George Town, the capital city of the state of Penang, was named in honor of King George III of Britain. As one of the earliest British settlements in Southeast Asia, the city’s name is a testament to its colonial heritage.
Located on Penang Island’s northeastern coast, George Town looks out to the Malacca Strait. Adjacent areas include Tanjung Tokong to the north, Jelutong to the south, and Air Itam to the west. Beyond the waters, on the mainland, lies the town of Butterworth, which is part of Penang’s Seberang Perai region.
Founded in 1786 by Captain Francis Light, George Town served as a significant trading post for the British Empire in Southeast Asia. Its importance as a port led to a rich tapestry of cultures as traders from Europe, India, China, and the Malay Archipelago settled here. This confluence of cultures bestowed the town with a diverse architectural, cultural, and culinary legacy. In recognition of its rich heritage, UNESCO designated George Town a World Heritage Site in 2008.
Highlights of Things to Do
- Penang Street Art: Explore the vibrant murals and iron sculptures scattered throughout George Town, narrating tales of its past and culture.
- Penang Peranakan Mansion: Delve into the history and lifestyle of the local Peranakan or Straits Chinese community by visiting this beautifully preserved mansion.
- Khoo Kongsi: Admire the intricate architecture and carvings of this historic Chinese clan house, reflecting the grandeur of Chinese heritage in Penang.
- Pinang Peranakan Museum: Learn about the traditions, culture, and history of the Peranakan community in Penang.
- Culinary Delights: Relish in George Town’s renowned street food like Char Kway Teow, Penang Laksa, and Hokkien Mee at famed hawker centers and streets such as Gurney Drive and Chulia Street.
How to Get In and Out
- By Road: Connected by the Penang Bridge and Sultan Abdul Halim Muadzam Shah Bridge, George Town is easily accessible by road from mainland Malaysia.
- By Ferry: The iconic Penang Ferry Service shuttles between George Town and Butterworth, offering a scenic ride across the Malacca Strait.
- By Air: Penang International Airport, located to the south of George Town, serves both domestic and international flights.
George Town is not just a historical city but a living museum. With its colonial buildings, temples, mosques, vibrant markets, and aromatic street food, it offers an unparalleled journey through Malaysia’s multifaceted cultural tapestry. Visitors often leave with cherished memories and a longing to return.