The UNESCO World Heritage site may seem like a backpacker's dream, but there is plenty to do for the lifestyle traveller too.

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Georgetown is the historical heart of Penang, but even here change is afoot. From specialty coffee and elevated Peranakan fine dining to curated retail experiences, there are lots to see, tasteand do.

Fine Dining and Hawker Highlights

No trip to Georgetown is complete without a feast at the local institution Tek Sen which has been dishing out Chinese food since 1965. They have expanded and renovated in recent years, with a convenient English-language menu and friendly staff, but the unchanged recipes remain a draw for both locals and visitors. Roll up your sleeves and huddle over pots of herbal chicken broth, chilli padi stir-fried pork, steamed garoupa in tamarind sauce and more. Come early or you’ll be hard-pressed to find a table.

Equally unmissable, however, is the upscale Peranakan fine dining establishment Kebaya of Seven Terraces boutique hotel, it is housed in a breathtakingly restored property comprising of a row of seven 19th century Anglo-Chinese houses. Among the beautiful wood and tilework, order from a four-course set dinner of Straits Chinese dishes like the Peranakan otak otak (a traditional steamed fish custard), crispy joo char roll (Vietnamese rice roll) and Thai soft shell crab salad. Don’t forget to begin (or end) the night at the colonial-chic lobby bar Bababar right next door to the dining room too.

For something more mid-range, but equally stylish, try the high-ceilinged, brick-walled Georgetown Winesan atmospheric bistro and lounge. Choose from an unexpectedly lengthy selection of both Old and New World wines, along with an eclectic but mostly Mediterranean-inspired menu of  pastas, seafood, grilled steaks and some upscale bar bites like pulled pork sliders, cold cut platters and crostini.

Tek Sen

Shaken, Stirred & Brewed

Penang’s growing bar scene also offers some exciting new options. The year-old Mish Mash is routinely packed from dinner until late, thanks in no small part to its meticulously mixed classic cocktails like the Negroni, Moscow Mule and margarita, along with a great selection of fine whiskies, bourbons and other spirits. On the signature cocktail menu are interesting concoctions like the Raging Beast,- a combination of dark chocolate, milk froth, spice reduction and Scottish peat smoke. Cigar lovers will also be impressed with what the owner has in store.

If coffee is your preference, don’t miss a visit to Awesome Canteen, the Georgetown offshoot of the famous KL coffee shop. Along with Paleo-inspired burgers, sandwiches and cakes, they offer coffees made from specialty beans, all in a dizzyingly Instagram-worthy restored warehouse flooded with natural light and peppered with indoor trees.

Awesome Canteen

Style and Souvenirs

On the last Sunday of every month, Upper Penang Road transforms into Little Penang Street Market, home to over 70 pop-up stalls selling an assortment of goods like handmade jewellery, embroidered kebayas and wood carvings. Apart from enjoying food and crafts, expect an artsy vibe with live music performances, poetry readings and photo exhibitions.

For a more stylish and curated shopping experience, visit two famous establishments on the famous Armenian Street Bon Ton The Shop and China Joe’s. Offshoots of the exceedingly tasteful China House art space, restaurant and residences nearby, the two shops sell everything from homewares and cookbooks to specialty stationery and Malaysian batik.

Can't wait to discover Penang? Book a luxurious, sea-facing stay at PARKROYAL Penang Resort, just a 40-minute drive to Georgetown, on your next visit. For more local recommendations on where to eat, drink and explore around the region, check out PARKROYAL Hotels & Resorts' blog.


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