Penang Road

Penang Road (30 November 2008)

Penang Road, or Jalan Penang in Malay, is the most important thoroughfare in Penang during the British colonial era. It was the first road to be built out of the original town mapped by Francis Light. It runs from Lebuh Farquhar in the north to Jalan Gurdwara to the south, and can be split into four different sections, each with its own characteristics.

Location of sights along Penang Road

Hotels on Penang Road

  1. Cititel (GPS: 5.42135, 100.33285)
  2. Grand Inn Penang Road (GPS: 5.42076, 100.33286)
  3. Hotel Central (GPS: 5.41599, 100.32914)
  4. Hotel Continental (GPS: 5.42204, 100.33457)
  5. Hotel Malaysia (GPS: 5.42194, 100.33437)
  6. Loke Thye Kee Residences (GPS: 5.41723, 100.33036)
  7. Merchant Hotel (GPS: 5.42107, 100.33352)
  8. Oriental Hotel (GPS: 5.42028, 100.33295)
  9. Towné House Hotel (GPS: 5.42094, 100.33299)
  10. Wassup Youth Hostel (GPS: 5.41622, 100.32964)

Sights along Penang Road

  1. Catholic Information Service (GPS: 5.42157, 100.3336)
  2. Chowrasta Market (GPS: 5.41812, 100.33143)
  3. Komtar (GPS: 5.41462, 100.32913)
  4. Loke Thye Kee (GPS: 5.41703, 100.32992)
  5. Odeon Visitor Gallery (GPS: 5.42022, 100.33253)
  6. Ong Kongsi (GPS: 5.41502, 100.32883)
  7. Mydin Wholesale Emporium (GPS: 5.41879, 100.33149)
  8. Penang Bazaar (GPS: 5.41847, 100.33161)
  9. Police Headquarters (GPS: 5.41807, 100.33078)
  10. Segara Ninda (GPS: 5.42229, 100.33427)
  11. St Francis Xavier Church (GPS: 5.42211, 100.33253)
  12. St Joseph's Home (GPS: 5.42294, 100.33541)
  13. The Garage (GPS: 5.42294, 100.33541)
  14. The Lighthouse Drop-In Centre (GPS: 5.42145, 100.33335)
  15. (former) Wing Look Restaurant (GPS: 5.41738, 100.33055)

Eateries on Penang Road

  1. Joo Hooi Cafe, at Keng Kwee Street junction (GPS: 5.41713, 100.33061)
  2. Kafe Kheng Pin, at Sri Bahari Road junction (GPS: 5.42059, 100.33275)
  3. Kedai Kopi Ho Ping, at Kampung Malabar junction (GPS: 5.41929, 100.33219)
  4. Kedai Kopi May Loon, at Kimberley Street junction (GPS: 5.41765, 100.33103)
  5. Kedai Makanan Hock Seong Choon, at Bertam Lane junction (GPS: 5.41541, 100.329)
  6. Kek Seng, at Kampung Deli junction (GPS: 5.41625, 100.32927)
  7. Line Clear nasi Kandar (GPS: 5.41965, 100.33253)
  8. Penang Road Famous Chendol (GPS: 5.41716, 100.33076)
  9. Penang Road Famous Teochew Chendul (GPS: 5.41711, 100.33072)
  10. Restoran Hyderabad Recipes (GPS: 5.42188, 100.33391)
  11. Restoran Sup Hameed (GPS: 5.42194, 100.33398)
  12. Tokaiya Japanese Restaurant (closed), at Hutton Lane junction (GPS: 5.41892, 100.3316)

Pubs on Penang Road

  1. Benvenuto
  2. Boom Boom Chambre
  3. MC Concepts
  4. MOIS
  5. München Bierhaus
  6. Planet Pub & Bistro
  7. Slippery Senoritas
  8. Who's Bryan
  9. Zenzibar

Businesses along Penang Road

  1. Asia Co (batik garments)
  2. Cake Garden (bakery)
  3. C.H. Foundry (iron works)
  4. Chop Eng Mun Seng (traveller's knickknacks)
  5. Ego Pharmacy
  6. Fotomate Color Express (camera)
  7. Gartien (pastry shop)
  8. Hike Enterprise (camera)
  9. Hong Chin Pewter Souvenir Shop (souvenir and pewter)
  10. Hong Giap (handicrafts and novelties)
  11. Hong Giap Hang (antique shop)
  12. Hong Joo (handicrafts and novelties)
  13. KW Merit Trading (traveller's knickknacks)
  14. Mega Star Photo (camera)
  15. Merlin Color Foto Sdn Bhd (camera)
  16. Mido & Co (textile)
  17. Pak Hup Tong (Chinese medical hall)
  18. Pasaran Ekonomi Island (traveller knickknacks)
  19. Peking Arts & Crafts
  20. Penang Road Rattan Shop
  21. Pusat Optik Juara (optician)
  22. Sakana Sushi Bar
  23. Sin Seng Lee (knitting, embroidery, soft toys)
  24. Sinjune Diagnostic Healthcare (pharmacy)
  25. Stalls selling Traveller Accessories
  26. Style Photo (camera shop)

Penang Road on Google Maps Street View

What to see or do

Penang Road is still an important shopping street, especially the 3rd section, between Lebuh Chulia and Jalan Burma. Chowrasta Market is a stopover point for tourists interested in the local produce such as preserved nutmeg, lempuk (also called durian koay), and preserved lime. Komtar was a major shopping mall but has pretty much lost its shine.

Penang Road, as seen from the Komtar Pedestrian Bridge (6 May, 2008)

Sections of Penang Road

The northernmost section, now called Upper Penang Road, runs from the junction with Lebuh Farquhar, to the junction with Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah. This section is now closed to vehicular traffic. Before that, it was a unique road with traffic running on the right side rather than the usual left. It is hemmed in on one side by The Garage (at time of writing, undergoing renovations) and the City Bayview Hotel. Upper Penang Road is the venue of the monthly Little Penang Street Market and host a number of pubs and restaurants.

Penang Road (3 September 2008)

The second section of Penang Road runs from the junction of Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah to Lebuh Chulia. This section has several low-budget hotels. Also located here is the Ku Din Ku Meh House and the St Francis Xavier Church.

The third section of Penang Road runs from the junction of Lebuh Chulia to the junction of Jalan Burma. This is regarded as the most important section in the 1970's, when Penang Road was the main shopping street of the island. In the earlier part of Penang history, in the 19th century, this was a very cosmopolitan section settled by several different communities. Today only the road names survive them, as the character of the street becomes more homogenously Chinese. These roads branching out from Penang Road tells a story of the bygone communities. Kampung Malabar was where the Malabaris of South India settled. Sri Bahari Road was named after the North Indian community, whose temple, the Sri Kunj Bihari, is still standing. Jalan Dato Koyah was also named after a South Indian personality, in this case a Malabari miracle healer named Syed Mustapha Idris @ Dato Koya.

Penang Road, looking towards junctions of Prangin and Burmah RoadsPenang Road, looking towards junctions of Prangin and Burmah Roads (28 January, 2013)

Further down the road was the Chowrasta Market, a venue originally established by the Tamil community. Across the road from Chowrasta Market is the Central Police Headquarters, one of the biggest buildings built by the British administrators, and completed just before the Second World War.

At the junction of Keng Kwee Street are the two famous Teochew Cendol stalls. Wing Look and Loke Thye Kee are two very famous bygone restaurants along this stretch of Penang Road that unfortunately have since closed down.

Restored shophousesnow used as bistros, at Upper Penang Road (5 August, 2012)

The final section of Penang Road runs from the junction of Jalan Burma to Magazine Circus, the junction of Penang Road with Macalister Road, Dato Kramat Road, Magazine Road and Jalan Gurdwara (formerly Brick Kiln Road). A sixth road that leads out of this junction, Gladstone Road, has since been erased by the construction of Komtar, the biggest urban development project in Penang. Across the road from Komtar is Ong Kongsi, an ornate clan temple.

Penang Road in Penang Hokkien

Learn to read at Penang Hokkien Made Easy
Look up words in the Penang Hokkien Dictionary

How to go to Penang Road by public transport

As one of the main thoroughfare in Penang, Penang Road can easily be reached by bus. Rapid Penang Free Shuttle Bus stops at three stations along Penang Road, Station No. 7 (Lebuh Muntri), No. 8 (Lebuh Campbell) and No. 10 (Komtar Utara). Rapid Penang bus 10, 11, 101, 103, 104, 201, 202, 203, 204, 206, 301 and 302 are among those that pass by it.

Penang Road plaque (24 November 2008)

In Other Words ...

Due to its significance, Penang Road was known by various names among the different communities in George Town. It is also called Titi Papan (Plank Bridge) in Malay, for the section between the junction of Jalan Dr Lim Chwee Leong with Burmah Road.

In Hokkien, Penang Road was known as Tiau1 Keo3 Thau2, (Head of the Suspension Bridge) at the junction of Jalan Dr Lim Chwee Leong; Gor33 Pha3 Teng1 (Five Street Lights) for Magazine Circus; Lang3chia3 Teng1pai3 Kuan4 (Trishaw Registration Bureau) for the section in front of Komtar; Ke1ling3na4 Ban3san1 for the section in front of Chowrasta Market; Ku3 Kha3ku1 (Old Jail) for the area opposite Chowrasta Market; and Tiau1 Lang3 Kay1 (Hanging Man Street) around Odeon Cinema.

In Cantonese, Penang Road was known as Tiu Khiu Thau (Head of the Suspension Bridge) at the junction of Jalan Dr Lim Chwee Leong; Kau Ka Ku (Old Jail), opposite Chowrasta Market; and Tin Yan Kai (Hanging People Street) around Odean Cinema

In Tamil, Penang Road was known as Ealu Muchanti (7-Road Junction) at Magazine Circus; and Rajati Medu (Queen's Arch) at Ocean Cinema. This was also mentioned in the book The Chulia in Penang.1. It refers to the arch erected there by the Kadayanallur community.

Penang Road signboard (24 November 2008)

Old Photos of Penang Road

If you have any old photos of Penang Road that belong to you, send them to me and I will add to this page, along with your copyright note.

Penang Road, 1981Penang Road, 1981
© N. Mahtani


1. Khoo Salma Nasution, The Chulia in Penang (Areca Books, 2014, p.14)

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