Moving north from Kuala Lumpur, we found ourselves in the quiet fishing town of Teluk Bahang. Teluk Bahang is an hour bus ride away from Georgetown and sits peacefully between the Andaman Sea and Penang National Park. Aside from the fishing boats coming in with the day’s catch, a few street food style restaurants and some stalls selling tours to the handful of tourists passing through, it is a relatively peaceful, quiet town.
After the hustle and bustle of Kuala Lumpur we were looking forward to a few relaxing days by the coast, where we could explore the natural wonders that Malaysia has to offer. Being further away from the more built up areas on the island, we were more limited in our accommodation but found nice (although basic) accommodation in the form of ‘Sportsfishing Hotel and Chalet’. The room was reasonably big, the hotel was clean, the area relatively quiet and the view from our room incredible. Although very basic, it was reasonably close to everything we wanted to do and was a great base for our time in Penang.
Things to do in Penang with young children
Entopia Butterfly Park
When it comes to learning about the natural world, one of the most important lessons is that all creatures great and small have equal importance, so Entopia Butterfly Park seemed like a great place to spend some time. Entopia offers the chance to walk through a large butterfly house, where the butterflies can fly around you as you walk through. Entopia Butterfly Park is also home to lots of other creatures such as millipedes, tarantulas, Beetles, snakes, frogs and lizards, which makes for a varied and interesting visit.
Entopia Butterfly Park is an incredibly interactive place, which offers the opportunity to learn about climate change, take a closer look at things through a microscope and learn about the process a caterpillar goes through to become a beautiful butterfly. We had such a great time visiting and found it to a brilliant place to explore with young children in tow.
Tropical Spice Garden
With rustic, winding pathways and the sound of birdsong overhead, The Tropical Spice Garden in Penang makes for a serene and calming visit. As we are travelling with our young children, we decided to explore on our own without a guide. We were given two devices at the entrance and as we ventured along the pathways, we found different numbered plaques. When the numbers are entered into the devices, they start giving out information through the speaker. The boys thought this was the most fun and loved looking for new numbers, making it the perfect activity for number recognition.
As well as a range of plants to see and smell, there is also a large swing that rocks backwards and forwards over the garden’s forest canopy, a tea tasting station and the option to take some cooking lessons (although these need to be pre-booked).
On the outskirts of the gardens is a wonderful ‘Treetop Restaurant’ that serves good food, drinks and coconuts, while overlooking the beautiful scenery of the Andaman Sea meeting vast rainforest. The restaurant also serves a great mixed platter, which meant we could all try some of the local cuisine. It was such a fun way of introducing the boys to new foods and Bear even realised he actually has a palette for spice.
Hiking in Penang National Park
We love hiking, so we were extremely excited to venture into Penang National Park to explore. There are a number of routes to take, with routes to turtle beach (where you can visit the turtle sanctuary), Monkey Beach and a canopy walkway. While the routes aren’t overly strenuous, it can be hard work in the humid heat, so we would recommend stocking up on a lot of water if thinking about venturing into the National Park. It is also worth considering that it may be a tough terrain for little legs, so to be mindful of the hiking distance. We didn’t go too far and opted for a short hike, which gave us the perfect opportunity to show the boys lot of different trees, plants and insects. On our venture we came across a line of ants working away and a group of monkeys, which the boys thought were absolutely fascinating.
There is a dog rescue centre located in Penang called ‘4Paws’, which is run by a retired European woman called Barbara Janssen and a handful of volunteers. After moving to Penang, Barbara realised there was an issue of stay dogs in the region and so ‘4PAWS’ was born. Now the sanctuary is home to hundreds of dogs and works to find loving homes for as many of them as possible. The centre is always on the lookout for volunteers and monetary donations to help support their work. If you are visiting Penang and want to give back, then consider visiting 4PAWS. If you do plan on visiting 4PAWS on a visit to Penang, then I would advise contacting the centre before visiting.
Our time in Penang with young children
We were charmed by Penang and see why so many people venture so far north to visit it. We were captivated by its natural beauty and enchanted by the kindness of the people who reside there. Penang also offered us the chance to learn more about life in Malaysia away from the capital and was the perfect place to spend a couple of days getting back to nature.