George Town on the island of Penang: Our tips and highlights

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The colonial town of George Town is undoubtedly one of the highlights of a trip through Malaysia. George Town is the capital of the island of Penang, which is connected to the mainland by a bridge. Here you can expect a beautiful mix of historic colonial buildings, impressive temples and a street art scene that we have never seen anywhere else in the world.

Yes, we admit it: George Town is one of Malaysia’s most tourist destinations. But we definitely recommend that you plan a stop in George Town on your round trip – it’s worth it! In this blog article we will show you which sights await you in George Town. Let’s go, here are our tips for pretty George Town and the island of Penang.

1. What awaits you in George Town (Penang) Although Penang is an island, you are not allowed to visit here tropical island paradise await. Culture instead of beach holidays is the motto, temple hopping instead of sunbathing. The heart of Penang is its capital George Town. George Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site – and rightly so, in our opinion.

The Cityscape of George Town is unique: The mix of English colonial buildings, Chinese temples, churches and mosques, creative street art and countless food stalls inspired us from the first moment. George Town is simply a small town where you feel good.

The coexistence of different cultures is as present in the old town of George Town as Hardly anywhere else in Malaysia: Stepping out of the Chinese temple you reach Little India and hear the singing of the muezzin in the distance. George Town is really a culture mix in perfection!

How do I get to Penang or Penang? George Town? The island of Penang is located in northwestern Malaysia, just a stone’s throw from the mainland. Two bridges lead to the mainland, making Penang a highly accessible travel destination by land. From many places in Malaysia (including Kuala Lumpur) you can reach George Town by bus. The drive from Kuala Lumpur takes about 5 hours.

If you are staying in the old town of Georg Town, however, it may be worth going just as far as the port town of Butterworth to drive on mainland Malaysia. There is a regular ferry service between Butterworth and George Town. The journey takes just 15 minutes and is very cheap.

If you arrive by train, then your journey will take you to the station in Butterworth. This is part of the train line that runs along the west coast of Malaysia and also leads to Kuala Lumpur, among other places. (Note, not all trains stop at Butterworth.) From Butterworth, you can take the ferry directly to George Town. You can find more information about traveling by train in this article: Tips for Malaysia.

Arriving by plane is also very popular. Penang has one international airport, Bayan Lepas International Airport. You can fly direct to Penang from many places in Asia (including Bangkok, Phuket, Singapore, Jakarta). In addition, there are of course countless domestic flights within Malaysia to Penang. First and foremost is Kuala Lumpur.

How much time should I plan for George Town? We ourselves stayed three nights in George Town and would recommend you to stay at least that long. The center of George Town is not huge, but there is still a lot to see. There are also some worthwhile excursion destinations on the island of Penang, such as Penang Hill.

2. Sights and tips for George Town The entire old town of George Town is a sight in itself. Hence our tip: Just let it drift a bit. It is the connection of different cultures, that is reflected in the city’s architecture and, together with its colonial past, makes George Town a very special place.

Before we now describe selected sights in more detail, let us briefly introduce two of the most well-known alleys in the old town of George Town: First of all, there is Armenian Street (Lebuh Armenian). In this rather touristy alley there are not only some beautifully renovated colonial buildings, but also a few nice cafes and souvenir shops. The so-called Love Lane is also well known. In this lane there are several bars, restaurants and cafés – perfect for a short break from sightseeing.

Street art in George Town Let’s start with something that really excited us, namely the extraordinary street art in George Town. Throughout the Old Town, you’ll find more art on the walls than you’ll ever be able to explore in one visit. The density of murals and graffiti is really enormous.

The special thing about the works of art is that they are partially interactive. One of the best-known murals, for example, is one that integrates a real swing. Also very well known is the artwork showing two children on a (real) bicycle.

If you’re wondering how on earth you’re supposed to find the most important street art works – none Worries! There is a fairly well made map, which is available practically everywhere in George Town (among other things in the hotels or also in the tourist information).

Kapitan Keling Mosque The Kapitan Keling Mosque is the Penang’s oldest mosque. It was built around 1800. It sits enthroned in the heart of George Town’s city center and is hard to miss. The mosque is quite impressive from the outside, but can also be visited from the inside (outside of prayer times).

We have also been inside the Kapitan Keling Mosque, but have to admit that we have visited more magnificent mosques. Nevertheless, we can recommend a visit and a stopover at the mosque is definitely worthwhile for a look from the outside.

Chinese Temples: Goddess of Mercy Temple & Khoo Kongsi Chinese architecture is also omnipresent in George Town. A large proportion of Penang’s residents come from China. One of the most important Chinese temples is the Goddess of Mercy Temple. The many burning incense sticks give the temple a very special atmosphere.

The historic Klanhaus Khoo Kongsi is also worth seeing. If you are a bit interested in architecture and art, then the many elaborate wood carvings and wall paintings are very exciting to look at.

Goddess of Mercy Temple

Khoo Kongsi

Clock Tower, Town Hall & Colonial Quarters in North George Town Im north part of the old town are some of the most famous colonial buildings of George Town. We took a few hours to stroll through this part of George Town.

First of all, there is the striking clock tower, also known as the Queen Victoria Memorial Clock Tower. North of the clock tower you come to Fort Cornwallis, which we didn’t visit because it’s not supposed to be very worthwhile.

Walk along the Esplanade Then on to the Town Hall and the next door City Hall. Both buildings have been beautifully renovated and are reminiscent of times gone by. However, they cannot be viewed from the inside. The city council still meets in City Hall today.

3. Excursion to Penang Hill George Town may be the heart of Penang, but there are still things on the island many other worthwhile places. One of them is Penang Hill. The 833 Meter-high Penang Hill rises a few kilometers west of George Town in the suburb of Air Itam and offers you (on a clear day mind you) a magnificent view.

The special thing about Penang Hill: A funicular, starts at the foot of the mountain and takes you up comfortably in a few minutes. If you are athletically motivated: There is also a footpath that takes about 2 to 3 hours. Once at the top, you can look forward to a beautiful view of George Town including the sea and the mainland of Malaysia behind it. There are also several walking and hiking trails – the further away you are from the mountain station, the quieter it gets.

Our tip: We unfortunately caught a very hazy day and recommend that you check the weather conditions and visibility before your visit. Incidentally, a trip on the funicular up Penang Hill is also very popular with locals. We therefore recommend that you avoid weekends, as there may be longer waiting times. There is a Fast Lane ticket for the Penang Hill Railway, but this one comes with 30 RM more than twice as expensive as the standard ticket (30 RM).

Arrival to the base station of Penang Hills From George Town you can easily reach the valley station of the funicular by taking the bus from the Rapid Penang bus company. Take line no. , which stops directly at the valley station. The more comfortable (but more expensive) option would be to take a taxi (or Grab).

4. Restaurant Tips for George Town George Town really is a paradise for good food! Almost nowhere in Malaysia have we eaten as well as in George Town. Diverse cultures mean that the food is extremely diverse.

Laksalicious: Laksa, a curried coconut soup, is one of Malaysia’s specialties. If you want to try this national dish, then we can recommend this small, unassuming shop. Great thing: There are even vegetarian and vegan options here.

Woodlands Vegetarian Restaurant: If you are looking for Indian food then this is it we can recommend this restaurant in Little India. The ambiance isn’t too charming, but the food is very good here.

Wheeler’s: Our favorite discovery for good coffee! The quite hip café is located on the “backpacker street” Love Lane. There is also breakfast. We haven’t tested it, but it’s supposed to taste very good here.

5. Our hotel tip for Penang and George Town We spent our time in George Town at the beautiful Spices Hotel , which we can highly recommend. A personally managed, small boutique hotel awaits you here in a historic colonial building. Already in the lobby you can see how much love for detail is in this hotel.

We ourselves stayed in a deluxe room and had it therefore very comfortable. Some rooms are a bit n gloomy, but overall very comfortable and you’re not in the room all the time anyway. We also loved the small green backyard, where we enjoyed a bedtime beer in the evening.

The location of the Spices Hotels is perfect: Here you are in the middle of the action and you can reach, for example, the well-known Armenian Street in a few minutes on foot. The hotel itself is located in a very quiet street. The staff are also incredibly accommodating and have great tips up their sleeves. All in all: great value for money. We would stay here again in a heartbeat.

You can book accommodation here: Spices Hotel

Transparency: Affiliate Links 25040 This blog article contains our personal recommendations in the form of so-called affiliate links. If you book or buy something through the links, we will receive a small commission. For you, this does not change the price at all. A thousand thanks from both of us!25042

25040Have you ever been to George Town or the island of Penang? How did you like it? Do you have any other tips or experiences you would like to share with us? We look forward to your comment!25040