In partnership with Penang Tourism
Formerly known as Province Wellesley by the British, Seberang Perai is often credited as the spark behind Penang’s rapid economic and commercial growth. Comprising several small towns – Butterworth being its main draw – this mainland is known for its agricultural output, bustling retail scene and idyllic sights. Within its multicultural confines, Seberang Perai hides plenty of heritage, nature and delicious cuisines. Here’s where to go if you have 24 hours to spend:
Morning: Enjoy snap-worthy art and vintage buys
While Seberang Perai’s street art scene was a bit of a late bloomer, there’s still plenty here to admire. Stretched out along Lorong Bagan Luar, the Butterworth Art Walk is filled with pretty murals and vibrant installations, all inspired by the city’s agricultural background and historical elephant export trade. Another great pitstop is the Rope Walk at Taman Selat, where you’ll find stalls set up chock-a-block, filled with antique finds like old coins, watches and even vintage irons. Get an early start in the morning so you can get your IG-worthy snaps before the sun starts blazing down.
Lunchtime: Treat yourself to local delights
In Seberang Perai, and there’s no better place to savour delicious yet affordable eats than at Jalan Raja Uda. Crammed with small restaurants and hawker stalls, this street – formerly Malaysia’s longest – is where you’ll find an array of diverse cuisines. Stop by Chaw Choon Restaurant for cheap dim sum dishes, sit down to fiery tomyam noodles at Ju Heng Tomyam or opt for a generous serving of bak kut teh at Lao Shan Dong Bah Kut Teh. If you’d rather cook yourself, swing by Pasar Bisik Kuala Muda, where local fishermen display the day’s fresh catch. The name translates to mean “Whispering Market”, named as such because here it’s traditional to make your bid at the auction by whispering your offer to the sellers.
Afternoon: Soak in a little history
After a hearty lunch, it’s time for a bit of history. Why not make the short drive to Jambatan Merdeka. The concrete, tied-arch bridge connects Seberang Perai to the state of Kedah, and a recreation of the original bridge that the Japanese army destroyed during the Malayan invasion.
Alternatively, get a glimpse of the city’s metal smithing trade (and the surrounding paddy fields) at Permatang Benuan along Jalan Pekan Darat. Legend says that master blacksmiths in this picturesque township have been crafting steel equipment and agricultural tools since 1841. The smithies here are also the only manufacturers of traditional Malay weapons like the keris.
Evening: Indulge in affordable retail therapy
Shopalics rejoice, because Seberang Perai is home to the country’s largest outlet mall. Boasting an open outdoor concept and plenty of greenery, Design Village Penang is where everyone goes for affordable designer goods, sportswear and more. A covered car park also means you won’t get drenched transporting your purchases to your car if it rains. Speaking of affordable design, the IKEA Batu Kawan is nearby, home also to artist Leonard Siaw’s “Building Yourself” mural, said to be the second-largest in all of Penang. What’s more, the mural comes to life when viewed through your phone – all you have to do is scan a QR code.
Night: Feast on seafood
A visit to Seberang Perai wouldn’t be complete without fresh seafood, and the best spot for a satisfying meal is undoubtedly Bukit Tambun. There are two overwater seafood restaurants here – Gee Seng Seafood Restaurant and Floating Seafood Paradise Restaurant – where you can view all the marine life on display, choose your dishes and get everything cooked to order. Variety aside, the prices are pocket-friendly, too!
Bedtime: Get a slice of kampung life
Swap out brick walls and glass doors for attap roofs and rustic wooden houses at Kampung Agong. This enchanting homestay is wildly popular with netizens thanks to its surrounding coconut trees, paddy fields and giant bird’s-nest swings. There are three traditional Malay houses to choose from or you can choose to camp out in the lush gardens that offer gorgeous sunset views. Kampung Agong also has plenty of activities if you just want a day visit; think picnics, cycling trails, seasonal kite-flying and paddy-harvesting activities and farm tours. For the more thrill-seeking among you, there are also ATV rides.
Next morning: Be at one with nature
Seberang Perai is home to several stunning green spaces, and one of them is the Air Hitam Dalam Educational Forest. This freshwater swamp gets its name from the nearby river that is both deep and dark in colour, and has a multi-layered ecosystem filled with various flora and fauna. Avid birdwatchers should grab a spot at one of the two observation towers here, connected by a 1.16-kilometre boardwalk. There’s cool mountain air aplenty at Taman Rimba Bukit Mertajam, making it a hot spot for campers, mountain bikers, jungle trekkers and picnicking families. Keep an eye out of the small waterfall here if you want a refreshing dip. Want a fam-friendly day out? Get tickets to the Penang Bird Park, which has walk-in aviaries with more than 300 native and exotic species. Fun shows and bird-feeding times make this spot a hit with the kids.