Britain’s first ever Southeast Asian colony was once a hub for the trade of spices and pepper. Today, Penang stands proud as one of Malaysia’s most developed and economically advanced states....
Avoid the embarrassment and refrain from ordering a panang curry in Penang (note the different spelling - this is actually a Thai dish). Penang does, however, boast a few signature dishes of its own. Char koay teow, Penang laksa and nasi kandar are all delicious local dishes that can be easily found throughout the island. Penang is well known for its delicious street food, and there are dozens of streets where hawkers are king. So profound is the hawker culture of Penang that there even exists a Gurney Drive Hawker Centre - quite literally an entire open-air complex dedicated to hawker food. Be sure to try the rojak here, a delicious fruit and vegetable salad smothered in a shrimp and peanut paste. Local favourites mee goreng and mee rebus are served up in abundance throughout Penang; though there is a vast difference between the best and worst in town. Arguably the best mee goreng on the island can be found at an establishment by the name of Bangkok Lane Mee Goreng, located on the corner of Bangkok Lane and Burma Road. A delicious plate of mee goreng here will cost you no more than two dollars. Those who find themselves walking anywhere near the intersection of Burma and Penang Roads will quickly notice the multitude of people carrying bright red drinks. These enticing and slightly addictive iced beverages are known as ais tingkap, and are made up of basil seeds, coconut flesh, rose syrup, coconut water and shaved ice. Look out for the bright blue shopfront on Lebuh Tamil.
Market shoppers need look no further than the famous Batu Ferringhi Night Market, stretching from Golden Sands to Rasa Sayang on the northern coast of Penang. This sprawling market offers everything from replica fashion and accessories to pirated DVDs, handmade crafts and beyond. It’s also a great place to grab some of the island’s best street food. At the other end of the shopping spectrum is 1st Avenue Mall, a huge, ultra-modern shopping complex in the heart of Georgetown. Exemplary of Penang’s thriving shopping scene, this glistening mall is comprised of seven retail levels and an eighth level focussed on leisure and entertainment. Shopaholics will find nirvana here, with fashion, accessories, sporting goods, gifts, electronics, homeware, music, beauty and jewellery all thoroughly represented. Upscale shopping continues at Gurney Paragon Mall, situated on the popular waterside tourist strip of Gurney Drive. The mall is built around the historic St Joseph’s Noviate, one of Penang’s most impressive pieces of colonial architecture. Highlights of the precinct include a lifestyle mall bursting with fashion boutiques and specialty stores, and an outdoor dining strip offering a wealth of popular bars and casual dining opportunities.