I’m in love, I’m in love, and I don’t care who knows it! I’m an optimistic enthusiast who usually can find a silver lining in a place no matter where I look. [Enneagram Type 7’s am I right?] But…love? I don’t often go around saying that I LOVE a place. I love Indonesia, of course, I live here. I also love America because it’s my home country. I love Amsterdam in the spring and I love Singapore’s style. And I’m going to go on record here and say it…I love Penang, Malaysia. I feel like my favorite parts of Indonesia and Singapore had a baby, and it’s Penang.
Penang is located on the northwest coast of the mainland Malay peninsula, with it’s capital city, Georgetown situated on Penang Island. Georgetown is Malaysia’s second largest city and home to a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The people of Penang, much like most of Malaysia, are very diverse in their ethnicity, which adds to the richness of culture and food in the city. The majority of my personal travel experience was in Georgetown on Penang island, but I realize there is a much larger city to explore.
Penang is a city for artists. It’s vibrant and full of color. From the stunning architecture to the creative street art to the colorful tiles, Penang is a treat for the eyes. Whether you are photographing with your iPhone, your DSLR, or your Instax, you are sure to take some great shots of Penang. Want to know some of my favorite can’t miss spots in Penang?
Armenian Park area
This little space of green is a great spot for starting a photo walk. Situated right at the intersection of Armenian Street and Acheh Street, no matter which way you walk, you’ll find all three of my favorite things [architecture, street art, and tiles]. The earlier the better is always best for walking through Georgetown. The weather is cooler and the crowds out snapping pics are much smaller. Especially if you are wanting photos with the interactive street art!
Once you finish walking Armenian Street, check out Victoria Street. Walking down this busy road will provide many sights to take in. But if you travel down any of the small roads off of Victoria Street, beautiful street art is waiting to be discovered! Victoria Street is also home to the best little art & handicraft shop I found while browsing Penang. Timura is full of unique, locally crafted items from jewelry, to tea cups, to t-shirts and more! More than a few of my favorite Penang take-homes came from this shop!
Hin Bus Depot
This repurposed bus depot turned art gallery is exactly as cool as it sounds. Actually this whole area is pretty stunning. The Bus Depot is definitely a destination not to be missed. The art gallery is small, but rich. Bricklin Coffee is a tasty spot to recharge while exploring the bus depot. Out behind the building are huge art displays and several shops selling everything gifts and handicrafts to keifer and vegan food. On Sundays, there’s a regular pop up market of artisans, which unfortunately I didn’t get to see, but hope to catch on a future trip.
Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion [Blue Mansion]
Penang’s UNESCO World Heritage Site status was awarded because of “its unique architectural and cultural townscape without parallel anywhere in East and Southeast Asia.” So many of Penang’s buildings are breathtaking and worth exploring. Many mansions & heritage homes offer tours or even hotel rooms for an overnight stay. We toured the Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion, also known as the Blue Mansion, and I’m so glad we did. There is a small entrance fee [15 Malaysian Ringgits] but it’s the worth the price of admission. I’ll be honest, I zoned out during the actual presentation part of the tour. I was in a large group, the tour leader was hard to hear, and really I was just there for the photos. I’m sure the building has a wonderful history and is full of rich stories. Which I can just read online. I was there to snap some pics. And it was stunning.
There’s so much to see and do in Penang, and I’m sure I’ll cover even more in upcoming blog posts. But for now, allow all these creative vibes inspire you to add Penang to your travel bucket list!