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Penang Hill from the Bat Cave, temple shrine

The iconic Penang Hill, aka #BukitBendera is on every tourist list who visits Penang. Most visitors would surely ride the funicular, which has just celebrated a Centenary milestone since opening in October 1923. The "100 Years of Transformation" is available on print and illustrates the pivotal moments and events along the journey!

Penang Hill is in fact a series of hills, namely Western hill, Bukit Laksamana, Tiger hill, Flagstaff Hill, Halibuton's Hill, Fern Hill, Strawberry Hill, Government Hill. There are many hiking trails that meander to different peaks. #penanghill

Having had days of food challenge, we decided to summit Penang hill on foot and back on the funicular. That way we could enjoy the best of both worlds.

There are still bats in the cave of the burn down shrine!

Starting point: Park along the road of Jalan Pokok Ceri

Hike Duration: 5.5km

End Hike: Funicular

Hike Difficulty: 3/5

Toilet facilities: Available

Break it into 4 parts,

  • Part 1- Bat Cave to Dragon pillar (slight elevation)

  • Part 2- Waterfall through fruit orchards (slight elevation)

  • Part 3- Buddhist Stupa to Middle Station ( flat)

  • Part 4- Upper Station ( steep)

Scenery Rewards: Don't forget to look back! Amazing views of Georgetown and the bridge!

Note: There were parts that we trespassed residence property. We should be mindful that some people live in the houses and we shouldn't make too much noise. The hike is fairly easy, but if you start after 7.30, there are parts that are unshaded and can get extremely hot, bring enough water!

What to bring

1. Basic first aid stuff such as disinfectant, ankle guard in case you sprain your ankle, band-aid.

2. Walking stick, middle station to the upper station is steep!

3. Raincoat and Poncho,

4. At least 2l of water, pack lunch, snack!

5. Change of clothes

7. Good pair of hiking shoes is absolutely necessary

8. Cap

9. Check the weather forecast


After the Bat Cave shrine, continue walking on the tarmac road of Jalan Pokok Ceri. #batcave

You'll pass the Jinggangshan Buddhist Temple along the way! Very tranquil and low key temple

There is a continuous collection of the golden stupa further up along the trail towards middle station. Trek up until you reach the dragon pillar and enter the wooded area.

Dragon pillar landmark, enter the jungle from here


As we entered the jungle, we trekked along the stream up toward the orchard.

One of the tributaries of the Pinang River

We passed through gigantic durian groves along the hilly slopes

Part of the trail at the orchard was under a mesh canopy to avoid durian at terminal velocity!

The terrain from the Bat Cave to the orchard was on tarmac and cement with a mild ascent.

There were few dogs along the way, just stay calm and avoid eye contact!


After around an hours' climb, we arrived at the area of the golden stupas. The golden stupa collection is the extension of Jinggangshan temple. This area was chosen to build these stupas, as on sunny days it catches the morning sun rays and reflect a lovely hue of gold! (so I heard from a friend.... it was overcast on the day we went)

The path to middle station is on left. Don't head all the way up!

There are many junctions around the golden stupa area, take a left at the middle trail to the middle station. There is a quaint shrine at the top of the golden stupa hill, it is just like 20m up and worth to take a look around! From the golden stupa area the trail gradually bends through a short wooded part to a vantage point.

From the golden stupa area, we arrived at a lookout point with a huge tree and another shrine!

Continue to the left from the big tree, don't head upward, as it leads to a flower nursery and some dwellings. Note that, if you are hiking with children and if they feel exhausted, there is an option to ride the funicular from the middle station to the top.

After the big tree, we passed a short section of wooded area and then, the trail exposes and the sun bore down fiercely on us! We scurried under the hot sun and reached a Tee junction. The downhill heads to the middle-station and the up-hill heads to Penang hill!

The trail was really hot and exposed! Remember to bring plenty of water!

At this point, my friend who did not bring any water, had to abandon hike and continue on the funicular. We braved our way up, clueless on the trail that awaits!

Middle station stop. There are toilet facilities here and normally a staff at service


Very soon, the cement path ends and the terrain changes to dirt. We hiked parallel to railway line, hearing occasional whirring and creaking from the tracks.

The terrain is extremely steep here, with many huge steps, but thankfully it is canopied!

Finally we spot some signs to show that we are on the right path!

We hiked along the arches of the 100year old viaduct towards the peak

From the arches of the viaduct, it was still a steady uphill. When we finally rejoin back to the cement path, we were merely 200m from the peak, but the gradient was extremely steep. Slowly but surely we dragged our legs up the hill. The air was noticeably cooler from here. I have to say that we felt triumphed when we finally summited!

Georgetown, and beyond from the Big tree vantage point!


We regrouped, refreshed ourselves and made way to the funicular queue. We were too tired out to do any more exploring! The funicular was rather packed although it was a weekday! We whizzed down the hill in less than 10 minutes on the funicular, in stark juxtaposition, that took 2 hours of arduous hike up!!

We paid one way ticket, 6RM (for Malaysians) for the well deserved ride as we exited the station. With the appetite of a tiger we started hunting for our next meal!

Thx Nancy Tee for the recommendations!

Date visited: 5th December 2023


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