The multi-ethnic, culturally charged capital of the Malaysian Penang Island boasts exquisite architecture and a remarkable collection of the city’s diverse cultures set within the eclectic urban backdrop. It’s also a home to some of the best food you’ll ever find in SE Asia.
Navigate the labyrinth of Georgetown’s chaotic lanes, taste all the fragrant local food, drink all its famous aromatic coffee, explore diverse temples and dive into the booming street-art scene. With its unparalleled vibe and heritage, the “Pearl of the Orient” offers a fun experience for every traveler.
Its spectacular Chinese shop houses with shabby aesthetic line the streets in the Unesco World Heritage Zone. Do not miss out on a visit to Pinang Perenakan aka Green Mansion.
Recreated to its former glory, this majestic courtyard mansion was built at the end of the 19th century for a family of cultured Strait Chinese Merchants. It offers a glimpse into their opulent lifestyle and many customs and traditions. Notable for its eclectic style incorporating Chinese carved-wood panels, English floor tiles and Scottish ironworks, the manor also houses over a thousand collectibles and antiques of the era.
Visiting some of the architectural gems built by the rich Hakka Chinese merchants is an absolute must while in Georgetown, but how about you also stay in one?
The Cheong Fat Tze aka Blue Mansion is a colorful, ornate 19th century mansion with Victorian stained-glass windows and marvelous indigo blue façade hiding all the glory and grandeur behind its walls. This striking boutique hotel and historic attraction stands as a memento of the lavish lifestyles of the rich Hakka Chinese. You can also book a tour and we highly recommend that you do, it was the highlight of our trip!
You cannot leave Penang without trying their famous coffee. The coffee shop scene has exploded all over Georgetown. There is a ton of hip cafes serving excellent specialty coffee and quick bites. The big draw of Penang however is its local cuisine, guaranteed to make your taste buds dance.
Nothing screams Penang more than its street food. A must try is a Lok Lok– fun way to eat with and meet strangers. It is a kind of communal steamboat, but every ingredient is skewered on a stick, so it doesn’t float around in the pot of boiling water in the middle. Just grab your stick out of the water once it’s cooked. You can get everything from shrimps, oysters, meatballs to even pig ears! Smother it in variety of sauces offered on the table for personalized taste.
The historic blends effortlessly with modern in downtown Georgetown. To make the stroll down the vibrant streets even more enjoyable, in 2012 the local council hired a muralist Ernest Zacharevic. His mission was to breathe new life into old Chinese shop houses and to raise awareness of the rich history of the streets. The project became an instant success turning certain areas into must visit destinations and the wall murals and graffiti are loved by both visitors and locals alike. You can find the brilliant, fun artworks spread out all over the inner city.
Words & Photos by Vero