We love Penang! And we love that the Malaysian island offers a huge selection of free things to do in Penang with kids!
A captivating blend of culture, city-life, and glowing landscapes; Penang is a destination that continues to draw in travellers from all walks of life. The city holds an entertaining array of free activities and free attractions to entertaining the entire family, offering memories and experiences that make a Malaysian holiday unforgettable.
The Malaysian state of Penang lies in north-west Malaysia, and is known for its capital city: George Town. The state holds a population of approximately 1.75 million, stretching over 1000 square kilometres. Spread throughout Penang and the city of George Town is a fascinating platter of things to do that the whole family can enjoy, including dense national parks, colourful botanical gardens, sacred temples, impressive lookouts, and so much more.
The best part? A lot of these attractions are free of charge, meaning that you can entertain the kids without diving into the travel budget. What’s not to love?
If you’re on the hunt for some free activities around Penang, take a look at these entertaining attractions scattered throughout the state.
Penang Street Art
Our absolute favourite free things to do in Penang with kids is find, photograph and enjoy the street art.
In 2012 Penang’s municipal council hired London-trained Lithuanian artist, Ernest Zacharevic and charged him with breathing new life into some of the atmospheric Chinese shop-houses around George Town. Later, additional artists have been asked to add their works. It has created beautiful and interesting decorative features to the inner city area.
Adults and children alike will love the world famous and interactive street art. You can find them located around the central Georgetown streets of Muntri Street, Weld Quay, Lebuh Leith, Armenian Street, Ah Quee Street and more. Take the opportunity to ‘get in the picture’ to become part of the art yourself.
Hours: always open
Address: see map here
Penang is home to Youth Park, the City Park found near the Botanical Gardens. This park is suitable for all ages from toddlers, teens and adults.
Youth Park, is an urban park that was opened in 1972 as a recreational area and a green lung for the city’s residents. With amenities such as:
- a skating rink,
- multiple splash pools and
- a swimming pool,
- reflexology paths,
- a giant chess board,
- a cafe and
- an outdoor auditorium,
All of which are open to the public. The park is free to enter and use and is maintained by the Penang Island City Council.
Hours: 6am – 5.30pm
Address: Persiaran Kuari, Pulau Tikus, 10450 George Town, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia
Website: Read our detailed Youth Park review!
Kek Lok Si
Kek Lok Si is situated on the edge of George Town and is a well-known Buddhist temple of Penang. The vibrant structure is the largest Buddhist temple in Malaysia and was originally constructed back in 1890. The temple houses a collection of memorising structures and tranquil locations, making it a very intriguing destination to explore. Not to mention, the grounds are open to the public free of charge.
The temple is separated into three diverse sections: the temple grounds, the midsection, and the hilltop. The temple grounds is a much more touristy section of the temple, including the entrance, a network of souvenir and food stalls, and a turtle pond. The midsection of Kek Lok Si includes temple houses, pavilions, and pagodas. Finally, the Hilltop portion is home to the iconic statue of the Goddess Of Mercy.
Hours: Monday to Sunday (9 am to 6 pm)
Address: 1000-L, Tingkat Lembah Ria 1, 11500 Ayer Itam, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia
Website: click here
Penang National Park
Why not swap the city-life for an exciting jungle escape? The Penang National Park is a natural playground waiting to be explored by the whole family. Sitting along the northern tip of Penang Island, the parkland stretches over 1,200 hectares and houses an impressive range of wildlife, plant-life, and attractions.
The Penang National Park offers two main hiking trails, leading through a flourished jungle, alongside the coast, and down to the popular Monkey Beach, or down to other secluded gems (depending on which trail you choose). There is also a range of other attractions sprinkled throughout the park, including the Penang Turtle Sanctuary, Kerachut Beach, and the Muka Head Lighthouse.
The Penang National Park is located 30 minutes from George Town, with public transport options also available. Head over to the website for public transport options and to plan your visit.
Hours: Monday to Sunday (8 am to 5 pm)
Address: Pejabat Taman Negara P. Pinang, Jalan Hassan Abbas, 11050 George Town, Penang, Malaysia
Website: click here
Penang Botanic Gardens
Grab the family and head over to the Penang Botanic Gardens to admire the vast collection of native and exotic plant species. Situated in George Town, the gardens are home to plant species such as the Sengkuang Tree, Cannonball Tree, Black Lily, and much more. On top of this, various creatures can be spotted throughout the parkland, including squirrels, butterflies, and even monkeys.
Located within the Botanic Gardens is also a track leading directly to Penang Hill: Monkey Gardens. The track takes about 1 hour to complete and houses countless Macaque Monkeys. They can be very entertaining to watch, although it’s important to remember that they shouldn’t be touched or fed. The monkeys can bite back and if you’re caught giving them food, a hefty fine can result. The Penang Botanic Gardens can also be accessed via public transport if necessary.
Hours: Monday to Sunday (5 am to 8 pm)
Address: 673A, Jalan Kebun Bunga, Pulau Tikus, 10350 George Town, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia
Website: click here
Gurney Plaza is the lovely spot to cool down on a hot day and take in the ambiance of the centre. The plaza extends over 9 stories, offering tourists and locals a generous range of shopping and dining options, along with multi-level parking, and complimentary phone charging services. To top it off, Gurney Plaza is located conveniently close to other points of interest around George Town, with a few nearby public transportation options also available.
Hours: Monday to Sunday (10 am to 10 pm)
Address: 170, Gurney Dr, Pulau Tikus, 10250 George Town, Penang, Malaysia
Website: click here
Goddess Of Mercy Temple
If you’re in the mood to explore some of Penang’s rich culture, be sure to stop by the Goddess Of Mercy Temple (otherwise known as Kuan Yin Teng). Although the temple is very popular among Chinese New Year for blessings and offerings, many tourists and locals visit the venue year-round to embrace the peaceful vibes and beautiful surroundings. Not to mention, entry into the grounds is free.
The Goddess Of Mercy Temple is situated in the heart of George Town with public transport options available. The temple is also surrounded by a handful of other attractions, offering the perfect opportunity to couple a visit with another nearby point of interest.
Hours: Monday to Sunday (5 am to 6 pm)
Address: 30, Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling, George Town, 10200 George Town, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia
A visit to the Penang Snake Temple offers tourists a deeper insight into Penang’s cultural side. As the name suggests, the temple is home to a large number and range of snakes, however, the experience isn’t as scary as you’d expect. The temple was initially created in the honour of a Buddhist Priest who sheltered the snakes. When the priest died and construction on the temple was completed, the snakes moved in all by themselves. It was due to this event that many began to believe that the snakes were the disciplines of the late priest.
The Penang Snake Temple is overall suggested to be a peaceful location among those who visit. Many tourists come to admire the various statues and carvings throughout the complex, along with a large 270kg bell. Behind the temple are where the majority of the snakes are located, coiled throughout the branches of various fruit trees.
Arriving at the Penang Snake Temple from George Town is simple, with three bus numbers delivering tourists to the grounds. Entry into the temple is free.
Hours: 6 am to 7 pm (Opening hours may vary between days)
Price: Entry into the temple is free.
Address: Jalan Sultan Azlan Shah, Bayan Lepas Industrial Park, 11900 Bayan Lepas, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia
Website: click here
Penang Avatar Secret Garden
A trip to the Penang Avatar Secret Gardens is an experience taken straight from a fantasy, Although it may seem like an ordinary park, the garden comes alive in the evening, with multi-coloured lights illuminating the plant-life and offering visitors a magical atmosphere. Guests can slowly wander through the gardens, grab a few pictures, and admire the vibrant display.
The Penang Avatar Secret Garden is also located near a few restaurants and a temple, making it the perfect spot to sneak into a Penang itinerary. Situated only 20 minutes north of George Town’s city centre, be sure to stop by the gardens at night to see and feel the full effect of these iconic lights.
Hours: Monday to Sunday (8 am to 12 am)
Address: 336, Jalan Tokong Thai Pak Koong, Tanjung Tokong, 11200 Tanjung Bungah, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia
It is still free to go to the top of Penang Hill if you do not want to take the funicular. You need to access the free road or path via the Botanical Gardens. Its a 5km walk up a windy track… but technically it IS FREE! If you are keen and have older kids (I personally wouldn’t recommend the walk in the heat with young kids) you can walk up to the top of Penang Hill for free. You can find out more here. The whole family can admire some of Penang’s best views at the top of Penang Hill for free. The attraction perches visitors 833m above sea level overlooking stretching views of the mainland and adjacent islands of Penang.
Although Penang Hill is acclaimed for these views, there’s also plenty of other experiences to have in this location – these are not free. The attraction is also home to the Penang Hill Mosque and the Sri Aruloli Thirumurugan (both open 24 hours). If you’re in the mood for something different, Penang Hill also includes the Henna And Spa, Love Lock, Earthquake And Typhoon Pavilion, Little Village, Dinosaur and Avery Garden, and Owl Museum. Penang Hill is conveniently located near Kek Lok Si and is only 20 minutes west of George Town.
Hours: Monday to Sunday (6:30 am to 11 pm)
Price for funicular: Adult – RM 30. Children – RM15.
Address: Penang Hill, Penang, Malaysia
Website: click here
Those looking for more shopping facilities in Penang can make their way over to the water-side delight that is Straits Quay. The grounds are home to a variety of diverse stores and dining options for families to choose from, all accompanied by regular shows and events held throughout the year. Not to mention, the Royal Selangor Visitor Centre and Penang’s Performing Arts Centre are also located nearby. Whether you’re heading down for the range of stores or the picture-perfect bay views, there’s a little something for everyone to admire at Straits Quay.
Hours: Monday to Saturday (9 am to 1 am) Sunday (9 am to 12 am)
Address: Jalan Seri Tanjung Pinang 10470 Tanjong Tokong, Penang Malaysia, Malaysia
Website: click here
Free things to do in Penang with kids
Penang is home to a collection of experiences that the whole family can effortlessly enjoy free of charge. Dive into the cultural side of Penang with a visit to one of the many temples on offer, or head over to one of the vibrant natural playgrounds nearby and admire the native flora and fauna.
Not to mention, with public transport options available, you don’t have to rent a car to explore these destinations. Do your research, master the public transport system, and enjoy the cheap transportation fees. Whether you want to relax and unwind or explore something fresh and exciting every day, there’s always a new (free) experience to have in Penang.