48 Hours in Penang

In Front of China House, Georgetown

In Front of China House, Georgetown (photo cred to Stephanie Wolfe)


I got two things out of this weekend: enough data to write a dissertation on the flaws of the Malaysian transportation system, and a crash course on Georgetown, the UNESCO World-Heritage Site and hipster mecca of Malaysia.

Bus gripes aside, I highly recommend the trip. Aside from a great many hipster-lovely cafes, bars, and restaurants, Penang is known as the hawker stall capital of Malaysia, ergo the street food capital of the world. I put this title to the test by eating approximately eight times a day, schedule (proof) as follows;


5 A.M. Arrive in Butterworth (on the mainland). Settle in for some spicy Char Kuey Teow, flat rice noodles charred in a super heated wok with bean sprouts, prawns, and cockles, at a street side stall.

6 A.M. Catch the first ferry to the island. At 1.20 RM, it’s a bargain with a lovely breeze and some interesting art nouveau wrought iron.

7 A.M. Roti Channai or Cheese Naan at a 24-Hour Indian joint, of which there are several.

7:30 A.M. Check in at hostel, breathe deeply

9:30 A.M. Tea break. It’s hot out already!

10 A.M. City tour – 18th century shop houses, historic forts, and excellent street art. Something for everybody, and all in walking distance.

1 P.M. Lunch and Syphon Coffee, a.k.a. “the good stuff” at Coffee Lane on King Street.

2 P.M. City Tour Continues, naps are had. Temperature: 100 Degrees. Shade: None.

4:30 P.M. Tour of the spectacular Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion and subsequent high tea of Laksa Penang (thick rice noodles topped with a fish broth unique to the island) and different kinds of Kuih, Malay desserts, inside said spectacular mansion. Both the classiest and the most relaxing part of the weekend.

6:30 P.M. Exploring Little India

7:30 P.M. Tea break at Tang, in Little India

8:30 P.M. Nasi Kandar/Nasi Briyani at Kapitan, on Jalan Chulia. Excellent Naan and unbeatable Tandoori chicken with friends.

1 A.M. Late-night mango lassi and french fries. Possibly the best thing I ate all day, I am ashamed to admit.


8 A.M. Get lost trying to find a famous kopitiam, end up somewhere else. Coffee and toast with the locals = 3 RM.

9 A.M.  Shopping. Don’t miss HS Sam’s Bookstore on Chulia Street.

11:30 A.M. Tea Break. In case you hadn’t guessed, it’s hot hot hot outside.

1 P.M. Lunch at the Tan Clan Jetty. Follow the stilts out onto the water to a little Thai place with great ocean views and better fried rice.

2 P.M. Indulge one’s stomach cramps.

5 P.M. Massage and or a pint on Upper Penang Road

6 P.M. Gelato @ Maxim’s

6:30 P.M. Nasi Kandar at the famous Line Clear, assumed to be so named because the line could go clear out the door. This will serve to finally clear up what the heck Nasi Kandar is. Basically, yellow rice with your choice of a gazillion curries piled on top.

12 A.M. Cheese Naan at Kapitan’s. Worth the three-peat.


China House: Cakes, Food & Atmosphere on Lebuh Pantai