There are many, many things to do in Penang when it rains, so don’t write off a rainy day! Here’s our guide to the best Penang indoor activities.
Unless you visit Penang in peak dry season (January), you can expect some rain during your visit. I mean, it’s a tropical climate, isn’t it?!
We often visit Asia during shoulder season, as the costs are cheaper, but with this usually comes more rainy weather. Still, the fun doesn’t have to end when the heavens open – as we found out for ourselves.
With this in mind we’ve put together a guide to all the different things you can do in Penang when it rains….
Rainy Penang for lovers of culture and history
Penang State Museum
The Penang State Museum and Art Gallery began life as the island’s first English language public school.
Alongside regularly changing temporary exhibitions, it has a permanent display of national and state treasures including a collection of Baba Nyonya porcelain, furniture, jewellery and costumes. There’s also a display of oil paintings by Captain Robert Smith, a military engineer who was stationed in Penang with the East India Company.
Colonial Penang Museum
Get a glimpse into what life was like for the wealthy merchants and British administrators of Old Penang thanks to the Colonial Penang Museum’s collection of furniture and antiques from the period.
Pinang Peranakan Mansion
The Pinang Peranakan Mansion is a fine example of a Baba-Nonya, or Paranakan Chinese ancestral home – Chinese settlers in Penang that adopted and absorbed the local culture and over time married different races into their families.
This house, now a museum, was built at the end of the 19th century and belonged to the head of the local Chinese community. It provides a great insight into the Baba-Nonya culture, with antiques and collectables as well as lovingly cared for original features including wood carved panels, floor tiles and iron pillars.
Take one of the free tours to get a real insight into life back then within the community, and make sure you take the time to venture over to the family’s ancestral temple as well as the Straits Chinese Jewellery Museum where you could even pick up a beautiful piece of antique jewellery from the shop.
Cheong Fatt Tze – The Blue Mansion
The Blue Mansion is a beautifully restored building which is now used as a boutique hotel with just 18 individually decorated rooms.
It was built by Cheong Fatt Tze, who arrived in Penang as a penniless 16-year-old who over time became one of the richest and philanthropic characters on the island.
Featured in Crazy Rich Asians, this place is something special to see and non-guests are invited to come and look around on daily guided tours (11am, 2pm and 3.30pm). This is well worth doing as our brilliant tour guide taught us all about the history on the building, how it sadly fell into disrepair when passed down toCheong Fatt Tze’s children and how it came to be restored to its former beauty.
We arrived half hour early for the tour to enjoy a drink in the beautiful courtyard bar, and there’s also the fine dining Indigo Restaurant if you’re looking for a special meal one evening.
Penang State Art Gallery
The Penang State Art Gallery houses a collection of modern and contemporary art which take the form of everything from paintings, sculptures and prints through to photography, video and performances.
Rainy Penang for families and fun times
The Top Penang
The Top, Penang, classes itself as a theme park and features a number of attractions, some of which are suitable for a rainy day. This includes the The Top Boutique Aquarium, the Jelly Bump dodgems, the Jurassic Research Centre with over 100 mechanical dinosaurs. Our favourite however, is the Tech Dome Penang…
Tech Dome Penang
Penang’s Tech Dome is a science discovery centre made up of over 100 interactive exhibits. Areas are dedicated to robotics, optics, electromagnetism and astronomy, with great interactive activities to engage kids, such as a climbing wall and slide.
Alongside the main exhibits they also have regularly changing areas covering new, specialist topics.
Asia Comic Cultural Museum
Fellow geeks will get a kick out of this museum, which houses 1,500 comics and comic-related merchandise.
There are regular changing exhibitions at the Asia Comic Cultural Museum that focus on the history and culture of the Asian comic book scene, highlighting their different roles in Asian cultures from Taiwanese and Korean to Chinese and, of course, Malaysian.
Entopia by Penang Butterfly Farm
If you’re looking for things to do in Penang with kids, then Entopia is a great choice. You can easily spend several hours here, learning all about the bugs, reptiles and butterflies that call this place home.
There are outdoor adventure areas for drier days, but there’s more than enough inside its three-story indoor discovery centre to keep you occupied, including regular interactive workshops.
The ticket price isn’t cheap, but it’s well worth the entry cost to have the chance to take part in fun activities like setting free the butterflies or extracting silk from silk worms.
If you’re looking for unusual things to do in Penang, well we’ve got your covered. The Ghost Museum isn’t a haunted house; it’s actually a museum that tells the stories behind 30 different ghosts, teaching visitors about dark culture and history.
Don’t expect something like the London Dungeon, this is an attraction that all bar the smallest kids will love, as there’s lots of costumes and props for you to get involved with as you make your way through this interactive museum.
Dark Mansion – 3D Glow in the Dark Museum
The first of its kind in Malaysia, this interactive 3D art gallery uses a combination of science and art to create a glow in the dark effect that makes paintings really ‘stand out’!
Staff are on hand to help you stand in the best spot for some good optical illusion pictures, and although a small museum it’s a popular attraction – especially when it rains!
Upside Down Museum
Another playful museum that kids of all ages will love, the Upside Down Museum is an interactive gallery that creates the illusion of walking on walls and ceilings. Get yourself some memorable, quirky photos from here…
Penang 3D Trick Art Museum
Have you spotted there’s a bit of a theme here? Another good spot for rainy days is the 3D Trick Art Museum, designed to get you to take quirky pictures that mess with your mind. Guides help you stand in the right position to get the best pictures.
Made in Penang Interactive Museum
It’s more of the same at the Made in Penang Interactive Museum, but at least here there’s a bit of culture too. That’s because this place creatively reflects back on Penang’s history and culture through the use of 3D art. Learn about the island’s history while posing for yet more silly photos!
The Wonderfood Museum Penang
One of Penang’s more quirky attractions, the Wonderfood Museum is an interactive exhibition filled with giant models of Penang’s best-known foods. It all sounds rather odd to me, but its a firm favourite with kids.
Rainy Penang for foodies and shopaholics
Named after Sr Henry Gurney, a High Commissioner of Malaya, this seafront promenade is famous its giant shopping malls. It’s the place to come to if you want to shop till you drop with the added bonus of staying dry inside famous shopping centres such as Gurney Plaza and the Gurney Paragon Mall.
Beryl’s Chocolate Story
Found on Love Lane, Beryl’s Chocolate Story is part shop, part café and part museum run by Malaysian chocolatier, Beryl’s.
Head up to the second floor to check out their mini museum which shows you the story behind the sweet treats you love. A nice spot to hide away if the heavens open while you’re checking out Georgetown’s epic street art, as it’s close to some of the most popular pieces.
My absolute favourite thing about Penang is the food. If you enjoy South East Asian, Chinese and or Indian cooking you’ll adore the delicious dishes on offer at the food courts.
We ate in these almost every day we were in Penang, as the food is very cheap and damn tasty. Two can eat for less than £10, and some of the best dishes include butter chicken, freshly made roti and murtabak. Read our guide to the best food in Penang for the full list of must try dishes!
Having eaten gorgeous food, the best way to finish your foodie exploration of Penang is through a cooking class.
We try to do these wherever we go, as it’s a great way to learn how to make some of the local dishes so you can continue to enjoy them at home.
During our visit we took a cooking class with locally renowned Nonya chef Pearly Kee at the Tropical Spice Gardens, where we learnt how to make the most delicious local chicken curry as well as having lots of laughs attempting to make our very own roti jala.
Pearly also runs her own cooking school, the Penang Homecooking School, in Georgetown.
If like me you have a love of tea and cake, you should definitely take the time to enjoy an afternoon tea in Penang, and what better time than on a rainy afternoon?!
There are many beautiful spots across the island that offer afternoon tea, but my favourites were those with colonial heritage. Check out my reviews of the Eastern & Oriental Hotel, Suffolk House and David Brown’s Restaurant & Tea Terrace to find out more.
Things to do in Penang when it rains
So there you have it, our guide to the best indoor activities in Penang. I hope we’ve inspired you to make the most of rainy days in Penang – if you try our any of these attractions during your visit, please do let us know what you think!