Places of visit: Mainland Penang

Connected to the island by the Penang Bridge, Prai is a thriving industrial premise on the mainland. While her island sister hogs most of the limelight, Prai has her own share of attractions.

Bukit Mertajam Recreational Forest

The Bukit Mertajam Recreational Forest lies 457 metres above sea level and covers an area of 37 hectares. Some locals refer to Bukit Mertajam as Bukit Ubat (or medicinal hill) because of the therapeutic qualities attributed to it - people with minor ailments actually claim of feeling relieved after a hike. One of the more popular parks on the mainland, it is usually packed with people during holidays. Facilites include a swimming pool, camping and picnic spots, jungle treks and comfortable accomodation.

Bukit Panchor Recreational Forest

Located 10km from Nibong Tebal or 50 km from George Town lies the Bukit Panchor Recreational Forest – an ideal getaway for picnics, camping and jungle trekking. A perfect place for the family.

Penang Bridge – connecting the island to the mainland

Since its opening, the Penang Bridge has become an iconic part of George Town. Like the Brooklyn Bridge or the Golden Gate Bridge, Penang Bridge has contributed significantly to the rapid development of Penang both as a tourist as well as an industrial centre. Every year the Penang Bridge Run takes place on the Penang Bridge itself and along the scenic coastal highway of George Town. This is the only time of the year when the bridge is closed for several hours in the wee hours of the morning. The biggest run in the country incorporates a marathon, a half-marathon and a quarter-marathon. The Run caters both to serious runners and amateurs.

Mengkuang Dam, Bukit Mertajam

The biggest dam in Penang with a storage capacity of 23, 639 million litres of water is located in the Mengkuang Valley north of Bukit Mertajam on the mainland. It was officially opened by the former Governor, Dr. Tun Awang Hassan in 1985. A haven for nature lovers, the dam features a well-landscaped garden with rubber, pinang and pine trees and some wildlife. Besides using the jogging tracks and walking trails, fitness buffs also hold regular sporting and recreational activities. The dam was recently host to the Penang International Dragon Boat Festival.

The dam is accessible via the Butterworth-Kulim Expressway (BKE). Get off at the Penanti exit from the BKE and drive on for about 2km until you reach the Mengkuang Dam. Opens from 6:00 am to 7:30 pm daily. For more details, call the Water Authority office at +604 509 6509

Penang Bird Park, Jalan Todak

A must see for bird lovers is the Penang Bird Park, located at an accessible five-minutes by car from the Penang Bridge. This 2-hectare Park is home to more than 300 species of birds from all over the world, including our local breads and some endangered species too. See huge birds of prey, pelicans, the gigantic cassowaries, emu and ostriches surrounded by their natural habitats. The Park is also home to non-feathered animals like fishes, reptiles and mouse deer. The park also features beautifully landscaped gardens, relaxing waterfalls, lotus ponds, walk-in aviaries, a souvenir shop and restaurant. Click here for full story

Address: Jalan Todak, Seberang Jaya, 13700 Perai, Penang | Tel: +604 399 1899

St. Anne’s Church, Jalan Kulim, Bukit Mertajam

From a small chapel built atop a hillock by visiting priest Fr. Adolphe Couellan in 1846, it grew to become a center of pilgrimage in the region. Hence a bigger church was built next to the old one, now called the Shrine. The dedication of the new church with its multi-tiered Minangkabau roofs and Gothic architecture was held on the 26 July 2002.

The church was named after St Anne, mother of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and has a sitting capacity of 1,800. Celebrations are held on a grand scale annually in conjunction with the annual St. Anne's Feast (in the month of July) which is usually followed by two nights of candelight procession by thousands of devotees at the church grounds.

Penang Bridge – connecting the island to the mainland

Penang Bridge © Adrian Cheah

Before 1985, transportation between the island and the mainland was solely dependent on the state-owned Penang Ferry Service that plies between Butterworth and George Town. For using the ferry services in Penang, motorists need to pay toll fare while heading to the island. There is no charge for leaving the island.

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Penang ferry service

The famous heritage ride across the Penang Channel

Penang ferry © Adrian Cheah

Probably the most cherished and well-known icon of Penang, this ferry service which carries motor vehicles and foot passengers became operational in 1925, linking Butterworth on the mainland to George Town on the island. Prior to that, the ferries in the form of large boats were meant for goods and people only.

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Tow Boo Kong Temple – an epic edifice where gods descend on Earth

Tow Boo Kong Temple © Adrian Cheah

This is the most famous place of worship in Raja Uda, and indeed in the whole of Seberang Perai. The intricately designed Tow Boo Kong Temple sited on the northern end of Jalan Raja Uda was built in honour of the Nine Emperor Gods.

Originally set up as just an attap-shed shrine in the early 1970s, the temple was rebuilt to its current scale and grandeur in 2000. The majestic archway was completed in 2009.

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