Penang Hill is a great place to visit after Kek Lok Si Temple. Also known as Bukit Bendera in Malay, it is one of the most popular attractions in Penang.

view of a city from top of a hill

Penang Hill Location

It is located 6km from George Town in the suburb of Air Itam on Penang Island, Malaysia.

Penang Hill actually comprises of Western Hill, Bukit Laksamana, Tiger Hill, Flagstaff Hill, and Government Hill. You can reach it by taxi or by Rapid Penang Bus 204.

Penang Hill Location Map

History

Captain Francis Light was the first to plot a horse track from somewhere near the Botanical Gardens Waterfall. He cleared an area to grow strawberries so it became known as Strawberry Hill, although the official name is Flagstaff Hill.

The Hill became a cool escape from the humidity of the lowlands and the threat of malaria. Bungalows were built to house senior Government Officials which are mostly found around Bukit Bendera.

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Penang Hill Train

History

Before the railway was built in 1923, ponies or Doolies (a chair attached to a pair of bamboo poles) were used to climb up the hill. It is not only one of the world’s oldest railways but also has the steepest tunnel track in the world.

The first generation train was completed in 1905 but couldn’t be used due to technical problems. The station was opened in 1923 with the second generation train in use. These wooden coaches continued until 1977 when they were replaced by Swiss made cars. Penang Hill Corporation took over the Railway Service in 2011 and the new fourth-generation coach from Switzerland was launched.

The 5 minute journey took us through very green, tropical forest scattered with bungalows.

steep funicular railway going up a hill with forest each side

Penang Hill Train Opening Times and Prices

Ticket counters hours begin from 6.30 am to 9.45 pm. The funicular train service starts at 6.30 am and the last service is at 11.00 pm from Upper Station. You can also buy tickets online.

Return Tickets for tourists are RM 30 per adult and RM 15 for 12 years and under.

When is the Best Time to go to Penang Hill?

You can visit at any time but sunrise and sunset are beautiful. If you visit for sunset, you can stay and watch George Town light up. Be warned though, this is one of the busiest times and queues will be long.

What To Do at Penang Hill For Free

Nature Trails

There are 3 nature trails to choose from ranging from 1.5 km to 3.1 km. Keep an eye out for the volunteers who can advise you on the best walk and what flora and fauna to look for.

Sky Walk & Sky Deck

This extended viewing platform provides views of George Town and beyond. The views are stunning on a clear day.

Other Free Attractions

  • Second Generation Train Coach
  • 32 Pounder Cannon
  • Penang Hill Mosque
  • Sri Aruloli Thirumurugan Temple
  • Bel Retiro Gatehouse
  • Heritage Post Box
  • El Walk
  • Love Lock
love locks on a bridge

What To Do at Penang Hill (extra cost)

The Habitat

The Habitat is an educational rainforest experience and consists of a walkway, treetop walk, nature trail

Langur Way Canopy Walk is about 230m in length and 15m tall at the highest point. It allows you to walk through the 130 million year old tropical rain forest.

Curtis Crest Tee Top Walk provides spectacular 360 degree views of Penang and is the highest public viewpoint on the island.

The 1.6 km long shaded Habitat Nature Trail takes you through the rainforest. You can stop along the way to read the information boards that detail the history, flora and fauna.

For the adventurous, there are 5 zip lines, a rope bridge and an abseil.

If you only paid for one attraction here, this would be it.

Other Paid Attractions

view of george towna dn penang bridge from penang hill

Places to Eat

David Brown’s

David Brown’s Restaurant & Tea Terrace is the highest restaurant in Penang, located on Strawberry Hill. It’s a fine dining restaurant with incredible views.

Astaka (Cliff Cafe)

Astaka, or Cliff Cafe, is a hawker style food court. There are also souvenir stalls in the same building.

Map

Penang Hill - A Popular Penang Attraction

Our Thoughts

We didn’t have to queue for long but there must normally be long wait times as they sell a fast pass for nearly three times the cost of a standard ticket. This would go from a cheap attraction to an expensive one, especially for families.

The views were lovely from the top and we managed to get some photos although it was a bit foggy/overcast. Being such a hot and humid day, we weren’t able to walk very far with our children despite it being a few degrees cooler up the top. Bear this in mind and try to go early if you or the kids struggle with the heat and high humidity.

There’s a lot to do at the top of Penang Hill but a lot does involve extra costs. You can still see the fabulous views without paying any more and take the free nature trails. You can also bring your own snacks if you don’t want to pay out for food up there.

Tours

This Kek Lok Si and Penang Hill tour is good to combine them both or the Iconic Temples and Penang Hills Half-Day Tour from Get Your Guide has great reviews too.

penang hill at sunset with views of penang bridge and coastline

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10 Comments

  1. This sounds like a must-do! And the train trip sounds like it is fun along with the walks! We will definitely add it on our list for one day when we get to Penang again

    1. Definitely one I would recommend.

  2. Ooh I like the look of that train 🙂 and the fine dining restaurant sounds fab!

    1. We didn’t eat there but it does sound nice.

  3. Nice post! I had only visited Penang for a weekend and didn’t do much besides eat and walk around! I would have loved to visit Penang Hill and walk through the Habitat. Thank you for introducing me to a different place in a well-loved city!

    1. The food is so good there, it’s making me hungry thinking about it.

  4. Great informative blog, is there any other way up the hill? Can you walk or taxi?

    1. Thanks Stuart. Cars aren’t allowed to the top of Penang Hill but so a taxi would drop you at the bottom. You can hike up instead of taking the railway but it’s a 5km walk which takes around 2 hours in the heat and humidity of Penang.

  5. Thanks for stopping by Claire 🙂

    1. firstinitialsea says:

      Always welcome. 😘

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