Free things to do in Penang

Penang Free Things To Do

Penang Island is one of the most popular places to visit in Malaysia, and it appeals to both foreigners and locals alike. But what are the free things to do in Penang?

Most will say eating, and when you mention Penang to a Malaysian, the first thing that comes to mind is the local hawker food.

Yes, Penang is very well known for its hawker food, which can be found all over the island. As for the general tourist, the island is filled with exciting stuff that can easily occupy your time by walking around on foot.

Free Things to do in Penang

Penang UNESCO George Town
Going around George Town in Penang.

While there are many attractions on the island, I have come up with a list of absolutely free things to do in Penang, which are in no particular order.

Most of them can be found in George Town, the capital, while others are in the Batu Feringgi area, which requires some travel by buy or taxi. The list is;

1. Heritage Walk in the UNESCO part of George Town Penang

The best way to explore the UNESCO core heritage zone of Penang is on foot, and the best part of George Town is that a considerable portion of the city is dedicated to the heritage zone; therefore, many visitors are seen moving around on foot or via rented bicycles.

There are also the street arts, which are spread all over the heritage zone where you need to explore and find them. A must-do thing when in Penang.

2. Visiting Rope Walk Market (Lorong Kulit Flea Market)

Known as the Penang Flea Market or Lorong Kulit in Malay, this unique market is situated along Lorong Kulit, which translates as Skin Lane.

Known for second-hand goods, antiques, collectables, and many new things, the entire market sits in a square with bustling life. The best time to visit is on the weekends when many petty traders shop on the five-foot way outside the market.

It is a must-visit for collectors and market lovers. Alternatively, there is the Lebuh Aceh Flea Market (Pasar Karat), a daily affair starting at about 5.00 pm. This is located next to the UNESCO Headquarters Building along Armenian Street.

National Park in Penang
Penang National Park.

3. Exploring the Smallest National Park in the World

The Penang National Park is located at the end of Teluk Bahang, and the best way to get here is to take the Rapid Penang Bus 101, which costs RM2.70 from Georgetown one way.

The journey is about 40 minutes, and the entrance to the park is free. However, note that the park closes at 5.00pm, so it is best to visit in the morning.

The beauty of this park is that it is divided by rainforest and sea, so you will experience the best of both worlds. There is a 250-meter Canopy Walk here, but a fee of RM5 applies to those wanting to try it out.

Indeed, for nature lovers, I recommend starting early here. Treks can also take one to four hours here, so it is best to be prepared.

4. Visiting the Wat Chayamangkalaram Temple in Burmah Road

The Wat Chayamangkalaram temple along Burmah Road was built by a Buddhist monk who came from Thailand on five acres of land donated by Queen Victoria as a gesture of goodwill to Thailand and the Thai community. 

The temple celebrates four important events, namely the Thai New Year, Wesak Day, Merit Making Day in July and the anniversary of the construction of the reclining Buddha. On these occasions, the temple is thronged with devotees burning joss sticks and making offerings.

If you have a thing for temples and culture, this is a must-visit and best before lunch. Located in the Pulau Tikus area near Gurney Drive. 

5. Check out Kek Lok Si Temple (Temple of Supreme Bliss)

To get to Kek Lok Si Temple, one needs to take a public bus there, and upon arrival, you can easily make your way up the temple, passing a variety of stalls selling Buddhist prayer items among the general touristic things. 

When you reach the top, you will see beautiful statues of the Goddess of Mercy (Guan Yin) and other Chinese statues. 

This location is an excellent place for photography and is best visited in the mornings before the main crowd arrives. Also, try visiting on a weekday to avoid the weekend crowd. 

Gurney Hawker Center
Gurney Drive Hawker Center in Penang.

6. Visit Gurney Drive for a Local Food Fiesta

You may already have heard about this famous and popular place, but sentiments aside, many locals will claim that this is the ultimate tourist spot. 

However, it is THE most popular hawker area in Penang, which is also the best place to find all the local Penang favourite hawker dishes in one location. 

Located at the end of Gurney Drive, where a roundabout sits, the place is best visited from 5.00 pm onward. If you are up for it, try all the local Penang hawker foods here.

Gurney Drive is divided into two sections: a halal area and a non-halal area. This place is highly recommended for travel foodies, as hawker food in Penang is a must-try. 

7. Check out the Snake Temple

One of the lesser visited places, the Penang Snake Temple is an absolutely one-of-a-kind temple where live green vipers are rare. 

The temple is filled with the smoke of burning incense, and the vipers are believed to be rendered harmless by the sacred smoke, but as a safety precaution, all the snakes have also been de-venomed but still have their fangs intact.

If you dislike snakes, avoid this place, but for the fun of it, it is a great place to grab some fun photographs. It is also the only snake temple in the world. 

Take a bus from Komtar to the Penang Snake Temple in the Bayan Lepas. Admission is Free.

8. Visit the Clan Jetties in George Town

The Penang Clan Jetties are one of the very unique places to visit. They are also located around the harbour area of Georgetown and make up part of the UNESCO Heritage area. The Clan Jetties are located down from Lebuh Chulia at Pengkalan Weld (Weld Quay).

There are currently six clan jetties left, and each jetty is named after a Chinese clan. The Chew Jetty is the most tourist-friendly, with the most stilt houses and the longest walkway.

It is a must-visit if you love culture and heritage, and it is easily accessed by foot or bicycle. Best to visit in the mornings.

Night Market Batu Feringi
Batu Feringgi Night Market.

9. Explore the Nightlife at Batu Feringgi

The liveliest part of Penang is found here at Batu Feringgi, and the nightlife here is simply amazing for the visitor because of the restaurants and bars and the night market that stretches for a few kilometres along the main road here. 

Stalls come to life in the evenings, and you can see vendors selling souvenirs, accessories, apparel and even art by the roadside and walkways. 

This is one of the most recommended places to visit if you have a thing for night markets and lively places. Take a Rapid Penang Bus from Geroge Town to Batu Ferringi. It costs about RM2.00 one way, and frequent buses ply the route.

Penang Little India
Little India in Penang.

10. Walk around Little India in Penang

Little India in Penang is located around King and Queen Street, where you can find the best Malaysian Indian culture on the island. Explore Indian shops, restaurants, and businesses as they go about their everyday lives here while you can easily do it on foot. 

One of the must-try things is the Indian snacks from a road side stall. They serve some awesome deep-fried Vadeh's and Curry Puffs. If you are vegetarian, they do have them as well. 

Another experience here is the local Indian banana leaf meal, which is the best experience for lunch and trust me, this is something you should experience in Penang.

Simply walk into one of the Indian restaurants and ask if they serve banana leaf meals, then complete your experience by eating with your hands. That is how it's done here, and as a tourist, you should also experience this culture.

George Town
One of the local coffee shops in Georgetown, Penang.


There is a list of things you can do for free in Penang for those on a budget. Most places require walking unless you rent a bicycle, which should speed up things.

Some attractions require a bus ride to and from, which is a minimal cost, but the attractions listed here are all free to experience.

If you want to experience something unique, spend about RM60 to RM90 for a traditional trishaw, as he will take two persons on a heritage ride around George Town.

It's well worth it if you ask me as I have done it before. Another great place to explore is Chulia Street in the George Town area. This is where most of the backpackers hang out, too.

You can also check out my other article, Free Things To Do in Kuala Lumpur if you visit Malaysia's capital.

I hope you have enjoyed my article on free things to do in Penang. You can do many other free things around the island, but this list sums up the easiest for those on a short visit.

Malaysia Asia

Blogging since 2007, but writing online since 1997. I belong to the 1st generation of worldwide bloggers, which is of course old-school. Since 2008, I created Malaysia Asia and this travel, flood, gadget and lifestyle blog has won numerous physical awards from tourism boards around Malaysia. (Not those online awards). After 12 years of blogging, I have semi-retired and now blog about things I like, do product reviews and enjoy life. My work has been featured in Lonely Planet, CNN Travel, Yahoo Travel, Wall Street Journal, and many other international publications. Find out more about me and thank you.


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