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  • Rick

Street Arts Craze from Singapore to Penang

Updated: Jan 15, 2018

In 2012, the first official sets of street arts popped up in Georgetown, Penang. They are not graffiti but creatively-fun murals that are reflections of life in the old town. These are the masterpieces of Ernest Zacharevic, a Lithuanian artist based in Penang. The murals draw crowds of locals and tourists to them and induce great vibrancy into the old Chinatown.

The success of Penang street arts triggered a chain reaction throughout Malaysia and street arts started flourishing in major towns and cities like Ipoh, Kuala Lumpur and Malacca — but mainly restricted to tourist areas, particularly the historical towns. Singapore, a state that has zero tolerance for graffiti, also follows suit and approves projects to create street arts in preserved ethnic quarters and estates with pre-war structures.

If you are wondering what is the difference between "graffiti" and "street arts", the former is illegal both in Singapore and Malaysia while street arts are sanctioned. In other words, permissions from relevant authorities are required before work on any "street arts" can commence. Anyway, most people have difficulties understanding graffiti as they are usually words — and often regarded as vandalism — while street arts are normally pictures that can be easily understood.

Below are my collections of street arts from Singapore, to major towns and cities in Malaysia that use them to promote tourism, and finally to Penang island, the place that kick-started the whole street art frenzy in both countries. My list is not comprehensive and more will be added when I discover more artworks in my travels.

Follow me on my journey to hunt down the street arts in both Singapore and Malaysia.


Apart from Malaysia, Singapore also has quite a number of street arts in popular tourist areas — mainly in places with pre-war shop houses and ethnic quarters.

Intricate Street Arts in Tiong Bahru

Kampung Life Murals in Everton Park

Mural Arts of Banda Street

Coffee Murals & Cultures in Kampong Glam

Find articles with artworks belonging to #YipYewChong.


Most of the murals in Muar are gigantic, occupying several floors of buildings in the town centre. Having lesser tourist attractions, the street arts is an avenue for travellers to explore Muar — apart from its popular food street.

Giant Street Arts of Muar

Find articles with artworks belonging to #JuliaVolchkova.


The artworks in Malacca are more diversified, varying from wall paintings, to advertising through arts, to artworks that require interactions.

Street Arts in Malacca


Being the capital city, areas with old buildings in Kuala Lumpur are limited but that doesn't stop several artworks from popping up in the Chinatown area.

Street Arts of Kuala Lumpur

Find articles with artworks belonging to #ErnestZacharevic.


While Penang started the street arts craze, Ipoh has more artworks than any other towns in Malaysia.

Ipoh: The Town of Street Arts

The "Art of OldTown" Murals in Ipoh

Mural Art's Lane in Ipoh New Town

Find articles with artworks belonging to #ErnestZacharevic.


Taiping street arts are relatively more recent than the other towns with most artworks added in 2016. Apart from Taiping Lake Gardens, street art is another reason to visit the small town.

Taiping Street Arts


The place that started the street art frenzy in 2012! Most of the original artworks are still around today but will they be around forever? Check them put before they vanish.