Komtar, Penang: Stunning Views from the Tallest Building in Georgetown, Malaysia

Komtar is the tallest building in Georgetown, by far, and going up it to enjoy the breathtaking views was my favourite Penang activity.

It rained throughout our entire trip to Penang, and after three days of nonstop trudging around looking at Georgetown, the botanic gardens, temples and museums all while clutching our umbrellas and returning to our hotel with soaking wet shoes, it was time for an indoor activity. Of course, it was our last day when the sun finally came out.

Komtar Tower For only RM 5 each we took the lift up to the 60th floor. Stepping into the viewing area, the vista spread out before us of Penang with its white tower blocks, colonial era roofs and forested hills behind was stunning.

View from KomtarWe could see out to sea and across to mainland Malaysia, and by having a closer look we were able to spot the intricately detailed roofs of temples. Having soaked up the view from the main room, we asked if we could go round to see the other side, and we were able to look out from most of the round building, getting a 360-degree impression of the island.

View 2If you visit Penang, go up the Komtar building. It’s not obviously advertised and we hadn’t read about it in our guidebook, but it offers one of the best city views I’ve seen in Southeast Asia.

Not suitable for vertigo sufferers!

Not suitable for vertigo sufferers!


Spot Fort Cornwallis in the distance.

Spot Fort Cornwallis in the distance.

View 3


2 thoughts on “Komtar, Penang: Stunning Views from the Tallest Building in Georgetown, Malaysia

  1. That’s funny. We’re both in the same building, on the same day.

    Your picture brings back some memories. Unpleasant one, sad to say. It happened in the late 80s, when the lift was accessible to anyone. I happened to be strolling around the 2nd floor. Back then the place was known as a operation base for gangs. I was very little, so was unaware of the background.

    So I was coming out of a video arcade, a voice calls out to me. I turn, and there are two unfamiliar people standing next to me, concerned looks in their eyes. One of them has what seems to be a giant fake watch, tells me that my parents have been looking up and down Komtar for me. That phased me. My parents can’t possibly be there, because I’ve come out here to Penang on an express coach, all on my own. Yet, to engage in this type of situation is a fresh new experience. The spontaneity, the exhilaration, the strangeness of it, and the acute need to see what’s round the corner, all combine to betray what little good judgement I have.

    Somehow I believe that the guy is legit, and it’s ok to go with him.

    I said I was little? Well, I was little and a fucktard.

    I follow him to the lift that you took, and all three of us file inside. It doesn’t take too many floors before the guy withdraws something from his trousers pocket. The object flips open and looks very menacing, and sharp. With much trepidation I watch as the sparkling object presented before me demands my wallet. I comply.

    I think I must have about 20-40 ringgit in all. An amount that means the world to me. It’s money for my ride home. But it doesn’t satisfy the guy even a tiny bit. I begin to fear what comes next.

    What comes next is the lift stops at a certain floor. My robber presses a button. The lift goes down, the door shushes open and he steps out. Before the door closes one last time, he stops it with his feet and hands me a five, or was it a tenner. That’s for me to get home, he says.

    In Hokkien we have two words for an occasion like this: “Heng ah”, which translates to “lucky me”. Thinking back, I could’ve easily been kidnapped, and at the end of it, covered up in cement inside a plastic container. It’s a good thing then that this happened back in the ’80s, and in a place like Penang.

    These days, people get a hand chopped off just for carrying too little cash in their wallet. We read about it sometimes in the papers and wonder how this country has changed.

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