Posted in Travel to Malaysia

Visiting George Town, Penang for Three Days: Historic and Quaint

  1. Intro
  2. Things We Did in Penang
    1. Walk
    2. Penang Hill and Nature Walk
      1. Map of Penang Hill
    3. Penang Food
      1. Cendol
      2. Penang Little India
      3. Coffee Culture
      4. Food Court
      5. Foodie Night Market
    4. Street Art
    5. Shopping for Batik
    6. Snake Temple
    7. Batu Ferringhi Beach
  3. Where to Stay

Intro

During our trip to Malaysia this year (2022) we visited Penang for a few days. We have been here several times over the years and usually we stay at Batu Ferringhi Beach and spend our time soaking up the sun, swimming in the ocean and dining out at the many restaurants and food courts in the area.

This year we decided to stay in town and explore George Town which is a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage City.

We came to Malaysia just as soon as the travel restrictions lifted and we noticed a huge difference here in Penang. Gone are the thronging crowds and chocka block traffic… it is much more quiet. Several hotels closed during the covid and are now in the process of undergoing a total refurb. Certainly, there are some tourists about but I would guess nothing like the numbers before covid. However, it is apparent that the tourist industry has re-jigged and is now encouraging Malaysians to travel in their own back yard so business is back and the hospos are trying really hard to provide a great service.

As mentioned in my Ipoh posting, my suggestion to you is to be patient. If the restaurant you have planned on visiting is closed move on to find another one. If the service is slow, just wait… they may be understaffed. It is evident that everyone is trying hard to encourage tourists but it is damn difficult. Try to understand.

Location: George Town, Penang, Malaysia

Things We Did in Penang

Walk

We loved to walk around Penang, along the streets and in and out of shops. The heritage houses and shop-houses are beautiful and really speak to a charming bygone era. Some are in original condition but a lot are refurbished and restored.

Penang Hill and Nature Walk

Set aside the whole day for this stunning adventure. It was a total experience from the queue at the bottom of the hill to get tickets for the funicular railway, to the queue to board the carriages of the train, (it was school holidays!) to finally arrive at the upper station and then wander along to find the canopy walk.

Once you enter the walk you will be led on further to the Curtis Crest Treetop Walk and you will be blown away by the marvelous circular walkway structure that has been built which is eerily exposed, high up giving fantastic views over Penang.

Surprisingly there were only about 2 other people on this walk and we seemed to have the whole grounds to ourselves, not sure why… I think most people headed to the temple, gardens and cafés.

Locations:

Map of Penang Hill

See more about the attractions here.

Watch my short video taken at the Habitat Walk, Penang

Penang Food

Cendol

Basker’s Favourite Penang Road Famous Teochew Chendul (Chendol), 27, Lebuh Keng Kwee. We waited in line for a while before our order was taken then we stood on the road and ate the cendol out of little cups, delicious, cold and refreshing.

Basker’s favourite!

Penang Little India

Little India has a great selection of Indian restaurants including Teakadai Cafe, Restoran Tajuddin Hussain and Shusi Banana Leaf Restaurant. We also liked Kannaa’s Bamboo Masala Briyani Penang for a different, tasty style of biryani.

Here in Malaysia we love Indian food. Not only are we familiar with the tastes and flavours but we love the huge variety and the fact that we can eat vegetables at each meal. In some places it can be difficult when travelling to eat healthy greens and salads but the Indian restaurants always have a good selection of vege which are usually cooked in stir fries or in curries… not to mention yummy and nutritious dahls, mmm!

Coffee Culture

I love the area around Chulia Lane! It is quaint and charming with gorgeous shop houses, decorative doorways, ornamental tiles and fretwork, shutters, traditional architecture and iconic tiled roofs. It was just a delight to walk around these streets particularly with hardly any traffic.

Here you will find cafés serving great coffee and typical café style food including my favourite yoghurt bowl from Daily Dose.

Watch my short video enjoying Penang coffee culture at 20 Chulia Lane Cafe

Food Court

Just around the corner from our hotel was Red Garden Food Paradise which was an easy choice for wings, dumplings, crispy duck and cheap Tiger beer… all consumed in a noisy, vibrant atmosphere with beautiful live music and singing.

Foodie Night Market

It was just a short walk from our hotel to Chulia Street Night Hawker Stalls where we were enthralled by the fabulous street food on offer.

Street Art

See Penang street art map here, but really you can’t miss them… they are everywhere and catch your eye all the time. You can’t help yourself from being on the look out continuously and noticing them all the time. Then when you do find one it gives a little surprise and makes you smile as you wonder who has painted such a whimsical and touching scene.

Shopping for Batik

At the Penang Batik Factory we bought beautiful batik table cloths that will continue to wow our dinner guest at home, long after our visit to Penang has finished. They are stunningly colourful and beautiful!

The trip to get there was interesting and felt like we were on an adventure because we decided to take the bus. This involved a long walk to the bus terminal and a long, windy trip past the outskirts of the town along the coast and several beaches, stopping all along the way to pick up and drop off passengers. But you know me, I can’t help but chat to local people, most of whom were heading off to work in the hotels along the way. After lots of smiles, waves and good old chin wags the driver dropped us at the factory door and the helpful staff allowed us to tour the factory and take photos of the artists making the beautiful designs.

Snake Temple

On a previous trip we visited the Snake Temple with our adult children and other members of the family.

It is kind of picturesque and fun, beautiful to wander around and soak up the quiet, serene atmosphere.

Batu Ferringhi Beach

As you know, on previous trips we stayed at the beach usually at the Holiday Inn mainly because this hotel has a restaurant open to the pool… that leads on to the beach. Lots of tropical palms and flowering plants, then sand, then sparkling ocean. Beautiful.

We stopped at Batu Ferringhi Beach on the way back from the Batik factory but it just wasn’t the same. It appeared run down and our favourite hotel on the beach was closed for renovations… I’m hoping this area comes back bigger and better and much more vibrant once again when the tail end of this vid is over.

Some photos taken during a previous trip follow below.

Where to Stay

There are many good hotels in Penang including heritage style and small boutique type however we chose views as our main requirement and the Bayview Hotel fitted the bill perfectly. It was reasonably priced, had great views and sampling a cocktail at the rooftop bar while the sun was setting was superb.

Eastern & Oriental Hotel – luxury heritage

Bayview Hotel George Town Penang – good, has roof top bar

Cheong Fatt Tze – The Blue Mansion – beautiful heritage/boutique style, this is where we want to stay next time!

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