Penang is widely known for its food, architecture as well as its cultural sights, street art and natural scenery. It was listed as a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site in 2008 and while some visit Penang to experience the beach life, we chose to go for the city vibe of Georgetown. Below are my top 5 things to do in Penang capital George Town in Malaysia.
1. Street Art Tour
Perhaps one of the main reasons to visit Penang is to see the street art in Georgetown, especially around Armenian Street, Chulia Street, and Muntri Street. Famous street art artists, such as Ernest Zacharevic have left their mark in Georgetown, as well as in Ipoh (another culture, art and foodie place worth visiting).
You can either download a street art map, look up the main locations on your Google map or simply head out for the day and find the art treasure-hunt-style! You won’t be disappointed either – there are many and a lot of them interactive so get ready to do some snapping!
2. Lunch at Awesome Canteen
You’ll see quickly that Georgetown has a lot to offer when it comes to food. We really liked the vibe at Awesome Canteen. And since we’ve had a little too much rice and curry beforehand, we opted for a good old classic burger. The place was spacious and trendy and the burgers were great. The image doesn’t do it justice though – you can tell I rushed into eating it a bit hehe!
3. Door sightseeing
I have never seen quite as many beautiful and doorways. And while I know this might not appeal to the masses – I think it was one of the most interesting things about wandering the city. I stopped at nearly every single doorway to take a photo. Aren’t they cute!? I’d definitely say cities in Southeast Asia have amazing architecture – old and new!
4. Kek Lok Si Temple
Kek Lok Si is the largest Buddhist temple in Malaysia and therefore one of the most important Chinese Buddhist temples in SE Asia. This temple is absolutely stunning – its hilltop location, lush green surroundings, and intricate details on the walls and the statues. Another thing that made this temple so good was the peninsula that leads all the way up providing you with a very nice view of Penang. In our opinion, Penang Hill was just not worth the 1-2 hour wait and the ridiculous price (RM80/pp express). We instead opted to pay RM6 and reached the top with no waiting time in 3 minutes. I know, you’re welcome?
5. Shop + Eat
Malaysia, in general, could also be described as a land of shopping malls. For instance, during our stay in Kuala Lumpur, as well as Penang, we somehow always managed to find our way into one, completely unintentional as well. The good thing about staying in the Gurney area is the night food market, as well as the Gurney Plaza. We really recommend this area, so you don’t have to waste time traveling from other locations and can have it all in one place.
How to get to Penang
BUS: Taking a bus from Kuala Lumpur to Penang usually takes around 5,5 hours and the tickets are sold for around RM30/RM40.
TRAIN: The train from Kuala Lumpur departs in the morning and in the early afternoon; the journey takes approximately 6 hours. One-way ticket prices are from RM20 to RM100. Passengers that travel to Penang need to disembark at Butterworth station. From there you can take the connecting ferry to the island (walking distance).
AIR: This is the transportation mode we opted for. We took An AirAsia flight in the early morning and arrived in Penang early and with a full day of exploring ahead of us. The flight was 1 hour long and we paid RM350 for return tickets for two people. For us, it was a no-brainer to opt for a flight. From the airport to the hotel we took a Grab taxi (a cheaper way to travel with taxis in Malaysia) to the Gurney area.
Where to stay in Penang
HOTEL: G Hotel along Gurney Drive is located right next to the popular Gurney Plaza shopping mall. For us, it was a perfect location as we wanted to do some touristing as well as some shopping and eating. See this post from our stay at G Hotel Gurney. Find out more and book HERE.