This is an island with a long and vibrant history. The combination of colonialism, being a port facilitating the spice trade, and the many cultures and religions coming together to create unique beliefs and architecture makes for a very interesting destination. For more information, visit timeoutpenang.com.
The Temple of Fine Arts
1 Babington Avenue, George Town (+604 228 8575/www.tfa.org.my). This international non-profit organisation with branches in Malaysia, Singapore, India and Australia strives to spread awareness and appreciation of Indian art and culture. Enjoy lunch/dinner and entertainment in one go: after attending a classical Indian dance performance, partake of the pay-what-you-wish vegetarian buffet served in the courtyard.
Meals served Tue-Sun, Lunch, 11.30am-2.30pm; Dinner, 6-9.30pm.
3H-3A-1, Straits Quay, Jalan Seri Tanjung Pinang, Tanjung Tokong (+604 899 1722/www.penangpac.org). penangpac opened its doors at 11am on the 11th of November 2011 (11.11.11) – an auspicious date marking the rise of Penang’s first and only arts centre. Founded by a group of art enthusiasts who recognised Penang’s artistic talent but lack of infrastructure, penangpac keeps its calendar full with performances by both local and international artists.
Box office: Daily, 10am-6.30pm.
Yahong Art Gallery
58-D Jalan Batu Ferringhi, Batu Ferringhi (+604 881 1251/www. yahongart.com).
Located in scenic Batu Ferringhi, Yahong Art Gallery features the original works of notable Malaysian batik artist the late Dato’ Chuah Thean Teng as well as watercolours, Chinese ink scrolls and oil paintings by other Asian artists. The downstairs houses unique antiques and collectibles including an ancient Malaysian horn, a Sarawakian tribe chief’s staff and an exquisite Chinese cloisonné. Mon-Fri, 10am-8pm.
Penang Artists Corner
70-1-145B, D’Piazza Mall, Bayan Baru, Bayan Lepas (+604 641 3882/+6011 1062 1882/www. facebook.com/artistscorner.penang). This art gallery at D’Piazza Mall aims to establish itself as a central hub for paintings and art works by local talent. Immerse yourself in the imagination of the featured artists, most of whom are Chinese.
Tue-Sat, 9.30am-6pm; Sun, 2.30-6pm.
27 Lorong Bangkok, George Town (+604 227 4985/www.a2artgallery. com). a2 Gallery, the brainchild of two artists by the names of Alfred and Jeff, operates within a primary niche for contemporary art pieces. Feel free to lounge in one of the gallery’s Garden Rooms, which were fashioned for visitors to sit back and relax. Take in the breathtaking view of Wat Chaiya Mangkalaram’s golden dome from upstairs.
96-98 Lebuh Armenian, George Town (+6016 485 8352/www.alyssagaleri. com).
Previously located on Jalan Penang, Alyssa has shifted to a new home on Lebuh Armenian, but continues to showcase impressive watercolour, oil and acrylic paintings. The gallery’s proprietors also rent out studio space to photographers and provide a platform for them to display their works.
Daily, 9am-8pm. Art Bug
74 Jalan Siam, George Town (+604 228 0504/www.artbug.biz). Co-founded by Khoo & Ching, Art Bug has evolved from the picture framing business to an art studio where a group of young artists designs and produces their own products. From ceramic kettles to engraved stones, these handmade items tend to incorporate Zen and Asian-inspired elements.
153 & 155 Lebuh Pantai, George Town (+604 263 7299/www. straitscollection.com.my/ChinaHouse. htm).
Everybody’s buzzing about ChinaHouse, which isn’t surprising, judging by its impressive concept. The ambitious institution houses a wine bar, several restaurants, a central courtyard, a bookshop and a bakery. The owners also founded an art gallery (Art Space
I), a photography space (Art Space II), a bedroom and studio for artists (Artist’s Dorm), an apartment for gallery owners and performers (The Loft), and a multipurpose performance space for theatrical performances, film screenings, comedy shows, art workshops and live music (Upstairs at Victoria).
Ernest Zacharevic x E&O Gallery Eastern & Oriental Hotel, Victory Annexe, 10 Lebuh Farquhar, George Town (+6019 451 4149/www. facebook.com/ErnestZacharevicxEnO). This art gallery inside the fancy Eastern & Oriental Hotel is a joint effort with the iconic Lithuanian street artist Ernest Zacharevic. You’ve seen his famed street art; now check out his framed works. Until you’ve stopped by to appreciate the artist’s lesser-
known paintings, you can’t say you’ve seen his complete oeuvre.
Mon & Wed-Sun, 10am-5pm.
Fuan Wong the Gallery
13 Lebuh Armenian, George Town (+604 251 9463/www.fuanwong.com). Specialising in stained and fused glassworks, self-taught artist Wong Keng Fuan runs this unassuming gallery. His collection of stained glass has been described as ‘mechanistic and intellectual’ while his fused glass is tamer and emotive. Prior to Wong’s involvement with glass, the multitalented artist tried his hand at watercolours, mosaics and landscape design.
Galeri Seni Mutiara
118 Lebuh Armenian, George Town (+604 262 0167/www. galerisenimutiara.com).
Galeri Seni Mutiara aims to encourage art lovers to embrace locally-produced art and to broaden their collections. Besides holding art exhibitions, the owner also organises talks and forums. The gallery places emphasis upon contemporary art from both the east and the west.
Gehrig Art Gallery
Coffee Atelier, 47-55 Lorong Stewart, George Town (+604 261 2261/www. coffeeatelier.com).
Located in one of the five interlinked Chinese Straits shophouses at Coffee Atelier, this gallery was founded by Mr Stefan Gehrig to showcase his collection of artworks by Malaysian and Southeast Asian artists.
Hin Bus Depot Art Centre
31A Jalan Gurdwara, George Town (www.facebook.com/hinbusdepot). Once an abandoned bus depot, Hin has evolved into an unlikely art space, courtesy of Lithuanian artist Ernest Zacharevic’s first solo art show. Wall murals from his exhibition still remain intact and today, Hin is adding artistic touches of its own, promising more exhibitions from home-grown artists.
Mon-Fri, 12noon-8pm; Sat-Sun, 11am-9pm.
Jawi House Gallery
85 Lebuh Armenian, George Town (+6019 474 5703/www.jawihouse. com).
Explore this art gallery after placing your order at the restaurant downstairs. Jawi House Gallery mostly exhibits aboriginal art pieces, but also carries a strong representation of drawings and paintings by local artists. Chef-proprietor Nurilkarim Razha is something of a local celebrity, renowned for his delicious Malay cooking.
Mon & Wed-Sun, 11am-9.30pm. Penang State Museum & Art Gallery
Farquhar Street, George Town (+604 226 1461/www.penangmuseum.gov. my).
The Penang State Art Gallery comprises two sections: The first is located on the ground floor, and functions as an exhibition space for new or rotating exhibitions; the second gallery on the third floor houses a permanent collection made up of donated or acquired paintings.
Mon-Thu & Sat-Sun, 9am-5pm. Admission, RM1.
154 Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling, George Town (+604 261 1917/www. studiohoward.com).
Founded by Howard Tan, a selftaught, abstract photographer with a good eye for detail, Studio Howard displays a cornucopia of ‘Penangesque’ subjects, from historical heritage buildings to playful stray cats and dogs. He names Wong Kar Wai and Tim Burton as his inspirations.
G Art Gallery
Level 1, G Hotel Gurney (link bridge), 168A Persiaran Gurney (+604 238 0000/www.ghotel.com.my). Spanning the length of G Hotel’s indoor link bridge, this art gallery has hosted numerous solo exhibitions, but remains very much under the radar.
Daily, 24 hours.
Run Amok Gallery
Hin Bus Depot, 54-A Jalan Timah, George Town (+6010 461 7311/ www.runamok.my).
Run Amok is a manic arrangement of artworks that often addresses political topics. Situated just off Lorong Hutton, the humble and homey gallery takes up two floors. If you’re looking for a spacious venue to exhibit your artwork, don’t hesitate to speak to the proprietors, Fan Chon and Trevor Hampson.
Cherry Art Studio
Block C-2-6, Vantage, Jalan Desiran Tanjung, Tanjung Tokong (+6012 515 5689/www.cherryartstudios.com).
Hands up, who likes origami? Cherry Art Studio ingeniously turns the Japanese art form into wearable jewellery. A best-seller would be the dangly earrings made of miniature paper cranes. But origami isn’t the studio’s only forte; join one of their many workshops to learn how to make sock dolls, chirimen
(a traditional Japanese weaving technique) wall décor and more.
Tue-Sun, 12noon-5.30pm. Teluk Bahang
NEW Art and Garden
Jalan Teluk Bahang (+6013
533 1232/www.facebook.com/ ArtandGardenbyFuanWong).
While most galleries are content to exhibit paintings and sculptures, the applied arts are often overlooked. Glass artist Fuan Wong took matters into his own hands by setting up his own exhibition space in the most unexpected of places: his family’s durian orchard. Be sure to visit this wonderland where whimsical glassworks and nature coexist to wondrous effect.
The Owl Museum
Level B3, Astaka MPPP, Bukit Bendera, Jalan Summit, Air Itam (+604 826 5704/www.facebook.com/ owlmuseum).
Perched atop Penang Hill at a breathtaking height of 800 metres, this kooky museum houses a sizeable collection of owl artefacts, sculptures and paintings courtesy of artists from across Asia.
Daily, 9am-6pm. Adults, RM10; Senior citizens, RM5; Children below 12 years, free.
Penang War Museum and World War II Relics
Mukim 12, Daerah Daya, Batu Maung (+604 626 5142/+6016 421 3606). Difficult to reach and a purveyor of decidedly problematic history, the Penang War Museum is only worth a visit to explore the network of underground tunnels and, above ground, the bunkers and firing bays. The gun emplacement was built by the British in the 1930s and abandoned as Japan invaded Malaya in 1941. Most of the place is still intact and we can thank the owner for trying to protect this important site. That said, it has been converted into what could only ironically be termed a museum, complete with a paintball range and a frightful ghost tour at night. It was even featured on National Geographic’s ‘I Wouldn’t Go In There’ series, which seeks out the true stories behind places in Asia that are traditionally considered haunted.
Daily, 9am-6pm. Adults, RM35, Children, RM17; (MyKad holders) Adults, RM20, Children RM10.
Asia Camera Museum
71 Lebuh Armenian, George Town (+6012 474 0123/www. asiacameramuseum.com). Smartphones and DSLRs may have taken over modern photography, but the owners of Asia Camera Museum prefer to stay old school. Previously
located on Jalan Burma and having just shifted to Lebuh Armenian in May 2016, this museum boasts a collection of
1,000 vintage cameras
(think vintage lomography cameras and an eight-decadeold movie projector) and photography accessories. Camera-lovers can also sign up for the museum’s Photo School, which provides lessons on techniques, aesthetics and conceptualisation skills for analogue and digital photography.
Daily, 11am-6pm. Adults, RM20; Students, RM10. Batik Painting Museum
19 Lebuh Armenian, George Town (+604 262 4800/ www.batikpg.com).
If you’re curious about the history of batik painting in Malaysia, you should definitely head over to this museum, located in an old shophouse in George Town’s heritage district. You’ll find fine examples of the craft’s evolution since the 1950s, including work by acclaimed batik artist Dato’ Chuah Thean Teng.
Daily, 10am-6pm. Adults, RM10; Students, RM5.
The Camera Museum
49 Lebuh Muntri, George
Town (+604 261 3649/www. thecameramuseumpenang.com).
This heritage shophouse has been refurbished and converted into a camera museum, much to the delight of avid photographers and collectors. Rotating photography exhibitions are held in the gallery on the ground floor while a permanent collection fills the upper floor. Also fitted within the space are SnapShop (a store selling vintage cameras, lenses and accessories) and Double Exposure Café. The iconic spiral staircase doesn’t actually lead anywhere, but it has nonetheless become a surprising hit among visitors looking for a good photo op.
Daily, 9.30am-6.30pm. Adults, RM20; Senior citizens/Students (with ID), RM10; Children (3-12 years old), RM5; Children (below 3 years old), free.
The House of Yeap Chor Ee
4 Jalan Penang, George Town (+604 261 0190/www.houseyce.com).
This historic home contains a wealth of antiques from the 19th century, Straits Chinese furniture and old portraits belonging to one of Penang’s wealthiest traders, Yeap Chor Ee. Nestled on Jalan Penang, the refurbished four-storey shophouse is open to the public. Tourists and curious Penangites alike often drop in to look around.
Mon-Fri, 10am-6pm. Admission, RM12 inclusive of audio guide.
iBox Museum of Glass
6 Jalan Burma, George Town (+604 251 9881/www.iboxglass.com). Certified as the first glass museum in Malaysia, iBox opened its doors to the public in 2002 and was previously located in Tanjung Tokong. Visit to view a beautiful range of glass artworks from fused and sandblasted glasses to stained glass overlays. iBox is also home to the ‘Longest Batik Motive Glass Painting’, as credited by the Malaysian Book of Records. For a hands-on experience, sign up for a glass painting workshop.
Mon-Fri, 9.30am-6pm; Sat, 9.30am5pm. Adults, RM15; Children (3-12 years old), RM7.
Made in Penang Interactive Museum
3 Pengkalan Weld, George Town (+604 262 6119/www.facebook.com/ MadeInPenang).
The 34 three-dimensional impressions at this museum provide a breath of fresh air to Malaysia’s city of street art. More than a form of amusement designed to trick the minds of adults and kids alike, most of the murals carry historical weight by addressing Penang culture and history. Mon-Fri, 9am-6pm; Sat-Sun, 9am8pm. Adults, RM15, Children (aged 17 and below or college students with ID), RM10.
One East Museum & Gallery
7 Jalan Dunlop, George Town (+604 228 2390/www.facebook.com/ oneeastmuseum).
Currently undergoing renovations, One East Museum & Gallery will reopen its doors at the end of 2016. Founder Ch’ng Huck Theng, who has been collecting artefacts from the Chinese Cultural Revolution for close to 30 years, opened the museum in 2011 to showcase his collection. Occupying a bungalow from the 1920s, the spacious museum displays Chinese porcelain, paintings by renowned Southeast Asian artists and antique furniture from the olden days of Malaya.
Mon-Fri, 10am-5pm. Guided tours can be arranged per request.
P Ramlee Museum & Gallery
40A Jalan P Ramlee, George Town (+604 281 7484).
Celebrating the life and career of Malaysia’s legendary actor, director and singer, the P Ramlee Museum doesn’t get more authentic than this. Located at the late Tan Sri Datuk Amar Dr P Ramlee’s birthplace in Penang on a street that bears his name, this museum houses a collection of his personal clothes, instruments, photos and more.
Tue-Sun, 10am-5pm; Fri, 10am12noon & 3-5pm. Free admission.
Penang State Museum
Lebuh Farquhar, George Town (+604 226 1461/www.penangmuseum.gov. my).
Officially opened by Raja Tun Sri Uda bin Muhammad, the first Governor of Penang in the independent federation of Malaya, the Penang State Museum pays homage to the state’s history and culture with a medley of artefacts including antique keris (indigenous dagger), street scenes of old Penang, photographs of old electric buses and tram cars, a fish-shaped kuih bahulu mould and more.
Mon-Thu & Sat-Sun, 9am-5pm. RM1.
Pinang Peranakan Mansion
29 Lebuh Gereja, George
Town (+604 264 2929/www. pinangperanakanmansion.com.my). With so much to see at this stylish museum, you’re guaranteed an educational experience. Discover a treasure trove of Peranakan (Straits Chinese) artefacts, each piece with its own fascinating story to tell. If the prospect of navigating a lavish mansion housing 1,000 antiques strikes you as overwhelming, fret not; there are curators who offer guided tours for groups of five people or more. You’re encouraged to let them know ahead of time, so be sure to call ahead.
Daily, 9.30am-5.30pm. Adults, RM21.20; Children (below 12 years), RM10.60.
Straits Chinese Jewellery Museum
108 Jalan Tun Tan Cheng
Lock, George Town (+604
264 2929/www.facebook.com/ StraitsChineseJewelleryMuseum). Now part of the Pinang Peranakan Mansion, this jewellery museum exhibits wearable art fashioned out of precious metal and adorned with valuable gems. Melding Chinese, Malay and Indo-European designs and motifs, these pieces were once worn and loved by Penang’s Peranakan women. Photography is discouraged, if not altogether prohibited.
Daily, 9.30am-5pm. Adults, RM21.20; Children (below 12 years), RM10.60.
The Sun Yat Sen Museum
120 Lebuh Armenian, George Town (+604 262 0123/sunyatsenpenang. com).
Considered by many to be the ‘Father of Modern China’, Dr Sun Yat Sen established his political party’s Southeast Asian base in this historic spot. It’s now a museum and the headquarters of Areca books, a publishing house that produces books on history, cultural heritage, and environmental topics with a particular focus on Malaysia and Southeast Asia. Ask about the Penang Sun Yat Sen Heritage Trail, consisting of 18 historical sites in Penang that are associated with Sun Yat Sen and his followers.
Daily, 9.30am-5.30pm. Adults, RM5; Students, RM3.
NEW Upside Down Museum
45 Lebuh Kimberly, George Town (+604 264 2660/www.facebook.com/ upsidedownmuseum).
This wonky museum is amazing fun, especially when the whole family
or a large group of friends are in tow. Saunter through conventional backdrops depicting typical-looking bedrooms, kitchens, dining halls and the like – standard settings, except upside down. The marvel of engineering has allowed for lightweight furniture and other household items to be attached to the museum’s ceiling. Smiling museum assistants will gladly snap your group shot so no one gets left out. Rotate the picture upside down and the subjects will appear to defy gravity. The overall effect is highly convincing and amusing, save for the fact that your hair and clothes don’t fall the way they should.
Mon-Fri, 8.45am-6.30pm; Sat-Sun, 8.45am-7.30pm. Adults, RM27, Children (5-12 years) & Students (with ID), RM16; (MyKad holders) Adults, RM16, Children, RM8, Students (with ID), RM11.
NEW Wonderfood Museum Penang
49 Lebuh Pantai, George Town (+604 251 9095/www.facebook.com/ Wonderfoodmuseum).
One of the better themed museums in Penang, Wonderfood Museum is truly Penang in the sense that it’s all about food, food, food! Founders Mr and Mrs Lau have been supplying restaurants, hotels and food stalls with faux food since 2007, and deemed it a waste that some of their handiworks were swept under the carpet without the chance to be appreciated. This new museum gives a chance for their creations to be exhibited and appreciated by the public. You’ll find miniature, regular and massive models of food, but it’s the last of which that grabs the most attention. How often does one get to pick up a satay skewer that’s as long as a javelin or pose next to a bowl of Penang laksa as big as a hot tub?
Daily, 9am-6pm. Adults, RM25, Children (3-12 years), Students (with ID) and Senior citizens (above 60 years), RM15; (MyKad holders) Adults, RM15, Children (3-12 years), Students (with ID) and Senior citizens (above 60 years), RM10.
Tuanku Fauziah Museum and Art Gallery
Universiti Sains Malaysia, Gelugor (+604 653 3888/mgtfusmpenang. blogspot.com).
Nestled within the expansive campus of Universiti Sains Malaysia, this museum houses a collection of traditional Malaysian musical instruments, manuscripts, aboriginal artefacts and Peranakan memorabilia. Rotating exhibitions feature intriguing contemporary art and photographs, and art workshops are hosted here from time to time.
Mon-Sat, 9am-6pm. Adults, RM4; Children (5-12 years), RM2; Senior citizens, free.
The Bat’s Cave Temple of Tua Peh Kong
Jalan Pokok Ceri, Air Itam (www. batscavetemple.com.my).
Resting at the foot of Penang Hill, this tranquil holy temple is home to thousands of bats in the daytime; come nightfall, they leave the premises to hunt for food. Besides bat sightings, visitors can get up close to the granite statue of Tua Pek Kong, the God of Prosperity. The perfect time of the year to pay a visit is during the deity’s birthday, which falls on the second day of the second month in the Chinese calendar.
Daily, 8am-8pm. Free admission.
Jade Emperor’s Pavilion
Jalan Air Itam, Air Itam.
A Taoist temple located at the base of Penang Hill, the Jade Emperor’s Pavilion is a house of worship for the Jade Emperor or Thni Kong (Heavenly Grandfather). The stairway to the entrance of the temple is worth the trek; you’ll be treated to the sight of three magnificent golden Buddha statues.
Kek Lok Si Temple
Air Itam (+604 828 3317/ kekloksitemple.com).
Also referred to as the Temple of Supreme Bliss, this massive temple was founded in the 1890s by an immigrant Chinese Buddhist. Perched on the hills of Air Itam, the temple comprises various prayer halls, pagodas and bell towers. When seen from afar, two massive structures dominate the view of the temple: the seven-storey pagoda plus a massive bronze statue of Kuan Yin, the Goddess of Mercy. Reaching the main building requires a bit of uphill walking. Visitors will have to climb a long walkway of stairs fringed by stalls selling food and souvenirs. There may be a lot of construction going on at the base of the complex, but renovation here is something of a constant.
Penang Snake Temple
Jalan Sultan Azlan Shah, Sungai Kluang, near Bayan Lepas Airport, Bayan Lepas.
The Penang Snake temple pays tribute to a Buddhist monk named Chor Soo Kong who, according to legend, provided shelter for snakes in the jungle. Wafts of burning incense give this temple a mysterious feel. Turn your attention to the snakes everywhere, elegantly coiled on tree branches or around pillars. For a small fee, you can have your picture taken with a (devenomed) snake. Proceeds will go towards maintaining the temple and feeding the snakes.
Daily, 8am-8pm. Free admission.
St Anne’s Church
Jalan Kulim, Bukit Mertajam (+604 538 6405/www.facebook.com/ St.AnneChurchBM).
Founded in 1846, this church was named after Saint Anne, mother of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The yearly celebration of St Anne sees thousands of pilgrims congregating at the church, making it the epicentre of pilgrimage in the region. Another interesting sight is located within the church grounds; look for a modest shed with low white fencing, which houses the Cherok Tokun Relics. This collection of seven inscriptions has been attributed to the Kingdom of Kadaraam, a civilisation based in Lembah Bujang, close by modern-day Kedah. Serving as proof of early Hindu-Buddhist civilisation, the relics date back to the fifth century CE but there is still debate as to what language – Sanskrit, Pali, Tamil or Brahmi – is inscribed on it.
Temple of the Nine Emperor Gods
Jalan Raja Uda, Butterworth. Offering a scenic view of the sea, the Temple of the Nine Emperor Gods is touted as the largest temple in Butterworth. It’s also the official venue for the Kew Ong Yeah festival, traditionally held during the first nine days of the ninth lunar month. During the festivities, the temple is visited by Hokkien clans who are known to create quite a joyous uproar.
Masjid Al-Malik Khalid
Universiti Sains Malaysia, Jalan Sungai Dua, Gelugor.
This Islamic sanctuary is set on the spacious grounds of Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM). Painted in cooling shades of turquoise and white, Masjid Al-Malik Khalid can host more than 3,000 worshippers at a time.
George Town Aceh Street Mosque Lebuh Acheh, George Town. Also called the Acheen Street Mosque, Penang’s oldest mosque was built in the early 1800s. This work of Moorish architecture, which sits in the centre of the island’s first and still thriving Arab settlement, is situated in a spacious plot gifted by Tengku Sheriff Syed Hussain Al-Aidid, an Aceh-Arabian merchant of Acehnese royalty.
The Blue Mansion
14 Lebuh Leith, George Town (+604 262 0006/www.thebluemansion.com. my).
You might recognise this grand mansion from the 1992 French film ‘Indochine’. As striking in reality as it is on the silver screen, The Blue Mansion was once in a sorry state. As the once illustrious family who owned it fell on hard times, the mansion was used as a squat until a team of local artisans restored the 19th century mansion to its former glory. After undergoing multiple restorations, the mansion opened its doors to the public in 1995 and today, stands as one of the city’s most notable heritage hotels. Join one of three daily guided tours to hear the story of Chong Fatt Tze, the man behind the mansion.
Tours at 11am, 2pm and 3.30pm daily. Adults, RM17; Children (12 years and below), RM8.50.
Cathedral of Assumption
3 Lebuh Farquhar, George Town (+604 261 0088).
When George Town was designated as a Unesco World Heritage Site, the Cathedral of Assumption was also granted the title of World Heritage Church. Located on Church Street (naturally), this former church attained the status of cathedral in the 1950s. The white, blocky building dates centuries back to when Captain Francis Light first alighted in Penang.
8 Lebuh Armenian, George Town (+604 261 3837/www.facebook.com/ CheahKongsi).
Cheah Kongsi was formed in 1810 by the descendents of the Cheah clansmen who settled down in Penang following a period of economic stagnation in southern Fujian, China. Despite having stood for over 200 years, the temple’s classic Chinese architecture is mostly still intact and well-preserved by the appointed trustees of the kongsi. Only the most observant visitors will spot the surprising addition of British lion heads amid the heavily ornate interior, a symbol of the Straits Chinese loyalty to the British colonial powers in the 18th century.
Daily, 9am-5pm. Free admission.
Jalan Tun Syed Sheh Barakbah, George Town. Established in 1903 to ease the demand of office spaces at the then-crowded Town Hall, City Hall once served as the administrative office of the Municipal Council of Penang Island (now moved to Komtar). The stunning Edwardian Baroque architecture is a true testament to the building’s rich colonial heritage, as evident in most of George Town’s historical landmarks. Swing by the nearby war memorial to pay homage to the fallen soldiers of WWI.
Pengkalan Weld, George Town. These floating settlements have been housing the descendents of Chinese immigrants since the 19th century. Even though the Chew Jetty is known for being tourist-friendly, be mindful when taking photos and avoid being intrusive as the locals go about their daily chores. Today, there are six different clans residing in the Clan Jetties, with each jetty named after a clan’s surname. Look out for the mural of two children in a boat painted by Lithuanian street artist Ernest Zacharevic somewhere among the Chew clan’s jetty.
Esplanade Padang Kota Lama Jalan Tun Syed Sheh Barakbah, George Town.
Located next to the historic Fort Cornwallis, the Esplanade has become a popular venue for major art and culture festivals – the annual George Town Festival typically hosts its opening ceremony here. On regular days, come here for unhindered sea views, delicious food at the food courts, and night-time scenes of both the City Hall and Town Hall all lit up.
Off Jalan Tun Syed Sheh Barakbah and Lebuh Light, George Town (+604 263 9855).
Named after the governor-general of India in the 18th century, Fort Cornwallis is the largest standing fort in the country. Captain Francis Light built the original fort on this spot in 1786 to protect the island from being besieged by pirates. Despite the number of old cannons that encircle the fort – the Seri Rambai Cannon being the largest – the fort is said to have never actually engaged in any battles. A multimillion ringgit makeover by Ewein Berhad in 2015 has seen a revamp of the museum displays (courtesy of historian Marcus Langdon) and the introduction of KOTA, a casual fine dining restaurant on site.
Daily, 9am-10pm. Adults, RM20, Children (4-12 years), RM10; (MyKad holders) Adults, RM10, Children (4-12 years), RM5. Children under 4 years free. Senior citizens receive 50 percent discount.
Francis Light Statue
Fort Cornwallis, off Jalan Tun Syed Barakbah and Lebuh Light, George Town.
In case you didn’t already know, Captain Francis Light was the founding father of Penang and its capital George Town. Built in 1936, this handsome bronze sculpture pays tribute to the 150th anniversary of Captain Francis Light’s founding of the British colony. Interestingly, since there were no surviving images of the Captain at the time, the statue was instead modelled after the Captain’s son, William Light, who later founded Adelaide in Australia.
Goddess of Mercy Temple Lorong Stewart, George Town. Erected in 1728, Goddess of Mercy Temple or Kuan Yin Teng Temple is Penang’s oldest Chinese temple. Visitors are often struck by the scent of sandalwood incense and the sight of devotees performing their sacred rituals. The temple is especially popular during the annual Goddess of Mercy feast commemorating Kuan Yin’s birth, initiation and her attainment of nirvana. Other deities including Tua Pek Kong, Hor Ya and Tai Sui are also given their due respect here.
Persiaran Gurney, George Town. It’s not the cleanest beach in Penang, but the vibrant and bustling tourist spot named after Sir Henry Gurney right next to it is peppered with food courts and open-air eateries. Some deem the promenade a tourist trap, others an iconic and exciting part of Penang; we think it’s a bit of both. You can stroll on the walkway along the beach to walk off those calories after your meal.
Han Jiang Teochew Ancestral Temple
127 Lebuh Chulia, George Town (+604 261 5629).
Construction of this temple was completed in 1870, back when it was known as the Teochew Kongsi. Since the early 2000s, the building has seen major renovations conducted by restoration experts from mainland China and funded with donations from the local Teochew community. In 2006 it was bestowed the Unesco Asia-Pacific Award for Cultural Heritage Conservation. You’ll be amazed by the roofing details and hand-painted murals depicting fierce, armoured deities.
Hock Teik Cheng Sin Temple Between Lebuh Armenian and Lebuh Cannon, George Town.
This spacious clan temple dating back to the 1850s was built for Penang’s large Hokkien community who emigrated from China. Dedicated to the Taoist God of Prosperity, it’s painted in deep hues of red to lure in good fortune. Some whisper that a secret society used to conduct their meetings here.
Lintang P Ramlee, George Town. Built in 1893 for the ageing community of Japanese immigrants living in Penang at the time, this tranquil resting place houses 56 graves, all of which were interred before WWII.
Jalan Zainal Abidin (formerly Jalan Yahudi), George Town (www. penangjewishcemetery.com).
Billed as the oldest Jewish cemetery in Malaysia with its oldest tombstone dating back to 1835, this cleavershaped plot houses approximately 107 graves, most of which resemble the ossuaries found in Israel. The cemetery was built in 1805 and its most recent grave belongs to the last ethnic Jew on the island.
18 Lebuh Cannon, George Town (+604 261 4609/www.khookongsi. com.my).
Khoo Kongsi is a labyrinth of buildings made up of a meeting hall, offices, an opera stage and 62 units of terraced houses and shop lots. Weave your way through the maze to eventually reach the awe-inspiring, 650-year-old Leong San Tong. You’ll discover the Khoo clan charted through the generations.
Daily, 9am-5pm. Adults, RM10; Children (under 12 years), RM1; Children (under 5 years), Free.
Masjid Kapitan Keling
Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling, George Town (+604 264 3494).
Named in honour of Penang’s first Kapitan Keling (Indian Muslim headsman), a merchant by the name of Cauder Mohideen, Masjid Kapitan Keling was built in the 1800s. The mosque’s striking trademarks include its Mughal-style dome and detailed Islamic motifs. Still frequented by the Indian-Muslim community to conduct their prayers, the mosque is fitted with a madrasah, a school catering to religious studies. Visit the Information Centre on the ground floor to inquire about a free guided tour and check out the attached gallery.
Mon-Thu & Sat, 9am-8.30pm; Fri, 9am-12.30pm & 2.30-8.30pm. Free admission.
Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah, George Town.
During the early days of Penang, Millionaire’s Row was the residential enclave for the rich and wealthy, where heritage mansions and residences with views of the sea filled the entire stretch of Northam Road (now called Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah). Although most of these colonial mansions are left unattended these days, passersby can still catch a glimpse of their ostentatious architectural styles.
Jalan Kebun Bunga, George Town. Moon Gate is the gateway to what was once the hilltop home of one of Penang’s famous millionaires in the 19th century, Cheah Chen Eok. You’ll find the remains of the mansion a few yards away from the Gate. Today, it’s a popular starting point for hikers trekking up Penang Hill.
Lebuh Chulia, George Town. Historians dictate that Nagore Durgha was built around the same the time as Masjid Kapitan Keling, thus making this religious shrine also one of the oldest in Penang. The shrine is one of many that have been built throughout southern Asia to honour Syed Shahul Hamid, a 13th century Muslim saint. Locate this white-and-periwinkle-blue structure amid the hustle and bustle of Little India.
Nattukottai Chettiar Temple
Jalan Air Terjun, George Town (pttemple.com).
Founded by the early Chettiar community in George Town in 1854, the Nattukottai Chettiar Temple is adorned with Burmese teak pillars and detailed figurines. Its immaculate design makes it a popular venue for major Hindu festivals in Penang.
Protestant and Catholic Cemeteries
Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah, George Town.
Commissioned by Captain Francis Light in 1786, the Protestant cemetery is the oldest Christian cemetery in Penang and contains some of the oldest graves on the island, including that belonging to Francis Light himself. The cemeteries were destroyed during WWII, so only some remnants remain. It’s interesting to note that many of those buried here died before their 50th birthday, victims of disease; but a stroll around the grounds will reveal hints of other stories such as perilous sea voyages and the fatal dangers of armed robbery.
Queen Victoria Memorial Clock Tower
Corner of Lebuh Light and Lebuh Pantai, George Town.
Erected in 1897 with funds donated by Cheah Chen Eok, this commanding sight commemorates Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee. Capped with a Moorish dome, the clock tower is 60 feet high to match the number of years of Her Majesty’s reign.
Saint George’s Church
1 Lebuh Farquhar, George Town (+604 261 2739).
Built in 1816 and consecrated in 1819, Saint George’s is the oldest Anglican church in Southeast Asia. In 2007, this striking church was declared one of Malaysia’s 50 national treasures for its classic architecture and beauty. Designed by Captain Robert N Smith, the church illustrates both the Georgian and Palladian styles. The pavilion at the front commemorates Sir Francis Light and was constructed in 1886.
Sri Mahamariamman Temple Lebuh Queen, George Town (+604 264 3494).
Penang’s oldest Hindu temple goes by many names including Sri Muthu Mariamman or Sri Arulmigu. Covered with fascinating sculptures of Hindu gods and goddesses, the temple provides plenty to look at. One of the most detailed statues is that of Lord Subramaniam; richly decorated with gold leaf, silver, diamonds and emeralds, it’s this statue that is transported on a silver chariot during the annual Thaipusam procession.
250 Jalan Air Itam, George Town (+604 228 1109/www.suffolkhouse.com.my).
Built on a pepper estate, this 200-yearold building is considered Penang’s first ‘Great House’. Francis Light lived on the estate with the love of his life, Martina Rozells. After his death, it’s said that Rozells lost the estate at the hands of unscrupulous executors and it was bought by William Edward Phillips, an ambitious administrative officer who would become governor of the island in 1820. Many think that Phillips (and not Light) was behind the stately house we see today. A magnificent example of Anglo-Indian colonial architecture, Suffolk House is furnished with beautiful antiques.
Guided tours of the house and the gardens are available.
Daily, 10am-6pm. General admission, RM20 (redeemable for refreshments or partial payment of meals); Children under 12 years, free.
Jalan Padang Kota Lama, George Town.
In 1880, the late Sir Frederick Weld (the Governor of the Straits Settlement) officiated the laying of Town Hall’s foundation stone. Town Hall was once the epicentre for Penang’s high society, and remnants of its glorious past are still evident; take the building’s front façade and grand ballroom for instance. Worth a visit, this Victorian architectural beauty once served as a venue for theatrical performances and even functioned as the Penang State Library.
The Whiteaways Arcade
Lebuh Pantai, George Town (+604 226 1199/www.facebook.com/ whiteawayspg).
This two-storey colonial building survived a short span of commercial restoration. Today, it retains its classic heritage charm, but has the added appeal of modern art galleries, boutiques, trendy cafés and a tourist information centre.
71 Lebuh Armenian, George Town. The Yap Kongsi may be smaller than the other clan buildings on the island, but it’s just as intricately designed. Home to the Yap Clan Association, Yap Kongsi is open to the public and visitors are welcome to visit without paying an admission fee.
Penang State Mosque
Jalan Masjid Negeri, Jelutong. Designed by Filipino architect Efren Brindez Paz and constructed in the 1970s, the official state mosque is Penang’s largest. Crowned with a golden dome and occupying a space of 4.6 hectares, the mosque was inspired by Oscar Niemeyer’s design of the Cathedral of Brasilia in Brazil.
Dhammikarama Burmese Buddhist Temple
24 Lorong Burma, Pulau Tikus (+604 226 9575).
You can’t miss the two majestic stone elephants flanking the gate of Dhammikarama Burmese Buddhist Temple. The temple’s highlights include a 200-year-old well filled with Japanese carp and the Sima Hall, which houses an impressively tall marble statue of Buddha dripping in gold detail. Afterwards, stroll across the street to visit the Temple of the Reclining Buddha, also known as Wat Chayamangkalaram.
Wat Chayamangkalaram Buddhist Temple
24 Lorong Burma, Pulau Tikus (+6016 410 5115).
Home to one of the largest gold-plated reclining Buddha statues in the world, the Wat Chayamangkalaram was built by a Thai Buddhist monk in 1845. Fans of religious architecture are bound to be impressed by the Siamese architecture.
Daily, 6am-5.30pm. Free admission.
Waterfall Hilltop Temple
Lorong Air Terjun, Pulau Tikus. Also dubbed the Hilltop Murugan Temple or Arulmigu Balathandayuthapani Temple, this religious site is among Penang’s oldest Hindu places of worship. Dedicated to Murugan, the Hindu god of war and victory, it was previously located at the Penang Botanic Gardens but is now perched high in the hills. Every Thaipusam, the temple serves as the final pit stop after a day-long procession.
Hare Krishna Temple
Lorong Jelawat 4, Seberang Jaya. Built by loyal practitioners of the Hare Krishna movement (aka the International Society of Krishna Consciousness or ISKCO), this gorgeous temple is where devotees congregate during cultural festivals. Towering three storeys high, it’s said to be the largest Hare Krishna temple in Malaysia.
Masjid Jamek Seberang Jaya Jalan Siakap, Seberang Jaya (Facebook: Masjid Jamek Seberang Jaya).
Though smaller than most of its counterparts, Masjid Jamek Seberang Jaya is religiously frequented by Muslim worshippers. You’ll find the mosque a stone’s throw away from the North South Expressway.
Floating Mosque of Tanjung Bungah
Jalan Tanjung Bungah, Tanjung Bungah.
Its name pretty much speaks for itself. This spacious mosque, which can accommodate about 1,500 worshippers, is built on stilts to create the illusion of floating on water. Combining local and Middle Eastern elements within its architecture, the view of the mosque from afar makes for an awe-inspiring sight.
Penang Batik Factory
669 Mukim 2, Teluk Bahang, Tanjung Bungah (+604 885 1284/ www.penangbatik.com.my).
The oldest batik factory on the island still produces exquisite hand-drawn batik of all colours and designs imaginable. If you’re not filling your shopping cart in the showroom, join a tour of the factory and witness live batik-making demonstrations.
Daily, 9am-1pm & 2-5pm.
Royal Selangor Visitor Centre
Straits Quay, Jalan Seri Tanjung Pinang, Tanjung Tokong (+604 891 2018/www.royalselangorvisitorcentre.com).
This family-friendly visitor centre is one of only three in the world (the other two are located in Kuala Lumpur and Singapore). Little ones will be excited to see, hear and touch the pewter-themed educational exhibitions while older guests can participate in the Royal Selangor School of Hard Knocks, which lets you embellish your very own pewter bowl with tools similar to the ones used over a hundred years ago.
Daily, 10am-10pm. Guided tours, free. School of Hard Knocks, RM63.60 per person (Call ahead to reserve places in workshop).
The Sun Yat Sen Museum
Wonderfood Museum Penang
Hock Teik Cheng Sin Temple
Wat Chayamangkalaram Buddhist Temple