During a recent Visa run to Penang, Malaysia, I quickly discovered how awesome George Town in Penang was, as a budget travel destination.
To be honest, I wasn’t expecting much and to my surprise, had a wonderful cheap exploration for a couple of days around this Malaysian UNESO world heritage town.
Top 5 Budget travel tips for things to do in George Town, Penang, Malaysia
I wanted to share with you a handful of my top 5 highlights worth exploring on your next visit to George Town, Penang, Malaysia. Great tips for those travelling on a budget and looking for things to do, enjoy the list!:
1. George Town, Penang is a paradise for Malaysian food lovers.
If you happen to be a fan of affordable South East Asian food, Penang is Malaysia’s food paradise location and you will be able to discover many of Malaysia’s top dishes by exploring George Town’s endless street food options.
If you are lost for choice, head straight to Red Garden, a Malaysian food paradise full of a wide selection of affordable Hawker stands, fit for any budget. Here you can truly dive into some Malaysian Classics.
Grab a table, walk around and pick up a selection of different Malaysian dishes to try. South East Asian food is best shared with friends (Can pick one 1/2 dishes each), this is a fun way to sample a lot of different dishes for affordable prices and have fun at the same time, great way to discover new Malaysian foods.
I went for a bowl of freshly prepared Lor Mee, which is a Chinese-inspired noodle dish served in a thick starchy gravy and thick flat yellow noodles with a selection of pork and shrimps. The thick gravy is made of corn starch, spices and eggs. The dish set me back only £2 and had everything in it to fuel me up after that long bus ride from Thailand, it was fantastic. Well worth a try.
For dessert I had to try a Malaysian classic ABC (Air Batu Campur) Which in Malay means “mixed ice”. You can find this dish all around Malaysia, Singapore and even Brunei too. It’s like a huge slush puppy in a bowl that’s then covered in Jelly, Beans, Syrup, nuts and evaporated milk. You can even put a scoop of ice cream on top as an added bonus, delicious!
Along Lebuh Chulia road you will find a large selection of street food vendors late at night after the street market gets packed down these food carts, pop out of nowhere as the sunsets and the smells start to sizzle.
Pull up a plastic stool, pop a packet of tissues on the table and order a bowl of tasty street food, it doesn’t get more Malaysian than this.
Many visitors will head to Lebuh Keng Kwee road to try the Penang Road famous Chendol (more about that later) but what many struggle to find is exactly next to here you can find my favorite Laksa stand in Penang.
Laksa is a must try dish if you ever happen to be visiting Malaysia, its a fusion dish of Chinese and Malay cuisine, a blend of sour and spice enthused into a coconut gravy with seafood and rice noodle which is interesting on the taste buds, its a roller-coaster journey of taste discover that you want to enjoy, buckle up and enjoy the ride.
This spot doesn’t have a shop front, chairs or a table for that matter, they simply have two hot pots to boil and a print out sign by the side of the road, its a must try if you are exploring George town and fancy a fun spot for lunch.
You can enjoy your Laksa dish either inside the cafe next to it (They charge a sitting fee) or ask the cook nicely if he wouldn’t mind moving his chopping board a little to make some room, pull up a stool and enjoy this authentic eating experience.
2. George Town Street art, an exploration of its own.
George Town is best explored on foot by walking around the back streets and getting lost, the best part about this fun mini adventure is George Town has a large collection of Street art on almost every corner, it turns into an open area art gallery, best of all its free to enjoy!
Many local and International artists have chosen the streets as their canvas and even on coffee shop walls you can find some interesting street art. Get lost, discover and see what you can find, here are a selection of my favorite finds:
(If you don’t fancy walking by foot, you can enjoy exploring Penang on a Rikshaw cycled by a local guide. This Street Art piece explores that popular cultural heritage aspect of Penang, be sure to grab one to see Penang in a different light.)
3. Modern, affordable guest houses to stay on a budget.
George Town has building restrictions due to its UNESCO status, this adds a fun element to the large selection of family run Guest houses that can be found around the area.
In terms of affordable Hostel style guest houses, I was a big fan of The Frame Guest house, a newly renovated Guest house which used to be a picture frame making shop, now its a modern, quirky guest house which was affordable, cozy, safe and modern, all I could ask for in an affordable accommodation option.
Be sure to check Frame Guest house out and remember guesthouses are rather small in George town, be sure to book in advance as the best guest houses fill up pretty quick due to their boutique size!
4. UNESCO streets worth discovering and roaming around.
One of my favorite reasons for falling in love with George Town is it’s UNESO world heritage status, it’s full of cultural heritage on every corner and you can truly spend a day or two roaming the streets, getting lost and discovering loads of hidden gems lurking on every corner.
George town is home to three cultures, Chinese, Malay and Indian who all bring their own cultural attributes to the town, Food, religion and culture can all be discovered in every corner and how well it all blends together to form this unique town in Malaysia.
I’ve always wondered what Kuala lumper or Singapore looked like historically back in time and as George town is so well protected you can still discover this glimpse into the old days of what it used to be like and that’s the sort of hidden gems I love to discover on my Travels.
This is the best way to explore George town, get lost and explore the back streets full of cultural heritage, lots to see and do and best of all walking is free!
5. Try a Malaysian favorite desert, Chendol
IF you ever visit Malaysia you have to try Chendol, a popular refreshing Malaysian desert that is perfect for the Malaysian heat and won’t break the bank either. In George Town, Penang you can find the most popular spot for a bowl of Chendol along Lebuh Keng Kwee road at the Penang Road famous Chendol cart, you can’t miss it, it often has a long line and is very popular.
This rich and sweet in flavor noodle desert dish with a mixture of beans and concentrated milk almost taste like ice flavored pop corn, it’s a unique dish and a must try on your visit to Penang, Malaysia.
(Here is a video of the Penang Road Famous Chendol spot)
**BOSNUS** 6. Penang, George Town Free 3D walking Map
This is a bonus tip I wanted to add to the end of my list of top 5 things to do on a budget in George Town, Penang. This was recommended to me by a reader on Twitter and I have to share this with you. I’m not one who usually pulls out a map in a new city, especially with all these amazing, smart phone apps we have out there, but this map was super awesome and will help you locate everything on the list above!
Best of all the Penang, George Town 3D walking map is free! You can pick up your copy from your guest house (The Frame Guest house has them) and you can explore George town easily, it even points out where the most popular street art spots can be found as well as many other attractions, mostly they are all free as well!
How long should you stay in George Town?
Penang Island has lots to explore, lets also not forget the island of Langkawi is located a very close boat ride away. In terms of George Town, Penang, one-two days would be enough time to explore and eat everything you wish to discover.
Have a fantastic time exploring George town, Penang, I hope you have found my list useful and please do share below with everyone any additional tips such as food spots or things of interest you enjoyed discovering, thank you for reading.