Penang was easily one of the most memorable little towns we experienced in South East Asia. Georgetown (named after King George lll) is a small island, if you will, located at the edge of Penang City. Here you will find historic streets with a rustic vibe to it. However, the entire town is decorated in street art, graffiti, bright colors, and more. It has a personality of it's own and is definitely recommended for your bucket list of top things to do while traveling in Malaysia! We have put together a list of the top 10 things to do while in Georgetown (Penang), Malaysia.
Go on a Street Art Scavenger Hunt
One of the most charming things to do while visiting Georgetown is to put your walking shoes on, get your street art map, and start your scavenger hunt. There are over 50 pieces of iconic street art decorating the walls all over the town and even more graffiti everywhere! Some of them are even interactive with pieces coming off the art adding an extra twist to it like the swing or the motorcycle you see above.
Eat the Street Food at Chulia Market
By far one of the best food markets we have ever indulged in, Chulia Market is a must when coming to Georgetown. Located at the heart of the town it has some of the best local cuisines you will find in Malaysia. The street typically comes alive after 6 pm so make sure you are extra hungry because you will definitely want to try one of everything! The dishes are also very affordable some costing you as little as $0.50. If you are curious as to what foods to try, check our blog Malaysia's Top Foods.
Explore Little India
Immerse yourself in Indian culture by walking through Little India district. We loved walking through the streets here and listening to the Bollywood music, and trying the delicious Indian delicacies like roti canai and tandoori chicken.
Befriend the Locals
We loved being the ultimate tourist while in Georgetown and how much touristy can we get then getting our caricatures drawn? We ended up befriending the artist and he was super nice! For over ten years he comes to this spot and draws every day. If you are looking to get your caricature drawn we definitely recommend him! You can find him in front of "The Little Children on a Bicycle" street mural.
Cheong Fatt Tze Masion ( Blue Mansion)
Are you as obsessed with Crazy Rich Asians as we are? If so then you are going to want to add this to your list of things to do when in Georgetown! The Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion, also known as The Blue Mansion, was built in the 19th century and remains as one of the most eclectic architectural pieces in Penang. Also, it was used at the end of the film when Rachel Chu was having a showdown with Eleanor Young over a game of mahjong. It is now a museum and costs you.
Visit Khoo Khonsi
The Khoo Kongshi was built 650 years ago and still used today. "Kongshi" stands for clan house and is the most famous in Penang. The clan house is a temple for Chinese families gather to worship their ancestors. The Khoo Kongshi had the most prominent lineage in Malaysia and remains an important landmark for Penang.
Play hide and seek with the Iron Street Murals
As you are doing your scavenger hunt for the graffiti we mentioned earlier, keep a look out for the iron street murals/caricatures as well! After Malaysia has been increasingly getting more known for its art, a company called SCULPTUREATWORK started creating iron sculptures to add in Georgetown. There are 52 iron sculptures laid out all throughout the narrow streets of Georgetown.
Grab a beer and dance the night away on Love Lane
While Malaysia is predominately a Muslim country, drinking is not very common. Typically, you will find alcohol to cost 10x the price of other countries (same prices as the States) in attempts to deter people away from drinking. However, since Penang is known to welcome many tourists drinking here is more acceptable and common. You will find happy hour spots, hookah bars, and dance bars throughout the town but especially between Love Lane and Chulia Street. The prices are still on the more expensive side, but sometimes you gotta pick your battles!
It it very easy to walk Penang at the end Penang Heritage Trail, you will end up at the water villages of six famous Chinese lineages. We found amazing seafood, tasty fried dough treats, temples of course, and little souvenir shops.
Catch a ride on the Trishaws
Trishaws have been around as local transportation for centuries. However, due to modern times you will start to see less of them now. If you are looking for a way to get around Georgetown you can find a trishaw and hire someone to pedal you around to all the sights!It always boosts some income for these families that been here for years.
Frolic at the Batu Ferringhi Beach
Make your way over to the beach to cool down and enjoy some water sports. There's jetties with banana boats, deep sea fishing and more. There's also a popular night market if you stick around after sunset for some great bargain shopping for souvenirs and clothing and as always, street food.
The Purple Diaries
When we first arrived in Penang, we did not know how much we would fall in love with it here! Malaysia as a whole is on the stricter side about LGBT rights. However, we felt that Penang was slightly more lenient and open minded then other places in Malaysia. We even stumbled upon a drag show, and it was one of the most memorable nights out we remember in Asia!
Bonus thing to do:
Attend a live drag performance at the Red Garden Food Paradise
We went to meet up with friends on a Saturday night at the Red Garden Food Court. We heard there would be a live performance, but we were pleasingly shocked to find out it was a drag performance. We noticed on their website it doesn't specifically label the show as drag, but it was a super entertaining time! My friends and I were even pulled up on stage and had to model for the crowd of over 200 people! The food court also serves multiple different foods and drinks for you to enjoy while you watch the show.
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