Penang, Malaysia
Asia,  Travel

Penang, Malaysia


After my Indonesia trip, we went to Penang, Malaysia for a few days. To be honest, we didn’t do much research about Malaysia before we got there, so we were incredibly surprised when we arrived. The city was filled with really nice looking high-rise apartment buildings and there seemed to be a decent amount of wealth. We were staying in George Town, which is a UNESCO World Heritage area, so it looks quite different than the very much city areas we passed on our way there. We stayed at the Yeng Keng Hotel, and it is a huge part of the reason I fell in love with Penang.

The staff was incredibly kind and welcoming. They wanted to make our stay as comfortable as possible, and they did just that. The hotel was originally an Anglo-Indian bungalow residence in the 1800s. It was fairly recently renovated to become a high-end hotel, and the owners did an incredible job of keeping the authenticity of the original bungalow. None of the pictures do the hotel justice, but it’s this little haven on the busy Chulia Street.

Penang, Malaysia

Chulia Street is a fun street in George Town. There’s tons going on and plenty of night life there. We spent a few hours walking around there during the day. Chulia Street is super central, so it was the perfect starting point for our day. We walked over to the Jetties and piers. The piers are pretty industrial so there’s not much to see there, but I thought the Jetties were cool. They’re basically stores and homes on the docks which you can walk around. After that we went to Wholey Wonder, which is a vegan, plant-based restaurant a bit further out of George Town. It took us about thirty minutes to walk there from the hotel, so totally doable, unless its raining. We didn’t realize that we were going right in the middle of rainy season, but as soon as we got there we realized. About mid-day, every day, it would torrential downpour, so much so that the streets would temporarily flood. It was sort of fun given we didn’t have many plans for our time there. Wholey Wonder was good, expensive for Penang, but our meals were under $10 so not particularly expensive coming from New York or London. There was a cute pop up market behind the restaurant that we went to after lunch which was fun to walk around. They had crafts and some food, but mostly it was just fun to see the local side to Penang.

Penang, Malaysia

Since it was so rainy, we didn’t really do much more. We went to Mugshot Cafe, which is a cute coffee shop down Chulia Street. It surprised me how hipster Penang was. There’s epic street art all over and cute little cafes. Mugshot was awesome. There was a front room where people were sitting with their coffees, then another little room behind with plants and street art, and then behind that was a hidden spectacles shop. We walked around and totally fell in love with the place. It was just so fun and everyone, no matter where we went, was so nice and welcoming. There was just great energy all over the city. After our coffees we went to Sneaky Bay Café for a drink. There are a few bars on Love Lane, just off of Chulia Street, so we sat there and hung for a bit. The scene there was also pretty cool. At night, there seemed to be a number of semi-granola tourists from all over just hanging out. It was such good vibes, and everyone at the bar was just chatting with one another. It was super fun and just sort of makes you fall in love with the city even more.

Penang, Malaysia

Penang is known for its street food, so we knew that our dinner was going to be going around trying all of the different foods. The two main areas are on Kimberley Street and Chulia Street, so we walked around both for a bit and tried as much as we could. We tried pohpiah, laksa, muah chee, yong tau hoo, and ice kacang – and I recommend them all!

I absolutely fell in love in Penang. We were only there for a short time, and I think that’s all you need. There’s not much to do, but it’s such a warm city and not overflowing with tourists at all. It’s probably one of my favorite places I’ve ever traveled, and I’d love to go back.

Penang, Malaysia
Ice Kacang
Penang, Malaysia

Penang, Malaysia


  • Paul

    Looks like a great place to hang out for a while. I love street food as well so I’ll have to add to the list. Great photos too, thanks for sharing!

  • Medha

    I couldn’t help taking lots of pictures of the street art either when I visited Georgetown. However, I didn’t spend a night in Penang because I went on a cruise and had to leave by 7 pm. However, you’re right, the best thing to do in Penang is to try their street food. Georgetown had a good vibe- I really liked it there!

  • Annick

    Sometimes the best places to visit are the off the beaten path ones like Penang. I find it funny that even the hipsters and granola crowd have found their way there. And while you say there’s not much to do, it sounds like eating is the thing to do. And there’s no better sign of a great place than when you want to go back.

  • Daniel

    The street art either in Georgetown is probably one of the best ones in the world. I couldn’t help taking lots of pictures of it when I visited too. However, my favorite thing about this harmonious multicultural city is definitely the food but after eating my way through Penang, I realized that the Pearl of the Orient is so much more than only a gourmand paradise. Thanks for sharing this article brought back a lot of memories

  • Clarice Lao

    Now, I am excited to go to Penang. I won free tickets from an airline company and was actually a bit hesitant to use it but after reading your post. I guess it is worth taking a break from work and just enjoy this wonderful place. I would love to try their Kacang.

  • Val

    The food looks great indeed! And I love the pictures of the street art, so cool! Definitely one more place to add to my (long) bucket list 🙂

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