Penang Balik Pulau
Interesting Glimpse Of Rural Life!
Balik Pulau is an old 'rustic' town in southwest of Penang that offers refreshing country air, charming mosques, soothing sight of paddy fields and variety of seafood delights. It showcases a glimpse of slow-paced rural life that is fast disappearing due to onslaught of modern development. The drive along the winding road there gives a fantastic view of the coastline and the beautiful surrounding
off-shore islands.

The town is made up of few fishing village such as Teluk Kumbar, Kampung Pondok Upeh, Kampung Sungai Burung, Gertak Sanggul and Pulau Betong.

These village have interesting origins of their names. For example, Teluk Kumbar was
named after a palm called pokok kumbar, Kampung Pondok Upeh was so named because the earlier settlers built their huts with the leaves of the upeh pinang and Kampung Sungai Burung was founded on the mouth of a river with plenty of birds.

The History
According to historical records, the early Malay settlers on Penang island were refugees from Kedah who were fleeing from Siamese invaders. They made their homes in Bukit Dumbar and Bayan Lepas. Later, in 1786 when the Chakri Dynasty came to power in then Siam and expanded the kingdom, there was more migration of Malays and Thai Muslims from Pattani, Yala, Narathiwat, Perlis and Kedah to Balik Pulau.

This scenic area, surrounded by hills, was a perfect place for them to escape persecution from their enemies. Today, many families in this town trace their ancestral roots from southern Thailand.

Interesting Places To Visit
Mosque is plenty such as the 100-year-old colonial mosque that features an onion-shaped dome just outside the town, a Middle Eastern architecture design of Majlis Daerah mosque which symbolizes the glory of Islam on the island as well as some others eye-catching of exceptional design mosque.

Durian and belacan are well known here! The village of Gertak Sanggul and Pulau Betong have belacan-making factories like Chop Kim Hoe factory in Gertak Sanggul, where visitors can see how the product is made. At first, shrimps are drained of water, rubbed with salt and allowed to dry in the sun. The fermented shrimps are compacted and passed through a grinder. The resulting paste is then compacted again, packed in bags and allowed to ferment further. Then the semi-hard pieces are cut into blocks and packed. Do visit these fabulous factories if you have the time.

With 1,868 hectares of durian orchards, the town is a durian connoisseur’s paradise. Along the way from Bayan Lepas, a popular stopover is the Durian Chap Kaki, where customers can sit on chairs at tables to tuck into the king of fruits. Taps are available for washing their hands.

Several durian varieties are available for those with a heady fragrance, a bitter- sweet taste, sweet and gooey flesh, and another variety with little fiber. The species have unique names like Hor Loh, Lipan, Green Skin, D2, D15, D95 and Kun Poh. Penangites and those from other places are known to have throng Balik Pulau for the perfect durian. Many swear that the durians here are still the best in Malaysia.

If you are looking for fresh clove and nutmeg, head for the hills. Here, you can find abundance of clove and nutmeg trees which bear fruits in July and between the months of November and January. It is known that the Clove and nutmeg were introduced to Balik Pulau by the East India Company in 1794, after the British founded their settlement on Penang Island. Stay on the hill longer if you intend to see beautiful sunset view.

Cottage industries are flourishing in the town following several entreprising moves by women entrepreneur to introduce some of the locals made ferment fruits, kuih (local cakes) and nutmeg products. So, remember to get some before you leave the place.

Delicious Food
Balik Pulau has slowly gain recognition as the food haven for the locals. Many came for the famous Balik Pulau Laksa and Pasembur at the market, the Laksa Janggus at Kampung Perlis, and Prawn Noodles (Hokkien Mee) at Kampung Kuala Jalan Bahru.

If you like Malay food, proceed to Sea-view stalls at Medan Selera Kg Nelayan in Teluk Kumbar to enjoy tomyam seafood, ikan bakar and other Malay delicacies. In Gertak Sanggul, Chinese fare is served at Jumbo Seafood Village. At the lookout point on a cliff just five kilometers from the town, there are also few stalls and restaurant located on a hillock.

Getting There:
Getting to Balik Pulau is easily accessible by following few routes:
  • 1st route - Following the coastal road all the way to Teluk Bahang Road and
    to Balik Pulau. By following this way, you can view the beautiful beaches,
    forests, and durian orchard.
  • 2nd route - From Sungai Nibong Road where you can drive through some
    small fishing village. You can probably get some fresh and cheap fishes here.
  • 3rd route - The fastest of all is via Air Itam and Paya Terubong. Beautiful
    sunset view can be seen along this route.
  • 4th route - By boat from nearby beaches or jetties built for the fisherman.