Penang Must-Buys

To the Market, To the Market
Grown right here on the island, the nutmeg is indeed a useful fruit. More than just something edible, its soothing qualities are translated into a balm good for mosquito bites and aching limbs. Conveniently packed in little travel-sized jars, the balm is as fragrant as it is healing. The fruit itself can be found fresh, pickled and ground as a spice. Look out for antique knick-knacks, second-hand books as well as local food such as crackers, pickled tropical fruits and biscuits.
Where: Chowrasta on Jalan Penang and Rope Walk at Taman Selat in Seberang Perai are both indoor markets where you’ll get inexpensive locally produced products that are not only useful but enjoyable as well.

Weekly night markets travel from neighbourhood to neighbourhood. It’s a good place to look for daily needs commonly used by Penangites such as homeware goods, local snacks and even durian when it’s in season. These after dark markets are also a one-stop place for local food such as laksa, stir-fried noodles, Malay rice and more.
Where: Tanjung Bungah night market is on every Tuesday, accessible by Rapid bus #101. A popular spot to soak in the lively night market ambience with tourists is the Batu Ferringhi night market that is open daily after 5pm.

At weekly or monthly daytime markets are where you’ll be able to seek out local, contemporary handicrafts such as jewellery by local designers, accessories such as handmade bags, soft toys and such, as well as specialised books on Penang and Malaysian varied history.
Where: Little Penang Street Market on Upper Penang Road in George Town, is on every last Sunday of the month. While the weekend market on the first floor of Straits Quay Retail Mall in Tanjung Tokong kicks off by around 11am. 

An Authentic Touch
Penang’s Little India in George Town is a popular enclave where colours, music and scents collide harmoniously. Here are where shops filled with ceiling to floor of gorgeous sari fabric sold by the meter, twinkling bangles as well as costume jewellery wink seductively and barrels of ground spices sold by the gram for curries tickle your olfactory enticingly. Besides that, brass and metal homeware such as chai cups and meal plates typically used in Indian homes or restaurants can be bought here too.
Where: Little India’s main streets in the heart of George Town are where a myriad shops sit.

A stone’s throw away from this enclave, a block or two away, you’ll find quaint small stalls peddling Chinese prayer paraphernalia such as fragrant joss sticks, old school match boxes and little offering lamps. Side by side to these stalls, stand stalls selling garlands of flowers used by Hindus as offerings for their gods – a true sign of multi-religious harmony.
Where: Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling and Lorong Stewart in George Town.

Pretty Trinkets, Books and More
On a contemporary note, locally produced handcrafted goods such as jewellery, clothing, bags, soft furnishing, art and books written specifically on Penang can be found in George Town.
Where: Bon Ton shop on Jalan Armenian has a myriad of handcrafted goods as well as books and art either Penang produced or Malaysian made. 41 Living Story on Love Lane has traditional batik sarongs, a charming collection of old school Malaysian posters and candies. Jonathan Yun Jewellery on Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling has handcrafted silver jewellery with a range inspired by Nyonya designs. Gerak Budaya bookshop and on the ground floor of The Star building on Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling as well as Areca Books on Lebuh Acheh have beautiful coffee table books and well researched books on Penang and Malaysia published locally.

Meanwhile, traditional Penang persihables such as tau sar pneah, a pastry that has a mildly sweet filling wrapped in flaky shell travels well, has a long shelf life and makes a good gift due to the professional and attractive packing. Also, there’s Penang white coffee which is a creamy, milky concoction that gives you a good hint at flavours of locally roasted and ground coffee beans. They’re usually sold in mix-in-hot-water ready sachets consisting of sugar, powdered milk and ground coffee beans. There are several brands of white coffee and most of them make pretty much a good cuppa.
Where: For tau sar pneah, go to Ghee Hiang on Lebuh Pantai or Jalan Macalister in George Town. If out of the city area, try Lim Wah Thai on Jalan Gottlieb for both tau sar pneah and white coffee and they claim to be halal too. Although, the Penang White Coffee is sold at a lot of places such as grocery shops, supermarkets and even souvenir stores around George Town.