Located off the northwest coast of Malaysia, Penang Island enjoys abundant natural beauty and a rich cultural heritage, earning it the nickname “Pearl of the Orient.” Here are some of the best Penang day trips for exploring the island and its surroundings.
Monkey Beach—14 miles (22 kilometers) from Penang City
Monkey Beach (Teluk Duyung) is part of Penang National Park on the northwest corner of the island. Named for its resident group of crab-eating macaques, the island is otherwise uninhabited—an ideal setting for a relaxing day of sun, sand, and sea. Tours to the island often include a barbecue lunch cooked right on the beach.
Pulau Payar Marine Park—about 40 miles (64 kilometers) from Penang City
The four uninhabited islands of Pulau Payar Marine Park, located a short ferry ride from Georgetown, are surrounded by clear waters teeming with large coral species and a colorful diversity of marine animals. If you want to explore Malaysia below the surface of the water, this is a great place to snorkel and scuba dive.
Orangutan Island—47 miles (76 kilometers) from Penang City
Observe free-ranging orangutans in their forested habitat in Semanggol with a visit to the conservation facility Orangutan Island. Visitors are protected by a meshed-in path during guided tours with an island ranger.
Tempurung Cave—114 miles (184 kilometers) from Penang City
Tempurung Cave (Gua Tempurung), also known as Coconut Cave, ranks among the largest cave systems in peninsular Malaysia. Explore over a mile (2 kilometers) of subterranean passages filled with illuminated limestone pillars, stalactites, and stalagmites. Visitors can choose between a paved trail through the caves or a longer journey that involves getting a bit wet and muddy.
Hat Yai—134 miles (215 kilometers) from Penang City
Visit two countries in one day with a trip to Hat Yai on the southern tip of Thailand. The busy city is a cultural mishmash where Malaysian day-trippers mingle with Cantonese street vendors and expats from all corners of the globe. On a guided tour of the city, visit the Four Faces Buddha Temple, catch some rays on the white sands of Samila Beach, and sample Thai food from the Hat Yai floating market.