Best of Penang Travel in George Town Area
Penang is a state not to be missed when you visit Malaysia. Lovely beaches, culture, and great food are some of the reasons among many others to visit and have a great Penang holiday. The name Pulau Pinang comes from Malay “Betel Nut Island”. Georgetown, the capital city, has the highest population density in Malaysia; making the metropolis of diversity, culture, festivals, arts and great food, the perfect destination for today’s travelers. You undeniably must not pass Georgetown while traveling to Penang.
I am thrilled to know I’ll be exploring Georgetown city since I had been researching a lot recently, and was planning the trip to this place for some time now. This remarkable city and its surrounding area is mesmerizing; you can lose yourself and wander for days always discovering something new.
This article will show you many of the attractions and our experiences around them. You can make your own schedule and itinerary or you can follow along ours. The exploration duration was several days, and it varies for different travelers, destinations and attractions chosen. We divided the article to 4 sections; namely, attraction, activity, restaurant and nightLife.
Let’s embark on a fun journey discovering the best Penang can offer.
This monumental building is the first to discover in our Penang tour. The monumental building holds pieces with huge historic heritage of Baba Nonya, the assimilation of Chinese into Malay culture. The house showcases the European influence as well. This museum is a first of this kind in the world, with exhibitions of Peranakan artifacts and wares, alluring 100,000 people a year.
With 3 levels, there are 10 galleries showcasing rich Perankan culture, from the origins to the present. The building is decorated and furnished in this antique style. Carved wood panels everywhere add the rustic and cultural touch to the surroundings. This is a perfect start of the Penang holiday.
Kek Lok Si Temple, the “Temple of Supreme Bliss” architecture is facing the sea and providing a remarkable view to admire. A visit to the largest Buddhist temple in the region is a must while traveling to Penang. There is around 10,000 bronze and alabaster statues of Buddha here; a fascinating number of decorative statues accompanying the huge 100-feet tall bronze statue of Kuan Yin, the Goddes of Mercy. I am stunned by its size and beauty, it surely took a long time to build it this impressive.
Kek Lok Si Temple is worth a visit in your Penang travel itinerary. Interesting and beautiful wall art will draw your attention for sure. Chinese cultural heritage is showcased and well-preserved here, and you can learn about it here a lot. If you’re able, be sure to visit the temple during Chinese New Year, when the whole temple is decorated with thousands of lanterns, flowers, and many other decorations, making the ceremony beautiful and one-of-a-kind experience. I’m most eager to visit the temple during the celebration next year.
One of city’s main historic attractions, the huge temple of Leong San Tong (Dragon Mountain Hall) clan represents historic values of valor, tradition, and culture. The ornamented and awe-inspiring construction contains many interesting objects, including shops, an opera, temple, educational places, shops, altars and historic monuments.
Situated within UNESCO World Heritage site, Khoo Kongsi is the finest representation of proud Chinese culture from the past ages.
“You’ve NEVER been to Penang unless you’ve been to Penang Hill!”
This saying is printed on a big sign, describing the value and importance of the Hill in any Penang travel route. Since we’re exploring the best of Penang travel in George Town area, this one is positively on the list as a “Must-visit”.
Also known as “Bukit Bendera” referring to Flagstaff Hill, the peak of Penang Hill can take your breath away. There is a Penang Hill Railway giving a ride to the top for a small fee (For Malaysians, the fare for a return (round-trip) ticket is RM10 for adult and RM4 for child aged between 3 and 12. For foreign tourists, the return fare would be RM30 for adults and RM15 for children aged 7 to 12).
The saying on the big sign is undeniably true. There is simply no excuse to go for Penang tour, and miss Penang Hill. Make sure it’s in your itinerary.
While visiting the Georgetown metropolis, one can get tired easily, and hours exploring can pass so quickly, making the time for sleep coming fast. That’s when you can rent some random room, or you can choose to stay in a unique Cheong Fat Tze Mansion, where your stay can be a continuation of exploring this Penang attraction. For non-hotel guests, you can have a one-hour tour in here by paying RM12. How great is that?
The Blue Mansion is called that way because of indigo coloring of the walls, making it unique and different from the surrounding objects. The carving works on the building adds up to its attractive style. The Mansion received several important awards in the architectural and heritage spheres. UNESCO’s “Most Excellent Heritage Conservation Award” speaks for itself.
Staying in this place will give you well-rounded rest, pleasant stay, and some more cultural plunge and connection. Architectural awards are well deserved, as this building stands out in the surrounding.
The residents in Clan Jetties live in simple and rustic houses built on concrete pillars in water that were used to house the port workers and poor people who were too poor to own a house on land. The community is living above water, transporting by small boats, and having their social events and lives separated from the modern parts of George Town.
If you’re a nature photograph junkie, this place will thrill you; capturing some exhilarating moments here can produce award-winning photography and videos. Photographing is one of the few things allowed here, and doing it feels great. You can also rent some rooms here, but have to be careful and respect the inhabitants and their lifestyle, and abide some rules. Preserving the Clan Jetties is an important and integral part of the heritage of Penang.
Better known as the Waterfall Hill Temple, one of the oldest temples in Georgetown, this temple is located in the hilltop. The visitors must climb 513 stairs to reach this temple with rich history.
The main festival celebrated in his temple is Thaipusam; with large ceremony and festivities, worshipers come to travel with chariot with the statue of Lord Muruga, on his 15-hour journey. The temple houses around 800,000 worshipers during his festival every year.
You can get breathtaking panoramic view of Penang in this 2-level temple. Surely worth taking those 513 stairs climbing to this famous Penang attraction.
Penang got another fun attraction in Asia Camera Museum in 2014. This newly opened museum showcases thousands of cameras and photographic accessories dating from antique past. No matter if you’re a camera junkie or not, here is the place to watch and learn something new and interesting. Photograph enthusiasts will enjoy the most here where they can touch and get a feel of some vintage cameras.
Among thousands of antique cameras, there is a “Dark Room” showcasing the beginnings of film and photo development; a different world of photography from today’s digital performance.
Wat Chaiya Mangkalaram is a Thai Buddhist temple famous for the Reclining Buddha statue, 33 meters long, covered with golden leaves. This magnetic temple was built in 1845, and decorated with many statues of the “Awakened One”, and other Thai deities in the prayer halls. No shoes allowed, of course.
Lurid murals decorate the walls of the temple demonstrating Buddha’s life story. With free entrance, you can visit the temple during the day, and admire magnificent statues, golden decorations and beautiful carvings.
Wheel of fortune was an interesting feature that you can try to know your future. Just turn the wheel and collect the paper fortune corresponding with your number.
A magnificent mosque built in 19th century has a huge praying shrine where worshipers come to pray. Expanding and restructuring a few times in history, the current exterior in ocher and interior on marble took many years to complete. Arches are positioned in many places here, decorated with King Edward’s ornaments and marble tablets.
Indian Muslim community worship the God in this mosque every day with rituals and traditions. Witnessing the praying is an inspiring experience. If you’re up to some cultural and religious experiences, your Penang tour should undeniably include Kapitan Keling Mosque.
Next stop in our exploration and travel through Penang is a social history gallery, devoted to the famous Yeap Chor Ee, a captain of industry, a famous philanthropist, and a well-known good man in early 1900’s. The award-winning museum which used to be Yeap Chor Ee’s own house, contains many artifacts and his belongings. Generosity, humility and integrity of this great man is showcasing throughout this whole building, and it is a symbol of celebration of the life of Yeap Chor Ee. A great family tree is displayed inside, showcasing rich family bonds this well-known man has built.
The museum’s entrance fee is RM12, inclusive of audio guide. Paying respect to this remarkable man and learning about him is an extraordinary experience, and Penang is grateful for having Yeap Chor Ee in its history. A definite place to add to your Penang travel list.
As the “First Buddhist temple built in Penang”, you can witness the rich history of Buddhist devotees and the fate they suffered during occupation times.
The golden dragons and roof ornaments will surely grab your attention while approaching the temple. Like in all Buddhist temples, you need to remove your shoes before entering the prayer halls where the inner peace and awe can overflow your being.
Dharmikarama Burmese Temple is busy during Water Festival – Thankyan in April, when the devotees splash water at each other and pay respect to elders. Make sure to add this temple to your Penang Georgetown itinerary, you won’t regret it.
After showcasing the attractions you should visit in George Town, here are the activities you should consider adding to your Penang holiday. There are a variety of choices and something for anyone. The choice is up on you, and nonetheless what you decide, your Penang itinerary should include something from both activities and attractions.
In your Georgetown exploration, you should without doubt visit the Little Penang Street Market. Buying handcrafts, collectibles, local products, and mending with locals in this lively market is one of a kind experience. You can get some street food, see some performances and relax in some fine cafeterias. Unique hand crafted products can make you feel great. You can buy a hand painted t-shirt for a bargain. Jewelry and lovely paintings were my favorites, as I could take loads of them.
You can spent some time here browsing and buying local genuine stuff, which represent Penang more than those mass-produced souvenirs that can be bought all over the country. Good location that is worth visiting and exploring.
PAC stands for Performing Arts Center, a nonprofit company trying to “Cultivate and sustain the performing arts for the betterment and enrichment of communities for the Nation”. With more than a hundred major artistic events a year, PAC hosts workshops, classes, film screening and other art events.
Opened in 2005, PAC had a long history starting from a privately owned theater in Malaysia, by Faridah Merican and Joe Hasham. Restructured and rebuilt several times from 1800’s, now it serves as performing grounds for several theaters, film screening room, academy, and Actor’s studio. Serving from 100 to 300 people (seats), the Performing Arts Center offers a lot to artistic oriented people in Georgetown. A short visit to this place will provoke the art types, and entertain the others. Visitors coming from around the world enjoy many art performances here from the opening day until now.
Found on the Love Lane, this store is a shopaholic’s heaven. Loads of toys, jewelry, cute dainty stuff to buy in this souvenir shop which also has the goldsmith’s antique equipment from the old ages nicely set up in the store’s courtyard. Rustic environment is decorated with some plants, creating the fine surrounding to the artifacts.
This store’s name lives up to its uniqueness and diversity. The funny messages on the small boards are unique and interesting. “I don’t suffer from Insanity. I enjoy it.”
There is another fine decorated artistic room in the second floor, looking like cottage. A fine and enjoyable experience visiting this unique store.
Exploring Penang by walking in Georgetown area can be a lovely experience. And with Metro Bike Easy Green Travel alternative, you can only enjoy even more. You can rent a bike and go to anywhere you want, or go for a journey of 4 hours that will drive you to all the popular hawker food places, heritage sites, attractions, and shops. You can have two different types of tours, bike tour or trishaw tour and have a guide with you.
This healthy, funny and interesting way of exploring the attractions around Georgetown area is great. Just rent a bike, be more mobile and explore quicker, and more effectively. Simple, beautiful, eco green, and healthy.
While having a trip to George Town heritage site, you can see noticeable amount of fine looking graffiti and mural artwork on the walls of preserved heritage buildings. Armenian, Cannon and Archeh are among some of the streets decorated with beautiful wall paintings. When you ride on a rented bike around those streets, it is a unique and awesome experience. Lot of photographs are taken here daily with some of the award-winning wall paintings. Among them is the famous picture of two children riding a bicycle, which look ultrarealistic. A different and interesting experience in Penang tour, undeniably.
What a lovely way to experience and taste Penang food; join he culinary masters and cook alongside them. You get to go to the food market and learn to pick up the best fresh ingredients, and then prepare them together supervised by your teachers to make sure there are no errors; then start on tasting all the meals with your classmates. Great and fun experience, recommended by many people who tried the course. Many graded it “Fantastic”, “The best experience of Penang holiday”.
While sticking to the food related attractions, you can visit a sauce factory and learn about the process of making different types of sauces. This tour is educating, where you’ll learn about the making of sauces and if you are adventurous, you can taste them at different stages. There are possibilities to buy some sauces, of course. The most famous soya sauce making process is interesting, as it takes several months sometimes. If you’re all into this famous sauce and more, this place will be a joyful stop for you.
Moving from food to tea, here you’ll meet and explore a hundred of tea tastes in a local store, all wrapped up in a beautifully made rustic surrounding. Every tea in here has its own story, and the polite hosts of the store will pour you a cup for tasting as they are telling you the stories about them. Lovely experience, with many insights and interesting facts (There are teas with the names from “A” to “Z”)
Generous and very friendly, the owners of Huang Cheng Hao Tea store will host you kindly, and salute you politely when you leave. 4 out of 5 tourists would recommend this store as a must visit location in George Town.
Premier shopping experience, office and luxury multifunctional mall in Penang Georgetown is a structure called Gurney Paragon found in Gurney Drive district. It is a beachfront shopping mall that enjoys nice ocean views and cool sea breezes.
Huge halls are filled with shopping centers, stores, retailers, outlets, clubs and restaurants, sport merchandise and business administration centers.
While exploring Penang Georgetown and discovering interesting and exquisite attractions, you must eat and recover your energy. The best ways to meet the culture is through food. And in Georgetown, a city called “Food Paradise”, food is one of the many delights served and enjoyed every single day by locals and tourists as well.
Here, we bring you closer to some of the finest restaurants in George Town area, showcasing uniqueness, taste, and quality.
For the first restaurant mentioned, we went for the largest, and exquisite one in a heritage building named Suffolk House. Lovely equipped, organized and maintained, this building hosts many events on monthly basis, featuring great exhibitions, conferences and presentations, among others. Visiting this place can be great to your gut as well, since the restaurant is on the list of services provided by Suffolk House. As a winner of several awards, this restaurant displays the finest cuisine in a fine toned ambient designed for ultimate dining experience.
Several wings of the structure offer different surroundings and views, but overall style is eco-furnished, with many large plants as decoration. Food is prepared with love and the taste is extraordinary, showcasing exceptional restaurant services. For an exquisite and premium service, you won’t regret booking and having a meal in Suffolk House, Penang, Georgetown.
The number of refurbished historic buildings that turn into restaurants is on the rise in Georgetown heritage site. Kebaya restaurant follows this trend, and the owners did a great job in Seven Terraces creating the fine dining experience with class, prestige, and award winning ambient. White marble contrasted with chalk and navy cushions. Long and wide crimson curtains showcase prestige and elite experience, with gold leaf and glass. Generous portions and balanced prices make Kebaya restaurant one of the most desired locations to eat in this part of Georgetown.
A quiet and romantic place found near Orient Hotel, in 77 Jalan Muntri, Mews Café offers tasty coffee, delicious meals, and fine atmosphere for travelers and explorers, or people who want to get off the lively streets of Georgetown. Lovely terrace with nice furniture surrounded by lush and tropical plants make you feel amazing while drinking your latte. Tasty food and friendly staff in the fine surroundings is all you need to relax in Mews Café.
Sophistication is the first word one can say when Macalister Mansion is mentioned. This is a colonial mansion built in 1900s for Sir Norman Macalister, one of the first British Governors of Penang. With hundreds of terrific reviews at global travel sites and winners of several awards, Macalister Mansion is the place to look for unique experience.
The Den offers premium experience to travelers. It is a relaxing bar within Macalister Mansion designed for people to unwind with a glass of the finest whisky and a cigar. You can also stay at the boutique hotel and have a premium holiday. Nonetheless, the Den is worth visiting no matter if you stay there or not.
Located on Victoria Street near the famous “Kids on Bicycle” mural painting, there is a compound of 3 heritage buildings converted into shops, cafes, restaurants, galleries and theater. The Canteen offers a plethora of drinks to suit your tastes. The relaxed vibe takes you in, and blends you well in this exquisite and lively city. Order some tasty meal, like a Mushroom Quesadillas, and enhance it with some lychee martini or dry wine and enjoy delicate time watching some amusing performances. The friendly staff will make sure to get you everything you need and enjoy the pleasant ambient in the Canteen. Even though this place is a separate recommendation, the whole ChinaHouse is definitely worth a visit in Georgetown, Penang.
After some exciting tours and adventures exploring Penang, some tourists lay dead in their hotel rooms. However, there are those energetic types who feel the night is still young. For them, the night is the time for action and more adventure. There isn’t a better way of finishing a great day of their Penang trip than this one.
A visit to Soju Room at the Penang Times Square is a bull’s-eye if you’re after some nightlife clubs and partying atmosphere.
Laser lights, big speakers with loud music, popular DJ’s mashing their latest hits on party nights, and great ambience with live vibe and energy gushing out everywhere will give your night out a new dimension in Soju Room.
Penang is a great destination for holidays. The lively metropolis, Georgetown, balances between modern life and historical sites well, preserving and showcasing rich culture of Chinese, Malays and Indians from their origins in this island. You can find a plethora of interesting attractions to see, fun things to try, lovely places to eat out, and discover the cultural heritage of this area. Traveling in Penang is a unique and life changing experience, which could make you changed and awakened, turning many tourists into residents, for the mere attractiveness and uniqueness of George Town that allures people in, and don’t let them go easily. No matter what interests you may have, there is something for everyone in here, and everyone will enjoy staying and exploring Penang and Georgetown area.
Even though this article might look lengthy, we covered only a small part of attractions and interesting places Penang can offer to you. You’d need a long time to discover Penang over and over, and that time will be the time of pure enjoyment.