The saddest part about traveling around Georgetown is that the body just can’t handle the amount of food and coffee that this city generously provides. The good news is that there is plenty to see and do while your stomach digests your latest Laksa. My favourite activity was just walking around, but this post for those of you who are more goal oriented.
The city has two immaculately preserved Chinese mansions (above) that would leave any antique aficionado awestruck. I’d recommend visiting the Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion (aka Blue Mansion) first since it’s only accessible by guided tour, then spending a good chunk of time in the more elaborate but less informative Pinang Peranakan mansion.
A handful of mini-museums are available for those looking for a brief respite from the heat. My favourite was the Made In Penang 3D Art Museum due to its ingenious concept of explaining Penang history and customs while providing a playground of interactive photo-ops. It’s a good idea to have at least one friend tag along or else you’ll be stuck constantly asking strangers to take your picture like I had to. It’s worth popping into the free Coffee and Chocolate museum if you’re in the area since it explains the history and benefits of two of my favourite vices and free samples sweeten the deal. Camera buffs can visit the Georgetown Camera Museum to see the vast collection of antique cameras, but for most people it’s probably not worth the entrance fee.
Georgetown’s religious history is also worth exploring, especially along Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling where you can take in an Anglican church, Chinese temple, Hindu temple, and Muslim mosque within three blocks. Another example of how Georgetown’s cultural medley makes it such a unique place.
When I sketched out my Malaysia plans, my goal was to arrive in Penang for Chinese New Year. Little did I know that it would mean the city would be packed and that the festivities would last for several days. Unfortunately the public holidays meant that many of the places I wanted to visit were closed, but at the same time I saw a Penang that was steeped in tradition and cultural exuberance that was well worth all the shuttered shops.