Cultural curiosity, unique multi-cultural mix, food capital of Malaysia and home to some of the world’s best street art – all of these, and more, describe George Town, capital of Penang province Malaysia and together go some way towards describing the unique appeal in tourism of this UNESCO World Heritage Site. If you have just 2 days to fit into your lively schedule on your holiday in South East Asia, spend those two days in George Town – you won’t regret it.
Named after Britain’s King George III, George Town was strategically located to participate in the trade with the expanding British Empire and some of the city still reflects that past. However, nowadays it is a predominantly Malaysian Chinese city, with all of the bustle and colour that this implies, which also blends in Little India, centre of the Indian community, and Kampung Siam – an area bequeathed by the East India Company on behalf of Queen Victoria to the Siamese and Burmese communities in 1845.
The heart of George Town offers a unique blend of British colonial, Chinese, Indian, Malay and Thai contributions, including an impressive collection of colonial shophouses and mansions, Chinese clanhouses, markets, Buddhist and Hindu temples that just cannot be found elsewhere – at least not in one place. The architectural attractions include George Town City Hall, Khoo Kongsi chinese clanhouse, the colonial shophouses to be seen all around the centre of George Town, The Temple of the Reclining Buddha, Dhammikarama Burmese Buddhist Temple, Sri Mahamariamman Hindu Temple and Penang Islamic Museum.
In among this rich multi-cultural heritage come equally strong multi-cultural food influences and fusion, easily making George Town the food capital of Malaysia and, many argue, centre of by far the best street food in Asia. In George Town street food is not just a necessary part of the day but a superb culinary experience, unique to this beautiful city. By its nature, street food means many places you could go but you could start with the excellent list of the 10 Best Cheap Eats in Penang from The Guardian.
Street art is such a feature of George Town that Penang Tourism have produced an extensive brochure on it, which is very well worth a read. Street art in George Town focuses both on everyday life in current times as well as caricatures of the historical background of one of the most culturally diverse cities in South East Asia. There are the best known pieces to spot along with occasional pieces to be found around the streets of George Town, many of which will surprise you.
Hotel Penaga, George Town, Penang, Malaysia is a heritage boutique hotel in the heart of historic George Town. Owned by an architect and an environmentalist, the hotel comprises 3 rows of double-storey houses and shophouses lovingly restored from 2008 using mainly traditional methods and, wherever possible, traditional materials, such as the floor tiles from Indonesia used throughout the Ground Fllor and made in the same way now as in the 1930’s. Each room has an item of individuality to it, whether an item of art or of furniture – whether Clark Terraces, Transfer Suites, Hutton Rooms or the Penaga Suite. The Cinnamon restaurant has a Lap Pool alongside and the streets behind the buildings have been turned into a delightful Garden, which also houses the Penaga Spa. In easy reach of the main attractions and on the edge of the UNESCO World heritage centre of George Town, Malaysia, Hotel Penaga is a unique experience in the heart of George Town.