George Town, Penang’s state capital, has been known as a historically and culturally rich destination in Malaysia. And the good news is that visitors to the island state can have access to this wealth of experience for free! You just have to know where to look, and we’ve got just the tips for you.
The Taman Rimba Nature Walk is a great way to explore the variety of flora and fauna and trails leading deep into the jungle to experience the wonders of nature. Penang’s Taman Rimba is part of the greater Teluk Bahang Forest Reserve, bordering the lowland dipterocarp virgin forest reserve. This breezy Sunday morning walk takes place on the last Sunday of the month, and it’s totally free!
Time: 9.00 am-10.00 am
Date: Last Sunday of each month
Venue: Taman Rimba Teluk Bahang
Contact: +6012-4276251 or email@example.com
Walking among the dead
Learn about Penang’s colourful past with a tour of the serene Protestant Cemetery grounds near Upper Penang Road where some of the island’s key leaders have been laid to rest. The 45-minute afternoon tour takes participants to see the tombstones of Francis Light, his best friend and business partner, James Scott, and other notable figures who shaped the course of Penang’s history. Be sure to dress in covered clothes and use mosquito repellant.
Last Sunday of the month, 2 pm – 2:45 pm at the Protestant Cemetery
Tel: 604 264 2631
Every Sunday, a section of George Town’s World Heritage Core Zone goes car-free from 7 am to 1 pm. The “Occupy Beach Street” event takes over during these hours to provide family-friendly cultural, arts and heritage activities and entertainment such as historic building tours, street soccer, live music and food samplings. Cycle (bikes are available for rent), scoot or walk along Beach, Church and Bishop streets where many of Penang’s beautiful mansions, buildings and shop houses remain along the waterfront, perfect for admiring the island’s best architectural works – an eclectic mix of Southern Chinese, Early Straits, Art Deco and Early Modern styles.
Every Sunday, 7 am – 1 pm
Beach, Bishop and Church Streets
Tel: 017-420 7942
Facebook: Occupy Beach Street
George Town by Night
The guided Night Walking Tours introduce the town’s architectural and cultural wonders during the quieter moments of the evening. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is just as photogenic at night as it is in the daytime. The walking tours consist of different themes to suit your interest and will offer visitors a unique experience of Penang’s capital city by foot.
Date: Last Friday, Saturday and Sunday of the month
Time: 6:30pm – 8:30pm
Meeting Point: Main entrance of The Whiteaways Arcade
Free – prior registration required, for more information or register, please contact 012-4276251 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Water village tour
Stroll down the Clan Jetties situated along Weld Quay to see the old Chinese settlements along the waterfront. Over the years, the Chinese immigrants who made their living as fishermen had built their village seawards from Weld Quay and now their homes, literally on stilts, juxtapose neatly against modern-day Penang. This quiet Chinese water village gives visitors a glimpse into the lives of the old generation, and how they have come to adapt to a new Penang. Small cafes, food stalls and souvenir shops operate along the narrow village boardwalk.
Note: Though there are several clan jetties, the most popular and well-organised one for tourists to visit is the Chew Jetty.
Address: 59A, Chew Jetty, Weld Quay, 10300, Georgetown, Penang, Malaysia
Chew Siew Pheng +6013-4381217
Chew Lay Pheng +6016-4020411
Chew Yong Seng +6016-4561884
George Town Festival
Don’t miss the electric George Town Festival (GTF), a yearly celebration of Penang’s rich culture and heritage held some time in the third quarter of the year. This month-long celebration turns entire streets of Penang and iconic landmarks on the island into one huge outdoor stage. Expect art shows, theatre, music performances, talks and more. While some shows are ticketed, there are plenty made free to the public.
Annually in July, August or September
Note: The state’s tourism board, Penang Global Tourism (Tel: 604 264 3456), runs many free programmes – as well as others with nominal ticket fees — for the public on the last Friday, Saturday and Sunday of each month. It’s best to call ahead and reserve a place for any of the tours you intend to take. Contact the Penang Global Tourism Information Centre at 604 263 1166 for more details.