I’d wanted to visit Penang for a long time because of Georgetown’s reputation for having great food. I was looking forward to seeing the old colonial buildings and seeing the street art.
Getting to Penang
I was travelling from KL so decided to get the train to Butterworth, then a ferry across to Penang. The train was quite slow moving but comfortable. The aircon was set to freezing, which seems to be the case on most public transport in South East Asia. My train was supposed to leave at 4pm so I was expecting to arrive in Butterworth around 9pm. The train was delayed so I arrived in Butterworth at 10.30pm, then waited for the ferry for around 30 minutes. It was midnight by the time I got to my hostel.
Getting the train is straightforward from KL because the train leaves from KL Sentral and it’s possible to book online. The train station is Butterworth is situated next to the ferry terminal which makes it very easy to get to Penang. I paid 35RM for the train and something like 1.50RM for the ferry (I can’t remember the exact price, I was pretty tired at this point).
Most people who visit Penang stay in Georgetown, an old British colonial town. Georgetown is easy to get around on foot. On my first day, I visited the Pinang Peranakan Mansion, a typical home of a rich Baba from a century ago. The mansion is painted light green so is easy to spot.
The mansion is laid out in the same way a traditional Baba house would have looked. The decor and furnishings were beautiful. There are tour guides who will give you a tour of the mansion, however, the tour I was put on had a lot of people so I walked around alone. (I should probably mention that I was in Penang over Labor Day weekend so everything was busy.)
Next to the main living quarters was a temple:
One of the main attractions of Penang is the street art which is dotted around Georgetown. The hostel I stayed in had maps of where to find different pieces.
There are wrought-iron caricatures on many streets in Penang, which provide a sort of description of the street they’re placed on. Here’s a couple of examples:
Each of the caricatures is different and will often give an insight into the history of the area.
Food in Penang
Penang is famous for it’s currys – and rightly so! I was staying just outside Little India which is the perfect location to get a curry. 2 minutes away were a couple of street food vendors selling the most delicious curry. For less than 10RM, it was possible to get curry, rice and roti. Bargain! One night I went to a place called Kapitan, which was slightly more expensive but had a variety of options and was delicious.
Another local food I tried was ice balls. It’s literally a large ball of ice with flavouring on it. They can be found on Armenian Street for 2.50RM – ideal for the hot weather.
Where to Stay
I stayed in Couzi Couji, a hostel just outside of Little India. It was clean and comfortable and the aircon in the rooms was good. There’s limited toilets and showers which I didn’t really find to be a problem.
There are a lot of hostels around Love Lane to stay in and guesthouses are dotted around the city.
My next stop was Langkawi which can be easily reached by boat from Penang. A ticket costs 70RM. It’s possible to get the night train from Butterworth to Bangkok although you have to go to a ticket office as it’s not possible to book online.
Have you been to a town/city with great street art? I’d love to hear about it, let me know in the comments!