All about Georgetown Penang
George Town – Brief History
Georgetown is the capital of northern island state Penang in Peninsular Malaysia. The city was named after King George III of England and has more than 150,000 people. Georgetown is one of the most vibrant cities in the whole of Malaysia and it is one of the most historical where the inner city has been declared as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Georgetown is very much a city which have all the attractions that makes it a premier tourist destination which include a city landscape, natural attractions, history and cultural elements.
The town was first established by Captain Francis Light in 1786 who then arrived in Malaysian shores with the East India Company. This was where he set foot and made base when he set up Fort Cornwallis after obtaining the island from the Sultan of Kedah. He then developed the port to become one of the busiest port in the region. By 1804, rapid growth of the port brought more than almost 12,000 people to settle here. It also brought about foreign companies and financial institutions here which many are still operational until today. Among those who came here include the Netherlands Trading Society, the Hongkong & Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC), the Chartered Bank, Boustead & Co., Guthne & Co., Caldbeck & Macgregor and many others.
Besides being one of the most visited tourists landmarks of Malaysia, Georgetown has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in recognition of its rich historical architectural and cultural background. The award was given together with another historical state in Malaysia, Malacca. Apart from that, it was also voted by one of the best cities in Asia by Asiaweek where it was ranked 6th and 9th in 1998 and 2000 respectively. Georgetown remains as the main attraction for tourists both local and international as it has landmarks ranging from the beaches to the hills, food and cultural places as well.
In a recent survey conducted by ECA International, Penang was also voted as the 9th most liveable city in Asia among a list of other 254 cities worldwide. The Location Ratings Survey was conducted based on the living standards, air quality and health and housing facilities among others. Such is the recognition that Georgetown has garnered which have propelled its status as one of the premier tourist destinations in Malaysia. Furthermore, with their own international airport in nearby city Bayan Lepas, which helped to bring in millions of tourists each year.
- Getting in and getting around
Getting into Georgetown is easy as it is accessible through the North-South Expressway (PLUS) by road. You can practically drive into Georgetown from the mainland by using the Penang Bridge or by ferry service which will house your vehicle and alight at Weld Quay or Pengkalan Weld located on the east side. Otherwise, just hop on any express bus services from the new Terminal Bersepadu Selatan-Bandar Tasik Selatan and they will bring you into the town.
Otherwise, if you prefer, you can fly in through the Bayan Lepas International Airport. Daily flights are available through Air Asia or Firefly Airlines. However, once in Georgetown, if you are to rely on public transportation, it might be slightly challenging. Bus services are available from its main terminal at Komtar Building but you will need to know where you want to go or you might be taking the wrong bus. The safest bet to get around here is by taxis which could be quite costly. Tourists however might like to use the Trishaws which charge around RM30 per hour and bringing you to the famous and popular landmarks around Georgetown. There are also cars and motorbikes for rent which might be more affordable. However be cautious as the traffic in the city could be scary at times.
- Things to do in Georgetown
The most popular thing to do when in Georgetown apart from visiting the historical and cultural sites is to eat. This is because Penang prides itself as one of the states in Malaysia with the best food and Georgetown, being nucleus of the state makes it more accessible. So if you are in Georgetown, you must try out their specialties around here. The best place to go is Gurney Drive which is where you will find most, if not all the food from Penang congregating.
In most cases, people who come here for food would surely try out the Penang Fried Kuey Teow, the Penang Curry Mee, the Penang Laksa, the Penang Prawn Mee and of course the Penang Rojak as well. While Gurney Drive has most of all the mentioned dishes, it might not be the best as they mainly cater to tourists. Lorong Swatow in Jalan Burma is New World Park foodcourt is where you can find a wide range of food as well. Otherwise, New Lane is where you can go at night where the food is known to be very good as well. Otherwise, just inform the taxi driver or Trishaw peddler and they will bring you to the best food around.
- Attractions in Georgetown
As a main tourist attraction in Malaysia, Georgetown has almost a complete list of places which you can go to ranging from seaside resorts, natural parks, religious houses of worship, cultural attractions and many others. If you are into history and like its architecture and stories then Fort Cornwallis would be a good place to start. You can also go to Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion, the Municipal Council of Pulau Pinang Hall, the Leong San Tong Khoo Kongsi and others.
On certain religious dates, the religious houses of worships will be filled with devotees and this is where tourists would like to experience how people practice their faiths. You can go to the Dharmmikarama Burmese Buddhist Temple, the Kapitan Keling Mosque, the St. George’s Church or to Kek Lok Si which is a temple on a hill which one can view from the city itself. The steps leading up to the Kek Lok Si are filled with stalls and shops where you can buy souvenirs, goods and many other stuff for remembrance. A short drive away from Georgetown will bring you to Batu Feringghi which is where the seaside is. Here you will be able to enjoy the gushing waves and sea breeze while enjoying the nightlife of the city. There is also a night market here which sells imitation goods to souvenirs to clothing and such.
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