When it’s not Kuala Lumpur that’s taking the country by storm, then the spotlight falls on George Town. George Town is the capital city of the state of Penang, and is one of the more popular cities in Malaysia.
Locals and tourists always welcome a drive to George Town, and if you happen to be one of the lucky few who stay here (or plan to) you’re truly living the best of both worlds.
Unlike most cities, George Town does have something unique to offer - a culture so rich in diversity, food and architecture that it was named a world heritage site by UNESCO.
A major factor that has helped George Town grow and gain popularity has to do with the rich history behind this small island town. Penang, acting as the first British settlement in South-East Asia, has always been an important trade route for spices, silks and other commodities, with George Town being the main gateway between East and West.
In fact, did you know that George Town was the first place in Malaysia that was granted city status in the 1950s?
Since then, George Town has grown to accommodate not only the British, but also a good mix of local Chinese, Malays and Indians. The great thing about this city is that while you will find development and modern amenities in abundance, its old-school charm is still preserved.
The streets of George Town are narrow and bustling with cars and people, with various shops and restaurants lining the pathway. The best way to experience this mayhem is to grab your running shoes and take a walk along the paths. Of course, that’s not for everyone, and you can also hop on to a trishaw to explore.
George Town’s unique feature is the fact that street art adorns most of the old walls in the city. This visual delight, courtesy of Lithuanian artist Ernest Zacharevic, can be seen throughout the city.
First introduced by the British, the Penang Botanical Gardens comprises of 12 divisions, each home to a wide variety of some of the best flora in the country. From tropical rainforests and jungle trails, to a wonderful view of waterfalls and gardening activities, there’s always something to keep you busy at these gardens.
George Town and art go hand in hand, so it makes sense for the museum and art gallery to be one of the best in the country. Here you’ll find the most prized possessions of the country, including treasures such as jewels, paintings and furniture.
One of the most developed parts of George Town, Gurney Drive is a promenade that runs adjacent to the Penang strait. Here you’ll find that this road is lined with shopping malls, hawker joints and retail outlets that are on par with international standards.
No matter the time of the year, come rain or sunshine, there’s always good food available in George Town. From artisan bakeries to local Chinese stalls, there’s no time to devour all the cuisines this city offers.
This Chinese coffee shop is the spot to be in if you want a taste of Penang’s favourite asam laksa. Certainly not your five-star restaurant, instead a quaint, traditional eatery, Joo Hooi Cafe is a favourite joint for many.
You can always eat at a proper, sit-down restaurant, but tasty hawker street food is hard to find. That’s why you should head to New Lane Hawker Centre. This bustling street, coming alive as the sun sets, is the place to be if you want to be adventurous and try out local delights. Just make sure you grab a seat first because this is one street that’s always crowded.
Le Dream Boutique Hotel
Jawi Peranakan Mansion
Eastern and Oriental Hotel
From having been named ‘Most Livable City In Malaysia’ and a Unesco World Heritage Site, George Town offers the best in living standards. You’ll have your fair share of modern amenities (including good infrastructure and developments), coupled with a historical appeal that’s hard to find in most metros.
George Town is very well connected by land, air and sea. The Penang Bridge connects the city to Mainland Penang and the rest of Malaysia, and you’ll find trishaws, taxis and buses (Rapid Penang) making up the public transportation.
The Penang International Airport is just 16 kms away from George Town, and has flights taking you all over Malaysia and to neighbouring countries.
Of course, we can’t miss out on the ferries. The Penang Ferry service will take you from George Town to Butterworth, accommodating your vehicles as well!
George Town is gaining popularity for being a medical tourism hub! George Town has accommodated almost 50% of the medical tourists in the country, and is one of the top places in Malaysia when it comes to healthcare facilities.
Penang is a rich state, with the manufacturing industry being it’s priority. George Town certainly reaps the benefit, and you’ll find the world’s top companies setting up their base in this region. This has only led the economy to grow, and the future certainly seems bright for George Town.
Properties are also a lot more affordable in George Town (as compared to other major cities in Malaysia).
One thing to note, however, is the fact that the minimum purchase price for a property is slightly higher in the state of Penang if you’re a foreigner. You can read more on this in our article here.
And that’s the gist of it! George Town is classified as being one of the best cities to live in Malaysia, and it certainly lives up to the hype! Do you plan on settling down in George Town? How about a holiday? Share your thoughts with us!
Born in India, raised all over the world, I’m currently based here in Malaysia, truly enjoying this Asian enclave. Starting off as a fiction writer for many online publishing sites, I’ve moved on to following one of my major passions: Copywriting. For more than a few years now I’ve worked with companies to create some great web content, particularly in the real-estate field. From reviewing property developments to writing home improvement articles, I do believe the property world is my calling. When I’m not holed up behind a computer screen, you can find me reading a good book, gallivanting across the globe or merely listening to some tunes on my iPod.