. Just be sure that they have a working meter and then insist on using it. If not, then negotiate the price and agree before you get in. However, it is not so easy to grab a taxi on the street unless you are near a mall.

At Penang airport, there is a set taxi system. You’ll see the desk to the right as you exit. This is a legit service, and I’d recommend using them instead of trying to hail a taxi on your own. The prices are listed on the cashier window and are measured by distance.

For all other situations, apps like Grab and Uber can be extremely useful. That way, you can always get a taxi pretty much anywhere you are, and you don’t have to haggle because the price is fixed before you get in. But be aware that some taxis don’t have seat belts in the back. You can request that when you book via app, but that’s no guarantee. We used taxis mostly when going to and from the airport and when there was no other alternative.

Recommended: Get a Rental Car

Rental Car Penang with Kids

Taxis and buses cover a lot of ground, but they can be quite limiting when traveling in areas like Penang with kids. Places like the Penang War Museum and half a dozen other locations would take two to three times longer to reach on a bus, and the taxi costs would add up.

Scooters weren’t an option for us, either. For one, the road between Tanjung Bungah and Batu Ferringhi is just two-lanes that zig-zag along a small cliff with no guard rail, and it rained a lot when we arrived. Also, in Malaysia, it’s (technically) illegal to have more than two people on a scooter. Sure, many locals do it, but I didn’t want us to be an easy target for a ticket.

Instead, consider renting a car. We spent less than US$300 a month on our car (USD$10/day!) which ended up cheaper than the combination of bus and taxi for our everyday commute to shopping and all other activities. We can certainly recommend our guy Cedric who became a good friend to us there. He and his team were quick to help and super easy-going. His mechanic was very helpful too and always available. One time, I had to call him at 7:30am on a Saturday and he came to help us very right away.


Things to do in Langkawi with Kids — Malaysia Family Travel boat tour

There are lots of fun things to do in Penang with kids, but where to go next? Or where to visit on your way to visit Penang? We have lots of suggestions.


A short flight or ferry ride away is the beautiful island of Langkawi. Here you’ll find beaches, waterfalls, snorkeling & scuba, an amazing cable car ride and more..

Read our Full Guide to Things to do in Langkawi with Kids


This inland Malaysian town is a short car or bus ride from Penang. There are lots of fun things to do in Ipoh. Great food, amazing caves, a super-fun waterpark, and more.

Find out What to do in Ipoh with Kids

The Cameron Highlands

Malaysian heat and humidity got you down? Then head to the hills. There are lots of fun things to do in the Cameron Highlands with kids, and the weather is much cooler.

There are many Things to do in the Cameron Highlands

Krabi, Thailand

This spectacular area of southern Thailand is a short flight away, but you can also take a charter bus, as well, like we did. Great beaches, good seafood, and world-class rock climbing.

Here’s our full review on Rock Climbing in Krabi with Kids

Sumatra, Indonesia

The flight from Penang to Medan, Sumatra, takes about 45 minutes and open the door to another world of experiences for you and your kids. Jungle trekking, caving, volcanoes, and orangutans.

Read our Tips for Sumatra with Kids

Bukit Lawang with Kids: Jungle Trekking, Tubing and Orangutans


What are YOUR favorite things to do in Penang?

This list covers only our favorite things to do in Penang with kids. We could add more, and perhaps you could too. Have you been to Penang with children? What did you enjoy? Where was your favorite place to stay? Which restaurant did you enjoy most? Please leave your insight in the comments below or contact me. I would love to hear from you.

***PIN THIS!***

Things to do in Penang with Kids - Our Family Guide: AnEpicEducation

Disclaimer: This article contains affiliate links, that means that if you book something after clicking one of my links, we might get a small commission. You pay no extra, so don’t worry. Also, everything you see here is just my personal opinion. I only recommend places and activities that I believe will genuinely help your travel.

Image credits: #23, #25, #26


  1. Hello,
    Great Guide!
    I am planning a trip to Malaysia with my fiance and our 6 years old son.
    Fly to Singapore, than to Penang, stay 5 days, Lankgawi maybe 3, 4 days, KL and Singapore again and back home. We’ll have only 15 days.
    I told my mom about our trip and she almost chopped off my head that I am planning to grad our little boy so far away, snakes, spiders etc.
    While I don’t agree with her at all and I will make my decision regardless to her views she put a seed of a doubt in my mind.
    Is it safe for children in Malaysia. I mean those snakes, spiders, scorpions, mosquito, sea snakes etc?
    Also if you have only 15 days in Malaysia, where would you go?
    Warmest regards from Dublin.

    • Hi Kasia. Yes, Malaysia is completely safe and fun for kids and families. In fact, I think it’s one of the easiest places in Southeast Asia to visit — most people speak English and the main cities have a high standard of living. We’ve been in Malaysia off and on for more than 15-16 months total, and I’ve only seen a snake in the wild…once? Twice? Scorpions, never. A few small here and there but nothing dangerous. Ever. The only danger I’d say is traffic: don’t let your son run into the road…but you’d say that anywhere, right? There are mosquitoes, yes, and mosquito-borne diseases such as dengue fever are in Malaysia, but again, the chances are very small for getting it — especially if you’re sticking to places like KL and Penang. We’ve spent over a year there and have friends who have lived there for nearly a decade — not a single case. We completely recommend Malaysia and all of Southeast Asia, really. So do tens of thousands of people who go there regularly. You’ll be fine 🙂

      As for where I’d go with 15 days, your plan sounds about right: 4-5 days in Penang, Langkawi, and KL for balance. If you like big city culture, more time in KL. If you like history, more in Penang. If you want quiet beaches, then maybe Langkawi. If you’re ambitious and want to see more, then perhaps Malacca or the Cameron Highlands, but honestly 3 places in 15 days is more than enough — especially if you’re new to the area. You could spend 3 weeks in Penang or KL alone and still have enough to do. Let us know how it goes! All of my Malaysia posts are here.

      • Thank you so much for your reply!
        I am a bit ODT as this will be our first trip to Asia with our son. So far we were sticking with Europe, mainly France :-).
        I will buy some mosquito repellents and we’ll keep all our vaccinations up to date.

        Thank you again!

  2. Hi,

    Thanks for a detailed description and tips of things to see and do in Penang! My husband and I are travelling with two girls (3 years and 5 years) to Penang for 1 week in February. Would you recommend to stay ½ week in Batu Ferringhi and ½ week in Georgetown or stay the whole week in Georgetown and do day trips to Batu Ferringhi? We are planning on renting an apartment through AirBnB so we will probably not stay in any beach resorts.

    Kind regards,

    • It depends on what you want/like, Hai-Minh. Georgetown (GT) is where most of the history & sites are, but it’s louder and dirtier than Batu Ferringhi (BF). Then again, your kids are young enough that they’ll likely be indoors and in bed early. If I was in town for only a week and my kids were that young, I’d probably stay in GT for the week, with day trips to BF and elsewhere. That way you can have dinner at GT restaurants/hawker stalls and be back at your AirBnB by early bedtime.

  3. The bus system there is fabulous Jason. We spent a month by Queen’s Bay Mall in 2013. Had a blast. We’d bus around the island, especially from our apartment to Georgetown for walking around and enjoying the place. We also dug the National Park; stopped at the sea turtle rehab center and turned around. Twas a bit hot and humid that day. But then again it always is in Penang 😉 This is a super write up.

  4. Hi, Jason – We’ve just arrived in Penang and your guide is a great starting point for us! Our “slow travel” is a little faster than yours (we plan one month here), but hopefully, we can still take advantage of some of the longer-term educational options for the kids that you list. Love those ideas! Thanks for this informative write-up!

    • So glad you like the guide! You can easily fill a month in Penang. Please update us later on — I’d love to hear what you did and what your family liked best!

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