What to do in Penang.

Patrick & Elizabeth who kindly gave us a home aboard their boat gave us a list of what to do in Penang. This treasure trove of info proved invaluable while we were wandering the streets of Georgetown and they’ve graciously agreed to let us share it on here. It’s by no means a definitive list and it’s worth exploring more but here is what they sent to us:

There’s a free shuttlebus service that starts at the ferry terminal and runs every 20 minutes. It’s a good way to get the lay of the land in air-conditioned comfort. You can use this to get to your hotel, much cheaper than a taxi.


Mustafa Kassim (for breakfast). On corner of Lebuh Penang and Lebuh Chulia. (Note that there is a Lebuh Penang and a Jalan Penang).

Kapitans. One block from Mustafas, on corner of Pitt Street and Chulia. Popular with tourists. Their tandoori chicken can be very good, but the standard varies.

Woodlands. Indian, vegetarian, no alcohol, inexpensive. On Lebuh Penang, between Lebuh China and Lebuh Pasar. Big menu starts late afternoon. Ask for a “paper tosai”. (Ruth and I really liked this place)

Vellu Villas. A few doors from Woodlands, towards Lebuh China. Banana leaf breakfasts.

Jaya. On Jalan Penang, across the road from the Cititel Hotel. All day tosai. (This was where Ruth and I had breakfast most days – dirt cheap and great food – right round the corner from where we stayed at The Star Lodge)

Shade Tree. On Pengkalan Weld, across the road from ferry terminal/bus station. Find a quiet table at the back. Evenings only.

The “Dim Sum” place. On Lebuh Cintra, first restaurant on the left as you walk from Lebuh Campbell towards Lebuh Kimberly. A bit more expensive than our other breakfast places. The steamed chicken rice is excellent. The custard tarts are recommended.

Food Court on the corner of Pengkalan Weld and Lebuh Armenian. Lots of small hawker stalls.

Red Garden Food Court, across the road from Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion on Lebuh Leith. Next door is a chocolate ‘factory’ which offers free samples.

Kopitam (or something similar), on corner of Lebuh Pantai and Lebuh Gereja (Church St). One ringgit coffee and WiFi.

The Sire. Very expensive but very glamorous, the building is another mansion built by a wealthy tycoon. A museum upstairs. On Lebuh King, near junction with Lebuh Light.

Joss stick maker, Penang

Joss stick maker, Penang.

Sights in Georgetown

Morning market on Lebuh Canarvon, between Lebuh Chulia and Lebuh Campbell. There’s another, bigger market on Lebuh Chowrasta.

Clan Jetties, private homes built over the water, connected by planked walkways. Free admission.  Off Pengkalan Weld, between Lebuh Chulia and Lebuh Acheh.

Tanjong City Marina. Inspect the wreckage. On Pengkalan Weld, next door to ferry terminal, overlooked by what was once the Malayan Railway Station, now Customs.

Shophouses. Makers of joss sticks, tombstones, songkoks bamboo blinds, signboards leather holsters etc etc are all crammed into the Little India/Chulia area.

Lebuh Acheh and Lebuh Armenian. Art galleries, Sun Yat Sen’s house, Khoo Kongsi Temple (admission charge) on Lebuh Cannon. Cheah Kongsi, (free). Howard Tan’s photography gallery is recommended.

Worth a visit??

A. Rashid’s art gallery is open most afternoons, on Lebuh Chulia, next door to the mosque near the junction with Kapitan Keling.

Dewan Sri Penang, on Lebuh Light at Lebuh Duke. Two art galleries: the State Collection on top floor and temporary exhibits on a lower floor. Free admission.

St George’s Church. Dating from 1816, recently refurbished. Sometimes open for tours.

Eastern & Oriental Hotel. The bell boys in pith helmets are a memorable touch. There’s a little shop where you should be able to get a copy of ‘The Battle of Penang’ by JR Robertson.

A Chinese shop full of statues, incense, jade and paper silhouettes. On Lebuh Kimberly, turn right from Lebuh Canarvon and it’s on your right, about a block. Painted red, with lots of statues outside.

The ‘Green Mansion’. On Lebuh China between Lebuh Penang and Lebuh Pantai. No guided tour but lots to see. Admission charge.

The ‘Blue Mansion’ built by Cheong Fatt Tze. Guided tours only, at 11am, 1.30pm and 3pm. Admission charge. On Lebuh Leith.

Kwan Yin (Goddess of Mercy) Temple. The oldest temple in Penang. Usually very busy with clouds of joss stick smoke. On the corner of Kapitan Keling and Lorong Stewart, next door to the Chinese Town Hall.

Hainan Temple, for the patron saint of seafarers. On Lebuh Muntri, towards Lebuh Leith from the Star Lodge hotel.

Less Favourite Places

Komtar. “Dynamite would be a kindness”. The tower is a useful landmark but otherwise this is just a horrible shopping complex. A good cinema.

Gurney Plaza. A shopping mall. Queensbay Mall, ditto. There is an ‘Ace Hardware’ at Queensbay Mall, which has a wide range of American gear that’s otherwise hard to find in Malaysia. (Ruth and I went there to the cinema a couple of times – cheap as cinemas go)

Batu Feringgi. A popular beach with jet skis and high-rise hotels etc.

Butterworth. There’s little of interest here except the railway station and bus terminal.

This little bugger kept swinging right past my head in the spice garden.

Out of Town

Take a bus right around Pulau Penang by taking the bus to Balik Pulau. Most bus routes start at the bus station by the ferry terminal.

Take a bus to Batu Maung to visit the War Museum, on the site of a 15 inch howitzer battery built in the 1930s. The guns are long gone. It’s quite expensive (perhaps RM 25 for foreigners). From the top you can look down through the trees to Limbongan Batu Maung.

Take a bus to the Kek Lok Si temple at Air Hitam. Good views of Georgetown. A 100 foot bronze statue of Kwan Yin towers over the complex and it’s worth inspecting her toes. A little railway to Kwan Yin costs RM 2 each way, or you can walk up the steep road. Admission to the pagoda is another RM 2.

Take a 101 bus to Teluk Bahang, the end of the route. From there you can walk to the lighthouse through Penang National Park.

There is a bus to the Botanical Gardens, Number 11 we think. (Ruth and I went here, pleasant walk but wouldn’t say it was great)

Penang Hill. Great views from the top. The railway is more expensive these days so some people hike up. Paths start near the Botanical Gardens but check where exactly first.

Spice garden. You need to take the bus out towards Batu Feringgi. Great little stop off before heading to the national park.

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