Living like in Crazy Rich Asians: 48 hours in Penang, Malaysia

Discover the sights, sounds, tastes, and smells of Penang through the lens of the Hollywood blockbuster hit, Crazy Rich Asians.
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We were all blown away by the 2018 American romantic comedy Crazy Rich Asians. The film is based on Kevin Kwan’s 2013 global bestseller of the same name. Starring Constance Wu and Henry Golding, the film depicts the cinderella story of Rachel Kwan and Nick Young set in Singapore and Malaysia. From an incredibly lavish wedding to holidaying in your very own private island, the film shows off the high life in some of our favorite destinations. You can now live your life like a Crazy Rich Asians life with our 48-hour itinerary in Penang, Malaysia without breaking the bank!

Penang takes center stage in the film with the film’s iconic mahjong scene located in the iconic Blue Mansion. This tile-based game is fast-paced, strategic, and tactical with its roots tracing back to the late 19th century. The goal of the game is to reach certain combinations of tiles before your opponents. Tiles have numbers and suits which combine into a winning hand.

This climactic scene unfolds with Rachel (Constance Wu) and Eleanor (Michelle Yeoh) engaged in an intense game of mahjong. This game is symbolic because it dictates if Rachel would stay with the love of her life, Nick (Henry Golding), by accepting his proposal. In the end, Rachel folds her hand on purpose by throwing a tile that allowed Eleanor to win.

This gripping scene spells out at the sprawling Cheong Fatt Tze mansion, better known as the Blue Mansion, the centerpiece of our 48-hour itinerary in Penang. Explore the Blue Mansion and more with our selection featuring the sights, sounds, and tastes of Penang through the lens of Crazy Rich Asians. Come as we walk in the shoes of a crazy rich Asian without breaking the bank!

Day one

Toh Soon Cafe – Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion (The Blue Mansion) – Laksalicious – Old Georgetown Streets/Swatow Lane Ice Kachang – Red Garden Food Paradise

All locations except Red Garden Food Paradise are within walking distance.

Kaya Toast

Location: Toh Soon Cafe
Lebuh Campbell, George Town, 10450 George Town, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia

Though kaya toast was not featured in Crazy Rich Asians, this decadent coconut jam-filled toast is a staple in a Singaporean and Malaysian breakfast. Toh Soon Cafe is a hidden gem tucked away in an alley. With their signature charcoal toasted white bread filled with delicious kaya jam and their kampung chicken eggs, this hearty breakfast is a perfect way to start your day. Kevin Kwan, the author of Crazy Rich Asians, describes his ideal kaya toast as “…fresh white bread, crusts cut off, spread with a thick layer of kaya.”

The Blue Mansion

Location: Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion 
Lot 22, 14, Lebuh Leith, George Town, 10200 George Town, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia

Begin your journey at the iconic Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion, otherwise known as The Blue Mansion for its striking indigo-blue outer walls. Cheong Fatt Tze was a wealthy merchant who dreamt of building a house that represented luxury and elegance. This expansive mansion was heavily inspired by the Chinese architectural styles from the Imperial Period and consisted of 38 rooms, 5 courtyards, and 7 staircases.

Today, The Blue Mansion is one of the top highlights to visit when touring around the UNESCO World Heritage Site in George Town, Penang. Discover this historic mansion’s splendor and extravagance by going on a daily tour around the courtyards and the museum exhibition on the second floor. The Blue Mansion has also turned 18 of its rooms into a boutique hotel that combines old-world grandeur and modern-day luxuries, giving you a chance to spend the night in one of only three traditional Chinese mansions left outside of China. Who knows, you might stumble upon a game of mahjong here!

Laksa

Location: Laksalicious
No.117A, Jalan Hutton, George Town, 10050 George Town, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia

An iconic scene in Crazy Rich Asians is Rachel’s first foray into the busy hawker center in Singapore where the multitudes of food take centerstage amidst the hustle and bustle of diners. Nick takes Rachel to some of his favorite food stores and, at one of them, he is shown to order two bowls of laksa mai hum.

Laksa is a complex dish that varies in taste, method of cooking, and presentation in Singapore and different regions of Malaysia. Penang Laksa is a trio of flavors with each mouthful promising you a perfect triad of sweet, sour, and umami. Penang Laksa reminds us of Awkwafina in Crazy Rich Asians because they both pack a punch! Laksalicious is a homely, air-conditioned restaurant that serves up a perfect bowl of Penang Laksa amongst other local Penang dishes.

Old George Town Streets

No visit to Penang is complete without a visit to the old heritage streets of George Town. This UNESCO World Historic Site is a fascinating fusion of eastern and western influences, emblematic of Penang’s interesting cultural background.

Explore the melting pot of cultures on the Street of Harmony where the Kapitan Keling Mosque, Goddess of Mercy Temple, St. George’s Church, and Sri Maha Mariamman Temple all sit within walking distance. Remember to keep your eyes peeled for Penang’s thriving street art culture; spot creative works that range from wall murals to wire structures. Every turn promises new surprises here. We recommend cooling off with some dessert at Swatow Lane Ice Kachang with an ice-cold bowl of Ice Kachang.

Hawker Food

Location: Red Garden Food Paradise
20, Lebuh Leith, George Town, 10000 George Town, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia

End the day at Red Garden Food Paradise! Dine like Nick, Rachel, and their friends by ordering from the variety of food stores here that include Malaysian, Vietnamese, Thai, Western cuisine, and many more. Find Penang’s must-try foods by checking out our top five picks here. Our number one choice is definitely satay paired with an ice-cold mug of beer. Sedap!

Day 2

Popiah Penang Chowrasta – Pinang Peranakan Museum – Moh Teng Pheow Nonya Koay – Eastern and Oriental Hotel – Ivy’s Nonya Cuisine

All locations except Ivy’s Nonya Cuisine are within walking distance or easily accessible by public transport.

Popiah

Location: Popiah Penang Chowrasta
5, Jalan Chowrasta, George Town, 10200 George Town, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia

Good morning! Begin your day with popiah at the beloved Popiah Penang Chowrasta, which has been in business for over 50 years. This stall prides itself on using the freshest ingredients, down to making their very own popiah skin. Take inspiration from a scene that didn’t make the movie: Rachel’s popiah-making party with Peik Lin’s family. You might be able to take home some popiah skin to try your hand at rolling your very own popiah concoction just like Rachel!

Pinang Peranakan Museum

Location: Pinang Peranakan Museum
29, Church St, Georgetown, 10200 George Town, Penang, Malaysia

Did you know that the Young family became Peranakan? Nelson Coates, the production designer for Crazy Rich Asians drew on Peranakan influences while working on the set, turning the Youngs’ ancestral home into an intricately Peranakan-styled building. Though the Youngs were not explicitly Peranakan in Kwan’s novel, Peranakan influences are very strong throughout the film.

Find out more about the Peranakan culture and history at the Pinang Peranakan Museum. This 19th-century mansion was once a residence and office of a Chinese Tycoon. Take a tour of this historical mansion that houses many detailed artifacts, memorabilia, and antiquities. Perhaps you’ll be able to see similarities with the Young household!

Nonya Kuih

Location: Moh Teng Pheow Nyonya Koay
Lebuh Chulia, Jalan Masjid, 10200 George Town, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia

Inspired by the indigo-blue hues of the Blue Mansion, we recommend getting a taste of Penang’s Peranakan cuisine. The butterfly-pea flower, or known as Bunga Telang in Malaysia, is a flower species used in many traditional Peranakan dishes, especially in Nonya desserts and kuihs. Peranakans traditionally use this flower to naturally color their kuihs into an indigo-blue hue, similar to that of the Blue Mansion. In the film, Nonya kuihs are on display at Nick’s mother’s bible study and at his grandmother’s extravagant birthday party.

Undoubtedly the best place in town for Nonya kuih, Moh Teng Pheow Nonya Koay serves up a variety of handmade kuih that leaves you spoilt for choice. Don’t be fooled by the restaurant’s appearance, this traditionally-styled restaurant is tucked away in a hidden alley where a paradise of authentic Nonya delights awaits. Service here is also reminiscent of the welcoming Malaysian hospitality of dining in someone’s home. Try the nasi lemak and laksa here. Finish off with kaya kuih, a sweet dessert of glutinous rice dyed with butterfly-pea flower, topped with coconut jam. These treats will definitely leave you craving for more!

Eastern and Oriental Hotel

Location: Eastern and Oriental Hotel
10, Lebuh Farquhar, George Town, 10200 George Town, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia

Crazy Rich Asians opens with a rainy night at a lavish London hotel called Calthorpe. Behind movie magic, this scene was actually filmed at the Eastern and Oriental Hotel, located in the heart of George Town. Built in 1885, this extravagant hotel is one of the oldest and most beautiful buildings in Penang. It features colonial-style architecture and offers a stunning waterfront view.

Spend a night in this 5-star hotel or simply pay a visit to soak in the British old-school charm that the hotel exudes. We recommend indulging in the hotel’s English Afternoon Tea at Palm Court that infuses both Eastern and Western cultures. Choose from a variety of tea options including some of the more unique flavors such as Tarry Lapsang and Assam Mokalbarie. Complement your tea with their selection of sweet pastries and desserts including buttered scones, quiche, pandan kaya, exotic fruit tartlets, and more. Now you can wine and dine in opulence just like in Crazy Rich Asians right here in Penang.

Nonya Cuisine

Location: Ivy’s Nonya Cuisine
58, Jalan Chow Thye, George Town, 10050 George Town, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia

Finally, conclude your Crazy Rich Asians adventure with an authentic Peranakan dinner. Ivy’s Nonya Cuisine is a quaint and cozy restaurant that serves scrumptious home-cooked authentic Northern straits settlement Chinese dishes. Get a taste of Crazy Rich Asians right here in this beloved Penang Peranakan restaurant known for their use of fresh ingredients and the best quality spices. We recommend the lobak, otak-otak, assam fish, and the hard-to-find perut ikan.


Thinking of traveling elsewhere? Check out our handy resource, The Ultimate Guide to COVID-19 Travel Restrictions, to remain up-to-date with COVID-19 travel regulations around the world

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