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There are places we all visit on our travels that disappoint and there are places we visit that simply blow all expectations out of the water. Penang for me and my husband was one such destination. I had added it into our itinerary simply because it happened to lie along our route from Bangkok to Singapore. And it ended up being the highlight of the entire trip! And it is the Penang street art that makes it so special!

There is so much to Penang – wonderful people, the tastiest street food ever, and of course, in George Town, the most fantastic street art. This post is dedicated to the wonderful Penang street art – what it is, why it was created, where you can find it and why I had to see every single one of the murals (I have not seen all of the iron work art but I WILL be back to make sure I do!) and all  words best illustrated by the art itself!

street art in penang - I love penang sign | Penang street art and murals featured by top international travel blogger, Tracy's Travels in Time

Penang Street Art: Marking George Town – the background to the steel-rod sculptures

In 2008 George Town achieved UNESCO World Heritage status.  The Marking George Town initiative was a competition to come up with an idea to physically brand the site following achieving it’s world heritage status. The winning idea came from local artist Tang Mum Kian with the theme of “Voices of the People”.

52 steel-rod sculptures have so far been created and erected around George Town. Each piece tells the story of a part of George Town and of the history of the area – they are humorous and are best understood in context. Ensure that you pick up your free copy of Marking George Town from your hotel which will give you valuable information about each piece. It was fantastic learning about the history of this beautiful part of town through the sculptures.

Enjoy your adventure as you walk around town spotting them!

Although the sculptures are not officially named they are known by popular names or by their subject matter!

Don’t just look for the sculptures by day – in the evening they are all lit up for night-time viewing too!

The art work has been created by 4 artists – Tang Mun Kian, Baba Chuah, Reggie Lee and Lefty.

Their fabulous work not only tells the story of George Town but “they introduce the traditions, beliefs, practices and industries at key areas of the heritage city.” (from the Making George Town leaflet by Penang Global Tourism)

We managed to see about 2/3 of the sculptures – it became addictive!

If you are planning a trip there are so many awesome things to do in Penang as well as the great art! And if you decide to travel to the neighbouring island of Langkawi – and why not! I recommend you check out this list of great things you can do in Langkawi.


Other popular George Town street art

As well as the brilliant steel-rod works there are many other examples of street art in George Town. I ended up having to find all of the pieces identified in the brochure (all 15 of them) and some are a LOT harder to find than others! It was like an amazing treasure hunt!!!

 | Penang street art and murals featured by top international travel blogger, Tracy's Travels in Time
The Indian Boatman This was one of my favourite pieces – it is stunning!

Cat and dog themed!

Some Penang Street Art is Interactional – Sit on the Bike/Motorbike/Swing!

There can be quite a queue to have your photograph taken with some of the art so you have to be quick. My husband was so fast sitting on the motorbike that he obscured the painting behind!!!!

 | Penang street art and murals featured by top international travel blogger, Tracy's Travels in Time
Child Mural At Prangin Canal – this was the last of the street art we located and my favourite!

Some of Penang Street Art is Small, Others Take Over Entire Walls!

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As well as all the street art in Penang to find from the guide there are loads of other great pieces to find while exploring George Town! We loved these too!


If you are planning a trip to Penang this comprehensive guide to the visiting Georgetown has further information. Alternatively find out more about Penang in the Dive Into Malaysia website – A guide to Penang.

Where to stay in Penang

We stayed in the best hotel of our entire holiday in SE Asia in Georgetown. The Hotel Muntri Grove is a lovely little boutique hotel ideally located to get the best out of your time in Penang. I cannot recommend this hotel enough – the price was excellent, staff friendly and helpful and the room simply huge! (And it has a pool which is great to cool off in after a day in the heat!)

If backpacking is more your thing check out this great guide to backpacking in SE Asia.

Hotel Muntri Grove
A welcome smile from staff at Hotel Muntri Grove




 | Penang street art and murals featured by top international travel blogger, Tracy's Travels in Time

 | Penang street art and murals featured by top international travel blogger, Tracy's Travels in Time



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Author: Tracy

Over the last 50 years I have lived and worked in 7 countries on 4 continents and travelled to many more. I enjoy exploring and learning about new places and meeting people on my travels. History, reading, photography, nature and wildlife are my interests and I am ALWAYS researching and planning my next trip (preferably by train)

With a lifetime of travel experience, and a network of friends all over the world, I share genuine insider guides, recommended best book lists and train journey inspiration to help YOU travel authentically to some of the most beautiful places on earth.

Come and join me as I travel the world one country (and train journey) at a time!

This post may contain compensated links. Please read our disclaimer for additional information. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

34 thoughts on “The Ultimate Guide to Penang Street Art

  1. TraveLynn Family - Jenny says:

    We fell in love with Penang more than ten years ago and we’ve been back a few times since. The food is just divine, but its the colourful energy of the place that you’ve depicted in your gorgeous photos, that really make this place special. #FarawayFiles

  2. Alex says:

    When you told me about the street art in Penang I never imagined it to be this good! This is quality stuff! And I agree with you – that boatman is such a gorgeous piece of art – you have definitely wet my appetite for Malaysia!

  3. Angie FeetDoTravel says:

    What a lovely post, it took me back to our Fabulous time there so thank you for the memory and for mentioning our post 😀 I’m so glad you had as good a time as we did, it’s always difficult when someone recommends a place that “you must visit” so I so happy it wasn’t a disappointment (I mean, how can it be??). Wonderful read! #FeetDoTravel

    • Tracy says:

      I loved your post Angie so was pleased to be able to add it – felt it was pointless writing about Penang as your post was so good so focussed on the street art instead. We LOVED it! Will be back for sure!

  4. Lolo says:

    I’ve seen the piece of the two children on the bike before, but not the rest. The beginning pieces are very unique! I like that they’re really like a comic! #FeetdoTravel

  5. Katy says:

    I loved Penang when I went there in the 90s but the street art scene wasnt big then – or maybe I didnt notice? I would so love to go back and wander the streets looking for these pieces. The ones with the children are so joyful. Thanks for sharing on #FarawayFiles

  6. Garth says:

    A queue for street art!! never heard that before! I’m a graphic designer, so I know I would just love all the art Penang has to offer. I really hope we can visit one day with my parents, as they grew up in Penang and Malaysia, so heard lots of their stories, however it sounds like a modern city now, so I bet it’s a very different place to how they remember it!

    • dan walford says:

      You guys would love it I am sure – it was our favourite destination of our trip and just was so amazing. I don’t this some of it will be any different Garth – would love to hear what your parents think when they visit.

  7. Ruth | Tanama Tales says:

    The street art in here is so unique. I would love to see it. I have been taking photos of street art in several cities and the same artists start to pop all over. There is nothing wrong with that but it would be great to see something fresh and different. Penang is different (and I like that). #feetdotravel

  8. Marcelle says:

    What a wonderful street art in George Town. I love the paintings and the steel rod sculptures. Amazing what people can do and often just in their spare time.

  9. Rob+Ann @TravelLatte(.net) says:

    That street art with Mr. Bean is just about our all-time favorite! We’ve seen some of these before, and the few that incorporate things – like the swing or the bicycle – are really cool. The 3D aspect adds some interest and depth. The metal work is amazing, too – That must take a lot of work! Cool stuff!

  10. James says:

    I have to say congratulations on walking around Penang and successfully photographing all the street art. I was so hot, I only managed to take a couple of street art pics! Georgetown is another UNESCO site for you to add to your huge list!

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