Penang is one of the leading tourist and industrial hubs in Malaysia. It is refutably the most important city, next to the capital city of Kuala Lumpur. Streets and city spots are always busy with people – locals and tourists, and bustling with so many activities. This is truly a modern, international center; what to wear in Penang is not a serious concern, since there are no religious, political or social conventions against any form of clothing (except the really indecent and socially inappropriate ones). Foreign tourists are often seen dressed down in shirts, jeans and sneakers walking along Penang’s busy marketplaces and streets.
When visiting the temples and mosques, foreign women are not expected to cover their hair. It is fine wearing a regular blouse with jeans or skirts. Tourists should remember to remove their shoes when entering these places of worship. There are 19th-century temples, mosques and churches in Georgetown that are regularly visited by tourists, most especially the Burmese temple, but the most popular temple in Penang is found a bus or taxi ride away from Georgetown. The Kek Lok Si temple in Air Itam is Penang’s biggest and most important temple.
The warm and humid Asian weather is top consideration when deciding what to wear in Penang. Malaysia is very near the equator, and so first-time Western tourists are set to experience what hot and humid really feels like. Average temperature is 22°C (72°F) in the evenings and 30°C (86°F) during the day; humidity is at 70% to 90%. The dry months are January and February, while the rains come in August all the way till November. It is best for tourists to avoid these amounts because Penang does experience thunderstorms and cyclones. The best time to come is from December to February for Christmas, New Year, the Thaipusam Festival and Chinese New Year. These months are when Penang and the rest of the Malaysian coasts are jam-packed with hordes of tourists hitting the beaches at participating at local festivities.
There are many things to do in Penang, and these could also determine what clothes to pack coming here. Penang has amazing beaches, specifically the Pantai Kerachut, Muka Head, and Teluk Kampi beaches on the northern coast. These are “hidden” beaches that may be accessed only by hiking or on a hired fisherman’s boat, called “sampan” from the small Teluk Bahang Village. It is fine wearing sexy beachwear here, although Westerners should not be surprised to see conservative locals wearing shirts and pants over their bathing suits.
Travelers to Penang also find themselves jungle trekking and camping. Teluk Bahan Village is not only a gateway to the three secluded beaches but also home to a lush forest reserve. Golf is also big in Penang. There are three world-class golf courses: Bukit Jambul Golf & Country Club on Jalan Bukit Jambul, Pearl Island Country Club on Persiaran Kelicap and Bukit Jawi Golf Resort on Jalan Paya Kemian Sempayi Sungai Jawi in Sebarang Prai Selatan.
Finally, decide what to wear in Penang for its exciting nightlife. Check out the Garage, Tanjung City Marina, the many coffee shops, eateries and clubs along Gurney Drive, and the lively food joints along Chulia Street, Leith Street and Penang Road. Penang is one Malaysian city that never sleeps.