Georgetown is Penang’s premier shopping destination with its retail therapy offerings firmly divided into three sectors –street markets, independent stores and shopping centres. Four of the city’s most popular malls are within a one-km radius of each other along with several interesting stand-alone shops down narrow avenues, plus quirky street markets that pop up and dominate select roads on certain days.
The most famous mall is the 761ft KOMTAR – though it is older and atmospheric in comparison to flashier malls like Penang Times Square and 1st Avenue Mall, it is one of the most prominent landmarks in Penang and acts as the focal point through which all bus routes in Penang radiate from. Meanwhile, if you are a serious budget shopper we suggest the Little Penang Street Market – it is a treasure trove of fabulous finds, from homemade handicraft to vintage steals.
- Traditional English Afternoon Tea at the Eastern & Oriental Hotel
- City Half-Day Tour
- EZhopper Sightseeing Bus Pass
- Georgetown by Night Tour
- Island Half-Day Tour
- Private Penang Hill & Temple
- Heritage Trishaw Tour
- Private Penang Hill & High Tea at David Brown's Restaurant
- Botanic Gardens & Tropical Spice Garden Tour
- Penang Hill & Kek Lok Si Temple Tour
Little Penang Street Market
Upper Penang Road plays host to the monthly Little Penang Street Market, every last Sunday of the month. It initially started as a small community project in 2006 but has steadily grown in size. One of the island’s cleanest and most well-organized roadside fairs, it has risen to become a major part of every local’s shopping itinerary with more than 70 stalls set up selling all sorts of items such as jewellery, spices, wood carvings and hand-embroidered kebaya.
A popular tourist must-visit along Penang Road, besides crafts and food, there are also cultural shows, live music performances, book readings and visual art displays that really draw in the crowds. Stall vendors are friendly, the atmosphere is stimulating and the street simply bursts with activity throughout the day.
- Opening Hours: Every last Sunday of the month
- Location: Upper Penang Road
1st Avenue Mall
Set beside Prangin Mall and KOMTAR on Jalan Magazine, the seven-storey 1st Avenue Mall is one of the flashier additions to Penang’s retail landscape. Opened in 2010, it is a bright and clean complex with a range of high-end international marques such as Coach and Victoria’s Secret, as well as affordable mid-range labels like H&M, Cotton On and Sketchers.
Its shopping venues are not the only reason to visit – there is also a bowling alley, movie theatre, karaoke lounge, snooker centre and internet cafe – plus, food-wise, visitors have a choice of over 20 restaurants and cafes.
- Opening Hours: 10:00 – 22:00
- Address: Jalan Magazine, Georgetown, 10300 Georgetown, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia
- Tel: +604 261 1121
Lorong Kulit Flea Market
An absolute must-visit on any visit to Penang, Lorong Kulit Flea Market just bursts with life and colour. A shopping experience just made for the budget shopper, you will find quite an eclectic collection of knick knacks here – indeed stalls selling lethal-looking hunting knives, vintage binoculars, compasses and flasks, are set up right beside booths with records, Mickey Mouse figurines, stationery and more.
An integral part of many locals’ life in Georgetown, it is a great place to grab a bargain on anything and everything, especially if you arrive early and carefully look through the selections available. On our last visit we found some hard-to-find used book titles for less than RM10 each, as well as great quality second hand clothes at great value prices.
- Opening Hours: 09:00 - 12:00
- Location: Jalan Dato Keramat
KOMTAR is one of the most prominent landmarks in Penang with a viewing deck on the 58th floor offering views of the island and across the straits to Penang’s mainland. Located in central Georgetown, along the north-south Jalan Penang and east-west Jalan Magazine, the 65-storey cylindrical high-rise is the sixth-tallest building in Malaysia and Penang’s tallest structure.
Shopping-wise, there are quite a few people who consider the atmospheric mall an acceptable pass on their tour itinerary, but we highly recommend it. It may not look as polished or as new as 1st Avenue Mall or Penang Times Square, but there are quite a lot of shops inside that make a trip here worthwhile. You will find boutiques selling incredibly reasonably-priced apparel (for example a sundress from RM25), plus there are quite a few shops specialising in digital products like cameras, hand phones and computers.
- Opening Hours: 10:30 – 22:30
- Location: South Georgetown (Next to Traders Hotel)
Adjacent to KOMTAR, Prangin Mall is Georgetown’s largest shopping mall. Another bargain hunter’s paradise, in similar vein to KOMTAR, it has quite a collection of local clothing boutiques. Prices for apparel rarely go beyond the RM50 mark – we bought three pretty peplum dresses from one of its boutiques for only RM20 each.
What’s more, the five-storey complex also has as its anchor tenant, Singapore department store, Parkson, plus book store chain Popular. Food and drinks-wise, the mall does not disappoint with more than 25 restaurants, ranging from fast food chains like MacDonald’s to local cafes selling Malay favourites like nasi lemak and chee cheong fun.
- Opening Hours: 10:00 – 22:00
- Address: Jalan Dr Lim Chwee Leong (Prangin Road), Georgetown
- Tel: +604 262 2233
Chowrasta Market is perhaps Penang’s most well-known daily market. More than a century old, the dry market area downstairs (there’s also a wet market at the back selling fresh seafood) sells all sorts of popular local delicacies such as fresh nutmegs, preserved fruits and the classic Ghee Hiang biscuits.
The foodstuff sold here are said to be cheaper than anywhere else in Penang. Located one level up on the first floor is a much-loved second-hand bookseller where you can purchase used copies of favourite reads at a fraction of the original price.
- Opening Hours: 08:30 – 20:00
- Location: Jalan Penang, George Town
- Tel: +604 262 0202
Cecil Street Market - Lebuh Cecil
Divided into two sections, Cecil Street Market is most popular with locals for its wet market where daily household groceries such as fresh vegetables and meats are available. This section of the market is full of character to say the least – there are the sounds of butchers cutting up meat and calling out to passing customers, the sight of fish, beef, pork and poultry placed on top of mounds of ice on the stainless steel stall counters, plus wet, slippery floors make walking a slow affair. However, it creates a colourful, electrifying atmosphere – especially when you get to see a local haggling with a vegetable seller on the price of a bunch of carrots.
Come nightfall and the streets surrounding the market are transformed into one big, open-air restaurant. This dry section of the market is where you will find stalls selling local delicacies, the asam laksa comes highly recommended (glass noodles in a sweet, spicy and sour broth made with crushed sardine fish, cucumber slices, tamarind juice and chilli paste).
- Opening Hours: 07:00 – 12:00 (market)
- Address: Lebuh Cecil, Georgetown
Penang Times Square
Penang’s shopping scene has come a long way in recent years, and it is no longer passed off as just a ‘big-food-and-beach-state’. It has particularly come into its own in the area of retail therapy, with more than four major malls within a one-km radius of each other. Seasoned budget fashionistas head for Penang Times Square when searching for one-of-a-kind selections to help them stand out: though there are not that many stores open here, the ones that are in operation offer some pretty good deals, particularly when it comes to apparel and shoes. In fact we found a structured peplum dress for only RM30 – a real bargain.
Set just around the corner from KOMTAR, the complex is a mixed development project with residential apartments set on its upper floors and commercial stores on the lower levels. Determined to keep patrons entertained, the mall organises routine events such as Zumba dance classes at its outdoor open stage arena every first and third Saturday of the month. What’s more, there are also two pretty famous nightclubs in its basement levels – Soju Room and M2: food-wise, the mall has close to 20 restaurants and cafes. Whether it is coffee, books, or footloose fun you are searching for, it can all be found here.
- Opening Hours: 10:00 – 22:00
- Address: 77-4B-1, Penang Times Square, Jalan Dato' Keramat, George Town, Penang
- Tel: +604 210 9020
Pulau Tikus Market
One of Georgetown’s best markets for tourists to soak up the exotic atmosphere of a true Asian street market, Pulau Tikus Market is set along Jalan Pasar Besar (off Jalan Burma) just 15 minutes walk away from KOMTAR. This night market has a collection of stalls selling cheap Chinese curios, plus it does a buzzing trade in fake handbags, watches, shoes and clothes as well as DVD and CD copies.
Hungry shoppers will be glad to know that street food sellers set tables along the avenue – we recommend chai tow kway (fried carrot cake), a savoury dish of cubed white radish, fried with egg, bean sprouts, spring onions, lup cheong (preserved Chinese sausage), and sweet, spicy black soy sauce.
- Opening Hours: 18:00 – 24:00 Thursday – Tuesday
- Location: Jalan Pasar, Off Jalan Burma
Locals will tell you that Georgetown is famous for its food, particularly its sumptuous hawker offerings, but it is also the go-to place for tau sar peah – mung bean pastry balls. A favourite Malaysian pastry, it is also called tambun biscuits and one of the best places to get them at when you are in Georgetown is Ghee Hiang.
Originally from Fujian, China, it has been in business in Georgetown since it set up operation in 1856. Set along Jalan Macalister, the store claims to produce more than 10,000 of these delicious, fluffy and sweet pastries during peak season and we are not doubtful of that claim. On our last visit there, we had to wait in line for more than 15 minutes to get a box of their traditional handmade biscuits. Besides the mung bean biscuits, they also sell coconut biscuits, almond cookies and sesame oil.
- Address: 216 Jalan Macalister, Georgetown
- Tel: +604 227 2222