From where the borders of Kedah and Penang meet in the most southern
part, to the northern tip of Seberang Perai (what Penang’s mainland is called),
is around an hour and a half drive within speed limit. Seberang Perai Utara (north) and Seberang Perai Tengah (central) wield their own
charm on visitors. However, it’s the allure of the southern area that is often
invisible. Destined to awaken only in 2020 when Ikea is erected within the Batu
Kawan area, it is actually best to visit the area before the boom. So, here are
a few places in Seberang Perai Selatan (SPS) that will surprise you most
pleasantly. These attractions in SPS are truly simple to get to when driving on
the PLUS (north-south) highway from south to north (or vice versa) and so
easily accessible with the second Penang bridge.
Observe Fireflies in Nibong Tebal
On a moonless night, at around 7.30pm, hit Nibong Tebal town where beside it flow Sungai Kerian that’s rich with the mangrove trees on its banks that fireflies love. The numbers of fireflies are decreasing rather rapidly but the Seberang Perai City Council’s trying very hard to preserve this attraction as best as they can. A quiet ride on the boat after sunset will allow you a view of the flickering insects and it costs RM10 per person or RM50 per boat. (Latitude: 5.167945, Longitude: 100.478323)
When translated, the island’s name means ‘Island of Peace’. Get to Batu Kawan to get to the jetty that’ll get you on a 5-minute boat ride at RM6 (return) to this island. Boat service starts at 9am from mainland and continues (loosely) every hour till 7pm. Pulau Aman’s a small island of fishermen and it’s prettily dotted with colourful fishing boats. Once on the island, take a leisurely walk through the village that will lead you on to a trek that fringe the forest and the beach. It will also lead you to a ‘Telaga Emas’ or well of gold – where once, gold was found but some say it was but a myth. The soil here is suitable for sukun trees and the oldest one that still bears fruit was planted in 1820! Coming here for lunch is a good idea since the mee udang or prawn noodles steeping in thick sweet-savoury broth is popular due to the fresher than fresh prawns available. From the island, the second Penang bridge offers a most convenient route to get to the jetty. (Latitude: 5.262923, Longitude: 100.388393)
Other Outdoor Attractions of SPS
A fascination for the long abandoned and derelict 99 Doors Mansion has grown in the past few years since it was put on Seberang Perai City Council’s heritage list. Like its name, the 20th century estate manor has 99 doors and was home to a palm oil estate manager till he was shot on its balcony. Today, the double story mansion still nestles within a dense palm oil estate but in a state of neglect. Its fate has yet to be decided but thankfully, demolishing it is not on the cards. It can only be reached by car and viewed by appointment since it’s privately owned. (Latitude: 5.184128, Longitude: 100.439184)
The unique thing about Taman Negeri Bukit Panchor in Nibong Tebal is the perpetual red autumn leaves that blanket the reserved forest’s ground. It’s certainly a popular spot for photography, especially wedding photography, due to its pretty and contrasting effect. The 445 hectares of rainforest allow for a nice walk or trek in cooler temperatures than in a city. (Latitude: 5.169613, Longitude: 100.543692)
Due to its sprawling space, SPS offers good areas for golf as well. Two notable golf clubs are Mountain View Golf Resort and Bukit Jawi Golf Resort. These golf clubs are surrounded by forest and emit a serene ambience.
For a day out in the market, venture out to Sungai Udang in Nibong Tebal. The Sungai Udang fishermen’s market will astound you with the variety of seafood freshly caught in the morning. Even if you’re not there to buy any, the vibrant bustle of the marketplace gives you plenty of photo-op. Don’t miss out on snapping photos of the colourful fishermen’s boats parked just beside the market.
To Get Here: Exit at Jawi, turn left after the tol and keep driving straight till you a see a sign that says turn right to Sungai Udang. After that, keep following the signs and you’ll enter a small Chinese housing area with the market right at the end of it.
What To Eat in SPS
Just like Seberang Perai Utara, SPS has an abundance of seafood available and mee udang is very popular. However, the ikan bakar or grilled fish is a must try in these parts. One of the best places for this along with a myriad other lauk or Malay dishes is at Kari Corner in Nibong Tebal. They open at 11.30am and there are plenty to choose from such as prawns in broth, perut masak lemak cili api, squid and at least eight sorts of ulam or herbs with sambal belacan dip. This spot is actually a perfect journey break for those on a long drive on the PLUS highway.
To Get Here: Exit at Jawi, turn left at the tol and keep going straight. Once you’ve passed four traffic lights since the Jawi tol, keep a look out on the right for Kari Corner. From the island, get onto the second Penang bridge, hit the highway and exit at Jawi.