Francis Light and the Clock Tower
Georgetown is the capital of the island and state of Penang, on the west coast of peninsular Malaysia. It was listed by UNESCO in 2008 as a World Heritage Site, together with fellow former Straits Settlement, Melaka.
Founded in 1786 by British trader Francis Light, Georgetown was one of the three Straits Settlements along with Malacca and Singapore. Modern-day Georgetown is one of Malaysia's largest cities with 600,000 inhabitants.
Note that with its combination of Chinese and Muslims, Georgetown takes its religious resting days seriously. Most of the town stops working for the latter half of Saturday, and all of Sunday. Many shops and restaurants are closed during these times and the streets are extremely sleepy and quiet, with little tourist friendly activity going on. Muslim prayer calls can be heard at the required prayer times, and it is not uncommon to see the Chinese locals burning incense for ancestor worship on the sidewalks.
The town seems quite relaxed, as restaurants, small shops, and mall shops don't fully open until around noon. If you're waking up early, be sure to look for Chinese Dim Sum stalls as they are only available in the morning. But don't bother looking for any other activities besides eating.
Today, the town is known for its well-preserved colonial core, with original shophouses dating from the 19th century to the 1930s still surviving, together with their trades of old. Street markets and hawkers continue to be a part of daily life, and the atmosphere is often likened to that of Singapore back in the 1960s and 1970s.
The town truly springs to life in the evenings, when most of the locals would head to the nearby street hawkers to have their meals and sometimes, a couple of drinks.
Georgetown is Penang's transportation hub. Ferries to and from Butterworth arrive at the Raja Tun Uda terminal on Weld Quay (Pengkalan Weld) on the east side of the city; the bus station is nearby on Victoria Street. Take a note of where these are located as you will no doubt want to see them again rather shortly in order to depart.
Boats to Langkawi and Pulau Payar depart from Swettenham Pier (close to Victoria Memorial Clock Tower), about 700m north of Weld Quay. During the main season they leave at 8:15 am (via Pulau Payar) and 8:30 am, take about 2 hours until Langkawi and cost RM 60 per person. You can even book tickets online now on the homepage of Langkawi online.
Leaving by boat
The short ferry ride to Butterworth; departing at regular intervals is free. However, note that it costs RM1.20 for foot passengers coming from Butterworth to Penang.
A bus and train station awaits upon arrival in Butterworth - from where you can get transport connections to many of the major destinations in peninsular Malaysia. The ticket counters and waiting area are located under the overpass adjacent to the small market. Train tickets should be purchased in advance from the ticket booth at the island ferry terminal, the train station, or online (account sign-up needed) .
Air Asia connects Penang Airport with several destinations within Malaysia (Johor Bahru, Kota Kinabalu, Kuala Lumpur, Kuching and Langkawi) as well as Hong Kong, Indonesia (Jakarta, Medan, Surabaya), Singapore and Thailand (Bangkok).
The easiest way to get to Georgetown is certainly via Butterworth Bus Terminal and take the car ferry over to the Weld Quay ferry terminal.
However, there are busses that go right onto Penang island. These however, stop at the Sungai Nibong long-distance bus station, about 15km south of Georgetown. Local bus services 401 (to Georgetown and Weld Quay ferry terminal) and 102 (to Batu Feringghi).
Public transportation around the city is well organized (by Malaysian standards) with modern low floor aircon buses. Main public bus terminals are at jetty and Komtar building/mall where you can get a map with all lines. When boarding a bus you MUST have prepared exact change! All buses stop on their route, and if you don't mind going around the city a bit if you actually want to leave it, you have good chances of getting where you want. But if you're planning to venture out of Georgetown to the suburbs and beyond for a day's tripping, do bear in mind that the public buses stop picking up passengers after 10PM daily - apparently even on weekends and holidays. And if you need to take a taxi back to your quarters after midnight, be prepared to pay a 100% surcharge on top of the fare.
- City taxis are required to charge according to the meter effective from August 2006
To & from the airport
- Rapid Penang bus 401, 401A, 401E from the airport to Komtar and the Jetty, and vice versa) takes about 1 hr, and the buses come once every 30 min.
- Rapid Penang bus 401 also pass through southern ekspres bas terminal for connections to mainland cities. The bus fare is RM2.70. This is in contrast to the official taxi fare of RM44.50 with a journey of about 45 min from the airport to downtown Georgetown, and vice versa.
According to the Ministry of Tourism, "City taxis are required to charge according to the meter effective from August 2006". However, as in Kuala Lumpur, many taxi drivers have no respect for the law or at least believe that foreigners have no legal rights and will frequently try to cheat foreigners. A common ruse is to refuse to use the meter or to hide it behind a piece of cloth or a rudimentary cardboard panel. If encountering a driver playing these games seek an alternative taxi.
Taxi rides within the city may cost up to RM20 if following the lead of an unscrupulous taxi driver. Either firmly agree on the fare before you get in or insist on using the meter. No driver is likely to agree to a negotiated fare of less than would occur if the journey were metered. Taxis can also be hired for a minimum of 3 hr at RM25/hr. A good way to see the northern and western parts of the island if you don't have your own vehicle.
Trishaws cater to tourists and charge around RM30/hr. However, these trishaw rides are becoming more of a curiosity rather than the norm as the number of trishaw peddlers are now lower in number than before.
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 24 hr rental. Deposit is often RM200.
Street names can be confusing: the street signs are in Malay, but locals will invariably use the old English names, e.g. Pitt Street instead of Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling, Beach Street instead of Lebuh Pantai. Lebuh, Jalan, Lorong, are the Malay words for street, road, lane, respectively.
Georgetown can be difficult to walk around because of underdeveloped footpaths. In places without footpaths it can be difficult to get around safely on foot due to the heavy traffic and prevalence of deep, wide open drains. Be careful about those, or walk on the side of the road in places without a footpath. If you are walking on the side of the road, try to walk against traffic as far over as you can so you can see the cars coming. Use the pedestrian bridges where available to cross the road. Some areas do not have crosswalks and instead have the pedestrian bridges that go over the traffic.
Preserved by strict zoning laws, the gently crumbling but largely intact shophouses of Georgetown offer a glimpse into the town's colonial times. Many are still inhabited or used for businesses though. Restoration works are slowly progressing.
Queen Victoria Clock Tower
- Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion, Leith Street, . Built in the 1890s, and restored in the 1990's (earning it an UNESCO award in 2000), this indigo-blue Chinese Courtyard House in George Town was the main residence of Cheong Fatt Tze, known as the 'Rockefeller of the East' and 'J.P. Morgan of China'. Cheong was a prominent, successful Hakka Chinese merchant who demonstrated his business ability after marrying into a wealthy family, founding the Chang Yu Winery and ending the segregation of Chinese from Europeans on passenger ships. The mansion was built according to feng shui principles by master craftsmen brought in from southern China, who used their skills to fashion a sprawling mansion with 38 rooms, 5 granite-paved courtyards, 7 staircases, and 220 windows. The mansion features in various films including the 1993 Oscar-winning Indochine. Tours: 11AM, 1.30PM and 3PM sharp (RM12, 60-90 mins, no indoor photography, consider booking in advance). Lodging also available, see the sleep section.
- Municipal Council of Pulau Pinang Hall (formerly City Hall), The Esplanade (Jalan Syed Sheikh Barakbah), is a well-preserved colonial building from the heyday of the British Empire since 1903, at a cost of 100,000 Straits Dollars.
- Fort Cornwallis, Light St. The fort, named for Charles Cornwallis is built on the site where Captain Francis Light, founder of Penang, first landed on August 11, 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. The magazine houses an exhibit of old photos and historical accounts of the old fort. Entrance RM2 for adults.
- Armenian Street, old historical street in the heart of the UNESCO Heritage Zone. Good for a walkabout. Lots of old colonial architecture, scenery, and shops to see.
- Little India, Indian quarter of Penang with many shops selling religious items, music, sarees, good Indian food from various regions, and general goods that cater to Penang's Indian community. Busy on weekends.
- Leong San Tong Khoo Kongsi(龙山堂邱氏宗祠), 18 Cannon St, . Built in 1850 by the forefathers of Khoo family who emigrated from South China, as a clan-house for members of the Khoo family. In 1836, construction of a new temple began and was completed 8 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. Open 9AM-5PM weekdays, 9AM-1PM Sat; entrance RM10 for adults.
- Penang Islamic Museum, 128 Armenian Street. ☎+60 4 262-0172, (Fax:+60 4 264-4692), . Wed-Mon 9:30AM-6PM (9:30AM-4PM during fasting month). Located in the Syed Al-Attas Mansion, a century-old mansion named after its owner, a spice trader from Aceh. Adults RM3, children (under 12) RM1.
- Pinang Peranakan Mansion, Church Street (Lebuh Gereja). ☎+60 4 264-2929, (Fax:+60 4 264-1929), , [email protected]. Originally the home of Kapitan Chung Keng Kwee, leader of Penang and Perak Hai San groups in the Larut Wars from 1860-1884. The mansion is a typical representation of the Straits eclectic style of architecture highly favoured by rich Peranakan families of old. Affectionally called Hai Kee Chan or Sea Remembrance Store, it served as his residence and office. Mon-Sat 9AM-5PM. Daily conducted tour 11:30AM-3:30PM. Admission fee is RM10 for adults), free for children below 12.
- Queen Victoria Clock Tower, (At the Intersection of Light Street, Beach Street, Fort Road and King Edward Place). The 60 ft high clock tower was presented to Penang by local millionaire Cheah Chen Eok in 1897 to commemorate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria.
Georgetown has a profusion of sites of worship of all different faiths.
Dharmmikarama Burmese Buddhist Temple
- Wat Chaiyamangalaram, Burma Lane (Lorong Burma), was founded in 1845. A Thai-style Buddhist temple that is famous for its reclining Buddha (33 m), one of the world's longest. The temple was built on a piece of land given by Queen Victoria to 4 women 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.
- Dhammikarama Burmese Buddhist Temple located opposite of Wat Chaiyamangalaram, Burma Lane, was founded in 1803. A pair of white elephants (sacred beasts in Buddhism) guard the entrance while within a bodhi tree and wishing pond greets the visitor.
- Kapitan Keling Mosque, Pitt St (Jl. Masjid Kapitan Keling) was built in the early 19th century and is named after an Indian Muslim merchant, Caudeer Mohudeen, who was also the Kapitan Keling (headman). It is the most prominent historic mosque in Penang and features a dome-shaped minaret reflecting Moorish Islamic influence. The Kapitan Keling Mosque is the place of worship of the Indian Muslim community which has lived and worked around the mosque for over 200 years. Unlike modern mosques which are heavily frequented on Fridays, the Kapitan Keling Mosque is popular with worshippers 5 times a day, 7 days a week. It is extremely well maintained compared to its rundown neighborhood, and tourists can get free tours of the Mosque during non-prayer times. You must take off your shoes prior to entering the building or threshold, follow the lead of others and just look for the shoes they have left behind. Women must wear a heavy robe provided by the staff.
- Hainanese Temple, Muntri Street. A temple serving mostly Malaysian Chinese of Hainanese background.
- Kuan Yin Teng (观音亭, "Goddess of Mercy Temple"), Pitt Street (Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling) Open daily. This is one of the oldest Chinese temples in Penang. Built in 1801 by early immigrant settlers from China, the building is decorated with intricately crafted dragons and a pair of stone sculptured lions which are said to be its guardians. Undoubtedly the most popular Chinese temple in Penang, the Kuan Yin Teng, is flocked to by pilgrims and followers all year round, particularly on the 1st and 15th day of each lunar month. There is a lovely square where puppet shows and Chinese operas are staged on the Goddess of Mercy's feast days. The square is always a centre of bustling activity, and there is an octagonal well in one corner, which was once a public well for the Chinese community. Free admission.
- St. George's Church, 1 Farquhar Street (Lebuh Farquhar), is named after the patron saint of England. Built by convict labour in 1818, it is the oldest Anglican Church in South-East Asia. The building was designed by Captain Robert Smith, a military engineer whose oil paintings of early Penang can be seen in the Penang State Museum. A memorial in the form of a Greek temple with a marble slab dedicated to Captain Francis Light, stands in the grounds of the St. George's Church.
- Church of the Assumption, also situated on Farquhar Street and a stone's throw from the Anglican St. George's Church is this twin-towered Roman Catholic church. It is the first permanent Catholic church to be built on Penang island, and was first established by a group of Eurasian immigrants who accompanied Penang's founder, Sir Francis Light to the island. The church is one of the few churches in Malaysia with church bells that were cast way back during British rule. It also houses one of the last remaining and oldest European-made air organs in Malaysia.
- Penang State Museum, Lebuh Farquhar, Pulau Pinang, . Open: 9AM-5PM (Sat-Thu), closed: Friday. 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 multiethnic background of Georgetown. 2 floors display the history of the immigrant community that participate 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. 1 RM.
- Komtar Scenic View Level 60, Komtar Tower, ☎/Fax+60 4 262-2222 [email protected]. Open 19AM-5PM from Mon-Fri, admission RM5 for adults and RM3 for children. It is the tallest building in Penang, and provides 360⁰ views. A classic tourist trap, complete with a mediocre Halal restaurant and a souvenir shop.
- Clan Jetties (姓氏桥), Weld Quay (Pengkalan Weld), Numerous and located along the shorelines of George Town. They are worth walking to and looking at, as they provide an insight to the way locals live in traditional huts built on the sea on stilts. Be cautious while walking in this area.
- Chew Thean Yeang (周天央) aka CTY Aquarium, 82 Burmah Road. ☎ +60 4 226-8797, (Fax:+60 4 229-4049) [email protected]. The largest live fish shop in South East Asia, but the workers are mostly rude and impatient.
- Protestant Cemetery, just west of the Shell gas station near Upper Penang Road. The burial site of Capt. Francis Light, Thomas Leonowens and more. 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. Be careful of mosquitoes. Junkies and vagrants sometimes camp among the graves, so be careful and avoid venturing among the maze of graves and tombs by yourself.
- Penang Hill, (take bus 204 (RM2) to get to the bottom of the hill (or bus 10 if you wish to walk or drive to the top - you can not walk to the top if you take the 204 bus). Bus does not take you to the top). You have to take the funicular to get to the top of Penang Hill. Entrance is RM4 is for a Malaysian resident, for a foreigner it is RM30. You can also get to the hill from the Botanical Gardens, which is where you'll need to go if you wish to hike up the hill (a moderate 5km hike). There is also a road from the Botanical Gardens that allows access to the top by car and motorbike.
Besides enjoying excellent food, walking tours and sightseeing around the beautiful old city, George Town itself does not offer that much to the adventurous tourist.
If you, tired of walking, want to kill a couple of hours there is the possibility of catching a movie at Cathay Cineplex on the 5th floor of the Komtar shopping-complex. Other opportunities are Golden Screen Cinemas in Gurney plaza.
On 4th floor of Komtar you also have the opportunity to shoot a game of snooker. RM9 for 1 hr.
Red Inn (on Love Ln) offers bike rentals for Rm10/day. Although bike paths exist around the city center, walking or renting a motorcycle may be an easier/safer decision.
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 located just opposite the famed Eastern And Oriental Hotel and beside the City Bayview Hotel. Or sit back, and relax with a beer at the many bars & cafes around the backpacker areas of Love Lane/Chulia Street/Muntri Street and chill out/swap traveller tales/finish reading your book.
Street 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.
- Little Sewing Boutique, 448 Lebuh Chulia (first shop you see when turn to Chulia street from Penang street). tuesday - sunday, 2 pm -10 pm. Tiny shop which sells mix of handmade western clothes and stock items (found there few dresses of russian label Kira Plastinina!). Also they have nice collection of vintage dresses. They provide tailor services as well: mending, zipper and button replacement, etc.
- Little India, junctions of Market Street (Lebuh Pasar) with King Street and Queen Street, is where many traditional Indian traders selling all sorts of Indian traditional wares such as saris, garlands, trinkets, sculptures, Indian music, handicrafts, Punjabi suits, Singhalese silverwares, stainless steel housewares and accessories since 18th century. Spicy Indian food likes roti canai or thosai are available along the streets either at coffee shop, restaurant or road-side hawker stalls.
- The Little Penang Street Market,  is held on the last Sunday of every month, from 10AM-6PM at Upper Penang Rd. The objective is to promote creativity, entrepreneurship and street revitalisation. The project aims to upgrade local arts, crafts and culture by providing design and marketing support to local artists, artisans and cultural entrepreneurs. Visitors can find many different types of merchandise there including silverware, clogs, henna art, seashell art, hand-paint clothes, hand-made jewellery, calligraphy, batik, portraits and there is also live music, a children's corner and other interesting activities.
- Lorong Kulit Flea Market, Next to the City Stadium. Open in the early morning, and closes by 1pm. A good place to see life in Penang. Stalls sell many things from fruits & vegitables, cheap clothes, antiques, curios, vintage clothing, or other stuff. Rapid Penang bus 10, 11, 102, 201, 202, 203, 204, 304 and 502
- Bukit Jambul Complex, (Bukit Jambul area ). 414 shops, Citymart-hypermarket, food court, an amusement centre, 6 cineplexes and a 40-lane bowling alley.
- Gurney Plaza, Gurney Drive (Pesiaran Gurney), , lots of good food, plenty of stuff to shop, Parkson as its anchor tenant, RedBox Karaoke and 12 cineplexes. It is the largest shopping mall in Penang and by far the most classy, and was completed in 2001.
- Island Plaza, Jalan Tanjung Tokong . Anchor tenant: Metrojaya Stores. Restaurants, food court, and more than 150 specialty shops.
- Komtar (Kompleks Tun Abdul Razak), Penang's first skyscraper and a bit of an eyesore, is a useful navigational landmark but not so good for shopping anymore.
- One-Stop Midlands Park, Jalan Burma. A huge mall with lots of small shops inside. One Stop used to be "The Mall" to go to in Penang but has since given up the crown to Queensbay and Gurney. However, shops still abound in this mall and real bargains can still be had here.
- Penang Plaza, Jalan Burma. Has the supermarket chain Giant, a bookstore, and an assortment of small shops. Behind it is the famed Nagore place.
- Prangin Mall, next to Komtar, has stolen much of its neighbor's buzz and offers a convenient yet sanitized shopping experience. It offers five-floors of shopping, dining and entertainment. It is often crowded here as people can't get enough of the mall.
- Queensbay Mall, Bayan Baru, . Opened in December 2006, it is the island's largest mall. It is located next to the sea opposite Pulau Jerejak and is about 20 min drive from the centre of Georgetown. Five levels of retail and 8 levels of parking, Jusco as its anchor tenant, 17 junior anchors, a cineplex, many restaurants and more than 500 retail merchants.
Penang is widely considered to be the food capital of Malaysia, and Georgetown 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. 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.
There are many many shops offering various Indian, Chinese, Malay, Western etc. foods for you to savour. Most have signboards displaying the price of food.
- Amelie Cafe, Lebuh Armenian. A small cafe decorated with hand-made bags, woodcraft and paintings. A peaceful place where you can taste home-made cakes, salads, soups, pasta and juices. RM10-18.
- Line Clear Nasi Kandar, Penang Road and Chulia Street intersection. 24/7. Indian Moslem restaurant in a laneway/alley serving what is arguably the best nasi kandar rice dish in Penang.
- Beratur Nasi Kandar, next to Kapitan Kling mosque. after 10pm till late. Indian Moslem restaurant serving Nasi Kandar. Open in the evenings only. It is common to see people queuing up across the block
- Soul Kitchen, trattoria, Lebuh Muntri (A few steps from the Red Garden Cafe), . An Italian style restaurant sometimes with a lunch menu for RM25 that includes a soup, a pasta main course (very good carbonara), a juice and a dessert. RM25.
- Chai Diam Ma, 20 Lbh. Queen, Georgetown. Quirky cafe/art gallery/store in an early 1800s shophouse. The place is decorated with mismatched furniture, paintings, art & craft for sale from various artists. At the back, is a crumbling courtyard garden with lots of plants. A good place to relax with a cup of coffee or beer and an ice-cream brownie, after walking around the city and Heritage Area.
- New World Park Foodcourt, Lorong Swatow, (Off Jl. Burma). Local specialities including curry mee, prawn mee, laksa, chee cheong and fun. For dessert try the ais kacang special with ice cream on top.
- Red Garden Cafe, 20, Lebuh Leith, (Not far away from the backpacker area around Chuliah St). Local food. This one is open from the early evening until late at night. 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.
- Teh Soon Cafe (多春茶室), 184, Campbell Street (Walk from Love Lane at the 7-11 across the street and down any of those streets to Campbell and turn right. It's down an alley on the right side. Easy to miss.). The king in Georgetown when it comes to Kopitam. Try the buttered bread toasted with a wood oven with tea or coffee. Order the soft boiled eggs to dip the bread in. Makes for a good breakfast or afternoon snack. 5rm. It's been open 60 years and it is an essential part of life in Chinatown.
- Kimberly Street, Food vendors start operating in the evenings. Local (mostly Chinese) street food.
- Sri Ananda Bahwan, 53 & 55 Penang St, in the Indian quarter, offers great Indian food for a very good price. They have branches all over Malaysia.
- Woodlands. Opposite Sri Ananda Bahwan in the Indian quarter. Vegetarian.
- Karaikudi. No. 20 Lebuh Pasar. Briyani restaurant in the Indian quarter. Great northern Indian food for reasonable price.
- Jaya Indian restaurant open 24 hr and tourist friendly. Wide variety of fresh Indian food, including chicken masala, fresh garlic naan, roti prata, roti cani, tandoori chicken, and curry puffs. The prices are cheap and the food is fast and fresh.
- Kapitan's, Chulia St. (In the heart of Georgetown near to all the backpackers hostels). Tandoori chicken and butter chicken.
- Krsna Restaurant, (In the heart of Little India), Used to be known as Krishna Vilas. Cheap banana leaf style food but now served on paper. Loads of rice with dal and condiments.
- Tai Tong, 45 Lebuh Cintra, Well priced dim sum breakfasts from 6AM-noon, served in the traditional way on carts wheeled among the tables. Get there earlier for more variety. Seems to be closed Mondays - though Tho Yuen (below) around the corner is open.
- Tho Yuen, 92 Campbell St. Good char siew bao. Well-priced.
- No Eyed Deer Restaurant, Tanjung Tokong (Above the ''7''-Eleven store in the Prima Tanjung complex opposite Island Plaza), ☎ +60 4 899-0488 (fax: +60 4 899-3488), . 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.
- China House, 153-155 Beach St, Georgetown, . A charming restaurant, cafe, bar set in an old minimally restored shophouse. Western food of decent quality, and the cakes and desserts are very good. Good ambience. Live music in the weekends.
- Bukit Genting Leisure park & restaurant, (On a hilltop, along the road to [[Balik Pulau]]. easier by car/motorbike. by public transport: take bus 401 and stop at the top of hill, after new road (in construction in june 2011) and just before a big white water tank. You should be able to see the entrance. still about 30min of walk to restaurant/park.), ☎ +60 (0)4-629 9801, +60 4 629 9805 ([email protected]), . Park, restaurant, hotel, Jungle trekking, Space camp/observatory stay, canoening. Enjoy the beautiful scenery with spicy Thai food. A long way from Georgetown but the food and the scenery make the trip worthwhile. Call to get directions and try to get there before sunset. Be careful while driving on the narrow road going up. Best to go before dark.
- Cherry Sweet Spicy Thai Food, 8 Clove Hall Road., ☎ +60 4 227 6758, +60 4 229 2561. Daily, except on Wed,12 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., ☎ +60 4 899 1471. Closed on Monday.
- Sri Lankan - Top Secret, 98 Jalan Mutri, ☎ +60 1 64912177. 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 travelers hang out. 15 rm.
- Eden Seafood Village, 69A Batu Ferringhi, ☎ +60 4 881-1852. Daily 6PM-11PM.
- 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, ☎ +60 4 226-0969. (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, ☎ +60 4 229-8705. 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.
- The Garage, Upper Penang Rd.
- Cocos, Upper Penang Rd, ☎ +60 4 263-8003. Daily 5PM-3AM. Local delights available.
- Slippery Senoritas Salsa Club & Restaurant. Upper Penang Road, (Located in the garage). ☎ +60 4 263-6868. [email protected]. Open 11AM - 3AM. (Lunch, dinner, music) 1/2 price drinks until 9PM. Live music/D.J's from 9.30PM. "Ladies Nights" Wed and Fri. 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.
- GLO Dance Club, A8 The Garage, 2 Penang Rd.
- Shamrock Irish Pub, Ground floor, MWE Plaza, Faquhar St.
- Soho Freehouse, 50 Penang Rd, ☎ +60 4 263-3331, +60 4 262-8331, (Fax:+60 4 263-5146). Selection of continental food and beer. Good place for pre-gaming with pool tables and foosball.
- The Meeting Point, Lebuh Chulia next door to Banana Guest House. Chilled out reggae bar with most seats outside offering beers from RM8 (Jazz) and some snack food. Open 5PM-4AM.
- Church Street Cafe, 12 Church St. (Lebuh Gereja), ☎ +60 4 263-9422.
- 20th Leith Street Pub Wine Bar & Bistro, 20 Leith St.
- Hong Kong Bar, Chulia Street, famous and historically significant bar, home to many Commonwealth soldiers in Penang, particularly Australian forces based accross 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.
- Banana New Guest House (Banana Guest House), No. 326, Chulia St, ☎ +60 4 261 2171, . checkin: 1PM; checkout: 12noon. Clean, well organised and friendly. Free WiFi. RM25-120.
- 75 Travellers Lodge, (Formerly W & O Guest House) 75 Jl. Muntri, ☎ +60 4 262-3378, ([email protected]). Right in the middle of Chinatown. Free 1 hr internet included in the room rate with 24 hr WiFi. Dorm beds from RM12. Single from RM18-22, double/twin rooms RM25-35.
- Cathay Hotel, 15 Leith St. ☎ +60 4 262-6271, (Fax+60 4 263-9300). Frequented by western backpackers.
- Cintra Heritage House, 1 Lebuh Cintra (Near intersection of Cintra and Chulia), ☎ + 6 04 262 8232 ([email protected]), . checkin: 2PM; checkout: 12PM. Boutique hotel in the historical area. The hotel are shop houses featuring the Southern Chinese Eclectic style and which was built around 1840 -1900’s and once served as a Hair Dressing Saloon for the Japanese Officers and local administrators of Penang during the Post period from 1940’s – 1960 ‘ RM 150 to RM 220 for private room with attached bathroom.
- Eastern Hotel, 509 Chulia St. ☎ +60 4 261-4597, (Fax:+60 4 261-0008).
- Federal Hotel, 39 Penang Rd. ☎ +60 4 263-4179.
- Friendship Motel, , 20 Penang St. ☎ +60 4 261-8909, +60 4 262-8909, +60 4 262-9909, ([email protected]). From RM28 for a small A/C room with shared bathroom. Free internet.
- GoodHope Inn, 22 Jl Kelawei, ☎ +60 4 229-0111, (Fax:+60 4 229-0222), . Room: RM50.
- Hang Chow Hotel, 511 Chulia St. ☎ +60 4 261-0810. Friendly place, safe, and in the centre. From RM30.
- Hotel 1926, 227 Jl. Burmah, ☎ +60 4 228-1926, (Fax:+60 4 227-7926). Heritage boutique hotel. Room Rate: RM80-100.
- Hotel Mingood 164 Argyll Rd. ☎ +60 4 229-9922, (Fax:+60 4 228-0766), [email protected], . Room Rate:. 5⁰N.421829, 100⁰E.330421. From RM80
- Hotel Oasis, 23 Love Lane, ☎ +60 4 226-2126, (Fax:+60 4 261-3884).
- Hostel Red Inn, 55, Love Lane (walk in to Love Lane from ''7''-Eleven Chulia St.), ☎ +60 4 261-3931, . checkin: 1PM; checkout: 11AM. New and stylish. Laundry service, DVD, clean toilets, breakfast included, computer for free internet (no printer). RM28-100.
- Hotel Rio, 64-1 Bishop St, ☎ +60 4 262-5010.
- International Hotel, 90-92 1st Floor, Transfer Rd, ☎ +60 16 434-2775. Room: RM30.
- Jim's Place, 431 Chulia St. Just look out for the reggae colors. Rooms about the same price as in the other places. Friendly and helpful owner and staff.
- Love Lane Inn, 54 Love Lane, just off Chulia St. ☎+60 16 422-7111 (Jimmy) or +60 419 8409 (reception) or ([[email protected]]). Friendly and helpful owner Jimmy has been in business for 13 years. Shared bathroom, clean, comfortable beds. Rooms: RM32-50 double, Family room 60-75, Single 22-27, Dorm 15. A/C plus 10RM. Free WiFi.
- New Asia Hotel (Heritage), 71 Kimberly St. (cross junction-Pintal Tali St./Rope Walk St), ☎ +60 4 250-3636, Fax: +60 4 2633669. Refurbished Sept 2011, heritage hotel, operated since WWII. A/C or fan), WiFi, flat-screen TV, water jug/heater, spacious common dining area, clean , security CCTV, friendly staff. From RM50-150.
- Old Penang Guesthouse, 53 Love Lane, ☎ +60 4 263-8805, [email protected], . Budget heritage. A modern fitout in a historic restored pre-war building. A/C, WiFi, breakfast included. towels provided. satTV and DVDs, security lockers for rent, hot water shower, high quality spring mattress with linens and duvets, courtyard, laundry service, luggage storage, travel information and tour desk and 24 hr reception. RM23-90.
- One Malaysia Guesthouse, 369 C.Y. Choy Rd, ☎ +60 122031926 ([email protected]), . Near Komtar Tower. Free pickup from transport terminals, free WiFi, free english newspaper, free mineral water. Very kind and friendly owner. Please call in advance. Double - 25 Rm, single - 15 Rm, dorm - 10 Rm.
- Oasis Hotel, Chulia St. This is the old backpacker's standby ("Swiss Hotel under new management). The atmospheric courtyard where backpackers used to hang out is no more. RM35 for a single.
- Oriental Guest House, (formerly known as W&O Guesthouse), 81 Jl. Muntri, ☎ +60 4 261-3378, ([email protected]). 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 RM15, double/twin RM20-30, triple RM30-40.
- Oriental Hotel, 105 Penang Rd. ☎ +60 4 263-4211, . Location: 5°25'12.47"N ; 100°19'58.51"E. Nice view, clean. As of April 2012, staff were friendly, 80 RM for a/c room with bathroom (and bath tub).
- Regal Malaysia Hotel, (Previously Gallant Hotel) 6 Jl. Transfer, ☎ +60 4 379584. Under new management with name change.
- Reggae Hotel and Guesthouse, 57 Love lane. Dorm rate: RM25. Opened Sept 2011, clean with a nice bar/restaurant/patio area. Western-style bathroom with hot shower. Free wifi. 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 pricy side - RM30 for the day with RM20 deposit.
- [email protected] St, 62, Lebuh Muntri (Muntri St) (via Upper Penang Rd. A stone's throw away from Cititel Hotel and Cheong Fatt Sze Mansion.), ☎ +60 4 250-0287 ([email protected]), . checkin: 2PM; checkout: 12PM. 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.
- SD Guesthouse at 2 locations. , 15 Love Lane, ☎ +60 4 264-3743, and 28 Muntri St, ☎ +60 4 261-6102, ([email protected]). From RM18-55, free and coffee, very nice location and service.
- Star Lodge, 39 Jl. Muntri, ☎ +60 4 262-6378, ([email protected]). All rooms with windows, fan, sink, toilet and hot shower. Single rooms RM28-32, double/twin rooms RM35-40, triple rooms RM45-60. For A/C add on RM10/day. Free 1 hr internet included in the room rate plus free 24 hr WiFi.
- Towne House Hotel, 70 Penang Rd. ☎ +60 4 263-8621. Room rate: RM69-90.
- Tune Hotel , 100 Burmah Rd, (5 min from Komtar in George Town) ☎ +60 3 7962-5888, 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.
- Waldorf Hotel, 13 Leboh Leith, ☎ +60 4 262-6141. From RM49-RM60.50
- White House Hotel, 72 Penang Rd, ☎ +60 4 263-2385.
- YMCA International Hostel, 211 Macalister Rd, . RM66-RM85 per night.
- YWCA Penang, 8A Jl. Mesjid Negeri (State Mosque Rd./Green Lane Rd), ☎ +60 4 8280876. Only has 5 single rooms, 5 double rooms and a dormitory so call to book first. Also, it is next to the State Mosque.
- An-Nur AnCasa [email protected], Lot 1238, Jl Kampung Kolam, ☎ +60 4 2505570, . 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, ☎ +60 4 2610718, . checkin: 1PM; checkout: 12noon. In an interesting and attractive century old building, newly restored and under new management. Walking distance to Upper Penang Rd where you can find cafe, bar and night spots. RM138-599.
- Berjaya Georgetown Penang, 1-Stop Midlands Park, Burmah Rd. ☎ +60 4 227-7111, (Fax:+60 4 226-7111), . Location: 5⁰ 25'58.62"N ; 100⁰ 18'25.05"E. Rooms from RM250/night.
- Cititel Penang, 66 Penang Rd. ☎ +60 4 370-1188, Fax:+60 4 370-2288, . Rooms from RM130-RM350/night.
- City Bayview Penang, 25A Farquhar St. ☎ +60 4 263-3161, (Toll free within Malaysia 1 800 888854), (Fax:+60 4 263-4124). . Location: 5⁰ 25'18.68"N ; 100⁰ 20'9.01"E.
- Hotel Continental Penang, 5 Penang Rd. ☎ +60 4 263-6388, .
- Hotel Grand Continental Penang, 68 Brick Kiln Rd (Jl. Gurdwara). ☎ +60 4 263-6688, (Fax:+60 4 263-0299), . Location: 5⁰ 24'43.90"N ; 100⁰ 19'43.19"E. Centrally located in the city. However take due precautions as the location is in a slightly run down area.
- Hotel Malaysia, 7 Penang Rd. ☎ +60 4 263-3311, (Fax:+60 4 263-1621). [email protected]), . 3 star hotel with budget rates.
- Grand Paradise Hotel, (Previously Midtowne Hotel) 101 Macalister Rd. ☎ +60 4 226-9999. (Fax:+60 4 229-5149.
- Naza Hotel Penang, 555 Jl. CM Hashim, Tanjung Tokong, ☎ +60 4 890-9300, (Fax:+60 4 890-8600), .
- PPisland Hotel, Penang, 33A, Abu Siti Lane, ☎ +60 4 2299 071, (Fax:+60 4 2299 072), . A new boutique hotel with 3 star qualities. Rooms rate from RM68 (promotion) per night.
- Red Rock Hotel, (formerly Agora Hotel), 202A Macalister Rd. ☎ +60 4 227-2655. 
- Sunway Georgetown, 33 New Lane (Lorong Baru), ☎ +60 4 229-9988, (Fax:+60 4 228-8899), . Location: 5⁰ 24'51.44"N ; 100⁰ 19'32.88"E, centre of Georgetown, 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-RM460 per night.
- Hotel Penaga, Corner of Jl Hutton & Lebuh Clarke, ☎ +60 4 261-1891, . 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.
- Eastern & Oriental Hotel Penang, 10 Farquhar St, ☎ +60 4 222-2000, (Fax:+60 4 262-6333, [email protected]), . Location: 5⁰ 25'23.01"N ; 100⁰ 20'8.96"E. Founded in 1884 by legendary hoteliers the Sarkies brothers, the E&O is Penang's grand old colonial hotel. Rooms from RM400++.
- Evergreen Laurel Hotel, 53 Gurney Drive (Pesiaran Gurney), . ☎ +60 4 226-9988, (Fax:+60 4 226-9989) ([email protected]).
- G Hotel, 168A Gurney Drive, ☎ +60 4 238-0000, (Fax:+60 4 238-0088), ([email protected]), . Brand new post-modern luxury hotel in town with direct sea views. Comfortable, hip and funky.
- Gurney Hotel, 18 Gurney Drive (Persiaran Gurney), , ☎ +60 4 370-7000, (Fax:+60 4 370-5000) ([email protected]).
- Hotel Royal Penang, (formerly Dorsett Penang Hotel), 3 Jl. Larut, (Larut Rd), ☎ +60 4 2267888. (Fax:+60 4 2296601), . 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), ☎ +60 4 370-1111, (Fax:+60 4 370-2222) ([email protected]), . 142 A/C suites, cableTV, en-suite bathroom, water-massage Jacuzzi.
- Traders Hotel Penang, (formerly Shangri-La Hotel Penang), Magazine Rd, (toll free in Malaysia 1-300-88-7388), ☎ +60 4 262-2622, (Fax:+60 4 262-6526), ([email protected]), . Next to Komtar and Prangin Mall, in the heart of Georgetown.
- China Tiger (Heritage Studio Apartment), . The interior design is inspired by the late 1940's or early 1950's with a touch of funky glamor, making it a refreshing local stay for travellers. Great for families seeking a weekend getaway and for friends traveling through GeorgeTown who want a bit of luxury after lots of budget traveling through Southeast Asia. From RM497.
Georgetown in general is a safe city but crime does occur. Exercise common sense and be aware of your surroundings. Serious crimes are rare. Be extra careful in crowds and on roadsides, as they are the spots where petty crimes such as snatch thefts, purse snatching, and pickpockets occur.
Avoid leaving your belongings unattended. Do not leave valuables inside your parked car.
Watch out for traffic. Vehicles may not always stop for you at a pedestrian crossing.
Some local men may yell and make suggestive comments to women walking alone. Ignore them. Men walking alone or in small groups may have to deal with soliciting from prostitutes after dark, especially around the Love Lane/Lebuh Chulia areas. There are large numbers of prostitutes and/or ladyboys on the streets here after dark and they can be pushy. Just politely but firmly decline their advances and continue walking. Over the last few years this problem has reduced with gentrification of the area, but it's still good to be cautious walking around at night.
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. Bargain.
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 Airport are paid using slips given in a small office in the airport building.
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.
- Butterworth With connections to many of the major destinations in peninsular Malaysia
|This is a guide article. It has a variety of good, quality information including hotels, restaurants, attractions, arrival and departure info. Plunge forward and help us make it a star!