If you’re planning to visit a city in Malaysia, George Town aka Penang’s city is the place to be.
The UNESCO world heritage site was not only touted by Forbes as one of “The 7 Best Places To Retire Around The World”, but was also recently ranked by Lonely Planet as the world’s 4th most charismatic city to visit in 2016.
Brett Atkinson of Lonely Planet described George Town as “the crucible of an artsy, modern Malaysia”. He said:
George Town might be widely known for its Unesco World Heritage-listed streetscape, but of late it’s also emerged as the crucible of an artsy, modern Malaysia.
“You’re likely to find funky street art amid the traditional Chinese shophouses these days, and versatile exhibition spaces showcasing avant garde art, film, music and dance are springing up left and right,” he added.
Atkinson further praised the city of its art communties by stating: “Throw in a few boutique guesthouses and you’ve got a recipe for one of Asia’s most inventive and diverse arts communities.” He believed that the “increasingly modern and arty” scene of the city would be “a fascinating counterpoint to its historical Unesco World heritage listed streetscape”.
The Lonely Planet writer applauded the city for its excellent street art scene that began in 2010 when the Penang state government supported Sculptureatwork studio’s installation of quirky steel artworks. He noted that initiatives such as the “Urban Xchange: Crossing Over” festival and the “George Town Festival” have helped inspired the creation of even more funky street art that further expanded the scene in following years by both local and international artists.
As we are living a nation that’s a melting pot of cultures, Atkinson encouraged those who are planning to visit George Town to explore the city’s “superb hawker food scene”.
Home to 5 distinct cuisines, George Town is Malaysia, and if not, Southeast Asia’s food capital. Atkinson revealed that some of the must-try dishes include tamarind-laced asam laksa and char kway teow noodles, which he described to be “the smokey, stir-fried goodness”.
The writer also recommended visitors to gain some classic restaurant experiences at places like Kebaya in Seven Terraces or join a market tour and cooking class at Nazlina Spice Station.
According to Lonely Planet, the top 3 cities to visit in 2016 are the coastal town of Kotor in Montenegro, Quito in Ecuador, and Dublin in Ireland. George Town was ranked above cities like Rotterdam in Netherlands and Mumbai in India.
Other go-to cities include Fremantle in Australia, Manchester in UK, Nashville in Tennessee, and Rome.