Place: Penang Hill
Location: Bukit Bendera, Pulalu Pinang, Malaysia
Parking Available: Yes
Paid Parking: Yes
Entrance Fee: Yes, Tourists (up to RM 50)standard |Single Zip-line: + RM20
Accessibility Friendly: Yes (Parking, Entrance,as well as restrooms)
Category: Hill Top
Famous for: Railway ride, Natural rainforest, hill top views
Places of Attraction Nearby: Georgetown (9 kms away)
Shared Album: Penang Hill 2020
Last week I had the chance to step out (actually step out) of my room and explore the nature. Due to Covid-19 and movement restrictions here in Malaysia, I preferred to stay indoors as much as possible for safety and avoid any troubles. So, when I finally made my to restart the exploration of this beautiful country, I thought of Penang Hill to start off with.
Penang is one of the most vibrant state of Malaysia and to me, probably the food heaven. Most of the fun and excitement is on the island and Penang Hill is undoubtedly the top attraction of all. It is a cluster of many peaks located closely and is one of the most developed and scenic places in Penang Island. Initially served as the Flagstaff house during British era. Standing almost 2000 feet tall, it was chosen as the signaling and monitoring peak during british regime. The Locals call it Bukit Bendera (which translates to Flagstaff Hill). Located at around 9 Km west of the famous town Georgetown, it is the most favorite escape for locals as well boasting lush scenic views of the island and well, yes, being 5 degrees cooler than GeorgeTown.
I am going to describe the Penang Hill experience in three parts, 1). The train ride 2). Canopy Walk The Habitat 3). Curtis Crest Treetop Walk. As a bonus, I am definitely going to talk about a hidden gem, which, thanks to Google reviews made my day.
First off, one of the biggest attractions is the Penang Hill railway itself, that takes you from the base to the top of the hill. It is a funicular railway which has the steepest tunnel track in the world. Initially constructed by the British in 1923, this funicular railway has seen may upgrades over the years. Currently, the track stretches over a length of almost 2000 meters and can carry almost 100 people in each direction, at one time.
The canopy or Langur way canopy walks takes you through 3 headlands and 2 valleys over a naturally preserved 143 million years old forest. It stands almost 40 m above the forest floor with a length of 230 m. Fun fact, scientists believe that this rainforest is home to 20% of world's animal species. I believe its the best way to immerse yourself in the nature, with lush green scenic views, fresh and soothing air to breathe in. Every small attention to detail is observed to retain the natural beauty of the rainforest, which can be appreciated at every observation platform. My personal favorite was a swing that is closed to one of the observation points. I think I had the best personal space and time over there, in a very long period of time.
Next stop, to the end of the stretch, called Curtis Crest Treestop Walk, named after Charles Curtis, a famous botanist. In my opinion this is one of the best features of Penang Hill, as the 13 m high raised walkway gives an immersive and full 360 view of the island, neighboring mountains of Kedah state and if you are lucky to see the sunset, the breathtaking views of Georgetown is beyond words. The curtis crest walkway is almost 800 m above sea level, making it the highest observation point in Penang Island.
On my way back to the Upper Station, I was feeling hungry and was craving for Penang Laksa. But, I traded my temptation for a Mango dessert instead (based on the recommendations of many Locals as well as Google Maps). This little dessert heaven is called Lily Penang Hill Ice Kacang where they serve classic Malaysia style shaved ice desserts all the way to Smooties, fresh fruits frozen delights and much more. I will leave a few pictures to feast your eyes.
If you are living in Malaysia or planning a visit, you must include Penang Island in your list and on top of that list, it should be Penang Hill if you are a nature lover.