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.
Visit this well-known Buddhist temple, the largest in Malaysia, with sea-facing views.
This Chinese clanhouse features elaborate carvings and unique architecture, and is a stark reminder of China's historical influence in the region.
Also known as "waterfall gardens," this green expanse can be found near Penang Hill at Jalan Air Terjun.
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.
This museum recounts the history of the local batik painting style in Malaysia.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Visit between November and February during the dry season in Penang, offering visitors many swimming, hiking, and sightseeing opportunities.
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.
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.
Follow Lebuhraya Utara and Selatan/E1 toll roads from Kuala Lumpur to reach George Town in four hours.
Shah Alam and KBES offer connections from Kuala Lumpur, with a one-way, seven-hour journey costing RM70.
Hotel Penaga offers rooms with additional spa, garden, conference rooms, and swimming pool. Cintra Heritage House is a boutique hotel in the historic quarter with eclectic decor.
Old Town - this UNESCO Heritage Site is comprised of 19th-century colonial architecture and features lots of tourist shops for visitors.
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.
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.
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.
Avis, New Bob, and Easybook offer daily rental vehicles for as little as RM45 a day.
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.
Sam's Groceria Gurney Paragon and Giant Supermarket Penang Plaza are the two biggest grocery stores. A dozen eggs costs RM5.
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.