This list consists of my favorite things to do in George Town, Penang! I ended up staying for two weeks, and really enjoyed my stay. While the city isn’t big, there are heaps of things to do and explore. Most of the things on this list will, as always, be either free or fairly inexpensive.
1. Do a street art walking tour
Izzy from The Next Somewhere has an awesome map that I found super useful, check it out. The minute I stumbled upon her post, I knew I had to arrange my own street art walking tour. “Sculpture At Work”, a Kuala Lumpur based company, crafted 52 iron rod sculptures and there is also street art by Ernest Zacharevic, a Lithuanian born artist. Ernest’s pieces are inspired by the every day people in Penang and most of his pieces are interactive. I had so much fun taking photos with them all!
2. Visit the Reclining Buddha temple (Wat Chaiyamangalaram)
Visiting the Reclining Buddha temple was one of my favorite things to do in George Town. It’s such a beautiful temple, I created a separate post about it because I wanted to share more photos with you. The temple houses one of the largest Reclining Buddha statues (33m) in the world and the temple is also commonly referred to as “Sleeping Buddha”.
3. Eat at Chang Yuan Vegetarian Food
This is seriously my favorite spot to grab vegan food in Penang! Chang Yuan Vegetarian food is a small, family-run, low-key vegetarian eatery. Most of the food is vegan and when in doubt, just double check. They have a huge buffet and this is how it works: You fill your plate with food and you then pay, depending on how much and what you chose RM 5-7. It’s such a steal! They have mock meats, mock fish, steamed vegetables, stir-fried vegetables – there is something for literally everyone. I want to spread the word and created a separate post about it.
4. Hike up Penang Hill
Most visitors appear to buy a RM 30 round-trip ticket for the cable car, and that didn’t look very fun to me. Besides, why charge foreigners more? We decided to hike up Penang Hill from the Botanical gardens and ended up making it within three hours. About halfway through the hike was a rest stop, and there wasn’t a single tourist in sight. It was buzzing with locals. This was definitely one of the most challenging hikes I’ve ever done, and I highly recommend it. We took the cable car back down because we wanted to check out the nearby Kek Lok Si temple. If you have the time, hike up and down. The cable car wasn’t all too interesting.
5. Explore Kek Lok Si temple
The Kek Lok Si temple is one of the most popular temples in Penang. It’s also said to be one of the largest Buddhist temples in Malaysia! The large temple complex is situated on a hill and very close to Penang Hill. To my dismay, by the time we reached the temple, the site was closed and there was quite a bit of construction going on. We ended up explored the temple ground, and it was beautiful. Whether it’s open or closed, it’s worth visiting.
6. Visit the Penang Botanical Gardens
The Penang Botanical Gardens are also known as “Waterfall Gardens”, because of a waterfall nearby. The park is situated at the base of Penang Hill and so worth visiting! I highly recommend hiking to the waterfall.
7. Indulge at the Penang International Food Festival
The Penang International Food Festival (PIFF) started in April 2017 and has, for two consecutive years, attracted heaps of food enthusiast. It’s popular with locals and tourists alike and at the festival, you’ll find Penang classics alongside other dishes. If you happen to be in Penang in April, check it out! I wasn’t sure whether go or not and it was totally worth it!
8. Check out Chowrasta Market
Chowraste Market is one of two markets in inner George Town. It has been undergoing renovations since 2012 that were completed in January 2017. At the market, you can find packaged and preserved goods as well as food. On the upper level are shoe and clothing vendors.
9. Explore Macallum Street Night Market
Macallum Night Market is open every Monday from 5 to 11 PM. Although Google says 6 PM, I arrived at 5 PM and almost every stall was open. The market has a huge variety of food vendors with a couple of vegan options. There is a vendor selling kuih (a traditional sweet), a coconut ice cream stall, and a handful of fruit stalls. There are, of course, also a variety of stalls selling clothing and the like, the majority of stalls though, are selling food. I didn’t see a single tourist at this market, if you can, absolutely go, it’s a truly local experience! For a list of awesome night markets in Penang, click here.
10. Visit Khoo Kongsi temple
Khoo Kongsi is one of Penang’s most beautiful kongsis. A kongsi (clan) is a place at which Chinese families gather to worship their ancestors. It was built 650 years ago by the goh Tai seh (five big clans) of the Hokkien community. You can learn more about the temple’s history here. It’s an incredibly serene place and I highly recommend visiting!
11. Visit the Penang State Museum
The Penang State Museum houses local artifacts and will give you a better understanding of Penang’s history. The museum spans over several floors and rooms, and although there usually wasn’t a lot of text about what was showcased, I really enjoyed my visit. The Penang State Museum runs permanent as well as temporary exhibitions. Entry is usually RM 1 and on the day I went, it was free. I wasn’t sure why that was the case, so just expect to pay RM 0-1.
12. Grab food at Kimberly Street
Kimberly street (or Lebuh Kimberley) is a street in China Town and it’s a popular destination for street food. Go there in the evening and you’ll find the street filled with street food vendors.
That was it for my favorite things to do in George Town. I had such a wonderful time here and highly recommend visiting. Let me know what your favorite things to do in George Town are and I’ll make sure to check them out next time I am there 🙂