Paya Terubong is the southwestern-most suburb of George Town, near the centre of Penang Island. This working class suburb south of the neighbouring suburb of Air Itam is nestled in a valley between the central hills of Penang Island. It is one of the most densely populated suburbs of George Town.
Paya Terubong was only recently developed, with the first residential developments taking place in the 1980s. Most of the residential properties here are low- to middle-cost flats and apartments, and working-class Chinese comprise most of the estimated 40,000 residents. Also, residential properties here are among the more affordable ones on Penang Island.
To this day, Paya Terubong Road serves as the only artery, linking Paya Terubong with Air Itam to the north and the southern part of Penang Island. As a result, traffic congestion is particularly acute here. Furthermore, ongoing residential developments on the hill slopes have raised environmental concerns.
Although the Malay word 'Paya' means swamp, Paya Terubong was not named because it was a swampy area. Rather, Paya Terubong got its name due to a species of grass endemic to the valley, called the terubong (Cyrtococcum oxyphyllum). Therefore, Paya Terubong refers to the ravine where the terubong grass grows.
Paya Terubong is also known as long buey in the Penang Hokkien dialect.
Paya Terubong valley was once a relatively remote agricultural village, populated by farmers who worked on the surrounding hills. Paya Terubong Road then was just a hill path. Most of the northern part of Paya Terubong bordering Air Itam was, and still is, occupied by the United Hokkien Cemeteries.
It was only in the 1980s that urbanisation began in earnest within Paya Terubong. Hill slopes were cleared for the construction of flats and apartments. Many of the initial residents worked in the Bayan Lepas Free Industrial Zone, and as Paya Terubong Road was the only road linking Paya Terubong with the southern part of Penang Island, traffic congestion gradually got worse. To this day, rush hour jams towards the George Town city centre and Bayan Lepas are a daily problem.
The population density of Paya Terubong is said to be one of the highest on Penang Island, thus making Paya Terubong one of the most densely populated suburbs of George Town. Over 40,000 residents live within the valley, and increasing demand for residential properties are spurring more residential developments on the hill slopes.
However, a flash flood in 2015 has raised more environmental concerns over the clearing of the hills for development.
A number of abandoned residential projects can be found at the southern edge of Paya Terubong. At present, some have been completed, with more plans ongoing to complete those residential units to cater to the growing demand for affordable homes on Penang Island.
Under the Penang Transport Master Plan, as many as five stations of the proposed Air Itam Monorail Line have been identified within Paya Terubong, with the terminus to be located at Majestic Heights, Paya Terubong Road. Also, a Pan Island Link expressway has been planned as a ring road surrounding George Town, stretching from Gurney Drive to Bayan Lepas via the suburbs of Pulau Tikus, Air Itam and Paya Terubong. An alternative road linking Paya Terubong with Balik Pulau at the southwestern part of Penang Island through the hills has been proposed as well.
Aside from the United Hokkien Cemeteries at the northern edge of Paya Terubong, there are a few less well-known places of worship here.
- Leong Buey Kong temple
- Tua Soo Yah temple
- Sri Vallampuri Vinayagar Porrveeran Karumariamman temple
- Paya Terubong Mosque
Surprisingly, even though Paya Terubong is a landlocked suburb deep in the heart of Penang Island, delicious seafood can be found in the Terubong Seafood Restaurant. Located at Paya Terubong Road next to the Paya Terubong fire station, this seafood joint is popular amongst residents here and can get crowded in the evenings. You can ask for recommendations or even roughly quote the price before ordering.
Other coffee shops in Paya Terubong are as follows.
- Nan Shan Coffee Shop
- Joo Hong Coffee Shop
- Yee Huat Coffee Shop
- Sin Ming Huat Coffee Shop
- Kedai Makanan dan Minuman Lam Fatt
- Old and New Cafe
- Pantai Timur Cafe
Getting to Paya Terubong
From the George Town city centre, Rapid Penang buses 201, 202, 203, 306 and 502 passes through the suburb of Paya Terubong. Routes 201, 202 and 203 terminate in Paya Terubong.
Those from the south, specifically the Penang International Airport, Bayan Baru, Queensbay Mall, Bukit Jambul, the SPICE Arena and Relau can take bus 306 to Paya Terubong.
Meanwhile, those from Balik Pulau at the southwestern part of Penang Island can use bus 502.
As Paya Terubong Road serves as the only artery through Paya Terubong, the few bus stops in Paya Terubong are placed along Paya Terubong Road, as well as Tingkat Paya Terubong 4, 2 and 1.
306 : Penang General Hospital - Jalan Utama - Scotland Road - Air Itam Road - Thean Teik Road, Air Itam - Sunshine Farlim - Farlim - Lebuhraya Thean Teik - Paya Terubong - Relau - SPICE Arena - Bukit Jambul Complex - Queensbay Mall - Sunshine Square Bayan Baru - Penang International Airport
13 : Tesco Gelugor - Lebuhraya Gelugor - Jelutong market - Jalan Tan Sri Teh Ewe Lim, Batu Lanchang - Batu Lanchang market - Lebuhraya Batu Lanchang - Hamilton Road, Batu Lanchang - Batu Lanchang Lane - Lebuhraya Thean Teik, Farlim - All Season's Place, Farlim - Farlim - Paya Terubong
Penang State Government
N.34 Paya Terubong State Assemblyman : Yeoh Soon Hin (Democratic Action Party)
Malaysian Federal Parliament
P.051 Bukit Gelugor Member of Parliament : Ramkarpal Singh a/l Karpal Singh (Democratic Action Party)