If you tell me to define George Town, Penang, I’d say it’s a perfect blend of diverse cultures, colonial architecture, and delicious food. What else of a reason do you need to visit this magical town? The history of George Town, Penang goes way back to the British colonial times, which is noticeable in its architecture. As a result, the town is slightly different from other Malaysian towns.
George Town, Penang, was named after King George the 3rd. You’ll see people of diverse cultural backgrounds living here, like- Malaysian, Chinese and Indian. Due to such diversities, UNESCO declared it a World Heritage site.
If you’ve never been to George Town, Penang before, I’ll tell you everything about what to do, see, and eat in this city. If you’re someone like me who often travels with family, George Town, Penang is the perfect location to check out.
Exploring George Town, Penang: Major Attractions To Visit
George Town World Heritage Inc.
If you want to dive deeper into the town’s history, you should head to the George Town World Heritage Inc., which is an information centre. It’s a beautiful white two-storied building. Here, you can learn more about the city and its places to visit or buy a map.
There’s a good collection of books, magazines, and journals available for you. However, if you just want to enjoy the city’s beauty and aren’t interested in knowing its history, or you can easily navigate locations, you can avoid visiting the George Town World Heritage Inc. or spend less time here to invest more time in other exciting places.
A fascinating thing to do in George Town, Penang, is to check out the street arts and click some good pictures. If you have a kid with you, I’m sure they’ll love these colourful murals. Children on a Bicycle is the most famous street art that remains crowded most of the time.
You’re lucky if you get to click a picture there cause there are long lines of tourists waiting to get a picture clicked. Starting from 2012, the street arts of George Town, Penang, are continuously expanding. While walking around the town, you might even come across some artists working on new street arts.
Khoo Kongsi Temple
The main and most-visited tourist attraction in George Town, Penang is the Khoo Kongsi Temple which is an ancient Chinese clan temple. It is said that a visit to Penang is incomplete without visiting this temple. Entrance to most temples in George Town is free, but there’s an entrance fee to get inside the Khoo Kongsi Temple. The impressive detail and decorations of the temple are great to see.
Right along the oceanfront in George Town, Penang, you will find various small Chinese settlements. These are called jetties. You’ll see homes, snack shops, and souvenir shops in these jetties while walking along the wooden walkway.
Snack shops in the jetties mostly sell sweet snacks and drinks. Some jetties are busier than the other ones. There’s not much to see in these places, but by taking a walk around these jetties, you’ll gather an idea about Chinese culture. Also, you can enjoy views of the boats and the Penang strait from these jetties.
Cheong Fatt Tze
Cheong Fatt Tze, in simple words the Blue Mansion, is a well-preserved architectural and historical guest house in George Town, Penang. It is a beautiful mansion where old-world grandeur meets modern comforts.
There are 18 spacious rooms in the mansion, open courtyards, a pool, an oriental garden, and many other significant amenities for the guests to enjoy. You can count yourself lucky if you get to stay at Cheong Fatt Tze. But if you aren’t lucky enough, you can still buy tickets for a tour of the mansion.
Through the tour, you’ll get to learn more about the history of Cheong Fatt Tze and enjoy a walk around the beautiful architectural heritage.
If you ask my opinion, I’d say that visiting Fort Cornwallis won’t be a great experience. I think the only thing that attracts visitors to this fort is its history. It is the oldest and largest fort in Malaysia, built-in 1786.
Fort Cornwallis is the oldest and the largest fort in Malaysia surrounded by walls and age-old cannons. You can walk around the fort but there’s not much fun in doing it, I guess. And the large and the most famous cannon of Fort Cornwallis can be seen from outside too.
So, if you are on a day trip to George Town, Penang, you can avoid visiting Fort Cornwallis. But if you are on a longer trip, you’ll have plenty of time so drop a visit to the fort.
Penang Peranakan Mansion
Penang Peranakan Mansion signifies the perfect combination of Chinese cultural and British colonialism in the straits of Malaysia. The mansion was owned by a Chinese family who adopted the British colonial lifestyle.
The mansion expresses the unique mix of Chinese styles and the history of British colonialism in its architecture and a rich legacy of antiques. Around 1,000 pieces of collectables and antiques that are around 100 years old are on display at the Penang Peranakan Mansion.
The most colourful part of George Town, Penang is Little India. As the name suggests, it’s a little part of India in Malaysia. The people living here belong to the Indian community, so the place has been named Little India.
There are shops and restaurants on both sides of the street. While walking through Little India you’ll hear Indian songs blaring inside the shops and smell various sorts of Indian spices.
St. George’s Church
St. George’s Church, a 19th-century church, is indeed a beautiful place to visit. It is a perfect blend of Georgian, English Palladian, and Neo-Classical architecture. The Doric columns enhance the beauty of the church. As declared by the Malaysian Federal Government, St. George’s Church is one of the 50 national treasures of Malaysia.
You can end your day trip with a visit to the Komtar Tower. It is the highest iconic entertainment tower in George Town, Penang. You can enjoy the beautiful view of the entire city from the topmost floor of the tower. You might be very well excited to know that there are around 18 theme tourist attractions in this one single tower. So, I think this is going to be the most exciting part of your day trip.
Keep a few hours in hand before coming to the tower so that you don’t miss out on any notable tourist attraction. If you visit George Town, Penang with your family, there’s no reason to miss a visit to the Komtar Tower. Your children will enjoy the most here. After you are done checking out all the attractions of the tower, stay for a while to enjoy the vibrant nightlife of George Town from the topmost level of the tower.
Some Other Tourist Attractions in George Town, Penang
George Town, Penang has so many other tourist attractions other than the ones that I mentioned above. If you are planning to visit the city for more than a day, then don’t forget to check out these tourist attractions too.
Arulmigu Balathandayuthapani Temple
A Hindu temple that holds a similar potential as a tourist attraction as the Batu Caves is the Arulmigu Balathandayuthapani Temple. The temple is located on a hilltop which makes it a famous place for offering great views of Penang. So, it is also known as Waterfall Hilltop Temple. Devotees and tourists have to climb 513 steps to reach there. To avoid congestion, separate stairs are provided for people descending from the temple.
The beautiful cream-coloured seven-storey gopuram of the temple can be seen from a distance. It is another reason why people visit this place.
This temple is said to be the largest temple of Lord Murugan outside India. At the foot of the stairs, there’s another temple named Arulmigu Sree Ganeshar Temple. It was constructed in the 1950s and has been renovated once or twice since then.
In every Thaipusam Festival which is the main festival of the temple, around 700,000 devotees are seen there. The interior of the temple has intricately carved pillars, chandeliers and a well-polished floor. Being the main Hindu Temple in Penang, Arulmigu Balathandayuthapani Temple holds a significant value as a tourist attraction in George Town, Penang.
Climbing 513 steps up and down might consume half of your day. Moreover, you might spend a while checking out the architecture of the temple and the views of George Town from there. So, including this in your day-trip itinerary might not be a good idea. But if you choose to skip some of the attractions mentioned above, you can visit this temple instead.
Location: 17, Jalan Kebun Bunga, Pulau Tikus, 10350 George Town, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia
Opening Hours: Friday – Wednesday | 6:00 am – 12:00 pm, 4:30 pm – 9:00 pm | Open 24 hours on Thursday
Entrance fees: Free
Kek Lok Si Temple
Built-in the late 19th century, Kek Lok Si Temple is one of the largest and finest temple complexes in Southeast Asia. There are millions of magnificent images of Buddha and hundreds of beautiful and meaningful carvings, sculptures and murals in the interior and exterior of the temple halls, pagodas and archways.
Mahayana Buddhism and traditional Chinese rituals have perfectly blended into a harmonious whole that is noticeable in temple architecture and the daily activities of worshipers. There’s a turtle pond on the way to the Kek Lok Si Temple. You will be astonished by the frightening number of turtles in the pond. There are also many souvenir shops on the way to the temple.
There’s a 36.5-meter-high bronze statue of Kuan Yin, the Goddess of Mercy at the temple. It is maybe the most visited part of the temple. Then there is the Kek Lok Si Pagoda which was built as a mixture of Chinese, Thai and Burmese architecture. Once you reach the top of the Pagoda after climbing 7 levels through narrow stairs, you will be amazed by seeing the gorgeous views of Penang from there.
Location: Jalan Air Itam, 11500 Ayer Itam, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia
Opening Hours: Everyday | 8:30 am – 5:30 pm
Pitt Street (Street of Harmony)
Named after William Pitt the Younger, the Prime Minister of Great Britain in 1786, the Pitt Street or the Street of Harmony has places of worship from the four religions- Islam, Taoism, Hinduism and Christianity. The harmonious coexistence of various religions and cultures in this part of the town is a reason why the street has been nicknamed as the Street of Harmony.
Gurney Plaza is one of the major retail and entertainment centres in Penang. It is a nine-storey shopping mall with various international brands, retail shops, entertainment centres, and restaurants. Out of the numerous entertainment options that the mall offers, the most famous one is the Golden Screen Cinemas on the top floor of the mall, with 12 cineplexes. It is the largest multiplex in northern Malaysia.
The tenants of the 380 shop lots include some of the most famous international fashion brands like Armani, Marks & Spencer, Calvin Klein, Body Glove, bookstores like Popular and MPH, and accessory stores like Omega, Bell & Ross, Rado etc. Gurney Plaza is also home to some of the most popular fast-food chain restaurants like Starbucks, Nando’s, Kenny Rogers Roasters, etc.
Location: 170, Gurney Dr, Pulau Tikus, 10250 George Town, Penang, Malaysia
Opening Hours: Everyday | 10:00 am – 10:00 pm
Kapitan Keling Mosque
Kapitan Keling Mosque is a 19th-century mosque that holds the pious spirit and magnificent architecture. It is the largest mosque in George Town, Penang. Indian Muslim traders built it in Islamic architecture. The mosque is surrounded by gardens that provide peace of mind while you are walking along the passageway.
The mosque was renovated many times after its development. The latest renovation was done in 2003. However, no compromises were made in the original aesthetics of the building during renovation. Non-Muslims aren’t allowed to enter the mosques during prayer times.
Location: 14, Jalan Buckingham, George Town, 10200 George Town, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia
Opening Hours: Everyday | 5:00 am – 10:00 pm
Penang Botanic Gardens
Penang Botanic Gardens, also known as Waterfall Gardens, is a beautiful late 19th-century garden. It is one of the oldest botanic gardens built by the British in a colonial settlement. It is known as the Waterfall Gardens because of the cascading waterfall nearby.
If you are a nature-lover visiting this garden might be your type of thing to do. You can also visit the beautiful three-tiered waterfall that used to be a famous waterfall in Malaysia. However, to go there you need permission from the Penang Water Authority (PBA) as the trail to the waterfall has been closed to the public for a long time now.
Location: Kompleks Pentadbiran,Bangunan Pavilion, Jalan Kebun Bunga, 10350 George Town, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia
Opening Hours: Monday – Friday | 8:00 am – 5:00 pm (Closed on Saturday and Sunday)
Wonder Food Museum
George Town, Penang is not entirely about history, culture and temples. Rather there are also some fun places to visit in George Town like the Wonder Food Museum. It is a fun and Imaginative Museum displaying replicas of Malaysian dishes, art & historical information.
The replicas are ultra-realistic and might bring water to your mouth. The museum showcases Malaysia’s unique food culture and also recommends the best places to enjoy Malaysian dishes. You will also get to know about the history of different Malaysian cuisines from this museum. The only downside is that you won’t be able to taste any of the food no matter how hungry you feel.
Location: 49, Lebuh Pantai, George Town, 10200 George Town, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia
Opening Hours: Everyday | 9:00 am – 6:00 pm
Entrance fees: Adult RM 25 (non-Malaysians), RM 15 (MyKad)
Child/Senior RM 15 (non-Malaysians), RM 10 (MyKad)
Dark Mansion – 3D Glow in The Dark Museum
Dark Mansion is the first and the only glow-in-the-dark museum in Malaysia. It is a combination of creative modern artworks and science and technology. Lately, this museum has become one of the major tourist attractions in George Town, Penang.
The museum is not limited to normal 3D images as you might think. Rather it consists of artworks that are integrated with glow in the dark effect into the painting that makes them more unique. There are five paintings in this not-so-spacious museum.
There’s a Fairy Tale Land that lets you explore the magical world of fairies and pixies, a view of Smurf village, lush greenery, blooming flowers, and Cinderella’s pumpkin carriage. Then there’s Fire & Water: Tribute to Darwin which has a day and night transition that can only be found in this museum. After that in the Tropical Pandora: The Forbidden Land you can walk through a beautiful jungle similar to Avatar.
Then you can enjoy an endless journey at night in an infinite space with beautiful glowing creatures in the Infinity Room. Lastly, you can discover the beauty of the ocean being a mermaid at the New Atlantis: Underwater World without even going into the water.
If you have never seen a 3D glow-in-the-dark effect before, this is your chance to check it out. You will be mesmerized by how a small room can give you so many experiences at once. And lastly, you get to click some very beautiful and amazing Instagram-worthy pictures.
Location: 145, Lebuh Kimberley, George Town, 10100 George Town, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia
Opening Hours: Everyday | 10:30 am – 6:30 pm
Entrance fees: International | Child (4 – 12 years old) / Senior (+60 years old) – RM 30
International | Adult (13 – 59 years old) – RM 40
Malaysian – with MyKad | Child (4 – 12 years old) / Senior (+60 years old) – RM 20
Malaysian – with MyKad | Adult (13 – 59 years old) – RM 30
Is there any George Town walking tour in Penang?
Yes, there are several walking tours available in George Town, Penang. Some popular ones include the Heritage Trail, Street Art Trail, and Food Trail. These tours allow you to explore the city’s rich history, vibrant street art, and delicious local cuisine on foot.
How To Reach George Town, Penang
If you are travelling from Kuala Lumpur to George Town, Penang, you can take the train or Bus. But you won’t directly reach George Town. First, you have to take a train or bus from the KL Sentral Station to Butterworth.
From Butterworth, you’ve to get on a ferry boat. It’ll take you around 10-15 minutes to reach George Town alternatively you can drive directly to George Town.
Goerge Town, Penang is a great place to visit for a day trip. Checking out the diverse cultural mix of Chinese, Indian and British is worth it. So, when are you going to George Town, Penang?