When we speak of the things to do in Penang, things that come to our mind are the food, the famous Penang Heritage Site or famous tourist attractions like Penang Hill or Kek Lok Si Temple. But nope, today we are not talking about these well-known Penang feats. We will be exploring the hidden gem, Balik Pulau in Penang!
In this post, you will find all the details you need to get there, and of course, have fun there!
Excited? Let’s dive in and learn everything we need to visit Balik Pulau Penang, Malaysia!
Overview of Balik Pulau
Balik Pulau is located at the west side of Penang Island, living up to its name which literally translated to as “the back of the island”.
In contrast to the well-developed and bustling eastern side of Penang, Balik Pulau is rather peaceful and slow-paced.
From the bright green or golden (depending on the season you visited) paddy field to the herd of goats in the dairy farm, it is not something you would find in the other side of Penang. Grab your gears and be ready for a chill road-trip to witness the true beauty of nature Balik Pulau has to offer.
How To Get There?
So let’s assume you’re going from Georgetown, where most travelers stay. There are generally two ways to get to Balik Pulau, depending on your budget.
If you’re traveling there from Kuala Lumpur, here are 5 ways to get from KL to Penang.
By Car to Balik Pulau
First, use GrabCar, which is cheaper than taxis but will cost way more than public transport. But it saves you some time at the end of the day.
Public Transport to Balik Pulau Penang
The other option is by public transport, which I think most travelers prefer. The first thing you’ll need to do is to get to the main bus station in Komtar or Weld Quay.
There are three routes that will get you to Balik Pulau Bus Terminal on Jl Tun Sardon, the main bus station in Balik Pulau. Those are 401, 401E, and 502.
Route 401E uses the highway and is faster than 401, with free Wi-Fi onboard.
Route 502 is the fastest among the three routes, passing through Air Itam.
The only inconvenience is that the paddy fields are a little far from the town so you might, in the end, need the help of a taxi or GrabCar to get there.
Find out how you can see Penang at under $20 per day here!
Spending A Day in Balik Pulau
The best way to start off the day is to go for refreshing sightseeing of paddy fields.
Balik Pulau is famous for its agriculture and fishery activities, so as long as you are in the right area, it is easy to spot stretches of golden or green paddy fields along with your journey in Balik Pulau. To start off, grab your mobile devices, and look for Balik Pulau Paddy Field in Google Maps. This will bring you right to the paddy fields area.
Take your time there and enjoy the picturesque scene of the vast stretches of paddy fields. You will also see locals jogging along the field. Do not hesitate to greet them with a simple “Good morning!” or “Selamat Pagi” (if you prefer using the local Malay language). They are very likely to greet you back with a smile. 😀
Love those kinds of friendly atmosphere, right?
Editor’s Note: Planning a visit to Melaka too? Check out this list of things to do in Melaka!
Best Time to Visit Balik Pulau
I visited in the middle of June and the paddy is bright green with slight gold-yellow, close to harvest. The best time to visit Balik Pulau paddy fields is around June and July. For the best sightseeing experience, avoid visiting after the harvest.
But of course, there is a lot more than just sightseeing in Balik Pulau in Penang, Malaysia!
Things To Do in Balik Pulau Penang
Mangrove Forest Reserve
Next up, make a visit to the Mangrove Forest Reserve, a.k.a. Taman Paya Bakau.
Get your Google Maps, go with “Taman Paya Bakau” which literally means “mangrove swamp” and you are all set.
You will be following a path by a river known as Sungai Burung. Before you reach the end of the river, you will have to turn left to reach the mangrove forest. The forest is rather small and will take only 10 minutes to finish exploring the area.
Wooden walkways are built along this small forest and the walk is very straightforward without any cross junction or different paths for you to take. This is yet another reason why this place takes so fast to explore.
However, the mangrove forest along with the swamp is full of different species of crabs that are not something we get to see everywhere. Personally, I still think this is one of the spots that should never be missed.
The downside about the forest is that this place is naturally inhabiting with a crazy amount of mosquitos. They are literally EVERYWHERE, constantly attempting suicide in exchange for that micro drop of your precious blood.
So prepare yourself with some mosquito repellents or oils.
The Mangrove Forest Reserve is a lesser-known visiting spot and is very likely known only by the locals. During our visit, we had the whole forest to ourselves. So, don’t be surprised if there is nobody around.
Note that some parts of the wooden walkway are broken and do seem like not having maintenance attention for a while. So be careful while you walk or you’ll be joining the crabs in the swamp. Trust me, you will never want that to happen.
After some quick walk around the Mangrove Forest Reserve, turn back to the path by the river. This time, follow the river and go all the way to the end of the river. The river leads to a rocky shore known as Pantai Malindo.
It is yet another good spot to chill, take some photos and breath in some fresh air. The end of the river is a muddy swamp during low tide and you will come across a species of amphibian known as mudskippers along the muddy area of the river. They look literally like a fish with four hands. Their ancestors might be around for millions of years, who knows?
If you are lucky enough, you could spot some pretty large mudskippers that may be as long as 15 centimeters in length, which is almost three times the size of the common mudskippers in the area.
Creepy four-legged fish!
Local traditional boats can also be easily spotted along the river which makes good material for some photogenic pictures. The path along the shore is full of rocks and pebbles. Some of them do look beautiful, having two contradict colors due to the longtime immersed in water during high tide.
The shore is also famous among the locals for sunset viewing. Unfortunately, we were there in the morning. You’ll easily find stunning sunset photos of Pantai Malindo on the internet. Trust me, you wouldn’t want to miss it.
If Pantai Malindo is your thing, then I’m sure you’ll love Pantai Kerachut in Penang National Park!
Before leaving the southern part of Balik Pulau, there are a few places that are equally good to visit.
Further south into Balik Pulau is a fishing village known as Pulau Betong. Jia Siang Cafe is a well-known seafood restaurant in the area offering a wide variety of fresh seafood. The restaurant is usually crowded so you might have to wait to be served.
Pantai Pasir Panjang is yet another beach by the end of Pulau Betong. Another superb place to chill and relax. The sunset view in this beach is exceptional too.
Balik Pulau Town
After you are done with the southern part of Balik Pulau, go all the way north to the town center of Balik Pulau. This part of Balik Pulau is more developed and busy.
It is more famous as a food spot than a sightseeing spot. Street arts are also abundant in the town center, waiting for you to discover.
Although not as developed as the eastern side of Penang Island, Balik Pulau will sure give you the vintage feelings of how life was in Penang.
And also, there are street arts in Balik Pulau as well!
Saanen Dairy Goat Farm
Now, let’s go all the way to the northern end of Balik Pulau to Saanen Dairy Goat Farm.
Saanen Dairy Goat Farm is actually a residential house for the family operating it. Guess what? The entrance to the goat farm is free!
The first thing you will realize when you reach the farm is the variety of animals here. It is more like a mini zoo with rabbits, dogs, guinea pigs, ostrich, and even beavers. Nonetheless, the goats are the kings here.
There are like 50 or more goats on the farm. While most of the adult goats are resting in their goat house, baby goats are always left unrestrained and walking around freely. Feel free to have fun with the goats and pets them gently.
If you are lucky enough, you’ll get to witness the milking process.
There are usually grass or food available for visitors to feed the goats. No need to pay for them as well. After your joyful experiences on the farm, have a look at their store for some fresh goat milk products such as yogurts, ice cream, and of course the milk itself.
To complement the well-maintained farm with no entry fees, why not support the family with little tips and get yourself a taste of the delicious goat milk ice cream?
Places To Eat in Balik Pulau
Balik Pulau are very much famed for their Laksa and nutmeg juice. These two are inevitable in the few places I recommend below. Laksa is a type of rice noodle, cooked with soup of tamarind, fish, onion, and chili spices. It is usually also served with prawn paste for extra taste.
I categorized these famous spots with “south” and “north” so you can plan your itinerary accordingly.
Southern Balik Pulau
Balik Kampung at Balik Pulau
An eatery that is famous for their Laksa and Hokkien Mee at a very reasonable price. Hokkien Mee is a dish of noodle served with soup cooked from prawn shells and heads along with some chili spices. It usually comes with a half-boiled egg, pork slices, and vegetables (notably water spinach).
The hawthorn juice or “San Zha Shui” served here is also surprisingly good.
The owner of this eatery also offers bicycle rental services and tour services. If you are interested, you can call for inquiries. While tour services are optional, I think the whole road-trip would be very exciting and refreshing with cycling.
Consider coming here early for bicycle rental and have some wonderful morning before coming back to return the bicycle and have your lunch here. Behind the eatery is a small garden with various activities including boat-paddling.
Business hours: 10.30am – 5.10pm (Only open on weekend) Contact number: 013-323 7777 Address: 278 MK D, Kuala Jalan Baharu, 11000 Balik Pulau, Pulau Pinang
Jia Siang Café
Mentioned above, it is a very well-known seafood restaurant that offers a wide variety of freshly caught seafood.
Business hours: 11.30am to 6.30pm Contact number: 019-746 8465 Address: No. 321, MK 7, Pulau Betong, 11020, Balik Pulau, Pulau Pinang
Northern Balik Pulau
Kim Seng Kopitiam
The Laksa here is very famous among the locals. It is one of the best Laksa in Penang on my personal list.
Business hours: 11.00am to 5.00pm Contact number: 012-428 6235 Address: 20, Jalan Sungai Air Putih, Bandar Baru Air Putih, 11000 Balik Pulau, Pulau Pinang
Balik Pulau Food Court
This is pretty much my personal bias, the foods there are normal, but the nutmeg juice here is impressively delicious. It is a must-go spot for me every time I visit Balik Pulau.
Like most of the nutmeg juice in Balik Pulau, the nutmeg juices here are also white nutmeg juices that are blended with freshly picked nutmeg from the orchards instead of boiled red nutmeg juice.
Business hours: 9.00am to 3.00pm (Closed on Wednesday) Address: Jalan Tun Sardon, Kompleks Pasar Awam Taman Balik Pulau, 11000 Balik Pulau, Pulau Pinang
Excited for your visit to Balik Pulau in Penang?
So that’s all for the Balik Pulau Penang itinerary! I hope it helped you in planning your visit or at least inspired you a little. As always, feel free to comment below if you have any questions or feedback. If it’s your first time in Penang, see this post to find out where you should stay in Penang. Happy traveling!