Best Things to Do in Berapit: Exciting Hikes in the shadow of Bukit Mertajam

Leave George Town and the island, exchange Penang Hill for a hike in the mainland of Seberang Perai, the continental part of Penang State. Bukit Market in the leafy suburb of Berapit offers a couple of easy and interesting trails to a mountain-clinging Buddhist temple and a Rainbow Staircase topped with a park filled with animal statues.

Berapit Buddhist temple
The pagoda on top of Berapit Market Hill at sunset (image © Kit Yeng Chan)

There are so many things to do in Penang that oftentimes the island is what most people ever see. But if you are tired of Penang Street Art, have quenched your craving for Penang food, and love nature, this article is going to help you discover the lesser-known village of Berapit and the things you can do there.

We have already discussed some of the main hiking and nature destinations on Penang Island, such as how to enjoy Penang Hill, including the short and scenic hike to Station5 via Moongate, and the hiking at Bukit Hijau. We even suggested going to nearby Kedah to hike Gunung Baling and Gunung Pulai.

But visiting Berapit, one of Seberang Perai attractions, makes for another perfect day trip from Penang for nature and hiking lovers. Few Malaysians know Berapit for nothing more than being the place where Olympic Malaysian badminton player Lee Chong Wei lived and used to train.

The beauty of Berapit is Berapit Market Hill, the northern flank of Bukit Mertajam Recreational Forest and one of the best hiking spots in Seberang Perai — check our guides to the best things to do in Batu Kawan, Bukit Juru, Bukit Panchor State Park, and scenic Frog Hills. And if you want an offbeat island, don’t forget Pulau Aman and the seafood at nearby Bukit Tambun.

Berapit offers two different hikes, which can also be done in a loop: one to a beautiful Thai-Burmese Buddhist temple hanging from the hillside, and one to 328 Rainbow Stairs at Flower Fruit Hill (花果山) an easy and popular trail that opened in early 2021.

Without further ado, this post will tell you:

  • How to reach Berapit
  • Where to Stay near Berapit in Bukit Mertajam
  • How to hike to Chanxiu Jingshe (禅修静舍) Buddhist Temple
  • How to visit Flower Fruit Hill

How to get to Berapit

Berapit sunset
Sunset from Berapit Hill (image © Kit Yeng Chan)

Berapit is a cluster of taman set along Jalan Berapit, the road connecting the northern side of Bukit Mertajam to the Mengkuang Dam.

The famous Berapit Market Hill, whose trails we describe in this post, is essentially the western flank of Cherok Tokun, right at the back of Bukit Mertajam Recreational Forest.

The main hiking in Berapit starts at Taman Pearl, so you may set your GPS to reach that location — public transport is not very convenient around here, so your best bet is renting a bike/car in Penang and drive here, or reach Bukit Mertajam by public transport, and walk or take a Grab car to Berapit Taman Pearl.

This is a map of Berapit’s Taman Pearl:

How to Get to Bukit Mertajam

To reach Berapit, you need to get to Bukit Mertajam first. There are several ways to get to Bukit Mertajam, the best of which is by your own wheels — or you can always hire a Grab Car from Penang

Getting to Bukit Mertajam by Bus

If you are coming from George Town, first of all take the iconic Penang Ferry and get to Penang Sentral. The bus station with departures to Bukit Mertajam is on the lower ground floor.

Rapid Penang Bus 702 travels from Penang Sentral to the terminal Bas Bukit Mertajam on Jalan Aston — 500 meters from Bukit Mertajam’s old town.

Getting to Bukit Mertajam by Train

Bukit Mertajam is also an important station on the ETS route between Butterworth, Kuala Lumpur and the Thai Border at Padang Besar.

READ MOREHow to Do a Visa Run from Penang to Thailand

Check our guide to catching trains from Penangto know more about routes. Once in Bukit Mertajam KTM station, Jalan Pasar is 2km away. Catch a Grab Car, as the heat can be unforgiving.

Best Hotels in Bukit Mertajam

If you want to stay near Berapit to hike at Berapit Market Hill or Cherok Tok Kun the next morning, the best place to base yourself is Bukit Mertajam as it’s the closest center with something worthwhile to do. You can see our list of the 10 best hotels in Bukit Mertajam or have a look at these recommended places:

Treat Yourself

Iconic Hotel may be the best choice. A part of Icon City, it has an outdoor pool, and dozens of nearby options for dining and entertainment. Check prices on:|Agoda

Vangohh Eminent Hotel & Spa looks and feels great, and offers extremely good facilities at a fraction of Western prices. Check prices on:|Agoda

The Light is one of the best 5 stars hotels in Penang and deserves all your attention for a stylish stay before or after your visit to Frog Hill. Check prices on:|Agoda

Budget Hotels in Bukit Mertajam

Summit Hotel is BM’s stalwart, in walking distance from the Old Town. In need of a bit of a brush-up, but that’s one of the glorious oldies. Check prices on:|Agoda

U Plus Budget Hotel is simple, clean and comfortable, with very adequate rooms for this price range. Check prices on:|Agoda

Check here for more BM Hotels and prices

Things to Do in Berapit

We think that the best things to do in Berapit relate to nature and visiting what Berapit locals call “Berapit Market Hill”, or the western flank of Bukit Mertajam recreational forest.

This side of the hill has a couple of attractions that people who go to the other of Cherok Tok Kun will never be able to see.

Hike to Berapit Market Hill’s Buddhist Temple, 禅修静舍

Berapit Buddhist temple Buddha and elephant statues
A golden standing Buddha and elephants statues at Berapit Hill Burmese-Thai temple (image © Kit Yeng Chan)

This hiking trail in Berapit is located on the western slopes of the Bukit Mertajam hill and leads up to a Thai Buddhist monastery (known in Chinese as Chanxiu Jingshe 禅修静舍). With its five-storey pagoda jutting out of the hillside, it is a beautiful spot to see the sunset, especially, with views that stretch all over Bukit Mertajam and Penang island.

On your right-hand side, you can see KOMTAR and George Town, followed by the whole eastern coast of Penang island and the two bridges. Totally worth coming up here, a perfect spot for sunset or sunrise.

It takes about 25 minutes from the parking lot at the bottom of the hill. Park and continue along the paved road that snakes up the hill. You’ll see the temple from the bottom, so you won’t get lost as long as you stay on the main road.

Berapit Hill Thai Temple
Praying to the Berapit Buddha at sunset (image © Kit Yeng Chan)

This temple not only has a five-story pagoda, but also a terrace with two elephant and a Buddha statue overlooking the same marvelous scenery. Remember to bring plenty of water as there are no places to buy food and drinks here, as it’s not a tourist spot.

From here, another trail branches out from the original and leads to Vivekavana Solitude Grove, another Buddhist monastery at a higher elevation. This is where you can continue to Flower Fruit Hill and its 328 Rainbow Stairs.

This is a map of the beginning of the hiking trail to Berapit Market Hill and the Chanxiu Jingshe (禅修静舍) temple:

328 Rainbow Stairs @ Flower Fruit Hill (花果山)

328 Rainbow Staircase Flower Hill Berapit hiking
328 Rainbow Staircase is an easy hike that ends in a landscaped garden within a durian orchard (image by Marco Ferrarese)

This recent addition to hiking trails in Berapit is located on the western slopes of the Cherok Tok Kun hill and leads up to the popular Rainbow Stairs (彩虹梯) on Hua Guo San (花果山), or “Flower Fruit Hill”. It takes about 30 minutes from the parking lot at the bottom of the hill in Kampung Besar.
The hiking path starts to the left of a Chinese temple, it’s perfectly paved, and even has lanterns that light up at night.

328 Rainbow Staircase at Flower Fruit Hill Berapit
The trail to 328 Rainbow Staircase at Flower Fruit Hill Berapit is paved and easy to follow (image © Marco Ferrarese)

The first part goes through the forest as it snakes up the side of the hill until it reaches the 328 Rainbow Stairs. In the same popular fashion of other places such as Bukit Cendana on Penang Hill and Moongate Station 5, the tall part of each step has been coloured one shade of the rainbow, and from a distance, makes for a quite scenic climb — 328 steps, to be precise, as the name says.

As you reach the middle of the staircase, you’ll start seeing statues such as Singapore’s Merlion and once you’ll have reached the top, you’ll find yourself in a landscaped garden filled with animal statues. This is Flower Fruit Hill, essentially a durian plantation turned into a tourist spot for locals in a bet to revive Bukit Mertajam — don’t forget there are many things to eat and do in Bukit Mertajam. It’s a nice place to bring children and take some funny selfies with animals and Chinese deities.

Kit Yeng plays with a Berapit tiger at Flower Fruit Hill (image © Marco Ferrarese)

There are clean and well-manned public toilets on the top, paired with a panoramic terrace viewpoint strewn with tables and chairs where local hikers stop for a chat and a cup of tea. Join in the fun and wait for sunrise or sunset, the best time of the day to come up here. If you just continue walking to the left-hand side of the terrace, you’ll arrive at the site of a former disheveled house, which is a better spot to see the sunset without the trees that obstruct the view on the side of the hill where the Rainbow Staircase comes up.

Berapit Flower Fruit Hill
A view of the animal statues and terrace viewpoint at Berapit Flower Fruit Hill (image © Marco Ferrarese)

From here, the trail continues to the Vivekavana Solitude Grove, from where you can keep walking to reconnect to the Burmese-Thai Buddhist monastery (known in Chinese as Chanxiu Jingshe 禅修静舍) described above. Just remember that if you come down this way, you’ll end up on the other side of the hill at Berapit’s Taman Pearl, which is quite a walk back to the original place you parked your car to reach 328 Rainbow Stairs.

Here is a map of 328 Rainbow Stairs’ parking area and starting point:

Berbit 328 Rainbow Staircase at Fruit Flower Mountain Hua Guo Shan
Children walking on the 328 rainbow Staircase in Berapit (image © Marco Ferrarese)

Berapit Final Verdict

Berapit is a nice kampung set on the western side of Bukit Mertajam Recreational Forest which offers a couple of easy and scenic hiking trails on the western flank of Cherok Tokun Forest Reserve. Popular with locals, it makes for one of the best hiking trips in and around Bukit Mertajam and it’s a perfect place to come see or photograph the sunrise and sunset over the plains of Seberang Perai.

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