MalaysiaPenang Free All Year Indoor/Outdoor
Waterfront

Weld Quay Clan Jetties

A series of wooden jetties like fingers reaching into the sea. Lined with modest houses, shops, and cafes, the stilted villages provide a glimpse into Penang's Chinese community of yesteryear. Each 100-year-old jetty belongs to a Chinese family or "clan" who originally moved to Penang to construct Weld Quay, a large port required for the island's booming economy.

Today, 6 jetties with ranging levels of preservation remain. A 7th was destroyed by fire while some others appear weather-worn and are home only to local fishermen. The best-maintained structure, the Chew Jetty is the center of Penang's Chinese New Year celebrations and a popular destination for tourists to shop and snack. Each jetty has a private Buddhist temple for the family to pray and place offerings.

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Price

Free

Time Spent

30-90minutes

Fitness level: Easy

Hours

9am-9pm7 days

Look Around

Humble fishing boatHumble fishing boat
Shack at the end of Tan jettyShack at the end of Tan jetty
Tan jetty entranceTan jetty entrance
View of a neighboring jettyView of a neighboring jetty
Tan Jetty
Market stalls lining Chew jettyMarket stalls lining Chew jetty
Wall murals at Chew JettyWall murals at Chew Jetty
Chew jetty waterfrontChew jetty waterfront
Fishing boatsFishing boats
Cafes and snack stallsCafes and snack stalls
Chew Jetty

Who Will Like Weld Quay Clan Jetties

Retail Therapist

Visit the Chew Jetty to pick up a souvenir t-shirt, keyring, postcard, or colorful canvas "Penang" bag at the lowest possible price. Other markets and shops on the island sell the same items for more.

Culture Buff

Peek into the history of Penang's Chinese community with traditional stilt houses and community-centric villages that have barely changed in the past century. Notice the soothing aroma of incense from the small Buddhist temples, one for each clan.

Photography Whiz

Wander along each jetty for landscapes of the unique structures and portraits of fascinating locals, providing they express permission of course.

Insider Tips For Weld Quay Clan Jetties

  • Visit early in the morning to avoid crowds and observe locals going about their daily routine and preparing offerings for prayer.
  • The most popular jetties to visit are the central Chew, and Tan jetties which also have the most cafes and food stands.
  • Keep an eye out for some small but artistic wall murals at the Chew jetty.
  • Download a copy of this PDF map on your phone from the official website to make navigating a bit easier, as signage is minimal.
  • Chew jetty has some of the cheapest market stalls on Penang Island.
Market stalls at Chew jetty

Video

Where Is It

Pengkalan Weld, George Town, 10300 George Town, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia

Open map...

How To Get There

Rideshare

Drivers drop off and pick up outside the Chew Jetty entrance.

Walking directions from rideshare...

BusContainer Hotel, Lebuh Chulia

10, 11, 12, 101, 200, 201, 202, 203, 204, 301, 302, 401, 401E, 502, AT

Walk 3 minutes southwest from bus station along Pengkalan Weld.

Walking directions from bus...

Trishaw

Drivers can drop off outside any jetty entrance. The most common is the Chew Jetty.

Walking directions from trishaw...

What To Bring

Do:
  • Cash for drinks and snacks.
  • Camera.
Don't:
  • High heels or shoes difficult to walk in on the old wooden boardwalks.

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

Tips: A top-down drone shot of the striking red Mazu Temple, located at the end of the Tan Jetty, contrasted against the turquoise water, makes a beautiful image. While walking down the narrow jetties keep your camera ready in shutter priority mode (1/250 sec during the day) with continuous zone focus, so you're ready when an impromptu moment presents itself.

Drones

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

Bags

Backpacks allowed: Yes

Secured bag lockers available: No

Single shack at the end of Tan JettySingle shack at the end of Tan Jetty
View of Chew jettyView of Chew jetty
Looking back over George TownLooking back over George Town
Drone photography at Tan jetty

Food & Drink

Several Chinese food stalls are located at Weld Quay. Most are located on the road opposite the jetties or along the Tan and Chew Jetties. Stalls range from selling only bottled water and soft drink to specialties like coconut milkshakes (with coconut milk) and meals like noodle soup and fried chicken. There's even a live seafood restaurant at the front of the Chew Jetty.

Coconut milkshakes at Chew jetty

Backstory

Named after former Governor of the Straits Settlements, Sir Fredrick Weld, Weld Quay was developed into a port with a series of landing jetties in 1882. Simple sheds were constructed along the jetties to provide shelter for workers, predominantly Chinese Hokkien immigrants, awaiting the arrival of larger cargo ships.

The immigrants shared common surnames, originating from similar hometowns. Immigration peaked in the early 1900s as poverty in China contrasted against Penang's booming rubber and tin industries. Immigrants used clan ties to secure employment, help, and protection, and the jetties' humble shelters soon became home to 7 competing clans. The Ong, Lim, Chew, and Lee clans used their shorefront locations to shuttle cargo for larger ships at sea while the Tans, Yeos, and Koays focused on charcoal and firewood trading.

Refurbished jetty dwellings

The original Lee jetty was demolished to make way for the new ferry terminal during the 1960s and moved to its current location. A new, Mixed Surname Jetty was also constructed at a similar time. Two additional jetties constructed in the 1950s and 60s, the Koay and Peng Aun jetties, were demolished in 2006 to make way for high-rise housing developments.

Technically squatters, the clans were assured residential security by the British but following Malaysian Independence in 1957, issued Temporary Occupancy Licenses requiring renewal every year. Deeming the modest communities' lowly slums, authorities threatened demolition of the jetties several times during the 1900s. The clan jetties are now covered within Georgetown's World Heritage listing and as such, conserved.

Etiquette

Do:
  • Ask permission before taking photos of locals, their homes, and temples.
  • Watch your step as some wooden planks are missing or loose.
Don't:
  • Make lots of noise while walking near private homes.
  • Disrespect or argue with locals.
penang_chew-jetty-08949.jpg
Expand 1 pic...
Etiquette rules at Chew jetty
penang_chew-jetty-08949.jpg

Scorecard

Best Parts:
  • Glimpse into the history of traditional Chinese communities. The structures have barely changed in over 100 years.
  • Unique stilt buildings and structures hat make interesting subjects for photographers.
  • Different style and use of each jetty meaning there's always something interesting to see and explore.
  • Cheap shopping opportunities on the Chew Jetty.
  • Small, family-run Buddhist temples provide a refreshing change from larger, more elaborate temples.
Could Be Better:
  • Prone to congestion due to the narrow boardwalks. Most commonly occurs on the Chew Jetty or around Chinese New Year.
My itinerary Save View

Oh, you're so close

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