Georgetown Tourist Attractions and Sightseeing
(Georgetown, Penang, Malaysia)
The heart of Georgetown is its old colonial district, which runs back from the seacoast and the city's port. Now a UNESCO World Heritage site, the area contains quality tourist attractions and prime examples of Straits colonial architecture in the Georgian style, as well as fine Chinese traditional buildings and temples.
In the port area is Georgetown's original 18th-century Fort Cornwallis, which is also used to house events from time to time. Along the north shore are more notable buildings and houses of worship, including Hindu and Muslim temples and mosques. Specific attractions include Suffolk House, the Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion and Chinatown.
Walking Tours / Heritage Trail
Address: Georgetown, Malaysia, MY
Penang contains a wealth of colonial architecture, and Georgetown is no exception to this, being filled with attractive buildings, many of which line the waterfront. Various walking tours are available, with Fort Cornwallis
being a good place to start your exploration. The most significant buildings feature informative plaques and descriptions outside, providing a little history as you walk. Official 'Heritage Trail' walking tours are available and these take in sights such as Chinatown's innumerable mosques and temples. A leaflet detailing the best routes can be picked up at the outlet for the Penang Heritage Trust, on the Lebuh Gereja.
A particularly popular self-guided tour begins at the Penang State Museum
, and then passes the Supreme Court, the City Hall, the Town Hall, and the Pinang Peranakan Mansion, before reaching the Little India neighbourhood, which is a good place to stop off for lunch. From here, head along the Lebuh Pitt to the Khoo Kongsi Clan House
, the Acheen Street Mosque, the Hindu Sri Mariamman Temple and then Pitt Street Corner. As you explore these attractions, do allow time to check out the interesting side streets and their shops.
Open hours: daily
Address: 250 Jalan Air Itam, Georgetown, Malaysia, MY
Tel: +60 04 228 1109
This elegant 19th-century mansion was the home of the founder of Georgetown, Captain Francis Light, who established the colony and originated from Suffolk in England
. The house later became the official residence of several Penang governors. Suffolk House is to be found just over 6 km / 4 miles to the west of the city centre, next to the Air Itam River, and boasts an imposing Anglo-Indian style facade. During the 1970s, the future of the house looked uncertain and it was closed due to being in such a poor state of repair, and potentially unsafe. Today, the colonnaded exterior, the interior and the landscaped gardens have all been magnificently restored to their original condition, thanks to the work of the Penang Heritage Trust.
Open hours: daily - 10:00 to 19:00
Address: Lebuh Light, Padang Kota Lama, Georgetown, Malaysia, MY
Tel: +60 04 261 0262
Constructed on its present site in 1810, Fort Cornwallis is named after Charles Cornwallis, an 18th-century Governor-General of Bengal in India. The original defensive walls were laid out in a star shape to improve the fields of gunfire, and they are all that remains nowadays, with the exception of a gunpowder magazine, a few cannons and a little chapel. The views across the ocean are spectacular, though, and the sense of history is impressive. Noteworthy attractions include the statue of Captain Light, the chapel on the south-western side of the fortress, and the huge 400-year-old Seri Rambai cannon.
Open hours: daily - 09:00 to 18:30
Admission: charge, discounts for children
St. George's Church and the Cathedral of the Assumption
Address: Lebuh Farquhar, Georgetown, Malaysia, MY
Tel: +60 04 261 2739
This lovely old church was built in 1818 using convict labour and is now the most historic Anglican Christian church in the whole of South-East Asia. A memorial to Francis Light, designed as a Greek temple, stands in the grounds of the church. Close by and also located on the Lebur Farquhar is the equally impressive Cathedral of the Assumption, a further religious attraction named after the feast day when its Catholic community arrived in the city, travelling from Kedah.
Open hours: daily - 09:00 to 17:00
Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion
Address: Lebuh Leith, Georgetown, Malaysia, MY
Tel: +60 04 262 0006
This magnificent example of a traditional Chinese mansion is one of only three such buildings outside of China and dates from the 1880s. Beautifully preserved and furnished, it shows the pinnacle of 18th- / 19th-century Chinese architectural styles, whilst being successfully combined with a noticeable Western flavour. The well-heeled tourist can stay here, too, as part of the mansion now functions as a very upscale and exclusive hotel.
Open hours: daily - guided tours, 11:00 and 15:00
Admission: charge for guided tours
Address: Weld Quay, Georgetown, Malaysia, MY
The eight picturesque Clan Jetties are home to fisherfolk who live in stilted houses built out over the water, linked by a wooden walkway. These settlements have been occupied since the 19th century and are some of the remaining links to the city's colourful history, adding much character to the Weld Quay area.
Open hours: daily
Town Hall and City Hall
Address: The Esplanade, Georgetown, Malaysia, MY
The Georgetown Town Hall and City Hall are without question two of the city's most important attractions and both come with ornate porticos and arresting architecture. Built in the 1880s, the Town Hall (previously known as the Ang Moh Kong Kuan - White Man's Club) is now the oldest municipal building in the state and boasts a spacious ballroom, where regular local events and exhibitions are staged. Nearby, the City Hall is now home to the local municipality offices and meeting room. This imposing, gleaming white colonial building was constructed in 1903 at enormous cost.
Open hours: daily
Chinatown and Little India
Address: Chinatown, Georgetown, Malaysia, MY
The lively Chinatown district lies on the southern side of the city, roughly in between the Jalan Panang and the Lebuh Pantai roads, radiating outwards from the Lebuh Chulia. Many interesting attractions reside within Chinatown, such as the Chinese Assembly Halls, a myriad of Chinese tea shops and many excellent oriental restaurants. Take a stroll around Chinatown, check out the markets, enjoy some noodles and pick up an oriental souvenir or two. Little India is also located in this part of Georgetown and is known for its forceful shopkeepers, plentiful saris and typically spicy Indian food.
Open hours: daily
More information about Penang tourist attractions