Asia > Southeast Asia > Malaysia > West Coast (Malaysia) > Penang > George Town (Malaysia)
George Town is the capital city of the Malaysian state of Penang. It is Malaysia's second largest city, with a population of about 708,000 as of 2010. Founded as an entrepôt in 1786, it was the first British settlement in Southeast Asia. Over the centuries, the city has evolved into a melting pot of sorts and is now home to a cosmopolitan, multi-ethnic populace. Due to its unique architecture, the old core of the city is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. George Town is also regarded as the culinary capital of Malaysia.
The city of George Town has a diverse set of attractions. Aside from George Town's living heritage, colonial-era buildings interspersed with towering skyscrapers, modern shopping malls and other amenities, the city is lined with sandy, tranquil beaches. Penang Hill, a well-known hill resort, overlooks the entirety of the city. George Town, a city filled with various festivities in any given year, has gained popularity for its arts scene as well, with the annual George Town Festival growing into one of the region's most prominent arts event.
George Town, centred at the northeastern promontory of Penang Island, was granted city status by the British government in 1957. Since then, the city has grown beyond its original boundaries, and in 2015, the city limits were expanded to encompass all of Penang Island, as well as a handful of smaller islets just off the island's coast, including Jerejak Island.
The original city limit of George Town, as recognised by the 1957 grant of city status, is now commonly recognised as the city centre. Within the city centre lies the oldest core of George Town, which has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2008. The UNESCO-protected zone covers nearly 260 hectares (2.6 km2) of the northeastern tip of Penang Island and is surrounded by more modernised parts of the city centre, such as KOMTAR, Macalister Road, Northam Road and Gurney Drive.
The eastern half of Penang Island is heavily urbanised. Upmarket suburbs lie to the north of the city centre, such as Pulau Tikus, Tanjung Tokong, Tanjung Bungah and Batu Ferringhi, the latter of which is popular for its golden beaches. To the west of the city centre lies the suburb of Air Itam at the foot of Penang Hill and home to the famous Kek Lok Si Temple. Other suburbs lie to the south of the city centre, such as Jelutong, Gelugor and Batu Lanchang. Bayan Lepas, near the southeastern tip of the island, is where the Penang International Airport and a major industrial zone are located, hence its more industrial feel.
Meanwhile, the western half of Penang Island is more rural, as the hill ranges at the centre of the island limit any westward urban sprawl. Tourists venture to Balik Pulau for its agricultural produce, specifically durians and nutmegs. Teluk Bahang, at the northwestern tip of Penang Island, is also home to several ecotourism attractions, such as the Penang National Park.
The city of George Town forms the heart of Greater George Town, the second largest conurbation in Malaysia. The conurbation covers the entirety of the State of Penang, the towns of Sungai Petani, Kulim and Bandar Baharu in neighbouring Kedah, and Parit Buntar in Perak.
Founded in 1786 by British trader Francis Light, George Town was part of the British crown colony of the Straits Settlements, along with Malacca and Singapore. Similar to Singapore, George Town evolved from a swampy island into a bustling entrepôt, and came under direct British rule (as opposed to the rest of the Malay Peninsula under indirect British influence). These gave Singapore and George Town distinctive British colonial characteristics and truly multicultural demographics consisting of the Malays, Chinese, Peranakans, Indians, Eurasians, Siamese, Europeans and others.
George Town was granted city status in 1957 and became the first city within the newly-independent Federation of Malaya (now Malaysia). In the decades after independence, however, George Town faced economic decline. The city's economy had to be reoriented towards manufacturing, with Bayan Lepas being earmarked for an eponymous industrial zone which attracted various multinational firms. As a result, George Town is now regarded as the "Silicon Valley of the East". Rapid development of George Town has been underpinned by its appeal as a haven for tourist and expatriates, helped by the UNESCO World Heritage Site within the city centre and the city's reputation as the centre of medical tourism within Malaysia.
The city retains its heritage and diverse cultures, and is home to one of the best preserved collections of pre-war heritage buildings in Southeast Asia. Unlike Kuala Lumpur, where many heritage buildings faced demolition to make way for the concrete jungle, George Town's heritage shophouses are also being given a new lease of life as hotels, bars, cafes and restaurants. Traditional trades still operate out of some of these shophouses, alongside bustling street markets and hawkers. Indeed, in this aspect, George Town is often likened to Singapore in the 1960s and 70s.
George Town has a rather relaxed pace of life, which made the city attractive for expatriates and foreign retirees, especially from Britain, Australia, the United States, Japan and Singapore. The city's ease of living is underpinned by its modern amenities, hospitals and shopping centres, as well as a burgeoning fine dining scene. In addition, urban dwellers and tourists alike have the option of escaping to the beaches or the forested hills, all of which are within easy reach. Increasingly, traffic congestion and the construction of new highways are changing the face of many parts of the island with the northern coastal fringe and the routes connecting Bayan Lepas to the city centre particularly badly affected at peak times. There has been intense debate between the politicians and town planners on one side, and conservationists and community groups on the other. The latter fear that unbridled expansion is changing the face of Penang and spoiling its unique character.
Penang's modern history really began with the founding of George Town by Francis Light. After negotiating with the then Sultan of Kedah for the cession of Penang Island to the British East India Company, Light and his crew landed at the northeastern promontory of the island on 11 August, raised the Union Jack and established George Town as the newest settlement of the British Empire.
George Town was the first British foothold in Southeast Asia and its strategic location within the Malacca Straits allowed the settlement to be developed into a major entrepôt. In the beginning, George Town was the centre of the booming spice trade, where spices cultivated inland were exported out. Maritime trade grew and by the end of the 19th century, George Town served as a conduit for the export of tin and rubber, Malaya's two most important commodities.
George Town was briefly made the capital of the Straits Settlements, which also included Singapore and Malacca. Eventhough the capital was eventually relocated to Singapore, George Town continued to grow as one of the largest towns in Malaya. The Straits Settlements were made a British crown colony in 1867. Direct British rule ushered in an era of prosperity and economic boom in George Town.
During World War II, the British evacuated Penang without a fight, abandoning George Town and its residents to the mercy of the Japanese who captured the town on 19 December 1941. A brutal period of Japanese occupation followed, during which thousands of ethnic Chinese were massacred. Upon the end of the war, George Town became the first town in Malaya to be liberated by British forces.
George Town was granted city status on 1 January 1957 by the British monarch, Queen Elizabeth II. When the Federation of Malaya attained independence later that year, George Town became the new country's first and only city. However, in the decades that followed, the city gradually declined. George Town's free port status was revoked by 1969, sparking off massive unemployment, an economic downturn and brain drain, as Penangites looked elsewhere for greener pastures. Concurrently, the development of Port Klang near Kuala Lumpur as Malaysia's main harbour took away much of George Town's maritime trade. George Town's economy was in need of reform, which was implemented in the form of the Bayan Lepas Free Industrial Zone. Multinational electronics and engineering firms flocked into the city and high tech manufacturing became one of the main pillars of George Town's economy, earning the city its moniker the Silicon Valley of the East.
However, George Town's decline continued into the 21st century. In 2008, local residents, incensed by the conditions in the city, voted out the incumbent state government led by Barisan Nasional. The new Pakatan Rakyat (now Pakatan Harapan) administration sought to bring back the glory of the Pearl of the Orient. Penang's economy rebounded, while efforts to clean up George Town, improvements in traffic flow, crime reduction, upgrades of the city's infrastructure and rebranding the city's cultural attractions were intensified. Consequently, George Town has been undergoing a renaissance of sorts; it was accorded UNESCO World Heritage status in 2008 and ranked the most liveable city in Malaysia by ECA International.
Unlike other Malaysian cities, most of the city's English street names are retained, albeit altered with Malay road name designations. The most common Malay street name designation in George Town starts with Jalan, meaning road, although Lebuh, which means street, is also common within the UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Malay street name designations and their English translations are as listed below.
|Malay||English||Malay example||English example|
|Jalan||Road||Jalan Penang||Penang Road|
|Lebuh||Street||Lebuh Bishop||Bishop Street|
|Lebuh Pantai||Beach Street|
|Lorong||Lane||Lorong Love||Love Lane|
|Gat Lebuh||Street Ghaut||Gat Lebuh Armenian||Armenian Street Ghaut|
|Persiaran||Drive||Persiaran Gurney||Gurney Drive|
|Lebuhraya||Avenue||Lebuhraya Peel||Peel Avenue|
|Pengkalan||Quay||Pengkalan Weld||Weld Quay|
|Medan||Square||Medan Cannon||Cannon Square|
|Pesara||Place||Pesara King Edward||King Edward Place|
Street Ghaut refers to the extensions of a street that were part of reclaimed land.
You will find that street names are often referred to by their English and Malay names interchangeably. In the case of Beach Street, its Malay translation is Lebuh Pantai, with the Malay term Pantai, meaning Beach. To further add to the confusion, you may also hear streets being referred to by their English colonial names. For instance, local Penangites still prefer "Pitt Street" to the road's official name (Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling), "Northam Road" instead of "Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah" and "Green Lane" instead of "'Jalan Masjid Negeri". This indicates a strong conservatism among the local population, who see Penang's colonial history as part of their local identity.
In 2008, the standard street signs throughout George Town were modified with the addition of the streets' English, Chinese, Tamil and/or Jawi (Arabic-script Malay) names. The new street signs are still in use to this day throughout the city.
Only a few Malaysian cities could claim to have George Town's multiethnic mix. What separates George Town, and the State of Penang, from the rest is that there is a higher proportion of ethnic Chinese compared to Malays. The city is also home to substantial proportions of Indians, Eurasians and Thais, along with a large expatriate community.
George Town is also a centre of Peranakan culture. When Chinese traders first came to George Town soon after its establishment, some of them took local Malay brides and adopted many local customs. This resulted in an interesting fusion of Malay and Chinese cultures. In addition, at the time, the British favoured George Town over Malacca and endeavoured to transfer Malacca's wealthy merchant class, including the Peranakans, to George Town. Historically, this particular community played an important role in George Town's economy and politics.
The harmonious coexistence of various ethnicities, cultures and religions over the centuries has manifested itself along one particular street in George Town. Pitt Street (Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling) is also known as the "Street of Harmony", due to the Muslim, Taoist, Hindu and Christian places of worship sharing the same street, metres away from one another.
|George Town (Malaysia)|
|Climate chart (explanation)|
With George Town being fairly close to the equator you can expect a typical tropical climate. Temperatures are generally constant year round, with daily highs of around 30-32°C (86-90°F) and nightly lows around 22-24°C (71-75°F). Humidity is also usually high so do not be surprised by stinking hot days.
Along with the glaring sun and humidity, rainfall is almost guaranteed daily and the occasional deafening thunderstorm from the Strait of Malacca will drench the city, especially during the wet season. Annual rainfall averages around 2,500 mm, with the wettest months being around September to November. The driest months of the year run from December to February, although rainfall is still frequent.
As with much of Peninsular Malaysia and Singapore, George Town suffers from the annual haze phenomenon, which is caused by forest fires in neighbouring Indonesia. The hazy season typically occurs between July and October. If you happen to be in George Town during a haze, it is best to constantly check for the latest air pollution index (API), reduce outdoor activities if the haze gets worse and, of course, drink more water.
Gong xi fa cai Penang style
There are a few twists to the Penang way of celebrating Chinese New Year, particularly the food, which bears little resemblance to the steamy hotpots of frigid northern China. The top dish is bak kwa (肉干), sweet barbecued pork, followed closely by yu sheng (魚生), a salad of shredded vegetables and raw fish enthusiastically tossed into the air by all present. Favourite desserts are crumbly sweet pineapple tarts and gooey steamed nian gao (年糕) cakes. Ang pows (红包) are still handed out generously, albeit customarily only by married couples.
With the cocktail of cultures and religions, George Town takes its holidays seriously. Many of the cultural and religious festivities in George Town are celebrated in ways unique only to Penang.
Ethnic Chinese in Penang celebrate Chinese New Year, the Dragon Boat Festival and the Mid-Autumn Festival. In particular, the Chinese New Year festivities in George Town are more boisterous than anywhere else in Malaysia; it is also said that while other Malaysian cities fall silent during this period, George Town is the most happening city due to the wide array of festivities. While this might seem to be an ideal time to visit, many smaller shops and eateries are closed for the first 2–3 days, though convenience stores like 7-Eleven will remain open. Due to the influence of the majority Hokkien community, the Chinese in Penang not only celebrate the first few days of Chinese New Year, but also the Jade Emperor's Birthday, colloquially known as the Hokkien New Year, on the 8th day. On that day, offerings to the Jade Emperor, a Taoist deity, are made at the Chew Jetty at Weld Quay, attracting thousands of locals and visitors alike. In addition, there is the annual city-wide Chinese New Year festival on the 5th day, when all the Chinese clan houses within the UNESCO World Heritage Site open their doors and cultural performances, such as lion dances and Penang-style Chingay, are held on the streets. The last day of Chinese New Year (15th day), also known as Chap Goh Meh, is essentially a Chinese version of Valentine's Day, when single ladies would gather at waterfronts like Gurney Drive and the Esplanade, write their numbers on oranges and throw the oranges into the sea.
Lunar New Year dates
The year of the Ox began on 3 Feb 2021 at 22:58, and the Lunar New Year was on 12 Feb 2021
Contrary to popular belief, the change of the zodiac does not occur on the first day of the Lunar New Year, but instead occurs on Li Chun (立春 lì chūn), the traditional Chinese start of spring.
Ramadan is the 9th and holiest month in the Islamic calendar and lasts 29–30 days. Muslims fast every day for its duration and most restaurants will be closed until the fast breaks at dusk. Nothing (including water and cigarettes) is supposed to pass through the lips from dawn to sunset. Non-Muslims are exempt from this, but should still refrain from eating or drinking in public as this is considered very impolite. Working hours are decreased as well in the corporate world. Exact dates of Ramadan depend on local astronomical observations and may vary somewhat from country to country. Ramadan concludes with the festival of Eid al-Fitr, which may last several days, usually three in most countries.
If you're planning to travel to George Town (Malaysia) during Ramadan, consider reading Travelling during Ramadan.
The Dragon Boat Festival, which falls on the fifth day of the fifth month of the Chinese calendar, is observed to commemorate a Chinese folk hero. As part of the celebrations, rice dumplings, which are sometimes wrapped in pandan leaves instead of the original bamboo leaves, are usually eaten. Meanwhile, the seventh month, usually either in July or August, is known as the Hungry Ghost Festival, when ethnic Chinese, sticking to age-old traditions, would burn 'hell money' and food offerings to please the spirits of ancestors who are said to return to Earth from hell during the month. Hokkien opera performances are also held throughout the city. On the other hand, the Mid-Autumn Festival is observed with lantern decorations and moon cakes.
As for the Muslims, the Islamic month of Ramadan and Eid-ul-Fitr, or Hari Raya Puasa as it is called here, are major occasions. Open houses would be held throughout the city, offering visitors a rich array of Malay cuisine to sample. Shopping malls and the Malay enclave in the UNESCO World Heritage Site would also be decorated for the festivities. Another festival celebrated by the Muslims is Eid-ul-Adha, known locally as Hari Raya Haji. In local mosques, lambs contributed by the faithful are sacrificed and their meat is given to the needy.
The Hindu festival of lights, Diwali, known locally as Deepavali, is celebrated around October or November. For this particular occasion, Little India, with its brightly-coloured decorations, becomes the most happening place in George Town. The other major festivity, which falls in either January or February, is Thaipusam, during which male devotees would carry a kavadi, an elaborate structure which pierces through several parts of his body, through the length of the city into Little India. This boisterous celebration also includes the smashing of coconuts on the road, symbolising the shattering of one's ego to unveil inner purity.
The Buddhists, of both Theravada and Mahayana faiths, observe Vesak Day, which also includes street processions with large hand-made floats by the various Buddhist associations and temples. Towards the end of each year, there is Christmas Day, which is observed by the Christians, including the Eurasians at Pulau Tikus.
As George Town is home to thousands of expatriates of various nationalities, other cultural celebrations include Songkran, Bon Odori, St. Patrick's Festival and Oktoberfest. Songkran is celebrated by ethnic Thais and other Penangites regardless of ethnicity at Pulau Tikus, where two Buddhist temples - Wat Chaiyamangkalaram and the Dhammikarama Burmese Temple - are located. Bon Odori is typically held at the Esplanade and features Japanese cultural performances. St. Patrick's Festival is organised by the Penang Irish Association and held annually at Straits Quay, while the Malaysian-German Association holds the yearly Oktoberfest celebrations.
The secular holidays in Penang include the New Year's Day, Malaysia's National Day on 31 August and the George Town World Heritage Day on 7 July. The latter commemorates the listing of the city centre as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2008 and features various organised activities within the city's old core.
|Penang Hot Air Balloon Fiesta||February||Two days|
|Penang Fashion Week||April||One week|
|Penang International Food Festival||April||Two weeks|
|George Town Festival||July/August/September||One month|
|George Town Literary Festival||November||Three days|
|Pesta Pulau Pinang||November/December||One month|
|Penang Island Jazz Festival||November/December||Three days|
|Penang International Dragon Boat Festival||December||Two days|
|Chingay Parade||December||One night|
George Town hosts numerous events in any given year. Among the more prominent ones include the George Town Festival, the Penang Hot Air Balloon Fiesta, the Penang international Food Festival, Pesta Pulau Pinang, the George Town Literary Festival, the Penang Fashion Week, the Penang Island Jazz Festival, the Penang International Dragon Boat Festival and the annual Chingay Parade in December.
As with the rest of Malaysia, Malay is the official language. English is widely spoken as well, compared to most other places in Malaysia. Thus, English-speaking tourists would have no problems getting around. The relatively significant expatriate community also contributes to the high level of English proficiency amongst the locals.
However, Penang Hokkien remains the unofficial lingua franca within the city. This local version of the original Hokkien dialect, which originated from China's Fujian Province, is not only spoken by ethnic Chinese, but also widely used by residents of other ethnicities, including the Malays and Indians. Penang Hokkien differs from the original Hokkien by the usage of local Malay and English loanwords, such as roti, kopi, sabun and gostan.
Most Chinese are also conversant in Mandarin and Cantonese, although there are fears that Mandarin may soon push Penang Hokkien into irrelevance. Meanwhile, the Indians are a heterogenous grouping, consisting of various language groups, with Tamil being the dominant Indian language, and significant minorities speaking other Indian languages like Malayalam and Punjabi.
|Hokkien phrase||English meaning|
|Chiak pa buey?||Have you eaten?|
|Lu ho bo?||How are you?/Are you doing fine?|
|Wa eh mia si...||My name is...|
|Lu khee to lok?||Where are you going?|
The 1 Penang International Airport (PEN IATA), about 16 km (9.9 mi) south of the city centre, is Malaysia's third busiest airport, with good connectivity to several major regional cities. It is well-served by flights from domestic destinations, including Johor Bahru, Kota Bharu, Kota Kinabalu, Kuala Lumpur, Kuantan, Kuching, Langkawi and Malacca, mainly operated by Malaysia Airlines, Firefly and AirAsia. International flights also call at the airport from Banda Aceh, Bangkok, Doha, Guangzhou, Haikou, Hanoi, Hat Yai, Ho Chi Minh City, Hong Kong, Jakarta, Kunming, Medan, Nanning, Phuket, Sanya, Singapore, Surabaya, Taipei and Wuhan.
Ground transport options to the airport fall under two categories: local taxis or the public bus system, Rapid Penang. Taxis operate with a pre-paid coupon system that you collect from the taxi counter near the arrivals area of the airport. The coupon to George Town will cost around RM44.70, but between midnight and 6AM will cost RM67. For a Rapid Penang bus to the heart of George Town, take either bus 102 (to Teluk Bahang), 401 (to Jetty), 401E (to Jetty) or AT. The fare to KOMTAR is RM2.70, where you can then transfer to another bus if needed. Have the correct fare ready as bus drivers don't give out change.
From Butterworth, the easiest way to reach the heart of George Town is by Rapid Ferry, the oldest ferry service in Malaysia. See the get in section of the Butterworth page for information on how to arrive by train. Only a short walk from the Butterworth train station is the Sultan Abdul Halim Ferry Terminal (also known as the Butterworth Ferry Terminal), with the cross-strait ferries departing every 10-20 minutes between 5:20AM– and 12:40AM daily. The fare to George Town costs RM1.20 for adults or RM0.60 for children. If you are returning to Butterworth the journey is free. Ferries arrive at 2 Raja Tun Uda Ferry Terminal at Weld Quay within the city centre's UNESCO World Heritage Site. Virtually all Rapid Penang buses within George Town arrive and depart from Weld Quay, with a brief stopover at KOMTAR.
The Langkawi Ferry Service operates a ferry service between Swettenham Pier, within the city centre's UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the island of Langkawi. Two ferries depart Langkawi for Swettenham Pier daily - at 10:30AM and 3PM. Tickets for adults cost RM60 (RM120 for a two-way trip) and RM45 (RM90) for children.
3 Swettenham Pier, within the city centre's UNESCO World Heritage Site, is the cruise terminal of George Town and the busiest of all cruise terminals within Malaysia. Many cruise ships call here from other major cities in Southeast Asia. Star Cruises is a primary operator at this port with common itineraries including a one-night cruise on the high seas or a 3-night cruise to Krabi and Phuket before returning to George Town. The port is also a frequent stop for round-the-world and major regional cruises often originating from Singapore, Hong Kong, Australia, Europe and North America. Typically these cruises allow a port visit in George Town for several hours before continuing to another destination. Refer to individual cruise companies for details of these cruise routes and the duration of stay at each port.
Motorists heading to George Town will have two cross-strait options to reach the city from the mainland - the 4 Penang Bridge and the 5 Second Penang Bridge. The 13.5 km (8.4 mi) Penang Bridge stretches across the mid-span of the Penang Strait that separates Penang Island and the mainland, connecting the suburb of Gelugor in George Town with the town of Perai. Meanwhile, the 24 km (15 mi)-long Second Penang Bridge, opened in 2014, is the longest bridge in Southeast Asia. It is situated to the south, linking Bayan Lepas on the island with the town of Batu Kawan on the mainland.
Toll charges for drivers using the Penang Bridge is RM7.00, and RM8.50 for those using the Second Penang Bridge. The tolls can be paid using the Touch n Go card. Drivers heading to George Town are required to pay the tolls on the mainland side, just prior to getting onto the bridges. Conversely, those driving out of George Town towards the mainland are not required to pay toll charges.
From the north
Motorists from the north may prefer the Penang Bridge due to the geographical proximity and its direct connections to the city centre. Those who are using the North South Expressway from Butterworth should keep a straight course via an interchange between Exits 162 and 161 (within the town of Perai) to access the Penang Bridge. Toll charges must be paid at the Sungai Dua Toll Booth (Exit 165). Once on Penang Island, motorists have the option of using either the Lim Chong Eu Expressway or Green Lane to get to the city centre to the north.
Second Penang Bridge
Motorists opting for the Second Penang Bridge may transit from the North South Expressway towards the bridge at Exit 157 (near the town of Batu Kawan). After turning left, motorists will have to pay the toll at the Sultan Abdul Halim Mu'adzam Shah Bridge Toll Plaza, before heading straight onto the bridge. However, this option is less used, as the bridge leads to Bayan Lepas near the southeastern tip of Penang Island, away from the city centre.
From the south
Motorists from the south who are using the North South Expressway should use Exit 161 (within the town of Perai) to access the Penang Bridge. Toll charges must be paid at the Juru Toll Booth (Exit 160).
Second Penang Bridge
Motorists from the south may prefer the Second Penang Bridge, due to the slightly closer geographical proximity. To access the Second Penang Bridge, motorists can transit from the North South Expressway towards the bridge at Exit 157 (near the town of Batu Kawan). After turning left, motorists will have to pay the toll at the Sultan Abdul Halim Mu'adzam Shah Bridge Toll Plaza, before heading straight onto the bridge.
The bridge leads to Bayan Lepas near the southeastern tip of Penang Island, so motorists would also need to factor in the northward commute towards the city centre, which is best done along the Lim Chong Eu Expressway stretching along the east coast of the island.
Intercity express buses are a common means of travel between cities and regions in Malaysia. The bus network is not only extensive but is also relatively cheap and comfortable.
The 6 Sungai Nibong Bus Terminal is in Sungai Nibong, to the south of the city centre. All intercity express bus services headed for George Town from the rest of Peninsular Malaysia, Singapore or southern Thailand will terminate here. To reach the city centre from here, a taxi will cost around RM30. You could alternatively take Rapid Penang's buses 102, 303, 305, 308, or 401 to get to the city centre.
There are two types of public bus services within George Town.
Rapid Penang is the main public bus service provider, with various routes covering the entire city of George Town as well as the State of Penang. Most bus routes start from the Raja Tun Uda Ferry Terminal at Weld Quay (also known as the Jetty), transiting through KOMTAR before continuing on to the suburbs. Depending on the service, buses begin operating around 05:30 from Weld Quay and can cease operating as early as 10PM, with some major bus routes continuing until midnight.
The fare structure used by Rapid Penang is distance-based. Most fares within the city centre will cost RM1.40 or RM2. For those heading outwards to the suburbs, the fare could be between RM2.70 and RM4. The exact fare is required, so keep hold of some loose change; if you are unsure of how much to pay, just tell the driver where you are going. If you plan to stay in George Town and around Penang for more than a few days, you can buy a "Rapid Passport". This 7-day travel pass allows for unlimited travel on all Rapid Penang buses throughout Penang for RM30. The Rapid Passport can be purchased from the Rapid Kiosks at KOMTAR and Weld Quay, or from the Penang visitors centre at Whiteaways Arcade, Beach Street.
In addition to the paid bus services, Rapid Penang also operates a handful of free-of-charge routes. The Central Area Transit (CAT) and the CAT George Town Loop 2 services cater to commuters within the city centre; the former loops within the UNESCO World Heritage Site with stops at Light Street, Little India, Penang Road and Pitt Street, while the latter circles the more modernised areas of the city centre, including Burmah Road, Northam Road and Macalister Road. The CAT Air Itam, CAT Balik Pulau and CAT Tanjung Tokong/Pulau Tikus loops privide free bus service in the suburbs.
The Hop-On Hop-Off service is the second public bus service within George Town. Aimed primarily at tourists, it utilises open-top double deckers and features two routes - the City Route and the Beach Route. Both routes originate at Gurney Drive. The City Route snakes its way to the Botanical Gardens and the suburb of Air Itam, including Penang Hill and the Kek Lok Si Temple, before returning to the city centre via KOMTAR. The Beach Route heads north towards the beaches of Batu Ferringhi. This bus service operates daily between 9AM and 7PM, with a frequency of about 1 hour and 15 minutes. The route map can be seen here.
George Town, in particular the UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a relatively compact city to explore on foot. Sidewalks have been refurbished, and cycling lanes have been added, occasionally alongside the sidewalks. Tourists can hop off the boats at Weld Quay and explore the city centre, either on foot or by cycling, past some of the most historical landmarks within the vicinity, including Wisma Kastam, the Penang State Legislative Assembly Building, the City Hall, the Esplanade, the High Court of Penang, St. George's Church and the banks along Beach Street. It is possible for a pedestrian to walk from the sea terminals all the way to KOMTAR and its adjacent shopping malls (1st Avenue and Prangin Mall), through some of the more famous places such as Little India, Pitt Street and Armenian Street. Gurney Drive, a seafront promenade, is another place for a stroll at either sunrise or sunset.
Cycling lanes have been extended from the city centre to the outlying suburbs, such as Tanjung Tokong, Tanjung Bungah, Jelutong, Gelugor and Bayan Lepas (Queensbay Mall), so it is possible to cycle along almost the entire eastern coastline of Penang Island. Certain areas within the suburbs are pedestrian-friendly as well. At Tanjung Tokong, for instance, visitors can walk or cycle along Straits Quay. At Jelutong, the sea-facing Karpal Singh Drive is another place to consider for a stroll. At Air Itam, tourists could walk from the Kek Lok Si Temple to the nearby Air Itam Market, which is famous for its asam laksa stall.
The humble trishaw, or beca in Malay, was once the primary mode of transport for the locals. With the introduction of an extensive bus network the trishaws of George Town have dwindled and are now primarily aimed at tourists. They are still a fun and unique way to travel the streets at a leisurely pace and perhaps find some of the city's hidden gems along the extensive back streets. Trishaws are generally found within the UNESCO World Heritage Site. Hiring can be done on an hourly basis, costing around RM30-40/hr, or for shorter travel the price will vary, around RM10-15 for a 15-min trip. Always agree on a price in advance and do not be afraid to haggle, as drivers will often inflate their first price.
Grab, an e-hailing app widely used within the city, is possibly the most convenient method for tourists to get around, provided that the Internet connection is available. More often than not, Grab serves as the cheaper alternative to taxis, which are notorious for fleecing tourists and for refusing to use the meter. Most Grab drivers speak at least a reasonable command of English, so communication would not be a problem.
City taxis are required to charge according to the meter. However, as is the case in Kuala Lumpur, most taxi drivers have no respect for this law. Attempts at finding a taxi driver willing to use a meter will be futile. Taxi drivers, particularly at the Penang International Airport, are also notorious for fleecing arriving tourists.
Always haggle with the taxi driver and firmly agree on a price beforehand. Taxis can also be hired for a minimum of 3 hr at RM25-30/hr.
Most likely using Grab is a better option as a tourist than a taxi as one knows the rate in advance.
By motorbike or scooter
You may also rent your own motorbike or scooter to get around. These shops can be found along Chulia Street and also Penang Road. Cost is around RM25 for each day if you're renting more than a couple of days rental including the loan of an unsanitary helmet. Deposit is often RM200 (May 2015). Test the brakes and chain tightness as most are not well-maintained.
See Penang for attractions in the rest of the state; this list covers only sights in George Town.
Thanks to the UNESCO World Heritage Site listing and strict zoning laws within the historic core of George Town, a combination of historical buildings and gently crumbling, but largely intact, shophouses offer a glimpse into the city's past.
It may be worthwhile engaging a walking tour guide as they are trained to give in-depth details on the history and culture of heritage sites. There are several themed walking guides to choose from and each typically takes around 3 hours. Book ahead.
- 1 Fort Cornwallis, Light Street (Next to the Esplanade), ☏ , fax: , ✉ email@example.com. Daily 9AM-8PM. The fort, named for Charles Cornwallis, is built on the site where Francis Light, founder of Penang, landed on 11 August 1786. It was first built in 1793. But this site was an unlikely spot to defend the city from invasion. In 1810 it was rebuilt in an attempt to make up for initial strategic planning errors. In the shape of a star, the only actual buildings still standing are the outer walls, a gunpowder magazine, and a small Christian chapel. Several old cannons (including one that is believed by some locals to have magical 'fertility' powers) can still be found at the fort. There are also small displays of artefacts recovered from archaeological digs inside the fort. The magazine houses an exhibit of old photos and historical accounts of the old fort. RM20 for adults (RM10 for Malaysian citizens) and RM10 for children (RM5 for Malaysian citizens).
- 2 City Hall, The Esplanade. The headquarters of the Penang Island City Council, the local government of George Town. A well-preserved colonial building constructed in 1903 when Penang was a British crown colony.
- 3 Penang State Assembly Building, Light Street (Near the Queen Victoria Memorial Clock Tower). Built in the 19th century as a police station, this Anglo-Indian Classical building is where the legislature of the State of Penang - the Penang State Legislative Assembly - convenes. The building is closed to the public; tourists can only view it from the outside.
- 4 High Court of Penang, Light Street (opp. Convent Light Street). Inaugurated in 1903, this Palladian-style building now houses the High Court of Penang, which had been established in 1809 as the first judiciary in modern Malaysia. The building is closed to the public; tourists can only view it from the outside.
- 5 Wisma Kastam (Malayan Railway Building), China Street Ghaut (opp. Wisma Yeap Chor Ee). This colonial building houses the Penang branch of the Royal Malaysian Customs. It was completed in 1907 as a Malayan Railway station. As it is not beside a rail track, it was known as the only rail station in the world without a railway.
- 6 Queen Victoria Memorial Clock Tower (At the Intersection of Light Street, Beach Street, Fort Road and King Edward Place). The 60 ft (18 m) high clock tower was presented by local millionaire Cheah Chen Eok in 1897 to commemorate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria.
- 7 Beach Street (Lebuh Pantai). As the main Central Business District (CBD) of George Town, Beach Street is lined with mercantile buildings constructed between the 1880s and the 1950s. Among the landmarks along the street are the Standard Chartered Building, HSBC Building, the Penang Islamic Council Building, OCBC Building, Bank of China Building, Whiteways Arcade, India House and the Logan Heritage Building.
- 8 Wisma Yeap Chor Ee, China Street Ghaut (opp. Wisma Kastam). An elegant colonial building built in the 1920s, it once belonged to Yeap Chor Ee, a China-born tycoon. The building now houses @CAT, a coworking space popular amongst startups and freelancers.
- 9 Penang State Museum, 57, Jalan Macalister, ☏ , , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Sa-Th 9AM-5PM. Formerly the Penang Free School which was built in two separate stages in 1896 and 1906. The museum is an interesting starting point to discover the multi-ethnic background of George Town. Two floors display the history of the immigrant community that participated in the creation of the present city. The museum also exhibits the paintings of Captain Robert Smith and the lovely engravings of William Daniell. Other exhibits include a former Penang Hill railway carriage, a handwritten Qur`an and old Malay weapons donated by the family of the late Dato' Haji Fathil Basheer. The museum is has moved from its original site in Farquhar Street, to 57 Jalan Macalister; only parts of the exhibition are on display. RM1 for all visitors.
- 10 Sun Yat-sen Museum, 120 Armenian Street, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Tu-Sa 9AM-5PM; Su 1-5PM. The Sun Yat Sen Museum is a beautifully preserved house museum and one of the smallest museums in Asia. It houses a permanent exhibition on Sun Yat Sen’s early revolutionary period in Penang when he planned the uprising now knows as the Chinese Revolution of 1911. If you are not into Chinese history, it is still worth dropping by just to see a modest, scaled down version of the traditional Chinese courtyards seen in historic mansions in town. The house was built in 1880 and is full of period furniture and details. RM5.
- 11 Made in Penang Interactive Museum, 3 Weld Quay, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Daily 10AM-6:30PM. Housed within the Behn-Meyer Building which was built in the late 19th century, this interactive museum features various three-dimensional interactive art pieces that depict Penang's culture, history and lifestyle. RM37.10 for adults (RM26.50 for Malaysian citizens), and RM26.50 for children and the elderly (RM15.90 for Malaysian citizens).
- 12 Penang Time Tunnel Museum, 39 Green Hall, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. M-F 9:15AM-6PM; Sa Su and public holidays: 9:15AM-6:30PM. An interactive museum that features three-dimensional artwork about Penang's history. RM29 for adults (RM16 for Malaysian citizens), RM16 for children between 5 and 12 (RM8 for Malaysian citizens), and RM16 for students (RM11 for Malaysian citizens with student ID).
- 13 The Roman Catholic Museum Diocese of Penang, 3 Farquahar Street, ☏ , , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. M-F 10AM-5PM; Sa 9AM-1PM. The ground floor presents the origin of Catholicism in the Far East in general and in Penang in particular. It also informs about the activities of the diocese of Penang and the ethnic makeup of its members. The first floor exhibits artefacts and memorabilia of the Diocese. The Fr. Joseph Reuten's gallery, housed in the same building shows paintings of biblical and Catholic themes in an Asian manner. admission is free; donations are welcome.
- 14 Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion (The Blue Mansion), 14 Leith Street, ☏ , fax: , ✉ email@example.com. Guided tours are available at 11AM, 2PM and 3:30PM. Each tour lasts 45 minutes.. Built in the 1890s, and restored in the 1990s (earning it an UNESCO award in 2000), this indigo-blue Chinese mansion was the main residence of Cheong Fatt Tze, known as the Rockefeller of the East and J.P. Morgan of China. The mansion was built according to feng shui principles by master craftsmen from China, who used their skills to fashion a sprawling mansion of 38 rooms, 5 granite-paved courtyards, 7 staircases and 220 windows. The mansion features in various films, including the 1993 Oscar-winning Indochine and the 2018 movie Crazy Rich Asians. Lodging is also available; see the sleep section. RM16 for adults and RM8 for children below 12.
- 15 Pinang Peranakan Mansion, Church Street, ☏ , fax: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. 9AM-5PM. Built as the home of Kapitan Chung Keng Kwee, a prominent local Chinese tycoon, this green-coloured Straits Eclectic house is now home to thousands of Peranakan antiques once used by the Peranakans. It was also featured in several movies and television series, such as Singapore's The Little Nyonya and The Amazing Race (Season 16). RM20 for adults and free for children below 12.
- 16 Leong San Tong Khoo Kongsi, 18 Cannon Street, ☏ , fax: , ✉ email@example.com. 9AM-5PM. Built in 1850 by the forefathers of Khoo family who emigrated from China as a clan-house for members of the Khoo family. In 1836, construction of a new temple began and was completed eight years later. Fire razed the wooden structure to the ground in 1894, it was allegedly struck by lightning. Chinese believed that it was due to its resemblance to the Emperor's palace, which provoked the gods. A scaled-down version was later built in 1902 and completed in 1906. The richly ornamented carvings of the roofs, walls and pillars reflect the art and architecture of ancient China and made of the finest wood. Expect to finish a visit to Khoo Kongsi with a sore neck. RM10 for adults, RM1 for children between the ages of 5 and 12, and free for children below 5.
- 17 Chinese Clan Jetties, Weld Quay. There are six clan jetties along the eastern coastline of George Town. They are worth walking to and looking at, as they provide an insight to the way local Chinese live in traditional huts built on the sea on stilts. Chew Jetty is the most well known and leads to a small temple at the end. Lee Jetty is brightly lit at night by beautiful lanterns. Be cautious while walking in this area.
George Town has a profusion of sites of worship of all different faiths. Within the city centre, four major religions - Christianity, Taoism, Hinduism and Islam - have a presence along Pitt Street, earning the road its moniker, the Street of Harmony.
- 18 St. George's Church, 1 Farquhar Street (Intersection of Farquhar Street and Pitt Street), ☏ , fax: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. M-Th 10AM-4PM. The oldest Anglican church in Southeast Asia was completed in 1818. The church was designed by Robert Smith, a military engineer who is known for his oil paintings of early Penang, which are now housed within the Penang State Museum. A memorial dedicated to Captain Francis Light, in the form of a Greek temple with a marble slab, stands within the church's compound. Services are still held at the church on Sundays, Wednesdays and Saturdays.
- 19 Goddess of Mercy Temple (Kuan Yin Teng), Pitt Street. Built in 1801, the Goddess of Mercy Temple is one of the oldest Chinese temples in Penang. This Taoist temple is flocked to by pilgrims year round, particularly on the 1st and 15th days of each lunar month. The building is decorated with intricately crafted dragons and a pair of stone sculptured lions which guard the temple. Puppet shows and Chinese operas are staged in the temple's square on the Goddess of Mercy's feast days and there is an octagonal well in one corner, which was once a public well for the Chinese community.
- 20 Sri Mariamman Temple (Arulmigu Mahamariamman Temple), Queen Street (rear entrance at Pitt Street). 6:30AM-noon and 4:30-9PM. Built in 1833, the Sri Mariamman Temple is the oldest Hindu temple in Penang. It is dedicated to the deity Sri Muthu Mariamman and features a gopuram (sculptured tower) of 38 Hindu deities. Enter the temple during prayer hours in the mornings and evenings; remove your shoes prior to stepping into the temple.
- 21 Kapitan Keling Mosque, Pitt Street. Built in the early 19th century and named after Caudeer Mohudeen, an Indian Muslim merchant who was also the Kapitan Keling, or leader of the Indian Muslim community. This historic mosque features a dome-shaped minaret that reflects Moorish Islamic influence and has been a prominent place of worship for local Indian Muslims for over 200 years. Free tours operate during non-prayer times. Shoes must be removed prior to entering the mosque and women are provided with heavy robes to wear. Men who are not appropriately dressed will also be supplied robes.
- 22 Church of the Assumption, 3 Farquhar Street, ☏ . M-F 9AM-5PM, Sa 9AM-6PM, Su 9AM-1PM. The first permanent Catholic church to be built in George Town, the Church of the Assumption was established by a group of Eurasian immigrants who accompanied Captain Francis Light to Penang. It is also one of the few churches in Malaysia with church bells that were cast during British rule. It also houses one of the last remaining and oldest European-made air organs in Malaysia. Masses are on Saturday at 6:30PM and on Sunday at 10AM. Admission is free.
- 23 Wat Chaiyamangalaram, 17 Burmah Lane, Pulau Tikus (opp. Dhammikarama Burmese Temple). 6AM-5:30PM. Founded in 1845, this Thai-style Buddhist temple is famous for its 33 m (108 ft) reclining Buddha, one of the world's longest. The temple was built on a piece of land given by Queen Victoria to Siamese trustees as a gesture of goodwill to boost trading relations with Thailand. The guardian dragon and statue at the entrance are both ostentatious and spectacular. A small Siamese community still resides within the vicinity of the temple, which is the focal point of the annual Songkran festivities.
- 24 Dhammikarama Burmese Temple, 24 Burmah Lane, Pulau Tikus (opp. Wat Chaiyamangalaram). 5AM-6PM. A Burmese Buddhist temple founded in 1803. At the entrance a pair of white elephants, which are sacred in Buddhism, guard the temple while within, a bodhi tree and wishing pond greets the visitor.
- 25 Arulmigu Balathandayuthapani Temple (Waterfall Temple), Waterfall Road. 6:45AM-12:30PM and 4:30-9:15PM. Located at a hilltop next to the Penang Botanic Gardens, the Arulmigu Balathandayuthapani Temple was built in the mid-19th century, making it one of the oldest Hindu temples in George Town. It was last renovated in the 2000s, with visitors now having to climb over 500 steps to reach the temple. It also serves as a focal point of the annual Thaipusam celebrations.
Other religious sites outside the city centre are as follows.
- 26 Floating Mosque (Masjid Terapung), Tanjung Bungah.
- 27 Jade Emperor's Pavillion (Thni Kong Tnua), Air Itam.
- 28 Kek Lok Si, Air Itam.
- 29 Penang State Mosque (Masjid Negeri), Jalan Air Itam, Air Itam.
- 30 Snake Temple, Jalan Sultan Azlan Shah, Bayan Lepas.
Graffiti has become all the rage in George Town, after Lithuanian artist, Ernest Zacharevic, painted several whimsical murals of the city's lifestyle and history, such as the pensive Boy on a Bike and the cheerful Little Children on a Bicycle on the walls of old buildings as part of the George Town Festival in 2012. Since then, many more wall paintings have popped up around the city, grabbing the attention of passers-by. Wire art has also been widely installed by the heritage board, commemorating bits and pieces of Penang history with pithy quotes. An informative map is available from the visitor centre.
- 31 Gurney Drive (Enter from the intersection of Kelawei Road, Jalan Bagan Jermal and Jalan Tanjung Tokong). This seafront street and promenade now forms part of George Town's Central Business District (CBD). Home to upscale shopping malls, an eponymous hawker centre and towering skyscrapers, it is also a good place to unwind and stroll along.
- 32 Jewish Cemetery, Yahudi Road. The cemetery that once served Penang's Jewish community, and one of the few reminders of a once-thriving community during the colonial period. The Jewish community no longer exists, the last member having died in 2011.
- 33 Protestant Cemetery, Northam Road. The burial site of early European administrators and merchants, including Captain Francis Light and Thomas Leonowens. Filled with crumbling, vegetation-covered tombs, it bears witness to a century of colonisation. There are around 500 burial sites here, a quarter of which no longer bear readable inscriptions. Accessible through a gate in the rear wall is the Roman Catholic Cemetery, most of whose graves are so old the inscriptions are no longer readable.
- 34 Little India. Covering an area around Queen Street, Chulia Street and Market Street, Little India is an ethnic Indian enclave. Walking on the streets, you cannot avoid smelling Indian spices and hearing Bollywood music. The area is very lively; one might say it is the noisiest part of George Town with the sights, sounds, aroma and foods of India.
- 35 Penang Hill, Air Itam. At 735 m (2,411 ft) above sea level, the peak of Penang Hill offers a panoramic bird's eye view of the city and fresher air. For more details, refer to Air Itam#See.
- 36 Penang Botanic Gardens, Jalan Kebun Bunga, ☏ , fax: , ✉ email@example.com. 5AM-8PM. The gardens were established by Charles Curtis way back in 1884; it's generally known as the Waterfall Gardens by the locals because of a waterfall within it. The botanical gardens hosts a wide variety of flora and fauna, including orchids, cannonball trees and monkeys. Many locals will come to the gardens to perform their daily exercises like walking, jogging, jungle trekking, aerobic dance, and to practice Tai Chi or Qi Gong.
- 37 Entopia Butterfly Farm, Teluk Bahang, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. 9AM-5PM. Home to some 13,000 species of butterflies, the Entopia Butterfly Farm also contains numerous other invertebrates and insects. RM60 for adults (RM45 for Malaysian citizens), and RM40 for children below 12 and senior citizens (RM25 for Malaysian citizens).
- 38 Tropical Spice Garden, 595, Jalan Teluk Bahang, Teluk Bahang, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. 9AM-5:15PM. An eight-acre collection of secondary jungle filled with various types of spices that are in common use in the kitchens of Penang.
- 39 Penang National Park (Taman Negara Pulau Pinang), Jalan Hassan Abbas, Teluk Bahang. 8AM-5PM. This small national park contains easy walking trails in the jungle. Along the way you will see white sandy beaches, monkeys and a light house, all while spending up to half the day in the jungles far from the noise of the city. Entrance is free, you just have to write your name on the register as you get in and out. The trails are well marked and boat services are available to various points inside the parks. Visitors keen on trying out the Canopy Walkway are required to pay a fee of RM5. As of late October 2018, the path to Monkey Beach is CLOSED due to landslides. It's possible to get to the beach by boat, which can be arranged to go directly to Monkey Beach from the entrance, or pick you up from Turtle Beach if you want to experience a hike in the park. The Canopy Walkway is also CLOSED for renovations.
Besides enjoying excellent food, walking tours and sightseeing the beautiful old city, George Town offers various modern entertainment options to the discerning tourist. If you, tired of walking, want to kill a couple of hours there is the possibility of catching a movie at any of the several shopping malls in the city centre, including 1st Avenue, Gurney Plaza and Gurney Paragon. Some shopping malls, notably Gurney Plaza and Queensbay Mall contain other forms of entertainment as well, such as karaoke, laser tag and escape games.
Many George Town shops now offer bike rentals for RM10/day, as travellers embark on a street art trail of sorts, cycling around main roads and hidden back lanes to look at murals and wire art. Bicycle pathways have been painted throughout the city, making it safer for cyclists and pedestrians alike.
- 1 Rainbow Skywalk, 68th floor, KOMTAR, 1 Penang Road, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Su-Th 11AM-10PM, F Sa 11AM-11PM, school and public holidays: 10AM-11PM. This glass walkway 250 m (820 ft) above sea level is not for the acrophobic. Opened in 2016, the Rainbow Skywalk, at the top of the KOMTAR Tower, is the highest glass skywalk in Malaysia. Standing on transparent glass just a few inches thick, one could not only see the busy streets directly below, but also have a bird's eye view of much of the city. RM68 for adults (RM45 for Malaysian citizens), and RM45 for children, senior citizens and the impaired (RM26 for Malaysian citizens).
- 2 The Gravityz, 65th floor, KOMTAR, 1 Penang Road, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. 10AM-6PM. Launched in 2018, The Gravityz is a series of rope courses along the outside of KOMTAR Tower. Again not for the acrophobic, it includes a flying fox zipline and a narrow mesh-wire pathway designed to challenge your balancing skills. Only six persons are allowed at the rope courses at any given time and personal protective equipment (PPE) are provided. Ticket prices start from RM90/pax (discounts for Penangites and Malaysians from other states).
- 3 Occupy Beach Street, Beach Street. Su 7AM-1PM. Every Sunday morning, Beach Street, Bishop Street, Church Street and Church Street Ghaut are turned into car-free zones. Family-friendly recreational activities and roadside stalls will be set up along these roads. Entrance is free of charge.
- 4 Hin Bus Art Depot, 31A Brick Kiln Road, ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. M-F noon-10PM, Sa Su 11AM-8PM. Art afficionadi can head to this art gallery, which periodically curates art exhibitions. It also contains open spaces for events, a garden and cafes. A pop-up market featuring local artists and other retailers is held every Sunday. Entrance is free of charge.
- 5 Penang Bowl, 38-B Farquhar Street, ☏ , fax: , ✉ email@example.com. 10AM-1AM. A 16-lane bowling venue for bowlers within the city centre.
- 6 The Habitat, Penang Hill (on the peak of Penang Hill), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. 9AM-7PM. The Habitat offers well-constructed jungle trails. The Curtis Crest Tree Top Walk is an elevated semi-circular platform, the highest of its kind in Penang - providing an all-round bird's eye view of Penang Hill out to the vast expanse of the Malacca Straits. The 230 m (750 ft) Langur Way Canopy Walk gives tourists a panoramic view of the greenery below whilst being right inside the forest canopy. Ticket prices start from RM55/person.
- 7 ESCAPE Theme Park, 828 Jalan Teluk Bahang, Teluk Bahang, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Tu-Su 10AM-6PM. The ESCAPE Theme Park consists of two parts - one for jungle-themed activities and another for aquatic games. The former includes zip-lines, bungee jumping and rock climbing, whilst the latter contains water tunnels, slides and pools - all within a refreshing jungle setting. Ticket prices start from RM42.50/pax; free for children below 3.
- 8 Batu Ferringhi. The sandy beaches of Batu Ferringhi also offer various activities, ranging from parasailing to riding a beach buggy.
- 9 Paintball at Penang War Museum, ☏ . What better way to enjoy a paintball match than a historical setting at a former British fortress? Packages are available for groups of 10 to 20.
Markets remain a daily way of life in Penang, and locals often go to them to buy cheap accessories and fresh food. Bargain hard to get a good price and preferably get a local to accompany you. George Town's retail scene is complemented by several modern shopping malls as well, with some offering various entertainment options.
- 1 Chowrasta Market, Penang Road. 6:30AM-7PM. Built in 1890, Chowrasta Market is one of the oldest wet markets in Malaysia. It does not only offer poultry and vegetables, however, as tourists will find various local products as well, including processed nutmegs, cloves, durian cakes and tau sar pneah (a local bean paste biscuit). The market is said to be the go-to place to buy home some local produce from Penang. Above the ground floor are bookstores selling second-hand publications. Entrance is free of charge.
- 2 Lorong Kulit Flea Market, Lorong Kulit. 6AM-1PM. Said to be the biggest flea market in Penang, the open-air Lorong Kulit Flea Market is sited right outside the City Stadium. All sorts of second-hand goods, imitation products, eclectic items and even antiques can be found here at bargain prices.
Night markets (or pasar malam in Malay) are open-air flea markets held at night. Various accessories, apparel and tidbits can be found at dirt-cheap prices, so long as you are able to bargain hard.
- 3 Batu Ferringhi Night Market, Jalan Batu Ferringhi, Batu Ferringhi. 7PM-midnight. One of the most well-known night markets in Penang. For more details, refer to Batu Ferringhi#Buy.
Batu Ferringhi may be a little too far for some tourists within the city centre, but there are other night markets held at different locations every night.
- 4 Macallum Street Ghaut Night Market, Lintang Macallum 1. M 7-11PM.
- 5 Tanjung Bungah Night Market, Jalan Sungai Kelian, Tanjung Bungah. Tu 7-11PM.
- 6 Farlim Night Market. For more details, refer to Air Itam#Buy.
- 7 Paya Terubong Night Market. For more details, refer to Air Itam#Buy.
- 8 Jelutong Night Market, Van Praagh Road, Batu Lanchang. F 7-11PM.
- 9 Sungai Dua Night Market, Jalan Sungai Dua, Gelugor. Sa 7-11PM.
- 10 Balik Pulau Night Market. For more details, refer to Balik Pulau#Buy.
- 11 1st Avenue, 182 Magazine Road (linked to KOMTAR Tower and Prangin Mall by pedestrian skybridges), ☏ , fax: . 10AM-10PM. Next to Komtar and Prangin Mall. This stylish downtown mall contains a 5D cineplex, as well as a karaoke. Several shoplots selling electronic goods and various sorts of apparel.
- 12 All Seasons Place, Lebuhraya Thean Teik, Air Itam, ☏ , fax: . 10AM-10PM. Anchored by Giant hypermarket, the first strip mall in Penang houses several dining outlets, as well as localised stores selling knock-off goods.
- 13 Gurney Paragon, 163-D Gurney Drive (next to G Hotel Gurney), ☏ . 10AM-10PM. Built around a colonial-era school building, this upmarket shopping mall contains an IMAX-equipped cineplex, as well as a wide variety of al fresco restaurants and apparel shops. The mall hosts the annual Penang Fashion Week every April.
- 14 Gurney Plaza, Gurney Drive (next to G Hotel Gurney), ☏ , fax: . 10AM-10PM. One of Penang's premier shopping malls, the mall contains various entertainment options, such as a 12-screen cineplex, a karaoke, a laser tag outlet and an escape games venue. Al fresco restaurants line the exterior of the ground floor, whilst inside are several international retail brands.
- 15 Penang Time Square, Dato Keramat Road, ☏ , fax: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. 10AM-10PM. This shopping mall contains more localised retail stores offering anything from apparel to pedicure. It is also well-known for its nightclubs and dance clubs in its basement. A second, newer component, M Mall O2O, is more brightly decorated with wall murals, scupltures and globally-themed corridors, with several tech stores.
- 16 Prangin Mall, Prangin Road (linked to the KOMTAR Tower and 1st Avenue by pedestrian skybridges), ☏ . 10AM-10PM. Catering to the lower- and middle-class residents, the mall contains several localised retail stores. Get all sorts of apparel and electronic goods, including laptops and smartphones, at lower prices here. The mall also has a somewhat rundown cinema.
- 17 Queensbay Mall, 100 Persiaran Bayan Indah, Bayan Lepas, ☏ , fax: . 10AM-10PM. Penang's largest mall contains a wide variety of entertainment options, including a cineplex, a karaoke, a laser tag outlet and an escape games venue. A strong contender to Gurney Plaza with numerous international brands.
- 18 Straits Quay, Jalan Seri Tanjung Pinang, Tanjung Tokong, ☏ , fax: , ✉ email@example.com. 10AM-10PM. Upmarket seaside shopping mall next to a marina, with British-style architecture. Al fresco restaurants line the ground floor. The mall also contains a Royal Selangor pewter outlet, a convention centre and PenangPac, a performing arts venue. A private charter boat service, Lady Martina, is available for hire, traversing the coastline along Gurney Drive.
- 19 Udini Square, Lebuh Tunku Kudin 3, Gelugor, ☏ . 10AM-10PM. The mall is well-known for stores offering hardware and sports equipment. It is also opposite a Tesco hypermarket, convenient for shoppers on a budget.
- 20 Ghee Hiang Bakery (义香), 95 Beach St, ☏ , . The oldest bakery in Penang, established since 1856; other well-known products include sesame seed oil.
- 21 Him Heang Bakery (馨香), 162-A Burma Rd, ☏ , . Su closed. This may be the most famous Chinese bakery in Penang, popular among locals and Singaporean tourists. Its most famous products are Tambun Pneah and Beh Teh Sor. Go early in the morning or order through phone first due to limited daily production.
- 22 Ng Kee Cake Shop (伍记), 61 Cintra Street, ☏ . The shop produces and sells Cantonese traditional biscuits including wedding biscuits. One of the famous biscuits is pepper biscuit (咸切酥, Ham Chit Soo).
- 23 Sin Hock Seng Bakery, 316, Penang Rd., ☏ . (新福成) The shop sells more than one hundred different types of biscuit. Basically, you can find any kind of traditional biscuit there.
Penang is widely considered to be the food capital of Malaysia, and George Town is the best place in Penang to eat. (See Penang for listings of local dishes.)
Gurney Drive may be the main location where tourists go to have their food, but that does not necessarily mean that the best food can be found there. In fact, most locals consider it to be overrated and expensive. A variety of Chinese food courts - as well as Durian stalls - can be found in Jalan Macalister between the crossing with Jalan Penang and number 105. It's best to ask the locals to point you toward the best locations for food, though walking into any "coffee shop" or stall would almost certainly guarantee a worthwhile experience for your taste buds. Knowing some Malay or Hokkien will be useful, but most vendors speak enough English to communicate the basics.
- 1 Ban Heang, 245 & 247 Jalan Penang (corner of Jalan Penang/Lebuh Campbell), ☏ . Daily 7AM-10PM. New outlet opened in Nov 2014 of the locally famous biscuit and delicacy manufacturer. Also sells organic ice creams, sorbets and dried fruit. Its own restaurant linked next door is cheap and cheerful with a wide variety of fresh local and western-style foods. Tourist friendly, fast and fresh. Insiders tip: approach the counter as if to pay and almost hidden to your right will be a steep staircase to a (usually deserted) first floor with air conditioning and a large HD screen showing Chinese historical soap operas. Cheap, e.g. fish, chips and coleslaw RM9.90.
- 2 Red Garden Cafe, 20, Lebuh Leith (not far from the backpacker area around Lebuh Chulia), ☏ . early morning till late. Local food: satay, roasted and BBQ'd chicken, duck and pork variations with noodles or rice (Chinese stall in the right corner). Also Thai, Filipino, western and fusion food.
- 3 New World Park Foodcourt, 1, Jalan Burma (corner of Jalan Burma and Jalan Pangkor), ☏ . Local specialities including curry mee, prawn mee, laksa, chee cheong and fun. For dessert try the ais kacang special with ice cream on top.
- 4 Behind Fifty (BHD50), 50, Love Lane (at the corner between Love Lane and Jalan Muntri), ☏ . 6PM-1AM. Started by 3 Chinese buddies who have a passion for food, art and making friends. This is one of the latest cozy places where one can chill out and hang out while enjoying a drink or tasting some noodle specialities. from RM15.
- EE Beng Vegetarian Food, On Lebuh Dickens. (Dickens Street)(Near the junction of Penang Road) (Its about a 10 minute walk from either Love Lane or from Komtar. Dickens street is between the Mydin Supermarket and the Police Headquarters (Large blue and white building). This restuarant is opposite the main entrance to the police complex on Dickens Street.). Its a small self-serve buffet style vegetarian restaurant. Good choice of food at a easy on the wallet price.
- 5 Sri Ananda Bahwan, 55 Penang St. 53 & in the Indian quarter, offers great Indian food for a very good price. They have branches all over Malaysia.
- 6 Kapitan's, 93 Lebuh Chulia, ☏ . 24 hours. No matter what time of the day, this mamak restaurant serves up great Indian food at a decent price. They are well known for their biryani, tandoori chicken and butter chicken. Also consider trying a drink called Badam milk, unless it has already sold out. RM5-12.
- 7 Krsna Restaurant (Krishna Vilas) (In the heart of Little India). Cheap banana leaf-style food but now served on paper. Loads of rice with dal and condiments.
- The Soul Kitchen trattoria in Lebuh Muntri (lat=5.420512 | long=100.334192) used to do very good Italian dishes but closed in 2014. This entry is retained because a steady stream of ignorant pasta lovers beat a weary (and unfulfilled) path to its (closed) doors. Try Bactri.
- 8 Tai Tong, 45 Lebuh Cintra. 6AM-midnight. Well-priced dim sum breakfasts, served in the traditional way on carts wheeled among the tables. Get there earlier for more variety.
- 9 No Eyed Deer Restaurant, 98-1-26 Prima Tanjung, Jalan Fettes 11200 Tanjung Tokong (Above the 7-Eleven store in the Prima Tanjung complex opposite Island Plaza), ☏ , fax: . 6AM - 11PM. Favourite haunt among the locals & expatriates living in Penang. Western and Asian cuisine, famous for its Laotian laksa, chicken parmigiana and steaks. Popular dishes include its chicken Kapitan Bryani, chili lime sea bass, grilled lamb chops, mutton rogen josh, and spaghetti marinara. They are also reputed to serve one of the best fish & chips in town. The weekends are normally pretty busy, thus it is advisable to get there early.
- 10 Cherry Sweet Spicy Thai Food, 8 Clove Hall Road., ☏ , . Th-Tu noon-3PM, 6-10PM. Pork-free.
- eGate (Next to Tesco hypermarket along Jelutong Expressway). Restaurants such as Tao Japanese and formulaic outlets such as Starbucks, Old Town Kopitiam, Subway, Oasis.
- Illyana's, Teluk Kumbar. A Malay-style eatery with a popular Thai cook. Notable dishes include lala fried with olive oil, satay and the clay pot fish head curry. Seafood is always fresh, you pick what you want from the fresh seafood laid out and the chef cooks it for you in whatever style you fancy.
- Salsas, Upper Penang Rd (At the junction of Penang Rd and Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah). Good western food at reasonable prices.
- Yellow Light Thai Food, 1-C Fettes Rd, ☏ . Closed on Monday.
- Sri Lankan - Top Secret, 98 Jalan Mutri, ☏ . from 4PM. Serving Sri Lankan and western food. Also home to the Penang Hash House Harriers chapter. In the later-earlier hours it becomes a bar and place where the regulars and travellers hang out. RM15.
- Eden Seafood Village, ☏ . Daily 6-11PM. 69A Batu Ferringhi.
- Ocean Green Seafood (Hotel Paramount), Jl Sultan Ahmad Shah. Used to be a popular seafood place for Penangites but of late, other seafood places have become popular. Commendable dishes include mantis prawns fried with salted egg yolk batter, fried sharksfin with eggs, and prawns.
- Oriental Seafood Restaurant, ☏ . Macalister Rd. (A sister outlet of the Oriental Seafood at Gurney Drive). This outlet at Macalister Rd is less pricey and it's for the locals who crave crabs and prawns, however unlike the one at Gurney Drive it lacks a view. Service is quick and you can order other side eats such as fried noodles. Crabs go by the kg so prices fluctuate. Ask first before ordering. They accept credit cards and cash.
- Seoul Garden Korean Restaurant, Sunrise Tower, 1st Floor, 190-192 Gurney Drive, ☏ . The food here is not bad except that the kimchi can be quite different each time you eat here. Long established venue that attracts Korean expatriates during lunch and dinner. Nice views.
Upper Penang Road
If you're looking for something to do at night, there's always Upper Penang Road, where clubs, pubs and bars are always flooded with young people. UPR is opposite the famed Eastern And Oriental Hotel and beside the City Bayview Hotel.
- 1 The Garage, 2 Penang Rd. Once owned by the Wearne Brothers, the Garage used to be a motorcar showroom and has since been restored to its Art Deco glory, housing clubs, bars and boutiques like the Slippery Senoritas and F.A.M.E.
- Slippery Senoritas, Upper Penang Road (Located in the Garage), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Open 11AM-3AM. Salsa Club & Restaurant. (Lunch, dinner, music) 1/2 price drinks until 9PM. Live music/DJs from 9:30PM. "Ladies Nights" W and F. Large club of 2 stories. Has another club called "Fame" connected to it in the courtyard. Get bottle service upstairs. Cover is less than US$10 but just go into the courtyard, buy a beer, and they will stamp you for free.
- 2 MOIS Dance Club, Wisma Boon Siew (1 Upper Penang Road), ☏ . 9PM-3AM. A club for the younger crowd in a grand colonial-style building.
- 3 Soho Freehouse, 50, Ground & Upper Floor, Penang Road,, ☏ , fax: , ✉ email@example.com. Selection of continental food and beer. Good place for gaming with pool tables and foosball.
Love Lane and Lebuh Chulia are also favourite hangout haunts, with many bars and cafes mixed with backpacker hostels.
- Church Street Cafe, 12 Church St (Lebuh Gereja), ☏ .
- The Meeting Point, Lebuh Chulia (Next door to Banana Guest House). 5PM-4AM. Chilled out reggae bar with most seats outside offering beers from RM8 (Jazz) and some snack food.
- Hong Kong Bar, Chulia Street. Famous and historically significant bar, home to many Commonwealth soldiers in Penang, particularly Australian forces based across the water at Butterworth. Run by the ever friendly Jenny. Fantastic atmosphere.
- Rock World, China Town (Walk down Lebuh Campbell). Seems to be visited mostly by Chinese Malaysians, and is fairly empty on weekdays.
- 1 75 Travellers Lodge (Next to W&O Guest House), 75 Lebuh Muntri (The free CAT bus from the ferry from Butterworth terminal will take you to within about 300 meters. Its a 800 meter walk from Komtar bus terminal. Bus 401 from the airport will get you to about 500 meters of this guesthouse (Bus stop near the corner of Lebuh Carnarvon and Lebuh Kimberley). If taking the 401E bus, the better opton would be to get of at Komtar and walk the 800 meters.This guesthouse is half a block from Love Lane.), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. 75 Jl Muntri. In the middle of Chinatown. 24-hr free Wi-Fi. Also has a desktop computer for guests to use in the reception area. Wifi is ok, but not exceptional. Dorm beds RM25. Single room with fan and shared bathroom is RM40. Single room ensuite is RM45. Double/twin rooms with ensuite. Double/twins rooms (shared bathroom). dorm bed from RM20 per person..
- 2 Banana New Guest House (Banana Guest House), 355 Lebuh Chulia, ☏ . Check-in: 1PM, check-out: noon. Clean, well organised and friendly. Free Wi-Fi.
- 3 Cathay Hotel, 15 Lebuh Leith, ☏ , fax: .
- 4 Friendship Motel, 20, Jalan Penang, ☏ , , , ✉ email@example.com. From RM28 for a small A/C room with shared bathroom. Free internet.
- 5 GoodHope Inn, 22 Jalan Kelawai, ☏ , fax: . RM110-250.
- Hang Chow Hotel, No. 511 Lebuh Chulia (at the west end of Lebuh Chulia), ☏ . Budget hotel with free Wi-Fi. Family room comes with a king and a queen bed, ceiling fan, air con and shower closet. The toilets are shared but very clean. This is a family run business, with a cafe on the ground floor and friendly owners. RM50.
- Hotel 1926, ☏ , fax: . 227 Jl Burmah. Heritage boutique hotel. Room Rate: RM80-100.
- 6 Hotel Mingood, 164 Argyll Rd, ☏ , fax: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. From RM80.
- Hotel Noble, 36 Lorong Pasar, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. fan single and double rooms with bathrooms. Pay for Wi-Fi. RM25.
- Hostel Red Inn, 55, Love Ln (walk in to Love Lane from 7-Eleven Chulia St.), ☏ . Check-in: 1PM, check-out: 11AM. New and stylish. Laundry service, DVD, clean toilets, breakfast included, computer for free internet (no printer). RM28-100.
- Jim's Place, 431 Chulia St. Just look out for the reggae colours. Rooms about the same price as in other places. Friendly and helpful owner and staff.
- 7 Love Lane Inn, 54, Lorong Love. Cheap and minimal guest house. The owner can be grumpy but serviceable. Curfew 2-7:30AM. Horrible mattresses but big rooms. Dorm, fan RM18, air-con RM20; single RM25.
- [dead link] Mansion One Serviced Apartment, 57 Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah (Persiaran Gurney), ☏ . Available for daily, weekly and monthly rental.
- [dead link] New Asia Hotel (Heritage), 71 Kimberly St (cross junction-Pintal Tali St./Rope Walk St), ☏ , fax: . Heritage hotel, operated since World War II. A/C or fan), WiFi, flat-screen TV, water jug/heater, spacious common dining area, clean, security CCTV, friendly staff. From RM50-150.
- 8 Old Penang Guesthouse, 53 Lorong Love, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Budget heritage hostel with a modern fit-out in a historic restored pre-war building. Wi-Fi, In-room air-conditioning, towels and simple breakfast are included. There is also a downstairs communal area with DVDs, TV and books. Laundry service is available for an additional charge. The staff are very friendly and happy to suggest places to visit around Penang. Dorm: RM26, Privates from RM55.
- 9 One Malaysia Guesthouse, 369, Jalan C.Y. Choy (near Komtar Tower), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Free pickup from transport terminals, free Wi-Fi, free English newspaper, free mineral water. Very kind and friendly owner. Please call in advance. Double RM25.
- Oriental Guest House (formerly known as W&O Guesthouse), 81 Jl Muntri, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-out: noon. 2-storey shop house building with the same owner as 75 Travellers Lodge a few doors away. Large airy rooms with windows, fan, sink. Friendly, clean and efficient, right in the middle of Chinatown. Cafe (known as Western Oriental Cafe) with TV. Breakfast, lunch and dinner in front of reception. Internet RM3/hr, RM2/half hr, laundry service, taxi, arrange local tours, sell boat, bus and train tickets and help to apply for Thailand visas. Single RM30, double/twin RM35-45, triple RM45-55 (Nov 2015).
- Pin Seng Hotel, 80 Jalan love Lane., ☏ . fan single and double rooms with bathrooms has Wifi. RM25.
- Reggae Hotel and Guesthouse, 57 Love Ln. Dorm rate: RM25. Opened Sep 2011, clean with a nice bar/restaurant/patio area. Western-style bathroom with hot shower. Free Wi-Fi. Dorm beds have individual 'stalls' with curtain for privacy and a small mirrored cabinet and two power plugs. Scooter rental in front is not run by Reggae, but the scooters are reliable if a little on the pricey side - RM30 for the day with RM20 deposit.
- [dead link] Ryokan@Muntri St, 62, Lebuh Muntri (Muntri St) (via Upper Penang Rd. A stone's throw away from Cititel Hotel and Cheong Fatt Sze Mansion.), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. Check-in: 2PM, check-out: noon. Boutique hostel with a chic, comfortable and secure environment. Bar and cafe serving daily breakfast and beers in the evening, laundry service, bunk and suites, lockers, light boxes, clean toilets, library and iPad2 for surfing, printing facilities. RM33-RM38 for bunk beds & RM 136 for suite with full facilities.
- 10 Sim CityStay, 60 Level 1 Pengkalan Weld, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Check-out: noon. Clean, well organised and friendly. Free Wi-Fi. Dorm beds from RM25 per person.
- Star Lodge, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. 39 Jl. Muntri. All rooms with windows, fan, sink, toilet and hot shower. For A/C add on RM10/day. Free 1-hr internet included in the room rate plus free Wi-Fi 24/7.
- Super K Hostel, 324 Chulia St. Dorms with free Wi-Fi, chiropractic mattresses (none of the cheap thin mattresses), café, convenience store, open 24 hr, laundry service and free lockers.
- 11 Tune Hotel, 100 Burmah Rd (5 min from Komtar in George Town), ☏ . Single room from RM70 (promotional prices can be as low as RM10-30, check website regularly several months in advance, nice and clean. A/C and other services are not included in the online price, but can be purchased separately.
- YMCA International Hostel, 211 Macalister Rd. RM66-85 per night.
- YWCA Penang, ☏ . 8A Jl. Mesjid Negeri (State Mosque Rd./Green Lane Rd). Only has 5 single rooms, 5 double rooms and a dormitory so call to book first. Also, it is next to the State Mosque.
- [formerly dead link] An-Nur AnCasa Express @ Georgetown, Lot 1238, Jl Kampung Kolam, ☏ . 3-bed rooms, all of which have A/C, LCD flat-screen, cableTV, and kitchen with refrigerator and coffee/tea maker. From RM180.
- Banana Boutique Hotel (Heritage Building Hotel) (previously Blue Diamond Guesthouse), No 422 Chulia St, ☏ . Check-in: 1PM, check-out: noon. In an interesting and attractive century old building, restored and under new management. Walking distance to Upper Penang Rd where you can find cafe, bar and night spots. RM138-599.
- 12 Berjaya Penang (formerly Georgetown City Hotel), I-Stop Midland Park, 488, Jalan Burma, Pulau Tikus, ☏ , fax: . Rooms from RM250/night.
- Cititel Penang, 66 Penang Rd, ☏ , fax: . Rooms RM130-350/night.
- Hotel Continental Penang, 5 Penang Rd, ☏ .
- Hotel Malaysia, 7 Penang Rd, ☏ , fax: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. 3-star hotel with budget rates.
- Grand Paradise Hotel (previously Midtowne Hotel), 101 Macalister Rd, ☏ , fax: .
- Hotel Sentral Seaview Penang (formerly Naza Hotel Penang), 555 Jl. CM Hashim, Tanjung Tokong, ☏ , fax: , ✉ email@example.com.
- PPisland Hotel, Penang, 33A, Abu Siti Lane, ☏ , fax: . A boutique hotel with 3-star qualities. Rooms rate from RM68 (promotion) per night.
- Red Rock Hotel (formerly Agora Hotel), 202A Macalister Rd, ☏ .
- 13 Sunway Hotel Georgetown, 33 New Ln (Lorong Baru) (off Macalister Rd, centre of George Town), ☏ , fax: . Walking distance to Komtar and famous New Lane hawker centre (night time). May ask for room without breakfast since there are many food stalls around the area. RM140-460 per night.
- Hotel Penaga, Corner of Jl Hutton & Lebuh Clarke, ☏ . Rooms and suites individually furnished with antique cabinets, benches and chairs. The classics of mid-20th-century furniture design are also in every room. They also have world class facilities such as the Penaga Spa, a business centre, a garden, and a swimming pool. From RM443.70.
- 14 Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion, 14 Lebuh Leith, ☏ , fax: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Instead of just visiting this beautifully restored heritage building, why not consider sleeping there. The Mansion boasts 16 rooms with all the usual modern fittings. Breakfast included. RM420.
- 15 [dead link] Eastern & Oriental Hotel Penang, 10 Farquhar St, ☏ , fax: , ✉ email@example.com. Founded in 1884 by the Sarkies brothers, legendary hoteliers who also founded Yangon's Strand Hotel and Singapore's famous Raffles Hotel, the E&O is Penang's grand old colonial hotel. Rooms from RM400.
- Evergreen Laurel Hotel, 53 Gurney Dr (Pesiaran Gurney), ☏ , fax: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org.
- G Hotel, ☏ , fax: , ✉ email@example.com. 168A Gurney Drive. Brand new post-modern luxury hotel in town with direct sea views. Comfortable, hip and funky.
- Gurney Hotel, 18 Gurney Dr (Persiaran Gurney), ☏ , fax: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Hotel Royal Penang (formerly Dorsett Penang Hotel), 3 Jl. Larut, (Larut Rd), ☏ , fax: . This 273-room Singapore-managed, is a short drive from Komtar and the food hub of Macalister Rd. From RM480 for deluxe room.
- Northam Hotel All Suite, 55 Northam Rd (Jl. Sultan Ahmad Shah), ☏ , fax: , ✉ email@example.com. 142 A/C suites, cableTV, en-suite bathroom, water-massage Jacuzzi.
- Hotel Jen Penang (formerly Shangri-La Hotel Penang), Magazine Rd, ☏ , toll-free: . Next to Komtar and Prangin Mall, in the heart of George Town. The rooms are fairly old, but the staff are friendly and attentive. Guests can book a free shuttle bus to Rasa Sayang Shangri-la and Golden Sands in Batu Ferringhi.
George Town is home to several tertiary institutions and is considered the education hub within northern Malaysia. In addition, the city contains numerous international schools which cater for expatriates.
- Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM). Penang's premier university is also the oldest within the state. Founded in 1969 as Malaysia's second university, its strength lies in the various scientific and research fields.
- Wawasan Open University (WOU). A local private university specialising in open distance learning.
- Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland and University College Dublin Malaysia Campus (RUMC). Formerly known as the Penang Medical College, it is a branch campus of two Irish universities. Specialises in medical courses.
- DISTED College. The oldest local private college was founded in 1987. It offers various twinning diploma and degree courses up to degree level, with a focus on business-related studies.
- Equator College. A local private college with a focus on the arts.
- Han Chiang University College of Communication. A not-for-profit higher learning institution offering undergraduate courses that are related to communication & media, business management, arts & design and Chinese studies.
- INTI International College
- KDU College
- Penang Skills Development Centre. A government-owned institute specialising on technical and engineering courses.
- SEGi College
- SENTRAL College. A local private college specialising in business-related courses, as well as tourism and early childhood education.
Compared to other major Malaysian cities, George Town is relatively safe. The city's crime rate is somewhat low and serious crimes are pretty rare. Be extra careful in crowds and on roadsides, as they are the spots where petty crimes such as snatch thefts and pickpockets occur.
If you look like a tourist, you will get considerably higher prices from the salesmen in markets, like Batu Ferringhi Night Market, or the market near the Kek Lok Si temple. The real price of the product is always a lot less and at times the "best price" is five times the normal price.
Taxis generally do not use meters due to poor enforcement by local authorities, even though it is "compulsory". The meters are often claimed to be "broken" or are hidden. You should always ask for the use of the meter. The metered price is always less than a price given in advance. Tourists are often cheated, sometimes even left by the roadside in the middle of nowhere if they refuse to pay a considerably inflated sum of money. You should negotiate the fare before boarding if the taxi driver refuses to use the meter, preferably seek a different taxi if they refuse to use the meter. Taxis from Penang International Airport are paid using slips given in a small office in the airport terminal.
Do not use drugs, and stay away from them. You will get the death sentence if caught dealing with certain types of drugs and Malaysia's laws provide very harsh punishment for any drug related offence. The amount of the drug you are caught with will determine whether you are charged as a user or a dealer. Pay heed to the warning signs at all entry points to the country and just don't have anything to do with illegal substances.
George Town is Malaysia's leading hub for medical tourism, attracting approximately half of the country's incoming foreign patients. The city has several relatively well-equipped hospitals, staffed by professionals who offer treatments and surgeries at a lower cost compared to other healthcare hubs in the region. Many of the hospitals are accredited by either the Joint Commission International Accreditation (JCI) or the Malaysian Society for Quality in Health (MSQH).
- [dead link] Penang General Hospital, Residency Road (opp. the Polo Ground), ☏ . 24 hours. Penang's oldest public hospital also serves as the main tertiary reference hospital within northern Malaysia.
- Penang Adventist Hospital, 465 Burmah Road (next to the Consulate-General of the Republic of Indonesia), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. M-Th 8:30AM-4:30PM; F-Su 8AM-12:30. A non-profit hospital founded by Christians, the JCI-accredited hospital now offers a wide variety of treatments and is equipped with cutting edge facilities. Particularly popular amongst Asian tourists.
- Gleneagles Medical Centre, 1 Jalan Pangkor (next to Mansion One Tower), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. M-F 8:30AM-4:30PM; Sa 8:30AM-1300. A JCI-accredited private hospital offering various treatments and surgeries.
- Island Hospital, 308 Macalister Road (at junction with Peel Avenue), toll-free: 1 300 880 788. M-F 8:30AM-5PM; Sa 8:30AM-1PM. A relatively new addition to Penang's healthcare scene, the private hospital has nonetheless underwent significant expansion and now offers various treatments. Accredited by MSQH.
- Lam Wah Ee Hospital, 141 Jalan Tan Sri Teh Ewe Lim, Batu Lanchang (at junction with Green Lane), ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. M-F 8:30AM-5PM; Sa 8:30AM-1300. One of the oldest hospitals in Penang, it has two departments: one for Western treatments and another for Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Accredited by MSQH.
- Loh Guan Lye Specialists Centre, 238 Macalister Road (at junction with Jalan Perak), ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. 24 hours. A private hospital offering various specialist consultations and treatments. Accredited by MSQH.
- Mount Miriam Cancer Hospital, 23 Jalan Bulan, Tanjung Bungah, ☏ , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org. Daily 10AM-10PM. A non-profit hospital specialising in cancer treatments, surgery and even palliative care for cancer patients.
- Pantai Hospital, 82 Jalan Tengah, Bayan Baru, Bayan Lepas, ☏ . 24 hours. A private hospital offering various treatments and surgeries. Accredited by MSQH.
- 1 Penang Global Tourism Centre, 10 Whiteaways Arcade, Beach Street, ☏ , ✉ email@example.com. M-F 9AM-5PM, Sa 10AM-4PM, Su 10AM-2PM. Consider making your way to the local tourist centre in the charming colonial Whiteaways Arcade. The staff are friendly and the centre offers all the typical services of a tourism centre. It's a great place to pick up a map or brochures and to find out about the latest events around George Town and the whole of Penang. In 2015, they had a particularly useful map (online pdf version is grossly inferior) [formerly dead link] that not only showed the locations of all the wrought iron street art and large murals, but also the directional stops of the CAT free hop-on, hop-off bus that runs daily until 11:40PM.
- Australia, 14-A, 1F, Aboo Sittee Lane, ☏ , , fax: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Austria, 19, Halaman Bukit Gambir 2, Gelugor, ☏ , , , fax: , ✉ email@example.com.
- Bangladesh, 15 Bishop Street, ☏ , fax: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org.
- China, 28-B&C Ayer Rajah Road, ☏ , fax: , ✉ email@example.com.
- Denmark, 29 Green Hall, ☏ , fax: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Finland, 8F, Wisma Penang Garden, 42 Northam Road, ☏ , , fax: , ✉ email@example.com.
- France, Nexus Technology Sdn. Bhd., 15 Lintang Bayan Lepas 1, Bayan Lepas, ☏ , fax: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Germany, BMC Sdn. Bhd. 9.07, 9F, MWE Plaza, 8 Farquhar Street, ☏ , fax: , ✉ email@example.com.
- Indonesia, 467 Burmah Road, ☏ , , fax: , , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Japan, 28F, BHL Tower, 51 Northam Road, ☏ , fax: , , ✉ email@example.com.
- Norway/Sweden, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland and University College Dublin Malaysia Campus, 4 Sepoy Lines Road, ☏ , fax: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Pakistan, 1F, 416A Jalan Jelutong, Jelutong, ☏ , , fax: , ✉ email@example.com.
- Poland, Villa 36, Jalan Moonlight Bay, Batu Ferringhi, ☏ , fax: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Russia, A1, 28F, Gurney Tower, 18 Gurney Drive, ☏ , , fax: , ✉ email@example.com.
- United Kingdom, Suite 9-04, Zurich Tower, 170 Argyll Road, ☏ , fax: , ✉ robert.hawkins-HonCon@fconet.fco.gov.uk.
- Thailand, 1 Ayer Rajah Road, ☏ , , , fax: , ✉ firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cyber cafés are plentiful in George Town. Among them are:
- NETCITY.ONLINE, 173-G-3, 4 & 5 Burmah Road. 24 hours.
- NETCITY.ONLINE (Fettes Park branch), 98-G-1, Jalan Fettes, Prima Tanjung, Tanjung Tokong.
- SNR Internet Cafe, 26 Macallum Street Ghaut.
- Game Free Cyber Zone Cafe, 1-G-5, 6 & 7 Medan Angsana 4, Air Itam.
- K9 Eternity Net House, 306-B-01 Jalan Dato Ismail Hashim, Bayan Lepas.
Most hotels are equipped with their own Wi-Fi networks. In addition, eateries such as McDonalds, Starbucks and Burger King have free Wi-Fi as well.
If you are outdoors within the city centre, you can use Penang Free Wi-Fi in a pinch; this government-sponsored service is free-of-charge. Users would need to register their particulars prior to using the free Wi-Fi service and the system automatically logs users out every 30 minutes, so the user would have to log in again to continue using the Wi-Fi.
- Butterworth - the main town of Seberang Perai, the mainland half of the State of Penang.
- Langkawi - the tax-free Jewel of Kedah is accessible via the Langkawi Ferry Service, which departs Swettenham Pier daily at 8:30 and 2PM. Scuba diving, snorkelling, kayaking and jungle trekking are just some of the activities to do in Langkawi.
- Taiping - about two-hours drive away via the North South Expressway, the Taiping Zoo, its Lake Gardens and Maxwell Hill are some of the noteworthy destinations.
- Ipoh - about three-hours drive away via the North South Expressway, the capital city of the State of Perak is well-known for its cuisine, colonial architecture and cave temples.
- Cameron Highlands - lush rolling hills covered by tea plantations and strawberry farms, as well as fresher air, are the main draws of this hill resort about four hours away by car.
- Kuala Lumpur - the capital of Malaysia is home to some of the country's largest shopping malls.
- Medan - the capital of the Indonesian province of North Sumatra is just a short hop across the Malacca Straits by plane.
- Hat Yai - a popular destination among Penangites, local tour companies provide bus and van trips to this city in Southern Thailand.
- Bangkok - the capital of Thailand can be reached either by regular daily flights or by train from the Butterworth Train Station.