Sungai Petani (GPS: 5.64195, 100.48954) is the second biggest city in Kedah, after the capital Alor Setar. It is popularly known as S.P. Located to the south of Kedah, Sungai Petani is closer to Penang than to Alor Setar. (The influence of Penang is apparent in that most of the cars on the roads in Sungai Petani bear the Penang registration plate.) In the 1990's it was the second fastest growing town in Malaysia after Johor Bahru, but the pace has somewhat stalled since the recession of the late 90's.
Location of sights in Sungai Petani
One of my aims with this travel guide is to help people planning to explore Sungai Petani find all the important sights easily. To do this, I am providing you the GPS coordinates for the places that I have identified.
Lunas: Town near Sungai Petani, popular among the locals for its roasted duck delicacies.
Sungai Sedim: Recreational forest with water sports and elevated canopy walk.
About Sungai Petani
Perhaps the most famous landmark in Sungai Petani is the Sungai Petani Clock Tower. In the last few years, the town has seen rapid development, both in terms of residential as well as commercial development. In recent years, a number of large shopping malls have opened in Sungai Petani, among them Amanjaya Mall and Village Mall.
There aren't many sightseeing places within Sungai Petani town itself. However, there are several interesting sights within a short distance out of town, including Gunung Jerai, Lembah Bujang, Kuala Muda, Tanjung Dawai, Bukit Hijau and Sungai Sedim, to name a few.
Until the 1980's, Sungai Petani was spelled as Sungai Patani. Very old documents, for example those from 1928 and earlier, transcribes it as Sungei Pattani. There are several theories as to how the town got its name. The most simplistic explanation is that it derived its name from a river that flows through that area, one Sungai Patani. However, the river itself may have derived its name from Pattani, in southern Thailand. Some scholars believe that there had been a trade route between the Kingdom of Langkasuka, in Pattani, and the Merbok estuary, in Kedah. Misguided language purists changed the spelling of the town from Sungai Patani to Sungai Petani. In the attempt to pin the town name with a meaningful word - to them, at least - they have distorted the toponym of the town.
When I met with Sungai Petani-born historian, Dato V. Nadarajan (on 11 August 2015), he told me that the town had existed since ancient times, and was most likely named after Pattani. This is seconded by the Sungai Petani Municipal Council1, which states that the name came from the Sanskrit Pathini, which means "pure woman", which refers to a title given to a Merong Mahawangsa princess in the pre-Islamic era. Over time, it evolved to Patani before eventually transitioning to Petani, which means farmer in Malay.
The river flowing through the town is called Sungai Petani, but was originally known as Sungai Bertanding. A tributary of Sungai Merbok, it was renamed considering it is the main river flowing through the town.
Thank you for visiting my website, Penang Travel Tips. Since starting it in 2003, it has become my own online encyclopedia. My name is Timothy Tye, you can call me Tim. I am a full-time website author writing only my own website, to describe things and places I am curious about. To know more about me, go to www.timothytye.com
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