Fort Cornwallis George Town Penang

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 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.

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)

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!

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

The whole structure was further fortified with bricks some ~20 years later around 1800 by Indian prisoners. A moat was added too!

Note: This moat was later filled in the 1920s in the wake of a malaria epidemic!

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.

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

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!

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

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!

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)

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!

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)

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:

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!

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)

The 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
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 10:30am to 10pm

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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!

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 12am (Closed on Monday)

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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!

Address: Pusat Bayaran Setempat, Jalan Padang Kota Lama, Georgetown, 10200 Georgetown, Penang

Contact: +6016-435 2195

Opening Hours: Daily from 9am to 6pm

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!

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

You can request it non-spicy 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!

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!

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)

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!

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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