An insider’s guide to Penang

Tips from a local


By Su Fen Tan

An insider’s guide to Penang


For char koay teow…

Lorong Selamat Char Kuey Teow | Kafe Heng Huat, 108, Lorong Selamat, 10400 George Town

It is most certainly popular for good reason. Despite the char koay teow lady’s notorious reputation for being snotty, both locals and tourists flock to her stall for a plate of tasty char koay teow. Top up a little for a generous serving of big, juicy prawns—it’s worth it! (This was also listed in our Buro City Guide: Penang!)


Siam Road Charcoal Char Koay Teow | Jalan Siam, 10400 George Town

Here, the uncle manning the stall cooks the dish on top of flaming charcoal, ensuring each plate of char koay teow comes with a pronounced accompanying wok hei. He fans the fire by hand while frying the noodles, so expect a bit of a wait, but it costs around half the price of the Lorong Selamat one.

For assam laksa…

One Corner Café | 4, Jalan Bawasah, 10050 George Town

This can be your one-stop spot for a variety of Penang food. Besides really good assam laksa, you can also get delicious koay teow thng, steamed yam cake and otak-otak here.


Pasar Air Itam Laksa | Jalan Pasar, 11500 Air Itam

The family-run business has been operating for over six decades, and it still attracts a big crowd everyday for its authentic assam laksa with thick broth and a generous serving of mackerel and vegetables.


Last but not least, don’t miss out on having a meal at:

Tek Sen Restaurant | 18 & 20, Lebuh Carnarvon, 10100 George Town

A hotspot for lunch and dinner, Tek Sen serves up a delicious variety of Chinese cuisine, including Cantonese, Teowchew and Hakka-style food. Best enjoyed when you’re in a group of family or friends, where you can order a few dishes to share for a hearty, satisfying meal. 



Mish Mash | 24, Jalan Muntri, 10200 George Town

In the middle of Muntri Street you’ll find Mish Mash, a place where you can get a coffee, tobacco or alcohol fix—but the cocktails here really seals the deal. Mixologist Ben Ng is a master at bespoke drink concoctions. 


Georgetown Wines | 19-19A, Leith Street, 10200 George Town

Formerly a stable converted into an elegant wine bar and restaurant, Georgetown Wines houses an extensive collection of Old and New World wines, ranging from established labels to artisanal boutique labels. 


Fresh coconut water at Lorong Abu Siti, 10400 George Town

For long hot days, which we get a lot, fresh coconut water is always a great thirst quencher and at this lane, you’ll find numerous vendors to choose from. 



Pinang Peranakan Mansion | 29, Church Street, 10200 George Town

Immerse in the interesting history and beauty of Peranakan culture in this restored 19th-century mansion. A typical home of a rich Baba is recreated here, offering a glimpse into their opulent lifestyle as well as customs and traditions. The design and architecture alone are worth the visit.


Clan Jetties of Penang | Pengkalan Weld, 10300 George Town

Part of the Penang Heritage Trail, the Clan Jetties are Chinese settlements that have been around since the 19th century—and the clans still reside in this unique water village. Chew Jetty is the most popular jetty for its photo-friendly stilt-houses and long walkway.


Also recommended – take a walk around the streets in the heritage zone, namely Muntri Street, Armenian Street and Chulia Street.



For traditional biscuits and pastries, stop by:

Him Heang | 162, Jalan Burma, 10500 George Town

Ban Heang | 200, Macalister Road, 10400 George Town

Ming Xiang Tai | 133, Jalan Burma, 10050 George Town


Appelles Apothecary @ The Edison George Town

This is an Australian premium skincare brand that uses the finest natural extracts and essential oil in their products—The Edison George Town is the only place in Malaysia that retails them.


Chowrasta Market | Lebuh Tamil, 10100 George Town

Drop by Chowrasta Market for some nutmeg snacks, traditional sweets and other similar local tidbits to bring home. 


Related stories:

Buro City Guide: Penang

24 Questions with Dato’ Nicol David on her hometown Penang


An interview with Rina Teoh, Executive Director of The Edison George Town

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