Fort Cornwallis Penang next to the Esplanade Park, is one of the primary reasons why George Town is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site! It happens to both be the largest and oldest fort in Malaysia too!
The star-shaped fort has been through a lot since the 18th century and represents great historical significance to Penang and Malaysia!
History buffs can learn more about this Penang tourist attraction in this post, and then see the place in person!
Table of Contents:
- Fort Cornwallis Lighthouse
- Entrance Fee
- Opening Hours
- Guided Tour
- Fort Cornwallis Wedding
- Café Near To Fort Cornwallis
- Fort Cornwallis Food Court
- Getting To Fort Cornwallis
Fort Cornwallis History
Captain Francis Light is known as the founder of Penang Island. And Fort Cornwallis was built upon the very first place he landed on back in 1786.
And it was named after the then-governor-general of Bengal, Marquis Charles Cornwallis. But back then, it was made of nibong palms rather than bricks!
Numerous cannons were present at the fort to strengthen its defense in case of unsavory intruders in the past. That included pirates and armed forces from Kedah and France!
The whole structure was further fortified with bricks some ~20 years later around 1800 by Indian prisoners. A moat was added too!
However, the military status of the bastion was eventually removed as it played a more administrative role anyways. Hence, it became a police base instead in 1886.
And in World War II, the Japanese used the fort as well as the park across to store their supplies and as a detention centre.
Other modifications like sewage and electricity were introduced to the fort in the 1970s. Including an amphitheatre to host cultural shows!
Today, a fraction of the original 77 cannons and the 10-ft high outer walls remain along with the flagstaff and the lighthouse!
Fort Cornwallis Lighthouse
Besides the fort, there is the Fort Cornwallis Lighthouse which was built in 1882.
The flagstaff was used to communicate with its corresponding flagstaff on Penang Hill of the arrival of ships or dignitaries!
With its 21m-tall steel frame construction, Fort Cornwallis is a little unusual compared to the other solidly-built lighthouses around Malaysia!
Light from this lighthouse can reach 16 nautical miles!
Still in operation, Fort Cornwallis is the second oldest in Malaysia after another (Tanjung Tuan) in Malacca!
For those with no fear of heights, it takes 80 or so steps to climb up to the top for an aerial view of the fort and the Straits of Malacca!
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:
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!
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!
Unfortunately, these tours don’t appear to be running anymore. Which is a shame since they make a visit to the fort worthwhile!
Fort Cornwallis Wedding
Fort Cornwallis has wedding packages available for couples who want to tie the knot at the heritage site!
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!
Read more: Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion (The Blue Mansion) – Relive The Peranakan Glory Days
Best Penang Café 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!
The contemporary café serves local flavors with wonderful food presentation, and delightful non-alcoholic fruit mix drinks!
And if you spend at least RM20 on food per person here, you can get RM10 off your Fort Cornwallis entrance fees!
2. Constant Gardener Coffee
Hidden in the Chinese Chambers of Commerce Building at Light Street, Constant Gardener Coffee may not serve full meals:
But this cozy cafe does have an enjoyable selection of specialty coffee, tea, juices, pastries and cakes! They open late at night too!
3. BeĀngels Coffee Esplanade
Branching out from BeĀngels Specialty Coffee, BeĀngels Coffee Esplanade has seen tremendous popularity since it opened beside the Penang Town Hall!
Light meals and a welcoming service and environment easily entice passersby in for a cup of coffee!
Outdoor seating is available. As is fast WiFi and unlimited drinking water!
Read more: Entopia By Penang Butterfly Farm – Walk Among Hundreds Of Live Butterflies!
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!
You can request it non-spicy if you prefer!
Its neighboring stall has the perfect beverage to accompany the renowned noodles too!
- 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!
- Mee Sotong Special
- Mee Udang
- Zul Laksa Penang
- Rojak Ho Wei Jeng (101 Rojak)
Read more: Penang National Park (Complete Guide) – Spend A Delightful Day Hiking In Nature
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!
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!
2. Bus To Fort Cornwallis
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)
Further reading: The Habitat Penang Hill (Detailed Guide) – With Tips For Entrance Fee Discounts!
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!
Fort Cornwallis Parking Rate: RM2/hour
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!