Fort Cornwallis George Town Penang

Next to the Esplanade Park, Fort Cornwallis happens to be both the largest and oldest fort in Malaysia, and is one of the primary reasons why George Town is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site!

Built in the the 18th century,  this star-shaped fort has been through a lot since the 18th century and represents great historical significance to Penang and Malaysia!

You can learn more about this Penang tourist attraction in this post, but nothing beats seeing this place in person! Especially if you’re a history buff!

Table of Contents:

Fort Cornwallis History

Fort Cornwallis was built upon the very first place in which the founder of Penang, Captain Francis Light, landed on back in 1786.

Regal Statue Of Francis Light In The Fort Cornwallis Compound
Regal Statue Of Francis Light In The Fort Cornwallis Compound – photo credits to uwais_xiii (Instagram)

Named after the then-governor-general of Bengal, Marquis Charles Cornwallis, it was made of nibong palms rather than bricks during its early years.

There were also numerous cannons present at the fort, with the intention of warding off unsavory intruders such as pirates and armed forces from Kedah or France.

Cannons At Fort Cornwallis
Cannons At Fort Cornwallis – photo credits to m_kheong (Instagram)

Some 20 years later in the 1800s, the structure was fortified with bricks by Indian prisoners, and a moat was also added sometime later.

Note: This moat was later filled in the 1920s in the wake of a malaria epidemic, although there are plans to restore Fort Cornwallis’ Moat by 2024!

However, the military status of the bastion was eventually removed due to its more prominent administrative role, and was hence converted into a police station in 1886.

Fort Cornwallis in Penang
Fort Cornwallis in Penang – photo credits to styleitlikeitshot (Instagram)

And during World War II, the Japanese used the fort and the opposite park as both a supply store and detention centre.

The 1970s saw the introduction of both a sewage system and electricity into the old fort, with an Amphitheatre being built to host cultural shows as well!

Seri Rambai Canon At The Fort Cornwallis
Seri Rambai Canon At The Fort Cornwallis – photo credits to uwais_xiii (Instagram)

Today, only a handful of the original 77 cannons and the 10-ft high outer walls remain along with the flagstaff and the lighthouse!

Fort Cornwallis Lighthouse

Located besides the fort, the Fort Cornwallis Lighthouse which was built in 1882.

With its 21m-tall steel frame construction, Fort Cornwallis is a little unusual compared to the other solidly-built lighthouses around Malaysia!

Night Photo Of The Flagstaff And Lighthouse At Fort Cornwallis, Penang
Night Photo Of The Flagstaff And Lighthouse At Fort Cornwallis, Penang – photo credits to just_the_fstopguy (Instagram)

The flagstaff was used to communicate with its corresponding flagstaff on Penang Hill the arrival of ships or dignitaries!

Note: Light from this lighthouse can reach up to 16 nautical miles!

Still in operation, Fort Cornwallis is the second oldest in Malaysia after another (Tanjung Tuan) in Malacca!

Canon In The Direction Of The Flagstaff At The Fort Cornwallis
Canon In The Direction Of The Flagstaff At The Fort Cornwallis – photo credits to uwais_xiii (Instagram)

If you like a view or a challenge, it takes 80 or so steps to climb up to the top for an aerial view of the fort and the Malaccan Strait.

Fort Cornwallis Entrance Fee

Entrance to the heritage site is not free.

If you walk along the promenade, it’s possible to peer over the walls at the fort but you won’t be able to get close or inside!

See the table below for the current Fort Cornwallis ticket prices:

Ticket Type Adult Children
Non-Mykad RM20 RM10
Mykad RM10 RM5
Note: The fort is still ongoing a major upgrade so some areas are restricted for now.

Fort Cornwallis Opening Hours

The fort is open until night so if you happen to walk by after sunset, the walls and flagstaff are lit up!

Address: Jalan Tun Syed Sheh Barakbah, George Town, 10200 George Town, Penang Island

Contact: +604-263 9855

Opening Hours: Daily 9am–10pm

Fort Cornwallis Guided Tour

There used to be free 30-minute guided English tours (included with the entrance fee) throughout the day that were as fun as they were informative, they don’t appear to be running anymore.

Note: That being said, you might find some 3rd Party guided tours for the area in general, so search around before you go.

Outside Fort Cornwallis
Outside Fort Cornwallis – photo credits to yinsien (Instagram)

Unfortunately, these tours don’t appear to be running anymore. Which is a shame since they make a visit to the fort worthwhile!

Read more: 13 Best Things To Do In Georgetown Penang

Fort Cornwallis Wedding

Fort Cornwallis has wedding packages available for couples who want to tie the knot at the heritage site!

Garden Wedding Decoration At Fort Cornwallis
Garden Wedding Decoration At Fort Cornwallis – photo credits to jack_russell1118 (Instagram)

All of their packages come with exquisite decoration for the hall, chairs (up to 60 pax), a photo backdrop, snacks and ambient lighting and music!

Outdoor Wedding Reception Dinner At Fort Cornwallis
Outdoor Wedding Reception Dinner At Fort Cornwallis – photo credits to jack_russell1118 (Instagram)

Further reading:

Best Penang Cafe Near To Fort Cornwallis

After wandering around the fort, you might want to sit down and relax in a nice air-conditioned café!

1. Kota Dine & Coffee – When Francis Meets Rempah

You probably didn’t expect a café right at the fort:

Night View Of Kota Dine & Coffee - When Francis Meets Rempah
Night View Of Kota Dine & Coffee – When Francis Meets Rempah – photo credits to badboyben (Instagram)

This contemporary café serves local flavors with wonderful food presentation, and delightful non-alcoholic fruit mix drinks!

Slice Of Nasi Lemak Cake At Kota Dine & Coffee, Fort Cornwallis
Slice Of Nasi Lemak Cake At Kota Dine & Coffee, Fort Cornwallis – photo credits to leonlow_88

Specializing in fusion and western food, the pasta box take-away set ranks high on novelty.

It features local variations such as chicken rendang, green curry spaghetti, and turmeric pasta too.

Note: Request for no plastic spoon and straw if you don’t need them!
Refreshing Drink At Kota Dine & Coffee, Fort Cornwallis
Refreshing Drink At Kota Dine & Coffee, Fort Cornwallis – photo credits to sawchin

And if you spend at least RM20 on food per person here, you can get RM10 off your Fort Cornwallis entrance fees!

Address: Fort Cornwallis, Jalan Tun Syed Sheh Barakbah, George Town, 10200 George Town, Penang Island

Contact: +604-371 4929

Opening Hours: Daily 11am to 10pm (Closed on Tuesdays)

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Read more: 11 Best Shopping Malls In Penang To Visit – Newest & Biggest!

2. Constant Gardener Coffee

Hidden in the Chinese Chambers of Commerce Building at Light Street, Constant Gardener Coffee may not serve full meals:

Delicious Watermelon Cake At Constant Gardener Coffee
Delicious Watermelon Cake At Constant Gardener Coffee – photo from their Facebook

But this cozy cafe does have an enjoyable selection of specialty coffee, tea, juices, pastries and cakes! They open late at night too!

In terms of parking, bring on your A-game as bays are limited.

But the gourmet coffees, impeccable SOP, and relaxing ambiance make it a stellar favorite!

Address: Ground Floor, Chinese Chamber Of Commerce Building, 9, Lebuh Light, George Town, 10200 George Town, Penang Island

Contact: +604-251 9070

Opening Hours: Daily from 9am to 8pm

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3. Via Pre Italian Restaurant

For authentic Italian food with pizzas made to perfection, head over to Via Pre Italian Restaurant. It’s a convenient 3 minutes’ walk from the fort.

From salads, bruschetta, pasta, and tiramisu, you’ll get a wide selection of pure Italian cuisine that will make you swoon.

Moreover, there’s a decent selection of wines and draft beer. And service is swift with impeccable hospitality from friendly staff.

However, the place is smallish and seating capacity is limited – so do make a reservation to secure your spot!

Address: 20e, Lebuh Penang, George Town, 10200 George Town, Pulau Pinang

Contact: +604-261 9800

Opening Hours: Daily from 11.30am to 10pm (Closed on Tuesdays)

Read more: Other Best Penang Cafe Options

Fort Cornwallis Food Court

For some Penang food options that are close to Fort Cornwallis Penang, you can consider these places!

1. Esplanade Park Food Court

Although unassuming from first impressions, this seaside food court is famous for the fried noodles from Hameed Pata Mee Sotong.

Hameed Pata Special Mee Sotong
Hameed Pata Special Mee Sotong – photo credits to liyanarazalli (Instagram)

You can request a non-spicy variation if you prefer.

Note: Mee rebus is the version with sauce while mee goreng is the dry version! Both are equally appetizing!

Its neighboring stall has the perfect beverage to accompany the renowned noodles too:

In our opinion, the creamy yet refreshing coconut shake drink is a staple order for many Mee Sotong patrons – give it a try!

Address: Jalan Padang Kota Lama, George Town, 10450 George Town, Penang Island

Opening Hours: Monday to Saturday 8am to 8pm (Closed On Sunday)

Recommended Dishes:

  • Hameed Pata Mee Sotong
  • Coconut Shake

Read more: 11 Best Asam Laksa In Penang – Satisfy Your Tastebuds With This Iconic Malaysian Dish!

2. Esplanade Hawker Centre/Padang Kota Lama Food Court

You might hear people refer to this food court as Medan Selera MPPP Padang Kota or Medan Renong too. The food court is divided into a halal and non-halal section.

There’s one notable dish here called pasembur. Which is basically a Malaysian salad with shredded vegetables, fried seafood, and a sweet and spicy nut-based sauce!

After your meal, you could enjoy the scenic coastline and take a leisurely stroll along the beach.

Address: Jalan Tun Syed Sheh Barakbah, George Town, 10200 George Town, Penang Island

Opening Hours: Daily 10:30am–1am (Wednesday Closed)

Recommended dishes:

  • Mee Sotong Special
  • Mee Udang
  • Zul Laksa Penang
  • Rojak Ho Wei Jeng (101 Rojak)
  • Pasembur Ghani

Read more:

Getting To Fort Cornwallis

Now, let’s go over all the transport options you have to get to Fort Cornwallis!

1. Tour Service

RayTheTour offers private day tours in Penang, Ipoh, Taiping and Cameron Highlands with your convenience and comfort in mind!

Penang Tour - RayTheTour & Travelswithsun

Leave it to our local and experienced guides to take you around their hometown! Or let us know where you really want to go, and we’ll arrange an itinerary for you accordingly!

Book a tour through our WhatsApp or Facebook!

Further reading:

2. Bus To Fort Cornwallis

Rapid Penang Airport Transit (AT)
Rapid Penang Airport Transit (AT) – Penang Airport To Georgetown – photo credit to nighteye @ flickr

Look out for these bus numbers, 206, 307, AT as they have stops close to Fort Cornwallis (Kota Cornwallis):

  • Lebuh Pantai (4 minutes’ walk)
  • Cornwallis (5 minutes’ walk)
  • Lebuh Downing (5 minutes’ walk)
  • Main Post Office (6 minutes’ walk)
  • Bank Negara (7 minutes’ walk)

Read more: 4 Best Ways For Getting Around Penang (With All Penang Transport Options)

3. Self-Drive/Grab

There is sufficient parking in this area in the form of a concrete open-air car park but the rates are considerably higher than the standard RM0.80/ hour!

Parking Location

Fort Cornwallis Parking Rate: RM2/hour

Further reading: The Habitat Penang Hill (Detailed Guide) – With Tips For Entrance Fee Discounts!

Conclusion

Spend a little time at Fort Cornwallis if you have finished your bucket list of Penang attractions! This is one of the few world heritage sites in Malaysia that can stand up to the A’Famosa fort in Malacca!

It’s currently still under renovation but visitors can pay to enter and learn about its background. Or admire it from a distance with a stroll around the exterior!

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