Towering over Penang and often surrounded by a mysterious looking mist is Penang Hill. Roughly 750m above sea level at the summit the hill it is dramatically cooler at the top than in the sweaty streets of Georgetown! The British exploited the cooler climate near the top and built houses around the hill to escape the heat.
There are botanical gardens at the foot of the hill on one side, made from an old quarry. The gardens are stunning, set out in quite a British style with a huge range of plant life. The stars of the botanical gardens, however, are the monkeys! You are almost instantly met with them at the entrance to the garden and they are delightful to watch! From the gardens it is possible to hike up the hill and it takes about 2 hours to complete the 5km hike.
If hiking isn’t quite what you fancy then by far the best way to get to the summit of Penang hill is to ride the funicular! It was built in the 1920s and is the longest in South East Asia. It costs 30rm to ride and takes about five minutes to get from bottom to top. It is so steep, no photographs can really do it justice!
Once at the top you get an incredible view of the city, it’s only when one gets this high out can really appreciate how big the city is! At the summit of Penang Hill there is a promenade, also built around the 1920s and weirdly, an owl sanctuary! There are also a lot of food and dessert stalls to look at nearby.
Penang hill is quite fascinating, in its mix of colonial old world, crass souvenirs and stunning vistas – with amazing Malaysian food thrown in for good measure! It is so worth a days visit to take in all it has to offer.