The slow-paced town tucked away in the southwest of the Penang island is more than a promised land for durian; it is a countryside retreat for food and unique local gems.

How To Get There

Penang International Airport has extensive and frequent connectivity from other major cities in Asia. Rent a car to get there as the uphill route to Balik Pulau can be tricky and dangerous for first-timers so be advised to not travel by motorcycle. For a budgeted trip, Rapid Penang bus 401E has a route from the city center to airport and Balik Pulau.

Photo from Adobe Stock

What To Do

Explore the main town center for an understanding of the local lifestyle. While you are around, spot monumental murals at the antique shophouses which depict the local culture and society. Worth visiting is The Church of The Holy Name of Jesus in town; built in 1954, it is one of the oldest churches in Penang.

Join a bicycle tour that goes around plantations and village houses. The calm countryside atmosphere will reveal a fresh sight of Penang. Also, a little further from town is Countryside Stables Penang for a fun family time among horses and ponies.

Where To Stay

Be surrounded by nature at Malihom Private Estate, a 4-star traditional resort where Thailand’s heritage teak barns are turned into villas. Seekers of more cost-effective lodging can check out Titi Teras Village House, a homestyle bed and breakfast. The simple quarters have bicycle rental on site as well as bike tours on request.

Photo from Rebecca PH Lee

Where To Eat

Kim Laksa at Nan Guang Coffeeshop is the place that puts Balik Pulau assam laksa in the spotlight of Penang’s famous foods. A must-try is their assam laksa and siam laksa (coconut milk broth). Jia Siang Cafe in Pulau Betong is known for their diverse seafood preparation styles. The fresh sea produce from the adjacent fishing village can be bought in the restaurant and directly cooked and tasted here.

Good to Know

• The absence of a mall makes the town center in Balik Pulau a hub for everything from shopping, healthcare and education.
• Durian, nutmeg and cloves are famous local produce to get from Balik Pulau. It is believed that the best durian in Malaysia comes from here!
• The town’s “The Silversmith” portrait mural by Ernest Zacharevic is based on a local heritage craftsman who is skilled in making silver miniatures and pieces.

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