George Town travel guide

George Town Tourism | George Town Guide

You're Going to Love George Town

The city of George Town on Malaysia's Penang Island is a popular vacation spot due to its natural beauty, colonial architecture, and abundant outdoor activities such as swimming, fishing, hiking, and diving.

Top 5 Reasons to Visit George Town

1. Kek Lok Si

Visit this well-known Buddhist temple, the largest in Malaysia, with sea-facing views.

2. Khoo Kongsi

This Chinese clanhouse features elaborate carvings and unique architecture, and is a stark reminder of China's historical influence in the region.

3. Penang Botanic Gardens

Also known as "waterfall gardens," this green expanse can be found near Penang Hill at Jalan Air Terjun.

4. Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion

This mansion-turned-museum was built by a prominent Hakka Chinese merchant at the end of the 19th century in accordance with feng shui principles.

5. Batik Painting Museum Penang

This museum recounts the history of the local batik painting style in Malaysia.

What to do in George Town

1. Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion: A Relic of Penang's 19-Century Glory

The beautiful Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion has outlived its original owner and become one of George Town's premier attractions. Guests come every day to tour the grounds and learn about the heritage and architecture of this historic site. Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion has been awarded the UNESCO Conservation & Heritage award for its commitment to preserving the quality of the grounds while opening the door to visitors. In addition to the historic attractions, the mansion's awarded Indigo restaurant offers refined takes on local cuisine that make the whole trip worth it just for one bite.

2. Kek Lok Si Temple: One of Southeast Asia's Finest Temples

The majestic and monumental Kek Lok Si Temple houses millions (literally) of Buddha images and hundreds of incredible pieces of religious art that include sculptures, murals, and carvings that depict the treasured stories of Buddhism. The temple's storied history, dating back to 1891, has resulted in a unique fusion of Mahayana Buddhism and traditional Chinese animism. In addition to the grounds, the temple offers a busy schedule of events that bring both visitors and locals to the area each year. When you visit, be sure to remain respectful, as the temple is an important pilgrimage site for Buddhists from Hong Kong, the Philippines, Singapore, and other Southeast Asian countries.

3. Pinang Peranakan Mansion: A Glimpse into a Unique Community

In historic George Town, as in many Asian cities, there was a strong contingent of Chinese. However, the George Town contingent, called the Peranakans, was unique: they adopted the practices of both the local Malays and the colonial British. The result was a truly syncretic community that blended elements of three cultures into a totally new lifestyle, one that is still on display at the Pinang Peranakan Museum.

4. Penang City Hall: A Colonial Remnant Still in Use Today

Penang's City Hall was built by the British on the Esplanade and is still in use by the Penang Island City Council today. Boasting magnificent architecture that earned the building inclusion in the George Town UNESCO World Heritage Site, the structure has been host to the island's important public events for over a century. Visit today and you can take in the site of the grand entrance area and relax on the lawn. It makes for a prime photo spot in George Town.

5. Little India: The Most Flavorful Part of George Town

George Town's vibrant Little India is the historic home of the city's Indian population and houses the oldest Hindu temple in town, the Sri Mahamariamman Temple. The popular Beach Street offers perhaps the best shopping in the city, and numerous Malaysian Indian restaurants can be found throughout the district. A number of festivals take place in Little India throughout the year, including the religious events of Navratri Festival and Chithra Pournami. But Little India also features a variety of secular festivals year-round to draw visitors to the district in order to sample the best of Indian culture.

Cheong Fatt Tze MansionCheong Fatt Tze Mansion
Kek Lok Si TempleKek Lok Si Temple
Pinang Peranakan MansionPinang Peranakan Mansion
Penang City HallPenang City Hall

1. Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion: A Relic of Penang's 19-Century Glory

The beautiful Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion has outlived its original owner and become one of George Town's premier attractions. Guests come every day to tour the grounds and learn about the heritage and architecture of this historic site. Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion has been awarded the UNESCO Conservation & Heritage award for its commitment to preserving the quality of the grounds while opening the door to visitors. In addition to the historic attractions, the mansion's awarded Indigo restaurant offers refined takes on local cuisine that make the whole trip worth it just for one bite.

2. Kek Lok Si Temple: One of Southeast Asia's Finest Temples

The majestic and monumental Kek Lok Si Temple houses millions (literally) of Buddha images and hundreds of incredible pieces of religious art that include sculptures, murals, and carvings that depict the treasured stories of Buddhism. The temple's storied history, dating back to 1891, has resulted in a unique fusion of Mahayana Buddhism and traditional Chinese animism. In addition to the grounds, the temple offers a busy schedule of events that bring both visitors and locals to the area each year. When you visit, be sure to remain respectful, as the temple is an important pilgrimage site for Buddhists from Hong Kong, the Philippines, Singapore, and other Southeast Asian countries.

3. Pinang Peranakan Mansion: A Glimpse into a Unique Community

In historic George Town, as in many Asian cities, there was a strong contingent of Chinese. However, the George Town contingent, called the Peranakans, was unique: they adopted the practices of both the local Malays and the colonial British. The result was a truly syncretic community that blended elements of three cultures into a totally new lifestyle, one that is still on display at the Pinang Peranakan Museum.

4. Penang City Hall: A Colonial Remnant Still in Use Today

Penang's City Hall was built by the British on the Esplanade and is still in use by the Penang Island City Council today. Boasting magnificent architecture that earned the building inclusion in the George Town UNESCO World Heritage Site, the structure has been host to the island's important public events for over a century. Visit today and you can take in the site of the grand entrance area and relax on the lawn. It makes for a prime photo spot in George Town.

5. Little India: The Most Flavorful Part of George Town

George Town's vibrant Little India is the historic home of the city's Indian population and houses the oldest Hindu temple in town, the Sri Mahamariamman Temple. The popular Beach Street offers perhaps the best shopping in the city, and numerous Malaysian Indian restaurants can be found throughout the district. A number of festivals take place in Little India throughout the year, including the religious events of Navratri Festival and Chithra Pournami. But Little India also features a variety of secular festivals year-round to draw visitors to the district in order to sample the best of Indian culture.

Cheong Fatt Tze MansionCheong Fatt Tze Mansion
Kek Lok Si TempleKek Lok Si Temple
Pinang Peranakan MansionPinang Peranakan Mansion
Penang City HallPenang City Hall

Top activities & attractions in George Town

Where to Eat in George Town

Ilyana's serves Malay food prepared by a Thai chef with fresh seafood and dishes such as lala and satay. Average meal prices cost RM40 for two people.

When to visit George Town

George Town in June
Estimated hotel price
$35
1 night at 3-star hotel
George Town in June
Estimated hotel price
$35
1 night at 3-star hotel

Visit between November and February during the dry season in Penang, offering visitors many swimming, hiking, and sightseeing opportunities.

Data provided by weatherbase
Temperatures
Temperatures
Average
Fahrenheit (°F)
Data provided by weatherbase

How to Get to George Town

Plane

Penang International Airport (PEN) is located 9.9 miles south of George Town. Visitors can then transfer by private car or Rapid Penang bus 401, 401A, or 401E to the city center.

Train

The closest train stop to Penang Island is at Butterworth Station; from here you must transfer by ferry to George Town. A one-way ticket from Kuala Lumpur costs RM70 and takes around 5.5 hours.

Car

Follow Lebuhraya Utara and Selatan/E1 toll roads from Kuala Lumpur to reach George Town in four hours.

Bus

Shah Alam and KBES offer connections from Kuala Lumpur, with a one-way, seven-hour journey costing RM70.

Airports near George Town

IPHIpoh

Airlines serving George Town

United Airlines
Good (2,947 reviews)
KLM
Good (359 reviews)
Air France
Good (436 reviews)
Turkish Airlines
Good (1,406 reviews)
British Airways
Good (1,587 reviews)
Delta
Excellent (3,165 reviews)
SWISS
Good (491 reviews)
Qatar Airways
Good (1,318 reviews)
Emirates
Excellent (1,084 reviews)
Singapore Airlines
Good (390 reviews)
Finnair
Good (736 reviews)
Cathay Pacific
Good (80 reviews)
Malaysia Airlines
Good (59 reviews)
Japan Airlines
Good (530 reviews)
Thai Airways
Good (72 reviews)
China Airlines
Excellent (93 reviews)
Oman Air
Good (6 reviews)
Qantas Airways
Good (195 reviews)
Philippine Airlines
Good (206 reviews)
SAUDIA
Good (180 reviews)
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Where to stay in George Town

Old Town - this UNESCO Heritage Site is comprised of 19th-century colonial architecture and features lots of tourist shops for visitors.

Popular Neighborhoods in George Town

Penang Hill - take a scenic tram to the top of this hill overlooking the city below with several museums, gardens, and restaurants.

Little India - this neighborhood caters to the Indian population of the city, with lots of religious items, clothing, food, and handicrafts for sale.

Where to stay in popular areas of George Town

Most booked hotels in George Town

PARKROYAL Penang Resort
Excellent (8.8, 5269 reviews)
$99+
Hard Rock Hotel Penang
Excellent (8.7, 3326 reviews)
$108+
Jen Penang Georgetown By Shangri-La
Excellent (8.4, 2708 reviews)
$81+
Sunway Hotel Georgetown Penang
Excellent (8.3, 2196 reviews)
$45+
DoubleTree Resort by Hilton Penang
Excellent (8.2, 6439 reviews)
$68+
Lexis Suites Penang
Excellent (8.2, 2806 reviews)
$117+
See all hotels

How to Get Around George Town

Public Transportation

There are many air-conditioned buses in George Town, with the main stops being at Jetty and Komtar. A single fare costs RM2 and can be paid to the driver on entering the bus.

Taxi

Taxis in George Town are metered and very affordable. Tariffs start at RM1.5 and will cost no more than RM15 for a trip between destinations in the city center.

Car

Avis, New Bob, and Easybook offer daily rental vehicles for as little as RM45 a day.

The Cost of Living in George Town

Shopping Streets

Queensbay Mall is the largest shopping mall, with five floors of retail stores, restaurants, and a cinema. On the last Sunday of every month, you can visit the Little Penang Street Market to bargain for items such as hand-painted clothes, clogs, local batik, and henna art.

Groceries and Other

Sam's Groceria Gurney Paragon and Giant Supermarket Penang Plaza are the two biggest grocery stores. A dozen eggs costs RM5.

Cheap meal
$1.88
A pair of jeans
$51.65
Single public transport ticket
$0.47
Cappuccino
$1.88