GEORGE TOWN: The verdict is out. George Town is No. 4 in Lonely Planet’s Top 10 Cities list for Best in Travel 2016.
“George Town might be widely known for its Unesco World Heritage-listed streetscape, but of late it has also emerged as the crucible of an artsy, modern Malaysia,” Lonely Planet said on its website.
“You’re likely to find funky street art amid the traditional Chinese shophouses these days, and versatile exhibition spaces showcasing avant garde art, film, music and dance are springing up left and right. Throw in a few boutique guesthouses and you’ve got a recipe for one of Asia’s most inventive and diverse arts communities.”
George Town came fourth after Kotor (Montenegro), Quito (Ecuador) and Dublin (Ireland).
The city was ahead of other better-known places on the list (in descending order) – Rotterdam (Holland), Mumbai, Fremantle (Australia), Manchester (United Kingdom), Nashville (United States) and Rome.
As a Unesco World Heritage-listed city, Lonely Planet also called George Town as “a haven for the expanding arts scene with hip accommodation”.
“Negotiate the meandering roads and laneways of George Town’s historical townscape to discover a compelling outdoor gallery of street art.
“In 2012, the George Town Festival commissioned Lithuanian artist Ernest Zacharevic to create bold and playful street art – often incorporating existing objects like bicycles and a motorbike – and Penang’s excellent street art scene has been further expanded in following years by both local and international artists,” described writer Brett Atkinson.
The accolade for Penang came two years after Lonely Planet named the island state as the world’s best destination for food.
Previously, Britain’s Guardian newspaper also named Penang as one of the top 10 must-visit destinations in 2014.