We spent a long weekend in September 2017 eating our way through the UNESCO world heritage site of Georgetown on Penang Island. A trip I would happily repeat!
We stayed in the Seven Terraces hotel and I highly recommend it! 5 stars all around! Situated in what were formerly seven shop-houses, the Seven Terraces exudes charm, a sense of time and place, and serenity. The management is uber friendly, pro-active, and want to make sure your experience is top notch. It’s the little things that make a big difference … like refillable glass bottles of water instead of plastic. Decorative refillable porcelain containers for toiletries. A big smile and complimentary fruit and high tea. I wouldn’t stay anywhere else.
Penang has a reputation as the “food capital of Malaysia.” Given this reputation the pressure is on – there is only so much you can eat and I only want to eat the good stuff. Tek Sen restaurant on 18 Lebuh Carnarvon is one such place. Open 12-3 for lunch and 6-9 for dinner. Closed on Tuesdays. Specialties include the twice cooked pork belly, assam fish, claypot brinjal, fried chicken with plum sauce, omelette with bitter gourd, potato leaves with prawn, and steamed fish.
If you are hankering for some vegetarian the Woodlands Vegetarian restaurant is the place to be. Located on 60 Lebuh Penang there are flavors for everyone, especially the delicious thosai and steamed idli. If you are there for lunch there is also a copious set thali menu.
If you are looking for some Nyonya food (Malay fushion) then Aunty Gaik Lean is the place to be. Located on 1 Bishop St. (closed Monday) the specialties include otak otak, inchi kabin, assam prawns, curry kapitan, brinjal, spring rolls, and sago with gula Melaka.
Dim Sum? No problem. Try Restoran Tho Yuen on 92 Lebuh Campbell. Get there early before they run out. Not fancy but delicious! Step aside Frosty the Tiger, fried shrimp and pork buns is the real breakfast of champions!
And course no visit to Penang would be complete without the hawker food stalls. This is the beating heart of Penang food culture. You can basically get anything and everything.
The Sin Guat Keong Kopitiam on the corner of Cintra and the Kimberly night market is famous for it’s Char Koay Teown, Rojak, Popiah, Pei Tee, Bee Hoon, Belacan Chicken, and Duck Koay Chap (mind you I only managed to make enough space for the duck).
When you need to satisfy your sweet tooth China House on 153 Lebuh Pantai is the place to be. A very narrow and often crowded cafe full of cakes, deserts, and pastries.
And after a long day of walking and exploring there is no better place to unwind than the rooftop bar in the Bayview Hotel. Reasonably priced drinks with panoramic views of Georgetown and the straits – only Jimmy Buffet tunes were missing.
On two feet is definitely the best way to explore all that Georgetown has to offer. The historical core is very compact and you can basically walk the perimeter of the heritage sight in a morning. However the point is to savor the rich heritage and history that Georgetown has to offer, from the old colonial style buildings to the street art and everything in between. Take your time. Get lost. Happenstance led us to a Thai food festival as well as a bike shop that seemed stuck in a 1940s time warp – and eventually on to the esplanade! However if you feel like you want to push yourself a little further try the hike up Penang hill. The usual method is to take the railway car up but we couldn’t be bothered to wait in line. The fare is 30rm return for the “normal” line and 60rm return for the “express” (meaning you only have to wait about 20-30 minutes in line). The hike up is basically a grueling step-master extraordinaire exercise of 2km straight up. There is a mid-way station 1km in where you can decide to call it quits and take the railway car – or just keep going. Going up takes about three hours with a fit 10 year old. However, once up the view is well worth it! My only advice – take a spare shirt. The sweating starts two steps in and doesn’t stop for a long, long, long time.