The clan jetties of Penang (yes, more than one!) are close to George Town at Weld Quay Jetty, Penang.
Which gives you no excuse to skip these floating villages if you happen to be in George Town for a few days of sightseeing. Especially for those keen on the Penang Heritage Trail!
Certain clan jetties have become very touristy while others still retain their tranquility. If you can’t decide which one to visit, let us help you with this post!
Table of Contents:
- History Of Clan Jetties Of Penang
- 9 Clan Jetties Of Penang
- Famous Penang Food Near To Clan Jetties Of Penang
- Other Place To Visit Near Clan Jetties Of Penang
- Getting To The Clan Jetties Of Penang
History Of Clan Jetties Of Penang
Originally built by Chinese Hokkien immigrants from the Fujian province of China back in the 19th century, these humble settlements on stilts along Weld Quay are now over a century old!
Descendants of the original Chinese clans still live here. There were 9 of these waterfront villages but 2 have being demolished to make way for modern development projects!
The jetties are named after their respective common surname. Of these, Chew Jetty is the most famous among tourists!
Before they lived in these floating villages, the clans made their home further inland. Like in Acheen Street or Armeninan Street.
They only started to move to the jetty when the shipping/ trade business grew at the waterfront. This was so they could conduct their shipping business with more convenience and better business prospects.
In particular, these included the Ong, Lee, Lim and Chew clans who offered their cargo transfer services to larger ships.
Other clans (Tan, Yeoh or Koay) dealt mainly in traditional industries like the trade of charcoal and firewood.
A surge of Chinese immigrants in the 20th century led to the further growth of these make-shift settlements.
And as life was better in Penang than in China, many arranged for their families to come over!
These settlements however, were only under a Temporary Occupation License which had to renewed every year! Fees were based on the size of the house.
There was no insurance or compensation if these houses were acquired for development purposes.
This foreboding threat of development is significantly lessened as this area is now under the UNESCO World Heritage Site of George Town.
9 Clan Jetties Of Penang
With 2 clan jetties already demolished, there are just 7 of these unique waterfront communities remaining.
Seeing their traditional way of life for yourself will help you appreciate how this tightly knit community has survived for more than a century!
And how they contributed to Penang’s growth!
If you want to get an authentic feel of these clan jetties, take your sightseeing to the lesser-known villages instead of just Chew Jetty!
1. Ong Clan Jetty Penang (姓王桥)
Hidden from plain sight by the Penang Port Commission building:
You can see what a typical jetty looked like before settlement! Though there hardly any people staying there now.
Note: The original location is actually where the Raja Tun Uda Terminal is now.
2. Lim Clan Jetty Penang (姓林桥)
One of the larger clan jetties with a long walkway, you’ll find Lim Clan Jetty close to the present ferry terminal.
Part of this village was destroyed during World War II. Reconstruction saw the creation of new temples and houses.
- Ri Yue Than (日月坛) – Sun Moon Temple – a place of worship for the clan’s ancestral gods
- Suan Hai Ing Yang Tian (山海阴阳殿) – Another temple dedicated to the goddess of seafarers, Mazu
- Wu Gu Xian Zu (五谷仙祖)
It can be very relaxing to stroll along here since it is not as popular as the Chew Clan Jetty. You can enjoy the sea breeze at the end of the walkway (be careful!).
With the quiet atmosphere in the evenings and early morning:
It’s hard to imagine how vibrant this spot used to be with all the transferring of goods from junks arriving from other Southeast Asian countries like Indonesia and Burma.
3. Chew Clan Jetty Penang (姓周桥)
Ever since the movie “Ice Kacang Puppy Love”, Chew Clan Jetty has become a highly popular tourist location.
Another reason tourists come is for the famous street art murals painted on the sides of the houses!
The number of tourists has even prompted souvenirs shops and food stalls to set up right along the walkway. It’s usually very lively on weekends.
If you want to escape the crowds though, go before 10am when the shops have not opened yet.
Note: Not many options for halal food here
The walkways at Chew Jetty are narrow and there is the notable smell of saltwater and mud when you visit the clan jetties.
You can make one circle exploring Chew Jetty on foot. This will take you less than 20 minutes if you don’t stop at each shop.
Half of this path goes through the quieter side of Chew Jetty (actual homes) though so keep your voices to a minimum.
What we notice at Chew Jetty are clear signs of maintenance. Like new planks to replace old ones.
And numerous fire extinguishers besides.
It might be best to time your visits to any of the clan jetties at Penang with the tides unless you don’t mind muddy flats in place of water.
Place Of Interest:
- Chao Yuan Kong (朝元宫)
- Kang Thean Kong (感天宫)
- Hai Gua Kiong (海外宫)
- Ting Hai Keong (王封镇海宫鹤龙寺)
- Qing Yan Gong (清岩宫)
- Chew Jetty Community Hall (槟城周桥公司民众会堂)
Kam Thean Keong Temple is small and simple compared to other temples around Penang. But it has an unobstructed view of the sea.
4. Tan Clan Jetty Penang (姓陈桥)
Tan Clan Jetty along with Chew, Yeoh and Lim, are the oldest clan jetties in Penang. This clan jetty is notably smaller than Chew jetty.
Note: The house at the end of this jetty (as seen in many Instagram photos) is not accessible most of the time due to a locked gate
There are two temples to visit at this jetty. One of them is the Mazu Temple which is dedicated to Goddess of Seafarers.
As ancestors of the Tan Clan were fishermen from a remote island off the coast of Fujian Province!
If you’re visiting, you might not be able to walk for the full stretch of the pier (gate is locked), but it’s still a beautiful sight in the morning (sunrise), sunset, or at night when the lights are on.
This jetty has become quite popular owing as many seek it out to take photos for their Instagram.
Tip: You might prefer the way the jetty looks at high tide
While you’re here, try the fried bananas sold near the entrance!
Place Of Interest:
- Chow Eng Tien (昭应殿)
- Mazu Temple (妈祖庙)
5. Lee Clan Jetty Penang (姓李桥)
Residents of Lee Clan Jetty were forced to move from their original location when the Penang ferry terminal was built back in the 1960s.
Their main business was transporting sailors from their ships to the mainland and back. A business that meant competing with other clans.
Kim Aun San Si (金鞍山寺) houses their ancestral deity, Baosheng God of Health.
Lee Clan Jetty is not as crowded with tourists as the Tan or Chew Jetty and there are many residents here. So, you’ll get a more authentic feel for what life is like living at one of these clan jetties.
Although there are some signs that tourism has influenced this place too (e.g. shops and food stalls).
It looks quite different at night with the colorful lights so try to see it in daytime and in the evening if you can.
Bear in mind that it will take less than 15 minutes to explore this small jetty.
Read more: Penang Nightlife – 23 Best Things To Do In Penang At Night
6. New Clan Jetty Penang (杂姓桥)
Unlike the other clan jetties in Penang, New Clan Jetty is home to multiple families (regardless of clan) who came over from Chew Jetty!
It’s not as conspicuous as the other jetties so keep a sharp eye out for the entrance. The signboard tells you that residents here don’t share the same surname (I.e. mixed).
And if you’re seeking true quaint jetty life, you’ll be happy to know that there are no signs of tourism influence here.
Kee Thean Keong (启天宫) is a small temple right at the end of the jetty over a neat bridge. You can also see one of the other clan jetties in Penang from the New Clan Jetty like Yeoh Clan Jetty.
7. Yeoh Clan Jetty Penang (姓杨桥)
Quiet for the majority of the year except during the Nine Emperor Gods festival:
Yeoh Clan Jetty is actually less on the sea than it is on land! After being victim to bombing during World War II, residents chose to stay closer to land.
And so, this jetty is relatively shorter compared to the others. If you don’t mind the slightly derelict condition of the jetty, it’s not bad for spotting wildlife in the mud during low tides.
If you do visit the Yeoh Clan Jetty, stop by Hui Teong Keong (会堂宫) which has an unusual canine-shaped deity. However, the main deity here is Patron God Wu Xian.
Other than that, most visitors come for the views and peace and quiet. There’s also a convenient bench at the end of the jetty where one can sit down and take in the sunset.
PS: Yeoh Clan Jetty is also a marvellous spot to see the sunrise.
8. Peng Aun Jetty Penang (平安桥)
Peng Aun Jetty was demolished in 2006 despite protests from heritage conservationists.
The main reason for its demolition are the flats off the Jelutong Expressway.
9. Koay Clan Jetty Penang (姓郭桥)
Similarly, Koay Clan Jetty was demolished in favor of the same flats.
Famous Penang Food Near To Clan Jetties Of Penang
Between Chew Jetty and Tan Jetty is where you can expect to find a good number of hawker food stalls and best cafes in Penang.
1. Penang Road Famous Ice Kacang Cendol, Tan Jetty
The first stall you need to stop at on your way to Tan Jetty:
Their cendol is one of the best cendol in Penang! And you can get other refreshing chilled desserts too!
- Location: Tan Jetty, Pengkalan Weld, George Town, 10300 George Town, Penang Island
- Opening Hours: 10am–7pm
2. Prawn Fritters and Loh Bak, Tan Jetty
Look out for this inconspicuous family-run stall at Tan Jetty where you can try their freshly-fried and affordable beancurd, lor bak (pork rolls) or prawn fitters together with their chili sauce!
Note: There is nowhere to sit here.
- Location: 90-A, Pengkalan Weld, George Town, 10300 George Town, Pulau Pinang
- Contact: +6016-452 0637
- Opening Hours: 8am–6pm (Closes earlier at 12pm on Thursdays)
3. Chew Jetty Café
There is not one but a few star dishes at this humble restaurant!
Firstly, there’s always a queue for the unique wanton noodles served in 3 different ways with sumptuous dumplings (with water chestnuts) to accompany them.
Due to their popularity, it is possible to wait for close to an hour. And they can sell out before 4pm.
If you come during lunch time, there’s an aromatic version of the spicy Hokkien mee!
Note: The Hokkien mee stall only opens at noon
Other than this, there is a delicious char kuay teow you can try at Chew Jetty Cafe as well.
This is a typical hawker style environment so while it beats being out in the hot sun, there’s no air conditioning here. Moreover, drinks are quite sweet and coffee can be a little runny too.
- Location: 47, Pengkalan Weld, George Town, 10300 George Town, Pulau Pinang
- Contact: +6011-2055 5975
- Opening Hours: 7 am–12 pm (Closed on Tuesday)
Read more: 11 Best Asam Laksa In Penang – Satisfy Your Tastebuds With This Iconic Malaysian Dish!
4. Ka Bee Café
After renovation, Ka Bee Café now offers an air-conditioned environment for patrons to taste their signature seafood broth noodles with crispy deep-fried fish fillets on the side!
Note: The owner is very passionate about seafood, often perusing local seafood markets to obtain the freshest ingredients!
The crab porridge is recommended, as is their tom yam and fish head noodles.
Because of the reasonable price points, it can be crowded during lunch time.
Read more about Ka Bee Cafe In Penang.
PS: They do have toilets.
- Location: 49, Pengkalan Weld, George Town, 10300 George Town, Pulau Pinang
- Contact: +604-261 5659
- Opening Hours: Monday to Saturday 11am–2:30pm; 5–10pm (Sunday Closed)
Read more: Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion (The Blue Mansion) – Relive The Peranakan Glory Days
5. Village Fish Head Bee Hoon
Generous helpings of delectable tom yam (bee hoon or maggi mee) or clear soup noodles with fish slices are reason enough for people to throng this eatery during lunch and dinner!
You can pick from many side dishes to go with your tom yam.
However, beware that finding parking here is tricky. And it is quite stuffy in this old school restaurant.
Note: The tom yam is more sweet and sour, rather than spicy
- Location: 10300, 37, Pengkalan Weld, George Town, 10300 George Town, Pulau Pinang
- Contact: +6012-477 8867
- Opening Hours: 11:30pm–12am
Other Places To Visit Near Clan Jetties Of Penang
The clan jetties are of course, just one of many things to do in Penang! Be sure to check out these other places while you’re in the same area!
Besides the famous Penang street murals around Armenian street, there are actually two wonderful murals at Chew Jetty:
- Brother & Sister on a Swing
- Skippy the Cat
2. Penang Interactive Museums
It can get hot quickly during the afternoon after wandering around George Town and the clan jetties.
Have a break from the heat at any of these fascinating Penang interactive museums:
- Wonder Food Museum
- Ghost Museum
- Asia Camera Museum
- Upside Down Museum
- Batik Painting Museum
Read more: Fort Cornwallis Penang – UNESCO Heritage Site In George Town
3. Leong San Tong Khoo Kongsi
More commonly referred to as Khoo Kongsi, this prominent Chinese clan association goes back ~6 centuries ago.
For RM10 per person, you can see their iconic and elaborate clan house with its own temple and a museum!
- Location: 18, Cannon Square, George Town, 10450 George Town, Pulau Pinang
- Contact: +604-261 4609
- Opening Hours: 9am–5pm
Read more: Kek Lok Si Temple – If You Only Have Time For 1 Temple In Penang, Let It Be This One!
4. Pinang Peranakan Mansion
Pinang Peranakan Mansion is where you go if you want to experience what luxury was like during the old glory days of Penang!
Hundreds of Peranakan antiques are on display in this heritage house with daily tours to provide more insight!
- Location: 29, Church St, Georgetown, 10200 George Town, Penang
- Contact: +604-264 2929
- Opening Hours: 9:30am–5pm
Read more: Penang Botanical Gardens – Visit The Green Lungs Of Penang!
5. Penang Little India
Penang Little India is vibrant and filled with traditional shops selling flowers, praying paraphernalia, sarees and gold jewelry!
There’s plenty here to catch the eye and a lot of delicious Indian food to try besides.
- Location: Lebuh Pasar, George Town, 10450 George Town, Pulau Pinang
- Opening Hours: 8am–9:45pm
Read more: The Habitat Penang Hill (Ultimate Guide) – With Tips For Entrance Fee Discounts!
Getting To The Clan Jetties of Penang
At walking distance from the Weld Quay Bus Terminal, it’s not difficult to reach the clan jetties of Penang via bus, taxi or ferry!
The Penang Hop-On Hop-Off Tourist bus makes a stop here too!
For those who want a local guide to bring them on a private tour of the clan jetties, you can book a tour with RayTheTour!
Our tours include:
- Direct pick-up from your hotel in Penang, Ipoh, or even Cameron Highlands!
- MPV or van transport and local experienced guide to take you around Penang from morning to evening
- Drop off anywhere in Penang after the tour!
- Child seats can be requested (subject to availability)
- 4 Best Ways For Getting Around Penang (With All Penang Transport Options)
- How To Get From Penang Airport To Georgetown (4 Easy Ways)
- How To Get To Penang Island From Kuala Lumpur (KL)
Even if you’re not a history buff, you should make it a point to visit at least one of the 7 existing clan jetties of Penang!
Seeing (and walking on) these villages on stilts with your own eyes will give you a new perspective on Penang. And an incomparable sense of what it used to look like in the 19th century!