Updated: Apr 26
I love travelling …….. and eating, but what I don’t often share is that I am also fascinated by history. I am not huge fan of the typical ‘ beach holiday’. I love cities with history, and local heritage, the blueprint of human development.
One of my favourite destinations in South East Asia is Georgetown on the island of Penang. Penang was an important and integral part of British Malaya (modern Singapore and Malaysia under British control) and Georgetown has several landmarks relating back to it’s British history
Here is my suggestion for a 3-day itinerary when visiting Penang. These are very personal recommendations, not a paid advertisement. It might not be perfect for everyone but if you like vegan food, history, a bit of walking and relaxing I hope you will get inspired.
You can follow my itinerary or just pick individual activities.
My favourite accommodation in Penang, which I always go to is the Eastern & Oriental hotel – an older sister of Raffles Hotel in Singapore. A spectacular colonial hotel offering luxury accommodation facing the sea (I think every room has a sea view) – with very romantic views in the evening.
The hotel has a modern gym overlooking the Andaman Sea (it’s not very big but covers all your basic exercise needs ) and great infinity swimming pool.
If you choose a room at Victory Annexe you will stay in a suite with standalone bath, 2 vanity sinks and plenty of colonial charm.
There is a huge breakfast buffet, where you can several vegan options (fruits, salads, Indian station, baked beans, mushrooms, tomatoes) but also on request you can get vegan noodles.
Eastern Oriental is conveniently located within walking distance of Georgetown UNESCO Heritage site.
For the first day I would recommend a walk towards the Heritage Side, start with a visit St George’s church, the oldest Anglican Church in South East Asia. Follow this by Goddess of Mercy Temple and you definitely need to stop by at the Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion. It’s an iconic blue mansion, home of a former Malaya billionaire. It will help you to get the colonial vibe of Georgetown.
You need to also take a walk down Love Lane, a charming little street (formerly a brothel street) full of mural street arts and hipster bars and cafes.
That will be perfect time for Lunch – In Love Lane, (maybe unusual choice for Malaysia) – amazing Mexican food – Holy Guacamole – with a truly amazing guacamole, vegan tacos and burritos….and some refreshing Margaritas.
After lunch to keep the foodie theme, visit the Wonder Food Museum Penang – a great way to get familiar with local cuisines, all the exhibits are very realistic (and big!) so even being vegan you can learn about Malaysian traditional dishes (I guarantee there will be something there you want to take a photograph of).
For the first night dinner would suggest visit at SUPE – Japanese Vegan Penang. It’s a very small place with an 100% vegan Japanese inspired menu – mango, strawberry sushi, air fried tofu, curried, tempeh, veggie tempura, ramen – so many delicious options to choose from. All the dishes are prepared from wholesome ingredients (ah those juicy mangos and strawberries) and the portions are generous.
If you feel like an after dinner stop by for a night cup at Pink Swan Café – honestly the pinkest place I’ve ever seen.
Start the second day with the Peranakan Museum – Pinang Peranakan Mansion. This museum is a great way to get familiar with the Babas and Nyonyas communities, you can see a typical Peranakan house with furniture and ceramics from 19th century. . They are daily English-speaking tours at 11.15am, and Stanley – our tour guide has plenty of stories, which will let you understand Peranakan culture a bit better.
We visited Penang in 2022 where some museums were still closed after covid. So, the Pinang Peranakan Mansion was one of just a few museums which were open.
After the museum you might be hungry, try another vegan restaurant for lunch – Pinxin Vegan Cuisine.
On the menu you can find noodles, nasi lemak, but also burgers or Buddha Bowls. Meat free versions of Malaysian classics.
After lunch go for a stroll to Armenian Street, where you can admire the street art, Chinese clan houses and beautiful shophouses. You can also hire a trishaw here for a tour of the area (negotiate the price before you start). Armenian Street is also a great place to pick up local souvenirs.
For the dinner try the Chinese inspired meal at Kabaya restaurant - Classic Straits Chinese Nyonya dishes, which have been refined using French cooking techniques.
Tip for all my vegan friends – their vegan menu is heavily based on plant based meat – you can get vegan chicken or beef. The dishes which I tried came from the vegetarian menu, as they contain onion and garlic, they do not appear on their (religious) vegan menu.
I had vegan popiah and tempeh in turmeric & lemongrass curry. (I strongly encourage to try tempeh and soya products, check this article why it's a good idea to eat them often) . The curry is amazing (I’ve had it a few times before), it’s rich and creamy with a fresh, citrusy lemongrass hint.
The restaurant has a colonial style, but decorated with plenty of Chinese antiques, it gives you a very majestic feel.
Conducting cooking classes on a daily basis I am always very curious to try the local classes – For the last day of our trip I picked ‘vegan’ classes with – Cooking with Chef Samuel .
If you want to make a local sambal from scratch, you should definitely try Chef’s Samuel class. Step by step he explains how to prepare local delights so you can easily replicate them at home.
The class finishes with lunch …. after which you can grab a taxi to Penang Hill. Penang Hill has some spectacular views over Georgetown. You can get there by Funicular Train - the oldest funicular system in the world, which takes you to the top of the Hill. The ride itself allows you to admire the beautiful local scenery. There are not any vegan options on the top of the Penang Hill, so if you are planning to stay longer pack some snacks.
If you still have some energy and desire for shopping head towards Gurney Plaza and Gurney Paragon Mall. A lot of shops, a great supermarket with vegan cheeses, yoghurt, chocolates and so many other vegan goodies.
If you get hungry the Italian restaurant Lunarich at Gurney Plaza has a delicious vegan pasta.
Georgetown it’s a great destination for vegan travellers. The city itself has a long history, a lot of old colonial buildings, street art and great atmosphere of the present meeting the past.
A final note, taxis are very cheap in Georgetown the best way to get one is to download the ‘Grab’ taxi app. It gives you a fixed fare in advance so no chance to be over charged for your journey
If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to me directly in the comments below. I hope this has inspired you to book your tickets to Penang. I thoroughly recommend it.
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