We had never even heard of Penang before we started researching our trip to Malaysia. Actually, basically the only place in Malaysia that we had actually heard of was Kuala Lumpur.
Based on our research, we decided to spend a week in George Town, Penang. We are so glad that we did! As soon as we entered Malaysia, everyone was telling us that this was the best place to visit.
After spending a week in Penang for ourselves, we have to say: it totally lives up to the hype! George Town is such a cool city with a rich history and incredible food.
11 Awesome Things To Do In George Town, Penang
1. Explore Art Lane
George Town is famous for its incredible street art. And there’s no better place to see street art that at Art Lane!
Art Lane is a 400 foot long lane with walls covered in art from floor to ceiling. The building used to house rundown prewar shophouses. Stop by between 9 AM and 7 PM to see this unique space for yourself.
2. Tour the Kapitan Keling Mosque
The Kapitan Keling Mosque is a beautiful mosque located along Harmony Street. Built back in 1901, you can tour this mosque for yourself.
Don’t worry if you’re not wearing appropriate clothes–the mosque has robes for visitors to wear. The tour was completely free, but donations to the mosque are encouraged.
3. Take a trishaw ride
Trishaws are a historic form of transportation in Malaysia. While they aren’t as popular in Penang as they are in Melaka, you still see them everywhere.
It’s basically a bike behind a small carriage that two passengers can fit in. It costs around $5 – $10 USD to get a trishaw ride for an hour, which is a great deal. The trishaw driver will take you around to all their favorite places.
4. Wander through China Town
China Town was by far our favorite neighborhood in George Town. If you’re trying to figure out which neighborhood to stay in, we recommend getting a hotel right in the heart of China Town.
Wander the streets and take in the beautiful temples, colorful architecture, and amazing smells. We would just stop into a random restaurant and have one of the best meals ever…all for around $5 USD to feed two people. What a deal!
5. Take the train up Penang Hill
One thing that we didn’t get to do while we were in Penang is take the train up Penang Hill. The views of the island from atop the hill look breathtaking, but getting up there can be a bit of a pain.
Most people opt to take the train to the top. It looks like an incredible ride, but tickets are kinda steep. It costs RM 30 for a standard adult two-way ticket, which is about $7.24 USD.
6. Visit the Chulia Street Night Hawkers
We were staying only a few blocks away from the Chulia Street Night Hawker Stalls, so one night we wandered over to check it out. We ended up getting some DELICIOUS street food for a steal, and the people watching is amazing.
If you’re into street food, you should also check out the Gurney Drive Hawker Centre. This one is a little further away so you might have to take a cab depending on where you’re staying. But it’s worth it!
7. Go shopping at Chew Jetty
Chew Jetty is one of the clan jetties that are open to tourists. It’s basically a boardwalk lined with cute little shops and food stalls. The prices are actually pretty good, too.
You could spend an hour just wandering through here, shopping, and taking in the sights. There’s also a great food court across the street if you get hungry.
8. Try Penang-style Chinese food
Penang has a massive Chinese population, so you’ve got to try tons of Chinese food while you’re there. Some of it is more traditional, and others are more of a Malaysian hybrid.
We loved Char kway teow – this noodle dish is definitely not healthy…but it sure is delicious!
9. Check out the thriving coffee shop scene
It’s really cool to see all the unique coffee shops in Penang. Many of them also double as bars, so you can see if you like them better during the day or at night.
10. Visit the Botanical Gardens
The Penang Botanical Gardens are so beautiful plus they’re completely free to enter! Wander around and take pictures of the beautiful flowers. We spent about an hour there but you could spend more or less time there depending on what you want to see.
11. Try Kopi peng
Kopi peng is an iced coffee delicacy that it very popular in Malaysia. We went to Toh Soon Cafe to try it and absolutely loved it. It’s sweet without being overbearing and it definitely woke us up.
George Town is an amazing place to explore. Between all the amazing history, architecture, and food, you could easily spend an entire week here without getting bored.
Just make sure to bring plenty of cool clothing because we found it to be quite hot and humid on the island. Happy travels!