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From Halal Food & Travel

(Redirected from Georgetown (Malaysia))

Skyline of George Town at night George Town is the national capital of the Malaysian state of Penang. It is Malaysia's second largest city, with a population of 708,127 as of 2010. Founded as an entrepôt in 1786, it was the first British settlement in Southeast Asia. Over the centuries, the city has evolved into a melting pot of sorts and is now home to a cosmopolitan, multi-ethnic populace. Due to its unique architecture, the old core of the city is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. George Town is also regarded as the culinary capital of Malaysia.

The city of George Town has a diverse set of attractions. Aside from George Town's living heritage, colonial-era buildings interspersed with towering skyscrapers, modern shopping malls and other amenities, the city is lined with sandy, tranquil beaches. Penang Hill, a well-known hill resort, overlooks the entirety of the city. George Town, a city filled with various festivities in any given year, has gained popularity for its arts scene as well, with the annual George Town Festival growing into one of the region's most prominent arts event.


Topographic map of the city of George Town within the State of Penang.  City centre  UNESCO heritage zone George Town, centred at the northeastern promontory of Penang Island, was granted city status by the British government in 1957. Since then, the city has grown beyond its original boundaries, and in 2015, the city limits were expanded to encompass all of Penang Island, as well as a handful of smaller islets just off the island's coast, including Jerejak Island.

The original city limit of George Town, as recognised by the 1957 grant of city status, is now commonly recognised as the city centre. Within the city centre lies the oldest core of George Town, which has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2008. The UNESCO-protected zone covers nearly 260|ha km2 of the northeastern tip of Penang Island and is surrounded by more modernised parts of the city centre, such as KOMTAR, Macalister Road, Northam Road and Gurney Drive.

The eastern half of Penang Island is heavily urbanised. Upmarket suburbs lie to the north of the city centre, such as Pulau Tikus, Tanjung Tokong, Tanjung Bungah and Batu Ferringhi, the latter of which is popular for its golden beaches. To the west of the city centre lies the suburb of Air Itam, located at the foot of Penang Hill and home to the famous Kek Lok Si Temple. Other suburbs lie to the south of the city centre, such as Jelutong, Gelugor and Batu Lanchang. Bayan Lepas, near the southeastern tip of the island, is where the Penang International Airport and a major industrial zone are located, hence its more industrial feel.

Meanwhile, the western half of Penang Island is more rural, as the hill ranges at the centre of the island limit any westward urban sprawl. Tourists venture to Balik Pulau for its agricultural produce, specifically durians and nutmegs. Teluk Bahang, at the northwestern tip of Penang Island, is also home to several ecotourism attractions, such as the Penang National Park.

The city of George Town forms the heart of Greater George Town, the second largest conurbation in Malaysia. The conurbation covers the entirety of the State of Penang, the towns of Sungai Petani, Kulim and Bandar Baharu in neighbouring Kedah, and Parit Buntar in Perak.

George Town (Malaysia) Halal Explorer

Skyline of George Town as seen from Penang Hill Founded in 1786 by British trader Francis Light, George Town was part of the British crown colony of the Straits Settlements, along with Malacca and Singapore. Similar to Singapore, George Town evolved from a swampy island into a bustling entrepôt, and came under direct British rule (as opposed to the rest of the Malay Peninsula under indirect British influence). These gave Singapore and George Town distinctive British colonial characteristics and truly multicultural demographics consisting of the Malays, Chinese, Peranakans, Indians, Eurasians, Siamese, Europeans and others.

George Town was granted city status in 1957 and became the first city within the newly-independent Federation of Malaya (now Malaysia). In the decades after independence, however, George Town faced economic decline. The city's economy had to be reoriented towards manufacturing, with Bayan Lepas being earmarked for an eponymous industrial zone which attracted various multinational firms. As a result, George Town is now regarded as the Silicon Valley of the East. Rapid development of George Town has been underpinned by its appeal as a haven for tourist and expatriates, helped by the UNESCO World Heritage Site within the city centre and the city's reputation as the centre of medical tourism within Malaysia.

The city still retains its heritage and diverse cultures, and is home to one of the best preserved collections of pre-war heritage buildings in Southeast Asia. Unlike Kuala Lumpur, where many heritage buildings faced demolition to make way for the concrete jungle, George Town's heritage shophouses are also being given a new lease of life as hotels, cafes and restaurants. Traditional trades still operate out of some of these shophouses, alongside bustling street markets and hawkers. Indeed, in this aspect, George Town is often likened to Singapore in the 1960s and 70s.

George Town has a rather relaxed pace of life, which made the city attractive for expatriates and foreign retirees, especially from Britain, Australia, the United States, Japan and Singapore. The city's ease of living is underpinned by its modern amenities, hospitals and shopping centres, as well as a burgeoning fine dining scene. In addition, urban dwellers and tourists alike have the option of escaping to the beaches or the forested hills, all of which are within easy reach. Increasingly, traffic congestion and the construction of new highways are changing the face of many parts of the island with the northern coastal fringe and the routes connecting Bayan Lepas to the city centre particularly badly affected at peak times. An intense debate has been sparked in recent years, with the politicians and town planners on one side and many conservationists and community groups on the other. The latter fear that unbridled expansion is changing the face of Penang and spoiling its unique character.


Fort Cornwallis was built on the spot where Francis Light first landed in 1786. The City Hall was built in 1903 and is still in use by the city's local government. Penang's modern history really began with the founding of George Town by Francis Light. After successfully negotiating with the then Sultan of Kedah regarding the cession of Penang Island to the British East India Company, Light and his crew landed at the northeastern promontory of the island on 11 August, raised the Union Jack and established George Town as the newest settlement of the British Empire.

George Town was the first British foothold in Southeast Asia and its strategic location within the Malacca Straits allowed the settlement to be developed into a major entrepôt. In the beginning, George Town was the centre of the booming spice trade, where spices cultivated inland were exported out. Maritime trade grew and by the end of the 19th century, George Town served as a conduit for the export of tin and rubber, Malaya's two most important commodities.

George Town was briefly made the capital of the Straits Settlements, which also included Singapore and Malacca. Eventhough the capital was eventually relocated to Singapore, George Town continued to grow as one of the largest towns in Malaya. The Straits Settlements were made a British crown colony in 1867. Direct British rule ushered in an era of prosperity and economic boom in George Town.

During World War II, the British evacuated Penang without a fight, abandoning George Town and its residents to the mercy of the Japanese who captured the town on 19 December 1941. A brutal period of Japanese occupation followed, during which thousands of ethnic Chinese were massacred. Upon the end of the war, George Town became the first town in Malaya to be liberated by British forces.

George Town was granted city status on 1 January 1957 by the British monarch, Queen Elizabeth II. When the Federation of Malaya attained independence later that year, George Town became the new country's first and only city. However, in the decades that followed, the city gradually declined. George Town's free port status was revoked by 1969, sparking off massive unemployment, an economic downturn and brain drain, as Penangites looked elsewhere for greener pastures. Concurrently, the development of Port Klang near Kuala Lumpur as Malaysia's main harbour took away much of George Town's maritime trade. George Town's economy was in need of reform, which was implemented in the form of the Bayan Lepas Free Industrial Zone. Multinational electronics and engineering firms flocked into the city and high tech manufacturing became one of the main pillars of George Town's economy, earning the city its moniker the Silicon Valley of the East.

However, George Town's decline continued into the 21st century. In 2008, local residents, incensed by the conditions in the city, voted out the incumbent state government led by Barisan Nasional. The new Pakatan Rakyat (now Pakatan Harapan) administration sought to bring back the glory of the Pearl of the Orient. Penang's economy rebounded, while efforts to clean up George Town, improvements in traffic flow, crime reduction, upgrades of the city's infrastructure and rebranding the city's cultural attractions were intensified. Consequently, George Town has been undergoing a renaissance of sorts; it was accorded UNESCO World Heritage status in 2008 and ranked the most liveable city in Malaysia by ECA International.


Unlike other Malaysian cities, most of the city's English street names are retained, albeit altered with Malay road name designations. The most common Malay street name designation in George Town starts with Jalan, meaning road, although Lebuh, which means street, is also common within the UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Malay street name designations and their English translations are as listed below.

Malay English Malay example English example
Jalan Road Jalan Penang Penang Road
Lebuh Street Lebuh Bishop Bishop Street
Lebuh Pantai Beach Street
Lorong Lane Lorong Love Love Lane
Gat Lebuh Street Ghaut Gat Lebuh Armenian Armenian Street Ghaut
Persiaran Drive Persiaran Gurney Gurney Drive
Lebuhraya Avenue Lebuhraya Peel Peel Avenue
Pengkalan Quay Pengkalan Weld Weld Quay
Medan Square Medan Cannon Cannon Square
Pesara Place Pesara King Edward King Edward Place

One of George Town's bilingual street signs, which in this case, is at Victoria Street. Street Ghaut refers to the extensions of a street that were part of reclaimed land.

You will find that street names are often referred to by their English and Malay names interchangeably. In the case of Beach Street, its Malay translation is Lebuh Pantai, with the Malay term Pantai, meaning Beach. To further add to the confusion, you may also hear streets being referred to by their English colonial names. For instance, local Penangites still prefer Pitt Street to the road's official name (Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling), Northam Road instead of Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah and Green Lane instead of Jalan Masjid Negeri. This indicates a strong conservatism among the local population, who see Penang's colonial history as part of their local identity.

In 2008, the standard street signs throughout George Town were modified with the addition of the streets' English, Chinese, Tamil and/or Jawi (Arabic-script Malay) names. The new street signs are still in use to this day throughout the city.

The People of George Town (Malaysia)

Ethnic Indians celebrating Thaipusam in George Town. Indians accounted for nearly 10% of the city's population. Only a few Malaysian cities could claim to have George Town's multiethnic mix. What separates George Town, and the State of Penang, from the rest is that there is a higher proportion of ethnic Chinese compared to Malays. The city is also home to substantial proportions of Indians, Eurasians and Thais, along with a large expatriate community.

George Town is also a centre of Peranakan culture. When Chinese traders first came to George Town soon after its establishment, some of them took local Malay brides and adopted many local customs. This resulted in an interesting fusion of Malay and Chinese cultures. In addition, at the time, the British favoured George Town over Malacca and endeavoured to transfer Malacca's wealthy merchant class, including the Peranakans, to George Town. Historically, this particular community played an important role in George Town's economy and politics.

The harmonious coexistence of various ethnicities, cultures and religions over the centuries has manifested itself along one particular street in George Town. Pitt Street (Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling) is also known as the Street of Harmony, due to the Muslim, Taoist, Hindu and Christian places of worship sharing the same street, being located merely metres away from one another.

How is the Climate in George Town (Malaysia)

With George Town being fairly close to the equator you can expect a typical tropical climate. Temperatures are generally constant year round, with daily highs of around 30-32°C (86-90°F) and nightly lows around 22-24°C (71-75°F). Humidity is also usually high so do not be surprised by stinking hot days.

Along with the glaring sun and humidity, rainfall is almost guaranteed daily and the occasional deafening thunderstorm from the Strait of Malacca will drench the city, especially during the wet season. Annual rainfall averages around 2,500 mm, with the wettest months being around September to November. The driest months of the year run from December to February, although rainfall is still frequent.

As with much of Peninsular Malaysia and Singapore, George Town suffers from the annual haze phenomenon, which is caused by forest fires in neighbouring Indonesia. The hazy season typically occurs between July and October. If you happen to be in George Town during a haze, it is best to constantly check for the latest air pollution index (API), reduce outdoor activities if the haze gets worse and, of course, drink more water.


Songkran festivities in George Town As for the Muslims, the Islamic month of Ramadan and Eid-ul-Fitr, or Hari Raya Puasa as it is called here, are major occasions. Open houses would be held throughout the city, offering visitors a rich array of Malay cuisine to sample. Shopping malls and the Malay enclave in the UNESCO World Heritage Site would also be decorated for the festivities. Another festival celebrated by the Muslims is Eid-ul-Adha, known locally as Hari Raya Haji. In local mosques, lambs contributed by the faithful are sacrificed and their meat is given to the needy.

The Hindu festival of lights, Diwali, known locally as Deepavali, is celebrated around October or November. For this particular occasion, Little India, with its brightly-coloured decorations, becomes the most happening place in George Town. The other major festivity, which falls in either January or February, is Thaipusam, during which male devotees would carry a kavadi, an elaborate structure which pierces through several parts of his body, through the length of the city into Little India. This boisterous celebration also includes the smashing of coconuts on the road, symbolising the shattering of one's ego to unveil inner purity.

The Buddhists, of both Theravada and Mahayana faiths, observe Vesak Day, which also includes street processions with large hand-made floats by the various Buddhist associations and temples. Towards the end of each year, there is Christmas Day, which is observed by the Christians, including the Eurasians at Pulau Tikus.

As George Town is home to thousands of expatriates of various nationalities, other cultural celebrations include Songkran, Bon Odori, St. Patrick's Festival and Oktoberfest. Songkran is celebrated by ethnic Thais and other Penangites regardless of ethnicity at Pulau Tikus, where two Buddhist temples - Wat Chaiyamangkalaram and the Dhammikarama Burmese Temple - are located. Bon Odori is typically held at the Esplanade and features Japanese cultural performances. St. Patrick's Festival is organised by the Penang Irish Association and held annually at Straits Quay, while the Malaysian-German Association holds the yearly Oktoberfest celebrations.

The secular holidays in Penang include the New Year's Day, Malaysia's National Day on 31 August and the George Town World Heritage Day on 7 July. The latter commemorates the listing of the city centre as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2008 and features various organised activities within the city's old core.

Local events in George Town (Malaysia)

The annual Chin Parade in the city streets every December.

Event Date Duration
Penang Hot Air Balloon Fiesta February Two days
Penang Fashion Week April One week
Penang International Food Festival April Two weeks
George Town Festival July/August/September One month
November Three days
November/December One month
November/December Three days
Penang International Dragon Boat Festival December Two days
Chin Parade December One night George Town hosts numerous events in any given year. Among the more prominent ones include the George Town Festival, the Penang Hot Air Balloon Fiesta, the Penang international Food Festival, Pesta Pulau Pinang, the George Town Literary Festival, the Penang Fashion Week, the Penang Island Jazz Festival, the Penang International Dragon Boat Festival and the annual Chin Parade in December.

How to visit and travel to George Town (Malaysia)

Buy a Flight ticket to and from George Town (Malaysia)

Penang International Airport at Bayan Lepas The Penang International Airport GPS 5.293033,100.26544 (IATA Code: PEN), about 16 kilometers|mi south of the city centre, is Malaysia's third busiest airport, with good connectivity to several major regional cities. It is well-served by flights from domestic destinations, including Johor Bahru, Kota Bharu, Kota Kinabalu, Kuala Lumpur, Kuantan, Kuching, Langkawi and Malacca, mainly operated by Malaysia Airlines, Firefly and AirAsia. International flights also call at the airport from Banda Aceh, Bangkok, Doha, Guangzhou, Haikou, Hanoi, Hat Yai, Ho Chi Minh City, Hong Kong, Jakarta, Kunming, Medan, Nanning, Phuket, Sanya, Singapore, Surabaya, Taipei and Wuhan.

Ground transport options to the airport fall under two categories: local taxis or the public bus system, Rapid Penang. Taxis operate with a pre-paid coupon system that you collect from the taxi counter near the arrivals area of the airport. The coupon to George Town will cost around RM44.70, but between 00:01-05:59 will cost RM67. For a Rapid Penang bus to the heart of George Town, take either bus 102 (to Teluk Bahang), 401 (to Jetty), 401E (to Jetty) or AT. The fare to KOMTAR is RM2.70, where you can then transfer to another bus if needed. Have the correct fare ready as bus drivers don't give out change.

Book a Halal Cruise or Boat Tour in George Town (Malaysia)

From Butterworth

A repainted Rapid Ferry, which offers daily shuttles between George Town and Butterworth. For those who are in Butterworth, or have made their way up by train, the easiest way to reach the heart of George Town is by Rapid Ferry, the oldest ferry service in Malaysia. See the get in section of the Butterworth page for information on how to arrive by train. Only a short walk from the Butterworth train station is the Sultan Abdul Halim Ferry Terminal (also known as the Butterworth Ferry Terminal), with the cross-strait ferries departing every 10-20 minutes between 05:20–00:40 daily. The fare to George Town costs RM1.20 for adults or RM0.60 for children. If you are returning to Butterworth the journey is free. Ferries arrive at Raja Tun Uda Ferry Terminal GPS 5.413838,100.343119 at Weld Quay within the city centre's UNESCO World Heritage Site. Virtually all Rapid Penang buses within George Town arrive and depart from Weld Quay, with a brief stopover at KOMTAR.

From Langkawi

The Langkawi Ferry Service operates a ferry service between Swettenham Pier, within the city centre's UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the island of Langkawi. Two ferries depart Langkawi for Swettenham Pier daily - at 10:30 and 15:00. Tickets for adults cost RM60 (RM120 for a two-way trip) and RM45 (RM90) for children.


Swettenham Pier is one of the main entry points of George Town. Swettenham Pier within the city centre's UNESCO World Heritage Site, is the cruise terminal of George Town and the busiest of all cruise terminals within Malaysia. Many cruise ships call here from other major cities in Southeast Asia. Star Cruises is a primary operator at this port with common itineraries including a one-night cruise on the high seas or a 3-night cruise to Krabi and Phuket before returning to George Town. The port is also a frequent stop for round-the-world and major regional cruises often originating from Singapore, Hong Kong, Australia, Europe and North America. Typically these cruises allow a port visit in George Town for several hours before continuing to another destination. Refer to individual cruise companies for details of these cruise routes and the duration of stay at each port.

By road

The Second Penang Bridge is currently the longest bridge in Southeast Asia. Motorists heading to George Town will have two cross-strait options to reach the city from the mainland - the Penang Bridge GPS 5.35409,100.346133 and the Second Penang Bridge GPS 5.282132,100.311522. The 13.5 kilometers|mi|abbr=on|adj=on Penang Bridge stretches across the mid-span of the Penang Strait that separates Penang Island and the mainland, connecting the suburb of Gelugor in George Town with the town of Perai. Meanwhile, the 24 kilometers|mi|abbr=on|adj=on}}-long Second Penang Bridge, opened in 2014, is the longest bridge in Southeast Asia. It is situated to the south, linking Bayan Lepas on the island with the town of Batu Kawan on the mainland.

Toll charges for drivers using the Penang Bridge is RM7.00, and RM8.50 for those using the Second Penang Bridge. The tolls can be paid using the Touch n Go card. Drivers heading to George Town are required to pay the tolls on the mainland side, just prior to getting onto the bridges. Conversely, those driving out of George Town towards the mainland are not required to pay toll charges.

From the north

Penang Bridge

The Penang Bridge connects the suburb of Gelugor in George Town with Perai on the mainland. Motorists from the north may prefer the Penang Bridge due to the geographical proximity and its direct connections to the city centre. Those who are using the North South Expressway from Butterworth should keep a straight course via an interchange between Exits 162 and 161 (within the town of Perai) to access the Penang Bridge. Toll charges must be paid at the Sungai Dua Toll Booth (Exit 165). Once on Penang Island, motorists have the option of using either the Lim Chong Eu Expressway or Green Lane to get to the city centre to the north.

Second Penang Bridge

Motorists opting for the Second Penang Bridge may transit from the North South Expressway towards the bridge at Exit 157 (near the town of Batu Kawan). After turning left, motorists will have to pay the toll at the Sultan Abdul Halim Mu'adzam Shah Bridge Toll Plaza, before heading straight onto the bridge. However, this option is less used, as the bridge leads to Bayan Lepas near the southeastern tip of Penang Island, away from the city centre.

From the south

Penang Bridge

Motorists from the south who are using the North South Expressway should use Exit 161 (within the town of Perai) to access the Penang Bridge. Toll charges must be paid at the Juru Toll Booth (Exit 160).

Second Penang Bridge

Motorists from the south may prefer the Second Penang Bridge, due to the slightly closer geographical proximity. To access the Second Penang Bridge, motorists can transit from the North South Expressway towards the bridge at Exit 157 (near the town of Batu Kawan). After turning left, motorists will have to pay the toll at the Sultan Abdul Halim Mu'adzam Shah Bridge Toll Plaza, before heading straight onto the bridge.

The bridge leads to Bayan Lepas near the southeastern tip of Penang Island, so motorists would also need to factor in the northward commute towards the city centre, which is best done along the Lim Chong Eu Expressway stretching along the east coast of the island.

Travel on a Bus in George Town (Malaysia)

Intercity express buses are a common means of travel between cities and regions in Malaysia. The bus network is not only extensive but is also relatively affordable and comfortable.

The Sungai Nibong Bus Terminal GPS 5.343346,100.300523 is located at Sungai Nibong, to the south of the city centre. All intercity express bus services headed for George Town from the rest of Peninsular Malaysia, Singapore or southern Thailand will terminate here. To reach the city centre from here, a taxi will cost around RM30. You could alternatively take Rapid Penang's buses 102, 303, 305, 308 or 401 to get to the city centre.

Get around

Travel on a Bus in George Town (Malaysia)

A Rapid Penang bus A Hop-On Hop-Off double decker There are two types of public bus services within George Town.

Rapid Penang is the main public bus service provider, with various routes covering the entire city of George Town as well as the State of Penang. Most bus routes start from the Raja Tun Uda Ferry Terminal at Weld Quay (also known as the Jetty), transiting through KOMTAR before continuing on to the suburbs. Depending on the service, buses begin operating around 05:30 from Weld Quay and can cease operating as early as 22:00, with some major bus routes continuing until midnight.

The fare structure used by Rapid Penang is distance-based. Most fares within the city centre will cost RM1.40 or RM2. For those heading outwards to the suburbs, the fare could be between RM2.70 and RM4. The exact fare is required, so keep hold of some loose change; if you are unsure of how much to pay, just tell the driver where you are going. If you plan to stay in George Town and around Penang for more than a few days, you may opt to purchase a Rapid Passport. This 7-day travel pass allows for unlimited travel on all Rapid Penang buses throughout Penang for RM30. The Rapid Passport can be purchased from the Rapid Kiosks at KOMTAR and Weld Quay, or from the Penang visitors centre at Whiteaways Arcade, Beach Street.

In addition to the paid bus services, Rapid Penang also operates a handful of free-of-charge routes. The Central Area Transit (CAT) and the CAT George Town Loop 2 services cater to commuters within the city centre; the former loops within the UNESCO World Heritage Site with stops at Light Street, Little India, Penang Road and Pitt Street, while the latter circles the more modernised areas of the city centre, including Burmah Road, Northam Road and Macalister Road.

The Hop-On Hop-Off service is the second public bus service within George Town. Aimed primarily at tourists, it utilises open-top double deckers and features two routes - the City Route and the Beach Route. Both routes originate at Gurney Drive. The City Route snakes its way to the Botanical Gardens and the suburb of Air Itam, including Penang Hill and the Kek Lok Si Temple, before returning to the city centre via KOMTAR. The Beach Route heads north towards the beaches of Batu Ferringhi. This bus service operates daily between 09:00 and 19:00, with a frequency of about 1 hour and 15 minutes.

By foot

George Town, in particular the UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a relatively compact city to explore on foot. Sidewalks have been refurbished in recent years and cycling lanes have been added, occasionally alongside the sidewalks. Tourists can hop off the boats at Weld Quay and explore the city centre, either on foot or by cycling, past some of the most historical landmarks within the vicinity, including Wisma Kastam, the Penang State Legislative Assembly Building, the City Hall, the Esplanade, the High Court of Penang, St. George's Church and the banks along Beach Street. It is possible for a pedestrian to walk from the sea terminals all the way to KOMTAR and its adjacent shopping malls (1st Avenue and Prangin Mall), through some of the more famous places such as Little India, Pitt Street and Armenian Street. Gurney Drive, a seafront promenade, is another place for a stroll at either sunrise or sunset.

Cycling lanes have been extended from the city centre to the outlying suburbs, such as Tanjung Tokong, Tanjung Bungah, Jelutong, Gelugor and Bayan Lepas (Queensbay Mall), so theoretically it is possible to cycle along almost the entire eastern coastline of Penang Island. Certain areas within the suburbs are pedestrian-friendly as well. At Tanjung Tokong, for instance, visitors can walk or cycle along Straits Quay. At Jelutong, the sea-facing Karpal Singh Drive is another place to consider for a stroll. At Air Itam, tourists could walk from the Kek Lok Si Temple to the nearby Air Itam Market, which is famous for its asam laksa stall.

By trishaw

A trishaw, known by the locals as the beca The humble trishaw, or beca in Malay, was once the primary mode of transport for the locals. With the introduction of an extensive bus network the trishaws of George Town have dwindled and are now primarily aimed at tourists. They are still a fun and unique way to travel the streets at a leisurely pace and perhaps find some of the city's hidden gems along the extensive back streets. Trishaws are generally found within the UNESCO World Heritage Site. Hiring can be done on an hourly basis, costing around RM30-40/hr, or for shorter travel the price will vary, around RM10-15 for a 15-min trip. Always agree on a price in advance and do not be afraid to haggle, as drivers will often inflate their first price.

By e-hailing

Grab, an e-hailing app widely used within the city, is possibly the most convenient method for tourists to get around, provided that the Internet connection is available. More often than not, Grab serves as the cheaper alternative to taxis, which are notorious for fleecing tourists and for refusing to use the meter. Most Grab drivers speak at least a reasonable command of English, so communication would not be a problem.

Best way to travel in George Town (Malaysia) by a Taxi

City taxis are required to charge according to the meter. However, as is the case in Kuala Lumpur, most taxi drivers have no respect for this law. Attempts at finding a taxi driver willing to use a meter will be futile. Taxi drivers, particularly at the Penang International Airport, are also notorious for fleecing arriving visitors.

Always haggle with the taxi driver and firmly agree on a price beforehand. Taxis can also be hired for a minimum of 3 hr at RM25-30/hr.

By motorbike or scooter

You may also rent your own motorbike or scooter to get around. These shops can be found along Chulia Street and also Penang Road. Cost is around RM25 for each day if you're renting more than a couple of days rental including the loan of an unsanitary helmet. Deposit is often RM200 (May 2023). Test the brakes and chain tightness as most are not well-maintained.

What to see in George Town (Malaysia)

See Penang for attractions located throughout the rest of the state; this list covers only sights located within George Town.

Thanks to the UNESCO World Heritage Site listing and strict zoning laws within the historic core of George Town, a combination of historical buildings and gently crumbling, but largely intact, shophouses offer a glimpse into the city's past.

Historical buildings

The Penang State Museum was originally built at the end of the 19th century to house Penang Free School, the oldest English school in Southeast Asia. Wisma Kastam is one of the first sights that greet arriving seaborne tourists. HSBC, housed within the HSBC Building, is one of the several international banks along Beach Street, which serves as the Central Business District (CBD) of George Town. Queen Victoria Memorial Clock Tower It may be worthwhile engaging a walking tour guide as they are trained to give in-depth details on the history and culture of heritage sites. There are several themed walking guides to choose from and each typically takes around 3 hours. Book ahead.

Administrative landmarks

  • Fort Cornwallis - The fort, named for Charles Cornwallis, is built on the site where Francis Light, founder of Penang, landed on 11 August 1786. It was first built in 1793. But this site was an unlikely spot to defend the city from invasion. In 1810 it was rebuilt in an attempt to make up for initial strategic planning errors. In the shape of a star, the only actual buildings still standing are the outer walls, a gunpowder magazine, and a small Christian chapel. Several old cannons (including one that is believed by some locals to have magical 'fertility' powers) can still be found at the fort. There are also small displays of artefacts recovered from archaeological digs inside the fort. The magazine houses an exhibit of old photos and historical accounts of the old fort.
  • City Hall The headquarters of the Penang Island City Council, the local government of George Town. A well-preserved colonial building constructed in 1903 when Penang was a British crown colony, at a cost of 100,000 Straits dollars.
  • Penang State Assembly Building - Light Street Built in the 19th century as a police station, this Anglo-Indian Classical building is where the legislature of the State of Penang - the Penang State Legislative Assembly - convenes. The building is closed to the public; tourists can only view it from the outside.
  • High Court of Penang - Inaugurated in 1903, this Palladian-style building now houses the High Court of Penang, which had been established in 1809 as the first judiciary in modern Malaysia. The building is closed to the public; tourists can only view it from the outside.
  • Wisma Kastam Malayan Railway Building This colonial building houses the Penang branch of the Royal Malaysian Customs. It was completed in 1907 as a Malayan Train station. As it is not beside a rail track, it was known as the only rail station in the world without a railway.
  • Queen Victoria Memorial Clock Tower - The 60 m high clock tower was presented by local millionaire Cheah Chen Eok in 1897 to commemorate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria.

Commercial landmarks

Beach Street Lebuh Pantai As the main Central Business District (CBD) of George Town, Beach Street is lined with mercantile buildings constructed between the 1880s and the 1950s. Among the landmarks along the street are the Standard Chartered Building, HSBC Building, the Penang Islamic Council Building, OCBC Building, Bank of China Building, Whiteways Arcade, India House and the Logan Heritage Building.

  • Wisma Yeap Chor Ee - China Street Ghaut GPS 5.4153,100.342292 opp. Wisma Kastam . An elegant colonial building built in the 1920s, it once belonged to Yeap Chor Ee, a China-born tycoon. The building now houses @CAT, a coworking space popular amongst startups and freelancers.


  • Penang State Museum - Formerly the Penang Free School which was built in two separate stages in 1896 and 1906. The museum is an interesting starting point to discover the multi-ethnic background of George Town. Two floors display the history of the immigrant community that participated in the creation of the present city. The museum also exhibits the paintings of Captain Robert Smith and the lovely engravings of William Daniell. Other exhibits include a former Penang Hill railway carriage, a handwritten Qur`an and old Malay weapons donated by the family of the late Dato' Haji Fathil Basheer.
  • Sun Yat-sen Museum - The Sun Yat Sen Museum is a beautifully preserved house museum and one of the smallest museums in Asia. It houses a permanent exhibition on Sun Yat Sen’s early revolutionary period in Penang when he planned the uprising now knows as the Chinese Revolution of 1911. If you are not into Chinese history, it is still worth dropping by just to see a modest, scaled down version of the traditional Chinese courtyards seen in historic mansions in town. The house was built in 1880 and is full of period furniture and details.
  • Made in Penang Interactive Museum Housed within the Behn-Meyer Building which was built in the late 19th century, this interactive museum features various three-dimensional interactive art pieces that depict Penang's culture, history and lifestyle.
  • Penang Time Tunnel Museum An interactive museum that features three-dimensional artwork about Penang's history.


Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion Pinang Peranakan Mansion

  • Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion - The Blue Mansion - Built in the 1890s, and restored in the 1990s (earning it an UNESCO award in 2000), this indigo-blue Chinese mansion was the main residence of Cheong Fatt Tze, known as the Rockefeller of the East and J.P. Morgan of China. The mansion was built according to feng shui principles by master craftsmen from China, who used their skills to fashion a sprawling mansion of 38 rooms, 5 granite-paved courtyards, 7 staircases and 220 windows. The mansion features in various films, including the 1993 Oscar-winning Indochine and the 2018 movie Crazy Rich Asians. Lodging is also available; see the sleep section.
  • Pinang Peranakan Mansion - Built as the home of Kapitan Chung Keng Kwee, a prominent local Chinese tycoon, this green-coloured Straits Eclectic house is now home to thousands of Peranakan antiques once used by the Peranakans. It was also featured in several movies and television series, such as Singapore's The Little Nyonya and The Amazing Race (Season 16).
  • Leong San Tong Khoo Kongsi - Built in 1850 by the forefathers of Khoo family who emigrated from China as a clan-house for members of the Khoo family. In 1836, construction of a new temple began and was completed eight years later. Fire razed the wooden structure to the ground in 1894, it was struck by lightning. Chinese believed that it was due to its resemblance to the Emperor's palace, which provoked the gods. A scaled-down version was later built in 1902 and completed in 1906. The richly ornamented carvings of the roofs, walls and pillars reflect the art and architecture of ancient China and made of the finest wood. Expect to finish a visit to Khoo Kongsi with a sore neck.
  • Chinese Clan Jetties There are six clan jetties along the eastern coastline of George Town. They are worth walking to and looking at, as they provide an insight to the way local Chinese live in traditional huts built on the sea on stilts. Chew Jetty is the most well known and leads to a small temple at the end. Lee Jetty is brightly lit at night by beautiful lanterns. Be cautious while walking in this area.

Religious sites

St. George's Church, the oldest Anglican church in Southeast Asia Goddess of Mercy Temple (Kuan Yin Teng) Sri Mariamman Temple Kapitan Keling Mosque, the oldest mosque in the city centre Wat Chaiyamangkalaram George Town has a profusion of sites of worship of all different faiths. Within the city centre, four major religions - Christianity, Taoism, Hinduism and Islam - have a presence along Pitt Street, earning the road its moniker, the Street of Harmony.

  • St. George's Church | The oldest Anglican church in Southeast Asia was completed in 1818. The church was designed by Robert Smith, a military engineer who is known for his oil paintings of early Penang, which are now housed within the Penang State Museum. A memorial dedicated to Captain Francis Light, in the form of a Greek temple with a marble slab, stands within the church's compound. Services are still held at the church on Sundays, Wednesdays and Saturdays.
  • Goddess of Mercy Temple - Kuan Yin Teng | Built in 1801, the Goddess of Mercy Temple is one of the oldest Chinese temples in Penang. This Taoist temple is flocked to by pilgrims year round, particularly on the 1st and 15th days of each lunar month. The building is decorated with intricately crafted dragons and a pair of stone sculptured lions which guard the temple. Puppet shows and Chinese operas are staged in the temple's square on the Goddess of Mercy's feast days and there is an octagonal well in one corner, which was once a public well for the Chinese community.
  • Sri Mariamman Temple Arulmigu Mahamariamman Temple Built in 1833, the Sri Mariamman Temple is the oldest Hindu temple in Penang. It is dedicated to the deity Sri Muthu Mariamman and features a gopuram (sculptured tower) of 38 Hindu deities. Enter the temple during prayer hours in the mornings and evenings; remove your shoes prior to stepping into the temple.
  • Kapitan Keling Mosque Built in the early 19th century and named after Caudeer Mohudeen, an Indian Muslim merchant who was also the Kapitan Keling, or leader of the Indian Muslim community. This historic mosque features a dome-shaped minaret that reflects Moorish Islamic influence and has been a prominent place of worship for local Indian Muslims for over 200 years. Free tours operate during non-prayer times. Shoes must be removed prior to entering the mosque and women are provided with heavy robes to wear. Men who are not appropriately dressed will also be supplied robes.
  • Church of the Assumption | The first permanent Catholic church to be built in George Town, the Church of the Assumption was established by a group of Eurasian immigrants who accompanied Captain Francis Light to Penang. It is also one of the few churches in Malaysia with church bells that were cast during British rule. It also houses one of the last remaining and oldest European-made air organs in Malaysia.
  • Wat Chaiyamangalaram Founded in 1845, this Thai-style Buddhist temple is famous for its 33|m|ft|abbr=on|adj=on reclining Buddha, one of the world's longest. The temple was built on a piece of land given by Queen Victoria to Siamese trustees as a gesture of goodwill to boost trading relations with Thailand. The guardian dragon and statue at the entrance are both ostentatious and spectacular. A small Siamese community still resides within the vicinity of the temple, which is the focal point of the annual Songkran festivities.
  • Dhammikarama Burmese Temple A Burmese Buddhist temple founded in 1803. At the entrance a pair of white elephants, which are sacred in Buddhism, guard the temple while within, a bodhi tree and wishing pond greets the visitor.
  • Arulmigu Balathandayuthapani Temple Waterfall Temple Located at a hilltop next to the Penang Botanic Gardens, the Arulmigu Balathandayuthapani Temple was built in the mid-19th century, making it one of the oldest Hindu temples in George Town. It was last renovated in the 2000s, with Muslim visitors now having to climb over 500 steps to reach the temple. It also serves as a focal point of the annual Thaipusam celebrations.

Other religious sites outside the city centre are as follows.

Floating Mosque Masjid Terapung Tanjung Bungah GPS 5.468846,100.278137 Last edited: 2022-00-00

Penang State Mosque Masjid Negeri Jalan Air Itam, Air Itam


Boy on a Bike by Ernest Zacharevic Penang Hill Funicular Railway Graffiti has become all the rage in George Town, after Lithuanian artist, Ernest Zacharevic, painted several whimsical murals of the city's lifestyle and history, such as the pensive Boy on a Bike and the cheerful Little Children on a Bicycle on the walls of old buildings as part of the George Town Festival in 2012. Since then, many more wall paintings have popped up around the city, grabbing the attention of passers-by. Wire art has also been widely installed by the heritage board, commemorating bits and pieces of Penang history with pithy quotes. An informative map is available from the visitor centre.

  • Gurney Drive - This seafront street and promenade now forms part of George Town's Central Business District (CBD). Home to upscale shopping malls, an eponymous hawker centre and towering skyscrapers, it is also a good place to unwind and stroll along.
  • Protestant Cemetery The burial site of early European administrators and merchants, including Captain Francis Light and Thomas Leonowens. Filled with crumbling, vegetation-covered tombs, it bears witness to a century of colonisation. There are around 500 burial sites here, a quarter of which no longer bear readable inscriptions. Accessible through a gate in the rear wall is the Roman Catholic Cemetery, most of whose graves are so old the inscriptions are no longer readable.
  • Little India - Covering an area around Queen Street, Chulia Street and Market Street, Little India is an ethnic Indian enclave. Walking on the streets, you cannot avoid smelling Indian spices and hearing Bollywood music. The area is very lively; one might say it is the noisiest part of George Town with the sights, sounds, aroma and foods of India.
  • Penang Hill - Air Itam GPS 5.424582,100.269027 Last edited: 2022-00-00. At 735|m|ft above sea level, the peak of Penang Hill offers a panoramic bird's eye view of the city and fresher air. For more details, refer to Air Itam#See.
  • Penang Botanic Gardens - The gardens were established by Charles Curtis way back in 1884; it's generally known as the Waterfall Gardens by the locals because of a waterfall located within it. The botanical gardens hosts a wide variety of flora and fauna, including orchids, cannonball trees and monkeys. Many locals will come to the gardens to perform their daily exercises like walking, jogging, jungle trekking, aerobic dance, and to practice Tai Chi or Qi Gong.
  • Entopia Butterfly Farm Home to some 13,000 species of butterflies, the Entopia Butterfly Farm also contains numerous other invertebrates and insects.
  • Tropical Spice Garden An eight-acre collection of secondary jungle filled with various types of spices that are in common use in the kitchens of Penang.
  • Penang National Park - Taman Negara Pulau Pinang | This small national park contains easy walking trails in the jungle. Along the way you will see white sandy beaches, monkeys and a light house, all while spending up to half the day in the jungles far from the noise of the city. Entrance is free, you just have to write your name on the register as you get in and out. The trails are well marked and boat services are available to various points inside the parks. Visitors keen on trying out the Canopy Walkway are required to pay a fee of RM5. As of late October 2022, the path to Monkey Beach is CLOSED due to landslides. It's possible to get to the beach by boat, which can be arranged to go directly to Monkey Beach from the entrance, or pick you up from Turtle Beach if you want to experience a hike in the park. The Canopy Walkway is also CLOSED for renovations.

Top Muslim Travel Tips for George Town (Malaysia)

The Rainbow Skywalk, a glass skywalk at the top of the KOMTAR Tower, was launched in 2016. The beaches of Batu Ferringhi ESCAPE Theme Park at Teluk Bahang Besides enjoying excellent food, walking tours and sightseeing the beautiful old city, George Town offers various modern entertainment options to the discerning tourist. If you, tired of walking, want to kill a couple of hours there is the possibility of catching a movie at any of the several shopping malls in the city centre, including 1st Avenue, Gurney Plaza and Gurney Paragon. Some shopping malls, notably Gurney Plaza and Queensbay Mall contain other forms of entertainment as well, such as karaoke, laser tag and escape games.

Many George Town shops now offer bike rentals for RM10/day, as travellers embark on a street art trail of sorts, cycling around main roads and hidden back lanes to look at murals and wire art. Bicycle pathways have been painted throughout the city, making it safer for cyclists and pedestrians alike.

Rainbow Skywalk Opened in 2016, the Rainbow Skywalk, at the top of the KOMTAR Tower, is the highest glass skywalk in Malaysia. Standing on transparent glass just a few inches thick, one could not only see the busy streets directly below, but also have a bird's eye view of much of the city.

The Gravityz Launched in 2018, The Gravityz is a series of rope courses along the outside of KOMTAR Tower. Again not for the acrophobic, it includes a flying fox zipline and a narrow mesh-wire pathway designed to challenge your balancing skills. Only six persons are allowed at the rope courses at any given time and personal protective equipment (PPE) are provided.

  • Occupy Beach Street - Every Sunday morning, Beach Street, Bishop Street, Church Street and Church Street Ghaut are turned into car-free zones. Family-friendly recreational activities and roadside stalls will be set up along these roads.
  • Hin Bus Art Depot Art afficionadi can head to this art gallery, which periodically curates art exhibitions. It also contains open spaces for events, a garden and cafes. A pop-up market featuring local artists and other retailers is held every Sunday.
  • Penang Bowl A 16-lane bowling venue for bowlers within the city centre.
  • The Habitat A relatively recent addition on the peak of Penang Hill, The Habitat offers well-constructed jungle trails. The Curtis Crest Tree Top Walk is an elevated semi-circular platform - the highest of its kind in Penang - providing an all-round bird's eye view of Penang Hill out to the vast expanse of the Malacca Straits. The 230m Langur Way Canopy Walk gives tourists a panoramic view of the greenery below whilst being right inside the forest canopy.
  • ESCAPE The ESCAPE Theme Park consists of two parts - one for jungle-themed activities and another for aquatic games. The former includes zip-lines, bungee jumping and rock climbing, whilst the latter contains water tunnels, slides and pools - all within a refreshing jungle setting.
  • Batu Ferringhi - What better way to enjoy a paintball match than a historical setting at a former British fortress? Packages are available for groups of 10 to 20.

Muslim Friendly Shopping in George Town (Malaysia)

Markets remain a daily way of life in Penang, and locals often go to them to buy affordable accessories and fresh food. Bargain hard to get a good price and preferably get a local to accompany you. George Town's retail scene is complemented by several modern shopping malls as well, with some offering various entertainment options.


Chowrasta Market - Built in 1890, Chowrasta Market is one of the oldest wet markets in Malaysia. It does not only offer poultry and vegetables, however, as tourists will find various local products as well, including processed nutmegs, cloves, durian cakes and tau sar pneah (a local bean paste biscuit). The market is said to be the go-to place to buy home some local produce from Penang. Above the ground floor are bookstores selling second-hand publications.

  • Lorong Kulit Flea Market - Said to be the biggest flea market in Penang, the open-air Lorong Kulit Flea Market is sited right outside the City Stadium. All sorts of second-hand goods, imitation products, eclectic items and even antiques can be found here at bargain prices.

Night markets

Night markets (or pasar malam in Malay) are open-air flea markets held at night. Various accessories, apparel and tidbits can be found at dirt-affordable prices, so long as you are able to bargain hard.

Batu Ferringhi Night Market - Jalan Batu Ferringhi, Batu Ferringhi One of the most well-known night markets in Penang. For more details, refer to Batu Ferringhi#Buy.

Batu Ferringhi may be a little too far for some tourists within the city centre, but there are other night markets held at different locations every night.

  • Macallum Street Ghaut Night Market
  • Tanjung Bungah Night Market
  • Farlim Night Market For more details, refer to Air Itam#Buy.
  • Paya Terubong Night Market - For more details, refer to Air Itam#Buy.
  • Jelutong Night Market
  • Sungai Dua Night Market
  • Balik Pulau Night Market - For more details, refer to Balik Pulau#Buy.

Shopping malls

Gurney Plaza, one of the more well-known shopping malls

  • 1st Avenue - Next to Komtar and Prangin Mall. This stylish downtown mall contains a 5D cineplex, as well as a karaoke. Several shoplots selling electronic goods and various sorts of apparel.

All Seasons Place Anchored by Giant hypermarket, the first strip mall in Penang houses several dining outlets, as well as localised stores selling knock-off goods.

  • Gurney Paragon - Built around a colonial-era school building, this upmarket shopping mall contains an IMAX-equipped cineplex, as well as a wide variety of al fresco restaurants and apparel shops. The mall hosts the annual Penang Fashion Week every April.
  • Gurney Plaza - One of Penang's premier shopping malls, the mall contains various entertainment options, such as a 12-screen cineplex, a karaoke, a laser tag outlet and an escape games venue. Al fresco restaurants line the exterior of the ground floor, whilst inside are several international retail brands.
  • Penang Time Square - This shopping mall contains more localised retail stores offering anything from apparel to pedicure. It is also well-known for its nightclubs and dance clubs located at its basement. A second, newer component, M Mall O2O, is more brightly decorated with wall murals, scupltures and globally-themed corridors, with several tech stores.
  • Prangin Mall Catering to the lower- and middle-class residents, the mall contains several localised retail stores. Get all sorts of apparel and electronic goods, including laptops and smartphones, at lower prices here. The mall also has a somewhat rundown cinema.
  • Queensbay Mall Penang's largest mall contains a wide variety of entertainment options, including a cineplex, a karaoke, a laser tag outlet and an escape games venue. A strong contender to Gurney Plaza with numerous international brands.
  • Straits Quay - Upmarket seaside shopping mall next to a marina, with British-style architecture. Al fresco restaurants line the ground floor. The mall also contains a Royal Selangor pewter outlet, a convention centre and PenangPac, a performing arts venue. A private charter boat service, Lady Martina, is available for hire, traversing the coastline along Gurney Drive.

Udini Square - The mall is well-known for stores offering hardware and sports equipment. It is also located opposite a Tesco hypermarket, convenient for shoppers on a budget.

Halal Restaurants in George Town (Malaysia)

Penang is widely considered to be the food capital of Malaysia, and George Town is the best place in Penang to eat. (See Penang for listings of local dishes.)

Gurney Drive may be the main location where visitors go to have their food, but that does not necessarily mean that the best food can be found there. In fact, most locals consider it to be overrated and expensive. It's best to ask the locals to point you toward the best locations for food, though walking into any "coffee shop" or stall would almost certainly guarantee a worthwhile experience for your taste buds. Knowing some Malay or Hokkien will be useful, but most vendors speak enough English to communicate the basics.

Fiery Hokkien Mee, one of Penang's specialities, at a stall in George Town

  • EE Beng Vegetarian Food Its about a 10 minute walk from either Love Lane or from Komtar. Dickens street is between the Mydin Supermarket and the Police Headquarters (Large blue and white building). This restuarant is opposite the main entrance to the police complex on Dickens Street. Its a small self-serve buffet style vegetarian restaurant. Good choice of food at a easy on the wallet price.

Indian food

  • Sri Ananda Bahwan 53 & in the Indian quarter, offers great Indian food for a very good price. They have branches all over Malaysia.
  • Kapitan's No matter what time of the day, this mamak restaurant serves up great Indian food at a decent price. They are well known for their biryani, tandoori chicken and butter chicken. Also consider trying a drink called Badam milk, unless it has already sold out.
  • Krsna Restaurant Krishna Vilas | Cheap banana leaf style food but now served on paper. Loads of rice with dal and condiments.
  • Illyana's | A Malay-style eatery with a popular Thai cook. Notable dishes include lala fried with Olive oil, satay and the clay pot fish head curry. Seafood is always fresh, you pick what you want from the fresh seafood laid out and the chef cooks it for you in whatever style you fancy.
  • Sri Lankan - Top Secret | Serving Sri Lankan and international food. Also home to the Penang Hash House Harriers chapter. In the later-earlier hours it becomes a bar and place where the regulars and travellers hang out.

Upper Penang Road

If you're looking for something to do at night, there's always Upper Penang Road, where clubs, pubs and bars are always flooded with young people. UPR is located just opposite the famed Eastern And Oriental Hotel and beside the City Bayview Hotel.

Muslim Friendly Hotels in George Town (Malaysia)

Old houses on Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling

  • Tune Hotel - Single room from RM70 (promotional prices can be as low as RM10-30, check website regularly several months in advance, nice and clean. A/C and other services are not included in the online price, but can be purchased separately.
  • City Bayview Penang, 25A Farquhar St. ☎ +60 4 263-3161, (Toll free within Malaysia 1 800 888854), (Fax: +60 4 263-4124). Location: 5⁰ 25'18.68"N ; 100⁰ 20'9.01"E.
  • Sunway Hotel Georgetown - Walking distance to Komtar and famous New Lane hawker centre (night time). May ask for room without breakfast since there are many food stalls around the area.

Eastern & Oriental Hotel

  • Hotel Penaga - Rooms and suites individually furnished with antique cabinets, benches and chairs. The classics of mid-20th-century furniture design are also in every room. They also have world class facilities such as the Penaga Spa, a business centre, a garden, and a swimming pool.
  • Eastern & Oriental Hotel Penang - Founded in 1884 by the Sarkies brothers, legendary hoteliers who also founded Yangon's Strand Hotel and Singapore's famous Raffles Hotel, the E&O is Penang's grand old colonial hotel.
  • Hotel Royal Penang - formerly Dorsett Penang Hotel - This 273-room Singapore-managed, is a short trip from Komtar and the food hub of Macalister Rd. From RM480 for deluxe room.

Next to Komtar and Prangin Mall, in the heart of George Town. The rooms are fairly old, but the staff are friendly and attentive. Guests can book a free shuttle bus to Rasa Sayang Shangri-la and Golden Sands in Batu Ferringhi.


George Town is home to several tertiary institutions and is considered the education hub within northern Malaysia. In addition, the city contains numerous international schools which cater for expatriates.

Stay safe as a Muslim in George Town (Malaysia)

Compared to other major Malaysian cities, George Town is relatively safe. The city's crime rate is somewhat low and serious crimes are pretty rare. Be extra careful in crowds and on roadsides, as they are the spots where petty crimes such as snatch thefts and pickpockets occur.

If you look like a tourist, you will get considerably higher prices from the salesmen in markets, like Batu Ferringhi Night Market, or the market near the Kek Lok Si temple. The real price of the product is always a lot less and at times the "best price" is five times the normal price.

Taxis generally do not use meters due to poor enforcement by local authorities, even though it is "compulsory". The meters are often claimed to be "broken" or are hidden. You should always ask for the use of the meter. The metered price is always less than a price given in advance.


George Town is Malaysia's leading hub for medical tourism, attracting approximately half of the country's incoming foreign patients. The city has several relatively well-equipped hospitals, staffed by professionals who offer treatments and surgeries at a lower cost compared to other healthcare hubs in the region. Many of the hospitals are accredited by either the Joint Commission International Accreditation (JCI) or the Malaysian Society for Quality in Health (MSQH).

  • Penang General Hospital Residency Road opp. the Polo Ground - Penang's oldest public hospital also serves as the main tertiary reference hospital within northern Malaysia.
  • Penang Adventist Hospital A non-profit hospital founded by Christians, the JCI-accredited hospital now offers a wide variety of treatments and is equipped with cutting edge facilities. Particularly popular amongst Asian tourists.
  • Gleneagles Medical Centre A JCI-accredited private hospital offering various treatments and surgeries.
  • Island Hospital A relatively new addition to Penang's healthcare scene, the private hospital has nonetheless underwent significant expansion and now offers various treatments. Accredited by MSQH.
  • Lam Wah Ee Hospital One of the oldest hospitals in Penang, it has two departments: one for Western treatments and another for Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Accredited by MSQH.
  • Loh Guan Lye Specialists Centre A private hospital offering various specialist consultations and treatments. Accredited by MSQH.
  • Mount Miriam Cancer Hospital A non-profit hospital specialising in cancer treatments, surgery and even palliative care for cancer patients.
  • Pantai Hospital A private hospital offering various treatments and surgeries. Accredited by MSQH.

Cope in George Town (Malaysia)

Visitors centre

  • Penang Global Tourism Centre Consider making your way to the local tourist centre, located in the charming colonial Whiteaways Arcade. The staff are friendly and the centre offers all the typical services of a tourism centre. It's a great place to pick up a map or brochures and to find out about the latest events around George Town and the whole of Penang.


Cyber cafés are plentiful in George Town.

Most hotels are equipped with their own Wi-Fi networks. In addition, eateries such as McDonalds, Starbucks and Burger King have free Wi-Fi as well.

Explore more Halal Friendly Destinations from George Town (Malaysia)

  • Butterworth - the main town of Seberang Perai, the mainland half of the State of Penang.
  • Langkawi - the tax-free Jewel of Kedah is accessible via the Langkawi Ferry Service, which departs Swettenham Pier daily at 08:30 and 14:00. Scuba diving, snorkelling, kayaking and jungle trekking are just some of the activities to do in Langkawi.
  • Taiping - about two-hours drive away via the North South Expressway, the Taiping Zoo, its Lake Gardens and Maxwell Hill are some of the noteworthy destinations.
  • Ipoh - about three-hours drive away via the North South Expressway, the national capital of the State of Perak is well-known for its cuisine, colonial architecture and cave temples.
  • Cameron Highlands - lush rolling hills covered by tea plantations and strawberry farms, as well as fresher air, are the main draws of this hill resort about four hours away by car.
  • Kuala Lumpur - the capital of Malaysia is home to some of the country's largest shopping malls.
  • Medan - the capital of the Indonesian province of North Sumatra is just a short hop across the Malacca Straits by plane.
  • Hat Yai - a popular destination among Penangites, local tour companies provide bus and van trips to this city in Southern Thailand.
  • Bangkok - the capital of Thailand can be reached either by regular daily flights or by train from the Butterworth Train Station.

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