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Penang Hill, Georgetown Overview

A natural amalgamation of pleasant weather, luxurious vegetation, breathtaking views, colonial vibe and the foresty landscape is what you call as Penang Hill. Located in Air Itam suburb, Penang Hill is a lovely little hill station in Penang Island, Malaysia.

Also known as Bukit Bendera, it is just 9 kilometres to the west of central Georgetown. Set at an elevation of 833 metres, Penang Hill station comprises of a number of hills like Government Hill, Flagstaff Hill, Western Hill and Tiger Hill.  This popular tourist destination was originally used as a retreat by British officials in the colonial period and this colonial vibe is very much reflected by its lavish bungalows.

Penang Hill's unique funicular railway system accessing the top of the hill is a convenient and exciting ride attracting millions of tourists. Another perk of visiting Penang Hill is its cooler climate. Its classy restaurants, adventurous hiking trails and high vantage points make it a much-loved destination to unwind and relax.

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Penang Hill Attractions

Love Lock
Thronged by lovers who celebrate their faithful love, Love Lock is a point located at the open-air observation deck of Penang Hill Food Centre. One can purchase padlocks priced between RM 10-30 at the counter, scribble messages on them and lock them up at the 80-feet wide fence.

Viewing Deck
The main view deck at the apex of the hill is an excellent spot to view the stunning landscape. The garden at the viewing deck is indeed a pleasant surprise. Also, the night-view from the Skywalk gives some Instagrammy snapshots of the lit-up Georgetown.

Curtis Crest (The Habitat Penang Hill)
The Habitat Penang Hill is a nature preserve area that has this Curtis Crest treetop walkway with zip lines, nature trail and canopy walkway. It is the highest vantage point of the hill.

Sri Aruloli Thirumurugan Temple
Also known as Penang Hill Hindu Temple, Sri Aruloli Thirumurugan Temple is one of the oldest Hindu temples in Penang. Located at a small hillock on Penang Hill - Gunhill – the colourful ornate sculptures of Hindu gods and goddesses make the temple a must-visit cultural spot for tourists. 

Monkey Cup Garden
Located at about 1.5 kilometers from Penang Hill Police Station, Monkey Cup Garden features around 100 species of pitcher plants. Other plants that can be sighted here are ferns, orchids and shrubs. There’s also a garden shop that sells pitcher plants and related books.

Historical Buildings
Penang Hill has some premium pre-colonial British architectural bungalows. Built in the 18th century, Bel Retiro, originally built as a retreat bungalow, is the hill's most prestigious building located on a quiet hilly road near the Central Square.

Trekking

For the trekking-enthusiasts, Penang Hill offers two main trekking routes to reach its top.

Penang Hill Forest Track
This is more of a jungle trek and offers spectacular views. The route starts off-road the main entrance point of Penang Hill. On reaching there, turn right at the bus complex. Keep walking straight till you cross the turnaround point and come to the dead-end of the road. Here you'll notice board with a yellow arrow indicating you've reached t at the right start of the trail. Yellow and red coloured arrows on rocks will guide you towards the right path. This 5-kilometre trail is quite steep especially in the beginning but will offer you scenic views of the local farms. The trail also follows a dense jungle area which can make it a bit challenging and strenuous. You'll have to walk for around 3 hours before you reach the hilltop.

Botanical Gardens
This trail begins from the circle-shaped Moongate at the Botanical garden. It starts off with climbing up a flight of stairs for about 30 minutes. Once you climb these stairs, you'll reach Point 5 (a resting point). There's also an open gym and some food stalls here. After taking some rest, continue with the trail which has now opened up to flat forest path. The path is well marked with signs pointing to alternate trekking points as well. After covering this forest path, you'll reach the tarmac road past an abandoned building. This is the 'Jeep Trek' path. Stick to this 3.5-kilometre road and you'll arrive at the top of Penang Hill. Overall, this 5-kilometre trek is quite easy but does not offer you any exciting views. Roughly, it will take you around 3 hours to walk up the hill.

Penang Hill Railway

Penang Hill Railway is a funicular railway that takes one to the top of the Penang Hill. The ride begins from the Lower Station at Air Itam and takes one to the Upper Station at the hill. There are a number of stations in between as well but the train does not halt at any of these. The train operates daily from 6:30 AM to 11:00 PM. Along this journey in Swiss-designed funicular cars, one can spot bungalows of pre-colonial areas amidst the lush green vegetation. For foreigners, the train ticket costs RM 30 for adults and RM 15 for children. The ride is free for handicapped who hold OKU card. During peak season and holidays, the queue at the ticket counter gets very long.

The funicular railway service to the top of the hill operates daily between 6:30 AM to 11:00 PM. The last train runs at 11:00 PM from the Upper Station down to the hill.

How to Reach Penang Hill

To reach Penang Hill, take the Rapid Penang Bus Service No. 201 from Georgetown Jetty. This bus ride will take around 1 hour and the bus service operates daily between 5:30 AM to 11:00 PM. Cabs also easily available from Georgetown.

Tips

  • The only hotel at Penang Hill is the colonial-styled Bellevue Hotel. The hotel offers 12 rooms, great dining experience and wonderful views.
  • The highest cafe in Penang is Penang Foodie (Kopit Hutar). Also, there's this American eatery named David Brown's Restaurant and Tea Terraces. For indulging in local cuisine, visit Cliff Cafe (Astaka Bukit Bendera).
  • Driving up is not allowed at the hill except for residents.
  • Carry plenty of water, a raincoat and hat due to the unpredictable and frequently changing weather of Penang.

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