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7 Best Things of Chinatown Penang : Hidden Gems Explored!

lacamisa.my | November 5, 2023

Welcome to the vibrant and enchanting Chinatown Penang, a neighborhood that is rich in history, culture, and culinary delights. Nestled in the heart of George Town, the capital city of Penang, Chinatown is a bustling area that offers a unique blend of old-world charm and modern attractions.

Chinatown Penang
Chinatown Penang

As you step into Chinatown Penang, you will be greeted by a kaleidoscope of sights, sounds, and smells. The narrow streets are lined with colorful shophouses, adorned with intricate Chinese motifs and vibrant street art. The air is filled with the aroma of sizzling street food, enticing you to indulge in the local delicacies.

Chinatown Penang streets are being beautifully decorated with Chinese lanterns
Chinatown Penang streets are being beautifully decorated with Chinese lanterns

Chinatown Penang is not just a place to visit; it is an experience that will transport you back in time. With its rich heritage and diverse cultural influences, this neighborhood is a melting pot of Chinese, Malay, and Indian traditions.

In this guide, we will take you on a journey to explore the hidden gems of Chinatown Penang from many aspects which covers the street food scene, shopping options, cafes and restaurants, accommodation choices, and transportation tips. We will provide you with all the information you need to make the most of your visit to this captivating neighborhood.

History of Chinatown Penang

Chinatown Penang has a rich and vibrant history that dates back to the early days of the Chinese migration to the island. The original Chinatown was centered around China Street, which was designated as the area for Chinese migrants. From there, the Chinese community grew and expanded, giving rise to the bustling Chinatown we see today.

During the late 19th century, there was a massive influx of Chinese immigrants to Penang, particularly between 1884 and 1885. This led to the development of the New Chinatown, which became the hub for the Chinese population in Georgetown. The Chinese immigrants brought with them their culture, traditions, and businesses, shaping the unique character of Chinatown Penang.

Today, Chinatown Penang continues to thrive as a vibrant and bustling neighborhood. It is one of the popular destinations in Malaysia for both locals and tourists, offering a glimpse into the rich history and cultural diversity of Penang. Exploring Chinatown is like stepping back in time, where you can immerse yourself in the sights, sounds, and flavors of a bygone era.

Top Attractions in Chinatown Penang

Chinatown is a vibrant and bustling neighborhood that offers a plethora of attractions in Penang for visitors to explore. It offers a travel through time by visiting the historical sites and landmarks to keep visitors in awe.

Galeri Seni Mutiara

One of the top attractions in Chinatown Penang is Galeri Seni Mutiara, an art gallery that showcases the works of local artists. With its diverse collection of paintings, sculptures, and installations, this gallery is a must-visit for art enthusiasts.

Rainbow Skywalk and Observatory Deck

Another popular attraction in Chinatown Penang is the Rainbow Skywalk and Observatory Deck in the Top KOMTAR Penang. Located at a height of 64.385 feet, this glass-bottomed skywalk offers breathtaking views of the city skyline. Visitors can also stargaze at the observatory deck and learn about the constellations.


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Rainbow Skywalk. Source : tiktok @ lacamisa.my

Hainan Temple

For those interested in history and culture, a visit to the Hainan Temple is a must. This sacred and religious site is dedicated to the Hainanese patron deity, Tua Pek Kong. The temple’s intricate architecture and ornate decorations are a sight to behold. In addition to these attractions, Chinatown Penang is also home to several other noteworthy sites.

Chew Jetty

Visitors can explore the historic clan jetties, such as Chew Jetty, which offer a glimpse into the traditional way of life of the Chinese community. The bustling narrow streets of Chinatown are also worth exploring, with their picturesque old buildings and charming shops and restaurants.

Healing moments at Chew Jetty, Penang. Source: pinterest @ lacamisa.my

What’s the Best Street Food in Chinatown Penang?

One of the best things to do in Penang is exploring the vibrant street food scene in Chinatown. The area is known for its diverse culinary offerings, with a mix of Chinese, Malay, and Indian influences. From traditional hawker stalls to trendy food trucks, there is something to satisfy every palate.

Char Koay Teow

One must-try dish in Chinatown Penang is Char Koay Teow, a stir-fried noodle dish that is a favorite among locals and tourists alike. The dish is made with flat rice noodles, shrimp, bean sprouts, eggs, and a flavorful sauce. It is cooked over high heat in a large wok, giving it a smoky and slightly charred flavor.

Asam Laksa

Another popular street food in Chinatown Penang is Asam Laksa, a tangy and spicy noodle soup. The soup is made with tamarind, fish, and various herbs and spices, giving it a unique and refreshing taste. It is often garnished with fresh mint leaves, cucumber, and pineapple for added freshness.

Apam Balik

For those with a sweet tooth, Chinatown Penang offers a wide variety of desserts and snacks. One popular option is Apam Balik, a crispy pancake filled with sweet corn, peanuts, and sugar. Another must-try is Cendol, a refreshing dessert made with shaved ice, coconut milk, palm sugar, and green jelly noodles.

Shopping in Chinatown Penang

Chinatown Penang is a unique shopping zone that offers a wide range of goods and products where you can buy traditional Chinese costumes, jade jewelry, crystals, herbs, traditional Chinese medicines and many more. The streets are lined with shops and stalls selling these various items, making it a shopper’s paradise.

Local Delicacies

One of the highlights of shopping in Chinatown Penang is the opportunity to explore the local markets. The bustling marketplaces are filled with vendors selling fresh produce, spices, and local delicacies. You can immerse yourself in the vibrant atmosphere and experience the local culture while browsing through the colorful array of goods.

Souvenirs and Unique Handicrafts

If you’re looking for souvenirs or unique handicrafts, Chinatown Penang is the perfect place to find them. The shops in the area offer a wide selection of traditional crafts, including batik prints, handwoven textiles, and intricate wood carvings. These items make for great gifts or mementos of your visit to Penang.

Clothing and Accessories

In addition to traditional goods, Chinatown Penang also has modern shopping options. There are several boutique stores and trendy fashion outlets where you can find the latest clothing and accessories. Visitors can buy these traditional goods as souvenirs to their family and friends.

Cafes and Restaurants in Chinatown Penang

Chinatown Penang is a food lover’s paradise, offering a wide range of cafes and restaurants that provides traditional Malaysian cuisine or international dishes to suit your tastes and budgets.

Reggae Cafe

One popular cafe in Chinatown Penang is Reggae Cafe, known for its laid-back atmosphere and live music performances. This cozy spot is a great place to relax and enjoy a cup of coffee or indulge in some delicious snacks.

Kashmir Restaurant

Another must-visit restaurant is Kashmir Restaurant, which serves authentic Indian cuisine. With its flavorful curries, aromatic biryanis, and tandoori specialties, Kashmir Restaurant is a favorite among locals and tourists alike.

Burger Society

For burger lovers, Burger Society is a hidden gem in Chinatown Penang. This small eatery offers a variety of mouthwatering burgers made with fresh ingredients and unique flavor combinations.

Ho Ping Kopitiam

If you’re looking for a taste of local Penang cuisine, head to Ho Ping Kopitiam. This traditional coffee shop is famous for its Hainanese-style breakfast dishes, such as kaya toast, soft-boiled eggs, and fragrant coffee. It’s the perfect place to start your day with a hearty and authentic Malaysian breakfast.

Kebaya Dining Room, Tai Tong Restaurant, and Eighty Tree Cafe and many more!

In addition to these popular establishments, Chinatown Penang is also home to a diverse range of cafes and restaurants offering international cuisines. Some other notable dining spots in Chinatown Penang include Kebaya Dining Room, Tai Tong Restaurant, and Eighty Tree Cafe.

Best Accommodations in Penang

When visiting Chinatown Penang, finding the perfect accommodation is essential to ensure a comfortable and enjoyable stay. Fortunately, there are plenty of options available to suit every budget and preference.

Day & Night Guesthouse

Located in the vibrant heart of Chinatown, Day & Night Guesthouse has become a top pick for backpackers and those traveling on a budget. Catering to the needs of travelers who prioritize affordability without compromising on comfort, the guesthouse offers clean, well-maintained rooms that resonate with a warm and welcoming ambiance. The staff at Day & Night pride themselves on their hospitality, ensuring that guests have a memorable stay. With its prime location, guests are just steps away from the bustling streets of Chinatown, filled with local eateries, shops, and cultural landmarks.

The Heritage Inn Penang

Tucked amidst the lively lanes of Chinatown Penang, the Heritage Inn stands as a testament to both affordability and comfort. This budget hotel seamlessly blends the historic charm of its surroundings with modern conveniences to provide travelers with a memorable stay. Its rooms, though modestly priced, don’t compromise on comfort or cleanliness, ensuring guests feel relaxed and refreshed after a day of exploring.

One of the major highlights of The Heritage Inn is its proximity to the myriad of cultural attractions, street food vendors, and vibrant bazaars that Chinatown boasts. Coupled with the inn’s cordial staff, always eager to guide and assist, it’s no wonder that this establishment is a favored pick for budget-conscious travelers seeking an authentic Penang experience.

Eastern And Oriental Hotel

A beacon of luxury and heritage, the Eastern And Oriental Hotel stands as a testament to the colonial era’s grandeur. Overlooking the pristine waters, this renowned heritage hotel flawlessly combines colonial charm with modern-day amenities. Each room exudes elegance and sophistication, providing guests with an unparalleled experience of luxury. Beyond the rooms, the hotel boasts a range of top-tier facilities, including gourmet dining options, a world-class spa, and picturesque pools. For those seeking a taste of history with a touch of opulence, the Eastern And Oriental Hotel is the perfect choice.

Evergreen Laurel Hotel Penang

As one of Chinatown’s luxury gems, the Evergreen Laurel Hotel Penang promises an experience of sheer indulgence. From its impressive architecture to its plush interiors, every aspect of the hotel speaks volumes about its commitment to excellence. Guests can expect state-of-the-art facilities, ranging from lavish suites to a fully-equipped fitness center and spa. With its reputation for impeccable service and its array of dining options, the Evergreen Laurel Hotel Penang ensures that every guest’s stay is nothing short of extraordinary.

G Hotel Gurney

Epitomizing contemporary luxury, the G Hotel Gurney is a haven for those seeking a blend of style and comfort. With its sleek design and cutting-edge amenities, the hotel has established itself as a top choice among discerning travelers. The rooms, bathed in modern aesthetics, provide a tranquil retreat from the city’s hustle and bustle. On the premises, guests can indulge in gourmet dining, take a dip in the chic pool, or simply unwind at the upscale lounge. Situated in close proximity to Chinatown, the G Hotel Gurney offers a luxurious sanctuary amidst the city’s vibrant backdrop.

The Krystal Suites

For travelers who desire the spaciousness and homely feel of an apartment, The Krystal Suites is an ideal choice. Situated in close proximity to Chinatown, this accommodation option offers the perfect blend of location and comfort. Each suite is thoughtfully designed, boasting ample space and a modern aesthetic. With the added advantage of kitchen facilities, guests can enjoy the freedom to prepare their meals and live at their own pace.

Alora Hotel

Offering a modern touch to apartment-style accommodations, the Alora Hotel stands out for its comprehensive amenities and prime location near Chinatown. The apartments in this establishment are designed with a keen eye for detail, focusing on maximizing space and providing a cozy ambiance. Complete with fully-equipped kitchens, guests can indulge in the joy of home-cooked meals even while away from home.

In addition, the Alora Hotel boasts a range of facilities to cater to the diverse needs of its guests, from a fitness center to a kids’ play area. Whether it’s a family vacation or a long-term business trip, Alora Hotel ensures that every guest feels right at home.

Getting Around Chinatown Penang

Chinatown Penang is a compact area that can easily be explored on foot. The narrow streets and alleys are filled with interesting sights and attractions, making it a pleasure to wander around and discover hidden gems. However, if you prefer not to walk, there are several convenient transportation options available.

One of the best ways to get around Chinatown Penang is by using the local bus system. The Rapid Penang buses are affordable and reliable, with routes that cover most of the major attractions in the area. You can easily hop on a bus at one of the many bus stops located throughout Chinatown.

Another popular mode of transportation in Chinatown Penang is the trishaw. These colorful three-wheeled bicycles are a fun and unique way to explore the area. Trishaw rides are especially popular among tourists, as they offer a leisurely and nostalgic experience around Penang Street Art. You can negotiate the price with the trishaw driver before starting your ride. The price is ranging from RM30 to RM35 per ride.

Trishaw ride in which includes Chinatown Penang. Source : pinterest @lacamisa.my

For those who prefer a more private and convenient option, taxis and ride-sharing services are readily available in Chinatown Penang. Taxis can be hailed from the street or found at designated taxi stands, while ride-sharing services like Grab can be booked through a mobile app. Both options provide a comfortable and efficient way to get around the area.

If you’re feeling adventurous, you can also rent a bicycle or a scooter to explore Chinatown Penang at your own pace. There are several rental shops in the area where you can easily rent a bike or a scooter for a day or longer. This allows you to explore the hidden corners of Chinatown and venture further into the surrounding neighborhoods.

Visitors can rent bicycles or scooters to explore Chinatown Penang
Visitors can rent bicycles or scooters to explore Chinatown Penang

In conclusion, Chinatown Penang is a must-visit destination for those who want to experience the rich Chinese heritage and vibrant culture of Penang. Whether you’re a history buff, a food lover, a shopaholic, or simply looking for a unique travel experience, Chinatown Penang is of of the destinations must be included in your Penang travel itinerary. So, pack your bags and get ready to explore the hidden gems of Chinatown Penang!

About the Author

Misa @Lacamisa.my

As a local living in Malaysia, my passion lies in traversing this wonderful country, uncovering one destination after another. Traveling is more than a hobby for me; it's a journey into new cultures, traditions, and undiscovered corners. Another key part of my travels includes enjoying the culinary delights, ranging from simple street food to delicious dishes in upscale restaurants. My ultimate goal is to share these experiences with you by providing a comprehensive guide, complete resources and exclusive discounts for traveling in Malaysia. Stay tuned for more insights and stories as I continue to explore and share the wonders of Malaysia.

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