MalaysiaPenang Free All Year Mostly Outdoor
Modern History

George Town UNESCO Heritage Site

A fusion of Malay, Chinese, Indian, and British Colonial architectural styles resulting in an unconventional yet charming urban formation. George Town's rich cultural diversity saw it listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2008. The city's multiculturalism is perhaps best displayed in its places of worship. Almost side-by-side are historic churches, crimson Buddhist temples, grand mosques, and rainbow-colored Hindu temples.

Visitors can spend hours exploring George Town's pedestrian-centric streets. Stumble across remnants of the 18th century British colonial settlement like Fort Cornwallis and the Queen Victoria Memorial Clock Tower. Uncover evidence of both the wealth and poverty of early Chinese settlers at the Pinang Peranakan Mansion and the Weld Quay Clan Jetties, or meander through a vibrant Hindu community in Little India.

More recently, a dynamic street art scene has burst into George Town. Some wall murals, like Ernest Zacharevic's "Boy on Chair", provide interactive settings for visitors to become part of the picture and pose beside painted characters. Discovering George Town's many murals is quite the treasure hunt, with dozens of quirky cafes and chic bars providing pit stops along the journey.

Due to centuries of international influence, George Town offers a distinctive cuisine. Just venture onto Chulia Street at night to dine at Penang's world-renowned hawker stalls with meal options ranging from spicy laksa and local spring rolls called popiah, to everything that can possibly be deep fried!

George Town is a place you can endlessly explore without ever seeing all the city has to offer. What treasures will you find?

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Price

Free

Time Spent

1-6hours

Fitness level: Easy

Hours

24 hours7 days

Look Around

Victoria clocktowerVictoria clocktower
Pinang Peranakan MansionPinang Peranakan Mansion
Sri Mahamariamman Temple in Little IndiaSri Mahamariamman Temple in Little India
Chinese Clan JettiesChinese Clan Jetties
Art LaneArt Lane
A taste of George Town
Street food vendor grilling chicken satayStreet food vendor grilling chicken satay
Fort CornwallisFort Cornwallis
Tailor in Penang BazaarTailor in Penang Bazaar
Iconic modern street artIconic modern street art
Hean Boo Thean Kuan Yin TempleHean Boo Thean Kuan Yin Temple
More of George Town

Who Will Like George Town UNESCO Heritage Site

Food Connoisseur

Visit the Chulia Street Night Market after 6pm for local favorites like wanton noodles, and popiah for under RM10 (USD$2.40). During the day, try Penang's signature, dish nasi kandar, a portion of steamed rice served with a selection of curries and sides.

Culture Buff

Stroll through time at British colonial sites Fort Cornwallis and St. George's Church, then explore Penang's Chinese heritage at Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion (Blue Mansion), the Pinang Peranakan Mansion, or the Chinese Clan Jetties. Don't miss Hindu temple, Sri Meenakshi in Little India to fully appreciate George Town's cultural diversity.

Bucketlist Bandit

Pose with interactive street art by Ernest Zacharevic including "Boy on Motorbike" or "Brother & Sister on Swing". How many wall murals can you find?

Photography Whiz

Capture George Town's gritty streets that buzz with activity. Snap artistic wall murals of icons like Bruce Lee, or photograph local fishermen at the Chinese Clan Jetties. George Town is a dynamic city where you should always have your camera poised at the ready.

Insider Tips For George Town UNESCO Heritage Site

  • Download this street art brochure and map to make sure you don't miss any of Penang's creative wall murals.
  • Check opening times for museums like Fort Cornwallis and the Pinang Peranakan Mansion to schedule them into your day. You can always explore the streets and wall murals after the museums close.
  • Most attractions are within walking distance of each other but if you're too tired to tackle the city on foot, book a Grabcar to drive you between attractions.

Video

Where Is It

10200 George Town, Penang, Malaysia

Open map...

How To Get There

Car

204 bays available at Beach Street Parking Complex.

RM1/hr (USD$0.24 / hr)

Driving directions... Walking directions from car...

Bus (204, 502, CATLight Street)

Bus stop located in George Town, near City Hall.

Walking directions from bus...

BusKomtar Bus Terminal

10, 11, 101, 102, 103, 104, 200, 201, 202, 203, 204, 206,301,302, 303, 304, 307, 401, 401E, 502, AT, BLLION, CAT, CAT 7, KKKL, SEASON

Walk 5 minutes northeast from bus station.

Walking directions from bus...

Trishaw

Trishaw drivers can be spotted on most streets in George Town. Bring your best bargaining skills to negotiate a good price.

Rideshare

Grab drivers pick up and drop off at any point within George Town.

Taxi

Taxi drivers pick up and drop off at any point within George Town.

Motorbike

Plenty of motorbike parking spaces and street parking within the city. Do not park on pedestrian walkways.

What To Bring

Do:
  • Cash. Many food stalls only take cash.
  • Comfortable shoes for walking
  • Modest clothing or a sarong to cover knees and shoulders if visiting religious sites.
  • Camera for street art.
  • Drinking water as walking around the city is thirsty work.
Don't:
  • Large or bulky belongings difficult to carry.

Tech & Photography

Wifi

Public wifi access: None

Photography

Photography allowed: Yesflash is ok

Tripod allowed: Yes

Selfie sticks allowed: Yes

Best time to shoot: Early Morning & Late Afternoon

Tips: Most wall murals are very popular with Instagrammers and attract long queues. Bring your patience as well as your tripod if you plan to pose in the mural. Alternatively, ask another visitor if they’d mind taking your picture for you.

Drones

Drones allowed: Yes (subject to national/regional rules)

Bags

Backpacks allowed: Yes

Secured bag lockers available: No

Interactive street art - Interactive street art - "Boy on a Bike"
More street art - More street art - "Brother & Sister on a Swing"
Sponsored street art - Iron Fist from NetflixSponsored street art - Iron Fist from Netflix
Georgetown from aboveGeorgetown from above
The famous The famous "Little Children On A Bicycle"

Food & Drink

Indian food in Muthu, Little IndiaIndian food in Muthu, Little India
Restaurants on Love LaneRestaurants on Love Lane
Food in George Town

A range of international and local restaurants and themed cafes can be found on most streets within George Town. International dining options include Mexican, Italian, Arabic, and Thai which are more expensive than local food stalls. Go to Love Lane for several streetfront bars and bistros, including a recommended Mexican option, Holy Guacamoly. Many Indian food stalls are vegetarian or only have a few meat options. George Town's best hawker stalls can be found at the Chulia Street Night Market.

Backstory

Penang Town Hall

George Town was established in 1786 when Captain Francis Light took possession of Penang Island on behalf of the East India Trading Company. The city was the first British Settlement in Southeast Asia, later becoming part of the Straits Settlements, along with Malacca and Singapore. George Town was named the capital of the Straits Settlements in 1826 due to its strategic position on the spice trade route between China and India. Penang was the center of spice production in Southeast Asia during the 1900s, with main exports including nutmeg, cloves, and pepper being shipped from George Town's port.

The city saw action in both World Wars, with 2 allied war ships being sunk of its coast during WWI and severe bomb damage throughout the city during WWII.

Following Malaysian independence until the early 2000s, George Town experienced a period of economic difficulty. Many colonial-era buildings were abandoned and streets were severely congested. The economy quickly recovered in 2008 when a new government was elected and George Town's cultural diversity earned its status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Traffic flow, cleanliness, and historical conservation significantly improved by 2010.

George Town's street art culture burst to life in 2012, when the Penang Municipal Council hired Ernest Zacharevic to design a series of wall murals depicting local families and traditions to help preserve Penang's culture. Thousands of tourists and artists now flock to George Town each year to witness or take part in the city's art scene. Art is the main focus of the annual George Town Festival.

Etiquette

Do:
  • Cover shoulders and knees when visiting religious sites.
  • Take off shoes before entering temples.
  • Wait patiently for your turn to pose with wall murals.
  • Ask tourism information points for directions if you get lost or are unsure where to go.
  • Cross roads at marked pedestrian crossings.
  • Wash hands before eating street food. Some food stalls (mainly Indian) expect customers to eat with fingers and don't provide cutlery.
Don't:
  • Visit museums after closing time.
  • Hang off or otherwise damage wall murals.
  • Hog photo opportunities at wall murals. Move along to make room for other visitors.

Scorecard

Best Parts:
  • Variety of architecture styles influenced by multiple cultures resulting in a unique, nostalgic charm.
  • Rich history of well-preserved sites like Fort Cornwallis and the Pinang Peranakan Mansion.
  • Street food. Especially at Chulia Street night market.
  • Interactive wall murals and other pieces of street art spread throughout the city.
  • Frequently changing bars, restaurants, cafes, and shops. There's always something new to discover.
Could Be Better:
  • Queues to pose for photos with wall murals.
  • Muggy heat can be tiresome when walking around all day.
  • Large district. Can be hard to know where to start or where to go.
My itinerary Save View

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