As to what my favorite spot in Malaysia is, there is no need to think twice. I felt at home in the town of George Town on the island of Penang. Everything seemed to be right here, everything felt good. We were here during Chinese New Year and that has certainly contributed to the magical atmosphere of this place. But still … even without red lanterns, cheerful decoration and the fireworks, George Town has something special. I advise you to take a few days out for this beautiful island. How to fill those days? I will gladly tell you what you definitely need to do in George Town!
1. Stay in the Chew Jetty
One of the biggest surprises of our trip was our stay at the Chew Jetty. At the harbor of George Town is a quaint fishing district, the Chew Jetty. This piece of city is built entirely of wood and is located on high poles above the sea. It is crowded with tourists during the day, but in the early morning and late at night it is very quiet. To experience this you have to stay overnight in the Chew Jetty and for this I recommend My Chew Jetty Vacation Home . Siew and her family are very warm and they are happy to tell you about the local life. For example, we were allowed to join in for a hotpot lunch on arrival! Be there in time, because this gem is fully booked very quickly!
2. Discover George Towns murals
George Town is known for its beautiful murals and it is very nice that you encounter the most beautiful paintings in the most unexpected places. Walking routes have been set out along the main images, which are mostly found in or around Lebuh Armenian. Personally, I find it actually more fun to just wander around and let yourself be surprised. The nice thing is that half the city has started to participate: also at many shops and lunch shops you can see small murals on the façade. Do not forget to look up regularly. The most beautiful paintings can also be found high against the façade. Visiting the wall paintings in George Town is fun to do and fine for your wallet!
3. Visit the Kek Lok Si Temple
The Kek Lok Si Temple is something special: with its 121,000 m2 surface it is the largest Buddhist temple in Malaysia. As soon as you arrive you will be completely surprised by this building. It is so immensely big, you do not know what you see. If you happen to be at Penang during Chinese New Year, it is advisable to visit the temple at the end of the afternoon. As soon as dusk falls, the entire complex is illuminated hysterically. It is huge over the top, but that is why it is also very nice. Even without lights, the Kek Lok Si Temple is worth a visit: as far as I am concerned you should not miss this remarkable structure.
4. Rent a bicycle or scooter
Penang is a small island and therefore it is ideal to explore with the scooter. You can visit different national parks, discover deserted beaches and visit sleepy villages. The above temple is also ideal to visit by scooter. If you prefer to stay closer to George Town, a bike is a great alternative. In George Town you can find a lot of bike rental companies and for a few dollars a day you rent this handy vehicle.
5. View the Goddess of Mercy Temple
The Goddess of Mercy Temple is the oldest Chinese temple in Penang and for that reason alone, it is worth a visit. I was here during Chinese New Year so I must honestly say that my image may be different than when you visit the temple outside this festive period. Now the little square in front of the door was full of red lanterns and there were plenty of stalls on the sides where you could buy all kinds of sacrificial things for Chinese New Year. The atmosphere was incredibly good and it is clear that the Goddess of Mercy Temple is one of the most important temples of Penang.
6. Eat at CF
CF is a huge hall full of hawker stalls. At each stall only a handful of dishes are sold and it is very nice to make a round through this hall and then place an order at the stall selling the best food. This can be rather difficult, since every dish seems equally tasty. After you have placed an order you will find a place in the often crowded hall and after a while someone comes along to take your order for drinking. Your food is also brought to the table. On average you pay about 2 euros for a delicious meal here. You can find the CF food court at the beginning of Lebuh Armanian, on the side of the harbor.
7. Drink cocktails at Chulia Street or Love Lane
For a nice drink after dinner you should be near Chulia Street. Admittedly, the street is touristy, but that is why it is also very cozy. Almost all cafés use happy hour, which usually starts around six o’clock and lasts until mid-evening. We have spent several evenings at Mi Casa in Love Lane: a super cozy place with a very friendly owner. During happy hour it is 2 + 1 free.