The Penang weekend trip recap of hawker food and street art

I’m back from a sweltering weekend trip up in Penang, Malaysia. Am also appropriately sun-burnt because I was too lazy to dig out my sunblock for the trip, ah well. The last time I was in Penang was a long, long, long time ago as a child with my family, so this quick little trip was like visiting a new place for me.

Penang is just over an hour’s flight away from Singapore, so it makes a very convenient weekend trip for the busy folk who can’t find much time to get away as it’s cheap to boot – I paid just S$113 for a round trip ticket via Tiger Air. I highly recommend popping up to Penang if you’re trying to figure out something more exciting to do on the weekend.

If you’ve been following me on Instagram, you’ll probably have seen the most updates so far, but here’s a quick peek at a couple of things I got up to in Penang.

Fabulous Food

Penang Food - Char Koay Teow
Ke Ai Char Koay Teow over at Lorong Selamat was very good, perhaps my favourite local dish of the trip

The food overall of course, was pretty good… It felt like we were constantly eating at every juncture! I love Singapore hawker food to bits, but Penang’s can definitely give it a run for its money. My favourite dish would probably be the famous Char Koay Teow, but most things we ate were pretty decent. We did a whole range from hawker centre food to English-style high tea at the Eastern and Oriental.

Read about all the amazing hawker food and more that we ate in Penang.

Cultural Stops

Penang Sights - Blue Mansion Juxaposition
Blue on blue on blue – outside Cheong Fatt Tze, also known as the Blue Mansion on a particularly hot day, with a modern blue building behind it. Via Instagram

Georgetown is where most of the action was, and it’s chockablock with streets of old shophouses in various states of derelict, while others have been transformed with a modern interior. You have temples, mosques, churches side by side, adjacent lanes with names like Chulia and Cannon and Cheong Fatt Tze.

Penang is a little unusual for Malaysia as it’s made up of 85% Chinese folk – the majority in Malaysia are the Malays – but lots of people there speak English, Chinese, Hokkien, Malay, and some of them a whole mixture of the lot. It’s true multiculturalism, like Singapore preaches and aspires towards, but from a more organic perspective.

Street Art Hunting

Penang Street Art - Trishaw Uncle Wall EZ
The sheer size of this artwork is what makes it awesome! This one is a little out of where the bulk of artworks are concentrated, facing a carpark.

In that strain of multiculturalism, it took a Lithuanian artist called Ernest Zacharevic to make street art a huge part of Penang, with various works scattered throughout Georgetown, but mostly concentrated near the Armenian Street area – not all the works are still there, given the transient nature of street art.

Also popular are iron structures commissioned by the Penang Tourism Board, which give some historical context to the places you find them in and are quite fun to stumble upon as well. The tourism board has a pretty detailed map on where you can find all these works of art.

A detailed guide on where to find street art in George Town, Penang

A guide I made on a subsequent trip on where to find street art outside the main George Town tourist areas

Penang Street Art - Bicycle Kids EZ
Managed to grab a pic with this fun artwork! The throngs of crowds surrounding it on the weekend was >_<

Penang makes me think about how Singapore must have looked in the 70s – freshly independent, looking to move forward in big ways. All the ‘retro-chic’ and ‘nostalgia’ that we yearn for and manufacture in Singapore these days is present here in a very real way. I think there’s big change in Penang’s future ahead, but how it happens is hard to tell right now; while I appreciate that the Singapore government had a Herculean task in making us the modern city we are today, I think we lost a lot of our culture and heritage along the way, so I hope Penang does a better job in preserving its unique culture than we did.

Looking for a place to stay? Here’s my review on the lovely Mango Tree Place in George Town.

Penang Mango Tree Place - Courtyard Swing
Thinking about the past in our lovely courtyard at Mango Tree Place. More on that coming up too.

Have you been to Penang? Tell me what about your favourite thing to do when you visit.

Looking for more inspiration? Here are more posts on Penang as well as other spots in Malaysia.

7 thoughts on “The Penang weekend trip recap of hawker food and street art”

    1. it is a really great place for a short weekend if you’re in the Asian region! i kinda love how the street art invites interactivity with it, everyone local and tourists aside had a lot of fun with them :)

  1. Jac, I could happily go to Penang just to eat. I remember wishing my appetite was bigger when I was there…though I made some great attempts to stretch it :) Also, sitting in Europe’s torture that is know as winter, I actually envy the sweltering heat!

    1. haha you totally have to go with friends. going on your own is torturous because you totally need to share food! i didn’t even eat all the highlights, still a lot left for me to go back for :)

      i now have a forehead that’s different colour from my cheeks, which given past experiences will start peeling soon. I’m not sure how much that is to envy haha!

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