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The Artisans and Traditions of George Town

Penang, Malaysia
9.5 hours
1 - 4 travelers
Booking notice
2 days
Standard price
MYR 835.20/Pax
I speak English
George Town is celebrated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, not only for its multicultural townscape, but also the heritage trades and arts. Hidden in little lanes and pre-war shophouses, the artisans of Penang keep their trades and sunset industries alive.

On this tour, we will visit Malay, Chinese and Indian traders, a tribute to Malaysia's cultural diversity. We start by meeting a joss stick master, and learn how to make them. Next we will go on a living heritage walking tour in Little India, to meet a flower garland maker, henna artist, signboard maker and goldsmith. After a scrumptious Nyonya lunch, we will tap into the artistic heart of Penang by trying either batik making or henna art. If you aren't afraid, try getting your eyes cleaned! The tour ends with dinner at a historic hotel.

This immersive one-day tour is designed to help preserve the city's intangible heritage, while discovering the people who are the spirit and soul of George Town.


  • Day 1
  • 08:30 AM Pick up from your hotel
  • 09:00 AM Joss stick making
    Born in 1928, Lee Beng Chuan has been making joss sticks for over 70 years. Until his death in 1935, Lee’s father was selling joss sticks. Lee took up his father’s job at the age of 12, before learning to make the joss sticks himself by observing masters from China at work in the factory where he sourced his supplies. Nowadays, Lee only makes a small number of joss sticks for a loyal local clientele; due to his age, he can spend no more than five hours at work a day in his pre-war house.
    - Joss stick maker
  • 11:30 AM Start Little India living heritage walking tour and local food craving
    Flower garland weaving, Henna art, tate the paan or the Indian chewing-gum, Apom Telur
    - Flower garland makers
  • 01:00 PM Lunch at authentic Nyonya restaurant
    Kuih-muih are popular bite-sized desserts, similar to cakes or puddings. They are a mix of Malay and Chinese cooking, and come in a wide variety of shapes, colours, textures, and of course flavours. Mook is a second generation Nyonya kuih maker who has spent over forty years in this family trade. The recipes he uses were handed down to him by his father. After his elder brother passed away in 1969, Mook began learning to make kuih from his father. He was just 14 years of age at the time. According to Mook, there are only three Nyonya kuih makers left in Penang.
    - Nyonya Kuih Maker
  • 02:30 PM Batik making
    Rozana Mohamed is an Art and Design graduate from the Institute Teknologi Mara in Shah Alam. She started her business, Hana Creations, from her home in Johor Baru. According to Rozana, batik painting should not only be decorative, but also reflect the personality of the artist, her spirit, and her feelings. She prefers to explore a theme fully before translating her ideas into fabric designs. A number of countries have their own variations of batik. Malaysian Batik is mainly produced through four methods: silk-screening, tie-dyeing, block-printing and hand-drawn freestyle. Rozana specialises in the freely hand-drawn style of batik.
    - Batik painter
  • 04:30 PM Eyes cleaning
    Ooi Poh Mei is the only traditional eye cleaner in Penang. After finishing high school, she took up this unique trade after her grandfather passed away in 2006. She is the fourth generation practitioner of a trade which has been in the family for over 80 years. Using fine sticks and a wet cotton applicator, Ooi gently cleans the eyes by flipping the eyelids and eyelashes inside out. Traditional Chinese water-soluble inks are used to make dirt and impurities visible, before washing them away with pure water. The eyelids are gently massaged and a warm compress is applied to encourage blood circulation. The cleaning takes about 10 minutes.
  • 06:00 PM Enjoy four ‘Kings’ of food in Kimberly Street, a title given to the hawkers by some TV show.
Local Living , Hands-on Fun , Cultural Heritage
Transportation during tour
Car , Walking
Extra conditions
Smart casual , Flexible plan , Children friendly , Seasonal activity


  • Travel notes
    The itinerary is subject to change depending on various factors, such as availability of the artisan and weather. We will meet equally excellent artisans in Penang should there be a change in plans.
Standard price
MYR 835.20 /Pax
Booking details
Upcoming availability
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