Photo: Shop till you drop.

Shopping in Penang

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Penang has been in the trading game since Francis Light first set foot upon her shores to establish an outpost of the British East India Company. The once heavily prized spices and silks are still up for grabs in traditional markets and stores, but added to the mix, there’s mega malls, chichi boutiques, hipster galleries and everything in between.





Many traditional tradespeople still continue to produce handcrafted goods as their forebears have done for centuries, and as such contribute to Georgetown’s intangible heritage. You don’t have to be a shopaholic to enjoy wandering from store to store to appreciate the skills. George Town World Heritage Incorporated produce a helpful brochure (PDF) featuring everything from Chinese seal makers to tombstone masons.

Meet Mr Tan. Photo taken in or around Shopping in Penang, Penang, Malaysia by Sally Arnold.

Meet Mr Tan. Photo: Sally Arnold

We’re not suggesting you may like to take home a hand-carved grave marker (although that could make interesting post-holiday conversation), but perhaps a pair of sparkly Peranakan style shoes may make a nice souvenir. Mr Tan at Nyonya Beaded Shoes custom makes the traditional slippers in his shop in Lebuh Armenian, and it can take up to three months to complete a single pair (he ships!). Choose from a range of stock patterns—we like the fun style featuring local fruit including durian, mangosteen and rambutan, or come up with your own.

If checking out the produce and bargains at local markets appeals, Campbell Street Market has been operating since the turn of the 20th century, said to have been built on the site of a former graveyard and given the local nickname “Hutan Mayat” or “Forest of Corpses”. We think the name is still pretty apt, and sensitive folk may want to hold their nose or avoid the fresh meat section entirely at this traditional wet market.

How about the Forest of Corpses? Photo taken in or around Shopping in Penang, Penang, Malaysia by Sally Arnold.

How about the Forest of Corpses? Photo: Sally Arnold

Another option at the other end of town is the colourful Pasar Chowrasta, here you’ll find everything from preserved nutmeg and other spices to fresh tropical fruit, clothing and secondhand books—delve in and have fun. Both markets open ... please log in to read the rest of this story.


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Popular attractions in Penang

A selection of some of our favourite sights and activities around Penang.



Best places to stay in Penang

A selection of some of our favourite places to stay in Penang.


What next?

 Browse our independent reviews of places to stay in and around Penang.
 Check prices, availability & reviews on Agoda or Booking
 Read up on where to eat on Penang.
 Check out our listings of things to do in and around Penang.
 Read up on how to get to Penang.
 Do you have travel insurance yet? If not, find out why you need it.
 Planning on riding a scooter in Penang? Please read this.
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See below for more sights and activities in Penang that are listed on Travelfish.org.


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Where to next?

Where are you planning on heading to after Penang? Here are some spots commonly visited from here, or click here to see a full destination list for Malaysia.


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