The past few weeks have been crazy at work, with The Hubs working late even on his birthday. Thankfully, things cleared up a little last week, and on a whim we decided to skip out of town for a long weekend. We bought our tickets on Wednesday and flew off to Penang on Friday.
We chose to spend our entire weekend in Georgetown and loved every minute of it. Georgetown was listed by UNESCO in 2008 as a World Heritage Site, and is known for its well-preserved shophouses and buildings, with some dating back to the 1930s. The town has a lovely old world charm to it, and is reminiscent of Singapore in the 1960s and 1970s.
More detailed posts to follow but here are my top picks on what to do if you have a couple of days in Georgetown.
1. Stay in a heritage boutique hotel
Georgetown holds the largest number of pre-war buildings in Southeast Asia, and many of the old shophouses have been lovingly refurbished into luxury boutique hotels. We stayed in Hotel Penaga – a gorgeous boutique hotel that was converted from 2 rows of dilapidated shophouses. The rooms were beautifully decorated with a mix of antiques and modern amenities like a jacuzzi bathtub, and service was excellent.
2. Go on a heritage trail
Georgetown is easy to explore on foot. Pick up a tourist map, put on your walking shoes and have fun discovering historical buildings, quaint shops and friendly locals. Be sure to pop by the Cheong Fatt Sze Mansion or The Blue Mansion – voted one of the ten greatest mansions in the world by Lonely Planet. The house fell to ruins in the 1990s and it took 6 long years to painstakingly restore the building to its former glory. English guided tours are available every day but if you can, go by on Fridays. The 11 am and 1.30pm tours are led by one of the owners who bought over the house, and she tells the story of the house with such incredible passion.
Penang is well-known for its delicious hawker food. You cannot visit Penang without making food a key part of your itinerary. Food is cheap and good in most places. Penangites are fussy eaters, and if you serve a bad meal, you can be sure your restaurant won’t be able to last for long. We threw our healthy eating habits out of the window and indulged in char kway teow, lor ba and everything else Penang is famous for. Yumz!
4. Have a cuppa and relax
Charming, quirky Indie cafes are popping up all over Georgetown. Housed in refurbished shophouses, these cafes are lovely places to while away the afternoon and escape from the heat. Bring along a book, sit back and relax with a cup of coffee in your hand. There’s no rush in Geogetown. Shops don’t open till noon, and there’s a wonderful laid back vibe to the whole place.