Penang, you’re a beauty! I would lie if I’d say that I didn’t fell in love with this cute island. Its capital, George Town, was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, thanks to its shop houses found in the entire city. Same as in Kuala Lumpur the food in Penang is delicious. From typical hawker stalls to cute little restaurants you can find every kind of Malaysian, Indian, Thai and Chinese food in Penang. What made Georgetown so special for me was its relaxed vibe. There was no hurry in the city and you could find small coffeeshops as well as tiny boutique shops and lots of restaurants at every corner which makes it a perfect place to stroll around and breathe in the atmosphere. I’m sure you won’t get bored because there are plenty of things to do in Penang.
YOU SHOULDN’T MISS THOSE 4 TOP THINGS TO DO IN PENANG
Whether you are looking for fun museums, historical buildings or the coolest street art, Penang has it all. Below I’ve listed my favorite top things to do in Penang for you. Happy exploring!
Explore Cool Murals In Georgetown
The street art in Georgetown is not only street art. It’s more than that because it’s interactive which makes it the perfect place to take unforgettable and fun pictures. The beautiful murals were part of the Mirrors George Town project in 2012, and are a MUST DO now in Georgetown. There is a nice walk through the city where you pass by all the art works. You can download the comprehensive map for this walk here.
I’d suggest to schedule at least 3 hours for this walk to make sure that you find every mural and have time enough to take a lot of pictures. If your legs are tired or you’re too lazy to walk the entire tour, you can take one of the trishaws (tricycle rickshaw) which you can find everywhere in the center of Georgetown.
Stroll Around Georgetowns UNESCO Shop Houses
You can find shop houses everywhere in Penang but in the old part of Georgetown there is one shop house next to the other. It feels like being in another time. Georgetown without the shophouses would be boring and dead. The small, characteristic houses are what give the city so much atmosphere and flair. You might be wondering how a shop house look like? Here you go:
The design of shop houses is inspired by Dutch houses. Penang was once part of the Straits Settlement colony during the British rule. Hence, shop houses on that island followed the same architecture. My tip to see this beautiful buildings: Don’t follow a specific route. Just follow your inner compass and stroll around the old part of Georgetown. Enjoy the magical atmosphere and relax in one of the coffee shops. Definitely another “must” of the things to do in Penang.
Try New Flavors At Hawker Stalls
When I asked my Malaysian colleague in Shanghai about her insider tips for Malaysia the first thing she mentioned were the hawker stalls. At that time I didn’t have a clue what a hawker stall is. She explained that a hawker centre is an open-air complex housing many stalls which are selling cheap and local food. Knowing this it was obvious that I have to find one of these stalls and try out the different tastes. My colleague gave me a huge list with specialties I have to try at the hawker centres. I don’t even had a chance of thinking about a diet after she shared this list with me. 😉 Of course, I’ll also share my favorite dishes of that list with you below. But first I want to give you an image of those stalls.
So, what to eat at a hawker stall? My favorite was called Batu Maung Satay which is grilled and marinated meat on skewers. I tried the chicken and it was just “wow”. Another must-try is Char Koay Teow. It’s the national favorite of Malaysians and is comparable to Pad Thai from Thailand. Of course you shouldn’t miss Nasi Lemak. Actually Nasi Lemak is the national breakfast dish in Malaysia but for me as a ‘cereal-eater’ in the morning I preferred eating Nasi Lemak in the afternoon or evening. Nasi Lemak includes fried anchovies in shrimp paste and chili sauce, with rice cooked in coconut milk, a hard-boiled egg and cucumbers. If you can still manage to eat a dessert you should definitely try Ice Kacang. It looks weird with all the beans and mysterious jellies inside but trust me; it’s good! Ice Kacang is shaved ice, topped with a pink syrup, beans, jellies and condensed milk. Sounds as weird as it looks like but again, trust me. 😉 There are plenty of others things which are worth to try. Just follow your nose and stomach and try whatever you can! Even if it looks weird sometimes, most of the times it’s worth a try. Malaysian food is one of the best for me and I can highly recommend to try as much as you can.
Have Fun In The Upside Down Museum in Georgetown
If you want to have a good laugh and want to bring home some funny pictures, you should check out the Upside Down Museum in Georgetown. In this museum everything is topsy-turvy; literally. Don’t forget your camera because this is essential in the museum. The friendly staff will guide you around and take funny shots of you…everything upside down of course. Whether you’re jumping headfirst into a toilet or flying like superman, nothing is impossible in the Upside Down Museum. But no worries, you don’t need to do a headstand to get a cool picture. 😉 There is also a 3D Museum in Penang which belongs to the same owner as the Upside Down Museum. I didn’t have enough time to check it out but the pictures I saw looked fun, too.
WHERE TO STAY IN PENANG
As you know my favorite things to do in Penang now, I would like to recommend a nice accommodation. I stayed in The Frame Guesthouse. This minimalistic decorated hostel is located in a shop house in the heart of the old part of Georgetown. It’s the perfect location as you can reach all attractions mentioned above by foot. The room rate includes a simple breakfast including bread, jam and coffee. I booked a private room for around $32 per night.