Once part of British Colony, Georgetown is marked with the innumerable building dating to the eighteenth century. These richly decorated buildings give you an insight into booming historic past. You can find plenty of mosques, churches, and temples showing the mixed heritage of this place.
Georgetown is an approximately 280km drive from Kuala Lumpur. The drive is pretty straight on the freeway. However, it is advisable to take a break at Ipoh and explore a bit of Perak before going up to Penang. Ipoh lies approximately half-way between Georgetown and Kuala Lumpur.
Georgetown Historical Quarters
Nothern-Eastern Tip of Georgetown has plenty of historical buildings and architecture giving a glimpse into the glorious past of this island. Because of its beauty and history, this area is UNESCO-listed. This includes the area south and east of Lebuah Farquhar, Lebuah Cinta and Lebuh Melaya. You will mind a maze of streets and historical shop-housed some preserved and some marking the signs of time
Note that centre of Georgetown is served by CAT Shuttle providing you with a free ride through most historical parts of the city including colonial district, Lebuh Mintri then taking you along Jalan Penang to Kotmar Building
Historical Eastern & Oriental Hotel
Stay at Eastern & Oriental Hotel Penang to experience the bygone colonial era richly preserved in architecture and decor of the hotel. At the entrance, you are greeted by a guard in Khaki outfit similar to worn by the doorman when the hotel was first opened. Quietly nestled on the waterfront, it commands a great view all the way to Gurney Drive. At night time it turns into the heart of activity as No.1 Penang Street is just across the road. Beautiful lights adorn the street while music from Slippery Senoritas fills the air.
Celebrities like Rita Hayworth, Rudyard Kipling, and Joseph Conrad have graced the hotel with their presence. You will find pictures of Hollywood celebrities decorating the hall-room. Enjoy local and continental food on cafe and restaurants on-premises. Sarkies offers a great lunch menu as well as buffet dinner menu around 100RM. Other facilities include Farquhar's Bar, Poolside Terrace and Planter's Lounge. On a warm sunny day, you cool off the summer heat with a chilly lemonade while dipping the beautiful pool overlooking the ocean. The overall atmosphere is relaxed and laid back. Service and facilities are great. The historical location is a must-visit if you want to enjoy the Georgetown in style. Check for rates online with Agoda to get best-advanced booking rates for your stay.
The lobby has one of the biggest domes in the region. Speak out loud and you can hear the echo from the dome. For a more candid feel for the culture walk down Penang Road to see roadside tea stalls and local cafes and restaurants.
You will cross a very long bridge (toll around 7 ringgit) to get into Georgetown. Find a hotel near the north-eastern tip of the island where most restaurants and places of attraction are. Some of the best places to stay in Georgetown are
Gurney Drive is more interesting for nightlife, modern shopping malls, cafes and night clubs. The spot is quite popular for night food market where you can find plenty of local seafood and Malay dishes. Gurney drive has some uptown and modern apartment complexes and hotels. Gurney Plaza is a world-class shopping centre with leading fashion brand, food outlets, cinema and banks etc.
Gurney waterfront is lit with lights at night time presenting a magical view of the location. The place stays crowded till midnight and you can see lovers hanging around with waterfront area till later hours of the night. 18km drive along the beach leads to Batu Ferringhi. There is a spate of latest property development in this area and you will find a wide range of residential apartments complexes and hotels.
Eating out in Georgetown
You will be undoubtedly shocked by a number of restaurants per street in the city. It seems that people only come to George town to eat. While staying in this interesting location make sure you try out popular Nonya Food and some of the traditional family-run businesses. An interesting Nonya Food restaurant is Little Kitchen, 179 Lebu Noordin, 10300 Penang, ( 04-2616731). [ My photograph with the owner of the restaurants in the gallery above] The food is served in a small portion in a very traditional manner. The ambience is cosy, service very personal and owner Jay Loh takes pride in giving a brief overview of Nonya Culture and Food. You can also get a chance to peek in the guest room located behind the main restaurant.
Georgetown is also famous for traditional Indian food like Nasi Kandar. Try out Line-Clear restaurant near the Upper Penang Street. It is walking distance from Upper tip of Penang Road near Eastern & Oriental Hotel. The food is quite nice and you can try rice with plenty of meat dishes make with gravy. The spot is also explored by Anthony Bourdain in his travel adventures to Penang.
I went for dinner at the buffet restaurant Sarkies (pictures above) costing around 100RM. The selection of food is great and Sarkies offers a large variety of local and international dessert. I simply loved the atmosphere and decor of this modern part of Eastern & Oriental Hotel on 1 Penang Road.
Another destination for a more modern feel for Georgetown is Gurney drive. Most hotels will offer a free bus tour to the Gurney drive, as the Malls ( Plaza Gurney, Gurney Paragon). These are top of the line shopping centres will all world-class brands and quality shopping outlets. Located on main Gurney drive is on the way from Georgetown to Bantu Ferringhi. Gurney drive also prides in hosting night market serving ethnic food lit late in the night.
These places are not to be missed: Fort Cornwallis, Cathedral of the assumption, Cheong Fatt Tze Museum, Pinang Peranakan Mansion, Penang Hill, Batu Ferringhi (Night Markets)
Batu Ferringhi is located approximately 9 miles from Gurney Drive. The area is quite popular for people seeking high-end resorts with private beaches. Batu Ferringhi has night markets on the weekends and attracts large crowds over the weekend. Amongst popular resorts Hilton DoubleTree, Hard Rock Resort and Bayview are ideally located close to the beach.
Batu Ferringhi is popular for seafood restaurants, batik shops and spice garden located at driving distance from the main beach area.
During my stay at Batu Ferringhi, I stayed at Bayview Resorts. The beach area has speedboats, water scooters, banana boats and paragliding facilities. The night markets on the weekends are quite fun and you can explore the local colours of Penang.
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