When in Penang, most people often make a beeline towards George Town or Batu Feringghi, while places like Butterworth get overlooked. But here’s the thing: mainland Penang, also known as Seberang Perai, has some hidden gems that aren’t to be missed. Sure, it’s separated from the island side, but there’s nothing a bridge can’t help connect, and trust us, heaps of attractions await!
This part of Penang’s mainland is where the charming towns of Butterworth and Bukit Mertajam can be found. The list below is filled with ideas on some things to do on your next visit to these townships.
1. Penang Bird Park, Perai
Did you know Penang Bird Park, located near Butterworth, was the first ever bird park built in Malaysia? Now you do! This pretty cool place spans across five acres and is conveniently close to the ferry terminal, and it’s a must-visit.
Get to know the flying residents of the park and be amazed by the sheer variety of birds — over 300 kinds — from majestic hornbills and graceful pelicans to a whole array of vibrant and exotic species. It will have you feeling like you’re watching a live-action version of the animated movie Rio. This place is truly a haven for bird lovers and an excellent spot for a family day out.
Address: Jalan Todak Seberang Jaya, 13700 Perai, Penang
Contact: +604 399 1899
2. Frog Hill, Tasek Gelugor
Despite what its name may lead you to believe, this hidden gem in Penang is not a hill inhabited by frogs. In fact, it used to be a tin mining site; now, it’s a hidden gem quickly catching many’s attention due to its Instagrammable views.
Imagine stunning natural scenery, picturesque lakes, and magnificent waterfalls. It’s truly a sight to behold! Remember that since the area was once used for tin mining, you might encounter some red clay. So, wear suitable footwear if you plan on exploring Frog Hill.
Address: 14400 Tasek Gelugor, Penang
3. Butterworth Art Walk, Butterworth
Incredible street art can be found beyond George Town, Penang. In Butterworth, there is a place called the Butterworth Art Walk where passionate local artists collaborate to showcase their culture and history.
Unlike the art found in George Town, the murals and installations at Butterworth Art Walk beautifully portray the agricultural economy and rich history of Seberang Perai. It’s a unique experience and one that shouldn’t be missed out on.
Address: 1, Lorong Bagan Luar 1, Bagan Luar, 12000 Butterworth, Penang
4. Pantai Bersih, Butterworth
This beach in Butterworth certainly lives up to its name. As the name suggests, Pantai Bersih is all about cleanliness, with staff regularly ensuring the area is rubbish-free. However, there are other reasons that have brought visitors flocking over.
Offering breathtaking views of the island’s stunning coastline, it’s the perfect place for some peace and quiet. And if all the sightseeing has got you feeling hungry, then you’re in luck, as plenty of seafood eateries are around.
Address: Jalan Pantai Bersih 13000 Butterworth, Penang
5. St Anne’s Hall, Bukit Mertajam
Established in 1846, St Anne’s Hall in Bukit Mertajam is one of Malaysia’s most well-known Catholic Churches. The church’s annual Feast of St Anne is celebrated around its original shrine, which was constructed in 1888. The 10-day festival, that usually takes place in late July, draws many tourists from all over the world.
But if you’re not a fan of huge crowds, the church is magnificent all year round. There’s also a brand new church constructed in 2002 that’s known to be one of Malaysia’s largest, and it’s located right adjacent to the historic place of worship. So, while you’re at St Anne’s, you can also make a pit stop there.
Address: Jalan Kulim, 14000 Bukit Mertajam, Penang
6. Bukit Mertajam Recreational Forest, Bukit Mertajam
Spread across nearly 37 hectares of hilly terrain, this place is a haven for activities like jogging, hiking, and jungle trekking. It’s truly an oasis right in the heart of the city. Oh, and here’s a little secret: hiking up To’kun Hill to catch the breathtaking sunrise is an absolute must-do!
You have two options to get there — one is a tar-covered road, while the other takes you through a network of forest trails. It’s a nature lover’s dream come true, offering a serene escape right amid the city.
Address: Kampung Teluk Bukit, 14000 Bukit Mertajam, Penang
7. Mengkuang Dam, Bukit Mertajam
Located in the south of Kampung Mengkuang in Seberang Perai, Mengkuang Dam is the biggest of its kind in Penang. Recent years have seen this place become popular with locals and tourists, thanks to its pretty scenery and relaxing jogging routes. It’s also a great location to watch a beautiful sunset!
Annually, the Penang International Dragon Boat Festival takes place around December and draws quite a crowd. If that’s your thing, definitely come and witness dragon boat teams from around the world compete to be crowning champions. It’s quite an atmosphere to be around!
Address: P133, 14000 Bukit Mertajam, Penang
8. Permatang Rawa, Bukit Mertajam
Even though Seberang Perai has rapidly developed, Permatang Rawa has maintained its charming traditional atmosphere. And while there aren’t many wooden stilt houses left in the vicinity, the rural charm can still be felt all around.
Permatang Rawa is truly a photographic gem of mainland Penang. Picture a vast expanse of open land with no towering buildings to be seen. It definitely makes for a refreshing change of scenery! So, if you’re up for a unique adventure, head over to Permatang Rawa. Enjoy the rustic charm, relax in the peaceful surroundings of the countryside, and take breathtaking pictures!
Address: Permatang Rawa 14000 Bukit Mertajam, Penang
9. Nine Emperor Gods Temple, Butterworth
Be amazed by the Nine Emperor Gods Taoist Temple, the grandest temple in all of Butterworth! This place is an extravaganza for the eyes with its stunning architecture and vibrant colours that will leave you in awe. Here’s the interesting part: during the Feast of the Nine Emperor Gods, this temple becomes a hub of activity.
The place comes alive with devoted worshippers and temporary vendors selling mouthwatering vegetarian food and prayer supplies. It’s a vibrant and bustling scene that adds to the festive atmosphere. You might even witness some devotees participating in fascinating devotional practices like fire walking and more, if you’re lucky.
Address: 894 & 896, MK14, Jalan Raja Uda, 12300 Butterworth, Penang
10. Auto City & Icon City, Perai
Are you more of a night owl who prefers to explore after the sun sets? Well, the best places to enjoy the nightlife in mainland Penang are, without a doubt, Auto City and Icon City. Both locations are just a short distance apart and provide diverse dining options, including themed cafes and bars.
Due to their proximity to the Penang bridge, these two locations have become popular meeting points for Penang islanders and mainland Penang-ites.
Address: Highway Auto-City, 1688-F8, Jalan Perusahaan, Bukit Tengah, 13600 Perai, Penang
Contact: +604 501 1222