George Town has more street art that I have ever seen in one city. Also, most of the best food I have eaten in my entire life. The architecture is pretty cool as well. A chill hipsterey place along the ocean just a bus ride away from Kuala Lumpur or Langkawi.
LANGUAGE: Malay, English
CURRENCY: Malaysian Ringgit
CLIMATE: Warm, Dry season: Nov – April
DRESS CODE: Town: Casual, Temples/Mosques: Conservative, cover shoulders and legs
GETTING AROUND: Grab, Taxis, Walking
COST OF VISITING: $ – Hostels start at $5 per night and street food is a little as $2 to $3 (USD) per meal
TIPPING: Tipping is not expected, service charge is added at some restaurants
SAFETY: Safe for solo travellers
PACKING ESSENTIALS: Mosquito repellant, Sunscreen, Shawl, An appetite
VISA: US passport holders do not need a visa to enter Malaysia if staying for 90 days or less
FROM PENANG INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT
I did not travel this way and until I do, am hesitant to give definite instructions, but I have read that you have the following options (please confirm yourself first as I am not 100% certain).
The cheapest option, costing around 2-3 RM. Walk out the front door of arrivals, past the taxi operators and you should see the bus stop. Take the Rapid Penang bus (White and Red Line Bus) to Geroge Town; Bus Number 401 or 401E/AT. Check their website here for additional info.
If you are arriving by bus, there are two options to get you to George Town.
SUNGAI NIBONG BUS TERMINAL
A bus stop located on the island, south of George Town. Once you arrive at the station, you can easily take a Grab, local taxi, or tuk-tuk to George Town.
PENANG SENTRAL (Butterworth)
Located next to the Weld Quay Ferry that you can take across to get to George Town.
WHERE TO STAY
Away from the craziness of George Town center, but still in walking distance. Pod style hostels for maximum privacy, super clean, bathroom was extremely nice, and there is a washer and dryer to use free of charge. Loved this hostel so much and would definitely stay here again.
Right in the middle of the action on one of the oldest and liveliest streets in George Town, Chulia St. It is located above a coffee shop, so you are constantly surrounded by good smells and cool people. The bathroom has natural light and is simply amazing.
WHAT TO DO
EAT (Where to Eat)
The best advice I received from a good friend about eating in George Town is to follow the lines! If you see people standing in a line, odds are it is because they are waiting for some bomb ass food. Below are some restaurants and food stalls you must try.
Where I had the BEST Paneer Butter Masala I have ever eaten in my whole life (even in India). Please try it. Note: You have to sit upstairs to order paneer.
A food stall where I waited in line for 1.5 hours and was not disappointed. Just watching him cook was amazing enough. This man knows what he is doing. Char Koay Teow translates to stir-fried rice cake strips and can include shrimp or a duck egg. Opens around 4 or 5pm.
EAT (What to Eat)
Noodles, broth, meat (usually fish balls), lettuce, and chopped spring onion. Available all over town. When I was there, I searched for it directly in Trip Advisor and found the place nearest to me. Amazing.
A dessert of shaved ice with soft fresh pandan flavored palm flour noodles immersed in light coconut milk, sweetened by Gula Melaka and kidney beans.
A traditional fruit and vegetable salad dish, made sweet by the Rojak King.
A rice dish cooked in coconut milk and pandan leaf.
Here is a list of other must-try foods while in George Town.
HIN BUS DEPOT
Hin Bus Depot is a community art space that supports and nurtures emerging artists by providing a channel for their creativity. In the back you will find a large open area with different types of art everywhere you look and cute shops. Some of the best street art I saw in Penang. They also host events occasionally, as well as a weekly popup market on Sundays.
TOUR THE STREET ART
This is easily something you can do yourself as there is street art everywhere you look! I spent one whole day just walking around and taking pictures of all of the art.
BODHI HEART SANCTUARY
A hidden treasure right outside of George Town. It is meditation center open to all, located on a large space of beautiful land. When I went, the meditation center was closed but the reason I went was for the aromatherapy steam bath. This might not seem like the place to want a steam bath (due to the hot temperatures outside) but it was super relaxing. You just pay a donation of 10 ringgits and receive unlimited time in the steam bath, along with bottomless tea and water. You can find it on the right side of the road right before you reach the meditation center.