Toh Aka Lane, George Town, Penang

Toh Aka Lane, one of the narrowest lanes in George Town, still retains the old rustic charm that characterises the multi-ethnic city.

Toh Aka Lane, within George Town's UNESCO World Heritage Site, is an alley that holds the distinction of being one of the narrowest lanes in the city. The T-shaped lane has three arms - one leading to Malay Street to the southwest, another northeast towards Acheen Street and the third extending towards Beach Street to the east.

The lane was mostly populated by Cheah clansmen, who were members of one of the several Chinese surname-based clans in George Town. A Malay community also used to reside along the western side of the lane towards the end of the 19th. century.

Today, although the lane is noticeably much quieter and less well-known to tourists, it still retains the ambience of 19th. century George Town, as can be seen from the Malay and Chinese houses along the lane.

Toh Aka Lane sign, George Town, Penang

A bilingual Toh Aka Lane sign, featuring its Chinese name.


According to urban legend, Tok Aka Lane was so named after a Chinese man whom the Malays would call Tok Aka, meaning 'Grandfather Ah Ka'.

As most of the Cheahs made a living as ironsmiths, the lane was also known as Phak1 Thik1 Kay1 in Hokkien and Ta Thit Kai Hong Chai in Cantonese, both meaning 'Ironworks Street'.

In addition, as Tok Aka Lane starts just after the point where Carnavon Lane ends, it was called Kam Kong Lai Hoan Lor in Hokkien and Kam-pong Loi Wang Kai in Cantonese. Both terms meant 'near the kampung across from Carnavon Lane'.


Toh Aka Lane has been in existence since at least the late 19th. century. By then, a Malay community had been established along the western side of the lane near Acheen Street Mosque, while the rest of the lane was inhabited mostly by the Cheahs, who worked as ironsmiths.

Throughout the 20th. century, the continuing influx of Chinese immigrants diminished the Malay settlement along the western side of the lane.


Founded in 1840, the Eng Tai Association is a Hakka clan association for two of its dialect groups - Eng Teng and Tai Pu.

Ironsmith wrought iron sculpture, Toh Aka Lane, George Town, Penang

Ironsmith wrought iron sculpture at Toh Aka Lane

Street Art

The 'Ironsmith' wrought iron sculpture has been installed near the eastern junction with Beach Street as a reminder of the lane's past. Its description is as follows.

The striking of the lone ironsmith's hammer can still be heard along the street, where once every tool had to be fashioned by heat and hand, not machines.

Urban Exchange wall mural, Toh Aka Lane, George Town, Penang

Urban Exchange wall mural at Toh Aka Lane, depicting a traditional Chinese figure.

Other than that, another wall mural was drawn near the same junction in 2014 as part of the Urban Exchange street art festival.

Political Representation

Penang State Government

N.28 Komtar State Assemblyman : Teh Lai Heng (Democratic Action Party)

Malaysian Federal Parliament

P.049 Tanjong Member of Parliament : Ng Wei Aik (Democratic Action Party)


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