This is one of my favourite places in Malaysia. My family used to spend our Christmases here- it was tradition! Georgetown used to be a massive trading hub, but now, it’s famous for its British Colonial roots, mosques, and temples. It’s also a major foodie city.
Flying has always been my preferred method of getting to Penang (as it’s cheap & convenient from Singapore!), but you can also take a bus from KL. You can also take a train to Penang Butterworth, and then a ferry over to Georgetown, but that seems a bit complicated!
Where to Stay:
In Georgetown, the main backpacker street (aka hostels!) is Chulia Street. It’s a great fun area with delicious cafes around!
If you’re on a midrange budget, there are some really wonderful places to stay.
Armenian Suite is a heritage building and right in the thick of the heart of Georgetown. It’s near loads of murals and is super lively.
Chulia Heritage Hotel is another good option. It’s a really nice, clean, modern hotel in a heritage house. It’s a beautiful blend of old and new, and it’s next to the backpacker area (great cafes and lots of fun!).
If you’re looking for luxury, there are some great options in Penang.
7 Terraces is highly rated. It’s super clean, there’s amazing Peranakan furniture in spacious rooms, and the service is incredible. Like many other hotels in Penang, it’s a heritage hotel.
The E&O is iconic. It’s owned by the same brothers that own the Raffles Hotel in Singapore. The interior brings back some old-world luxury and is absolutely gorgeous.
Where/What to Eat:
Penang is such a foodie capital. You can’t go wrong!
Go to a Hawker and try all of the local dishes! My favourites are the stir-fried greens, char kuay teow (yummy noodles!), laksa, and lor bak (pork wrapped in bean curd skin). You can really order anything and get a lovely dish.
You MUST must must go to ChinaHouse. They have the BEST cakes and meals. This was always our favourite Christmas meal.
Mugshot Cafe is a favourite of ours. On one side of the cafe, they have amazing espressos and pastries; on the other, the most incredible homemade yoghurt. I like it topped with passionfruit. It’s super rich and creamy.
Kebaya Dining Room is at 7 Terraces Hotel. You have to book far in advance, as it’s one of the highest rated restaurants in Penang.
If you’re looking for really yummy food, Ren I Tang is your place to go! It has all kinds of amazing food, but the dessert is the best part!
What to Do:
Though this is technically something to eat, going to this place, smelling the baked goods, and watching the chaos in this bakery is an experience. You HAVE to go to Ming Xiang Tai for sweets and pork buns. They’re ABSOLUTELY amazing and cheap. It’s a must!
You can’t go to Penang and miss the jetties! These jetties are owned by seven different clans, though now there are only six jetties left. They’re over a century old and some of the last Chinese settlements on Penang. For those of you who don’t know what a jetty is, it’s basically an overwater area (similar to a dock), where people live. It’s pretty spectacular. I definitely recommend walking down some.
Wander through the old town. My favourite way to do this is to walk through the markets and cafe hopping! Beyond Georgetown’s old town, the new town has shopping malls and movie theatres if you need a break from sightseeing.
There’s a fort that’s really lovely to walk around! It’s an interesting part of Penang History and worth a visit.
Go street art hunting! Penang’s street art is amaaazingggg. The street art is seriously such a draw to many tourists, and for good reason!
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