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10 Fun Things To Do In Penang



Guide to Penang: 10 Fun Things To Do in Penang

I love Penang!  I originally went for the art and street food, but found so many more things to do there than just stuff myself silly and find art in alleyways.  Which of course is way fun, but these other things are a bonus and definitely worth checking out.

10 Fun Things To Do In Penang


GEORGE TOWN ART


Guide to Penang: 10 Fun Things To Do in Penang

I like art of all types, but I absolutely love street art. There’s something about seeing art painted on brick walls, pipes, and doorways that amazes me. There’s a certain talent that street artists have that allow them to take any shape or form and create it into something beautiful. In 2012, George Town made the street art famous when two artists, Lithuanian born Ernest Zacharevic and Penang local Louis Gan, painted wall murals for the George Town Festival. Penang’s street art became an attraction drawing in tourists every year since.


HAWKER FOOD


Guide to Penang: 10 Fun Things To Do in Penang

I am in love with Penang’s street food!  Having traveled all around Southeast Asia, I have had plenty, but the city I keep coming back to for more is Penang. The Hawker fare is unlike any I’ve tasted. It’s not your normal street meat, but a gourmet pleather of dishes with complex flavors and spices. There’s so much to talk about that I created a whole guide on it. If you follow it, I promise you will be thoroughly stuffed by the end of your trip. It has my top 15 must eats while you’re in Penang.




PENANG HILL


Guide to Penang: 10 Fun Things To Do in Penang

Penang Hill is known for it’s stunning views no matter what time of day you’re there. You can walk or take the tram up the hill. It will cost you 30 MYR ($7) to take the train up. Going on the weekends you’ll find a line, but it moves fairly quickly. The train runs from 6.30am – 11.00pm. At the top of the hill, you’ll find a viewing deck, street vendors, a temple, a mosque and even locks of love. On Sunday’s there’s a free Zumba class from 7:30am-8:30am and gets you a free ride up the hill.  Although you can grab a taxi, public transportation is easy to take. Get on Penang Rapid Bus #204 and it will drop you off right at the bottom of the hill.


NATIONAL PARK


Guide to Penang: 10 Fun Things To Do in Penang

This beautiful park has two trails.  The most popular is the lighthouse trail, the other is Kerachut Beach.  You can either walk the trails or hire a boat to take you to each. I hiked Kerachut Beach trail as a suggestion from some locals I met. The trail is long and takes about 75-90 minutes to get to the beach. It has a good amount of hills so bring plenty of water and wear appropriate shoes, don’t wear flip-flops (like I did). You’ll be much happier in sneakers, but pack the flips for when you get there. You can’t swim in the water, but you can sit on the beach and watch the stunning views. At the end of the beach is a Turtle Conservation Center which helps the two main species of turtles found here in Penang (Olive Ridley Turtle and Green Turtle).

Guide to Penang: 10 Fun Things To Do in Penang

There are three main beaches that are monitored by this group for maintaining a natural habitat for turtles to land and lay eggs. These beaches do not allow for visitors to swim (Kerachut Beach, Teluk Kampi Beach, and Teluk Katapang Kecil Beach). You can visit the center and see the hatchlings along with a couple green seas turtles and talk to them about their conservation actions. Getting here by public bus is easy and is a 40-minute ride. Take the Penang Rapid Bus #101.


OCCUPY BEACH STREET – SUNDAY MARKET


Guide to Penang: 10 Fun Things To Do in Penang

Every Sunday from 7am – 1pm Lebuh Pantai is closed off to cars and turns into a market full of vendors selling food, gifts, crafts, games, and even henna booths. You will find people dressed in costume and possibly even see a snake show.

Guide to Penang: 10 Fun Things To Do in Penang

According to their website Occupy Beach Street came about for the following reasons:

  • To promote Penang as an eventful tourist destination
  • To uplift the business growth in Georgetown area
  • To create a safe platform for the public to view the Heritage area
  • To popularize the idea of healthy living, emphasize the importance of social interaction
  • To create further awareness on the Eco-Friendly Concept
  • To introduce and promote local creation




KHOO KONGSI


Guide to Penang: 10 Fun Things To Do in Penang

Khoo Kongsi is a beautiful Chinese clan house that is closed to the public every night except the 3rd Saturday of the month.

Guide to Penang: 10 Fun Things To Do in Penang

If you’re lucky to be in the area during this time, it’s a must see for the Chinese Dragon and Chinese Lion dance. And the temple is beautiful at night with all the lights. It’s one of those on the list of must photograph.


KEK LOK SI


Guide to Penang: 10 Fun Things To Do in Penang

Kek Lok Si temple was built in 1891.  It has a series of steps in the form of a market to get you to the temple. At the entrance of the temple is a turtle pond filled with hundreds of tortoise and you can buy food to feed them from the vendors around the pond. Things to note are although this is a temple, there is no dress code. I went covered up and saw most people including locals wearing shorts and tank tops. Once you’re done touring the temple, don’t forget to stop at Air Itam to get Penang’s famous Laksa.


CLAN JETTIES


Guide to Penang: 10 Fun Things To Do in Penang

Located on Weld Quay, you’ll find a bunch of houses on stilts. There are four clans (villages) that are over a century old the Lim, Chew, Tan and Yeoh. In the Chew and Tan Jetty you will find souvenir shops and food vendors. Fun fact, the houses on the jetties don’t pay land tax as they’re technically built on water.


CAMERA MUSEUM


Guide to Penang: 10 Fun Things To Do in Penang

Being a photographer, when I found out there was a camera museum, I B-lined to go check it out.  So amazing there were cameras from all eras of time, starting from the 1st cameras made all the way up to present day cameras.  There was also a pinhole room where you could play around with the pinhole cameras and a darkroom showing how pictures were printed back in the day.  I learned how to take photos with film cameras back in 1989 which was before digital was even a thought.  It was great to see a full darkroom and brought back a lot of great memories of me spending hours on the weekends in a darkroom just to print one perfect picture.


TRISHAW RIDE


http://www.thecameramuseumpenang.com

All around Penang you’ll see men waiting for passengers to ride around on their bike, called trishaws.  This was Penang’s mode of transportation in the early days and is still fun to do in present time.  You can hire a trishaw for around 30 MYR (~$7) for an hour to take you around town.  It’s a great way to see the city and have them show you where some of the art murals are.




Penang Street Art : Finding Street Art in George Town

Penang Street Art : Guide to Finding Street Art in George Town

Penang street art was made famous by Ernest Zacharevic an artist from Lithuania, after he created murals for the George Town Festival in 2012.  Louis Gan is a local street artist that needs to be mentioned here too.  This amazing artist has a hearing disability and was born deaf with a speech impediment.  He had a love for art and taught himself how to paint through watching videos and practicing on canvas. Along with these two great artists work, George Town is now home to many new pieces by both commissioned artists and local street artists alike. For the 2013 George Town Festival the ASA, Artists for Stray Animals, were commissioned to do a project called “101 Lost Kittens” to create more awareness for strays. Along with these giant wall murals that were commissioned, you’ll find local artists showcasing their work on pipes, down alleys, in doorways and in front of shops. Paintings are not all you’ll find in George Town. There are also 50+ wrought-iron caricatures named “Marking George Town” that tell the history of Penang’s Georgetown in the form of a funny cartoon.  There is always something new to see when you walk the streets of downtown George Town.

Penang Street Art : Guide to Finding Street Art in George Town Penang Street Art : Guide to Finding Street Art in George Town

There is a map you can pick up that shows where all the popular murals and iron structures are. You can follow the map and walk around on your own, take the free CAT bus or for 30 MYR (~$7.00) an hour you can hire a trishaw to take you around to all the different spots.

Penang Street Art : Finding Street Art in George Town


GEORGE TOWN’S POPULAR WALL MURALS


Penang Street Art : Guide to Finding Street Art in George Town

“Little Children on a Bicycle” by Ernest Zacharevic

Cross Streets: Lebuh Armenian and Lebuh Pantai

 

Penang Street Art : Guide to Finding Street Art in George Town Penang Street Art : Guide to Finding Street Art in George Town

“Boy on Bike” by Ernest Zacharevic

Cross Streets: Lebuh Ah Queen and Lebuh Pantai

 

Penang Street Art : Guide to Finding Street Art in George Town

“Little Girl in Blue” by Ernest Zacharevic

Location: Jalan Muntri in-between Love Lane & Lebuh Leith

 

Penang Street Art : Guide to Finding Street Art in George Town

“The Awaiting Trishaw Paddler” by Desmond Yeo

Cross Streets: Jalan Penang & Jalan Muntri

 

Penang Street Art : Guide to Finding Street Art in George Town Penang Street Art : Guide to Finding Street Art in George Town

“Children on the Swing” by Louis Gan

Location: Chulia Street in the alley between Lebuh Victoria & Pengkalan Weld

 

Penang Street Art : Guide to Finding Street Art in George Town

“Sister and Brother Playing Basketball” by Louis Gan

Location: Chulia Street in the alley between Lebuh Victoria & Pengkalan Weld

Penang Street Art : Guide to Finding Street Art in George Town

“Skippy Comes to Penang” by ASA – Artists for Stray Animals

Location: Lebuh Armenian in-between Beach St & Lebuh victoria

Penang Street Art : Guide to Finding Street Art in George Town

“The Real Bruce Lee Would Never Do This” by ASA – Artists for Stray Animals

Location: Lebuh Ah Queen down an alley (Cross Street Lebuh Pantai)

 


IRON CARICATURES


Penang Street Art : Guide to Finding Street Art in George Town

“Too Narrow”

‘The hand pulled rickshaw was the most popular form of transportation in early Penang’

Cross Streets: Lorong Soo Hong and Lebuh Armenian

 

Penang Street Art : Guide to Finding Street Art in George Town

“Double Role”

‘Up until 1909 the police doubled as George Town’s firefighters’

Location: Gat Lebuh Chulia (next to the fire fighter base camp)

 

Penang Street Art : Guide to Finding Street Art in George Town

“Ting Ting Thong”

‘Seck Chuan Lane was a distribution center for market produce many itinerant hawkers took advantage of the crowds by plying their food here. One of the favorite food sold is Ting Ting Thong or rock candy a hardened mixture of sugar, ses seeds, and nuts loved by kids. It has to be chi and hammered to break it into smaller biteable pieces.’

Location: Seck Chuan Lane

Penang Street Art : Guide to Finding Street Art in George Town

“Budget Hotels”

‘At the turn of the last century many shophouses were turned into cheap hotels and making this internationally known tourist strip very popular with backpackers.’

Cross Streets: Lebuh Chulia & Love Lane

Penang Street Art : Guide to Finding Street Art in George Town

“Narrowest Five Foot Way”

Location: Lorong Stewart


HIN BUS DEPOT


Although the main murals in downtown are beautiful, my favorite art pieces were at Hin Bus Depot. As the name suggests, it’s right by the bus station, and when you walk through the coffee shop, you’ll find a playground full of art murals. Hin Bus Depot also has monthly art shows so you’ll always find one going on there. Check their Facebook page for the most current show. What I love about this place is the random ‘Vans Off The Wall’ skate ramp in a section of the park. There’s also artwork by Alex Face who is a famed street artist from Bangkok; you’ll recognize his baby in bunny onesie hiding between a couple of trees.

Penang Street Art : Guide to Finding Street Art in George Town

Penang Street Art : Guide to Finding Street Art in George Town

Penang Street Art : Guide to Finding Street Art in George Town
Penang Street Art : Guide to Finding Street Art in George Town

 


Guide to Penang Street Food: 15 Must Eats While in Penang



Penang's Street Food - 15 Must Eat Hawker Treats!

I live for street food! Penang is coming in at my #1 place of best street food in Southeast Asia. What I also learned about the street food (called Hawker Food) in Penang is that all the Hawkers in Penang must make the food themselves. They can’t hire foreigners to make their dishes. This comes from the Hawker Association and is making sure you are getting the most authentic food on the street. The 1st time I came to Penang, I was only going to be there five days and winded up staying for 10. I loved it so much that when I needed to do a visa run from Thailand I decided to go back to Penang for another eight days. It’s that good!  Here are my top 15 must eats during your trip to Penang. I can’t take all the credit for the places I chose though. I stayed at a Malaysian Chinese Homestay and my hosts guided me on where they like to to go.  There are many places that serve the below dishes, these are just the places they like the best.

Disclaimer: All places and prices are current at of time of posting.  Please double check price and open times before you go.

Penang Street Food : 15 Must Eats


CHAR KOAY TEOW


Penang Street Food: Guide to 15 must easts while in Penang, Malaysia

Close to what might look like Pad Thai is a rich garlicky, super flavorful, yummy noodle treat. Flat rice noodles are cooked in a wok along with prawns, clams, eggs, sprouts and soy sauce. Order the special with duck egg and it will come with mantis prawn and duck egg on top of all the other delicious stuff.

Penang Street Food: Guide to 15 must easts while in Penang, Malaysia Penang Street Food: Guide to 15 must easts while in Penang, Malaysia

Location: Ah Len Char Koay Teow
Cross Streets: Jalan Dato Keramat & Jalan Singapura
Hours: 10am – 3pm
Price: 7.5 – 13 MYR ($1.75-$3.00)




CHAR SIEW


Penang Street Food: Guide to 15 must easts while in Penang, Malaysia

Pork belly that’s been marinated in a proprietary sweet sauce and honey then roasted slow.  I went 30 minutes before they opened to grab a seat at this crazy popular place.  By 10:45am all the seats were full and I was the only westerner in the place. I shared my table with a local who got there late.  Glad I was the 2nd table there, I ordered the Char Siew with rice and was served soon as they opened, while the others waited upwards of 30 minutes for their dishes.  The fatty pieces of this sweet, savory meat melt in your mouth and paired well with the rice and sauce.  Had I known better I would have ordered an extra plate of meat!

Penang Street Food: Guide to 15 must easts while in Penang, Malaysia

 Penang Street Food: Guide to 15 must easts while in Penang, MalaysiaPenang Street Food: Guide to 15 must easts while in Penang, Malaysia

Location: Wai Kei Cafe
Cross Streets: Lebuh Chulia & Jalan Pintal Tali
Hours: 11am – until it runs out
Price: 6 MYR ($1.40)


CHEE CHEONG FUN


Penang Street Food: Guide to 15 must easts while in Penang, Malaysia

Chee Cheong Fun is made from rice flour that is steamed, rolled then cut into bite size pieces then served with three sauces, a chili sauce, shrimp paste, and a sweet sauce.  The noodles themselves are bland, but they pick up the sauces like a sponge and taste wonderful together.

 Penang Street Food: Guide to 15 must easts while in Penang, Malaysia Penang Street Food: Guide to 15 must easts while in Penang, Malaysia

Location: New Lane Hawker Center
Cross Streets: Jalan Macallister & Lorong Baru
Hours: 5pm – 12am
Price: 3.90 MYR ($0.90)


LAKSA


Penang Street Food: Guide to 15 must easts while in Penang, Malaysia

This is the most famous dish, and is the only dish that starts with a fish broth.   It’s served with vermicelli, onions, chilis, and toped with a healthy portion of shrimp paste. The oldest and best place to get this dish is at Kek Lok Si Temple. It is made by the brother of the owners original recipe. He starts serving at 10am and keeps serving until the dish runs out. The place is always crowded but worth the trip. Get your bowl before you see the temple.  This place was also featured on Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations: Penang.

Penang Street Food: Guide to 15 must easts while in Penang, Malaysia

Penang Street Food: Guide to 15 must easts while in Penang, Malaysia 

Penang Street Food: Guide to 15 must easts while in Penang, Malaysia 

Location: Ayer Itam Assam Laksa
Cross Streets: Jalan Pasar & Jalan Air Hitam
Getting There: Take bus 201 or 204 to Kek Lok Si Temple
Hours: 10am – until it runs out
Price: 6 MYR ($1.50)


NASI KANDAR


Penang Street Food: Guide to 15 must easts while in Penang, Malaysia

This is not a stand-alone dish. It is rice served with different curries, meat, and veggies. There are many places to get it, but the most famous and my favorite is at Line Clear where they serve up your plate buffet style. They’re open 24 hours a day, and there’s always a line. The staff start filling your plate with rice then add your protein of choice and some vegetables then top everything off by spooning different curry sauces on top. Chicken is the cheapest and was really good, but they will try to sell you the large prawns or fish head for a lot more money. If you don’t mind paying $10-15 for your plate, get it; I’m sure it’s delicious. I was super happy with my $2 chicken plate.

 Penang Street Food: Guide to 15 must easts while in Penang, Malaysia

Penang Street Food: Guide to 15 must easts while in Penang, Malaysia Penang Street Food: Guide to 15 must easts while in Penang, Malaysia

Location: Line Clear
Cross Streets: Jalan Penang & Lebuh Chulia
Hours: 24 hours
Price: Starting at 8 MYR ($2.00)


CHENDUL


Penang Street Food: Guide to 15 must easts while in Penang, Malaysia

A line is usually around the street and 15-20 minutes long to get this exotic treat. The bowl is filled with shaved ice and then topped with red beans, sugar syrup, chendul (the green chewy ‘noodles’ made from rice flour), and finished with coconut milk.

 Penang Street Food: Guide to 15 must easts while in Penang, Malaysia Penang Street Food: Guide to 15 must easts while in Penang, Malaysia Penang Street Food: Guide to 15 must easts while in Penang, Malaysia

Location: Penang Road Famous Chendul
Cross StreetsJalan Penang & Lebuh Keng Kwee
Hours: 12pm – 5pm
Price: 2.70-3.50MYR ($0.60-$0.80)


WAN TAN MEE


Penang Street Food: Guide to 15 must easts while in Penang, Malaysia

The first dish I ate when I arrived in Penang was Wan Tan Mee. It’s a noodle dish served with dumplings, pork and topped with dark soy sauce.  It’s on the light side, so would be nice for a late dinner or a mid-afternoon snack.

Penang Street Food: Guide to 15 must easts while in Penang, Malaysia

Location: Kimberly Street Food Carts
Cross Streets: Lebuh Kimberly & Lebuh Cintra
Hours: 6pm – 12am
Price: 5 MYR ($1.20)




HOKKIEN (PRAWN) MEE


Penang Street Food: Guide to 15 must easts while in Penang, Malaysia

Noodle soup with two kinds of noodles.  Yellow noodles and vermicelli are served in a spicy broth topped with both prawns and pork, hard boiled egg, and bean sprouts, served with a heaping spoonful of chili on the side.

Penang Street Food: Guide to 15 must easts while in Penang, Malaysia

Penang Street Food: Guide to 15 must easts while in Penang, Malaysia

Location: Kimberly Street Food Carts
Cross Streets: Lebuh Kimberly & Lebuh Cintra
Hours: 6pm – 12am
Price: 5 MYR ($1.20)


BAN CHANG KUEH


Penang Street Food: Guide to 15 must easts while in Penang, Malaysia

I walked by this stall a few times, before the Hawker reeled me in.  Watching him make it in the pans, he puts a layer of batter then fills it with peanuts, corn, brown sugar, coconut, and banana.  What comes out is a thin, crispy pancake that tastes both sweet and savory and melts in your mouth.  So good, I ate two! 

  Penang Street Food: Guide to 15 must easts while in Penang, Malaysia Penang Street Food: Guide to 15 must easts while in Penang, Malaysia

Penang Street Food: Guide to 15 must easts while in Penang, Malaysia

Location: Kimberly Street Food Carts
Cross Streets: Lebuh Kimberly & Jalan Kuala Kangsar
Hours: 4pm – 10pm
Price: 1.20 MYR ($0.30)


MEE GORENG


Penang Street Food: Guide to 15 must easts while in Penang, Malaysia

Made of a thick and spicy tomato gravy filled with stewed squid, tofu, potato, bean sprouts and chives. Yellow noodles are fried with the gravy in a wok, which turns them a deep red, then served on a plate topped with lettuce and a slice of lime.  I went to the place where the locals go, it’s found a little outside of town on the corner of Bangkok lane. The covered area includes 6 stalls and 12 tables to sit at.  I was the only westerner in the place on a Saturday afternoon. The dish is made by an older Indian man and you can order 5 different kinds including vegetarian, but the original is served with squid and only costs 7 MYR. 

Penang Street Food: Guide to 15 must easts while in Penang, Malaysia

 Penang Street Food: Guide to 15 must easts while in Penang, Malaysia

Location: Bangkok Lane Mee Goreng
Cross Streets: Jalan Burma & Lorong Bangkok
Hours: 10am – 5pm; Closed Monday
Price: 7 MYR ($1.60)


POH PIAH


Penang Street Food: Guide to 15 must easts while in Penang, Malaysia

Served either fresh or fried is Penang’s version of the egg roll. Thin crepes are stuffed with tofu, shredded potato, lettuce, and 3 types of sauces.  This explosion in your mouth is not to be missed!

 Penang Street Food: Guide to 15 must easts while in Penang, Malaysia Penang Street Food: Guide to 15 must easts while in Penang, Malaysia

Location: New Lane Hawker Center
Cross Streets: Jalan Macallister & Lorong Baru
Hours: 5pm – 12am
Price: 4.50 MYR ($1.10)


LOK LOK


Penang Street Food: Guide to 15 must easts while in Penang, Malaysia

It’s always a party at these Hawker stalls. It’s a buffet of meat and veggies on a stick. You pick out what you want then cook it yourself either by deep frying or boiling.  You’ll find everyone just standing around the boiling pots cooking their sticks and eating them on the spot.

Penang Street Food: Guide to 15 must easts while in Penang, Malaysia

Location: New Lane Hawker Center
Cross Streets: Jalan Macallister & Lorong Baru
Hours: 5pm – 12am
Price: each stick costs 2-5 MYR ($0.50-$1.20)


LOR BAK


Penang Street Food: Guide to 15 must easts while in Penang, Malaysia

A deep fried smorgasbord!  There’s a few different things going on in this dish.  You’ll find deep fried pork wrapped in bean curd, deep fried tofu, deep fried shrimp tempura, and a potato stuffed egg roll served with a spicy chili sauce and sweet n sour.  

Penang Street Food: Guide to 15 must easts while in Penang, Malaysia

Penang Street Food: Guide to 15 must easts while in Penang, Malaysia

Location: New Lane Hawker Center
Cross Streets: Jalan Macallister & Lorong Baru
Hours: 5pm – 12am
Price: 5 MYR ($1.20)


MALAYSIAN SATAY


Penang Street Food: Guide to 15 must easts while in Penang, Malaysia

You’ll find satay all over Southeast Asia.  The Malaysian style is sticks of chicken and pork that are marinated then grilled over an open fire and served with a spicy peanut sauce.

Penang Street Food: Guide to 15 must easts while in Penang, Malaysia

Penang Street Food: Guide to 15 must easts while in Penang, Malaysia

Location: New Lane Hawker Center
Cross Streets: Jalan Macallister & Lorong Baru
Hours: 5pm – 12am
Price: 5 MYR ($1.20)


BAK KUT TEH


Penang Street Food: Guide to 15 must easts while in Penang, Malaysia

Across the street from New Lane Hawker Center is a place that serves Bat Kut Teh. These are bowls of meat and veggies served in a gravy and kept warm top to of personal burners. Get the pork ribs “Pai Kut”, the meat falls off the bone and add fresh garlic and soy to the broth to give it an extra kick. I’d also suggest going with a few friends to get a lot of variety, the portions are big!

Penang Street Food: Guide to 15 must easts while in Penang, Malaysia

Location: Hong Xiang Bak Kut Teh
Cross Streets: Jalan Macallister & Lorong Baru
Hours: 11:00am – 3:00pm & 5:45pm – 10:45pm
Price: 5-14 MYR ($1.20-$3.25)


Here is the guest house where I stayed: 24 Merican Road

24MericanRoad Penang Homestay

If you prefer to stay at guesthouses, which I highly recommend, book your homestay with Mei and Peter.  They are the best hosts who are happy to help you get the most out of your trip to Penang. Their house is beautiful and modern, yet has the charm of Penang. It’s just outside of downtown so you’ll be away from the nightlife noise, but you’re close enough to walk (20 min), take the bus (right near their street), or a quick, cheap ($1-2) Uber ride to downtown.





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