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Best things to do in George Town

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Where in the world: Asia  /  Malaysia  /  Penang  /  Penang Island  /  George Town

Top 15 things to do in George Town

1. Cheong Fatt Tze - The Blue Mansion

Visit Cheong Fatt Tze - The Blue Mansion, a historical building and museum. Built by the Chinese merchant Cheong Fatt Tze towards the end of the 19th century, the house displays influences from the design heritage of his native land, local Malaysian aesthetics, and colonial British style. Its distinctive blue coloration was achieved by mixing lime with the natural dye made from indigo plants, creating a hue popular during the colonial era. Designed in accordance with the principles of Feng Shui, the mansion exudes an atmosphere of calm and good fortune in many aspects of its design. Take a guided tour to appreciate its subtle nuances, and how they reveal the spiritual and cultural inclinations of its creator.
Suggested duration: 30 minutes
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2. Pinang Peranakan Mansion

Visit Pinang Peranakan Mansion, a cultural center providing a valuable introduction to the Peranakans, a community of wealthy Chinese traders that made this area of the world their home. Set in a restored mansion, the museum's interiors and architecture display the singular style and aesthetics of the community, blending traditionally Chinese aspects with local Malay and, later, colonial British influences. With a wealth of artifacts laid out in authentically arranged rooms, the museum transports you back to the time period with immersive exhibits, information panels, and guided tours.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
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3. Chew Jetty

Cross the boards and adventure into a bygone era at Chew Jetty, a historical district built on stilts over the sea. Constructed over a century ago by the Chew Clan community of Chinese immigrants, the jetty has developed into a town propped up over the waters of the harbor. Renovations have provided additional amenities for residents, but the overall aesthetic remains rustic and idiosyncratic. Planks create paths over the water, linking up houses elevated on stilts, owned and cared for by families of fishers that call the jetty home. Stop off in the local cafe for a little refreshment amid picturesque scenes of simple, archaic, unfussy life.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
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4. Kek Lok Si Temple, Air Itam

Visit Kek Lok Si Temple, the largest Buddhist complex in Malaysia. Established at its hilltop location in 1891, the temple harmoniously combines architectural influences from across the region. Its main feature remains the impressive seven-story pagoda and its 10,000 alabaster and bronze statues of Buddha. The ample grounds include separate areas of relaxation and contemplation, with pools, ponds, and well-maintained, peaceful gardens. A venerated place of worship, the temple attracts pilgrims from across Southeast Asia and beyond.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
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5. Khoo Kongsi

Enjoy the ornamental architecture of Khoo Kongsi, a Chinese clanhouse in George Town's World Heritage-listed area. The Khoo Kongsi clan of wealthy Chinese traders constructed the complex in stages beginning in the 17th century. Today the complex features an ornate and elaborate association building, a traditional theater, and late 19th-century rowhouses. The protected buildings represent good examples of Chinese design, and guided tours elucidate the culture of the clan, their influence on the area, and the history of the clanhouse itself.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
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6. Escape Penang, Teluk Bahang

Traverse an aerial obstacle course and perfect your climbing skills at Escape Penang. The park appeals to families, with something to challenge visitors of all ages, from infants to seniors. In addition to jumping, swinging, balancing, and ziplining through the tree canopy, you can also choose go-karting or trampolining. Visit the discovery center to learn about organic vegetable growing and recycling, cook meals with locally cultivated ingredients, and engage your family's imagination and creativity with entertaining and educational toys and games.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
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7. Penang Botanical Gardens

Stroll around the city's "green lung" at Penang Botanical Gardens. Established by the British on the site of an old granite quarry in 1884, the public gardens stretch out across 29 hectares (72 acres). Amble across the scenery to find the famous trees that live here, many with evocative nicknames like "the five o'clock tree" (its buds close just before dark). If you need a little exercise during your trip, come here for a jog, jungle trekking, or aerobics. Spot the many animals that call the park home, with long-tailed macaques, dusky leaf monkeys, and black giant squirrels among the favorites.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
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8. Armenian Street

Feel the atmosphere of a time gone by while you admire the quaint buildings at Armenian Street. Stroll along the well-preserved and restored street named after the Armenian people who settled in the area in 1786. Being crafty traders, they introduced aspects of their lifestyle to the local community and made a lasting impression on the city of Penang. Enjoy the old architecture, street murals, and orthodox temples characteristic of the area. You can get a taste of Armenian culture in the many shops and restaurants, which fit in well with the quaint style of the rest of the street.
Suggested duration: 1h 30 min
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9. Panpuri Organic Spa Penang, Penang Island

Suggested duration: 2h 30 min
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10. Fort Cornwallis

See a landmark example of colonial British architecture at Fort Cornwallis. Named after the then-governor general of Bengal, the fort was built by the British East India Company in the late 18th century. Constructed to cope with cannon fire, the fort utilizes the star design popularized in Italy during the mid 15th century, yet it has never seen battle. Now a museum, the site offers a wealth of information regarding British colonial presence in the area, notable fortified architecture, and a striking 21 m (69 ft) skeletal steel lighthouse.
Suggested duration: 30 minutes
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11. Tropical Spice Garden, Penang Island

Explore the landscaped grounds at Tropical Spice Garden to see over 500 species of plants and trees. Set in over 3 hectares (8 acres) of secondary rainforest, this award-winning ecotourism site is crisscrossed by boardwalks that let you move over the changing terrain with ease. Take a guided tour of the garden to see nutmeg, tumeric, and ginger growing in their natural environment, then stop in the outdoor cafe to enjoy a meal as monkeys swing in the trees overhead. Consider taking a cooking course, where qualified instructors teach you how to prepare some of the staple dishes in Malay, Nyonya, and Indian cuisine.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
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13. Street Art in George Town, Penang Island

Suggested duration: 2 hours
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14. Penang House of Music

Learn about the melting pot of cultural influences that have shaped the island's musical heritage at Penang House of Music. The highly interactive displays allow you to fully immerse yourself in the world of sounds. Browse through a growing vinyl collection, newspaper clippings, audio and video interviews at the resource center. Check out the recreated old radio booth, catch an old movie at the vintage cinema room, or grab an instrument and take part in the afternoon jam session at the concert venue.
Suggested duration: 30 minutes
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15. The Camera Museum

Discover the history of photography at The Camera Museum. Located in a two-story pre-war shop, the museum houses an extensive collection of cameras and artifacts related to the development of photography since the 19th century. Learn about the famous camera obscura, and hear more about its inventors, use, and developmental trajectory, as its principles have been reapplied in each new revolutionary object. With models from across the world, the museum tells the international story of the camera's development in displays of classic examples and audio-visual exhibits.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
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