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50 things to do in Penang: Heritage

The best things to do to soak up Penang's rich, cultural heritage


Check out Bangkok Lane's striking architecture

This short street lined with houses built by the Cheah family in the 1920s looks remarkably distinct from most streets in Penang. The unique architecture sees a marriage between British colonial and Asian aesthetics. Cap your stroll with lunch at Bankok Lane Mee Goreng; needless to say, the order of the day is the mee goreng or spicy, saucy stir-fried noodles.

Bangkok Lane Mee Goreng Seng Lee Cafe, intersection of Lorong Bangkok and Jalan Burma, George Town.

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George Town

Say a prayer on the Street of Harmony

The Street of Harmony is where several places of worship - Masjid Kapitan Keling, Kuan Yin Temple, St. George's Church, Sri Mahamariamman Temple, Cathedral of Assumption and Khoo Kongsi - line a single road (Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling). Only in Malaysia!

Join Penang Heritage Trust's tour of the Street of Harmony & Historical Enclave.

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George Town
Poke around George Town's heritage streets

Poke around George Town's heritage streets

One of the oldest neighbourhoods in Penang, George Town is a crisscross of heritage streets such as Lebuh Armenian, Love Lane and Lebuh Muntri. You'll find refurbished shop lots that now house contemporary cafes, boutique hotels and dive bars, but also catch a glimpse of the past in the remaining antique stores, traditional artisan workshops and Chinese coffee shops.

For more, see our guide to Penang's popular streets


Spend the night in a refurbished heritage building

Experience the best of old and new by residing in a refurbished heritage building. Travelers are spoilt for choice with the number of boutique hotels in Penang. We recommend the luxurious Seven Terraces, family-friendly 23 LoveLane and contemporary Macalister Mansion.

Seven Terraces Lorong Stewart, George Town. (+604 264 2333).
23 LoveLane 23 Lorong Love, George Town (+604 262 1323).
Macalister Mansion 228 Jalan Macalister, George Town (+604 228 3888).

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George Town
Enjoy a trishaw tour of George Town

Enjoy a trishaw tour of George Town

A trishaw ride is a relaxing means to get from point A to point B in Penang or to see various sights within an hour or more. Negogiate with the trishaw driver and agree upon a price before disembarking; the rule of thumb is RM30 per hour.

If you'd like to try your hand at driving a trishaw yourself, visit Metro Bike to rent one.

Metro Bike 8A Pengkalan Weld, George Town (019 409 4663/metrobike.com.my).


Get a box of pop bomb from 41 Living Story

Charming little exhibition such as the one in 41 Living Story is a charming bric-a-brac shop in a refurbished shop house that used to be a goldsmith business. Right at the back, in their courtyard, the old equipment for this trade is exhibited, along with its history written on panels hung on the walls.

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George Town

Be a self-assigned member of an exclusive Chinese clan house

Kongsi or clan houses are normally within the town centre. The large compound of these kongsi housed numerous living areas for several families belonging to the same Chinese clans, a temple and a courtyard. While there are numerous of kongsi around, the more prosperous ones and good examples to view are The Blue Mansion and Khoo Kongsi.

The Blue Mansion 14 Lebuh Leith, George Town. (+604 262 0006).
Khoo Kongsi 18 Lebuh Cannon, George Town. (+604 261 4609).

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George Town

Stock up on nutmegs from Bazaar Chowrasta

Local produce such as nutmeg, Chinese cookies, local handicraft and the like are easily found under one roof at either Bazaar Chowrasta on Jalan Penang or Lim Wah Thai emporium on Jalan Gottlieb. Penang's known for its nutmegs and the pickled variety that's pungent and distinct in flavour can be hard to find.

Bazaar Chowrasta Jalan Penang, George Town.
Lim Wah Thai emporium 3A Jalan Gottlieb, Air Itam (+604 228 1063).

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George Town