There was so much to see and do in Penang, Malaysia. We were pleased we were staying in Georgetown in the heart of the old town, a UNESCO World Heritage site since 2008, recognised for its unique architectural and cultural townscape. We had easy access to many of the sights. Georgetown’s history is fascinating and understanding the history helps you to understand what makes the city, its buildings, culture and food so special and unique.
We stayed 5 nights in Penang and did loads, we spent one day on the beach / visiting a resort, but beach days aren’t really what Penang is all about. There are lots of resorts near the beaches but I think the world heritage site is a much better location to stay in.
I really enjoyed just looking at the buildings and traditional Chinese Shop houses in Georgetown, many have been beautifully painted and restored, and just as lovely are the ones that look a bit more shabby but are full of character.
One of the most popular ways to see the street art is to take a pedicab ride. The cost was about 40 Malaysian Ringits per person for an hour tour. Our guide was friendly and full of information about each scene. He also introduced us to some sweet treats at street food stalls along the way and helped us get each picture just right. You will also see lots of art just walking around, look for little groups of people taking pictures!
Some of the art is interactive, there are murals and then small props, so you can sit on the bike or stand on a stall to reach up or become part of the picture. This makes for some fun photographs and keeps the kids entertained for a bit longer than just looking at the art would.
Doing this ride on our first day was a good idea because it helped us orientate ourselves in the main part of the old town. Our guide pointed our sites of interest to return to later, including Little India and the Clan Jetties.
Armenian Street is in the heart of the old town and has some nice cafes and boutique shops. We visited the Batik Painting Museum on Armenian Street, for an introduction to this art. The technique of using the dye-resistant process to decorate fabric has been around a long time, but using the process to create fine art is relatively new – from the 1950s. Here is one of our favourite pieces from the museum. In Langkawi we had a go at this ourselves! Entry to the museum was just 10 MYR for adults and we spent quite awhile looking at the art, there was a guide on hand to answer questions and video to watch about the process.
Upcoming posts will tell you more about our time in Penang: cooking class, street food, the Blue Mansion, Batu Ferringhi Beach, Penang Hill, Fort Cornwallis and more…