One way to get a different perspective on Penang is to get up to the top of Penang Hill.
In past years, getting to the top of the hill, a distance of almost 2 km from the lower station, took about 40 minutes. Since 2012 the trip takes only 4 1/2 minutes aboard a fast, steep train.
At the top, we took in the views. Though the skies were a bit hazy, we were able to see the bridges across to the mainland, and how the city flows down the island, into a valley between two peaks.
There are walkways and paths to stroll along to catch different views while checking out the flora and fauna.
Climbing a little higher on one of the roads, we reached a small mosque and a Hindu temple. The mosque was closed off as pathways to it were being worked on. The temple was shrouded in ragged plastic tarps with signs stating that cliff stabilization was in progress. A kids playground is in the same area (it was open but empty when we were there).
An Owl Museum and a Camera Museum (neither of which we visited) share a building with a food court. One floor of the cafe seems to offer hot foods and the other drinks and elaborate ices and ice cream concoctions. Only a few of each were open.
In addition to the museums, there are several other privately operated attractions. Some seemed pretty kitschy (for example, the Little Village’s heart-framed pathway) and nothing interested us enough to pay the entrance fees. The cliff-side restaurant might be a nice place to catch a meal or a drink.
There are plenty of roads to walk on, possibly some trails, though several of the trails appeared to be closed off with newer above-ground walkways perhaps replacing them. After diverting up the hill to the closed mosque and temple, we took the small loop that wound back to the train station.
Trucks are lined up near the food court building to shuttle visitors to the Habitat, an in-the-trees walkway attraction, and there were several golf carts in the same area. We overheard a quote of 30 RM ($10 CAD), but we’re not sure what that would cover.
We spent about two hours atop Penang Hill. The views are lovely both on the short trip up and back, and from the viewing platforms, and it is pleasant being up there in the jungle environment, even if you don’t partake in many of the other offerings.
- Getting there: There is a bus stop right at the lower station, but it would have taken us 3 buses to get there from Miami Green, where we are staying. Grab cost 19 RM ($6.35 CAD).
- Cost to take train: 30 RM ($10 CAD) per adult for standard ticket (cheaper if you are local or have an MM2H visa). Purchase your ticket and then watch the monitors. When your batch number is called, go into the waiting area through the entrance to the left of the ticket windows.
- Guide and map: http://www.penanghill.gov.my/images/PenngHillSource/visitor%20guide.pdf