Ah, Georgetown! Frequented by foreigners on a Thai visa run, home to countless expats, and popular hang out spot for hippies with either really long beards or really long dreadlocks that can be wrapped into a turban…
I spent over a week in Georgetown, during which time I managed to eat far too many tandoori sets at Restoran Kapitan, and drink way too many mango lassis at Kassim Mustafa. I also made some time to visit the Temple of Supreme Bliss (the biggest Buddhist temple in Malaysia!), and the Weld Quay Clan Jetties where communities live on stilt houses above the sea.
A little rough around the edges, Georgetown is not a place I loved at first sight, but it eventually won me over with its amazing Indian food, friendly stray cats, tiny archways and uneven sidewalks.
Here are a few of my favourite photos from my time there:
Long past its glory days but still alluring! Much of Georgetown is painted in pastel colours that brighten up the town. The walls of many homes and storefronts reveal old layers of paint, while in other sections the plaster has completely come off to expose the bricks. The signs of age add a little charm to this place.
This photo goes to show that I am both travelling with a red haired giant and that Georgetown’s archways are made for someone who is, shall we say, petite. The thing with these arches is that they were probably the right height when they were built a few hundred years ago. However, as construction has taken place over the years, and people have tiled and re-tiled the area in front of their shops, many of the sidewalks have risen and the arches have lost their height. If you go to Georgetown, watch your head. ; )
An early morning breakfast (up before sunrise!) at a dim sum restaurant. The large white steamed buns are called ‘bao’, and come with various fillings such as barbecued pork, vegetables, sweet bean paste and yellow custard. This meal is best enjoyed with a big pot of Chinese tea. And the reason we were up for breakfast so early is because some restaurants only serve dim sum for a few hours in the morning; so if you show up too late, all the best dumplings are gone!
Wandering around town early in the morning I came across a stack of tables and chairs. Hawker food is big in this city and many street food vendors set up plastic tables so that their customers have somewhere to enjoy their meal. We were just a little too early for the action.
I made friends with lots of cats when I was in Georgetown. This city seems to have the friendliest stray felines. I would stop to scratch them for a few minutes, and often times I’d have a cat following me down the street for several blocks. This particular looker was often lurking around our hostel so I got to know him pretty well.
A blue bicycle leans against the wall of a home with pale blue doors. It is a common to sight to see people’s windows and doors open to allow a breeze to flow through their homes. Sometimes as you walk past you may see families watching TV, a man taking a nap, or children playing with their toys on the cool floor tiles.
Walking around Georgetown is a treat for the eyes because you just never know what you’re going to find. You may spot a Hindu temple with colorful deities next to a half burned down structure, and further down the street there may be a sketchy watering hole adjacent to a former colonial mansion turned 5* hotel.
That’s Georgetown in a nutshell. Still evolving and growing into a modern city, while trying to maintain its culture and history.
For more info on travel in Malaysia, you can check out my 1 month Malaysia travel itinerary.
What do you think?
Does it seem like the kind of place you’d want to visit?
You really captured the feeling of this lovely town in these photos! I’d love to go back there.
Thanks Sam! I hope you get to visit again sometime. In the meantime, enjoy South America!! 🙂
I just spent 10 days in Georgetown and it really is a pretty city! I didn’t have dim sum there, just stuffed my face with Indian food!
Isn’t the Indian food there amazing?! Between roti for breakfast and tandoori sets for lunch and dinner, there were days when I was eating Indian food 3 times a day! 😀 I just couldn’t get enough of it!
Beautiful photos. The cat picture is just precious. 🙂 I also love the picture of the tables and chairs. You have a great eye!
Thanks Amanda! That cat was a sweet one. 😉
Ah memories! It took me a couple of days to get to enjoy the city. A lot of sights and interesting areas are not obvious at first. I had the best Indian food ever in Georgetown, Little India really came alive in the evening. The “malls” were interesting too!
Haha, I did also spend quite a bit of time in their malls – mostly for the AC, and maybe ice cream. 😉
I had the same feelings when first visited Penanag, yet been there twice already; going to Sumatra, Indonesia and back.
I am RTW traveler for about 2 years now and Penanag’s transportation is wonderful, especially going to the airport (actually, all over the country).
I am still looking for a better place to stay in Penang and couldn’t find these beautiful dim sum of yours. Would be happy to get some tips. Thank you. Happy journeys:)
The dim sum places are often located down the side streets. Lebuh Cintra (the street) had a really good one that I went to a couple of times. Hopefully you can find it next time you’re there! 🙂
Great pics, Audrey. Love the Door in the last one. A “watch your head” photo with Sam is a nice subject showcase 🙂
I did not know there was a Georgetown in Malaysia! I was just in Georgetown in Guyana. Yours looks nicer. Great photos!
Ooo, what was Georgetown, Guyana like? I’ve heard of a few Georgetown’s around the world. Seems it’s a popular name. 😉
Can’t wait to visit Georgetown, even more now I’ve seen you pics!
Great! It really is a charming little place if you give it time. 😉
I never made it to Georgetown (though went to the one in Australia) and often got confused by it – it must be an old British settlement as the name just doesn’t suit being in Malaysia! You’ve intrigued me to visit it now! Cool photos! Jonny
I cannot blame you for gorging at Kapitan’s as we did the exact same thing! Their Indian food is seriously to die for (figuratively!), and in our 5 days in Georgetown, I think we ate there 3 times.
I agree that Georgetown doesn’t necessarily immediately charm—I personally found Melaka a lot more photogenic from the very start—but if you give yourself some time to really dig into the city, I think it definitely rewards you. Looks like you had a great time!
Kapitan’s was THE BEST! It’s one of the best Indian restaurants I have ever been to. There were day’s where I would eat roti (at a different place) for breakfast, and then go for tandoori sets at Kapitan’s for lunch AND dinner. Even with all the food options in the city, there were some days where I just couldn’t pull myself away. Haha
And I agree with you about Melaka being far more photogenic. That city wowed me from the start.
If you go to Hanoi, Vietnam, we found an AMAZING Indian place there. It’s definitely a bit of a splurge (in terms of Vietnam), but it was soooooo good we ate there two nights in a row. The place is called Namaste and I highly recommend it and wish I could go back and eat there right now!
I think I would love this place. I enjoy places that are a little rough around the edges. Question, though… did you ever feel unsafe?
Love the pic of the cat… his nose is so nice and pink!
that cat is sooo cute!
I love your pictures, especially the low archway one. It reminded me of Bolivia. I was close to serious concussion on so many occasions!
What a great set of pics that capture a little bit of everything about the town. Love it!
Lovely photos! I always make friends with stray cats as well, haha. I love anything Malaysia so I would love Georgetown. We never made it there on our last trips, but maybe we will next time!
Beautiful snapshots Audrey. Sam looks so funny though like a little poor lost boy 😛
We lived in Penang back in 2006 while Nicole went to university there. This brings back some great memories. I still have yet to find better tandoori chicken with garlic naan!
Fantastic photos, Audrey! Make me wants to start traveling around SE Asia. It looks like you’re enjoying your post-teaching life!
How utterly charming!
I love these large-format posts! From your description and images of Georgetown I think we’d get along very well.
thanks for the dimsum tip!! definitely going to chase street art in July!!
Lovin ur blog more and more!
Your photos always look so beautiful. I’d definitely want to visit there.
I’m a photographer and also work on Georgetown walls. I am taking photo every Saturday and Sunday. Are you in Penang yet?
Hi there, I’ve travelled through Penang twice before but I am not there at the moment.
Penang is an amazing place with food and picture. Trust me, even lousy camera take good photo over there.