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George Town, Penang, is a small, historic town and has a charming little vibe to it. Apparently, people come to George Town to eat as it is renowned for its cuisine.
I can’t say this has been my experience as most of the food here didn’t cause me any great memories like in other cities, but maybe I just haven’t found the right places. It also didn’t help that I developed a flu-like bug on my last night in Penang (which stayed with me for several days after having a chicken curry in George Town).
George Town is incredibly easy to navigate with excellent transportation options available. When arriving at the airport, I highly recommend taking bus #401 (right across from the airport) if you are staying in the old town area as the bus is cheap and makes many stops across from hotels and central areas (much better than paying 47 MYR or $16 CDN).
There are also free CAT buses that do a bit of a ring road around George Town and key areas.
You can get free maps just about anywhere and George Town is really easy to navigate on foot. Nothing is more than a 30 minute walk away.
I need to discuss the awesome maps that are available. There’s the general map of the area highlighting key sites, districts, bus routes, etc. The Standard.
But there are also free tailored maps (found in any hotel lobby or tourist info centre) that show the key street foods to try at specific street food stalls or restaurants; or a map that highlights where all of George Town’s famous street art can be found. It is worth picking up more than one map as they are not all the same.
Let’s get down to business. Street art business.
One of the things George Town is renowned for is its street art, which was commissioned and endorsed by state government. People have written guide books about it and even turned the artwork into iPhone cases. Some of the art incorporates 3D elements – for example, there might be an image of children on a bicycle painted on a wall with a real bicycle affixed to the wall. There are hundreds of pieces, with new ones cropping up regularly.
The street map pinpointing all the artwork is extremely helpful as it is easy to miss it when it sometimes gets hidden by the hustle and bustle of Penang.
There are trickshaws you can rent to do the street art tour and the “driver” will point out the art for you. The street art is also primarily localized to just a couple of blocks, so it is also really easy to do on foot (and also free!).
These are some of my favorite pieces street art: