Living Above the Sea: The Clan Jetties of Georgetown, Malaysia

I look down through the cracks on the rotten planks of wood and see the murky green water below. Most people would seek high ground when considering a suitable place to build their homes, but not the clans who have settled along Georgetown’s waterfront.

Living Above the Sea: The Clan Jetties of Georgetown, Malaysia

The Weld Quay Clan Jetties have been in existence for over 100 years, and are home to small communities who built their homes on stilts above the water. The people who settled the jetties were Chinese migrants who came to the bustling port city of Georgetown, Penang seeking better opportunities.

Houses Clan Jetties in Georgetown, Penang, Malaysia

Entire families moved out here and the various clans grouped together according to their province of origin, leading to the creation of several jetties along the water’s edge.

Today there are six jetties; the five main clans being Lim, Chew, Tan, Lee and Yeoh, while the remaining jetty, Chap Seh Keo, is home to a mixture of families who do not share the same name.

Bicycles in the Clan Jetties in Georgetown, Penang, Malaysia

What surprised me most about my visit to the jetties was that life goes on very much the same way it would on dry land. People ride their bicycles and even motorbikes down the planks of wood which act as roads and sidewalks.

Meeting a cute kitten while wandering around the Clan Jetties in Penang, Malaysia

Dogs nap in the shade and come to play when they see a friendly foreigner come their way, old men sit on their porches and watch the day go by without a care in the world, and a curious kitten balances itself on a wooden post not too far from the water’s edge.

Red paper lanterns in Georgetown, Penang, Malaysia

These aren’t just homes. This is a thriving community with temples, restaurants, and stores, offering everything you might need on a daily basis. Many of the homes have also upgraded their amenities over time, and you can even see satellite dishes mounted on top of the metal sheet roofs.

Views of the houses found along the Clan Jetties in Georgetown, Penang, Malaysia

There isn’t one particular attraction to visit at the jetties, but if you want to wander around a unique community and see how life goes on above the sea, then this is the perfect place to do so.

Views of the exterior of the Clan Jetty Homes in Penang, Malaysia

And lastly here is a little video tour of our afternoon exploring the Weld Quay Clan Jetties, and of course I found cute puppies and kittens:


For more info on travel in the country, you can check out my 1-month Malaysia travel itinerary.

Have you ever visited a community that lives above the sea?