It is commonly known in English as the Temple of Emerald Buddha and officially known as Wat Phra Sri Rattana Satsadaram. It is regarded as the most important and sacred Buddist temple in Thailand. It is located on the grounds of the Grand Palace complex. The complex consists of a number of buildings within the precincts of the Grand Palace. It houses the statue of the Emerald Buddha, which is venerated as the country’s palladium. It is one of Bangkok’s most standout attractions with a mix of golden spires, intricately designed figures and colourful buildings.
The official name of Wat Pho is Wat Phra Chetuphon Wimon Mangkhalaram Rajwaramahawihan. Meanwhile, the more commonly known name, Wat Pho, is a contraction of its older name, Wat Photaram. It is also known as Temple of the Reclining Buddha as it houses the largest collection of Buddha images and a 46m long, covered in gold leaf reclining Buddha in Thailand. The recommended sites in Wat Pho include the exquisite murals, 4 chapels that contain 394 gilded Buddha images, long lines of golden statues from different parts of Thailand sitting in the lotus position.
Wat Arun, also known as Wat Chaeng by the locals. It is located on the Thonburi west bank of the Chao Phraya River. The temple derives its name from the Hindu God Aruna, which is often personified as the radiations of the rising sun. Hence, Temple of Dawn is the nickname of Wat Arun. It is absolutely stunning at sunset, especially when lit up at night. Nevertheless, the quietest time to visit is early morning, before the crowds. The prang (spire) by the Chao Phraya is one of Bangkok’s world-famous landmarks. It is beautifully decorated with tiny pieces of coloured glass and Chinese porcelain placed into intricate patterns.
Wat Traimit houses an impressive 3m-tall, 5,500kg, solid-gold statue of a seated Buddha. It is the world’s largest solid Gold Buddha image. Hence, it is also known as the Temple of the Golden Buddha. The statue was covered with a layer of stucco and coloured glass to conceal its true value at one point in the history. It remained this condition for almost 200 years, ending up as what was then a pagoda of minor significance. Then, the plaster was chipped off and the gold revealed during the relocation of the statue in 1955.
Wat Saket Ratcha Wora Maha Wihan is usually shortened to Wat Saket. Also known as the Temple of the Golden Mount, it is an Ayutthaya-era shrine with a gleaming gold chedi in Bangkok. Wat Saket occupies an 80-metre-tall man made hill that was built during the reign of King Rama III. The Golden Mount is a sacred pilgrimage site during the week-long worshipping period in November. Getting to the top requires a climb up some 300 steps that encircle the chedi like a loosely coiled snake. Once you arrive at the top of Wat Saket, you will be surrounded by a wall of bells and panoramas of Bangkok Old Town.
Loha Prasat is located on the ground of Wat Ratchanatdaram in Phra Nakhon district, Bangkok. Loha Prasat means iron castle or iron monastery, hence, it is also known as the “Metal Castle”. Inspired by two similar temples in India and Sri Lanka, the temple consists of five towers, of which the outer, middle, and the center towers contain large black iron spires. Loha Prasat is supporting 37 metal spires that represent the 37 virtues toward enlightenment.
Wat Suthat Thepwararam is a royal temple of the first grade. It is one of the oldest and most impressive Buddhist temples in Bangkok. It is better known for the red Giant Swing that stands at its entrance. Wat Suthat features an elegant chapel with a sweeping roof, magnificent wall murals and hand-carved teakwood door panels. Visitors can easily combine a visit to Wat Suthat with the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, The Grand Palace, and Wat Pho as these temples are all located in Bangkok’s Old Town.
Wat Benchamabophit Dusitvanaram is also known as The Marble Temple or Wat Ben. It is one of Bangkok’s most beautiful temples. Besides, it is classified as a first class Royal temple. It is honourably named by King Rama IV meaning “the Monastery of the fifth King near Dusit Palace”. The temple is a magnificent example of the Bangkok architectural style with its multi tiered roofs, elegant chofahs (a Lao and Thai architectural decorative ornament that adorns the top at the end of wat and palace roofs, resembles a tall thin bird and looks hornlike). Furthermore, the temple’s marble ubosot was imported from Italy.
Erawan Shrine is one of the most popular Hindu shrines in downtown Bangkok. It houses a statue of Phra Phrom – the Thai representation of Brahma, the Hindu god of creation known for His kindness, mercy, sympathy and impartiality. Located in front of Grand Hyatt Erawan Hotel, at the corner of Ploenchit and Ratchadamri Road, it is one of the most popular Hindu shrines where you will often see crowds paying their respects.
Light Street or Lebuh Light is the oldest road in the city of George Town in Penang. It was named after Captain Francis Light, the Founder of Penang and first Superintendent of the colony. Light Street was created between 1786 and 1787, soon after the founding of George Town. The street is called Po-lê-khaú (玻理口) in Hokkien which meant the entrance to the Police Court (now the Legislative Assembly buildings). This is because the State Assembly Building at Light Street was once used as part of the Central Police Station.
It was the port settlement’s first street. Many of early administrative government buildings and European mansions were built along the street. After Captain Francis Light first landed on Fort Cornwallis on 17 July 1786, he ordered his crew to fire silver dollars from the ship’s cannons into the jungle. Then, the Padang at The Esplanade was created. After that, he created Light Street, which was named after himself.
Administrative and judicial buildings were built along Light Street by the British, gradually turning it into the administrative heart of Penang. For the first half of the 19th century, Light Street was occupied by East India Company soldiers, policemen and British administrators. Besides, Light and his business partner, James Scott had their residences built along Light Street too.
Convent Light Street
Convent Light Street is the oldest girls’ school in Southeast Asia. It was founded by French Catholic nuns of the Holy Infant Jesus Mission in 1852. There was a group of five nuns who travelled from France to Singapore to form a Catholic institution. At the request of Bishop Jean-Baptiste Boucho in George Town, three nuns from the group then sailed from Singapore to Penang.
The three nuns were first settled inside an attap hut. With the increase in the number of children, they had to find a new place for their convent. Then, Mother St. Mathilde found the Government House which served as the residence of Captain Francis Light in 1786. In 1859, the nuns bought the Anglo-Indian style building and the surrounding seven-acre compound. A field of the compound was later sold to St. Xavier’s Institution, the oldest Catholic boys’ school in Malaysia. A wall separating the field from Convent Light Street was constructed. It now serves as the boundary between the Core Zone and the Buffer Zone of the UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The convent continued to expand until 1934. During the past, it was one of the most highly regarded missionary schools in Penang. Today, Convent Light Street has fully adopted the standardised Malaysian education system.
Supreme Court of Penang
The Supreme Court of Penang had been established inside Fort Cornwallis in 1808 and was subsequently relocated to its present location at Light Street in 1809. It is the oldest high court in Malaysia. Initially, the original court building was a wooden structure with an attap roof. The current Palladian-style building was built between 1901 and 1905. It continues to serve as the Supreme Court for Penang. Furthermore, its establishment also marked the introduction of a modern legal system in Malaya, which evolved to become the current judiciary of Malaysia.
There is another court building constructed across Light Street opposite the Supreme Court. It houses the Sessions and Magistrates Court. The Logan Memorial is a Gothic-styled monument erected in front of the new Sessions and Magistrates Court. It was built in the memory of James Richardson Logan, a Scottish lawyer who successfully fought for the rights of Asians in colonial Penang.
The monument was erected in 1873 within the premises of the Supreme Court of Penang. It was moved by the Japanese during WWII. It remained within the Supreme Court until 2007 and was relocated to its present location. The monument consists of four female figures, with each facing one of the four directions:
Justice, with a sword, faces northeast (overlook the Sessions and Magistrates Court)
Fortitude, with a club, faces northwest (up Light Street towards Convent Light Street)
Wisdom, with an open book, faces southwest (overlook the Supreme Court of Penang)
Temperance, with a chain and bit, faces southeast (down Light Street)
Dewan Sri Pinang
Dewan Sri Pinang is a multi-purpose auditorium located between Light Street and Jalan Tun Syed Sheh Barakbah. It was built in the early 1970s in the Brutalist architectural style generated from the modernist architectural movement. It is one of the most popular auditoriums in Penang that serves as a venue for conferral of state titles, funerals of public figures, live performances, international theatre productions and even wedding dinners.
Bank Negara Malaysia Building
Bank Negara Malaysia Building is a modern building located on Light Street at the junction with Pitt Street (Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling). The building was built in the Brutalist architecture style in the late 1970’s. It houses the Penang branch of Malaysian central bank.
Chung Siew Yin Building
Chung Siew Yin Building is a double-storey Art-Deco style house built in the mid-19th century. It was the residence of Chung Siew Yin, the daughter of Kapitan Chung Keng Kwee, who was one of the richest men on Penang Island during that period of time. An Art-Deco style wing was added to the building in the mid-20th century. It was designed to merge with the older architecture of Chung Siew Yin Building. Wisma Great Eastern now comprises the both original buildings. It is the Penang headquarters of Great Eastern Life Assurance Co. Ltd., which is currently the largest Singapore-based insurance company and the oldest insurance firm in Asia.
Penang Chinese Chamber of Commerce 槟州中华总商会
The Penang Chinese Chamber of Commerce (PCCC) was established in 1903. It was Malaysia’s first Chinese Chamber of Commerce. It played a vital role to safeguard Penang’s Chinese commercial interests. The PCCC was founded to supervise business transactions amongst the Chinese in Penang with common business activities. It is also to form a united front for Penang’s Chinese merchants to exert pressure on the Straits Settlements government. The PCCC is currently one of the strongest commercial institutions in Malaysia.
The building of PCCC was constructed in 1928. The first phase was designed by a local architect, Chew Eng Eam in 1926. Then, the second phase, which is the western wing, was designed later in the Art Moderne style (combining both Art Deco and Moderne architectural styles). Both wings have been restored in 2016 and the western wing has been converted into The Chambers Hotel.
Foo Tye Sin Mansion
It was one of the first non-European mansions to be erected along Light Street. Foo Tye Sin Mansion was built around the mid-19th century. Foo Tye Sin was a Justice of the Peace and an influential community leader during that period of time. He was a Hakka born in Penang and educated at St. Xavier’s Institution and the Penang Free School. Tye Sin Street is named after him. One of the appealing features of Foo Tye Sin Mansion is the fourth storey lookout tower at the back. However, the mansion is now converted into a branch of a local bank.
State Assembly Building
The State Assembly Building is a public building built in the early 19th century. This Anglo-Indian classical style building was originally served as part of George Town’s Central Police Station. A block was added in 1890 to house the administrative offices of the Straits Settlements Police Force. Then, the building was converted into the current home of the State Legislative Assembly in 1959. Meanwhile, the additional block is now used separately as the Immigration Department Building. This Anglo-Indian style building contains elements of classical Greek and Palladian architecture. For instance, the massive white colonnades supporting a large pediment were inspired by ancient Greek temples.
Immigration Department Building
Immigration Department Building is an impressive double-storey building. As mentioned above, it was built in 1890 and located within the compound of the Central Police Station. It was originally intended to house the administrative office of the police force. However, it now houses the Penang Island office of the Malaysian Immigration Department. In addition, the building has a porte cochere facing north.
Jubilee Clock Tower
The Jubilee Clock Tower which is also known as the Queen Victoria Memorial Clock Tower. This famous clock tower was commissioned in 1897 by a Penang millionaire, Cheah Chen Eok. This clock tower was built to commemorate Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee. Besides, it is also a testament to Penang’s royal connections. This Moorish style clock tower stands 60ft-high, with each foot representing a year of the Queen’s 60-year reign. Due to the impact from bombs being dropped around it during WWII, the Jubilee Clock Tower is slightly tilted. In fact, it is hardly noticeable.
Pinang Fountain (Light Street Roundabout)
The Pinang Fountain on the Light Street Roundabout is a metal, betel nut-shaped fountain. It was designed to symbolise Penang Island as Penang Island was often referred to as the island of betel nuts. The metal structure is 4.8 metre tall and a spray of water comes up from inside the structure.
Where to Stay
The Chambers Hotel
The Chambers Hotel is a small independent boutique hotel located at the western wing of the Penang Chinese Chamber of Commerce. The hotel features two types of rooms, which are Deluxe Room with one large double bed and Premier Room with two double beds. Besides, the hotel also features a terrace and views of the sea.
What to Eat
Constant Gardener Coffee
Constant Gardener Coffee is tucked within the Penang Chinese Chambers of Commerce Building. It is a place that serves specialty coffees, teas, smoothies and more. Meanwhile, they also offer Chicken Mushroom Pie, Croissant, cakes and even ice cream sandwiches. Though it is quite hard to look for parking, it is a good place for gatherings or enjoy your me-time here.
Hameed Pata Mee Sotong
Hameed Pata Mee Sotong is a stall located in the Padang Kota Lama food court. It could be considered as one of the best mee goreng in Penang. The addition of sweet and spicy chilli cuttlefish enhances the entire plate of mee goreng. The super-spicy cuttlefish has been stewed in a blood-red chili sauce which is the main character of the plate. On a side note, the perfect companion for this Mee Sotong is the Coconut Shake!
Laksa in Penang, which is also known as Assam Laksa, is one of the hawker foods that you shouldn’t miss out when you visit Penang. It is a noodle dish in spicy mackerel (ikan kembung) broth topped with various shredded vegetables and sliced pineapples. The fish is poached and flaked. This dish has all combinations of flavours: sweet, sour, spicy, salty and umami.
Not to forget, shrimp paste (hei ko) is an essential ingredient in Assam Laksa. Without any exaggeration, you literally could find Assam Laksa in every corner of the island. Check out the list of authentic laksa in Penang you should try. Just a friendly reminder, tastes are very subjective and personal so you may try them out and share with us your experience!
Laksa at Taman Emas Kopitiam is located opposite Penang Chinese Girls’ High School. Hence, some locals call it Peng Hua Laksa. The stall also sells deep fried popiah which goes very well with the broth.
It is the most famous laksa in Penang and it often has a long queue. It is one of the tourists’ favourite spots for Penang Laksa probably because of its location is just a five-minute walk to Kek Lok Si Temple.
This laksa stall has been operating at Joo Hooi Cafe for several decades. Unlike the mackerel used by most of the laksa stalls, Penang Road Famous Laksa prepares the broth from sardine and bigeye kingfish.
Located under a big tree opposite Chew Jetty, Tan Jetty Assam Laksa also uses sardine fish to boil the broth, hence it is less fishy compared to others. Some locals would suggest you to enjoy the laksa with a bowl of Ai Yu Bing from the stall beside it.
Nirvana Cafeteria is a humble kopitiam located at Anson Road, opposite BHP petrol station. Their Assam Laksa has a perfect combination of sweet, sour and spicy taste with plenty of fresh lettuce, cucumber.
Jelutong Post Office Laksa 6363
This Assam Laksa is served from a food truck that is parked along Lorong Ipoh, a residential area behind the Jelutong Post Office and food court. The food truck is usually crowded during the middle or latter part of the afternoon. The tables are set up along the pavement where people could have a quick bowl of salty-sweet Laksa.
Located just right opposite the famous Pasar Air Itam Laksa, this stall is mostly known by the locals especially the older generation. The soup is thick and added with texture and flavours as there is a generous amount of mackerel put into the broth to cook. Some say, it is not the famous one but it tastes better and more original.
Well, we believe there are many more places that serve great Laksa, be it traditional one or hidden gems. Throw us with your opinions. Let us share more good food and good moods together.
Campbell Street or Lebuh Campbell is a one-way street within George Town UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was named after Sir George William Robert Campbell, who served as the Penang Inspector General and also, the Acting Lieutenant-Governor of Penang between 1872 and 1873. The street is called Sin-kay (新街) in Hokkien and San-kai in Cantonese, which both also mean ‘the new street’ created between Pitt Street and Penang Road.
It was a red-light district in the mid 19th Century. Then, the both terms ‘Sin-kay’ and ‘San-kai’ came to a whole new meaning, which refers to the new arrival of the ‘new chickens (prostitutes)’. Meanwhile, Fa-kai is another Cantonese term used to refer to the street. It meant ‘flower street’, which is also a substitute for the prostitutes along the street. Furthermore, the Malays called the street Jalan Nona Baru and Jalan Makau. Jalan Nona Baru meant ‘the street of new maidens’ and Jalan Makau meant the coastal city of Macau in China, where most of the Cantonese prostitutes came from.
Campbell Street was part of George Town’s New Chinatown. The Cantonese immigrants populated the area around the street and mostly worked as tailors, coolies, goldsmiths and ironmongers. In the 1950s and 1960s, it became the most famous place to shop for shoes, bags, jewellery, watches, and textiles. Then, the businesses began to decline in the mid 1970s. Today, wholesalers, modern cafes as well as other businesses have taken over most of the retail outlets. Besides, several shops selling jewellery, bags, textiles, watches and traditional Chinese medicine are still operating along the street.
Campbell Street Market
Campbell Street Market is a Victorian-style market built in the 1900s. The market was formerly known as Carnarvon Street Market. It is a small wet market located at the junctions between Campbell Street and Carnarvon Street. It offers a wide range of fresh vegetables, fish and meats to supply to its surrounding community. According to some locals, the land on which the market now stands was the site of a Malay cemetery. Furthermore, the cemetery at the land was provided to the Indian Muslim community for the construction of the Masjid Kapitan Keling in 1800. However, the George Town Municipal Council bought the land in the 1890s and subsequently built the Campbell Street Market.
Boon Wah Co. Textile
Boon Wah Chow Chong Sdn. Bhd. is a textile company and has existed since 1982. This company is working in fashion, fabric, textile and building materials business activities. It is located at the corner area along Campbell Street and Rope Walk Street. In fact, this turquoise-coloured building has been an Instagram-worthy spot to check in for the locals and tourists.
Where to Stay
Campbell House Penang
Campbell House is an Award-Winning Luxury Boutique Hotel in George Town. The owners are a husband and wife team, one of them is from Italy and another one is a mix of Malay and English. The boutique hotel occupies a unique three-storey Straits Chinese corner plot. The building was built in 1903 and underwent a major renovation when the owners bought it in 2008. It offers a total of 11 themed rooms incorporating Colonial charm and Asian heritage with an authentic but modern Italian restaurant.
Kim Haus Loft
Kim Haus was a goldsmith jewellery shop turned into a cafe and residence lofts. This four-storey building offers a total of 40 guest rooms with something more basic and homey. In fact, it is not just a boutique hotel. There is a goldsmith museum, an event and performance space, and a cafe. Besides, it uses black as the theme colour with an industrial influence in the decor and stays true to its history as a jewellery and goldsmith shop. There is an array of vintage jewellery and goldsmith tools displaying at the cafe area.
An attic is similar to a loft. It is a space or room inside or partly inside the roof of a building. Attic Hotel features a total of 17 rooms, including double rooms, triple rooms, and family rooms. Besides, the hotel also provides guests with a sun terrace.
What to See
Street Art: “Retail Paradise” Sculpture
The “Marking of George Town” is an art challenge organised by the Penang State Government to mark George Town’s status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2009. The company, Sculpture At Work won the design idea by relating the history and/ or characteristic of selected streets in George Town with metal rod caricatures of local cartoonists.
The “Retail Paradise” Sculpture was installed in 2013. This sculpture at Campbell Street by cartoonist Reggie Lee portrays a guard arresting a burglar, who claims he has simply misplaced his keys. The sculpture celebrates a period in the history of Campbell Street when it was the main shopping area in George Town. “Campbell Street is Penang’s Fifth Avenue, a retail paradise where shoppers can stroll along the row of shophouses and feast their eyes on an array of goods.”
What to Eat
Hameediyah Restaurant has claimed the title in the Malaysia Book of Records (MBR) of being the nation’s oldest Nasi Kandar restaurant. It was established in 1907 and is still going strong until today. Meanwhile, it is also crowned as one of the best Nasi Kandars in Penang. The restaurant offers around 35 types of curry. For instance, their Chicken Kapitan, Ayam Bawang and Beef Rendang are among the famous choices. Besides Nasi Kandar, they also offer Murtabak and a wide range of vegetarian options.
Toh Soon Cafe 多春茶室
Toh Soon Cafe is a small coffee shop located at an alley along Campbell Street. It is one of the famous breakfast spots among the locals and tourists. People are willing to queue up for their signature Kaya Toast Bread with two half-boiled eggs and its Hainan-style coffee. They use a super old charcoal stove to prepare the toasts. Now, Toh Soon is opening a new branch at Bishop Street.
Island Problem is Japanese-Thai fusion eatery tucked in a shophouse along Campbell Street. It is a rather tiny dining space that could only accommodate up to 10 people. This open-kitchen concept restaurant allows diners to catch the live action of the chef preparing the meals. Their specialities include Don (rice bowl dishes), Sando (Japanese sandwiches), and Men (noodle dishes). Meanwhile, the upper floor of this black interior restaurant is a fashion boutique that sells their own branded fashion apparels.
Kim Haus is a cafe bar that serves Western cuisine. It is a casual eating and drinking spot in George Town. It is a pork free restaurant that offers a variety of dishes and desserts. In addition, there is a small bakery at the corner of the cafe that serves fresh Danish Pastries, Scottish Scones and more. Taking up the space of the entire building, Kim Haus also provides comfy stays with industrial influence of concept.
Yee Heong Restaurant 宜香茶楼饭店
Yee Heong Restaurant is a great place for dim sum in the morning and Zhu Char dishes for lunch and dinner. This restaurant is currently managed by the 5th generation of the family. Their signature dishes include Claypot Seafood, Braised Pork Hand and Stewed Mutton in Claypot.
Tho Yuen Restaurant 桃园茶楼
Tho Yuen Restaurant is located between the intersection of Campbell Street and Cintra Street. The restaurant serves dim sum in the morning and then a variety of noodles and chicken rice in the afternoon. Besides, they also offer one of the best egg tarts that come with a crisp and thin crust.
L Kitchen 李月香 粥面饭
L Kitchen serves authentic Chinese food ranging from noodle to rice and even porridge at very affordable prices. Some of their dishes are worth trying out, such as Indian Style Curry Fish Fillet, Dried Scallop & Minced Pork Porridge with Chinese Coriander Meatball, as well as Spicy & Sour Fish Head Noodles.
IL Bacaro in Campbell House
IL Bacaro is an authentic Italian restaurant housed in Campbell House. Their menu features a wide selection of Italian cuisine such as pizzas, pasta, grilled dishes and desserts. Besides, there is also a selection of fine wines at this cozy restaurant too.
Hong Kee Wan Thun Mee 鸿记广式竹昇云吞面
Some people call it “Hong Kee Bamboo Noodle” as it is a restaurant that specializes in serving handmade traditional bamboo-pressed noodles. Particularly, the chef rides on a bamboo log to press the eggs, flour and other ingredients together to yield the noodles. Their Hong Kong style Wan Thun Mee that topped with shredded char siew and Wan Thun beneath the noodles is definitely their signature. Furthermore, there is an in-house pastry stall that offers freshly baked Hong Kong style pastries. Make sure to try out their Egg Tarts, Buttered Polo Bun, and Honey BBQ Pork Pastry.
Coffee Addict Cafe
Coffee Addict was previously at Hutton Lane and now it has relocated to Campbell Street. They also expanded their menu which covers breakfast, sandwiches, pasta, snacks, coffee, and desserts. Some of their popular dishes include, Guacamole Bacon on Toast, Open Omelette Pepperoni, and Thai Basil Minced Pork Pasta. In addition, the cafe also offers comfortable seatings for diners to enjoy good food and good coffee.
Trois Canon Cafe 三炮台茶餐厅
Trois Canon Cafe provides the feeling of classical coffee shops (茶餐厅) in Hong Kong. Without any fancy presentation of the food, this cafe serves authentic and delicious Hong Kong food at affordable prices. Their menu features breakfast, brunch, lunch, tea and also dinner. Although it is very challenging to find parking, the food here is able to satisfy your tummy.
Hanjan Eatery Soju Bar
It is most probably the first and only Korean Soju Bar in George Town. Hanjan is a place that serves both Korean food and alcohol. Their food menu features a selection of Korean cuisines such as Kimchi Fried Rice, Korean Rice Cakes, Stir Fried Korean Glass Noodles, as well as Meat Platter. On the other hand, the drinks menu offers a list of Korean-influenced Cocktails and Mocktails, Beers, Wines and Liquors. Some of the food is best paired with Soju and Beer. Additionally, the ambience and atmosphere of Hanjan is too great for gatherings too.
Mun Thung x Soon Huat 满堂 x 顺发
Mun Thung is the name of the eatery while Soon Huat is a long-established brand in Penang that sells alcohols and liquors. Hence, it is a place with a crossover concept for breakfast and brunch cafe with wine and cigar shop. The interior is simple and their menu is wallet-friendly. Some of the signature dishes are Roasted Pork Dry Noodle, Rendang Chicken Rice and more. Besides, they also offer snacks, toasts and buns, as well as desserts.
Haru Stationary Cafe
Haru is a minimalist Muji-inspired cafe. Apart from cafe, it is also a stationary shop especially for those who like journaling. Besides the interior design, the menu is also Japanese inspired. For instance, they are serving Poke Bowls, a series of Liege waffle, cakes and a wide variety of beverages.
Pitt Street or Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling is one of the oldest roads in George Town. It was laid out after Light Street. It was named after William Pitt the Younger, the Prime Minister of Great Britain when Penang was founded in 1786. The street is called Koan-im-têng-chêng (观音亭前) in Hokkien which meant in front of the Goddess of Mercy Temple. Meanwhile, some locals call it Yâh-kha-kay (椰角街) which meant the street under the coconut grove. In the past, there was a large police station in front of the temple. Thus, Toā-ba-laí is another name of the street, which meant big police station. The street has been officially renamed as Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling since the 1990s.
The nickname of Pitt Street is the Street of Harmony as there are four different places of worship located within metres of one another along the street. The Kapitan Keling Mosque was built in 1801. While British administrators and Europeans resided at the northern end of Pitt Street, St. George’s Church was built in 1816. Meanwhile the Chinese built the Kong Hock Keong Temple, which is also known as the Goddess of Mercy Temple in the early 18th century. Then, the Hindus also constructed the Sri Mahamariamman Temple in 1833. The nickname also reflects the harmonious coexistence of various religions and cultures that have lived here for centuries.
As the Indian Muslim part of town, there are numerous of Indian Muslim eateries around the area. Meanwhile, there is also a row of Indian Muslim jewellery shops upon crossing Chulia Street. George Town’s money changers are a close-knit Indian Muslim community with about a third of them originating from the same village in India. Hence, there are a number of money changers along Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling too.
Kapitan Keling Mosque
Kapitan Keling Mosque is the oldest and largest mosque in George Town. The Penang’s first Indian Muslim settlers (East Indian Company troops) built it in 1801. The Indo-Moorish structured complex is surrounded by low walls and topped with Moghul-style copper domes. The mosque was named after the ‘Kapitan’ of the Keling (a leader of the South Indian community similar to the leader of the Chinese community), Cauder Mohuddeen Merican. It was once used as Penang’s state mosque when the construction of the Penang State Mosque at Air Itam road took place in the 1970s. The mosque was originally a small single storey brick mosque. Over the years, the mosque has been expanded many times to its present scale, the largest mosque in George Town, Penang.
St. George’s Church
St. George’s Church is a 19th century Anglican church. It is the oldest Anglican church in Southeast Asia. Convict labour from East India Company built the church in 1817. The Church was built with a combination of Neoclassical, Georgian and English Palladian architecture styles. Furthermore, the interior is pastel blue with marble floors. Besides, there is an elegant Victorian style pavilion outside the main building on the church ground as a memorial to Sir Francis Light. Hence, the St. George’s Church is one of the most impressive colonial buildings in George Town.
Goddess of Mercy Temple
The Goddess of Mercy Temple is also known as Kuan Yin Teng or Kong Hock Keong (Cantonese-Hokkien Temple). It is the oldest Chinese temple and also one of the most important temples in Penang. It was built in 1728 through the joint efforts of the early Chinese settlers, especially the Hokkien and Cantonese communities. Besides religious purposes, the temple is also used for social functions until the establishment of the Penang Chinese Town Hall. The temple was originally dedicated to Mazu, a sea goddess worshipped by the Hokkiens. Then, the temple’s main deity was changed from Mazu to Guan Yin when the temple underwent renovation in 1824. Additionally, the temple is also one of the most magnificent Chinese architecture style structures in northern Malaysia.
Penang Chinese Town Hall
Penang Chinese Town Hall was established in 1881. It was originally intended to resolve the controversy between the Hokkien and Cantonese communities. Besides, Penang’s Chinese merchants founded Penang Chinese Town Hall in order to take over the economic and social functions of the Kuan Yin Teng Temple. In the 1980s, it was rebuilt into its current 12-storey office block. Meanwhile, it also plays an active role through involvement in Chinese cultural events until today.
Sri Mahamariamman Temple
The Arulmigu Sri Mahamariamman Temple was built in 1833. It is the oldest Hindu temple in Penang. Moreover, it is a typical example of Hindu architecture, built in the south Indian Dravidian style. It is located on Queen Street and the back entrance is on Pitt Street (Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling). In addition, it is dedicated to the Hindu deity, Sri Muthu Mariamman, which is considered a motherly power figure, a goddess of mercy and patron deity of the peasants of southern India.
The Star Office
The Star Office is tucked within a colonial three-storey building. It was first used as a godown and a dispensary for the distribution of opium and alcohol in 1906. The property was later owned by a millionaire from Penang, Loh Boon Siew. He then opened Malaysia’s first Honda showroom within the building. In 1971, The Star (Malaysia’s most popular English-language newspaper) was founded in George Town with the building as its headquarters. Since then, the building has been known as The Star Office. After that, The Star’s headquarters was moved to Petaling Jaya and its Penang head office to Bayan Lepas. Its reporters are still using The Star Office. The building now provides space for Areca Books, the Penang Philharmonic Orchestra, a resource centre and an exhibition centre.
Where to Stay
Broadway Budget Hotel
Broadway Budget Hotel is located within the Little India area and Chinatown. It is clean, tidy and includes all the necessary facilities. It offers a contemporary, quiet and comfortable place to stay. For instance, the room types cover from Standard Room to Triple Room, which could accommodate up to 5 people in a room. In addition, some of the rooms even provide views of the city or Swettenham Pier.
Red Inn Court
Red Inn Court is a boutique eco-guesthouse located in the UNESCO World Heritage Site. “Every stay becomes a memorable experience” characterises the hospitality one can expect from Red Inn Court. They offer two main types of rooms which are King & Queen Rooms and Two & Dormitory Rooms. However, only Queen Rooms come with an ensuite shower and toilet while other rooms come with shared showers/ toilets.
What to See
Street Art: “Bullock Cart Wheel” Sculpture
The “Bullock Cart Wheel” Sculpture was installed in 2012. This sculpture at Pitt Street is based on a cartoonist Reggie Lee for the “Marking of George Town” project. The description of the sculpture is: “In the days when your money could be “as big as a bullock cart wheel”, this was a popular rest stop for the limousines of the time.”
This “Bullock Cart Wheel” sculpture provides two different historical insights. Pitt Street was where bullock carts used to park during the early 20th century. The second insight is about the ½-cent Straits Settlement coin which is an idiom in Penang Hokkien. Bullock Cart Wheel (Gu-chia-lean) means a stingy person, whose ½-cent is the size of the bullock cart wheel.
Street Art: “Tok Tok Mee” Sculpture
The “Tok Tok Mee” Sculpture is located at the junction of Pitt Street with China Street, facing the Goddess of Mercy Temple. It is captured by a cartoonist, Tang Mun Kian in the caricature for Sculpture at Work. The description of the sculpture is: “Tok tok mee is so called because hawkers would strike a ‘tok tok’ sound to signal their presence.” The sculpture tells how the itinerant hawkers of wanton mee, which is also known as tok tok mee, announce their arrival.
Gerakbudaya Bookshop is a small independent bookstore located in a row of shophouses along Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling. Founded by Gareth Richards, a researcher, writer and editor, the bookstore opened in 2014. Apart from the large chain bookstores which offer popular titles, Gerakbudaya focuses on literary fiction, poetry, translations and titles from smaller, independent publishers. The team is very passionate about books that matter. Hence, they have a collection of over 6,000 titles in stock ranging from books about Penang, current affairs, politics, to arts and culture, lifestyle and even Southeast Asian studies. In 2018, the second bookshop is opened at Beach Street. The new Gerakbudaya Bookshop concentrates more on non-fiction titles.
What to Eat
Nasi Kandar Beratur
As its name suggests, there is always a queue at the stall. But do you know that the official name for this Nasi Kandar Beratur is Restoran Liyaqatali? It is one of the most popular nasi kandar stalls in Penang. This restaurant offers an extensive selection of dishes ranging from beef kurma, fried chicken to squid curry. Meanwhile, there are actually two different managements at the same stall. Nasi Kandar Beratur starts at 10pm until early morning while another team operates during the day.
Nasi Kandar Imigresen
Besides Nasi Kandar Beratur, there are a few spots that are not so famous but serve equally great Nasi Kandar in the city centre. For instance, Nasi Kandar Imigresen located at Lorong Pasar, off Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling. Just like any other Nasi Kandar, it serves fried chicken, cabbage and various curries with mild spiciness. In addition, the price is considered relatively wallet-friendly too.
Fok Kee Food Centre
Fok Kee Food Centre is a Chinese coffee shop which was previously known as Jolly Cafe. This restaurant serves Chinese cooked meals. For instance, the dishes include fish head curry, sweet & sour pork, claypot soy sauce pork and more.
Hai Beng Lor Mee
This Hainan lor mee stall claims to have been operating since 1957. It is located in Hai Beng Coffee Shop, which is across Stewart Lane from the Goddess of Mercy Temple. Their broth is the speciality that attracts lots of patrons in the area. The broth here is less sticky compared to those we usually had. In addition, it has a tangy and nice spiced taste.
Bean Sprout Cafe
Bean Sprout Cafe is located right opposite of the Goddess of Mercy Temple. This two-storey cafe has a strong rustic vibe from its exterior to interior. Though the price is slightly higher, the menu offers a wide range of western cuisines and good coffee. For instance, their best sellers include Avocado Toast 3 Ways, Avocado Pesto Spaghetti top with Avocado chips, Classic Pancake and more. Moreover, it’s an Instagram-worthy cafe to chill and hang out with friends and family.
Cafe Little Angel
This is a nice place that offers cheap local and western food. It is a small restaurant with no outside seating, no inside frills. They offer a very wide selection of Chinese dishes such as Fried Rice, Claypot Mee, Penang Laksa, Hokkien Mee, and even English Breakfast. The atmosphere is rather authentic as many Chinese locals would have their breakfast or brunch here.
Muntri Street or Lebuh Muntri is a street that leads from Penang Road to Stewart Lane at the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. It is also the street that crosses Leith Street. The street may have been named after the Mentri of Larut, Ngah Ibrahim, son of Long Jaafar. Hence, Muntri is the old word for Mentri. However, some mentioned that Muntri was actually referring to the high ranking colonial officials that stayed in Leith Street and Muntri Street.
Cantonese associations and guilds dominate the street. There are many associations, clanhouses and a Hainanese Temple located along Muntri Street that has more than 100 years of history. According to the locals, traditional Cantonese black and white nannies were staying here as a group. Mah-cheh (妈姐) is the name for these ladies who wore white top with black silk trousers. They are a group of very professional and reliable maids who worked in the European colonial officials’ families. Therefore, some old Chinese also called this road as Mah-cheh-kay (妈姐街).
Furthermore, the first hospital for the poor, Lam Wah Ee, was founded here in 1883. Hence, Muntri Street is also known as Lâm-hoa-i īⁿ-ke (南华医院街) in Hokkien, named after the hospital that used to be here. Another Hokkien name for this street is Sin-hái-lâm-kong-si-ke (新海南公司街), which meant new Hainanese association street.
Muntri Street has one of the best-preserved facades of Straits Eclectic style houses. It is narrow but lined by exquisitely refurbished Straits Eclectic style double storey shophouses. In this recent decade, trendy boutique and budget hotels, modern cafes and street art has took over that adds beautiful colours and vibrance to this street.
Hainan Temple 天后宫
Penang Hainan Temple is also known as Thean Hou Kong Temple. The Hainanese community established the temple in 1866. Thean Hou Kong temple is dedicated to the Taoist Deity Mazu (妈祖), who is believed to be the protector of seafarers. The temple was then moved to its current location on Muntri Street in 1895 with the fundings and donations collected from the faithful devotees.
In 1925, Penang Kheng Chew Hooi Kuan Clan Association (槟州琼州会馆) was formed with the temple as its headquarters. The name Kheng Chew is a reference to the village on Hainan Island where the temple’s founders originated. The association established Aik Hua School in 1955. The school was constructed next to the Hainan Temple. Then, the name of the association was changed to the Hainan Clan Association in 1991 in order to embrace a wider ethnic identity.
The temple is built in the Hainanese style. Moreover, the elaborate stone carvings on the front of the building which were created by craftsmen were brought over from China in 1995 to mark the centenary of the temple’s construction.
Wooi Ning Wooi Koon 会甯会馆
Wooi Ning Wooi Koon is a Cantonese district association located next to Aik Hua School. Now, the ground floor of the building has been turned into a business premise, which is a textile wholesaler.
Penang Goldsmith Association
Another name for Penang Goldsmith Association is “Penang Ta Kam Hong”. It is the biggest Chinese goldsmith association in Malaysia. Besides, founded in 1832, it is also the oldest goldsmith association in Penang. The members from the association are mostly goldsmiths of Cantonese descent who came from Guangdong Province in southern China. Meanwhile, the building also serves as the guild’s temple, Voo Cheng Koo Mew. It was built in 1903 to worship the patron deity of goldsmiths, Wu Ching.
Penang Sao Lim Athletic Association
Penang Sao Lim Athletic Association is a martial arts association in Penang. This association was established by the Buddhist monk, Monnik Sik Koh Sum. It was founded in 1956 to teach the martial arts to the locals. The term “Sao Lim” is the Hokkien pronunciation for Shaolin Kung Fu (少林功夫).
Leong See Kah Miew Old Building 梁氏家庙
Leong See Kah Miew is the clan association of the Chinese holding the surname Leong. The name translated as Leong Clan Ancestral Temple. It was founded by people surnamed Leong, who hailed from Guangdong in 1871. The old clan temple was used until 1966 when the building was too old for repair. Thus, the three-storey association premise has moved to Perak Road and officially opened in 2020.
Koo Suo Kwong Choon Tong 姑苏广存堂
Koo Suo Kwong Choon Tong is a Cantonese tea shop and restaurant association. It occupies a double-storey townhouse at Muntri Street.
Where to Stay
Modern Hotel Georgetown
Modern Hotel Georgetown is a newly renovated hotel. It is residing in a classy heritage Art Nouveau building which was a budget hotel. In fact, this Instagram-worthy hotel includes a mixture of vintage and modern look with a classy black and white interior.
The building was built in 1920 and has served as retail shops, with one of its significant business occupied by an optician. In fact, the hotel has preserved one of its signage ‘The World Optical Co’ at the storefront. If you have ever noticed, the second floor of the building has always been ‘Modern Hotel’.
One century later, the whole building is refurbished with its heritage architecture preserved, and they had their grand opening in January 2020. The hotel offers 5 types of room, ranging from Superior Single Room to Deluxe Double Room Bathtub with Balcony. With its strategic location and spacious room, it is one of the best staycations in George Town.
The Southern Boutique Hotel
The Southern Boutique Hotel is housed in a double-storey heritage building that was built in 1924. This contemporary boutique hotel uses white colour as their main design concept. For instance, the clean lines and classic elements give a strong vibe on the grand elegance of the British colonial era. The hotel provides 3 types of room, such as Superior Double Room, Deluxe Double Room, and Family Room.
Ryokan Muntri Boutique Hostel
Ryokan Muntri Boutique Hostel is a modern hostel that is housed in a colonial-style building in the historical district. Additionally, the hostel is a 8 Times Winner of Tripadvisor Certificate of Excellence Award Book Direct for the lowest rates guaranteed. This hostel offers 7 types of room, ranging from private rooms, mixed dormitory rooms to only female dormitory rooms. Though the rooms are not spacious, the hostel provides great facilities and good breakfast.
Muntri Grove was originally a row of 10 modest houses built as living quarters for the Mah-cheh. These double-storey houses were built in the 19th century. Then, in 2013, restoration works started. The interior of the hotel uses minimal palettes to create contemporary lines which provide a light and airy ambiance to the rooms. However, there is only one type of room here, which are Deluxe King Rooms that cater to couples who want a littler romantic experience.
Muntri Mews is a collection of Edwardian era buildings that was transformed into a contemporary and affordable luxury accommodation located in the heart of George Town. This hotel combines both antique and modern furnishings while preserving the Straits Eclectic aesthetic. They offer three main types of room, which are Mews Standard Room, Terrace Suite, and Loft Suite.
Muntri House Heritage Homestay
Muntri House sets in a traditional Chinese clan house. This homestay provides basic, comfortable air-conditioned rooms with free Wi-Fi. Furthermore, they offer 6 types of room, ranging from private rooms to dormitory rooms.
What to See
Street Art: “One Leg Kicks All” Sculpture
The “One Leg Kicks All” steel-rod sculpture at Muntri Street is based on a caricature by Tang Mun Kian. This sculpture portrays the characteristics of a Mah-cheh (妈姐), or some called them as “Amah” (阿嬷). As their jobs and responsibilities cover the whole work from cooking, cleaning to caring for children, they called themselves “Yat-keok-tet” which means “one leg kicks all” in Cantonese.
Street Art: “Win Win Situation” Sculpture
The “Win Win Situation” sculpture is based on the artwork by Julian “Lefty” Kam. Muntri Street was the commercial trading link between the Orang Kaya Mantri or Ruler of Larut, and the Chinese traders of Penang who controlled the mining and melting of tin ore. This sculpture portrays a Chinese trader called Tauke greeting the ruler of Larut, Orang Kaya, before making deal of tin trading.
Mural: “Little Girl in Blue” aka “Kungfu Girl”
The “Little Girl in Blue” is another name for “Kungfu Girl”. It is an amazing street mural by Ernest Zacharevic. The model for the mural was apparently an eight-year-old girl at an art school. The face expression as well as the light on her clothes and hair making it very lively. Besides, the size of the mural is very impressive and the windows are a part of the art piece too.
Mural: “Big Mouth” by Gabriel Pitcher
The “Big Mouth” mural by Gabriel Pitcher is painted above an archway at the Ryokan Muntri Boutique Hostel. This mural is very creative as Gabriel makes excellent use of an awkward space above and to the sides of an archway.
What to Eat
Tai Buan Porridge 大满清香粥
Tai Buan Porridge serves one of the classic Teochew porridge. Teochew porridge is served as a banquet of vegetables, egg, fish and meats with plain rice porridge. For instance, some of the must-order dishes include braised pork, pork belly, braised duck, fried egg with preserved turnips, and more. As it is quite popular, the place is crowded during the peak hours.
Gala House Restaurant and Bar
Gala House is a retro-themed restaurant and bar that started its business in 2013. The menu features two different sets for lunch and dinner respectively. It offers Asian Western fusion cuisines. For instance, some of their special dishes include Clams in Wine & Fresh Herb Broth, Kimchi Salmon Spaghetti, Cheddar Ranch, Orang Kaya Coffee and more.
Sri Wangi Selera Ibunda
Sri Wangi Selera Ibunda is a restaurant that offers Malay food. The owner is a pair of husband and wife which the husband is from Bangladesh and the wife is from Indonesia. They serve authentic Malay food such as Nasi Goreng Biasa, Ayam Merah, Ayam Penyet, and more.
Originated from the UK, Emily’s Steakhouse has two branches in Malaysia, one in Penang and the other one in Kuala Lumpur. Previously located at Victoria Street, the restaurant expanded and moved to Muntri Street in September 2020. With the perfect tenderness and taste, this place serves one of the best steaks in town.
Mews Cafe is most probably one of the finest cafes in Muntri Street. It serves authentic Malay food in cozy restaurant settings. They prepare their food with fresh local ingredients as well as homemade sauces and spices. However, the price is slightly expensive. Some of their must-try dishes are Nasi Lemak, Beef Rendang, Ikan Sambal, Chai Creme Brulee and more.
Previously known as Behind 50, Hungry Chef is a newly open cafe that serves Western cuisine. The cafe has a strong rustic and vintage vibe as it’s decorated with a lot of grandma’s house antique. Hungry Chef serves Chicken Chop, Spaghetti, Burgers and more! In addition, it opens from Tuesday to Sunday, 4pm to 12am.
Seven Skulls is a cocktail bar located at Muntri Street. It is a lovely and classy place where you can enjoy chilled beer and occasional live band. It is not too noisy and thus, the vibes and energy here is suitable for networking and gathering.
Just a few doors next to Seven Skulls, Mish Mash is also a cocktail bar located at Muntri Street. It provides a welcoming mood, and casual, old-school European-style vibe. Mish Mash is renowned for cocktails. On the other hand, they also serve dinner, single malt whisky as well as craft beers.
Cafe De Ohana is a dog-friendly cafe that can accommodate small to medium breed canines. Ohana is a Hawaiian term meaning “family”, hence, the cafe hopes to create a warm, homey and cozy atmosphere.
Moreover, pets are not just a source of entertainment or an addition to the household, but they are actually our family. You can’t deny the reality that there is a special bond between dogs and pet owners. Thus, it is easy to see why dogs have been dubbed “man’s best friend”.
“As dog lovers and also having 8 dogs as pets, we uphold the spirit of loving dogs and also want to promote healthy eating among fidos.”
Co-founders of Cafe De Ohana, Junyang and Jia Wen
Emphasizing on the importance of providing healthy dog food, they adhere to the use of natural ingredients and handmade dog food. Furthermore, the co-founders are equipped with relevant knowledge through prior experience and training overseas.
The entire interior focuses on clean, simple lines, minimalism and functionality. The wall painted in light, muted colours and light-theme wood as their furniture on the second floor provide a pleasant and relaxed environment. Customers are requested to take off their shoes to enter the upper floor in order to ensure hygiene.
Besides, the ground floor is designed in a modern and simple style. Part of the dining area is decorated with picnic style and some antique which make the corner Instagrammable. In short, the cafe is separated into 2 spaces: ground floor is opened to diners while the upper floor is meant for fidos and dog lovers to mingle.
Cafe De Ohana’s menu covers rice bowl, spaghetti and freshly baked tartlet. Some of the best-sellers are Tri-colour Chicken Rice Bowl (stir fried chicken cubes with soy sauce, stir fried cabbage, julienned omelette), Tonkatsu Rice with Chicken, Spicy Salmon Rice Bowl, Spicy Asian Style Spaghetti, Carbonara Spaghetti and more. Meanwhile, Oreo Milo and Strawberry Creamy Fruity are their signature beverages.
In addition, there is also a healthy menu specifically crafted for dogs. Cafe De Ohana also plans to curate more healthy food for dogs with the use of Chinese medicine as ingredients in the future.
Watch the video to get to know more!
Address: 302A, Jalan Tun Dr. Awang, South Home, 11900 Bayan Lepas, Penang.
Business hours: Wednesday – Monday 11.00am – 9.00pm (Closed on Tuesday)
“Jom, yum cha weyy!” Is this the way you invite your friends and family to hang out? With the concept of creating a place where diners can have a good bonding time with their friends and family, Yum Cha Tea Parlour was established in December 2019.
“得闲饮茶” is pronounced as “Dak Han Yum Cha” in Cantonese, which means “let’s meet up during your free time”. Having prior experience in the field of western-style food & beverages, the co-founders ambition to try something different.
“We incorporate the vibe of Eastern and Oriental, from interior design to our carefully crafted menu. We hope to create a modern and cozy space where people can gather and enjoy Chinese cuisines.”
Co-founder of Yum Cha Tea Parlour, Vince
Tucked in the core zone of the George Town UNESCO World Heritage Site, the interior design of Yum Cha Tea Parlour was inspired by Hong Kong Cha Chaan Teng. Referring to the designs and details from Britain, Taiwan and Shanghai in the 50s and 60s, the restaurant remained the classic floor tiles.
Using retro dark green as the main colour palette, it focuses on modern yet vintage design styles. Besides, the tables are specially customised with drawers, which were inspired by mahjong tables.
Yum Cha Tea Parlour focuses on modernised Chinese cuisines. Inspired by Shanghainese styles of cooking, their signatures include Shanghainese Soup Dumplings (Xiao Long Bao) and Pan Fried Pork Buns (Sheng Jian Bao). Moreover, the menu covers comfort food such as rice and noodle dishes.
For instance, some of their must-try include Shanghai Noodle Soup (rich pork broth, braised pork belly slices, thin noodles, topped with scallions), Golden Crab Noodle (crab meat, crab roe, crispy pork lard, thin noodles, topped with scallions), Minchi Rice, and Mapo Tofu Rice.
Emphasizing on bringing out the better experience of savouring contemporary Chinese cuisines, Yun Cha insists on hand-making Xiao Long Bao and Sheng Jian Bao. Furthermore, the signature beverages are H.K Style Milk Tea, Yuan Yang, and H.K Style Lemon Tea. Besides, they actually start serving cocktails at night too.
Watch the video below to know the full story!
Address: 84, Church Street, 10200 George Town, Penang
Monday – Friday 11.00am – 9.00pm (Closed on Thursday)
The intangible heritage of George Town is not only a vital contributing factor to the significance of the World Heritage Site. There are so many traditional craftsmanships in Penang you should check out as most of these trades are vanishing.
Traditional bedak sejuk maker
Bedak sejuk, which is also known as cooling powder, is a traditional beauty product made from fermented rice. The main ingredient of bedak sejuk is rice. It has nutrients and antioxidants that help to relieve acne and brighten skin. The entire process of making the bedak sejuk takes approximately 45 days. Some people use this white, teardrop-shaped beads as face masks and rinse it off after half an hour. Meanwhile, some people rub the paste over their face and leave it on overnight.
In Balik Pulau, Penang, the Yeoh’s brothers are still making the powder in a traditional way as they are fighting to keep the tradition alive. Lean Seng, which is currently run by Yeoh Siong Huat is the best known brand of bedak sejuk. Lean Seng bedak sejuk is now sold in four countries, such as Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan and the United States.
The rattan weaver
One of the most remarkable rattan weavers left in Penang is Seang Hin Leong Rattan and Bamboo Crafts. Seang Hin Leong is located at Beach Street. It offers rattan baskets, handicrafts, rattan furniture, and even bird cage and toys. The weaving of rattan has been around for decades now and these furnitures are long-lasting.
Each product is carefully hand woven by Sim Buck Teik and Sim Chew Poh. Sim Buck Teik is the third generation owner and was awarded the Living Heritage Treasure of Penang 2009 for his life-long efforts in maintaining this beautiful craftsmanship in Penang. Meanwhile, the shop is currently in its 4th generation of ownership under Sim Chew Poh.
The Nyonya beaded shoe maker
The Kasut Manek is a Peranakan footwear with its shoe cover made entirely of hand stitched beads. The beaded shoes are traditionally worn with the Nyonya kebaya and sarong. These custom-made Nyonya beaded shoes are necessities to the traditional Nyonyas. In addition, they are compliments to weddings and important occasions. This fine workmanship is very time-consuming because of the tiny-sized plastic beads that have to be sewn together to create the designs. Creating a pair can take up to at least 3 months.
Tan Kok Oo is one of a few artisans in Penang making traditional handmade Nyonya beaded shoes. His shophouse is located at Armenian Street and has been making the kasut manek since the 1970s. On the other hand, Nyonya Lilian Tong is also a beaded shoe-makers. She even offers kasut manek workshops that will teach the travellers how to bead their own Nyonya shoes.
Traditional songkok maker
Songkok is a traditional headwear worn by Muslim men during important religious and festive occasions in Malaysia. For instance, Hari Raya, weddings, official functions and weekly prayers to the mosque. The only songkok maker left in the city is Haja Mohideen Mohammed Shariff. The 73-year-old Haja is continuing his father’s legacy as a songkok maker since 1962. His songkok shop is located at King Street. Despite most songkok providers having adopted modern machinery for mass production, Haja still keeps everything handmade with the sewing machine.
Making a beautiful songkok is complicated. Hence, Haja is lucky to have his one and only son-in-law who is interested in songkok making and willing to help him in the business. Raja of Perlis Tuanku Syed Sirajuddin Syed Putra Jamalullail, former Prime Minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and several cabinet ministers are among those who have ordered his songkok.
Traditional signboard carver
The traditional signboards are often seen at traditional Chinese businesses. These signboards can be found at the entrance or inside of the shops and houses. The tradition has been brought over from China. The Chinese characters on the board are typically gold in color and the boards will either be black, red or green. The process requires good carving and calligraphy skills as well as precision.
Kok Ah Wah is a master in traditional carved signboards. He is the last of his generation to continue the family trade. However, he has eagerly passed on his skills to local and foreign students, hoping that his craft will continue to survive in the 21st century. Meanwhile, Lee Chee Cheng is also one of the traditional signboard carvers that stands out in this era. Both cravers keep the traditional method by hand-making signboards carving to preserve its human touch.
Ancient seal engraver
Before the modern methods of stamping, the Chinese seal engraving stamps were used by businessmen, traders, and calligraphy artists as a form of signature. Stampings on artworks and official documents with engraved stones had been practiced in China for almost 3000 years. It is now a prominent tradition, arts and culture among the Chinese.
Ng Chai Tiam is a master in personalising seal engravings using cut-out stone. He would carve out the bottom of the stone chops that have been imported from China with precision. The process requires a magnifying glass to make sure the stamp is as detailed as possible. Chai Tiam’s handmade seals proved to be a cultural preservation of a thousand-year-old practice. In 2009, the Art of Chinese Seal Engraving was inscribed on the United Nations Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
Joss stick maker
Joss stick is a type of incense. It is a thin wooden stick covered in a substance that is burned to produce a pleasant smell. In Chinese tradition, burning joss sticks in temples is a ritual to pray for blessings. Lee Beng Chuan is one of the last few joss stick makers in Penang although most joss sticks are mass-produced in factories now.
Starting in his 20’s, Lee Beng Chuan has been mastering the craft of handmade joss sticks for over 70 years. Beng Chuan learned joss stick-making on his own as he observed how the joss sticks were made in factories. As one of George Town’s famous living heritage, Beng Chuan makes his joss sticks at the pre-war shophouse located near to the Goddess of Mercy Temple. He is currently passing down his knowledge and skills to his son and daughter-in-law to ensure the tradition remains alive.
Wooden clogs maker
Wooden clogs used to be a common item in many households in the 1970s, especially before the rubber slippers took over. It is a very old type of footwear. These clogs are known as ‘kah kiah’ in Hokkien. They were worn by Baba Nyonyas, Chinese, Indians and Malays. The wooden clogs are unisex and there is no left or right side. They are usually painted in red enhanced with flowers, thus, they are used as decorations during Chinese weddings to represent good fortune.
There are only two clog makers left in Penang. Tan Yang Ling is a professional clog maker from Bukit Mertajam. Yang Ling started to learn making clogs at the age of 12. With over 55 years of experience, he is able to produce 40 to 50 clogs per day. Besides, Eng Ai Tee is another experienced clog maker at Siam Road. She started making clogs after a trip to the Netherlands to visit her daughter in 2008. Hence, most of her crafts are not ordinary footwear but they are mini clogs for decoration.
Stonemason and tombstone engraver
Before the emergence of technology, stonemason and tombstone engravers struggled with simple tools such as hammers and chisels to shape the huge granite stones into the desired tombstone size. Back in the day, craving a tombstone will require at least seven to eight carvers. Now, it can be carried out by a single skilled carver.
Today, Yeoh Gim Huat may be the last man standing in the traditional stone engraving community. He carves a range of Chinese, Muslim and Christian tombstones seven days a week. He now uses modern machines to cut the stones while a computerised sandblasting system engraves the words. Though the process is being done with technology, Gim Huat manually paints the carved characters with paint. In short, the finishing details are still done by hand.
The paper oblation craftsman
According to Chinese tradition, miniature paper replicas of houses, servants and worldly possessions are burnt as offerings to the newly deceased to accompany them on their new life in the afterworld. Besides, the paper oblation craftsman also makes giant paper effigies of Chinese gods which are used to commemorate deities’ birthdays and religious festivals.
Penang has a number of oblation makers. Loh Ah Ban and Gary Lee Bok Guan are among the skilled craftsmen who continue to earn a living the same way that generations before them have done. The process of making these paper effigies is long and requires extreme attention to details. Though the process is dull and tiring, Ah Ban and Gary continue to deliver top quality in every piece of their product with their hand.
George Town, Penang has been recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 2008. George Town is recognized as having a “unique architectural and cultural townscape without parallel anywhere in East and Southeast Asia”. Besides, George Town contains one of the largest collections of pre-war buildings in Southeast Asia. Today, we’re going to share with you, some of the beautiful architecture buildings in Penang.
Kek Lok Si is the largest Buddhist temple in Malaysia. It was built in 1890, comprising a series of monasteries, prayer halls, temples and gardens. It was built over an area of 120,000 square metres. The main draw in the complex is the striking seven-storey Pagoda of Rama VI (Pagoda of Ten Thousand Buddhas) with 10,000 alabaster and bronze statues of Buddha, and the 30.2 metres tall bronze statue of Kuan Yin, Goddess of Mercy.
The pagoda combines a Chinese octagonal base, a middle tier of Thai design, and a Burmese crown. It reflects the temple’s amalgam of both Mahayana and Theravada Buddhism. Meanwhile, it also represents the syncretism of diversity of ethnic and religious in Malaysia. In addition, the bronze statue of Kuan Yin is located on the hillside above the pagoda. It is complemented with a 60.9 metres three-tiered roof pavilion. Kek Lok Si Temple is also an important pilgrimage centre for Buddhists from Hong Kong, Singapore, Philippine and other countries in Southeast Asia.
Tow Boo Kong Temple is also known as Nine Emperor Gods Temple or Rumah Berhala Tow Boo Kong Butterworth. It is located on Jalan Raja Uda, Butterworth. In the early 1970s, the temple was just an attap-shed on a rented plot. Then, two plots of land were bought in 1974 and 1986 respectively. The temple was rebuilt to its current scale and grandeur in 2000 and the majestic archway was completed in 2009. Tow Boo Kong Temple complex comprises a series of halls and courtyards. It is standing on a land area of 4,000 square metres.
The Butterworth Tow Boo Kong Temple boasts an overwhelming and sumptuous assortment of murals, sculptures and stucco. Moreover, the figures of dragons, mythical lions and heavenly warriors are adorning the walls, pillars, ceilings and beams. Beyond its monumental entrance archway, the complex’s elaborate passageway system features a front prayer hall, an inner courtyard, an interior prayer sanctuary and the main sanctum where the central deities are seated. The temple is open to the general public and tourists.
Penang Waterfall Temple is officially known as Arulmigu Balathandayuthapani Kovil or Hill Top Murugan Temple. It is one of the oldest Hindu temples in Penang and the largest Lord Murugan Temple outside of India. According to popular belief, a sadhu (holy man) chose a spot close to the waterfalls for a shrine dedicated to Murugan. The main deity of this temple is Murugan. It was originally located within the grounds of the Penang Botanical Gardens.
The temple was then relocated on a 44,520 square metres plot of land along the Waterfall Road as the British administration took over the area to establish a reservoir. The relocated temple was completed in 1850. It is the focal point of Thaipusam in Malaysia, after the Batu Caves. The main gateway is around 21.6m in height, which is equivalent to a seven-storey high building.
Visitors entering the temple’s 70,000sq ft grounds will be greeted by a majestic 8.23m-tall statue of Lord Shiva at the foot of the hill. Furthermore, an 18-ft high crafted teak wood door is a special feature at the new Arulmigu Balathandayuthapani Hilltop Temple in Waterfall Road. As visitors reach the top by climbing 513 stairs, they are bound to be amazed by the six pillars inside which represent the six main Murugan temples. The temple’s features are inspired from the era of the Chola and Pallava Kingdoms of India and the crafting work was done by Indian artisans from South India, specially brought in to Penang.
Masjid Kapitan Keling is the first mosque in Penang. It was built in 1801 by Penang’s first Indian Muslim settlers (East Indian Company troops). The Indo-Moorish structured complex is surrounded by low walls and topped with Moghul-style copper domes. The exterior is ochre yellowed while the interior had white marble floors and a high ceiling. In addition, the interior aisles are formed by a series of horseshoe arches, crowned with King Edward’s plaques.
The lofty, celestial-white Gothic, Moorish and Roman arches create an illusion of more depth to the spacious prayer hall. The facade of the building and its interior were decorated with geometric designs and floral motifs, as human and animal forms are forbidden in Islam. The mosque was originally a small single storey brick mosque. Over the years, the mosque has been expanded many times to its present scale, the largest mosque in George Town, Penang.
Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion is a unique blue-coloured Chinese mansion at Leith Street. It was built between 1896 and 1904. The mansion exterior and indigo-blue outer walls make it a very distinctive building, which is also referred to as “The Blue Mansion”. It is owned by Cheong Fatt Tze, one of the richest men in Southeast Asia during the 19th-century. The mansion features both Eastern and Western elements as well as designs, architecture and interior furnishings.
For instance, the Chinese “air well” courtyards, Gothic louvre windows and stained-glass windows, English encaustic clay tiles and Scottish cast iron works — a reflection of the merchant’s eclectic tastes. The mansion has 38 rooms, 5 granite-paved courtyards, 7 staircases and 220 vernacular timber louvre windows – Cheong’s private residence, seat of his business activities in Penang
Penang Town Hall was completed in 1883, was originally the home to the Municipal Council of Penang. It’s a symmetrical structure with beautiful quoins and semi circle pediments on either side, and a triangular pediment atop a two-storey porte-cochere. It also functioned as a venue for social events for the European elites. However, the office space within the Town Hall is not sufficient. Hence, construction of another municipal building was started right next door.
Penang City Hall was completed in 1903 after being built upon a previous existing mansion. The administrative function was taken over by the City Hall from Town Hall upon the completion. The all white, symmetrical building was constructed in the strong, grand Edwardian Baroque style complete with a porte-cochere. It combines both Edwardian Baroque and Palladian architectural styles. It has the Ionic columns on the first level and Corinthian columns on the second. Both the City Hall and Town Hall are located at Esplanade Road.
Campbell Street Market is a small wet market with a wide range of fresh vegetables, fish and meats to supply its surrounding community. This Victorian-style market was built in the 1900s. According to some locals, the land on which the market now stands was the site of a Malay cemetery. The cemetery at the land was provided to the Indian Muslim community for the construction of the Masjid Kapitan Keling in 1800. However, the George Town Municipal Council bought the land in the 1890s and subsequently built the Campbell Street Market.
The market was formerly known as Carnarvon Street Market as it is located at the junction of Campbell Street and Carnarvon Street. The features of Victorian style include eyebrow windows, with their curved shape above a traditional window. The facade of the market has an arch window at the pediment. Ornate and decorative designs are the hallmark of Victorian homes.
Logan Heritage Building
The Logan Building is a double-storey historic building located at Beach Street. The building comprises shops and offices. It was one of the properties of Kapitan Cina Chung Keng Kwee and currently owned by the Singapore-based Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation (OCBC). The building was named after Daniel Logan, the son of the famous Scottish lawyer, James Richardson Logan. It was completed in 1883 and designed in Victorian style.
The building was a three-storey building with cast iron balconies installed along its Beach Street side. One of the most unique features of this building is the central arch covering a granite-paved porte-cochere, which could be used by horse carriages. The building was renovated in 1930. The upper floor and cast iron balconies were totally removed as it was badly damaged besides compromising the whole structure. The parapet wall was redesigned with the Art Deco style where the building name was put up.
Meanwhile, the original design of the building and its attractive features such as the rusticated plasterwork that start from the ground right up to the moulded cornices along the parapet. Hence, the Logan Building became a two-storey building with the hybrid of Victorian and Art Deco architectural style. Today, the Logan Heritage Building comprises a foreign currency exchanger, convenience store, trendy cafes and other commercial outlets.