VIDEO: Rickshaw ride in George Town, Malaysia

In our most recent travel video we hop on a rickshaw and receive a guided city tour of historic George Town, Penang, Malaysia.

Although we had talked about taking a rickshaw tour of the city previously, it was a spur of the moment decision when we flagged down a colourful rickshaw heading down Chulia street after our Chinese feast at Tek Sen restaurant.

Immediately, I had a favourable impression of our Malaysian rickshaw driver who was personable, charming and easy going. Instead of wasting time haggling over the price of our ride, he quoted us a fare that was within the price range we expected to pay given our initial research.

Within moments he was pedalling us down the hectic main streets and quieter back-alleys in the heart of Georgetown. With infectious enthusiasm, he spurred off random facts about each area we visited along with taking delight in pointing out significant landmarks.

With a raspy deliberate voice he sounded a lot like a sage elder or even a bit like Yoda: β€œThis building is very Ooooollllddddd. Verrrrryyyy Oooooollllldddddd.”

At one point we passed a teenage boy riding his bicycle. Noticing that we were taking photos he kept turning his head backwards eagerly interested in what we were doing. Finally, he circled back towards us waving at us while passing us in the opposite direction. Several seconds later I felt a tug on my right wrist; the boy playfully tried to snatch my camcorder straight out of my hand. As he pedalled forcefully ahead he turned around and beamed a radiant smile. We honestly weren’t sure what to make of his failed attempt to snatch our camera. On the one hand, it may have just been a joke; on the other, had he actually taken it we surely wouldn’t have been laughing.

Some of the main attractions, buildings and landmarks that were part of our tour included Fort Cornwallis, Kapitan Keling Mosque, Penang Museum, the former Governor’s house, Sri Mariamman Temple, Victoria Memorial Clock Tour and Litble India.

As we entered Little India district, it was like I was suddenly being catapulted back in time to my days roaming around India. Women wearing Brightly colored saris, men flipping chapatis on greased pans and loud thumping music filled the streets.

In hindsight, one of the most humorous moments occurred when we got splashed by a wave riding along the North Channel. Everything, from head to toe, including our clothes and cameras was covered in water. Immediately, we tried our best to dry our cameras with sections of our shirts that weren’t totally soaked. Fortunately for us everything was just fine – including our cameras πŸ˜‰

Overall, taking this rickshaw tour was one of the highlights of visiting Penang again for our Visa run. When compared to the rickshaw ride in Malacca, we certainly preferred our adventure in George Town. For those interested in doing the same, walk down to Jin Penang (Penang Road) where you’ll easily spot a plethora of rickshaws and drivers. Expect to pay somewhere between 30 to 40 Ringgit for a one hour drive.

Have any of you taken a cycle rickshaw ride before? Would you like to? How was your experience?

Our fun rickshaw ride city tour around George Town, Penang, Malaysia

{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

Allan Wilson July 7, 2013 at 2:02 am

Remove the flowers and I maybe interested πŸ˜‰ Always see these passing the main road near Cheong Fatt Tze. I can’t help cringe. I did one similar at Ho Chi Minh. Stopped to ask directions to Ben Thanh and the guy was on me like a bad rash. Paid him to stop pestering me. He threw in a free neck massage so I can’t complain.


Samuel Jeffery July 16, 2013 at 12:08 pm

Yikes! I’ve had similar experiences with these kinds of tourist rides as well. To be honest, we did it mostly for the video; however, since the driver was nice it was an added bonus.


Helen July 7, 2013 at 5:26 pm

Looks like a lot of fun guys! I’ve been on a rickshaw once in Hanoi.

Actually, that’s technically a lie, I once commandeered one in London, but the guy let me do it! I jumped on the bike, three of my friends piled in the back with the rickshaw guy chasing us down the street! Fun times!

I really like Audrey’s dress too! I’m thinking maybe a Hoi An purchase? :)



Samuel Jeffery July 16, 2013 at 12:09 pm

Thanks Helen! Maybe you can drive us around in London πŸ˜‰


Helen July 16, 2013 at 9:19 pm

You’re on! :)


Becki | Backpacker Becki July 8, 2013 at 4:59 pm

I loved those rickshaws in Malaysia – also saw some really funky ones in Melaka, including one with a giant scorpion hanging from the roof. They add such great character to the place, including the cheeky guys who drive them. Something different to the standard South East Asia tuk tuk ride!


Samuel Jeffery July 16, 2013 at 12:11 pm

Thanks Becki! I agree with you that it’s a far more interesting ride. I wish the prices were the same as a tuk-tuk though πŸ˜‰


Gabriel July 13, 2013 at 8:40 pm

“Big cat and little mouse” lol. I think it’s so funny some of the looks that people give cameras. Whenever I see a camera pointed in my direction I try to make a funny face =)


Samuel Jeffery July 16, 2013 at 12:13 pm

That’s awesome Gabriel,

We’re quite silly in front of the camera. In my case, I think it’s mostly because I’m trying to overcompensate for not being great on camera in the first place.


chris July 14, 2013 at 5:57 pm

Looks like fun. I haven’t done the rickshaw, but I’ve ridden in lots of tuc-tucs in Thailand. Not the same.


Samuel Jeffery July 16, 2013 at 12:15 pm

Thanks Chris!

It’s a much slower journey and great if you really want to take in everything you see. If you’re in a hurry, a tuk-tuk is still a better option.


Matt July 21, 2013 at 6:25 pm

I saw rickshaw rides once during a day trip to Malacca. They look really fun to ride, and especially for anyone that wants to get a different perspective of Malaysia’s colorful streets. I haven’t had the chance to ride on a rickshaw before, but I’ll definitely give it a try on my return trip to Malaysia.


Calogero Mira August 5, 2013 at 10:29 am

Rickshaw in Malaysia must be a good idea.


Mary @ Green Global Travel August 3, 2014 at 5:56 pm

Thanks for sharing your trip throughout the vibrant town! Traveling through the busy streets seems like quite the adventure!


Jean May 16, 2015 at 4:53 am

You caught everything there is to see about heritage sites in Penang well, you even threw in the durians. However, it was focussed a lot on Indian food. You should try the Chinese hawker fare and Malay night market fare.


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