For street art lovers places like me Georgetown, in Penang/Malaysia, are a dream come true. There is so much to see here! Of course, with street art you never know if what you’re looking for is still there. A layer of paint may have already been put over it or it has faded away. You are either rewarded or disappointed, that’s part of it. It is basically a treasure hunt with a surprise outcome. Georgetown is bursting with awesome murals, so it’s impossible to be disappointed. This article is a mini-guide for where to find great street art in Georgetown, Penang.
First: why is there so much street art in Georgetown?
We owe that to UNESCO. In 2008 Georgetown was added to the list of World Heritage sites and this resulted in a creative facelift for the city. The first step was the installation of 50+ cartoonish steel rod works (2009) that show sketches involving food, culture, or people. Three years later, artist Ernest Zacharevic made his way to the city and created six murals that made him instantly world famous. This was the starting point for more street art and since then almost every year a street art festival has been organized.
Great places in Georgetown to find street art:
1. Lebuh Armenian
Some of Georgetown’s best works are on Lebuh Armenian. You will find two of Zacherevic’s works here: ‘I want Bao’ and ‘Little Children on a Bicycle’. Both with a bicycle incorporated. These are very popular and so there can be a line of people who want to take a picture with themselves on the bike. You also might notice the purple murals and lots of paintings of cats. This is part of the 101 Lost Kittens project that drew attention to the fate of street animals. Don’t forget to explore nearby streets such as Cannon Street (Boy on a Chair), Lebuh Ah Quee (Boy on Motorcycle), Lebuh Pantai (Genius Parking), Lorong Lumut (Indian Woman), Gat Lebuh Chulia (Brother & Sister on Swing) and Lorong Song Hong (various works).
2. Art Lane
A special mention for Art Lane, an indoor street art ally. Opened in 2018 by the cafe China House. They supervise the work, so it’s not like everyone can just start painting something. It also closes after 7 pm for the night. Fun to walk through during the day, also to escape the heat.
3. Little India
On to – the in itself already lovely – Little India. The central vein here is Chulia Street with beautiful murals on and around it. You will again see two of Zacharevic’s murals here: Girl on a turtle and Kung Fu Girl. Without real objects this time, but no less beautiful. Personally, I really liked the Indian Boatman mural on Lorong Stewart. Love Lane (Lorong Love) is also worth a walk with several smaller works. The street got its name because according to the stories the mistresses of rich businessmen used to live here.
4. Jalan Penang
From Little India, I recommend walking back to the center via Jalan Penang. Along the way, you will find some beautiful murals such as the relaxing ‘Trishaw man’ and ‘Chendol Boy’. Both refer to typical Malaysian things. The trishaw is an old type of bicycle taxi that is now mainly used as a tourist attraction. Chendol is a dessert with shaved ice, red beans, syrup, and green worm-like shaped jelly. Sounds awful but it is good!
5. Hin Bus Depot
Another great street art spot in Georgetown is Hin Bus Depot, a 15-minute walk from the center. Formerly a terminal for buses, nowadays a creative zone with galleries, cafes, and a popular Sunday market. So plan your visit on a Sunday because then you can also grab a bite to eat. The walls are filled up with beautiful works. My favorite is the girl making a backward bridge.
More street art spots
In the area of Komtar bus station, there are more interesting murals such as Looking Up mural (on the wall of 1st Avenue Mall), container art at the entrance of the bus station, and smaller works at Prangin Canal. Just outside the center, there is more near Nagore Square.
Street art map
Not looking forward to pinning all these places on a map? No worries, I have already done this for you. To be frank, most of the street art mentioned in this blog post is also on Google Maps. So you can use whatever you prefer.
What do you think of Georgetown’s street art? Would you want to visit this city?