I had high expectations for George Town, the historic capital city of the Malaysian island of Penang. I had only heard raves about its laid back atmosphere and UNESCO worthy sites, and I could not wait to eat my weight in Indian food.
But after loving the big city lights and energy of Singapore, I ended up finding George Town a little… boring.
Luckily I had several days to warm up to George Town, which gave me enough time to fall in love with two things in the city: the street art and the street food.
Street Art in George Town, Penang
Shortly after being named a UNESCO World Heritage Site, George Town began developing a reputation for impressive street art. First, the Marking George Town project set out to tell stories from the city’s history and culture with caricature murals. Then when the city hired Lithuanian artist Ernest Zacharevic to paint murals around town, George Town became a destination not only for tourists interested in seeing its famed architecture, but also those wanting to take photos with its beautiful murals.
Of course George Town’s beautiful street art is no secret, so if you’re planning to visit the city to snap some photos, be prepared to wait in line with other tourists!
I was in town over a long holiday weekend, so the city may have been more crowded than usual. All I can say is wow, so many tourists! On popular streets like Armenian Street and Muntri Street the street art felt a little less urban and a little more theme park, but the murals were still super pretty.
In fact, I think in the end I had the most fun in George Town just watching people waiting patiently in line to do the same exact poses with certain murals.
Street Food in George Town, Penang
I loved the mixture of cultures in George Town (and Malaysia in general), where you can wander down an alley of Chinese houses only to stumble into Little India with its vibrant colors and booming Hindi music, and then look up to see the sun setting behind a gorgeous mosque.
But perhaps the best place to experience the city’s diverse cultures is in the food. Oh my goodness, that food! I think I averaged five meals a day there – I just had to sample everything!
Sadly this is my only photo of Indian food, even though that’s mostly what I ate in Penang. I just always forgot to take photos before digging into all those delicious spicy curries. I mean, a girl’s got to have priorities! (You will notice that I’ve already taken a bite out of this samosa.)
I stayed at B Street Hotel, which is right by Armenian Street and all of the street art. The rooms were clean and I loved being right by Little India and Chinatown. Check current rates and availability here
Gosh, that food looks amazing. I haven’t eaten nearly enough in Singapore!
I love a hostel with privacy curtains! Such a simple idea, yet it makes such a difference. I made my own passive aggressive one last night after too many rude dorm mates waking me up- sadly it didn’t work too well!
I don’t know why more hostels don’t put curtains on the dorm beds – it really is such a nice touch! And yeah, I’ve definitely tried to make my own curtains before.. I hope you didn’t miss out on too much sleep!
These photos are gorgeous! I’m guessing you’ve got a really nice camera, but what program do you use for editing?
I do have a dslr, though I don’t use any really nice programs for editing. Mostly I do some light edits in iPhoto, and then I use Picmonkey online if the photo needs some more work.
Ashley | Ashley Wanders says
All of that food looks so delicious! I also struggle to take photos of food before I’ve eaten it, ha.
Right? It happened to me again today. Sorry guys, no pictures of Indian food from KL either, haha.
Ha, I had to wait in line to take photos of the street art too! I got a kick out of watching other tourists pose with the art 🙂 Sorry Penang didn’t live up to all the hype. But the street art and Indian food are two of my favorite things about George Town too! And how good are those samosas?! I seriously brought a whole bagful back home to Jakarta 🙂
Mmm those samosas! I really did like Penang, just my boyfriend had really loved it when he went, which probably gave me too high of expectations. But as long as a place has yummy food it’s a winner in my book!
Christie of The Butterfly Editions says
I’m heading to Penang in a few days time so this post was very good timing! I have heard of others being underwhelmed with Penang too – however I am particularly looking forward to also having at least five meals a day!!
Haha if you’re looking forward to the food than Penang is the right place! I did enjoy my time there, but I think I just generally prefer either huge cities or gorgeous countryside. Either extreme!
I loved the vibrant street art in Penang and so different to the one I’m used to see in Europe. About the food, what can I say? Penang is very famous for its delicious food and we loved it of course whilst there 🙂
The street art did have a really different feel, even though the main artist is European. Maybe it was something about the having it on a Chinese backdrop! Very special.
thats amazing. I want to eat ALL that food.I love street art and usually get a kick out of seeing people stand in lines to pose with it. It was the same way in Beijing in their art district… I just took photos of tourists taking photos…
Haha I did that in Beijing’s art district too! I was so sick of people taking pictures of me that I started taking pictures of everyone in return.
Miriam of Adventurous Miriam says
What amazing street art – and food! I totally get why you forgot to take photos of the rest before you ate it 😉
I seriously don’t know how food bloggers do it. Really I need to just stick to photographing non-edible subjects, haha.
Those murals are all incredibly awesome! Great food photos, though all those dishes look a bit too meaty for me :/ haha!
Yeah, there was a lot of meat… the samasos are vegetarian, though! Actually I think all of the Indian food I ate (and failed to photograph) was.
I loved, loved, loved George Town! I too ate my weight in Indian food. And desserts. And the street art is great as well.
Haha food and art pretty much sums up George Town for me too!
Victoria@ The British Berliner says
The photos look amazing! I’ve been hearing so many good things about Malaysia which is a good thing, considering the horrible events earlier in the year. The Street Art is fantastic, and I like the fact that the tourists are Asian and not just Western ones! Art for all LOL!
Haha yeah, it was definitely overrun with Asian tourists. I think a lot were actually Malaysian, because it was a long holiday weekend while I was there.
becky hutner says
I fall hard for cities with good street art — Berlin, Barcelona, LA…all first class! There’s so much good stuff in here but I’d have to say my fave is 2nd from the top, those cartoonish men, clearly up to mischief. Followed by the kids on the bike & the ballerina.
Yes, I loved the cartoon men too! Such glee in their expressions. I also loved the ballerina. And all the other art, because street art is amazing. Now I really want to go to Barcelona!
Katie Featherstone says
This post brought back such good memories for me! I think I was eating about 5 samosas everyday, let alone the meals. Thank-you for sharing! 🙂
Ahh I already miss those samosas so much! Can never get enough Indian food 🙂
Ashlea Wheeler says
Wow, what incredible street art! This definitely makes me think I’d love George Town, thanks for sharing 🙂 Ashlea x
A Globe Well Travelled
There was sooo much amazing street art – I only managed to photograph a small bit of it!
The street art scene in Penang seems to be absolutely stunning.
It’s so impressive, I loved it.