Chulia Street is also located within the core zone of the recently awarded UNESCO World Heritage Site of Penang. The street was apparently named during the rule of Sir Francis Light in the 1800s when Penang was known as the Prince of Wales Island. There were four original four streets of George Town and they were Beach Street, Light Street, Pitt Street (now Masjid Kapitan Keling Street) and Chulia Street.
Chulia Street still maintains the old charm with many pre-war buildings dominating both sides of the street while a number of guest houses and hotels stand out with bright signages hoping to attract the backpackers and travelers. Various shops cater to the tourist by offering everything travel related from buying second hand books to renting out motorbikes, internet cafes to instant laundries.
Chulia Street also offers a number of money changers or foreign currency exchange services while visa arrangements to Thailand are a popular sight along the entire street. If you are looking for a good deal, it would be best to take your time and check with the various services offered here as one can easily walk the entire street in under an hour. Visa Runners, see end of posting.
My memories of this old street go back about 10-15 years when I remember the street being popular with Antique Shops selling all sorts of curios and collectibles while the old style hotels looked pretty much grand during their heyday. These days, backpacker guest houses are the popular choice of lodging as you see a number of them throughout the street offering you amazing lodging deals.
Gone are many of the original coffee shops and restaurants that once served a packed floor. These days, younger generation cafes, bars and bistros are mushrooming along Chulia Street or Lebuh Chulia in Malay. Even Bob Marley is not spared as a Reggae Club is located along this street catering to the backpackers who frequent places like these nowadays.
Tourist guesthouses who double as Internet cafes and everything else are the norm here as competition is pretty much stiff. Prices are reasonable while lodging is very basic but guaranteeing you a place in the heart of town withing walking distances to most attractions in and around Georgetown.
As I walk pass one of the old hotels called Nam Wah Hotel and Bar, it is now sealed shut. Probably due to the lack of business, the place once looked like a mini mansion with grand doorways in a stand alone building surrounded by intricate carved walls. I wonder why no one wanted to take over this beautiful nostalgic place. Well, before you know it, it could happen on my next visit there.
Just next door, one old remaining popular drinking spot called the Hong Kong Bar (HKB) is still open and at 3pm in the scorching afternoon, a bunch of travelers are seen having a good time with some cold beer. The place is quite well known with the RAR (Royal Australian Regiment), RAF/RAAF (Royal Australian Air Force) personnel.
The Hong Kong Bar is also filled with photographs, plaques, badges, lifebuoys and tons of photographs from the good old days of the HKB as it is is still referred to since the sixties and seventies. Tragic hit this place when a fire burnt it to the ground in the early morning of Sept 14, 2004 where all the memorabilia collected throughout the years gone but the place is back in action now. If you are or were one of the regulars here, you could take a look at this site discussing about the Hong Kong Bar.
A number of new info-bars are also popping up in Chulia Street and one of them I saw was called Jim's Place - Reggae and Rock Cafe. These are the current generation backpacker or flashpacker outlets catering to the modern travelers who want information quick and easy at a budget price.
Apart from the regular bars, hotels and guesthouses, you would find one or two really useful shops that cater to almost everything. One popular place is called H.S.Sam, a bookstore by name but offers various types of travel services which include buying and selling novels, travel books, renting bicycles and motorcycles or motor bikes, selling stationary, currency exchange, visa arrangements and even travel tickets. It is also quite hard to miss his store when you pass by. Please check about the procedures on renting a motor bike in Penang if you plan to do so.
Popular amenities like 7-11, laundry services, travel agencies, home grown businesses and so on are also available along this famous street. Somehow whenever I visit Penang Island, I will make it a point to at least drive by the street to see how it has improved over the years. One of my favorite places, Vincent Hair Saloon is a must stop-must-take-picture place. Trust me, you will never see another place with an amazing facade anywhere like this.
For more historical information on Chulia Street Penang
History information from Wikipedia on Penang
Wikipedia Street Names of Penang
Wikitravel info on Penang
For your added information, below are some of the hotels and guesthouse information and also the famous Visa Run Website.
Banana Guest House
355/357/359 Chulia Street 10000 Penang
Rooms Rates RM18-100 (US$9-29)
Facilities: Wifi, Cafe/Restaurant, Car Park, Air Condition, Hot Water, Laundry
Banana Guesthouse Website
Blue Diamond Hotel
422, Leboh Chulia 10200 Georgetown, Penang
Room Rates RM20-45 (US$6.50-13)
Facilities: Cafe/Restaurant, Car Park, Air Condition, Hot Water, Laundry
294-294A Lebuh Chulia 10200 Penang
Telephone: 04-263 8068 Fax: 04-261 3599
Crystal Guesthouse Website
Day and Night Backpackers
319 Lebuh Chulia 10200 Penang
Telephone: 04-262 5645
Room Rates: RM20 (US$5.80)
E & A Budget Hotel
380 Chulia Street 10200 Penang
Room Rates: RM25-45 (USD$7.30-13.30)
509, Chulia Street 10200 Penang
Telephone: 04-2614597 Fax: 04-2610008
Room Rates RM25-35 (US$7-10)
Facilities: Air Condition, Hot Water
Hang Chow Hotel
511, Chulia Street 10200 Georgetown Penang
Room Rates RM30-50 (US$9-15)
Hotel Hong Ping
273, Lebuh Chulia 10200 Penang
Telephone: 04-2625243 Fax: 04-2623270
Room Rates RM59-80 (US$17-24)
Facilities: TV, Car Park, Credit Card, Air Condition, Hot Water
Island City Hotel
456 Lebuh Chulia 10200 Penang
Tel: 04-261 0770
Room Rates: RM35-50 (US$10.30-14.50)
431 Chulia Street 10200 Penang
Telephone: +6016 6536963 +6017 4460644
Mobile: +60 16 653 6963
Jim's Place Website
Newasakin Rumah Tumpangan
35/36 Chulia Street 10200 Penang
Room Rates: RM35-40 (US$10.30-11.80)
Facilities: Very basic
Olive Spring Hotel
300 – 302 Chulia Street 10200 Penang
Tel: (604) 261 4641
Room Rates: RM7-22 (US$2-8.50)
Facilities: Restaurant, Ticketing to Thailand, Indonesia
Pin Seng Hotel
82 Love Lane 10200 Penang (very near Chulia Street)
Tel: 04-261 9004
Room Rates: RM20 (US$5.80)
370-D, Chulia Street, 10200 Penang
Telephone: 04 2635723
Room Rates: RM23-35 (US$6.70-10.30)
Stardust Guesthouse Website
Swiss Hotel (Oasiss hotel)
431-F, Chulia Street 10200 Penang
Telephone: 04-2620133 / 04-262 2345
Room Rates RM30 (US$9)
Facilities: Car Park
425/427/429 Chulia Street 10200 Penang
Telephone: 04 261 6425
Room Rates: RM20-25 (US$5.90-7.30)
If you currently run a guesthouse or budget motel who is not listed here, please do email me so I can add you into the list above.
And finally, for those who want more information about the Penang Visa Run where information on everything you need to know about traveling from Thailand to Malaysia and getting a new Thai Visa.
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