at the end of april i spent an awesome 6 days in george town in penang, malaysia. it was the perfect place to relax and explore and kick off a crazy 6 weeks of travelling and packing and moving. i had a great time there, and today i would like to share my favourite things in the town as well as a few i didn’t get around to.
highlights from my time in penang
finding the street art. george town has gained a global reputation in recent years for the street art and murals that are present all throughout the town, and they were one of the main reasons i wanted to visit. most of the well-known murals were painted by ernest zacharevic, a lithuanian artist who created most of the murals in 2012, but since then local artists have created some of their own. my suggestion is to rent a bicycle and make your way to as many of the murals as you can find. also, many of the maps i found online were a little confusing, but passportchops’ step-by-step blog post was extremely helpful.
touring the museums and historical homes. between chinese and indian immigrants, british colonizers, and native malays, there is a huge mixture of influences around malaysia. penang boasts a number of museums and historical homes to acclimate visitors and teach them about the history of the region. my personal favourites were the state museum [admission is only rm 1!], the pinang peranakan museum, and cheong fatt tze’s blue mansion, but there are plenty of others. be warned, however, that they can get a little pricey, especially the ones that offer 3d photography opportunities. i also enjoyed the camera museum, even though it doesn’t have anything to do with malaysia.
heading up penang hill. i am a big fan of a funicular, so when i found out you can ride one to the top of penang hill i was all for it. add to that the promise of slightly cooler temps and a few nature trails, and a visit was definitely in order. the views of penang were gorgeous from the top of the hill, and i only wish i had gone a little later in the day so i could have seen the lights of george town as well.
eating my way through the food courts and hawker streets. penang is famous for its food courts and hawker streets, and i could not wait to sample as much as possible. i did a food tour on my second night in town and got to try about 15 different dishes, including some from the hawkers of new lane, one of the most popular locations for street food. i also ventured a few nights to the red garden food court and tried dim sum – including chicken feet! – sambal fried rice, teriyaki chicken, and a few other things i can’t even remember right now. i only wish that either the portions were smaller or i had someone to share it with so i could have tried even more!
visiting the clan associations. there are clan associations spread all throughout penang, and i got to visit the cheah kongsi, the oldest clan association in george town. the associations were set up to assist people migrating from china to malaysia, offering housing assistance and scholarships for education and even an opium room in which the men could wile away their evenings with smoke and gossip. today most of the associations are open to the public so visitors can learn the history of the various associations and the impact they have made in the penang region.
things i wish i had done
penang national park. if i had one more day in penang i would have loved to visit the national park and just wander around for a few hours. it would have been great to have that little taste of the forest after a week in the town, but alas, i guess it will have to wait for a return visit.
visit the cemeteries. i have a weird fascination with cemeteries and graveyards, and the protestant cemetery in george town sounded like it would be an interesting place to visit. this would have been another thing on my list if i had an extra day or two, but with the heat i just wasn’t able to make it happen while i was there.
have you been to penang? what were the highlights of your visit?