Subscribe      List an Event or Business      Invite a Writer      Write for WN      Writers      Other Locations      HubGarden      Recipes
1 million Australian readers every month      list your event

Best Free Activities in Georgetown

Home > Penang Island > Free | Fun Things To Do | Outdoor | Places of Interest | Unusual Things to do | Lists
by Rota (subscribe)
Still out and about
Published April 28th 2016
Keeping it Free in Georgetown
Best Free Activities in Georgetown

If you've never been to Georgetown before, it can be hard to imagine what it's like. The city doesn't have the usual modern cosmopolitan feel of a multicultural city. Instead, it has more traditional ways of manifesting the different demographics that make up the city.

One of the most notable of these is its surprisingly intact period architecture reflecting a commercial past where the Port of Georgetown was a pivotal location for trade in Asia.

best things to do in georgetown, penang island, malaysia, best free things to do in georgetown
Image credit: calflier001 distributed under CC BY-SA 2.0 license


Since that time modern-day features have interspersed the old buildings -but somehow managed to do so without detracting from the historic feel of the place.

Instead, the artwork that tips its hat to Penang Island's past, and the high-rises that were thankfully mostly relegated to the outer parts of the city, enhance the unique cultural fusion that makes this location so special.

Having so much inherent richness, there are lots of free ways to amuse yourself around the city on foot - just discovering it as you go. Here are a few of my favourite free ways to while away the day in Georgetown:

Discover Georgetown's Historic Buildings

Settlements have been present on Penang island since the 1700's and many of the old buildings still stand as dignified reminders of a preserved past. This has resulted in part of the city being listed as a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site.

best things to do in georgetown, penang island, malaysia, best free things to do in georgetown
Image Credit: Babified districuted under CC BY-SA 4.0 license


Some of the historic buildings that should be on your To-Visit list include the Queen Victoria Memorial Clocktower, and the Blue Mansion. The Blue Mansion (or Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion) is one of Georgetown's best-known historic houses, and has been featured in a number of films including the Oscar-winning French film 'Indochine'.

Pick up a map at your hotel to guide you to other buildings of interest, or use Google maps to explore the city. Making your way from one building to the next on foot is an easy way to see them - and everything in between - at your own pace, and at no cost to you.

best things to do in georgetown, penang island, malaysia, best free things to do in georgetown
Blue Mansion. Image Credit: Gryffindor distributed under CC-BY-SA-3.0 or CC BY 2.5 license


Self-Guided Street Art Tour

Georgetown's street art is one of the cities best attractions. You can find street art all over the city. It will often pop up in the most unexpected places - making it a perfect activity to do while on the way to other attractions. Much of the street art is life-sized while some of it is super-sized and covers the extent of one wall of a building, for example. Much of the art has themes and some of the pieces are world-famous. Take for instance the painting of Bruce Lee in flight that can be found just off the main drag.

best things to do in georgetown, penang island, malaysia, best free things to do in georgetown
Street art at Clan Jetty. Image Credit: DTW distributed under CC BY-SA 3.0 license


The most distinctive street art in Georgetown is really the wrought iron sculptures that are installed on so many of the cities building walls. These pieces of artwork are a series which was created as part of a competition held by the Penang State Government in their bid to brand Georgetown as a UNESCO World Heritage site. 'SCULPTUREATWORK' is responsible for this design concept which is called 'Voices from the People'.

Each of the wrought iron sculptures that are created in a black comic style relates humorously to a part of Georgetown's rich cultural history they also all have some form of caption that is also formed from the iron rods. There are in total over 50 of these wonderful wrought iron sculptures around the city.

One of the most notable of the series is devoted to Jimmy Choo - the world famous fashion designer - who was born in Georgetown and began his training as a shoemaker under his father while he lived there.

best things to do in georgetown, penang island, malaysia, best free things to do in georgetown
Street art adorns buildings. Image Credit: Airun79 distributed under CC BY-SA 4.0


Download your Georgetown Street Art Guide onto your phone and use it as your free guide.

Visit Religious Sites

Georgetown is full of the most interesting religious buildings Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam and Christianity is represented at various locations around the city.

St George's Church, for instance, was built by the East India company and remains the oldest Anglican church in South-East Asia.

Be sure to check out the Church of the Assumption and the Kapitan Keling Mosque which are close to the city centre. Do be aware, however, that if you wish to enter any of the religious buildings, you need to ask permission and should be dressed very modestly as required.

best things to do in georgetown, penang island, malaysia, best free things to do in georgetown
Image Credit: Gryffindor in Public domain via Wikimedia Commons


Another religious site to be sure to visit is Arulmigu Mahamariamman Temple in Georgetown's Little India. Also simply referred to as Sri Mahamariamman Temple, it has been around since 1833 and is the oldest Hindu temple on Penang island, and one of the oldest in Malaysia. It started off as a shrine but was enlarged into a fully-fledged temple in 1833.

best things to do in georgetown, penang island, malaysia, best free things to do in georgetown
Image credit: Gryffindor distributed under CC-BY-SA-3.0 or CC BY 2.5 license


The most distinctive feature has to be the characteristic rising tower (or gopuram) at the entrance representing the celestial mountains that hold the heavens up.

Visit Little India

Speaking of Little India, the Hindu temple is not the only attraction there. Little India is an area of Georgetown covering the space of a few streets in the centre of the most popular part of the city and as you enter the area, the contrast is unmistakeable.

Little India in Georgetown is like no other 'Little India' I have ever experienced. It floods you with the scent of incense, entices you with the drone of hypnotic Hindu prayer music and the sight of gaudy fabrics glinting in the hot Malaysian sun beckon you invitingly to each display.

best things to do in georgetown, penang island, malaysia, best free things to do in georgetown
Step into a little piece of India


Be assured you will find yourself jostled along the pavement-less streets - it's a great place to just roam - but there is lots of cheap, good Indian street food as well if you do decide to have a feed.

You can buy Indian groceries, get your eyebrows threaded, buy a sari or a Bollywood movie - or do none of that, and just drink in the sights.

best things to do in georgetown, penang island, malaysia, best free things to do in georgetown
Explore shops full of Indian jewellery



Explore The Bay

For a real self-directed ramble, consider taking half a day to explore the foreshore. Get public transport out to Gurney Plaza and try walking all the way back to Padang Kota Lama near Penang City Hall. Consider embarking on your walk in the afternoon when it has begun to cool a little.

best free things to do in Georgetown, penang island, free, Malaysia, Georgetown
Stroll along the picturesque foreshore


Take in the sights, pass by the locals fishermen and marvel at the unusual architecture of so many of the more modern buildings in this part of the city. Where Jalan Green Hall meets the coast, there are eateries with outdoor seating and great sea views for enjoying a meal after your long walk.

best things to do in georgetown, penang island, malaysia, best free things to do in georgetown
The Georgetown Cenotaph. Image Credit: calflier001 distributed under CC BY-SA 2.0 license


After a feed perhaps stop by the Georgetown Cenotaph or relax under the trees at Padang Kota Lama, watch the children at the playground and enjoy more of the sea breeze.


Have you had the pleasure of visiting Georgetown? Are you a Penang Island local? Which free activity in Georgetown is the best?Share your local knowledge in the comments.
Help us improve  Click here if you liked this article  50
Share: email  facebook  twitter
Why? Because you don't have to pay to enjoy in Georgetown
When: Daylight hours
Where: Various locations in Georgetown, Penang Island
Cost: Free
Your Comment
Popular Articles
Categories
Lists