Travel is an enjoyable and fulfilling way to spark your little one’s sense of adventure and eagerness to learn. To explore together and impart various learning opportunities to your child outside of the classroom, you need not look much further than the many incredible destinations that are just a short flight from Singapore.
Just ninety minutes away by plane, Penang is the perfect choice for a quick yet rewarding family vacation. Rich in culture, history, and delicious food, a trip to this Malaysian state is bound to be a multi-sensorial learning experience that spells fun for both children and parents.
Here’s how to plan an educational weekend family getaway to Penang with the little ones, including insider tips to eight activities everyone will enjoy!
Penang With Kids: 8 Must-see Attractions!
Penang with kids: Penang is the perfect location for a fun, educational getaway for the whole family!
1. Penang Escape Theme Park
Unleash your child’s inner monkey at the Penang Escape Theme Park. Here, you’ll find high rope courses, zip lines, and giant slides that your kids are going to love trying out. There’s something for every little daredevil – from junior courses to more advanced ones like an exhilarating free-falling experience for older, more adventurous kids.
Other than the obvious element of fun it offers, engaging in these activities further boosts children’s mental and motor development, mainly their balance, agility, and self-confidence. And as you tackle the various courses together as a family, you will also enjoy a remarkable bonding experience.
Bear in mind the height and weight limits for most of the courses. But don’t fret if you’re travelling with younger ones, as there are still activities that they can enjoy, such as the Discovery Dig and the Tubby Racer.
Address: 828 Jalan Teluk Bahang, 11050 Penang, Malaysia
Entrance fees: Free for kids under the age of 3; RM 55 for kids aged 4-12; RM 83 for kids aged 13 and above, and adults; free for seniors (aged 61 and above)
Opening hours: Tuesday to Sunday, 10 am to 6 pm
To buy tickets, click here
Tips for mums:
- This location has a food court, toilets, and a first-aid room, so don’t come packing the kitchen sink.
- Bring a change of clothes for your kids as some of the obstacle courses involve lots of water.
The ride up and down Penang Hill is exhilarating!
2. Penang Hill
This is a breathtaking way to view the island! Take the whole family up to the top of Penang Hill via the recently renovated funicular, on the world’s steepest tunnel track (don’t forget to sing “Funiculi, Funicula” together, while you’re at it!).
Once you reach the top, explore the peak and take in the panoramic scenery that beautifully melds the verdant landscape with Penang’s concrete jungle. Use the opportunity to teach your kids about the magnificence of nature and the importance of environmental conservation.
It’s not just the stunning scenery that you will take away as memories from here. There are plenty of other things to experience for nature-loving members of your family, such as:
- The Owl Museum: All the owls here are made from various materials such as wood, stone, metal, glass, clay, plastic, buffalo horn, seashells, beans, plant fibres, crystal, porcelain, earthenware, paper, and recycled items. A great way to teach little ones about the value of recycling!
- Endemic flora and fauna: Tell your kids to be on the lookout for the Black Giant Squirrel and Dusky Leaf Monkey. They should also try to spot a carnivorous plant called the Monkey Cup (Pitcher Plant) that traps tiny insects and devours them!
End your day with an unforgettable Instagram-worthy meal from one of the many eateries perched on the peak (toilet stop alert for kids!).
Address: 11500 Pulau Pinang, Malaysia
Tel: 604-8288880 / 04-8288839 / 04-2288861
For a detailed map and directions, click here
For ticket prices and train schedule, click here
- There are two food courts at the top of the hill: one offers food for hungry little tummies, while the other offers drinks and icy treats such as ais kacang.
- There’s a playground which the kids will love.
- Pack a cardigan for your child as it can get a bit chilly up on the peak especially in the evening.
- Weekends can get quite crowded, so if you are travelling with smaller kids, it is best that you visit on a weekday.
The beautiful view from the top of Penang Hill
3. Toy Museum Heritage Garden
Albert Einstein once said, “Imagination is more powerful than knowledge,” but we beg to differ! We think imagination can fuel knowledge and vice versa—and especially so when you are in a place such as Penang’s Toy Museum Heritage Garden.
The young (and the young-at-heart!) will love the giant collection of 100,000 vintage toys from all over the world. The museum claims to have the most valuable global toy collection, which is believable based on its size alone!
Mums and dads, prepare to be hit by a wave of nostalgia when you see those toys from your childhood (such as Astro Boy)! While your kids might not recognize these toys, take them with you down memory lane as you revisit your childhood with reminders of the ‘80s and ‘90s.
Watch your children’s faces light up in shock and wonder as you tell them stories about how you used to play with real toys and not the electronic gadgets of today. Maybe, just maybe, they’ll ditch those digital devices in favour of real play!
Address: 1370, MK2, Teluk Bahang, 11050 Penang
Entrance fees: RM 26 for adults; RM 19 for kids
Opening hours: 9am-6pm daily
A little bird tells us that it can get quite hot in here and that the toilets are not the cleanest. Because of this:
- Dress your kids in light, cotton clothing.
- Take plenty of drinking water and wet wipes!
If you can manage your fear of heights, this walk is must-do!
4. Penang National Park Canopy Walkway
Similar to the MacRitchie Treetop Walk in Singapore, Penang’s National Park Canopy Walkway is a 250-metre long walkway situated 15 metres above the rainforest.
The Canopy Walkway, built entirely with rope support and no nails, is not for the faint-hearted! Keep in mind that very young children might find this a bit scary, although older kids will see it as an exhilarating challenge. If you and your kids can control your fear of heights, the entire walkway takes 20-30 minutes to complete.
During the walk, keep an eye out for wildlife such as civets and sea otters. In fact, the park is home to over 40 species of birds, including great egrets, Stork-billed kingfishers, and more. Hand your child a pair of binoculars to try and spot the animals in their natural habitat and then compare their differences and similarities.
This is a good way to introduce the concept of biodiversity and how living things work together to form an ecosystem. Make the learning experience even richer by encouraging them to write down everything they observe in a nature journal.
Address: Inside Penang National Park, about a kilometre from the entrance
Tel: +604 8813530, +604 8813500
Entrance fees: RM 5 for adults, RM 3 for kids (tickets are available at the park entrance)
Opening hours: 10 am to 4 pm; closed on Fridays
- The walkway may be shut down if it has been raining heavily, so it’s best to call before heading over with the kids.
- Take plenty of water and mosquito repellant with you.
- Bring a pair of binoculars for animal watching.
Continue to the next page on your Penang adventure with food, beaches, and more!
5. DIY Street Food Tour
With praise ranging from celebrity chefs such as Anthony Bourdain to global media groups like CNN and Forbes, Penang has cemented its reputation as one of the top street food destinations in the world.
For one, the dishes in Penang are unique to the island. Take laksa, for instance. A common dish in the region, Penang Laksa is completely different from the dish you’ll find in Singapore. In Penang, Laksa is made from tamarind (assam), giving it a sweet and sour taste that contrasts with Singapore's creamy coconut milk-based rendition.
Furthermore, the sheer variety of cuisines and flavours in Penang is a foodie’s dream come true. What’s more, the scrumptious meals are not going to burn a hole in your wallet, with options starting at just RM3!
To sample some of Penang’s best street food, visit the lively Lorong Baru in Georgetown. It’s best to go after dark when it is closed to vehicle traffic and hawker stalls can set out colourful plastic tables and chairs on the street.
If you’re heading to the clean and calm, family-friendly beach in Batu Ferringhi, visit the bustling Long Beach Food Court. There, kids with more adventurous taste buds can sample delectable food options like a yummy seafood BBQ.
When travelling, did you know that you can even make mealtimes a unique learning opportunity for your kids? Give them some food for thought by talking to them about the link between culture and cuisine—for example, laksa has its roots in Malay, Indian, and Chinese cultures, which make up the cultures of Malaysian society.
Delicious Penang bak kut teh!
Local dishes highly recommended:
- Penang Koay Teow Th’ng or Koay Teow Soup: This noodle soup is packed with slices of pork, fish/eel balls and fish cake, along with flat rice noodles.
- Penang Assam Laksa: This is a flavourful, spicy fish-broth of tamarind juice, lemongrass, and chilli paste. It’s topped with prawn paste and fish flakes.
- Lor Bak 卤肉i: Strips of pork loin meat are wrapped in beancurd skin and deep-fried. Then, you dip them in a bowl of delicious braised sauce before popping this fragrant morsel in your mouth! A great dish for sharing.
- Bring lots of drinking water for the kids.
- If your child is not a fan of spicy food, you can ask the stall owners/cooks to not put chilli in your kid’s meal.
- Look for firm favourites like chicken rice for fussy eaters.
- Consider heading to Batu Ferringhi in the afternoon (remember to pack sunscreen) and ending your day at Long Beach Food Court.
Your family will love Penang's pristine beaches
6. Colonial Architecture and The Clan Jetties
Encourage your kids to appreciate history as you walk around Georgetown, paying particular attention to Penang’s colonial architecture and The Clan Jetties. Let them imagine what life was like for the people who inhabited these overwater homes in the past and what it’s like today. How does it compare to the life of the residents of Singapore’s few remaining kampungs?
Encourage older kids to take plenty of photos and create a memory album with them once you get back home, with detailed captions depicting both the memory and a snippet of historical information.
- If you are spending the day in Georgetown with younger children and need to know where change room facilities are, Gurney Plaza has baby rooms on every floor and is stroller friendly. Also, it’s a great mall for mum to sneak in some shopping!
- Gurney Plaza also has an indoor playground on level 4, if you’re looking to let the kids have fun away from the midday heat.
- Other baby-friendly malls include Prangin Mall and 1st Avenue.
7. DIY Street Art Tour
The gorgeous street art of Penang offers plenty of memory-making opportunities for the family
Penang’s resurgence as a tourist destination is due in part to the city’s colourful and unique street art. Discover the city’s street art with this brochure from the city tourism board, which shows all the murals scattered around the city and where they can be found.
Much of the street art is the work of 30-year-old Lithuanian street artist Ernest Zacharevic, who has played a significant role in Georgetown’s transformation from a crumbling city to a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Visit China House to experience Penang’s art culture in one location. This 400-foot long row of shophouses is a three-building compound featuring cafes, galleries, and restaurants connected by a central courtyard.
There’s live music here, so your kids can boogie away while they wait for their food, or they can make the most of their artistic skills by engaging in some creative doodling. Also, the courtyard is full of we-fie photo ops, so get your kids to be creative with their photography skills and make plenty of memories!
- Look for the very quirky, very cute Purrfect Cat Café in Georgetown if you and the kids are feline lovers.
- Try China House’s gula melaka and almond milkshake – we hear it’s to die for!
There are many lessons in history, culture, and architecture to be learned as you meander through the streets of Georgetown with your family
8. Made in Penang Interactive 3D Museum and Upside Down Museum
The Made in Penang Interactive 3D Museum is Penang’s unique answer to the recent popularity of Trick Eye Museums in other parts of the region. Rather than going with a random assortment of 3D prints, they’ve used the exhibitions to highlight Penang’s culture, traditions, and influences.
Make a trip to the 3D Museum an extra-special learning experience for your kids by talking to them beforehand about the history of Penang. By doing this, the exhibits will make so much more sense to them once you are there.
Visit the Clan Jetties section of the gallery and have your picture taken while sitting in a real sampan, so it looks like you’re really in the jetty. Or, experience the history of Penang’s merchant trade with a ride on the Bullock Cart. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can even try Aerial Skydiving while you’re at the museum!
Make it a day of museum fun by also heading to the Upside Down Museum on Kimberly Street in Georgetown. Prepare to get your whole sense of visual perception challenged! This place will not only teach your kids how to look at things from different perspectives, but will boost their imagination and creativity as well.
Zany photo opportunities are a-plenty, so make the most of your time here for some awesome family bonding while you’re clicking those pictures!
Interactive 3D Museum
Address: 10 Lebuh Penang Georgetown, Penang 10200
For ticket pricing and to book online, click here.
Upside Down Museum
Address: 45, Lebuh Kimberley, George Town, 10100 George Town
For more information, click here.
- In both museums, encourage your kids to match their facial expressions to each 3D or upside-down experience! This way, the resulting photos look incredible.
- In the Upside Down Museum, visitors are ushered from room to room quite fast, so it’s perhaps not the best place to visit with an impatient toddler.
Penang with Kids: Suggested 3-Day Programme
If you plan your trip well, you should be able to cover most, if not all, of the activities listed here. Otherwise, Penang is so close to Singapore that you can just come here again on another weekend!
We suggest that you plan for a 3-day getaway, starting on Friday:
- Day 1: Head to Penang Hill and the Escape Theme Park in the morning. In the afternoon, visit the Toy Museum and the Canopy Walkway if you are up for it.
- Day 2: Take your time to check out the street art, while gorging yourselves on tantalising street food.
- Day 3: Relax at the beach and the Clan Jetties, and create unforgettable memories at the 3D and Upside Down museums!
Final tips and suggestions
- Encourage kids to ask questions and make observations about what they see when out and about. A travel journal and a disposable camera will help with documenting their trip.
- Pack sunscreen, mosquito repellent, and a roll-up change mat in case you can’t find a baby room in a hurry.
- Carry bottled water with you, especially when visiting outdoor attractions.
- Penang is very safe and kid-friendly in general. Other than being wary of motorbike traffic on the sidewalks, you needn’t be worried about walking around with your family. But as always when travelling with kids, keep a careful eye on them and observe basic family safety rules.
We hope this guide to some of Penang’s family-friendly activities inspires you to start planning your vacation there soon!
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