Best of George Town, Penang Island, Malaysia

I arrived at Penang at 4:30 in the morning and was still dark, at this time there’s no public transports so I took a taxi to the city center (30RM), it was an awesome experience to walk around the Old town when the city was empty, calm and quite and the sun started to rise.

I could feel the city coming alive and starting to pulse, and I realised that there were more wonderful and interesting places to visit than I expected. To start with, Georgetown is an architectural gem and a fantastic mix of Chinese, Indian and Malay people. And despite the differences all these ethnic groups have found a way to live and grow together. This cultural pot makes George town a richer place with an incredible exotic melange of old and new.  

Georgetown  is located on Penang island in the north-west of Peninsular Malaysia and it’s listed as a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site like Melaka.

When walking around  town you can explore Penang’s colonial architecture, and also seek for the street murals and wrought iron caricatures.

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George Town is well know for the street art and I can’t recommend it enough. It is a great way to explore the city hunting for art across streets and alleys (more information and photos here 📷)

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The Blue Mansion built in the 1880s, is an impressive piece of architecture and was based on Feng Shui principles.

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The bus 203 and 204 takes you to  Kek Lok Si Temple, a Buddhist temple outside the city centre.  This impressive temple is situated at Air Itam and its huge statue of Guan Yin can be seen from miles away in good weather conditions. The Temple is well maintained and a great place to visit, so reserve enough time to explore it properly, and climb its many levels, and you will be rewarded with a stunning view of Penang island.

The Kapitan Keling Mosque, it’s a monumental structure beautiful from the outside but quite simple inside.

Other temples are abundant around town, the oldest one is a Taoist and Buddhist temple the Kuan Yin Teng  (Goddess of Mercy).

The Arulmigu Karumariamman Temple, it’s an Hindu temple set beside the Penang Bird Park. Curiously the temple is located at the Street of Harmony, called that because it’s home to various temples, including Anglican, Muslim, Hindu, and Chinese.

Little India is colourful and vibrant and is filled with multi-coloured shop houses, and has great places to eat.

Bus 10 takes you to the botanic gardens, a beautiful, clean and well maintained place, more frequented by locals then tourists. Just bare in mind that the garden is packed with monkeys. This immense garden is filled with all sorts of plants from hundreds of species, we also found turtles, snakes, many bird species and lizards.

The Jetties, Weld Quay Clan,  found along Pengkalan Weld are home to many Chinese families, its nice to check out these humble, rickety wooden jetties to see how the houses along the jetties over the water are built.

George Town is probably my favourite place in Malaysia; Penang, is definitely worthy of a visit.. It’s colourful, quirky, multi-cultural and historic… you can’t really ask for more 🙂 I hope you have found this post useful, and let me know  if you have been to George Town! thank you for reading 🙏

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photography – all rights reserved – Ana Rocha

Street Art – George Town, Penang

Street art is for sure one of the big highlights in George Town, and stroll through different streets hunting for art, can be actually pretty fun. George Town  is located in the North East of Penang, and along with Melaka is since 2008 a UNESCO World Heritage site.

George Town displays huge murals that adorne sides of buildings, interactive art installations that allows visitors to insert themselves into the scenes, and wrought iron structures, that tells the history of various streets, quality of life and historical facts about the city in a amusing way.  Basically the street art in Penang is an art lover’s dream! The street art makes the city more interesting and impossible to forget.

There are almost a dozen of murals done by the amazing Lithuanian artist Ernest Zacharevic (facebook.com/Ernestzachas), that was commissioned to do a series of public paintings in central George Town for the 2012 George Town Festival. Unfortunately some pieces are already fading and soon they might disappear.

All of this add to the city’s architecture, traditional crafts and food, are more than enough reasons to visit and fall in love by Penang. Most of the art is focused in the Old George town Streets.  If you’re serious about catching them all  here’s a map of where to find the murals and caricatures.

Bare in mind that walking around trying to find the street art in Georgetown is an amazing free activity. But renting a bike is also an option.

I will leave here some pictures of what I found around the city… Let me know if you have been to Penang and which is your favourite piece..

photography – all rights reserved – Ana Rocha

IPOH Old Town and New Town

We traveled from Kuala Perlis to Ipho (state capital of Perak) by bus (29RM) and arrived at the terminal Amanjaya at 22pm so there wasn’t any transports (despite the taxi) to take us to Ipoh’s old town. So we stayed for the night at a nearby ‘hotel’. In the next morning we got a bus (2.5RM) and we were instantly surprised with this lovely town, that  has definitely some similarities to George Town (in Penang), one of my favourite cities in Malaysia.

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We stayed for 2 days what was enough to visit and feel the city but not enough to visit the surrounding areas.

Ipoh has a special vibe, great historic buildings, lots of street art and really great food. So, should be a mandatory stop for any itinerary in Malaysia.

Ipoh old town doesn’t look to have many tourists or even many locals walking around, despite being laid back, it’s also creative, trendy and full of things to see and try, like the famous White Coffee.

 

Ipoh centre is split in two, the old town on the west and the new town on the east side of the Kinta River .

In the old town you can do the Heritage Trail (4 miles) and the Street Art walk, for both you can grab a free map, and just lose yourself… The street art  makes it even more interesting to explore the historical city, and it’s fairly easy to find it. Most of the murals belong to the famous street artist Ernest Zacharevic and some other locals.

You can’t miss the Kong Heng square market, an old building full of vine covered ruins occupied now by modern stalls.

Ipoh’s Little India with it’s colourful shops, spices, music and eateries, and the new town on the East side of the river.

The New Town has the best eateries and some more street art, so make sure you don’t miss the Mural Art Lane, that is completely covered in murals showing the Malaysian culture.

Ipoh it’s definitely a must.. have fun 😀

photography – all rights reserved – Ana Rocha