After exploring the streets of George Town, I’d say the next must-visit attraction in Penang is Penang Hill. It’s full of fun things to do, and even the ride up there is fun.
And did I mention the view? There are amazing views over Penang from this hill which reaches 833 metres high.
There are no roads up here and, from the top, you can explore Penang’s jungle interior. There are places to eat, fun things to do in Penang Hill, the views and plenty to keep you occupied for a half-day trip (or longer).
A Penang Hill tour should be on every Penang itinerary, but it can be confusing to work out what to do. Penang Hill offers so many different attractions and activities, so it can feel a little confusing.
Below, I help with this! In this full guide to Penang Hill including what to do on Penang Hill, I cover everything. There are details about how to get to Penang Hill, what to do at Penang Hill when you get there, eating options, Penang Hill operating hours, ticket prices and much more. I also suggest a Penang Hill itinerary so you can skip straight to that if you want to be told exactly what to do 🙂
I share a video of our most recent trip to Penang Hill too so you can see exactly what it is like.
If you are short on time and want things even easier, you can also click here to sign up for this half-day tour. It visits Penang Hill and nearby (and amazing) Kek Lok Si Temple.
Where Is Penang Hill?
Penang Hill is actually a group of peaks, and it is located in Air Itam which is an area of Penang six kilometres west of George Town. It is somewhat in the middle of the northern part of the island.
You can click on the map below which will open Google maps with the Penang Hill location.
Penang Hill Address: 422, Jalan Bukit Bendera, 11500 Bukit Bendera, Pulau Pinang (funicular station)
You can also find a downloadable Penang Hill hiking trail map including all the Penang Hill attractions here.
How To Get To Penang Hill
You can’t drive to Penang Hill – which is a good thing. Part of what keeps Penang Hill special is that there isn’t cars and tons of people, although it’s getting busier all the time.
To reach the Penang Hill top, where all the Penang Hill activities are located below, you need to either hike, take a jeep ride or (best option) take the cool Penang Hill Funicular Train.
Penang Hill Funicular Train
The Penang Hill Funicular Train is the most popular way to visit Penang Hill, and it’s not surprising. It’s easy, fun and a good price.
The railway was completed in 1923 when Penang Hill was a British colonial hill station. They needed a better way to transport people and goods. Over time, it became a popular tourist attraction, as visitors flocked to experience the stunning panoramic views from the summit of the hill.
The original train was a simple two-carriage affair, powered by a steam engine, which could carry up to 50 passengers at a time in wooden carriages. Until 2010, you needed to change trains part-way up. There were improvements over the years.
In 2010, it was all upgraded with new tracks and new cars. It now carries 100 passengers at a time, and there is no need to change trains. It’s faster as well, and you can be at the top in only five minutes! It no longer stops at the middle station unless this is arranged in advance.
It’s quite a ride, and it has the steepest tunnel track in the world. If you can, sit at the bottom for the best views. It can feel a little like you are on a roller coaster on the way down!
There are views from the Penang Hill train like you can see below.
To take the train, the Penang Hill railway station is located at the address above. It’s easy to get here by Grab taxi or you can take a Rapid Penang bus from George Town. This will usually involve some walking.
If you drive to the station, there is a big Penang Hill car park next door where you can leave your car.
The train currently runs from 6:30am to 10pm with the Penang Hill train ticket office shutting at 8pm. You can buy tickets at the office or online beforehand here.
The downside of the Penang Hill funicular train is that it is very popular, and lines can be long. So it is a good idea to buy tickets in advance and consider the “fast lane” tickets to avoid long lines, especially on a weekend or in holiday periods.
We last visited around 9am on a Monday morning and didn’t experience any lines, so this seems to be a good time to go.
Ticket prices vary depending on if you are Malaysian or not. For locals, an adult return ticket is RM12 or RM40 for the fast lane. For foreigners, it’s RM30 or RM80 for the fast lane. There are child tickets available for 4 – 12 year olds. This information is correct at time of publishing, but may, of course, change.
If you are short on time and want things even easier, you can also click here to sign up for this half-day tour. It visits Penang Hill and nearby (and amazing) Kek Lok Si Temple. It includes fast lane tickets.
From Penang Botanical Gardens
You can also get to Penang Hill from Penang Botanical Gardens. There is a paved road from the car park in front of the Gardens.
You can’t drive your own car on this road, but there are special jeeps that can take you up for around RM160. You can also hike up this road, although it’s a little boring.
If you want to try hiking up Penang Hill, there are better hiking trails you can take. They are generally considered challenging. You can find options here. If you want to try hiking, it can be nicer to take the funicular train up and then try hiking Penang Hill on the way down.
Penang Hill Malaysia
Penang Hill has a long history and is actually the oldest British hill station in Southeast Asia. It was first established in 1787 by Francis Light. So there is a long Penang Hill history.
The British loved this area as it had several benefits. Firstly, the Penang Hill weather can be much kinder that the heat below. The Penang Hill temperature is generally about five degrees cooler. The second is that it didn’t have the malaria risk that was down below.
The third is that it was a great vantage point as in clear weather, they could see any enemy ships approaching. They could then signal Fort Cornwallis in George Town which could then prepare to fight.
The Malay name, Bukit Bendera, means Flag Hill and refers to the flag pole by the Bel Retiro bungalow which was built by Light in 1789. This name is more specific than Penang Hill and refers only to its most developed peak.
The Penang Hill height is about 833 metres.
Today, Penang Hill is a popular tourist attraction, one of the most visited on the island. Between the views, rainforest and the awesome things to do on Penang Hill, there are many reasons to visit here.
I recommend you try to visit on a clear day for the best views. It’s not a great attraction in the rain.
What To Do On Penang Hill
There are a lot of answers to what to do in Penang Hill. Here are some of the top ones. In a day, you could do everything. With half a day, I’d cut some things out. In the itinerary section below, I go into further details of what I recommend depending on the time you have available.
Take Photos Of The View
When you step out of the funicular railway, you’ll be at a small plaza area.
Head around to the right of where you walk out of the station and follow the little road. There’s a range of paths and viewing areas where you can take your time soaking it all in. Take a photo of the Penang Hill view.
You can also explore one of the old wooden carriages. It’s a little different to the modern train you go up in 🙂
Explore Nature And Amazing Views At The Habitat Penang Hill
A few minutes’ walk from the top of the funicular, The Habitat is the prime attraction on Penang Hill. This is the place to get back to nature and experience the absolute best views of Penang especially if you want to experience a Penang Hill sunset or a Penang Hill night view.
If I had to describe it in a few words, I would say it’s a rainforest discovery centre + amazing views.
The Habitat starts with a 1.6 kilometre nature trail which will take you around the 130 million year old rainforest that it calls home. There are information boards about the history of the area as well as the local flora and fauna. There are also various cool viewing platforms and themed gardens.
Included in the entry ticket is also the Curtis Crest Tree Top Walk and the Langur Way Canopy Walk.
This Penang Hill canopy walk is 40 metres above the forest floor and spans three headlands and two valleys over its 230 metres. It offers great views of the rainforest at various levels.
The Penang Hill tree top walk is the highest viewing point on the island. It’s 13 metres from the ground and over the trees. It gives you amazing 360 degree views of the island of Penang. On a clear day, you can see all the way to the Langkawi islands.
There are also a couple of other attractions here for an extra fee including a zip line course and VR experience. You can also visit here for a special sunset walk on weekends which includes a nature walk with guide just before sunset and once it is dark, spotting wildlife as well as walking on the tree top walk as the sun sets.
The Habitat requires a ticket to visit.
Visit Sri Aruloli Thirumurugan Temple
Sri Aruloli Thirumurugan Temple is straight ahead after you get off the funicular. It’s in a beautiful spot with great views from the side.
It’s also a peaceful and colourful Penang Hill Hindu temple which is worth a visit. Built in the 1800s, it’s dedicated to the Lord of War, Murugan. It’s one of the oldest Hindu temples on Penang.
It’s open 24 hours a day.
Check Out Penang Hill Mosque
Penang Hill Mosque adds some Islamic architecture to the surrounding colonial buildings near to the Hindu temple.
It was built more recently for Muslims living and working on Penang Hill.
Learn The Penang Hill History At Penang Hill Gallery @Edgecliff
Located inside one of the historic bungalows on Penang Hill, the Penang Hill Gallery @Edgecliff is the place to go to learn about the history of Penang Hill. It’s only about 200 metres from the funicular train on the edge of a cliff and, of course, has great views towards George Town.
The gallery has five main parts. It starts at a Time Tunnel where you go back in time to an indoor forest in the biodiversity section. You can then learn more about the colonial-style architecture on Penang Hill at the heritage section.
You then enter the funicular section which is all about the history and engineering of the funicular railway. Finally, there’s the cultural gallery.
There’s a lot of interesting information and it’s well presented. You don’t need long at this gallery, less than an hour will do. It’s a good introduction to the area on arrival to Penang Hill.
This attraction is closed on Tuesdays. Tickets are available at the door and are currently RM10 per adult with cheaper prices for kids and senior citizens.
Experience An Earthquake And A Typhoon!
For one of the completely different Penang Hill things to do, experience an earthquake and typhoon! Of course, I don’t mean a real earthquake and typhoon, but a simulation.
This experience will show you what it feels like at an 8th level of magnitude earthquake and a typhoon with heavy rain, wind and shocks.
This attraction could do with a better video or perhaps some 3D glasses, but it’s entertaining, especially for kids and teenagers.
You can experience just one or both of these things. The price for one is RM30 for an adult, and there are combo tickets for both.
Get Some Love At Little Village Penang Hill
Little Village is another paid attraction on Penang Hill. It’s a string of cute, little outdoor attractions and indoor exhibits of honey and bees. There are also some great views from here.
The entry is near the funicular station. Look for the ticket counter in a telephone booth! Tickets cost RM8 for Malaysian adults and RM15 for foreigners. Children are cheaper.
It starts with a walk through a Love Arch as pictured above. Here, you can buy a Penang Hill love lock that can be customised for you and your beloved and then hung by the fence. This is followed by the Love Stroll with views and more heart-shaped arches.
You then hit the Valentine Pavillion which is a popular place for engagements.
Next up is Dwarf Village with miniature houses for each of the dwarves in Snow White. Then, randomly, there is a Rabbit Garden which is a petting zoo for rabbits and a Bee Garden with bee hives.
This leads into the indoor part of the attraction with a gift shop and exhibits on bees, beekeeping and honey.
You don’t need long to visit this attraction. It feels random and a bit weird, but if you love Instagram, you could probably take some good photos here.
See History At The Penang Hill Bungalows
The British built many bungalows around these peaks and many are still here today. There are 52 with the oldest built in 1789.
You can find these bungalows pretty easily just by walking around. You can also find them on this map.
They are in different conditions – some have been restored beautifully and have been re-purposed. Others are falling apart.
They are part of Penang Hill’s history so look out for them as you explore.
Find 100 Species Of Plants And Sip Coffee At Monkey Cup Garden
This has to be my favourite place to have a coffee and a snack on Penang Hill.
The Monkey Cup Garden has over 100 varieties of plants with both lowland and highland species. It’s a beautiful garden with a lot to look at. There’s also frequent sightings of monkeys, flying lemurs, squirrels, lizards, birds and more.
You don’t just have to walk around to enjoy it either. You can relax in the Kopi Hutan Cafe (Forest Coffee Cafe). It’s an absolutely gorgeous setting to have a coffee, tea, iced chocolate or soft drink. They also serve sandwiches, cakes, quiche and more.
It’s about a 25-minute walk to get here from the funicular station.
Go Hiking At Penang Hill
Penang Hill is known for its hiking and there are some great trails. You can, of course, get here from hiking up from the Botanical Gardens, but there are also many Penang Hill trail options once you are at the top.
For something less strenuous, there are Nature Walks with three different paths. You can walk these yourselves or there are also free guided walks on weekends. You can get more information on these by emailing: [email protected]
To go on a Penang Hill hike, there are many options. You can simply walk around the top between the various attractions or around The Habitat Penang Hill.
I also recommend a walk to what is in Google Maps as “Penang Hill best viewpoint” as it is very good!
You can also do some more serious Penang Hill trekking. Find all your options here.
Eat Your Way Around Penang Hill
If there is one thing you don’t have to worry about on Penang Hill, it’s that you’ll be hungry! There are plenty of eating options from a Penang Hill restaurant to a Penang Hill cafe (like the one at Monkey Cup Garden) to a Penang Hill Food Court.
If you are looking for a special restaurant at Penang Hill, consider David Brown Penang Hill. It’s a “British colonial Restaurant and Tea Terraces” and the top choice.
You can also visit the Astaka/Cliff Cafe. This is basically a three-storey food court. Yum! There are views with food, drinks and souvenirs. It’s a tradition for us to always have an ice kacang when we visit here which is what is pictured above.
There’s also cafes at some of the attractions like at the Monkey Cup Garden and The Habitat. There’s a bakery that sells bubble tea as well.
There are other options too so you can eat plenty on Penang Hill.
Stay On Penang Hill
If you want to really soak up Penang Hill, you can stay here overnight!
The Bellevue Hotel is located near the top of the funicular railway and offers great views, a lovely garden, bar and a good restaurant. It’s a great way to relax and really enjoy everything Penang Hill has to offer.
There are a range of room types from doubles to family rooms with three singles. Sadly, the hotel is a little rundown.
Penang Hill Cable Car?
There are plans to build a Penang Hill cable car. This is expected to be completed in about three years time and run from Penang Botanical Gardens to the summit.
This is to help ease congestion on the funicular railway.
We’ll publish more details on here when it’s nearing completion.
Penang Hill Itinerary
If you don’t have much time, it’s worth making the journey up Penang Hill even if you can only ride the funicular train, take a photo of the view and go back down, although try to dedicate at least a few hours.
With a few hours, you can take the funicular up, enjoy the plaza area on arrival, soak up the views and check out the wooden carriage. Take a look at Sri Aruloli Thirumurugan Temple and then head to The Habitat Penang Hill.
Walk the Nature Trail and don’t miss the canopy walk and tree top walk.
Grab something to eat at the Astaka/Cliff Cafe before heading back down.
With more time, walk around the trails some more. Visit Monkey Cup Garden and have a piece of cheesecake at the cafe there. You can also visit any of the other attractions we have listed here that appeal.
If you are short on time and want things even easier, you can also click here to sign up for this half-day tour. It visits Penang Hill and nearby (and amazing) Kek Lok Si Temple.
Penang Hill Video Walk-Through
Below, you can see a full video walk-through of our most recent experience of visiting Penang Hill from catching the funicular up to finding the best views to exploring The Habitat Penang.
Penang Hill Ticket Price
There is no Penang Hill ticket or Penang Hill entrance fee. You can enter Penang Hill for free. However, some of the attractions have their own entry fee and, if you take the funicular railway up, you’ll also need to purchase that.
The main thing you are likely to need a ticket for is The Habitat.
Penang Hill Opening Hours
Penang Hill is a huge public area, so it doesn’t shut down as such. However, the funicular service runs from 6:30am to 10pm and the ticketing counters close at 8pm.
This means you can get up here in time for a gorgeous Penang Hill sunrise.
The different attractions in Penang Hill have their own opening and closing hours. Generally, from around 9am to 5pm, there is plenty open.
I hope you have enjoyed this complete guide to Penang Hill, and it has answered all your questions.
Penang Hill is a great place to visit. Even if you just have time to take the funicular up and take photos of the view, it’s still worth a visit. If you are short on time, I recommend this tour.
Ideally stay longer and at least visit The Habitat to see the natural side of Penang. You can buy discounted tickets for The Habitat Penang Hill here.
Whatever you do, I hope you love your time at Penang Hill.