Take a stroll through the heart of George Town and immerse yourself in the Asian cultural blend

GT-encens burnerThe “Street of Harmony”, a one-kilometer trail designed by the Penang Heritage Trust (PHT, Heritage guides of Penang) is a good place to begin to experience the religious and cultural coexistence of Georgetown.

You can follow the trail on your own with the very clear and informative map (World Heritage Site Map of George Town) published in October 08 by Areca Books, or ask for a guided tour at the PHT office (about 50RM/hour).

The trails leads you through narrow streets framed by buildings representing the major world religions – Mosques, Hindu, Taoist and Buddhist temples, Anglican and Catholic churches – and rows of old shop-houses. It also takes you through the different communities and trade quarters, some still existing and alive like Little India; or those immortalised through streets plaques: Armenian street, Chulia street, Aceh street… Two other self guided heritage trails are available; the Historic Enclave walk and the Colonial Heritage walk. Check at the PHT office or on their website for the guided tours available.

Have an architectural delight

GT-Sun Ya Sen houseMore than 2500 shophouses have been listed in the heart of George Town in the World Heritage survey. These double-storey terraced houses built from the mid-19th century until the 1970’s with continuous arcades, offer never-ending pleasure for architectural amateurs. You would not see the same shophouse twice; each of them is visual proof of Georgetown’s cultural diversity and tells a unique story of its inhabitants throughout the ages. After a 3-hour guided tour on architecture with Joann Khaw, a knowledgeable and friendly PHT guide, I could no longer walk the streets without hunting for architectural details: stepping backwards to have a large view of a peculiar house, crossing the streets to look at the carved motifs of one wooden door in the opposite row, searching for clues to guess who were the first residents of the house. The eclectic and unique styles of the shophouses invite the visitor into a never-ending discovery of Georgetown’s historical heart. Only the merciless heat of the sun and my stomach was able to stop me.

Take a ride on one of the 200 trishaws or becak left in George Town.

GT-becakYou will find them everywhere in the heart of GT.
You should first agree on your itinerary and the price (per hour or through a package) with the driver, then trust your driver and relax use you don’t need to watch your step.
Becak is still a major means of transport for many local people, especially the elderly who use them to get around inside the inner-city, or to carry their purchases home. You will probably notice that most becak drivers are old folks; some are even homeless, their becak is their only roof.
Your ride will contribute to preserve this environmentally-friendly form of transport and help the local community. The becak drivers started get organized a few years ago, with the support of Kopel, to be able to provide better services to tourists, and agreed on common prices that would be fair for both the driver as well as the tourist. You can download their becak trail map and check for historical information on the Kopel website at http://www.kopel.com.my

Contacts

Penang Heritage Trust , for Heritage guided tours of George Town 
Location : 26 Church Street, 10200 Penang.
For booking  contact Ms Magdeline
Tel: (+60) 4-264 2631 •  Fax: (+60)4-262 8421
E-mail: phtrust@streamyx.com  
Website: http://www.pht.org.my

Kopel, Koperasi Pelancongan Pulau Pinang Bhd
Location : 6, Jalan Kampung Kaka, 10200, Georgetown Penang
Tel: 04-250 5500/5502 | Fax:04-250 5501 |
Email: admin@kopel.com.my

Penang Tourism Information Center website http://www.tourismpenang.gov.my/page.cfm?name=ht02

Related posts

About George Town UNESCO Heritage site, check out this post
Where to stay, where to eat and more, check this post 

Written by Catherine Bossis , 23 Fev 2009
Permission granted to reproduce for personal use only.
Commercial use is prohibited.

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