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So, while I’m still catching up on my ridiculously delayed 2016 travel recaps, I just can’t wait to start sharing my big trip (thus far) of 2017. So I’ll be jumping back and forth a bit again. Apologies for any confusion, my friends!

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Our time in Penang was flying by. Granted, we’d lost a day and a half to post-festival snoozing and visa procuring, and we had just two nights and one day left to explore. We’d planned to rent a motorbike and head out to Penang National Park and the beaches of Batu Ferringhi along the way, but yet we felt we’d barely begun to experience Georgetown — and so we decided to spend another day there instead.

Penang Travel Blog

Penang Travel Blog

Our first stop? The Clan Jetties. On the east side of Georgetown sit several long, dilapidated boardwalks with small stilted houses, temples, and community centers lining the sides. This once-thriving port once provided work for a steady stream of immigrants, mostly Chinese, who settled permanently around the quay — today, the area has morphed into a popular tourist attraction.

Though it’s a low-income area, which might make visiting via tour bus feel a bit like dreaded poverty tourism, it’s still pretty low-key if you get off the main jetty and explore independently on foot.

Chew Jetty, Georgetown, Penang

Chew Jetty, Georgetown, Penang

Chew Jetty, Georgetown, Penang

Visually, the jetties are fascinating. I tried to be respectful and so didn’t point my lens around as much as I’d like — but just know you have a treat in store should you decide to visit someday.

Chew Jetty, Georgetown, Penang

Chew Jetty, Georgetown, Penang

Chew Jetty, Georgetown, Penang

From the jetties, we wandered back into the heart of Georgetown.

Chew Jetty, Georgetown, Penang

Penang Travel Blog

Penang Travel Blog

Along with the diversity of its food, one of the things Georgetown is most famous for among travelers is its imaginative street art and mural scene. The internet is full of blog posts with maps to various walls, however with pieces constantly changing and directions often unclear, we found it most rewarding to just wander, with a little help from Google Maps to look for some of the more famous works (we’d literally type “street art” into the map app and many would pop up!)

Penang’s very distinctive street art style includes found objects incorporated into the various work — from wooden stools to bicycles to an actual motorbike!

Penang Street Art Travel Blog

Penang Street Art Travel Blog

Penang Street Art Travel Blog

Penang Street Art Travel Blog

Penang Street Art Travel Blog

While the most popular pieces would have a crowd lined up waiting to take photos, some of our favorites were small ones we stumbled upon all on our own en route to something else.

Penang Street Art Travel Blog

Penang Street Art Travel Blog

Penang Street Art Travel Blog

Penang Street Art Travel Blog

Penang Street Art Travel Blog

Penang Street Art Travel Blog

Penang Street Art Travel Blog

Penang Street Art Travel Blog

I said it before but I’ll say it again — Penang is a photographer’s dream. I was so inspired to snap street scenes and cityscapes in a way that I haven’t been in a while!

Penang Street Art Travel Blog

Penang Street Art Travel Blog

Georgetown Penang Travel Blog

At that point we’d worked up quite an appetite, and we were pumped for our next stop — Junk Cafe. A reggae respite on Georgetown’s main drag of Lebua Chulia, Junk is famous for having the best burgers in town — and dang, did they deliver! Had we not come here on our last day, I might have made it more than once.

Junk Cafe Penang

Junk Cafe Penang

Junk Cafe Penang

With a few more hours to kill in town until we picked up Ian’s visa, we wandered north to check out a few more major pieces of street art — and walk off our late lunch.

Junk Cafe Penang

Georgetown Penang Travel Blog

Georgetown Penang Travel Blog

Georgetown Penang Travel Blog

Georgetown Penang Travel Blog

Georgetown Penang Travel Blog

We eventually made our way to The Camera Museum, a tiny attraction I just couldn’t resist. Penang is full of quirky and in some cases, downright bizarre museums — The Owl Museum or Upside Down Museum, anyone? — but this one seemed pretty legit.

Georgetown Penang Camera Museum

Georgetown Penang Camera Museum

And it was. Though very small, the museum had some fascinating exhibits, artifacts, and photos — including a shot of someone taking a selfie in 1920 with a camera the size of a shoebox, the world’s first mobile phone with picture taking capabilities from 2000, and a 1.3 megapixel Nikon released in 1995 that stored 70 photos for a cool $31,000 — pretty relieved that dSLR prices have dropped in the interim!

After, we treated ourselves to a slice of cake and a green tea served in a lens-like mug from the onsite Double Exposure cafe. How cute!

Georgetown Penang Camera Museum

Georgetown Penang Camera Museum

Georgetown Penang Travel Blog

Georgetown Penang Travel Blog

Penang Street Art Travel Blog

Penang Street Art Travel Blog

That night, exhausted after a long day of exploring, we treated ourselves to massages at a cheap spa followed by a celebratory dinner back at ChinaHouse again. It was the perfect last night in Penang, especially as we were about to part ways to a few weeks.

The next morning, we checked out of our Airbnb and Ubered over to Macallum Connoisseurs Coffee Company for one final meal. Coffee lovers coming to Penang, out this one on your itinerary! The modern warehouse-style interior reminded me of Brooklyn, and the bagels and pancakes on the menu were almost as good as home.

Throughout our time in Penang we had really marveled over how widespread English was spoken in comparison to in Thailand, and how it had allowed us to have some really great conversations and connections with local people we had met. That was really driven home when, as we waited for our seperate Ubers outside the cafe (me to the airport, Ian to the train station), a man I recognized from the gym at our Airbnb building pulled up and asked us if we needed a ride back to our condo! What a sweet note to end our time in Malaysia on.

Macallum Connoisseurs Coffee Company, Penang

Macallum Connoisseurs Coffee Company, Penang

I really enjoyed our time in Penang. I wasn’t necessarily expecting much — it’s such a routine stop for so many of my friends doing visa runs — and I really left impressed with how much there was to see and do and photograph and marvel over.

I’m excited to have added another amazing city to my list of Southeast Asian favorites.

Georgetown Penang Camera Museum

Georgetown Penang Travel Blog

Have you been to Penang? What’s your favorite Asian city?

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Guide to Penang

Guide to Penang

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28 Comments...
  • This post brings back so many memories. I loved the jetties! I had the best jackfruit popsicle from a little stand there. And the street art was a definite highlight
    Leah | Nomad’er the Distance recently posted..Vancouver’s Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge

    • Alex
      June 17 2017

      Ah, we had the little popsicles too! I can’t remember now which flavor we went with… knowing me, probably coconut or mango 🙂

  • becky hutner
    June 16 2017

    110% sold on Pengang! This street art is next level. Am already planning an Indonesia trip for Jan / Feb so I’m now tempted to tack this on! Smart? Crazy?

    • Alex
      June 17 2017

      Not that crazy! However I will warn you — I was totally shocked that there were no direct flights between Penang and Bali — had to connect through Kuala Lumpur. Weird!

  • Jo-Anne the crazy lady
    June 16 2017

    Magical and amazing are two words that suit the street art
    Jo-Anne the crazy lady recently posted..Five things Friday

    • Alex
      June 17 2017

      Agreed, Jo-Anne! <3

  • Rohan Chowdhary
    June 16 2017

    Finally the wait is over, i so wanted you to visit my city, but too bad that i didnt knew when you came here, i so wanted to meet you and meet the most vibrant couchsurfing team in whole Asia which is in penang.

    • Alex
      June 17 2017

      Hey Rohan! Thanks for the tip about Couchsurfing — I will definitely keep that in mind for my next trip!

  • Dominique
    June 17 2017

    I heard the Indian food in Penang is the best in south east Asia! I would also love do a street art tour there, or just roaming through the city to find some photo-worthy sites.
    Dominique recently posted..Falkirk – A Day Trip

    • Alex
      June 17 2017

      It’s an amazing city for wandering 🙂 It was a bit of a heat wave when we were there, but even that couldn’t stop us!

  • I don’t remember any of this street art at all! I wonder if it’s new in the six years since we were last in Malaysia.

    • Alex
      June 17 2017

      It definitely could be! Things change super fast ’round these parts of the world.

    • Julia Nix
      June 19 2017

      The mural movement was largely started by Lithuanian artist, Ernest Zacharevic in 2012 when he was holidaying in Penang. If you google him, you can spot his work around the world.

      And Alex, if you are into PENANG, Ipoh is also another old school town (with interesting shop, murals and of course, local food (around 2-2.5 HOURS from KL or Penang if by bus)

      • Alex
        June 23 2017

        I’ll keep that on the list for next time Julia! Thanks!

  • Julia Nix
    June 17 2017

    I love Penang street food.
    Looks like you enjoyed this trip.
    Mugshot cafe and its neighbour, Rainforest Bakery are related/co-run by a pair of twin brothers. Back in early 2000, their family opened up the backpackers’ guesthouse upstairs whilst running the bakery. Looks like the Penangite baker brothers still standing strong… Glad they evolved. (for the better) Although the humble guesthouse had shut down (It held a little memory for me because that’s where I made my first few Thailand trips via mini van)

    BB looks comfortable posing for you.. He suits street art. 🙂

    • Alex
      June 17 2017

      What a sweet story! Yes, it does seem they are doing quite well for themselves 🙂

  • Chris
    June 18 2017

    Some stunning street art there!

    Given the English colonial history, I’m not all that surprised that English is a lot more commonly spoken than say Thailand 😉

    • Alex
      June 23 2017

      Absolutely, and that’s true of many destinations in Southeast Asia (Thailand is my baseline, so Bali also left me gobsmacked with how much really fairly fluent English was spoken.) Thailand is very unique in having never been colonized — and proud of it too!

  • Ijana Loss
    June 19 2017

    Wow, this seems like such a cool city! I literally knew nothing about it until your posts but now it has legit jumped up there onto my bucket list! I’m not even someone big on Asian cultures but Penang looks fantastic

    • Alex
      June 23 2017

      I love hearing that Ijana! Can’t think of a bigger compliment you could give a travel blogger 🙂

  • Gemma
    June 19 2017

    Holiday crush! I am such a sucker for street art and the bike shot appears often on my IG feed. I think street art makes a city, Glasgow’s scene has exploded of late!
    Gemma recently posted..West Island Way: How to + Things to do in Bute

    • Alex
      June 23 2017

      I love Glasgow, so you’ve totally just given me a reason to want to go back!

  • Pauline
    June 21 2017

    I LOVE love love Penang! It has EVERYTHING: beautiful streets (did you get to Love Lane? Teehee!), amazing food, and so many cultures (I legit heard English, Mandarin, Bahasa, and Hokkian – a Chinese dialect – all spoken in a hawker centre). My parents live in Indonesia and I’m SO JEALOUS that they get to make a yearly trip to Penang for their medical check-up.
    Pauline recently posted..30 reasons to visit Toronto (aka I love you, TO!)

    • Alex
      June 23 2017

      Aw, we did see Love Lane — so cute! I was only sad I couldn’t find a cute street sign to take a snap of 😉

  • Marni
    June 22 2017

    Street art can be SO stunning and there are truly talented people in this world. Great post, and I love the pictures!
    Marni recently posted..Saint John & Moncton – Welcome to the Maritimes

    • Alex
      June 24 2017

      Thanks Marni! Penang street art had such a unique flair — I haven’t seen anything like it anywhere else in the world!

  • Justine
    June 23 2017

    Penang is a great place. When I lived in Indonesia I would go there on visa runs all the time. I’m actually going to need to do a visa run in a couple weeks. I’ve been pondering where to go and after reading this post I might just be sold on going back to Penang. I’ve actually never checked out the jetties. Thanks for the recommendation!
    Justine recently posted..I’m Back in Bali: My Home Away From Home (Away From Home)

    • Alex
      June 24 2017

      You’re so welcome Justine! Go to Penang National Park while you’re there so you can tell me how it is and make me jealous 😛

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