31 Mar Georgetown in 3 days: Essential visits!
Georgetown was without a doubt the best destination of my 3 week trip through Malaysia and Singapore. An ESSENTIAL on any route through Southeast Asia, what we call a must. If you want to know what to see in Georgetown and don’t miss a single thing, keep reading this post;)
As in all Malaysian cities, in its streets there is a great cultural diversity, finding Chinese temples, churches, Hindu temples and even mosques.
But if Georgetown is known for something, it is for its two best things: its Street Art, with hundreds of graffiti scattered throughout the city and, for its gastronomy, considered the best in all of Malaysia.
For these three factors, for its environment, and its beauty, Georgetown was declared a World Heritage Site by Unesco in 2008. Do not miss my list of what to see in Georgetown so you do not leave miss anything!
- 1 How to get to Georgetown (Penang)
- 2 What to see in Georgetown in 3 days. Essential visits!
- 2.1 Penang Town Hall and Queen Victoria Clock Tower
- 2.2 Blue Mansion: Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion
- 2.3 Pinang Peranakan Mansion
- 2.4 Fort Cornwallis
- 2.5 Khoo Kongsi
- 2.6 Kapitan Keling Mosque
- 2.7 Clan Jetties: El Chew Jetty
- 2.8 Little India and Sri Mahamariamman Temple
- 2.9 Chinatown
- 2.10 Kek Lok Si Temple
- 2.11 What to See in Georgetown – Penang Street Art
- 3 Other articles of my 3 week trip to Malaysia and Singapore
How to get to Georgetown (Penang)
Georgetown is one of the most famous tourist destinations in all of Malaysia and therefore has multiple ways to get in and out of the city. Georgetown in particular is a bit far from most tourist destinations, so in principle the best way is to go by plane. This is how I did it. To enter Penang, I flew from Singapore and left Penang by plane to Kuala Terengganu to go to the Redang Islands.
There are several low cost companies operating in Penang. I specifically flew with Air Asia on both routes, as I did with all routes on my 3-week trip to Malaysia and Singapore.
To get from Penang airport to Georgetown, about 16kms one from the other, you can do it by bus, taxi or Grab (European Uber).
If you choose to go by bus, you have to take number 401 or 401E, which will take you to Komtar central station or Chulia Street, the center of the historic area of Georgetown. The journey costs RM2.70, about 55 cents.
If you do it by taxi, you have to pay the trip at an authorized ticket office and it has the closed price of RM44 (€ 9.15) to get to the center of Georgetown.
If, as I did, you choose to take a Grab, the journey to the center of Georgetown will cost RM21 (about € 4.40). It is certainly a cheap and very comfortable option.
You can arrive from multiple cities, but I am going to tell you how to do it from Kuala Lumpur.
Buses to Georgetown leave from Bersepadu Selatan station, the journey takes 6 hours and the price is between 40 and 50 ringgits, depending on the company you travel with. Once in Penang, the bus has its final destination at Sungai Nibong Station, a bit far from the center of Georgetown. You can take bus 303 to the city center from there or take a Grab.
You can buy tickets on the busonlineticket website.
In this case, you have to make several changes of transport, since to get from Kuala Lumpur to Georgetown, you have to take a train first, then a ferry and finally a bus.
Trains to Georgetown leave from KL Sentral Station in Kuala Lumpur, bound for Butterworth Station. The journey takes about 4 and a half hours and the price depending on the class you choose costs between 34 and 67 ringgits.
When you get to Butterworth Station, you have next to the pier where you can catch the ferry to Georgetown. Once you get off the ferry at your destination, you have a free bus stop that takes you to various points in the historic center.
And, finally, we are going with the list of what to see in Georgetown so you do not miss a single point of the city;)
What to see in Georgetown in 3 days. Essential visits!
With 3 or 4 days you will have enough to see everything you need in Penang, which is basically the entire center of Georgetown and the Kek Lok Si Temple, the largest Buddhist temple in Malaysia. But, if I can give you my opinion, I would stay about 5 days. I stayed 4 and it fell short! Not because I hadn’t seen it all, but because I was wanting to enjoy Georgetown more. For me, the best city in Malaysia.
If you have more days, you can take advantage of going up to Penang Hill, famous for its views and nature walks; Penang National Park, the smallest national park in Malaysia; and, some of its beaches. But, if you are going to go to any of the islands of Malaysia, like the Perhentians, the Kapas or the Redang islands, it is not essential that you visit the beaches of Georgetown.
Penang Town Hall and Queen Victoria Clock Tower
Something characteristic of Georgetown is its heritage from the colonial era. Specifically, British and European, such as the Penang Town Hall and Queen Victoria Tower buildings. And, my favorite street in Georgetown, Armenian Street.
Penang Town Hall, one of Georgetown’s most important British buildings, was once the seat of the town hall. Today, it is used for public events and exhibitions.
The Queen Victoria Tower was built in 1897 to commemorate Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee. This tower, 60 feet high, is slightly tilted as a result of the bombings experienced during the Second World War.
And, Armenian Street, a street full of colonial houses and named after the influence of the Armenian merchants who lived there for a time. In it you can enjoy various Street Art murals, museums, temples, shops, restaurants … A super lively street.
Blue Mansion: Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion
The Blue Mansion, known by its inhabitants as Cheong Fatt Tze, is a characteristic mansion for its intense blue color of its facade and, one of the main attractions of Georgetown.
Shortly before 1900, this mansion was ordered to be built by Chinese merchant and politician Cheong Fatt Tze, and served as his home and business center to him and his descendants.
It is characterized by its eclectic architecture, which mixes styles of Chinese tradition with influences typical of the British colonial era. Today, after being sold to a group of city conservators, it is a hotel-museum open to the public.
To visit it, you have daily tours in English at 11:00, 14:00 and 15:30, every day of the week. The price is RM25 (€ 5.20) for adults and RM12.50 (€ 2.60) for children under 12 years. To book your visit you can do it on its official website.
Pinang Peranakan Mansion
Another of Georgwtown’s most famous mansions is the Pinang Peranakan Mansion, built in 1893 and characterized by its greenish color. In its day, it belonged to Peranakan merchants, a term that refers to the descendants of the first Chinese immigrants established in Malaysia.
Today we can visit it and see how it was in its era of maximum splendor (in the 19th century), surprising us with its more than 1000 antiques, objects and collections.
The mansion can be visited every day of the week between 9:30 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. The price is RM20 (€ 4.20) for adults and free for children under 6 years. You can see more information about the mansion and visits on its website. Buy the ticket directly there!
It is worth spending an hour of your time to see how the Peranakan lived in the 19th century. I was very surprised by the entire collection of objects: clothing, jewelry, tableware, kitchenware, etc.
I add it to my list because it is one of the main tourist visits of the city, but for me, not essential.
It is the largest fortress in Malaysia and was built in the late 18th century by order of Captain Francis Light and owes its name to Charles Cornwallis, who helped end the American Revolution.
Inside, the chapel, some cells, warehouses and a part of the walls are preserved.
For those who want to enter to see this star-shaped fortress, its hours are from 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. and the price is RM20 (€ 4.20) for adults and RM10 (€ 2) for children. children.
In the heart of Georgetown’s old town, among its small alleys and very close to Armenian Street, we find the Khoo Kongsi, a great house of the Chinese clan of Leong San Tong, wealthy merchants who settled between Melaka and Georgetown in the 17th century.
Considered to be the largest clan temple in Malaysia, the Khoo Kongsi Temple is definitely a must see in Georgetown.
In addition to the temple, the clan house includes an association building, a traditional theater, and houses for its members, from the late 19th century.
Khoo Kongsi is open every day of the week, including holidays, from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. For more information about visits you can visit their official website.
Kapitan Keling Mosque
If, like me, you kick the city for days, you will pass through this mosque several times as it is located in the middle of Georgetown.
It is the largest mosque in the city and is characterized by its Muslim architecture.
If you want to enter the mosque, admission is free every afternoon, with reduced hours on Fridays. Please note that it is necessary to dress respectfully. You have to cover your arms and legs and, in addition, women should also wear a headscarf.
Clan Jetties: El Chew Jetty
The Clan Jetties, also known as the clan wharves, are ancient settlements and floating dwellings of Chinese fishermen found on the docks at the end of Armenian Street.
Each of the docks represented a Chinese clan, but undoubtedly the largest and most famous is the Chew Jetty. You will be able to see floating houses, a shop and a “restaurant” at the end of the pier (in which I would never eat haha).
For me, one of the main things to see in Georgetown. Of course, prepare to share your spaces with many tourists!
Little India and Sri Mahamariamman Temple
For me, the best Indian neighborhood of my 3 week trip through Malaysia and Singapore. Super lively, with music throughout its streets, shops with fabrics and typical Indian clothing, restaurants around every corner, smells of millions of spices … I fell in love!
Located in the heart of Georgetown, you can also visit the Sri Mahamariamman Temple, the oldest Hindu temple in Penang and dedicated to the Hindu god Subramaniam.
It is worth a visit to the Chinese district of Georgetown, although if you can, it is better at night, when they put many street food stalls. Be sure to try the famous Laksa, a good noodle dish or any other typical Chinese dish;).
The neighborhood is mostly concentrated in Lebuh Chulia and Love Lane streets, full of cheap accommodation, cafes and bars.
And this is when I talk about THE BEST OF GEORGETOWN, the Chinese restaurant Tek Sen. I read about him on various blogs before I started my journey, but he definitely exceeded expectations. I will dedicate a great space to this restaurant in the post of where to eat in Georgetown, in which I will tell you about his wife plate, when to go, etc.
In the post of what to eat and where in Georgetown you have a complete guide to the gastronomy of the city!
Kek Lok Si Temple
The Kek Lok Si Temple, built in 1891, is the largest Buddhist temple in all of Malaysia and, without a doubt, something you have to keep in mind when thinking of what to see in Georgetown. It is the only visit to the outskirts of the city and I recommend that you go and return in Grab (European Uber). It is cheap, fast and comfortable.
Keep in mind that to see everything well you will have to spend an entire morning, because the temple is huge.
Kek Lok Si is made up of many buildings, but the most famous are its huge pagoda, the Pavilion of the Heavenly Kings and the statue of the Goddess of Mercy.
To visit Kek Lok Si, you can do it every day between 07:00 and 21:00. Access to almost all buildings for free, except for the pagoda, which costs RM2 (€ 0.40). To go up to see the Goddess of Mercy you can go up on foot or in a funicular that costs RM5 (€ 1) each way.
What to See in Georgetown – Penang Street Art
If there is something characteristic in the city of Georgetown it is its Street Art. The city is full of graffiti that adorns almost every wall.
There are many, but the most famous works are of Ernest Zacharevic. Many of them do not stay in a painting on the wall, but have added real elements such as bicycles, motorcycles or chairs, which make us interact and be part of them.
It is in the old town of Georgetown that you will find the vast majority of the city’s Street Art. In another post where I will only talk about Georgetown street art, I will share a map so you don’t miss any graffiti. And, if I may recommend you, take Street Art routes at night, which is when there are the least tourists. Otherwise, you will have to wait long lines to take photos!
If you want to know everything about the Street Art of the city visit the post of Georgetown Street Art Guide.
And here is the end of what to see in Georgetown post!