Chulia Street Night Market in Penang

Chulia Street Night Night Market is cluster of food stalls which set up from around 18:00 every day street side in George Town on Penang Island. This is a cheap place to eat in evening which is popular with local people as well as tourists to Penang.

Street market on Chulia Street
Street market on Chulia Street

Chulia Street is one of the oldest and liveliest streets in George Town. This is somewhere that most tourists to Penang will visit and also somewhere that local people visit for a night out.

About Chulia Street Night Market

Chulia Street is one of the oldest streets in Penang, having been one of the 4 streets that were built when George Town was established by the British East India Company back in 1786. The road was originally named Malabar Street and renamed Chulia Street in 1798. Both the names ‘Malabar’ and ‘Chulia’ were references to the largely Indian community of immigrant workers who inhabited the area in the 18th and 19th Centuries.

By the late 1800s the Indian community had largely been pushed out by a new wave of Chinese immigrants and the character of the road became more diverse with Hindu temples and mosques alongside Chinese temples.

By the 1980s Chulia Street had transformed again into a centre for cheap backpacker hostels and restaurants.

From 2010 onward Chulia Street has changed again into a place with more expensive hotels and restaurants. The thing that has remained the same during all these transformations is the night market, which continues to flourish.

Lok Lok stall on Chulia Street
Lok Lok stall on Chulia Street

The food stalls are spread out along one side of Chulia Street in what is roughly the middle section of the road. Tables and chairs are dotted around the food stalls, and what diners do is to order their food and, depending on what they are ordering, either wait and collect the food themselves or have the food brought to them.

Kway teow soup stall on Chulia Street
Kway teow soup stall on Chulia Street

The food at Chulia Street Night Market is mostly noodle dishes and snacks on sticks. There are better places to eat in the evening in Penang, with a more diverse range of dishes, but nowhere cheaper in the centre of George Town and nowhere quite as lively. If you want really good street food, and a more diverse range of dishes, accompanied by an alcoholic drink, and at a slightly higher price, then head to the Red Garden Food Paradise a short distance away on Leith Street near the top end of Chulia Street.

Curry mee stall on Chulia Street
Curry mee stall on Chulia Street

In terms of price it costs around 3 to 4 MYR for a bowl or plate of noodles and 0.5 to 1 MYR for a snack on a stick. There are three main types of noodle dish on sale at Chulia Street Night Market:

  • Curry Mee: Thin noodles in a thick curry sauce with meat, chicken and prawns and accompanied by a dollop of sambal (a spicy and tangy curry paste which features heavily in Malay cuisine).
  • Kway teow: Noodles in a broth with a variety of vegetables, seafood and meat. Different stalls do different versions and local people often have a favourite version of this dish and go to particular stalls to get it. A good tip is to pick places which are busy as this is an endorsement of the quality by the people who eat there regularly.
  • Char kway teow: Similar to the noodle soup, but this version involves frying the ingredients in wok with sauces. This dish tends to be more popular with non-Asian diners than the soup version served in a bowl. Its very similar to the Thai noodle dish phad see ew.
Satay stall on Chulia Street
Satay stall on Chulia Street

The other thing you will see lots of at the Chulia Street Night Market is snacks on a stick. These come in two varieties.

Firstly, there are stalls selling chicken and beef satay. This is meat which is marinated and cooked on a grill. The sauce which accompanies it is a spicy peanut sauce which is eaten throughout South East Asia, but most closely associated with Indonesian cuisine.

Foreign visitors will find the satay skewers more familiar than the other type of snacks on stick, which are called lok lok. Lok lok means ‘dip dip’ in the Malay language and it describes the cooking process which is to put the item on a stick into boiling water to cook it. Dishes like lok lok are again popular all over South East Asia and eaten with dipping sauces such as sweet chilli sauce. Lok lok in Malaysia tends to consist of low cost processed meats and fish such as chicken sausages and fish balls made from minced fish in a factory. Malaysian people tend to view lok lok as fast food for a snack and not something that you would have as a main meal.

Closest Hotels to the Chulia Street Night Market

The three closest hotels to the Chulia Street Night Market are:

  • Goodnight Cafe & Homestay
  • Good Friend Hotel
  • Olive Spring Hostel

Location of Chulia Street Night Market

Chulia Street Night Market is located on Chulia Street in George Town, Penang, between the intersections with Lorong Cheapside and Lorong Seckchuan.

Google map of Chulia Street Night Market

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