Georgetown is unlike any city you’ll experience. It’s intense. It’s cultural. It’s one giant concoction of blended cultures living in harmony with one another. We’re here to guide you through the awesome-ness that is Georgetown by giving you “your complete city guide to Georgetown in Penang, Malaysia.”
Things To Know Before You Visit Georgetown
It’ll be hard to find to a place like Georgetown in your travels. It’s the second largest city in Malaysia that has become a melting pot of various religions and cultures.
To top it all off, Georgetown has taken the title of gastronomic capital for street food in Malaysia and you could argue perhaps the world…bold statement, we know.
Georgetown experienced centuries under British rule and because of its ideal location for trade, has became home to various ethnicities and religions that arrived to its shores.
With so many cultural backgrounds calling Georgetown home, the city acquired a large variety of colonial and Asian architectural styles…not to mention, the tasty food that comes with it all 🙂
In 2008, Georgetown’s oldest portion of the city centre became a UNESCO World Heritage site. Why? For the exact reasons we talked about above.
There is a buzz about this place. The old ways intermingle with the new. Modern cafes and shops line its streets but you’ll find century old family run establishments woven in between it all.
It all just works. The past traditions are honored while the city makes way for the new. Like we said, it’ll be hard to find a place anywhere else like Georgetown.
Best Time of Year To Go to Georgetown
- November – April: Is the best time to visit in terms of no rain but it’s hot and humid… let’s be honest, when isn’t Asia hot and humid? These months are the peak season for Penang too so expect more tourists and higher prices.
- May – August: In May, the monsoon season begins. With it brings humidity and slightly heavier rains. During these months, Penang experiences hot and humid conditions, with short spurts of downpours.
- September & October: These two months are a hit or miss. While technically the monsoon season starts to wind down, weirdly enough, these two months see some of the heaviest rainfalls of the year.
NOTE: We visited Penang in beginning to mid-July and had no issues with the monsoon weather.
What To See & Do in Georgetown
We could honestly give you a lengthy list of stuff to see, do and experience but below are our 7 things to not miss in Georgetown.
Trust us, these 7 things to see and do in georgetown will keep you plenty busy.
1) Discover the Blue Mansion
Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion is the official name of the Blue Mansion. What’s so special about the Blue Mansion? Outside of it being a insanely beautiful indigo-blue building, we’ll tell you.
The Blue Mansion was built in the 1880’s and is home to 38 rooms, 5 courtyards and an impressive 220 windows. The owner, Cheong Fatt Tze, left China, penniless, in search of a new life. He found his way to Georgetown and eventually became one of the wealthiest men in the world. He established a financial empire and with his riches, he built “The Blue Mansion.”
You can take guided tours of this historic home to learn more about Cheong Fatt Tze, the chinese architecture and feng shui of the place.
2) Explore Little India
Penang’s Little India is made up of three streets: Market, Queen and Chulia street. For this Georgetown to do is simple…walk around and just take in the sights and smells. You’ll see the Hindu temple of Sri Mahamariamman Temple and be able to get your fill of Malay Indian food.
Short and sweet, Little India is a fun few blocks to explore by foot.
3) See How Much Street Art You Can Find
Georgetown is home to some the world’s finest street art. Artists from all over the world, Russia and Lithuania specifically, have come to Georgetown to paint on the city’s walls to tell the story of Georgetown’s past and people.
Some of the street art is funny while others are interactive and just flat out impressive. You could spend an afternoon alone chasing the street art…believe us there are many to choose from to find.
NOTE: Check out our separate blog post on “11 Street Art Murals Not to Miss in Georgetown.” We’ll guide you through where each are so you can be a little more tactful about your day.
4) Go On A Culinary Journey
We feel like we may be beating the same drum in this post but Georgetown’s cuisine is unreal. With influences from Malaysia, China and India, your palette will be taken on a flavor ride!
You could keep it simple and make a day out of it. Walk the streets and sample from the food stalls or pop into one of the many restaurants and cafes you’ll find along the way.
If you really want to step up your culinary experience in Georgetown, consider doing a food tour. While we did not take a food tour, we think it would be an unbelievable experience for you to check our or at least consider.
Here are a few “food tour” companies to check out.
5) Take a Trip to Penang Hill
Okay, so technically not located in Georgetown, it’s close enough and totally worth the trip for the views!
Penang Hill is located about 4 miles (6 kms) from the city of Georgetown and is easily reachable by city bus, Uber or Grab. Once there, take a trolly to the top and check out the views of the island of Penang below.
6) Have a Cocktail & Reminisce About Your Day
At night, the city definitely doesn’t settle down. From wine bars to speakeasies, Georgetown definitely has an option for everyone.
Upper Penang Road is where you’ll want to head for the “nightlife” in Georgetown. It’s popular with expats and westerners. Think party zone filled with pubs and nightclubs.
If you want something a little more low-key, honestly, just take to the streets and walk. Small pubs and bars are easy to find.
Go in, grab a drink and talk about the fun you had that day. Just do us a favor and have one for us – cheers!
7) Wander Down Armenian Street
Armenian Street itself is charming and home to cafes, art galleries and plenty of shops for you to get your shopping fix. You can stroll past the Kapitan Keling Mosque and visit the various Chinese Temples and Clan Houses that surround the street.
Aside from the shops, temples and Mosques, Armenian Street is where you can kick off your street art tour to see the famous street art of Penang.
If you’re in Georgetown on a Saturday, be sure to check our the “Armenian Street Saturday Evening Market”. Every saturday evening, Armenian Street comes alive with locals selling arts and crafts, live music and even plays are had.
You can continue onto Chew Jetty from Armenian Street too. Chew Jetty is an early Chinese settlement where houses are built on stilts over the water. Nothing really noteworthy to see but it’s a nice stroll after you finish on Armenian Street.
Where to Eat in Georgetown
We’re going to keep it simple and give you our three favorite spots in Georgetown to eat. Honestly, you could walk down the street by your hotel and have AMAZING food served to you.
From fine dining to street food, Georgetown has you covered. Just pick a place and enjoy.
- Da Shu Xia Seafood House: You can’t really go to an island and not eat seafood, right? Well Da Shu Xia is a must! It’s a local spot that you stuff your face with a TON of fresh catches. Pick what you want from the case, they’ll cook it for you while you take a seat and sip on a beer. The food is dynamite and a great deal.
- Red Garden Food Paradise: This place is international hawker stall central. It’s pretty much a food court. The stalls surround the outside of the area while the inside is packed with chairs and a stage…yes, a stage. You can chow down on international cuisine and have a show while you do it.
- Kapitan Restaurant – You can’t leave Georgetown without trying Indian Food, specifically Tandoori Chicken. We got this restaurant tip from a local when we were in Langkawi and let’s just say it did not disappoint. Kapitan is located in Little India and should be added to your food list while visiting.
For The Budget Conscious: Rainbow House is comfy, clean and walking distance to many of the must sees places of Georgetown plus its a great value for your money…what more can you want?!
For The Luxury Inclined: Yeng Keng Hotel is a 19th century hotel restored to absolute perfection and located right in the middle of the UNESCO world heritage site of Georgetown. From an outdoor pool to a whole lot of character, this hotel is sure to please.
For Something In Between: Spices Hotel is a gem. The smell of lemongrass hits you as soon as you walk in. Comfy rooms, a central location and a vibe that has all the charm you could ever want in a place. Trust us, you wont want to leave.
For more place to stay in Georgetown, you can check out the latest places and prices here.
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– Lauren & Jesse Stuart (The Stüs)