George Town is the capital of Penang which was founded by the British in 1786. The city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site rich with attractive historic sites and cultural events.
Top 11 Things to do:
1.Straits Quay is a retail marina where there are a variety shops and restaurants set against the stunning backdrop of sailboats floating on the Malacca Strait.
2.Batu Feringgi- spend the day at the beach. There are a couple of companies that offers water sports such as jet skiing, parasailing, banana boat rides, etc. (Note: Be sure to check the state of the buoyancy jacket and that all straps are done correctly! Also don’t forget to haggle!) In the evening you can explore the Batu Feringgi night market for souvenirs and trinkets at a bargain!
3.Kek Lok Si is the largest temple in Malaysia, situated in Air Hitam. The striking seven-storey Pagoda of Rama VI (also called the Pagoda of Ten Thousand Buddhas) with 10,000 alabaster and bronze statues of Buddha, and the 99ft tall bronze statue of the Goddess of Mercy is awe-inspiring. Along with this, there are other murals and sculptures. It is also a pilgrimage hub for thousands of Buddhists across South East Asia. It is definitely worth a visit!
At the bottom of Kek Lok Si there is a highly recommended laksa (famous Penang dish composed of noodles, spicy fish stock and vegetables) hawker centre located opposite the Air Hitam market.
4.Shopping: Gurney Plaza and Gurney Paragon are modern shopping malls which offers a wide range of shops and restaurants. Gurney Paragon is where you will find big labels such as Kate Spade, Michael Kors, Bath & Body Works, Victoria Secret. There is also a lovely cafe called TWG, a beautiful place for English afternoon tea. Gurney Plaza is where the local boutiques are found, and there is a wide range of restaurants there both upmarket and decently priced.
5. Try the local delicasies at the Gurney Drive Hawker Centre such as Laksa, Ice Kacang (shaved ice), Cendol, Char Koay Teow, Lok Lok (a fusion of kebab and fondue), Rojak, Sugar cane juice. Note: It is not open on Tuesdays.
6. Stroll, take a trishaw or cycle down Armenian Street which is well known for its murals. There are lots of street art on the wall by Ernest Zacharevic (Lithuanian version of Banksy) and the most famous is the two children riding a bicycle. There are also many old heritage buildings scattered around the area with cafes and souvenir shops nestled in between.
7. Adjacent to Armenian Street lies the beautiful Khoo Kongsi Temple- this is the another temple you should visit while in Penang (short walk from the murals)!
There is an entrance fee (RM10 ~ £1.50) but it is worth it! The architecture and details are exquisite. Under the temple there is a small museum which portrays life in the olden days and explains the history of the temple.
8. A cafe at the heart of Georgetown to visit is The Mugshot Cafe at 302 Chulia Street! The coffee is amazing, and the bagels are a must try!
9. Visit the Upside Down Museum on Lebuh Kimberley in Georgetown! An amazing place to take unique pictures.
10. Chew Jetty is a whole settlement of wooden houses built on silts which really is a unique living heritage. There are souvenir and coffee shops there. I would recommend trying the ‘Big Bowl’ ramen, it is mouth-watering! The restaurant is My Voice Café, you would have to walk through the wooden passage way (quite a walk, approximately 5 minutes), pass the shops to get to the restaurant.
10. Your trip would not be complete without tasting Durian also known as the King of Fruits! Other tropical fruits to try are Rambutan and Jackfruit.
Thai: Wang Thai (No. 294 Jalan Burmah, Pulau Tikus 10350 Penang), Khun Thai (Mukim 9, 1052, Pasir Belanda, 11920, Teluk Kumbar)
Chinese: Dragon-I located in Gurney Plaza 2nd Floor for dumplings and noodles, Maple Gold (47, Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah) famous for aromatic/ peking duck.
Seafood: Bali Hai (Gurney Drive), Oriental Seafood (42, Gurney Drive, 10470)
Indian: Sri Ananda Bahwan in Tanjung Bunga (Opposite Dalat International School), Annalakshmi Temple of Fine Arts (Babington Avanue, No. 1, 10450) serves vegetarian food
Dessert: Chocolate Passion at Gurney Paragon 6th floor, Brown Pocket at Gurney Paragon 6th floor.
Hotels to Stay:
1. Rasa Sayang Resort & Spa at Batu Ferringhi- If you are looking for a beach holiday
In the hotel there is a restaurant called The Spice Market which is a buffet that serves local delicacies and international food. It is a great place to try a bit of everything.
There is also a fine dining restaurant, Feringgi Grill, that serves amazing Prime Ribs! It has a romantic ambience, ideal for a date night!
NB: Golden Sands Resort is next to Rasa Sayang, it is more reasonably priced and also offer wonderful facilities (it is a branch of Shangri-La Rasa Sayang).
3.Macalister Mansion– This is a quirky and sophisticated restored colonial mansion turned boutique hotel located in the heart of Georgetown. There is one restaurant that serves dinner, one cafe for afternoon tea and a lounge/wine cellar place for drinks. Even if you are not staying there, you should visit the beautiful white mansion.
Stay at Rasa Sayang for the ultimate beach bum experience; it is further from town and the hustle and bustle of the city. Stay at G Hotel for the city life; surrounded by bright lights and crowded markets. Lastly, stay at Macalister Mansion for a heritage vibe; historical and centrally located, its the best of both exploring Penang’s past and present.
Other things to do:
Visit Penang Hill (Bukit Bendera)- There is a railway that takes you up the hill. If you decide to go up the hill, you should dine at David Brown’s Restaurant & Tea Terraces. The restaurant is surrounded by a beautiful garden and the weather is chillier (but not chilly enough to wear a jacket) compared to the humid weather in Georgetown.
David Brown’s Restaurant & Tea Terraces Address:
If you have time, you can take a ferry to Langkawi, a nearby island for a day or weekend for snorkelling, scuba diving or island hopping.
You can perhaps split your stay between Batu Feringgi to experience the beach life for a couple days and then stay in town for the remaining days to explore the UNESCO heritage sites.
You can easily get around Penang in a cab. If you get on a local cab be sure to tell them to put the meter on, many taxi drivers here don’t and randomly charge fares. To be safe, I would recommend using Uber (fares are extremely cheap).