Upon arrival to Penang and asking at my hostel in Georgetown on what sort of stuff I could do around before going Camping in Monkey Beach, the first one that caught my attention was Hiking in Penang Hill.
Having multiple trails to access, I decided to start by the Moon Gate which is by the Botanic Gardens.
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To get there there are a number of buses that will leave you nearby, I took the 101 Bus and walked 10 min towards the start of the trail. On this short walk you’ll find a few spots for breakfast if you have not eaten yet.
On the way you will find the Arulmigu Balathandayuthapani Temple (or Waterfall Temple) which is a good warm up for the hike as you need to climb 513 steps to get to the temple itself.
Following up the road after the Botanical Garden Parking you will quickly find a bricked path and shortly after the Moon Gate which dates back to the late 19th Century and used to be the gateway to one of the 11 famous mansions of Penang (now in ruins)
The hike starts with lots of concrete steps which initially are a bit underwhelming as I’m not a huge fan of hiking on concrete steps, but after about half a hour the terrain will change, not only with the steps disappearing but also having some flat areas to recover a bit under the humid heat of the forest.
At around this point you’ll find a rest stop and outdoor gym. When I went there was no one there so don’t count on this pit-stop for buying drinks and come prepared with plenty of water.
Climbing up was pretty straight forward, I followed one of the main paths (Number 5) which was intersected every now and then by smaller paths coming from all sorts of directions.
You don’t get many viewpoints across the climb when hiking in Penang Hill as the forest can be a bit dense but every now and then there will be a nice opening. One of the things I liked the most is that I only saw about 10 people on my way up so you get in real close contact with nature.
After around 90 minutes you will cross a paved road and there are no signs on where to go next, as logic will say when climbing a mountain take the road that goes up so keep left! after a few meters you will find the path again.
When you cross the cable car lane you know that you’re almost at the top although you will still have a few optional paths to keep walking around if you wish.
I initially thought, partly due to lack of sleep and partly to do something different, to take the cable car on the way down, but as I didn’t research what was at the top of the summit, instead of being rewarded with the views and the satisfaction of reaching the mountain top (which you still get both) I was pretty disappointed to see lots and lots of people in this sort of theme park they have set up of there.
It’s definitely not the summit you want for a hiking day. Due to all these crowds, there were of course massive queues for the cable car to go down and I was certainly not going for it. I decided to run/walk down and that’s when the hike got interesting again!
Having so many paths intersecting with each other I was not going to just re-trace my steps and took new trails to go down. For this, make sure to have enough battery on your phone to check the GPS quite a few times, as although each trail is well marked, none says where its leading to, so you can easily end up walking in circles without realising it.
Some of these paths are narrow and steep, in some there have been landslides but all of them are easy to follow.
It took me about 2 1/2 hours to go up and 1 1/2 hours to go down (different paths to go up and down).
Penang Hill has a cool mix of terrains, not super technical but I’d recommend to go with hiking boots or a good pair of trainers, take plenty of water with you as it can get really hot!
It’s one of those hikes so close to town that are a perfect alternative if you’re not really looking to do more street wandering and looking to get close to nature.
How to get there:
Take bus 101 or any other going towards the Botanic Gardens, you will likely have to walk 10-15min to get to the start of the trail which is a few hundred meters after the parking of the Botanic Gardens.
What to bring:
Plenty of water. Good pair of trainers or hiking boots. Snacks.
MY HIKING ESSENTIALS
Hiking in Penang Hill can take anything between 3 and 6 hours due to the multiple trail options.
Fun mix of terrains but good enough for a beginner. Not strenuous but depending on the route it could be a long day out so a bit of fitness level is required.
Surely! I had a lot of fun there! the summit sucks but the way up and down is great.
Have you got more info of the trails to go hiking in Penang or any other questions? drop a comment below! 🙂
Check out the rest of my backpacking in Malaysia posts for more inspirations!