Georgetown, the capital city of the Malaysian state of Penang is a fascinating example of a city shaped, changed and influenced by its history, still continuing to develop and embrace is unique culture to this day. Located on an island, Georgetown is accessible by an 8.4 mile dual carriageway toll bridge, the Penang bridge which is currently the second biggest in the whole of Malaysia and provides an awesome view as you pass over the malacca straits separating mainland and island. One of the oldest cities, Georgetown was heralded a UNESCO world heritage site in 2008 and many hostels, hotels and shops uphold the privalige of this status by remaining as they have done for century’s, remaining intact and preserving the decor of days gone by for guests and visitors alike to marvel and appreciate.
One of the first British settlements in South-East Asia, Together with Singapore and Malacca the town has become famed for its British colonial architecture and various other Asian styles that co-exist together in the old town, preserved incredibly some housing and clans having been around since the 1700’s! Make sure to visit the old Chinese clan jetty’s suspended on stilts for a humbling experience of a fishing community in the most unique setting and wake up, opening the wooden shutters on your 200 year old hostel window (many great hotels and hostels available for cheap!)
All very accessible in modern times predominantly by walking or Uber ( it’s cheapest) the old city lies mere minutes from the beaches and forest that surround it if you fancy an excursion from the city streets. Be sure to explore Penang hill for a beautiful sunrise illuminating the malacca straits and take time to appreciate the botanical gardens, where macaque and monitor lizard rule the land!
For something within the city block make sure to infiltrate fort Cornwallis for a small fee, built in the late 18th century it stands to be the largest fort existent in Malaysia built to protect against Kedah and Pirates, you simply cannot miss it! Walking back to your chosen antique hostel stop off at any one of the surplus coffee shops, restaurants, the cat cafe or even the photography museum, everything has its own little charm and the food and coffee is Penang is especially noted due to the harmonious existence of Chinese and Malays influencing its own twist on every edible snack you’ll find!
It’s worth mentioning Lithuanian artist, Ernest Zacharevic a Penang Street Art artist leaving his mark with beautiful wall paintings of children all across historical Georgetown. The artworks are funny, fascinating, and very much open to everyone’s interpretations, being embraced by the locals for merchandise, inspiration for other artists active in the city and some additional modern eye candy onto the historic backdrop
If you love good coffee, greater street food, curious art, friendly people and a history lesson all in one place, I honestly couldn’t rate Georgetown more.