Commonly known for its food, Penang has so much more to offer than just its food and street art. Discover the sights and experiences of Georgetown, Penang hidden from the common eye.
Penang, considered the food capital of Malaysia, where the ethic diversity can be tasted in their array of food. Penang is a favourite holiday choice, not only among Malaysians but foreigners as well because of the richness of cultural value. Listed as a UNESCO Cultural Heritage Site in 2008, this small island does not hold back on its cultural sights, historical stories and traditional experiences.
Since the emergence of Penang’s infamous street art, many visit Penang mainly for its street art, though there is more to Penang awaiting your arrival! Continue reading on to discover them out!
1. Get a whiff of Penang culture with a day tour
Many travellers today have a negative perception of tours, thinking that they don’t show the true authenticity of a country. However, we believe that a tour is the best introduction to a new country as you discover what Penang has in store for you.
As you will be brought around by a local who is familiar with the labyrinth of Georgetown, there is an opportunity to learn secrets that no other locals know. Get a quick look around the city and discover a place that intrigues you the most.
2. Get to be Ip Man for a day
Before Brazillian Jiu-Jitsu or kickboxing rose to fame, Wing Chun was widely known with references to Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan and the movie “Ip Man”. However, it has since seen a decline in interest and fame with many forgetting this fluid yet strong artform.
Learn and experience the beauty of Wing Chun, taught by Sifu Aaron Boey who specialises in Monkey Style Kung Fu, also known as Da Cheng Men (猴拳).
3. Learn the ancient art of Batik
A hands-on workshop where you can wax your own design and paint it with fabric dyes. Batik was conventionally used as designs for traditional attires but has seen a revival in contemporary fashion with shifts in fashion trends.
This Batik workshop is taught by Rozana in the heart of Georgetown. You will be learning to draw your own design on paper and understanding the process of tracing it on to a piece of fabric. Let your creativity run wild by painting your drawing. Above all, you also get to bring home your customised batik as a commemoration of your Penang trip!
4. Try out shadow puppetry
Before movies, TV-shows or books came about, entertainment was widely consumed through this ancient art form of shadow puppetry or, as we call it “Wayang Kulit”. This entertainment form was appreciated by individuals of all ages. This form of puppetry focuses on depicting mythical tales and folklore that are shared across generations.
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Taught by a REAL puppeteer of Penang, Mohammed Jufry, will teach you the tips and tricks to these shadow forms come to life! From the beginning of sculpting a puppet from leather to learning the uses of musical instruments that add effects to this traditional art form.
5. Create your own pottery
Learn the craft of one of the world’s oldest invention, pottery, in the natures of Penang. Located right next to Penang Botanic Gardens, its location is prime for those seeking an escape from the bustling city atmosphere of Georgetown.
Taught by Professor Okamoto and Professor Nakano, this workshop is open to all crafts enthusiasts of any skill level.
This craft is a perfect souvenir to bring back for your family and/or friends, or even yourself. Choose from making a range of teacups, plates, bowls and creative household centrepieces. They will definitely stand out and remind you of your trip to Penang.
6. Be involved in a Kokedama workshop
Kokedama, a ball of soil covered with moss, on which an ornamental plant grows. It is said to be a mixture of Nearai, Bonsai and Kusamono planting styles, all of which date back at least 600 years ago.
This workshop will teach you the techniques of shaping a Kokedama, how to appreciate the value of Kokedama and how to care for it. A gem-like experience as you learn about the history and culture of Japan without the expense of travelling.
7. Learn traditional wood-carving
Discover the traditional craftsmanship of wood carving and create your own masterpiece in George Town, Penang. This diminishing craftsmanship is slowly vanishing as people are forgetting the beauty that wood-carving brings to a centrepiece.
Be introduced to the types of carving tools, their functions and the correct ways to use them. Learn of the types of wood, various techniques of wood carving and the correct techniques to use according to the wood.
In a sense, learn everything you need to know about wood carving. Don’t be afraid to raise questions with both Sifus as they are glad you are showing interest in the art.
8. Walk away with a customised shoe
Let your inner Jimmy Choo out with this shoe-making workshop taught by Master Wong Jr, who learned the trait from his father, who took Jimmy Choo under his wing.
Learn the foundational knowledge of the materials, techniques, tools, understanding the different contours of shoe patterns and applying glue on the shoe base. You get to walk away with your personally hand-made sandal or shoe, possibly with your name engraved.
9. Weave your own rattan basket
Once commonly used as household furniture, the use of rattan has subsequently decreased as a result of people are preferring plastic or wood. With the craft dying, Mr Sim hopes to share the tradition of rattan weaving through a workshop he conducts.
Learn the process and techniques used for rattan weaving and experience the hard work invested to perfect it. In the end, you will be bringing home a self-weaved rattan basket to commemorate your visit.
10.Dine at the tables in a supper club experience
With Penang regarded as the Food Capital of Malaysia, you can’t leave without indulging in a local dining experience. Be served Penang dishes prepared by Chef David whose dishes stem from memories, not recipes.
A similar concept to a supper club, this home-dining experience is hosted in a pre-war building where the past meets contemporary. Listen to stories passed on from generation to generation, of their family history or the dish itself.
What’s distinctive of this experience is that Chef David puts his own twist to traditional local dishes and no dinner will be the same. Expect dishes like Chicken Kapitan, Gadoh-Gadoh, Popiah and etc. However, bear in mind dishes are prepared based on the freshness of available produce and Chef David’s inspirations. Thus, ensuring the uniqueness for each guest!
11. Learn the secrets of Penang cuisine in a cooking class
Want to cook local Penang dishes back home? Learn the secrets of Penang cuisine from locals who have grown up amongst the diverse food cuisines that have comforted the hearts of many, and inherited their family cooking secrets.
12. Eat the best eats Penang offers
The best way to indulge in Penang food is discovering the local stores and street vendors who have operated over generations. If you want to explore the best eats that are guaranteed delicious, join a locally guided food tour.
As there are countless hidden gems in Georgetown, it is hard to find them on your own. Be guided by locals who will bring you to several hidden food gems of Georgetown in a short amount of time. There will be much to do in a short span, which will guarantee your time’s worth!
Walk around Georgetown and discover the local delights enjoyed by locals themselves. Learn of the history of the food vendors and the significance of Penang cuisine/food in their life.
Snack and munch while you walk past historical buildings and cultural sites, where you will learn the history of Georgetown.
Trust me you won’t notice how much food you’ve eaten until the end!
LokaLocal is all about connecting you to local activities, tours and workshops where you can experience Malaysia the way locals do. Check us out if you haven’t already done so.