The Penang Botanic Gardens (Taman Kebun Bunga) is a pleasant place to escape the heat of the busy city and enjoy walks or just relax. Allso known as the Waterfall Gardens, they were established by the British back in 1884 on the site of an old granite quarry.
For the fitter and even more adventurous walking up Penang Hill is a really good way of getting to the top, as the road takes you through 5 km of shaded forest : a unique occasion to spend the day in the green!
There are 3 routes that can be taken from the Penang Botanical Gardens to the top of the hill. All of them are safe, some are more strenuous and longer than others. Make sure that you wear appropriate closed footwear, take an umbrella or a rain jacket, and have sunscreen and plenty of water with you.
The first route uses the road which is used by residents to drive up the hill. The entrance to this road is just to the left of the entrance to the Botanical Gardens. It starts off quite steep for the first kilometre, then it’s a little less strenuous for the next 4 km to the top. This route should take 2 to 3 hours.
Another popular hiking route from the place called Moongate, just before you arrive at the Botanical Gardens on Waterfall Road, is much more of a jungle trekking experience.
The most popular route – described here – starts from inside the Botanical Gardens. From Georgetown, the rather rare bus 10 will take you directly to the Botanical Gardens (Last stop, 2 ringgits).
Pay attention because it is just a small path that leads off from the Gardens into the forest and there is no sign post. When you enter the Gardens, keep to your left past the office and keep heading up the hill. This path is seriously steep hiking trail, with hundreds up steps straight up, as you can see in the picture.
For someone with a modicum of fitness it should take you less than 2 hours and along the way you’ll pass some of the most spectacular jungle scenery in Penang. You will also probably come across a couple of monkeys, rarely a snake or scorpion.
Eventually after the steps the path joins up with the road leaving you another 3,5 km to get to the top. At about the halfway point, you will see a rest area and just behind here is an alternative path to the top.
This path was one of the original bridal paths (heritage trail) made by the British in 1823 called Miniot Road. It is just a dirt track and a much longer way of walking up Penang Hill, but offers some good views along the way, unlike the road. Note that this part of the trail was impassable due to mudslides early April 2018.
From the top of the hill, you can catch the train to Ayer Itam (bottom of the hill), then the bus 204 to Georgetown (2 ringgits)… or walk down to the Botanical Gardens.
NB. For those who want a bit of a challenge, there is another well marked pathway that consists of 10 kilometres of jungle track and jeep tracks that goes up to Penang Hill from the other side of the island at the Teluk Bahang Forest Eco Park. To get there take the 101 bus to Teluk Bahang. The entrance to the park is 1 minute walk past the Butterfly farm.