Penang Hill, also known as Bukit Bendera, is the first colonial hill station of Peninsular Malaysia and the oldest British hill station in Southeast Asia. It is comprised of different hills including Bukit Laksamana, Tiger Hill, Flagstaff Hill, Haliburton’s Hill and Government Hill with its highest point at the top of Western Hill which is at 833 meters above the sea-level. The temperature is generally three degrees lower at the top. The hill station has been a famous tourist attraction since the 18th century.
Penang Hill is located in AirItam, 6 kilometers away to the west of the city center of George Town.
Best time to visit:
The rainforest climate keeps the place wet almost throughout the year. The least amount of precipitation could be expected during the months of December to February, which is also the hottest season for Penang Hill, though the temperature doesn’t fluctuate much here. Visit a little early in the morning to experience great morning view and sunrise and stay till dusk to get the mesmerizing view of the sunset and the beautiful landscape down below.
How to reach:
You can reach Penang Island from Kuala Lumpur through almost all the modes of transport including flight, bus, car, taxi, even railways. Once you’re in George Town (where you can reach via road from anywhere in Penang), you can take a bus to Air Itam, out of the many available options. The station to get to the top of the Hill is located at AirItam. You can take the Penang Hill Funicular Train from there to the top, although you will have change trains in between to reach the top. Many tourists get down at the stations midway on the route to explore other places. Some people also go up by jeep or hiking, though a smaller number. There are also parking facilities available at Penang Hill Multi-Story Car Park at a certain fee.
Places to explore:
Escape the tropical heat of George Town at the hill station. There not much to offer to the visitors at the hill, if you’re going by the books. However, the place has its own charm which will call you back again and again. Few attractions include:
- Crag Hotel
- Monkey Cup Garden
- Penang Hill Bungalows
- Canopy Walk
- Hindu Temple
- Penang Hill Railway and Lower Station
- Penang Hill Mosque
- The Owl Museum
There is only one hotel at Penang Hill is the Bellevue Hotel, which has 12 rooms in total. Several other accommodation facilities are available in Air Itam near the hill.
Where and what to eat:
There are a number of places to fill your stomach up at Penang Hill. A few of the noteworthy ones are:
- David Brown’s at Strawberry Hill
- Cliff Cafe or Astaka Bukit Bendera
- The Habitat Café
- Kopi Hutan
Apart from these restaurants and cafés, you can also enjoy several streets and local food and snacks. A few must-haves include Laksa, fried rice, Ice Kasang, KasangPutih and even fresh blend of fruit juice.
- The Funicular Railway at Penang Hill has the steepest tunnel track in the world and is also the longest track in Asia.
- Bel Retiro, the oldest bungalow at the hill, is holiday residence of the Governor of Penang.
Things to keep in mind:
- There a several ATMs and money-changers available downtown and even at the Penang Airport. Take a little cash with you to pay the ticket and other expenses.
- You can buy a local Malaysian SIM at the Airport itself or even at several kiosks in Penang.