Aside from natural landscapes, beautiful architecture and delicious delicacies, Penang is widely known for its rich heritage. Fortunately, it’s easy for visitors to learn about this through a self-guided tour called “Penang Heritage Trail”.
“Modernity meets tradition” is a term that you’ll commonly hear when talking about this state and this trail will show you why first-hand. From what to see, where to stay and important things to know, you’ll find everything you need to know in this guide–keep on reading!
Standard Malaysia Time (GMT+8)
Best Time to Go
What’s great about the Penang Heritage Trail is that you’ll only be given a map and it’s up to you to decide which historical places to visit first. This means that the best time to follow this trail will be entirely up to your schedule and preference.
Furthermore, you won’t have to worry about the trail being cramped up with other tourists, as it covers a wide area. The only times you may encounter other people on the trail are at the famous landmarks that you may stop by.
Weather-wise, we’d recommend trying this trail during Penang’s dry season, which spans from April to November. This way, you won’t have a hard time going from point A to point B considering that this is mostly a walking tour.
If you want to go on the trail during the driest month, we recommend visiting in August, as it experiences the least rainfall of the year. This being said, we’d recommend applying sunscreen and bringing an umbrella to avoid the harmful effects of direct sunlight.
Things to Know
Currency: Malaysian Ringgit (Check the current exchange rate)
Language: Malay, English
Calling Code: +60
Time required to complete Penang Heritage Trail: 1 to 2 days or more
Total area covered: 100 hectares
Historic buildings to visit: 1,700
How to Get Around
Trains: If you’re coming from Kuala Lumpur, one of the fastest ways you can get to George Town Penang is by train. More specifically, you can ride the ETS, which will take around 4 hours before you can reach the small state.
If you plan on going to Penang Hill, there’s also a railway that climbs the elevated resort from George Town called Penang Hill Railway.
Buses: Penang is considered pedestrian-friendly because it features a well-thought-out public bus system. We say this because there are bus stops at almost every point of interest found on the island, making your trip easy even without a private vehicle.
Taxis: Since Penang is a “touristy” island, you can expect to find tons of taxi cabs roaming the state. This is a great and fast way to get around if you don’t mind skipping some of the stops found on the heritage trail.
Grab: Grab is also available on the island, which is great for those looking for an alternative to a taxi ride. This method lets you book a ride from your current pick-up point and will provide you with a fixed rate so you don’t have to haggle for prices with the cab driver.
Car rental: Renting a car is a great option if you prioritise convenience and comfort. Doing this provides you with the pleasure of choosing your own route and places to stop by while keeping your loved ones comfortable.
Bike rental: If you want a more eco-friendly way of getting around the heritage trail, you can rent a bicycle on the island. This will also let you get an exercise in, as you go from one point of interest to another so win-win!
Where to Stay in Penang
Eastern and Oriental Hotel
Address: 10, Lebuh Farquhar, George Town, 10200 George Town, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia
Phone: +60 4-222 2000
Eastern and Oriental Hotel is one of the grandest places you can spend the night in Penang. At first glance, it looks like a white house, which is fitting now that we think about it, as staying here will make you feel like royalty.
This type of colonial design can be found down to the rooms that you’ll get to book during your stay. These rooms are great and all, but we think that the biggest highlight of your stay here is the massive outdoor swimming pool that overlooks the river.
Areca Hotel Penang
Address: 5, Jalan Khoo Sian Ewe, George Town, 10050 George Town, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia
Phone: +60 4-261 0050
Areca Hotel Penang is another great establishment in the heart of George Town that we highly recommend. What we love about this place is that it’s the perfect representation of why this state is a place where modernity meets tradition as evident with its interior and exterior.
It features this old-timey look that’s combined with modern amenities and facilities–pretty cool, right? Among these facilities is one of the hotel’s best offerings, the Areaca Hotel Cafe, where you can spoil yourself with delicious local and Western dishes.
M Qube Hotel Penang
Address: 22 A,B,C&D, Jalan Aziz Ibrahim, Kampung Sungai Nibong, 11900 Gelugor, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia
Phone: +60 16-773 7773
M Qube Hotel Penang is perfect for backpackers and budget travellers, as it offers the cheapest accommodation options. It’s one of those capsule hotels that you see in almost every touristy country, and it offers quite a comfortable space even for its extremely cheap price.
The capsules that you’ll get to stay here aren’t too shabby, as they’re neat and most importantly comfortable! It does lack in the facilities department, but if you’re someone who’ll spend the majority of your time outside, this place is more than enough to serve as your crash pad.
Jazz Hotel Penang
Address: 1, Jalan Seri Tg Pinang, Seri Tanjung Pinang, 10470 Tanjung Tokong, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia
Phone: +60 4-818 0393
If you’re looking for a great mid-range hotel that has a great location, we recommend checking out Jazz Hotel Penang. This modern establishment features everything you can expect from a cool and hip hotel, from spacious and comfy rooms to amazing amenities, facilities and more.
One of the main highlights of staying here is the roof deck swimming pool, which lets you splash around and relax under the sun while enjoying stunning views. Aside from that, it also features in-house restaurants where guests can feast on delicious dishes for breakfast lunch and dinner.
Shangri-La’s Rasa Sayang Resort & Spa
Address: Jalan Batu Ferringhi, Kampung Tanjung Huma, 11100 Batu Ferringhi, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia
Phone: +60 4-888 8888
If you want the ultimate vacation experience during your stay in Penang, then you should book a reservation at Shangri-La’s Rasa Sayang Resort & Spa. This place will pamper you with its world-class rooms, outstanding amenities and wide selection of facilities.
For instance, the massive pool and the spa can help you unwind and relax after a long heritage walk in Penang. Aside from that, you can also treat your tastebuds to some of the most delicious dishes that the country has to offer in this hotel’s in-house restaurant.
Where to Eat in Penang
Hillview Cafe Penang Hill
Address: No 1 Jalan bukit bendera selekoh, Jalan Pokok Ceri, 11500 Ayer Itam, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia
Phone: +60 11-2082 3400
Hillview Cafe Penang Hill is one of the best stopovers where you can take a breather and enjoy an amazing dining experience. If your walking tour takes you to Penang Hill, you should stop by here, as it’s a great place to indulge in delicious local dishes that can refuel your body!
Aside from amazing dishes, this place also serves a solid selection of coffee and non-coffee drinks! Also, all these offerings are made even better by the beautiful views that surround the establishment.
David Brown’s Restaurant & Tea Terrace
Address: Strawberry Hill, Penang Hill, Bukit Bendera, 11300 Air Itam, Penang, Malaysia
Phone: +60 11-2082 3400
If you want a lavish dining experience, we recommend stopping by David Brown’s Restaurant & Tea Terrace during your heritage trail. Here, you won’t only be paying for the exquisite food but for the ambience and views as well!
This British Colonial Restaurant serves a myriad of familiar dishes that you’ll often find in fancy restaurants. Anything can take the cake as the best offering of the restaurant but what we recommend the most is the beef Wellington.
Address: 18, Lebuh Carnarvon, George Town, 10100 George Town, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia
Phone: +60 12-981 5117
Teksen Restaurant is one of the most iconic eateries on the island and it’s a must-visit for those looking to experience the complete Penang package. Here, you’ll be served with a plethora of delicious Chinese and local delicacies that can refuel your body after a long walk.
We also love how authentic the restaurant is with its no-frills nature. You won’t see any fancy decor or anything here but don’t worry, as this is made up for by the quality of their amazing meals.
Jawi House Cafe Gallery
Address: 85, Lbh Armenian, George Town, 10200 George Town, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia
Phone: +60 4-261 3680
At first glance, Jawi House Cafe Gallery may seem like an ordinary old-timey home, but that couldn’t be further from the truth! This local favourite establishment is a cosy restaurant that serves various Malay and international delicacies that are sure to satisfy your tastebuds.
The ambience here is also top-notch, as the homey vibes make it feel like you’re dining in your friend’s house as opposed to a restaurant in the middle of the city. Speaking of the city, this restaurant is located in the heart of George Town near essential establishments and attractions.
Olive Kitchen + Bar Penang
Address: 3J, Jln Penang, George Town, 10000 George Town, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia
Phone: +60 11-2627 9517
If you aren’t too big on foreign dishes and want to eat meals that will be familiar to your sight and taste, check out Olive Kitchen + Bar Penang. This fine establishment offers dishes such as steaks, pizza, pasta and burgers–all the staples of a Western menu.
Aside from the exquisite dishes themselves, however, another thing that this establishment nails down is its ambience. Since it’s also a bar, you’ll find dimly lit rooms as well as a counter that’s fitted with different kinds of booze!
Things to See in Penang Heritage Trail
One thing that makes Penang stand out from other states is its abundance of mural art, which can be found on multiple streets across George Town. Some of the best streets to visit to admire these artworks include Muntri Street, Weld Quay, Lebuh Leith and Armenian Street.
To fully appreciate these artworks, we recommend riding a bike and stopping by the ones marked on the Penang Trail map. This way, you can easily step off your bike and take pictures of the paintings and graffiti up close without worrying about parking.
Masjid Kapitan Keling
Address: 14, Jln Buckingham, George Town, 10200 George Town, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia
Phone: +60 4-261 4215
Masjid Kapitan Keling is the oldest and largest mosque in Penang and it’s one that’s easy to visit thanks to its accessible location. Situated on Harmony Street, this magnificent piece of architecture will leave you in awe when you see its sheer size and beauty in person.
If you’re a fan of architecture, you’ll immediately notice how it draws inspiration from styles such as Indian-Moghal, Gothic and Roman. Even if you aren’t well-versed in architecture, however, it’s not hard to see the beauty in the mosque, with its marbled floors and massive domes.
Sri Mahamariamman Temple
Address: Hindu Temple, Lebuh Queen, George Town, 10450 George Town, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia
Phone: +60 4-263 8916
Sri Mahamariamman Temple is another historic site that you’ll immediately fall in love with during your walking tour. This colourful temple doesn’t only deliver in terms of being a spectacle for its visitors but it also boasts a rich history, as it’s the oldest Hindu temple on the island.
As soon as you see its exterior, you’ll be in awe of its colourful design that consists of various sculptures. It only gets more interesting once you enter the temple, as it’s where you’ll find more statues and other sculptures of gods and goddesses.
St George Church
Address: 1, Lebuh Farquhar, George Town, 10200 George Town, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia
Phone: +60 4-226 0708
Renowned as one of Malaysia’s 50 national treasures, St George Church is a must-visit during your heritage walk in Penang. It was built way back in 1816 and is known as the oldest Anglican Church in Southeast Asia.
It’s not hard to see why it’s considered a national treasure as soon as you catch a glimpse of its facade. Its pure white appearance adds to the elegance of its Neo-Classical and Palladian architectural styles–pretty cool!
Address: 18, Cannon Square, George Town, 10450 George Town, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia
Phone: +60 4-261 4609
Khoo Kongsi is another temple we recommend you visit in Penang and for good reasons. For starters, it’s simply beautiful and that goes for both its detailed architecture and rich history as the largest Hokkien clanhouse in Malaysia.
One of our favourite things about this place is the quietness that it provides you even with all the cars honking their horns in traffic outside. It provides this atmosphere that makes you almost feel like you’re transported back in time, especially with the delicate architecture it features.
Pinang Peranakan Mansion
Address: 29, Church St, Georgetown, 10200 George Town, Penang, Malaysia
Phone: +60 4-264 2929
Pinang Peranakan Mansion is a residence-turned-museum that features an expansive collection of exhibits showcasing the country’s Peranakan heritage. From paintings to murals, vases, clothing and other artefacts, this museum will amaze you with its collection.
What’s great about this place is that you can still see how it’s structured as a house, which makes it different from any museum you can visit. This is evident up until inside where you’ll find dining sets and living rooms that depict the days of before.
Address: Lebuh Light, George Town, 10450 George Town, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia
Phone: +60 16-411 0000
Fort Cornwallis is an old bastion that serves as a remnant of the early 1800s, making it a structure with great historical significance. Aside from that, it’s also the largest standing fort in the country so make sure to stop by and marvel at its sheer size when you go on a walking tour.
This fort was originally built for the British Colony in 1810 and since then, it acted in important roles including being a Japanese detention centre during WWII. It was later declared a historic site in 1977 and has been a prime tourist spot in Penang since then.
Queen Victoria Memorial Clock Tower
Address: Jalan Tun Syed Sheh Barakbah, George Town, 10200 George Town, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia
Queen Victoria Memorial Clock Tower is a massive structure that stands 97 feet in the middle of the intersection of Light Street and Beach Street in George Town. Also known as the Jubilee Clock Tower, it doesn’t just tell the time but it also boasts a rich history.
More specifically it has ties with royalty, as the tower was built to commemorate the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria. This is also why the tower is sixty feet to the centre of the clock, as it signifies the years of Victoria’s reign.
Address: Georgetown, 10300 George Town, Penang, Malaysia
Phone: +60 11-6246 2884
If you’re looking for something more scenic, we recommend stopping by Penang’s Chew Jetty during your heritage walk. This magnificent destination will provide you with stunning views of the sea while immersing you in the rich background of the clans that reside here.
If you didn’t know, Chew Jetty is one of the Clan Jetties that were built in Penang back in the 19th century as a home for Chinese immigrants. Today, it’s considered a historic site that still houses some members of the Penang Chinese immigrant community.
Apps to Download for Penang Heritage Trail
CatchThatBus: Bus ticket booking app