With an eclectic history and some awesome scenery, George Town is the perfect place for a cultural and relaxing getaway. As the capital of the Malaysian state of Penang, and Malaysia’s second-largest city, its bustling streets will keep you busy all day long!
Situated on Penang island, there’s coastline surrounding you if you fancy some time on the beach, but there are so many urban activities to sink your teeth into too!
With so much on offer, it can be quite overwhelming when trying to decide where to stay in George Town.
But with our easy, step-by-step guide, you’ll find the best areas to stay in George Town to meet your interests and budget!
Without further ado, here’s our guide to where to stay in George Town, Malaysia.
Quick Tips: Where to Stay in George Town
- Where to stay in George Town for your first time: George Town Port
- Best Place to Stay in George Town on a Budget: Taman Selamat
- Where to stay in George Town for nightlife: Gurney Drive
- Coolest place to stay in George Town: Little India
- Where to stay in George Town for families: Batu Ferringhi
- If you love authentic architecture, take a look at City Hall, a beautiful building built at the turn of the 20th Century!
- For you history-lovers out there, head to Fort Cornwallis!
- Komtar is the tallest skyscraper in Penang, and you can get some breath-taking views of this fascinating city from its roof terrace!
Table of Contents
- Where to stay in George Town
- George Town Neighborhood Guide
- 5 Best Neighborhoods to Stay in George Town
- #1 George Town Port – Where to Stay in George Town for Your First Time
- #2 Taman Selamat – Best Place to Stay in George Town on a Budget
- #3 Gurney Drive – Best Place to Stay In George Town for Nightlife
- #4 Little India – Coolest Place to Stay in George Town
- #5 Batu Ferringhi – Where to Stay in George Town for Families
Looking for a specific stay? These are our highest recommendations for places to stay in George Town…
Best Hostel in George Town: Magpie Residence
Situated right next to George Town’s UNESCO World Heritage Site area, this hostel is perfectly situated for exploring in George Town. There’s great transport links by bus almost directly outside the hostel, or it’s just a 20-minute walk to the city’s top attractions.
With comfortable rooms of varying sizes, this is the perfect place to enjoy a rest after a long day of taking in all George Town has to offer!View on HostelWorld
Best AirBnb in George Town: UNESCO Heritage George Town Nanyang’s home
This large, spacious and authentic home is a beautiful example of George Town’s amazing architecture. If you really want to experience the culture of this amazing place, this is the perfect place to do it!
You’ll be staying in a beautiful restored 19th century shophouse, with incredible paintings and décor. There’s also all the mod-cons you could need to make your stay comfortable and stress-free!View on Airbnb
Best Hotel in George Town: Eastern And Oriental Hotel
Within a 15-minute walk of the best sights to see in George Town is this luxurious 5-star hotel. Eastern and Oriental Hotel offers all the comforts you could wish for and more.
With a beautiful indoor and outdoor pool for you to relax beside with a drink, overlooking the beauty of the Penang Straits.
Affluent décor and large, modern rooms are included in this wonderful stay. There’s also a complimentary breakfast, restaurant and optional room service, making this the most comfortable and luxurious option for you when coming to visit George Town!View on Booking.com
Quick Summary: The Best Places to Stay in George Town
George Town Port
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With so much history, culture and scenery to enjoy, George Town is one of the coolest areas to stay in Malaysia!
As an ex-British colony, but with settlers from China and Thailand, there’s a fascinating mixture of cultures and traditions in George Town. In fact, the historical core of the city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site!
There’s so much amazing architecture to enjoy, as well as a variety of churches and temples if you fancy some peace and quiet. The area near George Town Port is the best place to stay in George Town if you want to experience both the culture and history of the city, with museums galore!
Little India is the place to be if you want to see some of the coolest spectacles George Town has to offer. If you’re travelling with a little less cash then you’d like, don’t worry!
Taman Selamat is the best place to stay in George Town for the tight-budgeted, with plenty of free parks and green spaces to explore.
Since its economic growth, George Town has become something of a financial powerhouse in South East Asia, with plenty of high-end restaurants and nightlife to enjoy. You can find this especially in the massive shopping malls of Gurney Drive!
However, it has still retained its isolated beauty, with pristine beaches and tranquil, secret spots in its surrounding countryside.
There are two amazing bridges joining Penang island to the mainland of Malaysia, one of which is the longest in Southeast Asia! There’s also an easy-to-understand and well-maintained road system, as well as an airport and a brilliant bus service in and out of the city.
5 Best Neighborhoods to Stay in George Town
Here’s our quick, easy guide to where to stay in George Town!
The recently renovated port is one of the busiest in the region, with thousands of tourist arrivals every year! With such a tourist-friendly area, there is so much to do! Get your fill of George Town’s varied history and culture!
Whether you want to learn about the origins of this fascinating city or delve into the cultural richness of the local temples and churches, this is the best place to stay in George Town. If you’re a first-time backpacker visiting Malaysia, you’re guaranteed to mee some cool fellow travel buddies while soaking up George Town’s highlights.
Things to See and Do in George Town Port:
– For you history-lovers out there, head to Fort Cornwallis! It’s a bastion fort built by the British East India Company in the late 18th Century – the largest standing fort in Malaysia!
– If you love authentic architecture, take a look at City Hall, a beautiful building built at the turn of the 20th Century!
– Pinang Peranakan Mansion houses its very own museum, celebrating Penang’s rich Peranakan heritage from ancient Chinese settlers! With thousands of artefacts, this is the best place to visit in George Town for some history!
– Sri Mahamariamman Temple is the oldest Hindu temple in Penang! Adorned with amazing sculptures of gods and goddesses, it is a sight to behold and easily accessible in the city centre!
– Komtar is the tallest skyscraper in Penang, and you can get some breath-taking views of this fascinating city from its roof terrace!
– If you’re looking for a bit of peace and quiet, why not head to the Church of the Assumption. It’s the third oldest Catholic church in Malaysia and is a World Heritage Church, so definitely worth a visit!
Best Hostel in George Town Port: Container Hotel Penang
This innovative hostel is an example of a creative space, using a heritage building as well as shopping containers! This has created an interesting and functional space for you to rest your head comfortably when visiting George Town.
There’s artwork from local aspiring artists just outside your room, so you can enjoy the culture of George Town as soon as you wake up!View on HostelWorld
Best AirBnb in George Town Port: Heritage House in George Town Lebuh Pantai
With a superhost, this is the perfect stay for a stress-free getaway right at the heart of George Town’s Port area. There are 2 spacious and comfortable rooms with lots of natural light for you to enjoy.
With street food stalls just minutes away and within driving distance of Penang International Airport, you’ll have access to everything you need!View on Airbnb
Best Hotel in George Town Port: Royale Chulan Penang
Right at the heart of George Town Port, this hotel is just a short walk from the city centre. It is an authentic building, with beautiful colonial architecture on offer.
There’s a restaurant serving up some of Penang’s delights, as well as a swimming pool and steam room, to relax you after your tiring day of exploring!View on Booking.com
Slightly to the northwest of the city of George Town is Taman Selamat. Although slightly out of the centre, it is by no means out of the action, with plenty of places to visit and explore!
If you’re a nature lover, Taman Selamat is the best place to stay in George Town. There are several parks, such as Penang Botanic Gardens and City Park to stroll around, as well as the thrilling Sky Walk. With so many free things to do and greenery to explore, it’s the perfect place to stay in George Town for those travelling Malaysia on a shoestring budget.
Things to See and Do in in Taman Selamat:
– Take a ride through the Penang Hills on the Penang Hills Railway, right up to the Hill Resort where you’ll catch some breath-taking views over George Town!
– Head to the Penang Botanic Gardens for a beautiful stroll in some perfect green space! This is the perfect place to visit in George Town for an escape, there’s even a beautiful cascading waterfall for you to enjoy!
– Take a stroll through Penang City Park, on the western edge of George Town, where you can hike, swim and even have a go at archery!
– For some more localised history, go to the Colonial Penang Museum, where you’ll find some precious artefacts in a quaint but beautiful ancient setting.
– Why not head a little further west to Sky Walk, where you can set foot on a hilltop observation deck. It’s accessed by a funicular railway, where you can see scenic views of the city & beyond!
Best Hostel in Taman Selamat: Tido Penang Hostel
With a total of 88 beds, this huge hostel has so much to offer! Don’t be fooled by its size, the service and comfort isn’t affected by it. It is cosy and warm, with friendly staff and secure premises.
With free WiFi to do some research on George Town, this is the best place to stay on a budget in Taman Selamat!View on HostelWorld
Best AirBnb in Taman Selamat: A new house close to nature
This place really does what it says on the tin! If you want to be close to the beautiful natural surroundings of Taman Selamat, look no further than this property!
Decorated in a modern and contemporary style, this stay has been recently renovated to cater for your every need. It is close to hiking trails, parks and botanical gardens and even comes with a dance floor if you want to host your own private party!View on Airbnb
Best Hotel in Taman Selamat: Hotel Waterfall
Stylishly decorated and conveniently situated, this is the best hotel in Taman Selamat! Just a few minutes away from some of the beautiful green spaces Taman Selamat has to offer, it’s the perfect base!
However, if you want a cosier stay, the hotel itself has so much to offer. There’s a hot tub, bar and restaurant all for you to enjoy at your leisure!View on Booking.com
One of the results of George Town’s economic boom was an explosion of excellent restaurants and bars! If you’re a night-owl, Gurney Drive is definitely the best place to stay in George Town.
There aren’t only night-time activities here, though. With plenty of shopping opportunities, as well as the chance to play a few rounds of golf, your days will be just as fun-filled as your nights!
Things to See and Do in in Gurney Drive:
– Before your night-time excursions, why not head to Queensbay Mall, the largest shopping mall in Penang! With a huge range of shops and restaurants and even a Golden Screen Cinema, there’s plenty to explore here if the weather isn’t good!
– For some bright colours, take a short walk to the Wat Chaiya Mangalaram Thai Buddhist Temple. It’s got a huge reclining Buddha, mosaic dragons and much more!
– For a real taste of Penang seafood, head to the Bali Hai Seafood Market – perfect for large groups!
– If you’re a sporty type, head out to George Town’s Racecourse and Golf course, where you yourself can have a go at riding and driving!
– If you want to head out on the town to enjoy some of George Town’s notorious party life, the top spots to head to are Lounge 15, Starz Club and MIB Club!
Best AirBnb in Gurney Drive: Penang Gurney Drive Japanese Seaview Luxury Suite
Bright, spacious and with outstanding views across the beach, what more could you want? This Japanese-style suite is the perfect party pad if you’re looking for the perfect place to enjoy the nightlife of George Town.
With modern décor and a fully functioning kitchen, this is the best base for you to explore George Town, day and night!View on Airbnb
Best Hotel in Gurney Drive: G Hotel Gurney
If you’re looking for something slightly more luxurious during your stay in Gurney Drive, look no further. G Hotel has much to boast about, with an outdoor pool, stylish bar, hot tub and terrace.
There’s even a night club attached as part of the hotel, so if you are a part animal, this is the best place to stay in George Town!View on Booking.com
Best Budget Hotel in Gurney Drive: Wang’s Hotel Gurney Drive
Here, you’ll be just minutes from the famous Gurney Drive, and you won’t be far from the city centre of George Town either! With simple, yet functional rooms, this hotel is the perfect place to stay in Gurney Drive on a budget.
With convenient amenities such as a 24-hour desk, you won’t need to worry if you get in late after an evening of partying!View on Booking.com
We think Little India is the coolest place to stay in George Town for many reasons. Whether it’s the fascinating architecture, brilliant restaurants or authentic temples, there’s so much to do here!
Often compared to the bustling streets of India, Little India is George Town’s most happening neighbourhood, where you can discover some of its most hidden treasures!
Things to See and Do in in Little India:
– Just around the corner from Little India is the Penang State Museum and Art Gallery, where you can find out all about the history and culture of Penang. And since it’s been renovated in the last couple of years, it’s definitely the time to go and check it out!
– Beach Street is the oldest street in the whole of Penang! As the financial hub of George Town, it’s the perfect place to experience the hustle and bustle of this exciting city!
– As a Chinese temple in the city is the perfect place for some peace and tranquillity! Built in 1728, it’s the oldest Taoist temple in Penang!
– St George’s Church is the oldest purpose-built church in Southeast Asia! As part of the British East India Company’s legacy, it has a rich history and is a beautiful place to explore!
– The Sun Yat-sen Museum is a small but fascinating museum in the heart of the city, set in an authentic historic house!
Best Hostel in Little India: The Frame Guesthouse
Located in a 3-storey heritage shophouse, this hostel is packed with authentic Penang history! With beautifully preserved period features, you’ll not only have a comfortable place to rest your head here – you’ll have a first-hand experience of ancient George Town!
There’s breakfast included, air conditioning and free Wi-Fi- what more could you need?View on HostelWorld
Best AirBnb in Little India: George Town City Sanctuary
Another one that does what it says on the tin! This quirky, but relaxing stay is the perfect sanctuary for you to relax in the heart of George Town’s bustling city centre.
Just around the corner from some of Little India’s most famous attractions, this house is the best place to stay in Little India! It’s an old shophouse which has been carefully and painstakingly renovated over the years to make it modern and functional, without losing its authenticity.View on Airbnb
Best Hotel in Little India: Kim Haus Loft
For something a little different, why not head to Kim Haus Loft? It’s a quirky alternative to your average hotel and really captures the originality of Little India.
Its amenities include a restaurant, terrace and gift shop. It’s within walking distance of the area’s top attractions and temples!View on Booking.com
Malaysia isn’t just for backpackers and expats in Kuala Lumpur. There are heaps of reasons for families to visit Malaysia! Batu Ferringhi is a fine example, and the best place to stay in George Town for people of all ages!
With a Hard Rock Hotel, Penang National Park and beaches galore, there’s so much to entertain the little ones as well as Mum and Dad! For a chance to relax, with the option of exploring a little more, look no further than Batu Ferringhi for your family holiday!
Things to See and Do in Batu Ferringhi:
– Take a trip to Penang National Park, a pristine network of forest and beautiful beaches. It’s the best place to visit in George Town if you love nature!
– If you fancy an evening adventure, head out to Batu Ferringhi’s famous night market! Tickle your taste buds with some Malaysian street food and find a souvenir to take home with you!
– For the lovebirds amongst you, why not go for a swim out to Lovers’ Isle, just off the coast?
– If you want a famous Hard Rock t-shirt or hoodie, or just to have a look at the famous franchise, there’s a Hard Rock Hotel here in Batu Ferringhi!
– There are loads of beaches in the area, but the best has got to be Miami Beach. Sit back, relax, and soak up some of that beautiful Malaysian sunshine on the pristine sands!
– Take the kids on a nature adventure at the Penang Butterfly Farm!
Best AirBnb in Batu Ferringhi: Seaside heart of Batu Ferringhi beach cozy stay
Fancy enjoying a cocktail on your own private balcony as you overlook the beautiful Penang hills? Or maybe you want to cool off the Malaysian sunshine by taking a dip in the pool?
Or perhaps you’d prefer a moonlit beach stroll from your own private beach access?
All of these are things you can do at this gorgeous and rare AirBnb! It’s luxury at its very finest, you’ll find nothing else like it in Penang!View on Airbnb
Best Hotel in Batu Ferringhi: Hard Rock Hotel
I need say no more to sell this prestigious and world-famous hotel chain to you! It’s the best place to stay in Batu Ferringhi for some familiarity, as well as some excellent service.
As a 5-star hotel, you can expect the best. Complete with a beachfront terrace, outdoor swimming pool and restaurant, there’s nothing more you could want! There’s even a night club attached to the hotel if you fancy getting your dancing shoes on!View on Booking.com
Best Budget Hotel in Batu Ferringhi: Zahaar Hotel
With just a 10-minute walk away from Penang Butterfly Farm, this place has great proximity to amazing activities for the kids!
With simple, but functional rooms, this is the best place to stay in Batu Ferringhi if you’re travelling on a budget. Don’t worry though, you’ll still get excellent service and be close to all that this beautiful area of Penang has to offer!View on Booking.com
Final Thoughts on Where to Stay in George Town
Fascinating history, unique and beautiful coastline and a plethora of activities. It comes as no surprise that George Town is the perfect place to visit for all ages! It’s a wonderfully vibrant and safe place in Malaysia for families, solo backpackers, and everyone in between.
To recap: George Town Port is the best place to stay in George Town for your first time. It gives you the chance to get to know the city’s history and culture, as well as enjoying proximity to its amazing coastline.
To recap: for a bit of a treat, why not stay at Eastern and Oriental Hotel? It has a fantastic location and is a luxurious stay!
If you are travelling on a budget, then we recommend The Magpie Residence. A comfortable stay with lovely, friendly staff!
Have we missed anything? Let us know in the comments below! Otherwise, enjoy your travels!
While Malaysia is very safe, it’s super important to make sure you buy travel insurance before visiting! If you’re low on time before departing, get a quote from World Nomads now, our favourite travel insurance provider.
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Writer and Editor, Ana Pereira is a California native, inspired by Earth exploration and introspection. Recently, she spent several months exploring Africa and South Asia. She spends most of her “down-time” out in the wilderness, climbing, hiking, and beyond, and is feverishly passionate about travel and health.