The Delights of Traveling: Penang, Malaysia
History is a big part of the culture of Malaysia. Penang is one of the most obvious places where that is represented. The capital of Georgetown has been considered as a UNESCO World Heritage site, so they can't actually do anything to the city, lucky for me.
All the things I didn't like about KL, I love about Penang. Especially Georgetown because there are no skyscrapers, no big buildings, they just want to keep the culture and charm of the city. It almost feels like a small town rather than a big city that it actually is. To me, it was the perfect place because it had everything. Beach life, city life, food galore, and great cafes.
I arrived in Penang on New Year's Eve and the first thing I did was go for a coffee. I tend to always Google the best cafes around so I can sit and write, because I just can't do it where I am staying for some odd reason. Anyway, went for a coffee and then decided to go on a scavenger hunt to find all the street art around the city. Definitely a must-do when you are in Georgetown, most hostels and hotels will have a map that shows where all the places are, but if not you can go to Banana Tours on Chulia Street across from Reggae Bar to get a map. I managed to find most of them and then decided to go for a drink. Love Lane is definitely a must-go if you enjoy a drink, the prices aren't too terrible if you compare it to the rest of Malaysia. For the ladies, if you go to Reggae Bar you can get free drinks from 6pm-9pm and let me tell you, that will sort you out for the night. But for the gents, drinks aren't too badly priced and all the bars have Happy Hour. I did my countdown on Love Lane and it was really fun.
I fell in love with the city and ended up working there for quite a few months in bars and hostels. If you are someone who loves Mexican food, definitely go to Holy Guacamole. I mean for it being Western food, it is a bit pricey but it is really good food and the drinks are pretty strong and authentic to Mexico. If you have got a sweet tooth, one of the best places that I went to was China House. This place is honestly amazing if you like cake, they serve about 50 types of cakes every day and they are all pretty fantastic. It is considered to be the "longest" cafe in Penang and they aren't lying about that. There are various rooms in the entire place, there is the main room and then a tea room next to it, when you walk a bit further, you will be in the sun room where you can draw on the tables and there are a bunch of book shelves around where you can pick up a book and read. At 5 pm, the bar opens up and they start playing live music. It really is a one-stop shop for everything. For local food, definitely head to Red Garden where there is a large variety of foods that you can choose from. But, the street food is also pretty great and very cheap so just have a wander to find stuff that you like. One of my favorite restaurants there was Woodlands Vegetarian, honestly even if you aren't veggie, you are going to love the food.
China House Cafe
Accommodation wise, there are plenty of hostels and cheap hotels around. I would say location-wise, Chulia street is probably the best location to stay at because it is close to everything. There are lots of hostels along that way and on the surrounding streets. Old Penang Guesthouse is really good because it is right on Love Lane and it has kept the vibe of the colonial building. Another good hostel is Ryokan Muntri, super clean and very chic and it really doesn't seem like you are staying at a hostel. If you like to party, I would say Tipsy Tiger hostel. However, if I am being honest I worked there and the beds aren't the greatest. So, I would say party there, but don't stay.
That is one of the things that I love about Penang is that they have maintained the history of the country with its buildings and it is a great mix of Western and Eastern vibes.
If you want to go for a good walk and great view, take a walk up Penang Hill and enjoy. Before you head up there, you could also go to Kek Lok Si Temple, which is right as the base of the hill.
Anyway, there is so much to see in Penang, so enjoy!