The best time to visit Penang largely depends on what you’re after; are you looking for a quieter vacation with fewer crowds, or when the island is at its liveliest?
And while you may not escape Malaysia’s tropical humidity and heat, you may want to consider how best to avoid the rainy season too.
Other things to bear in mind are the annual festive events in Penang! We’ll cover all of these down below!
Table Of Contents:
- When Is The Best Time To Visit Penang
- Monthly Weather In Penang
- Overall Penang Travel Experience By Month
- Getting Around Penang
- Frequently Asked Questions
When Is The Best Time To Visit Penang?
To be honest, there is no particular month that is optimum to visit Penang.
With a warm and humid climate for the entirety of the year, you can expect a shower every few days.
That being said, the real downpours tend to be between August and November and from April to May.
If you prefer a drop in temperature (regardless of how small):
It is a few degrees cooler around the last few months of the end of the year, coinciding with worldwide holidays. Hence, this is the peak season that many tourists will want to visit Penang!
Be warned – things get more expensive too!
Monthly Weather In Penang
Naturally if you only have a few days in Penang, it may ease your mind to examine Penang’s climate month by month according to average temperatures, rainfall and humidity.
1. Average Penang Temperatures By Month
As you can see from the table below, the average temperatures in Penang are around 30°C.
The warmest months are around April and June. While the cooler months are from September to the end of the year.
Though it’s only by a difference of 1 to 2 degrees Celsius!
|Average High Temperature Over The Year (°C)
|Average Low Temperature Over The Year (°C)
2. Average Penang Rain By Month
To be on the safe side, you can avoid the rainy season that occurs between April to May and between September to November.
October typically has the rainiest days, while January and February tend to be the driest months.
|Average No. Of Rainy Days Over The Year
3. Average Humidity By Month
Penang’s humidity hovers around 80%. Although, if you go in January and February, this can be down by 10%!
There is more breeze at the start of the year too. Even if it’s only around 5 mph!
Rain adds to the humidity so the rainy months like October and November do have higher humidity than other months of the year.
|Average Relative Humidity (%)
Overall Penang Travel Experience By Month
Before you book your trip solely on the weather, here’s what to expect when it comes to festivals and crowds of tourists!
1. Penang Peak Season
Don’t be alarmed to see Penang attractions full of visitors during November and all through February, as this happens to be peak tourist season for the island!
This is due to a more festive city atmosphere. And hence, you can expect malls, hotels, and bars to be packed and pricier than usual.
2. Penang Off Season
April and May have some downpours and showers but these are usually later in the day. But while they don’t last long, it’s still a major inconvenience if you plan to spend most of your time outdoors.
The serious downpours, however, occur between September to November, so you might want to avoid visiting Penang at the time.
Other than smaller crowds, an unexpected positive point are the lower accommodation prices, alongside good deals for certain activities and attractions as well.
3. Penang In January & February
Lower temperatures (relative to the middle of the year) and lower humidity make New Year events much more enjoyable:
The Chinese New Year display at Kek Lok Si Temple is a crowd puller during this time since the temple is open for longer too.
Additionally, there are the vibrant Thaipusam festivities as well as the last day of Chinese New Year (Chap Goh Meh) which is coincidently, Chinese Valentine’s day!
Kek Lok Si Display Of Lights
A sight to behold during Chinese New Year, visitors will be treated to beautiful lights hanging throughout the temple complex up to the Kuan Yin statue and pavilion temple!
Lights are usually put up a few weeks before Chinese New Year. And visitors can go see them for the duration of Chinese New Year. The lights will be up for the whole month that Chinese New Year takes place too.
4. Penang In March, April & May
It’ll be very hot in March but you’ll find less crowds too after all the New Year festivities have ended!
Some rain in April will help to keep temperatures more bearable in the evening.
April is also when the annual Penang International Food Festival will be held for 2 weeks.
Note: For 2023, the Penang International Food Festival was held in June.
Furthermore, the month also plays host to the lively Vaisakhi Celebrations (or Sikh Harvest Festival) in the second week.
As for May, there may be a higher risk of rain, but you can look forward to a 10,000-strong holy procession on Wesak Day (The Buddha’s Birthday)!
At the end of May there may be durian buffet events to look out for too. Between May 27 to 28 in 2023, Maybank sponsored an all you can eat durian festival, Eat All You Can, Durian Festival.
There are also the numerous Ramadan Bazaars, which will be happening from April to May this year during the Ramadan period.
Penang International Food Festival
The highly anticipated annual Penang International Food Festival (or PIFF) goes on for 16 days. Giving you plenty of opportunities to try Penang food and more!
Due to the pandemic, the Penang International Food Festival was held over a three-day event in December 2021 instead.
Event Date: To Be Confirmed
5. Penang In June, July & August
Brave the occasional mid-afternoon showers and the heat during this period. Because there are a lot of festivals to look forward to! Plus, this is peak durian season!
George Town Festival
This is held yearly in honor of the city’s designation as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
During the festival, expect a celebration of local art, music, theatre, dance, and film featuring creative talents and exciting programs.
Event Date: 15 Jul 2023 – 30 Jul 2023
Penang Hill Festival
Penang Hill Festival (PHF) sees the return of their Music on the Hill event (23 Jul 2023). Here, you can get some education on the history and nature surrounding Penang Hill too through exhibitions and workshops right on Penang Hill.
Event Date: 21 Jul 2023 – 23 Jul 2023
Penang Durian Festival
Coinciding with the durian season, this is the best time to sample the many types of durians (D16, Ang Bak, Ang Jin, Ang Hae, and D700) we have in Malaysia.
Other popular fruits that are in seasons such as custard apple (locally known as nona), langsat, and mangosteen are also worth trying.
Look for them at these places:
- Anjung Indah, Balik Pulau
- Jalan Burma
- Jalan Anson
- Bao Sheng Durian Farm
- Jalan Macalister
Event Date: –
Can’t make it for the festival?
Here are the top places to eat durian in Penang!
Hungry Ghost Festival
For the Chinese community in Penang, this is an important month for prayers and offerings. Because this month is time when the Gates Of Hell are open and ghosts can travel to our world.
During this month, there will also be opera shows for the public (and ghosts) every night around George Town.
Event Date: 16 Aug 2023 – 30 Aug 2023
The end of August marks the Independence Day of Malaysia. And Penang celebrates it with a yearly Merdeka parade at Penang Esplanade.
Event Date: 31 Aug 2023
6. Penang In September, October & November
There will be more rain in September and October. It’s possible for the rain to last for days! As such, there won’t be many tourists during these months.
But those who do decide to visit Penang can take advantage of better prices for accommodation, food, and activities!
Nine Emperor Gods Festival
Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand recognize this 9-day festival that begins on the 9th Day of the 9th Lunar month, September. During which, believers will follow a vegetarian diet.
There will be vegetarian food stalls, a fire walking ceremony, and herbal medicine demonstrations. You will also get to witness a colorful float procession on the last day!
Event Date: 15 Oct 2023 – 23 Oct 2023
7. Penang In December
With December comes cooler weather. This is the busiest time in Penang with Christmas and New Year’s Eve to look forward to!
Penang International Dragon Boat Festival
Penangites love their dragon boats! There will be dragon boat races at the end of the year at Teluk Bahang Dam!
Note: Unfortunately, the pandemic has made it difficult for the dragon boat races to be held for the past two years, having been cancelled since 2022.
Event Date: 02 Dec 2023 – 03 Dec 2023
Penang Bridge International Marathon
Penang Bridge International Marathon is another annual event that has been held since 1984. The full and half marathons will usually take place in mid-November on the First Penang Bridge.
These full and half marathons will take place in mid-November on the First Penang Bridge.
Event Date: 17 Dec 2023
Christmas & New Year’s Eve Countdown Party
Head over to The Top Penang to celebrate both Christmas and the 2023 New Year countdown.
There will be a line-up of live music entertainment and other performances leading up to a spectacular fireworks show!
Event Date: To be confirmed
Public transport is cheap and widespread in Penang. But waiting and transiting from one bus stop to the next can really sap your energy quickly – especially in the tropical heat!
A private tour service doesn’t have these inconveniences!
Reasons to book a trip with a private tour service:
- Parking fees included
- Direct pick-ups anywhere on Penang Island
- Professional service
- You can customize your own Penang itinerary!
- Knowledgeable and reliable guides
Book a highly-rated private tour service here.
Frequently Asked Questions For A Trip To Penang
Q1. How many days should you stay in Penang?
Plan to stay for at least 2 full days. Better yet, stay for 3 or 4 days for a more relaxed pace! Extend your trip by visiting Langkawi, Cameron Highlands or Ipoh!
Q2. What are the best things to do in Penang?
There are heaps of things to do in Penang such as hunting for famous Penang street art.
Read more: 13 Best Things To Do In Georgetown Penang
Q3. What are Penang’s best beaches?
Book a slot for The Habitat Sunset Walk – you can have a guided nighttime jungle trek right after!
Or take some lovely photos at the KOMTAR Rainbow Skywalk that overlooks the whole Penang city. Follow that up with a drink at one of Penang’s many bars!
Or you can go check out Kimberley Street Food Night Market, a famous Penang night market.
Q5. What are some must-try Penang food?
Penang food that you should try includes Assam Laksa, Hokkien Mee, Teochew Chendol, Char Koay Teow, Rojak & more!
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Recommended Tour Services For Penang
It’s great to have someone who actually lives in Penang to show you the sights first-hand!
And the benefit of a tour service is that you don’t have to worry about how to best utilize your time. Or use up your energy planning and deciding where to go (and how to get there).
Here are 2 different but highly-rated tour services if you want to have a better understanding of the food, history, and culture of Penang:
- 4-hour Walking Food Tour – mixed group (9 pax max), food and drinks included, pick-ups not provided
- 6-hour Tour Plus Transport – private tours, customizable itinerary, pick-ups (anywhere on Penang Island) included
To conclude, the best time to visit Penang is from November to January.
It’s pleasantly cool enough to explore Penang on foot. But with the year-end festivities, there are also more people (and higher prices).
For a more peaceful visit, consider going between February (after CNY) to April or in May to October! The latter is the low season period and the wettest time of the year!