Street Food, Art and History in Penang’s Culture Capital

Because of its easy mix of the archaic and modern, the Malaysian island of Penang has been described by expats as stepping back in time with all the benefits of modern comforts. Here 21-century conveniences abound, but this multi-cultural island holds onto enough of its Old-World, Asian charm to make it a real haven for those eager to experience new cultures and traditions.

In Penang’s largest city, George Town (as seen in the slideshow below), you’ll find eclectic architecture, a vibrant art scene, and the best street food in the world.

Penang’s rich cultural heritage is evident in the city’s eclectic mix of British Colonial buildings (like the town hall pictured), Chinese mansions and temples, Indian mosques, as well as Siamese and Burmese temples. Pinang Peranakan Mansion is one of a number of lavish Chinese mansions dotted around Penang. The Peranakan (wealthy descendants of Chinese immigrants) created their own extravagant culture heavily influenced by both Malaysian and British culture, as well as their Chinese heritage. Located in the heart of George Town is a small slice of Indian life spread across three streets known as Little India. A great spot for shopping and dining, here you’ll find authentic Indian food, clothing, and culture.     In Penang, eating is all about cheap, local food stalls. Street food will never costs more than $5 and you’ll fill up on tasty family dishes perfected over decades. The only problem will be deciding what to try first. George Town is famous for clever and provocative street art, the most well-known being that of Lithuanian-born artist Ernest Zacharevic. His mixed-media portrayals of everyday Malaysian life are famous the world over and have become cultural landmarks in George Town. Restoran Kimberly is famous for its legendary Duck Kway Chap, a broth and noodle dish bursting with flavor. There’s usually a large queue—sometimes up to 50 people—but at $1.98 for a delicious and filling meal, you won’t regret waiting.
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Pinang Peranakan Mansion is one of a number of lavish Chinese mansions dotted around Penang. The Peranakan (wealthy descendants of Chinese immigrants) created their own extravagant culture heavily influenced by both Malaysian and British culture, as well as their Chinese heritage.

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