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When to go & weather

Penang Weather & Climate

Penang Island enjoys a warm equatorial climate just like any other parts of Malaysia. However, being an island, its temperature is often higher than the mainland, with temperatures reaching as high as 35°C during the day. In general, temperatures range between 29°C - 35 during the day and 26°C - 29°C during the night, with the months June to August being the hottest.

Weather in Penang can be described in a few short words. Those words are typically: wet, humid and hot. However, that doesn’t mean that the region needs to be avoided. In fact, the area can be visited the entire year though, due to the monsoon seasons, visitors will have to put up with  brief heavy showers and thunderstorms throughout the year. 

Winter

Contrary to other parts of the northern hemisphere, temperatures here during the winter are actually warmer than the rest of the year. This is due to the fact that the area is located just north of the Equator and squarely in the tropics. It is also due to the fact that this is the driest time of the year and therefore receives more sun to help warm the area.

Winter can actually bring clear and cloudless days especially in January and February. December is a little bit cloudier and rainier, but that will quickly give way to only 70mm of rain expected over each of the last two months of the season. That rain is typically expected on less that half the month allowing vacationers the opportunity to get out and enjoy the number of outdoor activities in the area.

Temperatures are warm both in the morning and the afternoon hours. The overnight lows are remarkably consistent never varying from 24°C (75°F) over the three-month period. The average afternoon highs are also virtually the same from one month to the next with temperatures reaching approximately 31°C (88°F). Combined with the humidity, conditions can be quite oppressive this time of the year, so it is important to go out in the early morning or later afternoon and be sure to drink plenty of fluids throughout the day.

Even though it may be winter, it is still a great time of the year to hit the beach. The average water temperature for the three months is 29°C (84°F). Temperatures like these are perfect for the whole family to enjoy.

Spring

Spring consists of March, April and May and this time of the year begins to usher in one of the two main monsoon seasons. Rain chances and amounts begin to ramp up, but most of the showers and thunderstorms are short lived and visitors can quickly go back to their activities.

Temperatures during this time of the year are also warm and haven’t changed much from the winter season. The average afternoon highs will range from 31-32°C (88-90°F). March is actually the warmest month of the year. Temperatures at night will only fall to 24-25°C (75-77°F). As a result, it is important that your hotel room has air conditioning in order to remain comfortable throughout your stay.

With such warm and muggy conditions on land, many visitors take advantage of the nearby sea in order to cool off. Water temperatures remain a warm 30°C (86°F) for the three month period. With waters this warm, visitors are able to enjoy a myriad of water sports such as snorkeling, swimming, scuba diving and more.

However, it will be important for visitors to look at an extended forecast as the rain chances and amounts are slowly, but steadily creeping upwards. This rain might put a little cramp in outdoor activities, but the rain is generally short lived. Rainfall amounts will climb from 120mm in March to 240mm in both April and May. The number of days with rain will also increase to 19 in April making it the wettest month of the season.

Summer

Skies in the summer are generally a little bit grayer, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t any sun at all. In fact, the area will still receive an average of 8 hours of sunshine per day despite the fact that there are plenty of clouds and plenty of rain. Additionally, the rain won’t typically last all day, but rather be concentrated in the mid to late afternoon hours. After a brief, heavy downpour the sun will generally come back out again and the sun will return.

Rainfall amounts for this time of the year range between 170mm in June and 210mm in July. This rain will fall over a period of 15 to 17 days each month. However, if this is too much rain, then visitors may want to explore other parts of Malaysia that may be slightly drier.

Temperatures remain warm and it will continue to be muggy throughout the day. Average afternoon temperatures will climb to 30-31°C (86-88°F) and overnight lows will be consistent from one month to the next at 24°C (75°F). Water temperatures are also the same throughout the summer season with an average of 30°C (86°F).

Autumn

Autumn is on of the wettest times of the year thanks to the monsoon that affects the region. As a result, it is not the most popular time to visit, but those who do decide to come can get some good deals on hotel rooms and flights. There is still plenty to see and do during September, October and November, but visitors will have to remember to bring plenty of rain gear in order to try and stay at least somewhat dry.

September and October are the two wettest months of the year with an average of 330mm and 340mm of rain, respectively. On average, both months will see between 21 and 25 days of rainfall. Therefore, guests may need to plan on spending a lot of time indoors and out of the wet conditions. November is slightly drier with just 230mm of precipitation expected.

With the rain, temperatures are slightly cooler and the rain will knock down the humidity at least a little bit. The average afternoon high is 30°C (86°F) throughout the three month period. Overnight lows are still hovering around 24°C (75°F). If visitors can find enough breaks in the weather to hit the beach, they will be rewarded with average sea surface temperatures between 29-30°C (84-86°F).

Best time to visit

Visitors to Penang can expect sunshine throughout most of the days, but with rainfalls in the evenings during periods of monsoon winds. The wettest periods are from April to May and from October to November. While generally free from natural disasters, Penang Island was once hit by the Acheh tsunami in 2004, causing the authorities to implement tsunami warning measures along the beaches. Otherwise, Penang Island remains a safe place to visit weather-wise all year round. Just don’t forget your sunblock – the higher the SPF, the better.

Penang is a great place to visit all year round. Though here is a month wise break-up of the weather so you can plan your trip better:

November to January: This is the best time to go to Penang as the weather is very pleasant and conducive for sightseeing. Since this is the onset of Christmas and New Year this is the liveliest time of the year as bars and restaurants are full of people enjoying the festive season.

February to April: This is a quieter time to visit Penang as many of the tourists have left after the New Year celebrations. This is a best time to enjoy the city minus the crowds of tourists. Take a leisurely stroll down George Town and soak in the local atmosphere.

May to October: This is the wettest season in Penang and the city witnesses a drop in tourists. Though if it’s a quiet vacation you’re looking for then this is the best time to visit Penang. Since this is not a very busy season you can avail of great discounts on your hotel stay. Though make sure you carry an umbrella or raincoat along as rain showers are frequent.

Read more Penang travel guide at here.