There are many things to do in Penang, but most people have no clue of what’s going on in Seberang Perai, the part of Penang state on the Malaysian mainland.
Once called Province Wellesley in British Colonial times, Seberang Perai may be less known than the island, but it certainly has a lot of attractions and things to see and do. First off, check out our list of hikes in Seberang Perai. This post will tell you all about the best things to do in Seberang Perai, so that you may really get to know Penang state inside out.
Things to Do near Butterworth in Seberang Perai Utara
North Seberang Perai stretches from the Kedah state border down to Butterworth. These are some worthwhile things to do and attractions in Seberang Perai Utara.
1Butterworth Art Walk
Seeing street art in Butterworth is much easier than in Penang because the murals are all concentrated in a 400-metre-long street, Butterworth Art Walk, situated at Lorong Bagan Luar Satu, right beside the Lodge 18 Hotel and Dataran Pemuda Merdeka, where six artists painted murals inspired from the lesser-known story of Butterworth.
READ MORE — Butterworth Art Walk Guide
2Butterworth Temple of Nine Emperors (Tow Boo Kong Temple)
Located along Butterworth’s lively Jalan Raja Uda, not far away from Penang Ferry terminal, the Tow Boo Kong Temple – also called Butterworth Nine Emperor Gods Temple for its importance during the namesake Penang festival – is one of the biggest in Seberang Perai.
Its magnificent archway leads into a series of multi-coloured halls and courtyards where you’ll be able to check the pulse of Butterworth’s devotion.
Kampung Agong is an “agro theme-park” located in the Seberang Perai Utara town of Penaga. Set amidst paddy fields that stretch as far as you can see, the park is set within a coconut grove and has been dubbed by locals as “Penang’s Bali” because of its thatched huts, swings, and giant bird nests that remind of Indonesia’s tourist hotspot.
Kampung Agong is just about 20 minutes drive from Butterworth city and has become a popular homestay option in Seberang Perai.
One of the northernmost villages in Penang state, Guar Kepah holds a lesser-known archaeological gallery that holds the remains of the 5,000-years-old Penang Woman – a younger but no less important skeleton than the Perak Man in the Lenggong Valley.
Found in 2017, Penang Woman was the first and only Neolithic skeleton found inside a shell midden, approximately 5710 years old.
The place has been excavated and studied since 1851 by the British colonizers, who brought back 41 skeletons to Leiden in the Netherlands.
Robina beach near Teluk Air Tawar is one of Butterworth’s most appreciated public beaches.
Although the beach itself it’s short and rocky, the place is a scenic hangout, especially at sunrise or sunset, when local photographers flock here to take images of the wooden jetty stretching into the sea. Views of Penang island in the distance also make it a scenic spot, and biking and walking paths attract local sports enthusiasts.
Things to Do in Seberai Perai Tengah
Central Seberang Perai pretty much encloses the township of Bukit Mertajam, the Cherok Tok Kun Recreational Forest, and all the area of villages until the Kedah border near Kulim. These are some worthwhile things to do and attractions in Seberang Perai Tengah.
So very few people come to Penang state and decide to give Bukit Mertajam (known by locals as “BM”) a try. Set right across the first Penang bridge, on the contrary, there are so many great things to eat and do in Bukit Mertajam you can’t just ignore it.
If you are looking to experience Malaysia as it was, or have a look at what Penang state looks like without Penang engrossing nightlife, then taking a stroll in Bukit Mertajam’s Old Town is a must. It makes George Town in Penang look like a fake. And did I say that the food in Bukit Mertajam is great, too? If you decide to travel here, check our list of the recommended hotels in Bukit Mertajam.
READ MORE — Best Things to Do in Bukit Mertajam
7Bukit Mertajam Recreational Forest
If Penang Hill is the island’s green lung, Bukit Mertajam Recreational Forest is Seberang Perai’s equivalent.
The dome-shaped peak, often called Tok Kun or To’Kun Hill by the locals is the tallest point on mainland Penang at 545 meters. It towers over the vast flat plains around it making it a clearly visible landmark from miles away and is home to some of Penang mainland best hikes. There is a maze of trails running up to the summit which can be done in as little as 1 hour 20 minutes, or as an arduous full-day loop that includes the nearby peaks.
READ MORE – Guide to Bukit Mertajam Recreational Forest
Auto City is Seberang Perai oldest and most famous entertainment and shopping area.
It’s a happening place to go in the evenings, when their Shop-In D’ Park (whose entrance is presided by two iron statues of Predator) fills up with people who come here to enjoy an evening stroll and the dining options — from Vietnamese to Thai and local BBQ and fish — and the flea-market tucked at the back.
Outside, restaurant and bistro galore still abound, with Starbucks, the long-standing Golden Triangle (Vietnamese, Thai and Laotian restaurant) and many more options that can certainly grant a few hours of shopping and dining while you hop between places in Bukit Mertajam.
9Cafe Hop and Eat at Icon City
Icon City is a commercial development of two-storey shophouses near Bukit Mertajam, and it seriously competes with nearby Auto City — it’s just about 5 minutes drive away.
Beyond the ubiquitous Taiwan bubble tea shops — a very unhealthy yet super popular drink in Malaysia — Icon City boasts tons of dining options, from Chinese steamboat restaurants to the western food galore of James Foo and Green Island, with a touch of Japanese at Ittan Izakaya and Kaze, Korean BBQ at Daorae, and other dessert shops and beer bars.
Frog Hill is a former mining site filled with water that became famous on Instagram as local Chinese said it’s “the Jiuzhaigou of Penang”.
The observatory hill at Frog Hills is surrounded by the beautiful water pools on three sides, and the path and “parking” area at the back. If you turn around, you’ll have a beautiful view of Bukit Mertajam (the hill where the Cherok Tok Kun trails area) soaring from a carpet of palm oil plantations and forest.
On any clear day, you’ll see the water pools turn from dark grey to viridian, aqua and turquoise. The water here is surprisingly clean and makes for a very surreal view. That’s no surprise then that Frog Hill is also one of the preferred locations for Penang pre-wedding photoshoots.
READ MORE – Ultimate Guide to Frog Hill
Bukit Juru is a hill set near the coast not far away from the Penang mainland town of Bukit Mertajam. The hill is also not far away from Auto City and tucked beyond the old road running between Butterworth and Ipoh, in the area of Bukit Minyak.
The beauty of Bukit Juru is of course reaching the top for the great views. As soon as you arrive at the top, you’ll be confronted by an unobstructed view of Bukit Mertajam hill and the Cherok Tokun forest on one side, and the Straits Sea, Penang’s Second Bridge and George Town on the other. There are wooden benches, some hammocks and many plants that make it feel like a welcoming outdoor garden for a romantic date or a picnic — don’t forget to bring your own food and drinks.
READ MORE – Complete Guide to Visit Bukit Juru
This is a beautiful dam set within landscaped gardens and a very popular place for local joggers and outdoorsy families.
After several years of upgrade works, Mengkuang Dam reopened in 2020, but closures because of COVID–19 are common. To be frank, the new access road is not as good for jogging and sightseeing — the grassy shore is gone completely — but this is a place to behold at least once when in Seberang Perai, especially from the top of Cherok Tok Kun.
Berapit is perfect for nature and hiking lovers. Malaysians know Berapit for nothing more than being the place where Olympic Malaysian badminton player Lee Chong Wei lived and used to train. But the beauty of Berapit is Berapit Market Hill or the northern flank of Bukit Mertajam Recreational Forest and one of the best hiking trails in Seberang Perai.
Berapit offers two different hikes, which can also be done in a loop: one to a beautiful five-storey Thai-Burmese Buddhist temple hanging from the hillside, and one to 328 Rainbow Stairs at Flower Fruit Hill, an easy and popular trail that opened in early 2021.
READ MORE— What to do in Berapit
14Air Hitam Dalam
This freshwater wetland is a unique ecosystem teeming with life. Figs, Nipah palms and a wide array of reptiles, primates and birds call this 11-hectare forest home. About 150 species of birds are known from the park, making it a popular spot with birdwatchers who come from far and wide to photograph them. Situated just north of Sungai Dua, the park is easily accessed by road and is equipped with an elaborate network of elevated walkways which ensure you get in and out of the wetland without actually getting wet.
15Penang Bird Park
Penang Bird Park is the first and largest bird park of its kind in Malaysia. Established in 1988, it boasts a collection of more than 300 species of birds from all over the world, 150 of which are from Malaysia. There are 150-plus cages housing more than 3,000 birds which are scientifically researched for breeding and conservation purpose. A great place to go in Penang with kids.
Things to Do in Seberai Perai Selatan
South Seberang Perai pretty stretches from Batu Kawan all the way to Nibong Tebal and Parit Buntar, bordering with Kedah to the east and Perak to the South. It’s one of the most scenic parts of Seberang Perai, and these are some worthwhile things to do and attractions in Seberang Perai Selatan.
Pulau Aman (translated as “Island of Peace”) and its sibling islet Pulau Gedung have some of Penang best beaches. Pulau Aman is a rather offbeat island, small and laid-back, and even most locals let it slip under their radars. Home to a community of 300 fishermen, its quaint, car-free alleys offer timeless tropical bliss. To catch up with modernity, one must hop on the short bumboat ride (RM8 roundtrip) back to the Batu Musang jetty and the mainland.
READ MORE — Pulau Aman Travel Guide
17Crazy Hill at Batu Kawan
“Crazy Hill”, as it’s fondly called by local mountain bikers, is a rather small hill that makes for an easy hike. This trail starts from the beautiful Arulmigu Balathandayuthapani Devasthanam Hindu temple, with its outdoor garden and large lotus pond, which is a reason to visit in itself.
A concrete and asphalt trail leads all the way up to the summit — and although there’s not much to see once you get up here except for a telecommunications tower, you’ll enjoy some unobstructed view of Batu Kawan, the coastal mudflats, and the Second Penang Bridge.
On the way down, don’t forget that a trail forks down to the right until a secluded beach flanked with mangroves (and trash after a hard rain or high tide, so keep expectations low) that faces Pulau Aman.
READ MORE – 10 Best Things to Do in Batu Kawan
18Shop till you drop at Batu Kawan
The area of Batu Kawan just off Penang second bridge used to be a forgotten coastal wasteland, but it has now become home to some of Penang Best Shopping. The popular Swedish brand IKEA came to set foot here in 2019, the second outlet in Malaysia after Kuala Lumpur. This huge IKEA shopping mall is just south of the Design Village Outlet Mall, touted as the largest shopping outlet in Malaysia, which sells the type of high-quality European-styled furniture that’s famous (and found) all around the world.
READ MORE — Best Shopping in Penang
19Eat seafood and see offbeat street art at Bukit Tambun
Tucked away in the center of Seberang Perai, the small village of Bukit Tambun’s claim to fame is its fresh seafood. Most Penangites eagerly make the drive here to chill by the riverside and eat some of the state’s most famous fish. Bukit Tambun is only a 30-minute drive from all the things to do in Penang island or a 15-minute drive from Bukit Mertajam, Tambun seafood is scrumptious, cheap, and definitely an attraction in itself, but there’s certainly more to do in this village than eating, in particular, some of the most offbeat Penang street art.
READ MORE — Things to Do and Eat in Bukit Tambun
Tucked in the southeastern corner of Seberang Perai Selatan right on the border with Kedah state lies the 446ha Bukit Panchor State Park – Penang’s one and only state park.
Originally gazetted as the Bukit Panchor Permanent Forest Reserve in 1963, it was elevated to the status of state park in 2008 because of its rich biodiversity and potential for recreation activities. The park takes its name from Bukit Panchor, a 416m peak that marks the park’s southern border with Kedah. The area is mostly covered in lowland dipterocarp forest, together with large swaths of tembusu, shorea, medang and kapur. The park also has numerous streams flanked by freshwater swamp.
READ MORE — Bukit Panchor State Park Visitor Guide
21Stone Dragon Hill (Bukit Tangga Batu)
Hidden at the top of a durian plantation, Stone Dragon Hill has become a rather popular hiking trail among the locals because of the gigantic boulder known as the “stone dragon” which hangs on the clifftop. Foreign tourists are, as usual, oblivious to this, and coming to Bukit Tangga Batu still makes for a rewarding off the beaten track adventure. The hill offers panoramic views of the countryside as far as Valdor, Simpang Ampat, and Batu Kawan.
The peaceful town of Nibong Tebal is often bypassed by most, but it’s an interesting place to visit for a day. The old town has some old and interesting shophouses, temples, and buildings, and the place is famous for firefly spotting tours in the evenings. Make a visit if you really want to discover offbeat Penang.