Hiking Penang Hill: Your Complete Guide

Thinking of hiking Penang Hill, Malaysia?  

Congratulations! You’ve come to the ultimate guide to hiking Penang Hill, from hiking trails to what you need to help you conquer this beautiful beast of a hill. 

Penang Island has something for everyone! From UNESCO heritage landmarks scattered around Georgetown to the plethora of local delicacies you should try, it’s no wonder Penang is and always will be a popular destination for travelers and locals alike. 

If you’re like me, you’ve probably seen every Penang street art there is or need a workout to burn off all of that yummy Penang food.

So, what’s next? Try hiking Penang Hill as you explore this enthralling little enclave just outside the city. 

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Here’s a summary of the hiking trails in this article:

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Penang Hill Hiking Trails

Got your hiking gear and snacks ready? Remember to plan your route before embarking on your journey to the top. 

From beginner-friendly hikes to popular treks to the top, there are plenty of routes you can take to reach the summit of Penang Hill. So, pick one that suits your hiking stamina, the number of people you’re hiking with, and be sure to double-check on weather forecasts to ensure a safe and enjoyable hike. 

1. Heritage Trail

Hiking Penang Hill

The Penang Hill Heritage Trail is one of the more popular hiking trails to Penang Hill. Hidden near the Penang Hill Funicular Train Lower Station, this trail is relatively easy as it sticks closely to the train route, leaving it easy to navigate especially for leisure hikers. 

If you’re looking for a trail that’s straightforward and easy to attempt, take the Heritage trail and enjoy your hike up even on wetter days. There are multiple rest stops along the way and plenty of guiding stairs in the first half of the ascend. 

Heritage Trail also takes you to the popular Tiger Hill of Penang, one of the peaks in the Penang Hill range.

Starting Point: Penang Hill Lower Station

Distance: 4.6km

Difficulty: Moderate

Average Duration: 1 hour 15 minutes

2. Moongate Trail

Moongate to Penang Hill

It’s such a beautiful trail name, isn’t it? Fun fact! The Moongate Trail is named after the moon-shaped entrance that greets you at the start of your hike.

But do not let its pretty name trick you into thinking it’s a breezy hike up to the peak. The Moongate Trail is one of the harder trails ascending Penang Hill, with a lively Moon Gate 5 rest stop along the way. 

Situated near the Penang Botanic Gardens, you’ll be welcomed with beautiful flora around you as you journey your way up from Moongate to Penang Hill. The scenic views and lush environment make this rainforest hike worthwhile!

Starting Point: Botanical Gardens

Distance: 6km

Difficulty: Hard

Average Duration: 2 hours 30 mins

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3. Bat’s Cave Temple

If you’re up for a good sweat while enjoying the beautiful scenery, this trail is for you.

This easy trail starts out next to the Bats’ Cave Temple also known as Tua Pek Kong temple. It might look a little dodgy at the entrance, but be prepared to be surprised that this trail only takes about 1 hour and 20 min to reach the top. 

Another plus point is that if you feel tired halfway hiking Penang Hill, you can also take the funicular trains at the middle station. 

Starting Point: Bats Cave Temple

Distance: 6km

Difficulty: Easy

Average Duration: 1 hour 20 min

4. Moniot Trail

Did you know that the Monoit Trail is over 200 years old

Named after Jules Monoit, the first surveyor-general of the Straits Settlement in 1855, this 5.8km loop trail starts from a bungalow called Astaka all the way to the peak of the hill. It’s an easy to moderate hike, suitable for hobbyists and avid hikers alike.

If you’re looking for a historical walk down memory lane where horse-drawn carriages used to be frequent back in the 1800s, hike the Monoit Trail and explore the exquisite flora found along the trail. 

Starting Point: Astaka

Distance: 5.8km

Difficulty: Easy

Average Duration: 2 hours 30 mins

5. Hye Keat Trail

If you’re up for a challenging hike up Penang Hill this weekend? Try the Hye Keat Trail that starts from the tram station of Penang Hill at Ayer Itam and ascends from there. 

The trail is a little off the beaten track and also a favorite among moderate trekkers and weekend mountain cyclists. So, keep your eyes peeled for cyclists zipping up and down the hill as you hike up Penang Hill.  

Starting Point: Ayer Itam Tram Station to Penang Hill

Distance: 4.5km

Difficulty: Hard

Average Duration: 2 – 3 hours

6. Waterfall Trail through Botanical Gardens

This waterfall trail starting from Botanical Gardens leads you through lush forests and beautiful flora as you ascend Penang Hill.

An easy hike suitable for all skill levels, this trail is perfect for families with kids who want to spend a little quality time in nature over the weekend. 

The best part is, of course, ending the 3.7km hike at the waterfall. So, bring along a picnic mat and some snacks for a sweet treat at the top.

Starting Point: Botanical Gardens

Distance: 3.7km

Difficulty: Easy

Average Duration: 1.5 hours

7. Bukit Gantung Trail

Looking to hike a longer distance and give your endurance a little boost? 

Made of mostly well-maintained concrete steps and clear dirt paths, the Bukit Gantung Hiking Trail although, at 7km, it’s hike-friendly and relatively easy to navigate. 

The trail will bring you along the Bukit Gantung hillside before you ascend deeper into the woods towards Penang Hill.

So, be sure to stock up on some energy bars and sufficient water to keep you energized and hydrated all the way. 

Starting Point: Bukit Gantung Cemetery and Crematorium

Distance: 7km

Difficulty: Moderate

Average Duration: 2 hours 30 mins

8. Jeep Track

For families hiking up with kids, you’d probably need a straightforward trail that has a lower chance of you getting lost. Try the Jeep Track, which starts from the Penang Botanical Gardens. 

As its name suggests, this trail used to be only for vehicles belonging to the residents of Penang Hill. Follow the tarmac road that leads straight to the summit. 

It might get quite steep and more tiring in the beginning but with some snacks and willpower, it should take no more than 1 hour 15 mins to reach the summit. Alternatively, you can detour to the Monoit Trail which offers better scenic views.

Starting Point: Botanical Gardens

Distance: 5km

Difficulty: Easy

Average Duration: 1 hour 15 mins

9. Scenic Nature Walk @ The Habitat

The Habitat is the perfect place to bring your family and loved ones to spend a fun day out in nature. Gazetted as a forest reserve since 1911, The Habitat sits in the vicinity of a 130-million-year-old rainforest.

There is two main canopy walks called the Langur Way Canopy Walk and the Curtis Crest Tree Top Walk where you can enjoy sweeping panoramic views of the pristine rainforest from the summit.

It’s a great way to stay connected with nature and learn about biodiversity through immersing yourself in this UNESCO biosphere reserve.

A trip up to The Habitat at Penang Hill is priced from RM55 (USD13).

Where Is Penang Hill?

Tiger Hill of Penang

Penang Hill is a vast hilly town located 6km away from Georgetown on the island of Penang and is 833m above sea level. Also known as Bukit Bendera, or Flagstaff Hill, Penang Hill. 

Penang Hill, also affectionately known as Bukit Bendera amongst locals, is definitely a must-visit hilly destination in Penang. Set 821m above the historic city of Georgetown, locals and travelers alike come here for a picturesque bird’s eye view of the city as well as the chilly and cool air.

With its vibrant history of being a popular refuge in the olden days, Penang Hill is famous for being home to some of the most picturesque historical buildings with a fusion of British colonial, Asian and modern architecture.  

How To Get To Penang Hill

Hiking Penang Hill

Take the Rapid Penang Bus Route 204 and alight at the lower station of the Penang Hill Funicular Train. The bus will take you through Weld Quay, Jalan Ria near KOMTAR and Air Itam. 

Alternatively, you can take local ride-hailing services like Grab straight to the starting point of your preferred trail and start hiking without any transportation stress. 

Penang Hill Attractions 

Hiking Penang Hill

So, now that you’ve summited Penang Hill, what’s next? 

Fret not, there are plenty of activities and sites on Penang Hill for you and your family to explore! Whether you’re up for a little more adventure, looking for a nice cafe to rest and relax, or all for basking in the panoramic views of Penang, you’re in for a treat.

Here are some of our recommendations on Penang Hill attractions:

– Penang Hill Funicular Train

Recently revamped, the Penang Hill Funicular Train operates every day from as early as 6.30 am, ferrying customers up and down the hill. It’s the fastest way to commute up and down the hill and it only takes less than 10 minutes!

Buy Fast Lane tickets for your descend, to take a more relaxing route down the hill after a challenging yet rewarding hike. Do have your tickets ready online, to avoid the peak hour queues. 

Return tickets start at RM12 (USD2.80) for adults and RM6 (USD1.40) for kids.

– Kopi Hutan

Imagine sipping on a cup of hot coffee while enjoying the cool air on top of Penang Hill? 

Get your post-hike caffeine fix at Kopi Hutan whilst being tucked away by the lush greenery of Monkey Cup Garden at Penang Hill. In addition to coffee, there are also delicious cakes and snacks on the menu for you to enjoy.

Alternatively, you can also head to Cliff Cafe or David Brown’s Restaurant for a heavier meal at the summit. 

– The Habitat Penang Hill

Did you know that The Habitat has a forest bathing program where you can experience meditative nature therapy right at Penang Hill

Also known as Shinrin-yoku in Japanese, Forest bathing is a practice from Japan that is an act of taking in the forest through all of our senses. This is great for those who enjoy reconnecting with nature by immersing themselves in the motions and flows of nature.  

Who knew going on a Penang Hill walk in the rainforest and surrounded by a myriad of flora and fauna would be THIS healing? Find out more on the official website

What To Wear 

Hiking can be enjoyable and strenuous at the same time. It’s important to always wear suitable attire and have proper hiking gear to help ease your journey up Penang Hill. Here are some tips on what to wear:

  • Dri-Fit clothing to keep you dry and cool
  • Long hiking leggings to protect you from mosquitoes
  • A cap or a hat 
  • Proper hiking shoes or sports shoes suitable for trail running or hiking
  • Thick mid-ankle socks for enough shock protection around your ankles
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunscreen
  • A high support sports bra for the ladies for maximum support
  • A lightweight jacket in case you feel chilly at the summit

What To Bring

Some important things to take note of before going on your Penang Hill hike:

  • Plenty of snacks 
  • Water or energy drinks
  • Fully-charged phone
  • A Penang Hill guide or map, if you have one
  • Mosquito repellent to keep pesky mosquitos at bay
  • Mini first aid kit
  • All packed in a hiking backpack

All set on hiking Penang Hill?

The trails to Penang Hill are relatively easy, with proper routes and clear tracks. Although Penang Hill is beautiful both during the day and at night, we do recommend hiking in the morning for safety reasons and also, you’ll have the rest of the day to explore all the exciting attractions at the peak!

Penang Hill awaits you and your family to whet your appetite for nature, camaraderie, and adventure. If you’re planning to visit soon, do double-check the latest COVID-19 Standard of Procedures before your visit to avoid any sort of disappointment.  

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