Food and drink
Sample a bowl of Penang's signature assam laksa
While exploring Balik Pulau, foodies should slip this into their itinerary: Visit the old market to sample the wildly popular assam laksa. If you'd rather stick within the vicinity of George Town, another great place to savour the tnagy noodle dish is Joo Hooi Cafe.Pasar Air Itam Laksa Jalan Pasar, Air Itam.Joo Hooi Cafe 475 Jalan Penang, George Town.
Savour Penang's iconic stir-fry, char kuay teow
Easily the most popular hawker dish among locals and travelers alike, char kuey teow consists of flat rice flour noodles, dark soya sauce, chilli paste, garlic, bean sprouts, prawns, Chinese chives and sometimes chicken or duck eggs. There are more char kuey teow stalls than one can count on both hands (and feet), but you can't go wrong with Kedai Kopi Sin Hwa and Ah Leng Char Kuay Teow stall at Kafe Khoon Hiang.Kafe Khoon Hiang 358 Jalan Dato Keramat, George Town.Kedai Kopi Sin Hwa 329 Jalan Burma, George Town.
Beat the heat with an ice ball
Every city's inhabitants will wax nostalic about a childhood treat; for Penangites, the said treat would be the shaved ice ball. Basically an edible snow ball, each sphere is handmade by tightly packing shaved ice into a ball and drenching the lot in palm sugar syrup and rose syrup. Eating your ice ball is a messy process, but table manners are overlooked when you're eating at a streetside stall. Most ice kacang stalls also serve this sweet treat, but our go-to is Penang Road Famous Teochew Chendul (next to Joo Hooi Cafe).Penang Road Famous Teochew Chendul 27 & 29, Lebuh Keng Kwee
Discover Penang Peranakan culture through Nyonya cuisine
The birth of Peranakan Chinese or Straits-born Chinese also saw the birth of a new food culture: Nyonya cuisine marries Malay and Chinese flavours. Some traditional dishes include jiu hu char, loh bak, Inchi Kabin, Chicken Kapitan and a plethora of bite-sized sweets called kueh. Here are two restaurants to get your fill:Mama's Nyonya Cuisine 31-D Lorong Abu Siti, George Town (+604 229 1318).Kebaya Dining Room Lorong Stewart, George Town (+604 264 2333).
Arts and culture
Play hide and seek with Penang's street art
Street art such as the murals of Ernest Zacharevic and steel sculpture of Marking George Town is all over the heritage area of George Town. Either walk or take a trishaw ride through Lebuh Armenian, Jalan Penang and all the narrow streets in-between to have a look at them up close.
Climb the 500 steps to Waterfall Hilltop Temple
Waterfall Hilltop Temple is a splendid representation of the Hindu devotees. It’s a 500-step climb but at the end of it you’ll see a 180-degree view of Mount Erskine and Gurney areas. Before reaching this temple, there are three smaller temples at ground level that are worth a visit too. These temples are in the spotlight each Thaipusam with the one on the hill being the main star.
Contemplate on the paintings at the Penang State Art Gallery
Main art galleries such as Penang State Art Gallery at Dewan Sri Penang have exhibitions all year around plus their permanent exhibition and they organise art forums and workshops too. Tuanku Fauziah Museum and Art Gallery on the campus of Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) has on-going interesting exhibitions. Their permanent exhibit includes Nyonya and aboriginal pieces and Malaysian traditional musical instrument. Penang State Art Gallery Ground floor, Dewan Sri Pinang, Lebuh Light, George Town (+604 261 3144). Tuanku Fauziah Museum and Art Gallery Universiti Sains Malaysia, Gelugor (+604 653 3888).
Music and nightlife
Book a ticket to Penang's largest jazz festival
Penang Island Jazz Festival is one of the biggest music festivals in Malaysia and a very popular one in Penang, this annual festival sees international and local musical greats coming together for a three-day jazzy feast at Batu Ferringhi. It’s normally held towards the end of November and early December.For updates, check penangjazz.com.
Chill with the musicians at The Canteen
Live music on weekends can easily be found in places such as Jammin’, a chill out place above Via Pre restaurant and there’s a lovely view of the pier from their balcony where you can sit, chat and sip their gourmet Italian beers. The Canteen has a range of bands range from indie music to pop and jazz. Despite their rustic feel, they have a good sound system. Jammin' Via Pre, Second floor, 5 Pengkalan Weld, George Town (+604 262 0560).The Canteen at ChinaHouse, 153 & 155 Lebuh Pantai, George Town (+604 263 7299).
Lounge with a sunset view and a beer
Places such as Straits Quay, Bora Bora and QEII at the end of the pier on Pengkalan Weld, are great to go for drinks while watching the sun setting since they’re located by the water. Straits Quay Jalan Seri Tanjung Pinang, Tanjung Tokong (+604 899 5228). Bora Bora Lot 415, Jalan Batu Ferringhi, Batu Ferringhi (+604 885 1313). QEII Church Street pier, 8A Pengkalan Weld, George Town (+604 261 2126).