What to Do in Georgetown
There are plenty of things one can do around Georgetown. The town is filled with historical relics in the form of beautiful colonial buildings, so taking a walk around town can be quite an eye-opening experience, not to mention a pleasant one.
From magnificent heritage buildings in the centre of town to lush landscapes from the top of the hills, there are many ways to explore this multi-faceted town. Go by foot or hop on a trishaw, and go to the places the locals like to go to and do as the locals do – no matter what you partake in, the journey never seem to end and the excitement never seems to stop.
Alliance Francaise De Penang
Fans of French films can get their fix at Alliance Francaise De Penang, where they hold a new screening each month.
- Address: No. 46, Jalan Phuah Hin Leong, Georgetown
- Tel: (604) 227 6008 / 228 9719
Bird’s-Eye View of Georgetown
KOMTAR building may look pretty ordinary from the outside, but climb all the way to the top of the building and it’s a different story altogether. Get a magnificent 360-degree view of the city’s skyline from the 57th and 58th floor of the tallest building in Penang. Standing at 232m, this 65-storey complex is also an important landmark in Georgetown. Named after Malaysia’s third Prime Minister, Tun Abdul Razak, this building houses government offices and retail outlets.
Note: The KOMTAR building is currently undergoing renovations, making floors 57 and 58 inaccessible until further notice.
- Opening Hours: Daily, 10:00 – 22:00
- Location: Jalan Penang
- Type: Building
- Address: Jalan Penang, Georgetown (next to Traders Hotel)
Bird’s-Eye View of Penang
Get right on top of Penang’s highest point, 821 metres above sea level, for an unparalleled view of Penang and its surroundings. From the top of Penang Hill (otherwise known as Bukit Bendera), a sprawling view of the island greets you, as far as the eyes can see, with Penang Bridge in the distance and ships in the harbour. On a clear, sunny day, you can even see right through to the other end of Penang Bridge, where it meets Peninsular Malaysia. It’s the best way to get a sweeping view of Penang. If you don’t feel like hiking all the way to the top, the dedicated funicular train service will take you there in less than 30 minutes.
- Opening Hours: Sunday – Friday 06:30 – 21:30, Saturday & Public Holiday 06:30 – 23:30.
- Location: Ayer Itam
- Type: Nature - Water Dam
- Address: Air Itam, Georgetown (about 3km from Kek Lok Si Temple).
- How to get there: From Weld Quay, Komtar & Lebuh Chulia, take Rapid Penang bus No. U204 which takes you straight to Penang Hill. You can also get there by taxi, costing approximately RM 20 per journey.
Cathay Cineplex, Prangin Mall
For movie buffs, you can catch the latest releases or something more off the beaten path in Georgetown. For the newest mainstream blockbusters, there’s Prangin Mall’s Cathay Cineplex, the only cinema awarded with ISO 9002 certification. Having recently undergone a facelift, it features eight movie halls and a total of 1,478 seats.
- Type: Cinema
- Address: 33-5-09 Prangin Mall, No. 33 Jalan Lim Chew Leong, Georgetown.
- Tel: 1 300 886684
Georgetown Heritage Trail
Georgetown is small enough to be explored on foot – deemed by some as the best way to discover the town’s delights. Arm yourself with a map, a good pair of walking shoes and plenty of water and get acquainted with the town’s roots. The Heritage Trail is regarded as a ‘must-do’ for all visitors to Georgetown, taking you around its main historical sites and colonial buildings.
Start from the State Assembly Building on Lebuh Light. From there, move around the Queen Victoria Golden Jubilee Clock Tower at the roundabout, and go straight into Jalan Tun Syed Sheh Barakbah. You will see the Francis Light Flagstaff and Lighthouse as you go move along Jalan Tun Syed Sheh Barakbah around Padang Esplanade. As you move down the Esplanade, stop by Fort Cornwallis, a star-shaped fortress which was built more than two centuries ago. From the entrance of Fort Cornwallis, right across the field called Padang Esplanade, you can see two grandiose buildings standing side by side, City Hall and Town Hall, which can be viewed up-close by walking back out on to Jalan Tun Syed Sheh Barakbah and go around Padang Esplanade, making a turn into Jalan Padang Kota Lama, on which the two buildings are situated. Right before turning into Jalan Padang Kota, you will see the War Memorial (Cenotaph) on your left.
After that, turn into Lebuh Farquhar where you will pass St. George’s Church, Penang Museum and Church of the Assumption, all lined in a row. Further down is St. Xavier’s Institution and Convent Lebuh Light, two of the oldest schools in the country. Go into Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah, where you will pass the infamous blue mansion, Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion. Walk further up Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah and turn back into Lebuh Farquhar, where the Protestant Cemetery and the Lim Lean Teng Mansion greets you on both sides of the road. Move further along Lebuh Farquhar until you reach the Eastern & Oriental Hotel, right at the junction of Upper Penang Road and Lebuh Farquhar, signifying the end of your Heritage Trail.
Best time to start: In the morning, around 09:00, when the weather isn’t too hot.
Duration: Approximately 2 to 3 hours, depending on how long you take at each stop.
Iswaria Veenai Odeon Cinema
For fans of Bollywood movies, there’s Iswaria Veenai Odeon Cinema on Upper Penang Road, the last remaining film theatre screening mainstream Hindi movies.
- Location: opposite Chowrasta Bazaar
- Address: Upper Penang Road, Georgetown.
- Tel: (604) 261 8964
Malaysian-German Society Penang
You can also watch some German releases every second Friday of the month at the Malaysian-German Society Penang.
- Location: Next to Methodist Boys School
- Address: 250B, Jalan Air Itam, Penang
- Tel: (604) 229 6853g
Perhaps the best way to see the city, next to on foot, is taking a ride in one of the colourful trishaws lining the streets of Georgetown. It generally costs around RM 30 an hour for a leisurely tour around the city, but prices can be negotiated. Friendly and accommodating, the trishaw peddlers can also act as your local tour guide, and would be happy to make a few stops along the journey for you to take a closer look. Most fascinating is the way they negotiate their trishaws around the busy traffic – once you get a taste of this, you will be able to see clearly why they are sometimes referred to as Kings of the Road.
Where to catch them: Trishaws are widely available around town, particularly where the major tourist spots are, especially along Padang Kota Esplanade (Jalan Tun Syed Sheh Barakbah) and next to Cititel Hotel on Jalan Penang (Penang Road).