This post may contain affiliate links to things like tours, hotels, Amazon associates and products. These help me earn a small commission at no additional charge to you.
Wondering where to find Penang street art? This self-guided walking tour will help you find the best urban murals in George Town!
I started my Malaysia travels by finding street art in Ipoh which was perhaps a strange move: George Town, on the island of Penang, is Malaysia’s street art hub.
Penang’s street art history began when Ernest Zacharevic first completed his works of art for George Town Festival in 2012. ‘Zach’ is a Lithuanian artist who uses oil painting, stencil and spray – alongside his training in fine art – to create urban murals often with interactive elements.
Since then, works by other artists have sprung up, and Zacharevic has completed pieces around the world.
Although there are countless other, more historical things to do in Penang, I have to confess the murals were part of the reason I was so excited to visit.
E-sim data plan
Copy of Lonely Planet Malaysia
Getting there: flight, bus, train (12GoAsia)
Pre-book your Penang airport to city transfer
Accommodation: Browse hotels on Booking.com // hostels on Hostelworld
Tours: GetYourGuide / Viator
Travel insurance: True Traveller (European travellers) / Hey Mundo (other nationalities) / Safety Wing (digital nomads)
Read next: complete Malaysia itinerary
Penang street art map
Click this map to see the interactive version.
Where to find street art in George Town, Penang
There are more pieces than I managed to find during my stay of three weeks but here are the bits I did discover. Some are by Ernest Zacharevic while others are by other talented artists, local and international…
Note – I’ve ordered this list so each mural is a 2-3-minute walk from the next one. You can follow it exactly!
‘Brother and Sister on a Swing’, Step By Step Lane (2012)
Let’s start with a piece of George Town street art that’s very famous yet slightly hidden. It’s located halfway between the waterfront and town, and the fact it’s technically in neither saves it from annoying queues.
Apparently, Step by Step Lane was a nameless alley until this piece of art put it on the map.
The interactive Brother and Sister on a Swing
Unlike some murals with complex meanings, this piece celebrates sibling relationships. Cute!
Location: 63 Gat Lebuh Chulia.
‘Old Soy Milk Stall’, Step by Step Lane
Right beside the brother and sister on a swing, you’ll find this sweet mural of an old woman handing out bowls of soy milk from a food cart.
It was created as a collaboration by St. Xavier’s Institution, Homesoy and Vilmedia… In other words a school, a soy milk company and an advertising company. An ad but a pretty one!
Location: 63 Gat Lebuh Chulia.
Next, take a short walk to Armenian Street for more street art in Penang.
‘Love Me Like Your Fortune Cat’, Armenian Street
Here’s a heartwarming story: the street artists of Penang came together for the 101 Lost Kittens project, an initiative for rehoming stray animals. This piece is one of 12 cat-themed wall murals around George Town.
It’s a memorable one for me because I photographed it in 2016 before travel blogging became my major hobby, then profession. Coming back several years later and snapping it for this guide felt strangely poignant!
Location: 28, Gat Lebuh Armenian.
‘Skippy Comes to Penang’, Armenian Street
This next cat mural in Penang was also created for the 101 Lost Kittens project. It’s faded now so who knows what condition it’ll be in when you visit.
I hear that the real Skippy the Cat has passed away so perhaps it’s only appropriate it isn’t repainted.
Like the others, it was completed by Artists for Stay Animals (ASA), a team made up two artists, one Malaysian and one Thai.
Location: Armenian Street Ghaut.
I Want Bao, Armenian Street (2014)
Created by Penang street artist, WK Setor, this mural shows two kids reaching for bao buns. Like the soy milk piece, it’s a clever piece of advertising commissioned by Ming Xiang Tai Pastry Shop beside it.
It certainly made me want bao… Although it’s not exactly difficult to coerce me into eating Penang street food 😉
Location: 28, Gat Lebuh Armenian.
‘Little Children on a Bicycle’, Armenian Street (2012)
Enter Ernest Zacharevic! This piece of Penang street art on Armenian Street is one of his most famous, completed in 2012 for the George Town Festival. I had to wait in a lengthy queue to snap this photo so be warned! Visiting on a weekday is advised.
Apparently these cute kids are modelled on real children who were at an event with their parents when they began playing with Zacharevic’s bicycle. He was inspired and the rest is history!
Location: 2, Lebuh Armenian.
‘The Three Girls’, Armenian Street (2013)
I’m not sure you can tell from this photo but this mural is tiny. Keep your eyes peeled and find it on Lebuh Armenian as you wander between the other pieces on this street.
Location: 78, Lebuh Armenian.
Almost beside this Penang mural is…
Teach You Hokkien, Lorong Soo Hong (2014)
This huge purple wall mural is over 2 metres tall, created by street artists, Jim Oo Chun Hee and John Cheng. The young boy is shouting that he can teach you Hokkien, a dialect spoken among Malaysia’s Chinese community, alongside Mandarin and other dialects such as Cantonese and Hakka.
I’m told that the letters have now been removed from the speech bubble. The image remains, so perhaps the bubble will be updated with a new message sometime soon…
Location: 30, Lorong Soo Hong.
Next, a 1-minute walk…
Reaching Up / Boy on a Chair, Cannon Street (2012)
This piece is another piece of Ernest Zacharevic street art in Penang. It’s an original, painted in 2012 but there’s a rumour it received a touch-up in 2016. It suddenly appeared brighter and more defined one day so it’s likely that Zach returned to nurture his work.
It’s another popular one so you probably won’t have it to yourself. On the plus side, having other people around is a good way for solo travellers to get in their own photos!
Location: 14 Lebuh Cannon.
‘The Window Cat’, Cannon Street
This is another piece of street art for cat lovers visiting George Town. You can combine a trip to the Window Cat with the Reaching Up piece above as t
Location: 12-2 Lebuh Cannon (in an alley across from the Reaching Up art).
Now, walk 3 minutes to…
‘Boy on a Motorbike’, Lebuh Ah Quee (2012)
Does this art look familiar yet? If its interactive style doesn’t ring any bells, the queues probably will. Yup, Boy on a Motorbike is another Ernest Zacharevic creation.
It’s been here since 2012 and its number of visitors grows each year.
Location: 12, Lebuh Ah Quee.
What’s this, more food-related street art in George Town Penang? You bet!
This piece is located in Little India. Unlike bao buns which came to Malaysia with Chinese settlers, roti is eaten by the Indian community who arrived in Malaysia during British colonial rule, now making up around 7% of the population.
Location: I can’t remember the exact address but snoop around Little India (near Lebuh Ah Quee) and see if you can find him.
Genius Parking Murals (2014)
These George Town murals weren’t on my radar until I strolled past them and stopped for a photo. The old lady is entitled Symbiotic Mural and was painted by Karl Addison, a self-taught American artist with murals around the world.
It was commissioned for the Urban Xchange project in 2014 shortly after Ernest Zacharevic’s original pieces bought fame to the city. It was the first initiative that saw artists from around the world create vibrant murals, securing Penang’s reputation as a global street art destination.
Chinese Dragon (2013)
I was lucky enough to experience Chinese New Year in Penang back in 2016 during my very first visit to Malaysia. Aside from noodle throwing and seeing Kek Lok Si Temple illuminated at night, the highlight was catching a vibrant dragon dance.
The ‘lion dance’ is a similar performance where actors in costumes mimic the movement of a lion. Such dances began in China but can be seen in other countries with a Chinese diaspora such as Malaysia and Thailand.
This mural art in George Town is tied to its destination and tells us a story about local culture.
Location: I forgot to note down the address of this one… So keep your eyes peeled!
‘The Indian Boatman’, Lorong Stewart (2014)
‘Little Girl in Blue’, Muntri Street (2012)
Girl On a Turtle, Chulia Street (2015)
Woman with tree hair, Chulia Street (2014)
This second piece for the Urban Xchange project was created by Vexta, an Australian muralist and one of the very few women involved in the Penang street art scene. Hoorah!
Although I don’t know the meaning, it depicts a woman connected to nature via her flowing tree-like hair.
Location: 407, Chulia Street beside Ng Fook Thong Temple.
Tiger mural, Chulia Street
Walk a few steps from the Woman With Tree Hair to find this expressive tiger painting. It’s located right beside famous party hostel, Tipsy Tiger, presumably as an advert for them.
‘The Awaiting Trishaw Pedaler’, Jalan Penang (2012)
This final piece of Ernest Zacharevic street art in Penang can be found on Jalan, not far from Chulia Street. It’s displayed on a corner where lots of trishaw drivers hang around offering rides, capturing the nature of the area.
It’s a little faded and damaged. Perhaps Zacharevic will be back to tidy it up!
Location: Jalan Penang (I can’t find the street number but follow the link to the exact location).
Love on Bicycle, Keng Kwee
Not far from the Trishaw Pedaler, you can see a grown-up couple enjoying a bicycle ride just as much as the famous Children on a Bicycle we saw earlier. It’s a painting of a bike rather than a real one so I suspect this simple mural doesn’t attract quite the same amount of snap-happy tourists.
Location: 3, Lebuh Keng Kwee.
Forest Girl, Jalan Bawasah
Unlike the more famous pieces of street art in George Town, this final mural is slightly further out on a residential street. It’s by American artist, Elle.
Location: It’s on Jalan Bawasah but I can’t find the exact location pinned. I found it when visiting Secawon Hutton nearby, one of my favourite coffee shops in Penang that has sadly since closed.
Street art venues
These venues aren’t technically on the street but they have a connection to wall murals in George Town, Penang.
Murals at Hin Bus Depot
Don’t miss the chance to shop, eat and spot murals at Hin Bus Depot. This cultural centre comes alive with events and markets. There are a couple of cafes and food trucks on site.
As a hipster venue inside a refurbished building (the old bus depot, as the name suggests), it’s practically crying out for urban art!
Murals in Penang cafes
Coffee lovers can escape the midday heat by cooling down in a cafe and spotting even more murals in Penang.
Alas, the mural of a young Lee Kuan Yen in Coffee Addict and the coffee-themed mural in Secawan Hutton can no longer be seen as the cafes have since closed down. But never fear: you can still see a Frida Kahlo mural inside China House (stay for the salted caramel cheesecake!).
More Penang blogs:
- 10 best activities in George Town
- The best street food in Penang
- How to visit Kek Lok Si + Penang Hill
- Penang digital nomad guide
- The best cafes in Penang
- Where to find healthy food in George Town
Kuala Lumpur posts:
- What to do & see in Melaka
- The best restaurants in Melaka
- 10 cute Melaka coffee shops
- Melaka street art guide
Southeast Asia travel planning:
- Where to solo travel in Malaysia
- 101 things to do in Southeast Asia
- 101 backpacking Asia tips
- The perfect Southeast Asia travel route
Thanks for reading!
See you next time for more adventures,
Ps. Liked the mural art in Penang? Pin it for later!
Malaysia quick links
Flights – I use Skyscanner to find the best-value flights, using the ‘search by month’ tool to find the cheapest dates. You can also use the ‘to anywhere’ feature if you’re flexible on where you’re going.
Stay connected with E-sim data plans that don’t require delivery or collection; just span the QR code.
In my opinion, Lonely Planet offer the best guidebooks. Get the latest Copy of Lonely Planet Malaysia.
For Malaysia buses and trains, I use 12GoAsia. The search feature allows you to compare prices and durations.
I use Booking.com for accommodation. They have the best range of hotels and self-catering apartments, plus you can filter by review score and price to find the best-rated budget places. For hostels, I use Hostelworld.
To save money on accommodation, I use Trusted Housesitters, a website that connects homeowners going away and travellers who can sit their homes & pets.
For activities, I use GetYourGuide and Viator as they both have a huge range of affordable tours.
Need travel insurance? I use True Traveller (for UK & Europe residents) since it’s affordable but covers everything you’d need including various activities, valuables and pre-existing conditions. Unlike some companies, they insure you if you’re already travelling / don’t yet have your flight home booked. Get a quote.
For travel insurance for other nationalities, I recommend Hey Mundo and for long-term digital nomad travellers, I suggest Safety Wing.
Check out my resources page for more travel discounts and tips!