Butterworth, Penang

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Tow Boo Kong Temple in Raja Uda
Tow Boo Kong Temple in Raja Uda
Butterworth is located in Peninsular Malaysia
Location of Butterworth in Peninsular Malaysia
Butterworth is located in Malaysia
Location of Butterworth in Malaysia
Coordinates: 5°25′N 100°24′E / 5.417°N 100.400°E / 5.417; 100.400
Country Malaysia
State Penang
District North Seberang Perai
 • Member of Parliament Lim Guan Eng
Elevation 8 m (26 ft)
 • Total 1,175,910
Time zone Malaysian Standard Time (UTC+8)

Butterworth is the principal town of Seberang Perai in the state of Penang in Malaysia. Named after William John Butterworth, Governor of the Straits Settlements (1843–1855), Butterworth was established in the mid-19th century as a landing place across the channel from the capital of Penang, George Town. The town has a population of 1,175,910[1] and it is also known unofficially in Malay as Bagan, meaning "jetty". Butterworth is the site of the Malayan Railway station for Penang, and is linked to the island by the Penang Ferry Service and by the 13.5 km Penang Bridge.

The Penang Bird Park, a landscaped park with over 300 species of birds from all over Southeast Asia, is situated in this town. Butterworth is also the location of a Royal Malaysian Air Force station, RMAF Butterworth, formerly operated by the Royal Air Force and the Royal Australian Air Force, and is now the Headquarters of the Integrated Area Defence System (HQIADS) of the Five Power Defence Arrangements.

Butterworth will be the site of an integrated transport hub called Penang Sentral, which will integrate rail, ferry and bus transport. It is the parliamentary seat of Bagan and its Member of Parliament is the current Chief Minister of Penang, Lim Guan Eng.


Butterworth sits in the southernmost tip of the North Seberang Perai district, sandwiched between Prai River in the south and east of the town and the North Channel in the west which separates Penang Island and Seberang Perai. The town with a low-lying area close to sea level is bordered by Perai in the south, Seberang Jaya in the east, both are separated by the Prai River, and Telok Air Tawar in the north. The west coast facing Penang Island, especially near Bagan Ajam is lined with sandy beaches, while the shores lining Prai River is covered with mangrove swamps.


Butterworth features a tropical rainforest climate under the Köppen climate classification. Butterworth has a very lengthy wet season. As is common in several regions with this climate, precipitation is seen even during the short dry season. Temperatures are relatively consistent throughout the course of the year, with average high temperatures around 32 degrees Celsius and average low temperatures around 23 degrees Celsius. Butterworth sees on average roughly 2300 mm of precipitation per year.

Butterworth average rainfall 2013 can be compared with other places in Malaysia via Annual Mean Rainfall Locations In Malaysia 2013

Climate data for Butterworth Precipitation In 2013 (Mean Rainfall : 2002–2012)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average precipitation mm (inches) 170.5
Average rainfall mm (inches) 70.2
Source: Malaysian Meteorological Department
Principle Meteorological Station – Butterworth
Year Rainfall
2,254.5 mm (88.76 in)
2,534.5 mm (99.78 in)
2,062.4 mm (81.20 in)
2,669.8 mm (105.11 in)
2,133.6 mm (84.00 in)
2,005.6 mm (78.96 in)
2,362.2 mm (93.00 in)
1,983 mm (78.1 in)
2,153.3 mm (84.78 in)
2,637.4 mm (103.83 in)
1,844.8 mm (72.63 in)
Source Department Of Statistics Malaysia


When the British East India Company acquired Province Wellesley (Seberang Perai) in 1798, Butterworth did not exist as a settlement. It was later developed by the British. A railway station was constructed in Butterworth to transport tin ore from Taiping (then known as Larut), which was then loaded onto steam ships docked at Butterworth's wharves.[2] The name of this town is derived from the surname of British Colonel William John Butterworth.

Railway passengers from George Town were transferred to the railway ferry which took them to the train.[2]

After Malaya's independence in 1957, as part of an effort to advocate import substitution industries in the 1960s, the Penang state government under the Alliance led by Tan Sri Wong Pow Nee developed Mak Mandin as the first industrial estate in Penang.[3]

In 1953, the Butterworth Town Board was upgraded to a town council with elected councillors. Nine years later, the Butterworth Town Council merged with the Rural District Council to form the District Council North. This also had appointed councillors since local government elections had by then been suspended.[3]

In 1974, the Penang state government under the leadership of Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu merged all the three district councils in Seberang Perai into a management board, officially known as Lembaga Pengurusan Kerajaan Tempatan Seberang Perai. It was transformed into a municipal council in 1976 and renamed Majlis Perbandaran Seberang Perai (MPSP) following the provisions of the newly minted Local Government Act, 1976.[3]

Besides being the seat of the local council, Butterworth also played host to many government offices and facilities, including the district police headquarters, district hospital and district office. As a result, the town boundaries were enlarged and the population grew from 3,900 in 1911 to about 43,000 in 1957. By 1980, there were 77,000 people living in Butterworth. However, since then many of these government offices have been moved to Kepala Batas, the district hospital in Seberang Jaya, and the Seberang Perai Municipal Council headquarters in Bandar Perda.[3]

In 31 July 1988, the passenger platform of the Sultan Abdul Hamid Ferry Terminal collapsed which injured more than 1,600 persons and 32 lives were lost. This tragedy is due to excessive crowding of pilgrims heading to two separate religious festivities, which is the Kwan Yin Goddess festival in George Town and St. Anne's Feast in Bukit Mertajam. In 2001, a fire destroyed a three-storey bus station cum shopping centre near the ferry terminal.[3]

Today, Butterworth is a town suffering from decentralisation with administrative and commercial centres shifted to nearby suburbs such as Seberang Jaya, Prai and Kepala Batas. Recently, the RM2bil Penang Sentral project is set to be proposed at the current site of the ferry terminal, bus terminal and railway station which is set to be the modern transport hub for the Northern Corridor Economic Region.[3]


Local attractions[edit]


  • Tesco Extra which is located beside the North South Expressway from Penang to Sungai Petani and within a distance to Seberang Jaya's highway roundabout.
  • Econsave in Bagan Dalam and Raja Uda.
  • Giant hypermarket in Sunway Carnival Mall located in Seberang Jaya.
  • Billion Seberang Jaya beside Sunway Carnival Mall and Billion Kota Permai.


  • Padang MPSP

Also known as the Seberang Perai Municipal Council field, this public open space in Butterworth town centre is a popular venue for major events such as the National Day parade and the festive open houses organised by the Penang state government. Also located in this field is Dewan Dato' Haji Ahmad Badawi.

  • Pantai Bersih

This sandy beach is located in Bagan Ajam. It is a popular picnic spot among locals.

  • Penang Bird Park

Situated in Seberang Jaya, it boasts a collection of over 300 species of birds with enormous walk-in aviaries and is the first and largest bird park of its kind in Malaysia. Popular among bird enthusiasts, the park was built in a garden landscaping concept with natural ponds and a vast collection of flora and several other wildlife including mousedeer, giant alaipaima fish, phytons and monitor lizards.[4]

It is a beautiful 1.85 km-long cable stayed bridge which connects Butterworth and Perai across the Prai River, which forms part of the Butterworth Outer Ring Road (BORR). Its distinctive feature are the twin 40m-tall concrete pylon which resembles the Penang Bridge.[5]

  • Taman Selat Rope Walk

A flea market in Taman Selat where antique goods such as old coins, watches, iron are sold. Local food stalls and boutiques are also located there.[6]

  • Taman Tugu Demokrasi

Recently, a speaker's corner, known as Taman Tugu Demokrasi is opened to the public by the Penang state government in Taman Cantik, Mak Mandin to enable the members of the public to express their thoughts and feelings on state affairs. The 0.6-hectar park consists of a children's playground, exercising equipment and a gazebo for relaxing.[7]

  • Tow Boo Kong Temple

Also known as Nine Emperor Gods Temple, the large Taoist temple complex was completed in 2000 with a flamboyant entrance arch completed in 2008. The temple is located in Jalan Raja Uda consists of a Front Prayer Hall, Sacred Prayer Hall, inner courtyard and the Dou Mu Prayer Hall. The annual Nine Emperor Gods Festival is being held there for nine days in the ninth month of the Chinese lunar calendar.[8]

  • Air Hitam Dalam Educational Forest (Hutan Pelajaran Air Hitam Dalam)

A protected freshwater marshland in Sungai Dua managed by the Penang State Forestry Department which offers a myriad of flora and fauna. Visitors walk on boardwalks, suspension bridges through the forest and view from the observation towers and gazebos while enjoying the natural surroundings.[9]


  • Megamal Pinang which is located in Bandar Prai Jaya with Pacific Departmental Store as the anchor tenant.
  • Sunway Carnival Mall located along Jalan Todak, Seberang Jaya which includes Parkson departmental store and Giant supermarket.
  • Jalan Raja Uda Apollo morning market with a long walking street


Jalan Raja Uda is a food and shopping district in Butterworth is famed for its hawker stalls, food courts and restaurants lining the streets till late in the evening. Religious processions such as the Nine Emperor Gods Festival and the Chinese New Year Cultural Festival are being held here annually. This busy and happening street is also popular for its night market and Apollo Market which operates in the morning.


Chingay and lion dance parades is one of the highlights held in December every year. This parade has evolved into a massive cultural and international event. Religious processions such as the Nine Emperor Gods Festival and cultural festivals such as the Chinese New Year Cultural Festival are being held in Tow Boo Kong Temple along Jalan Raja Uda annually.


Butterworth is a major transport hub in the state for railway lines and bus routes that server other than Penang Island. The railway station, bus terminal and ferry terminal are all located within walking distance of each other.


Old Butterworth railway station in February 2011.
New Butterworth Railway Station in July 2015.
Railway terminal of the new Butterworth Railway Station.

The Butterworth railway station is the main railway station in Penang as it connects to George Town via the ferry service. This station is served by the Malayan Railway service via the Eastern and Oriental Express, which connects Kuala Lumpur to Bangkok in the north and Singapore in the south, as well as the State Railway of Thailand via the International Express.


In terms of road connectivity, Butterworth is accessible by the Butterworth Outer Ring Road and the Butterworth–Kulim Expressway, the latter of which is part of the North–South Expressway. The Rapid Penang bus network, which operates exclusively in the state, has one stop in Butterworth at the Megamall Pinang Bus Terminal.


Butterworth ferry terminal in February 2011.

The Penang Ferry Service connects Butterworth to George Town. The Pengkalan Sultan Abdul Halim ferry terminal is located to the north of The Deepwater Wharves.[2]


There are no public airports in Butterworth, although a Royal Malaysian Air Force station is located north of the town. The town is served by the Penang International Airport in Bayan Lepas.


Primary School[edit]

  • Sekolah Kebangsaan Sungai Dua
  • Sekolah Kebangsaan Bagan Tuan Kechil
  • Sekolah Rendah Kebangsaan Jenis (Cina) Chung Hwa Pusat
  • Sekolah Rendah Kebangsaan Jenis (Cina) Chung Hwa (1)
  • Sekolah Rendah Kebangsaan Jenis (Cina) Chung Hwa (2)
  • Sekolah Rendah Kebangsaan Jenis (Cina) Chung Hwa (3)

Secondary School[edit]

  • Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Datuk Haji Ahmad Said
  • Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Desa Murni
  • Chung Ling Butterworth High School
  • Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Convent Butterworth
  • Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan St. Mark
  • Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Bagan Jaya
  • Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Dato' Onn
  • Sekolah Menengah Teknik Butterworth
  • Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Kampong Kastam
  • Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Teluk Air Tawar
  • Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Tun Hussein Onn
  • Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Mak Mandin

See also[edit]


External links[edit]