When you talk to someone familiar with visiting Malaysia, the first thing to come out of their mouth is often: “Are you going to Penang?” In saying this, they are referring usually to the city of Georgetown on the island of Penang. But is Georgetown Penang worth visiting?
To be honest I was SO excited to see this vibrant town. Sadly, it was nothing but a let-down. Georgetown was let on to be a small, adorable island town. Surrounded by the sea, beautiful beaches, and nature. Sadly, it is anything but.
Lack of Nature
Georgetown is rather a more commercialized, large, busy city type of vibe. Which can be nice at times. However, not when you are expecting it to have a relaxed, chill island vibe.
I visited in December when it was supposed to be the perfect season. I suppose it was the good season given it was sunny all day with no rain. But it was also one of the muggiest, most humid cities I have ever been in. And that’s coming from a girl who has visited many cities with over 90% humidity in their hottest weather. Somehow, this was different. Walking around the city during the day was near impossible to enjoy. Especially since there were no beaches within walking distance to jump into to cool yourself off.
Although this lack of nature was my biggest issue of Georgetown, there were a couple of other things I was very excited for that also ended up being a little disappointing. For those of you reading who have heard of Georgetown Penang before, you will likely know these two things that people talk highly about. The cool street art and deliciously cheap street food. The street art can be found all around the city and the street food can be found mostly on Chulia street.
Disappointing Street Art
Due to the blistering heat and constant melting when you step outside, it is a little difficult to enjoy walking around to see the street art. And when you do see the pieces they are quite small and worn away. Perhaps I might be a little spoiled when it comes to street art. Check out my Sao Paulo post to see some of their street art which is said to be some of the best in the world.
Minimal Street Food
Lastly, since so many people were raving about the street food in Georgetown I couldn’t wait to try it for dinner. Maybe once again I’m spoiled by all of the amazing markets I have experienced in Asia, but this just didn’t compare at all. There may be a total of 2 blocks worth of food on just one side of the quite heavily trafficked road. And for a vegetarian the only options seemed to be either a veggie kebab for a somewhat hefty price of 10 MYR (which, I know is only $3 CAD, but still expensive for what is supposed to be a cheap Malaysian dinner), or vegetarian noodles which really weren’t all that great.
Of course this is just my personal opinion, and I am sure that others did enjoy Penang. However, if you are like me and love nature: beaches, mountains, hiking, biking, etc. then do yourself a favour and visit the other side of the island where all of that is in full force.
Is it Worth it?
So is Georgetown Penang worth visiting? Sadly I do not think so. Not everywhere you go is a place that you think is worthwhile. For me that was Georgetown, whereas others might seriously love it. It all depends what kind of a person you are. But if you are like me and not a big fan of cities I can safely say you won’t be sorry if you skip Georgetown in your future Malaysian travels.
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