Penang Tourist Attraction :: Penang Hill (Bukit Bendera)

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Latest update on 12 March 2012: The Penang Hill funicular train now runs from 6.30am to 10pm (last train from top station) on weekdays and from 6.30am to 11pm (last train from top station) on weekends, school holidays and public holidays. The ticket counter will be closed one hour before the last train comes down. For details, call 04-8288880.

Rising 833m above sea level, the top of Penang Hill provides a cool retreat from the sticky heat below, being generally about 5°C cooler than at sea level. The core summit area has an average temperature ranging from 20° to 27°C.

From the summit there’s a spectacular view over the island and across to the mainland. There are some gardens, a simple food court, with one of the original carriages kept on show outside, a hotel, a police station and a post office at the upper funicular station. At the top are an exuberantly decorated Hindu temple and a mosque.

Penang Hill is wonderful at dusk as Georgetown, far below, starts to light up.

Penang Hill History

Penang Hill was first cleared by Captain Light soon after British settlement in order to grow strawberries (it was originally known as Strawberry Hill). A trail to the top was opened from the Botanical Gardens waterfall and access was by foot, packhorse or sedan chair. The official name of the hill was Flagstaff Hill (now translated as Bukit Bendera), but it is universally known as Penang Hill.

Efforts to make it a popular hill resort were thwarted by difficult access, and the first attempt at a mountain railway, begun in 1897, proved to be a failure. Another attempt was made in 1906 to build a funicular train directly to the hilltop failed due to insufficient power generated by hydro generator.

The hill railway was designed by Arnold Johnson, the Senior District Engineer for the Federated Malay States Railway in 1918. In 1923 a Swiss-built funicular at a cost of 1.5 million straits dollars was completed and officially opened by Straits Settlements Governor Sir Laurence Guillemard on 1st January 1924.

The trip took a crawling 30-40 minutes, with a change of carriages at the halfway point. The trains were changed from the open wooden carriages to the enclosed ones from Switzerland in 1979. The retired original wooden coach is displayed on the hilltop and another one in the Penang Museum.

Queen Elizabeth II stayed in the Penang Hill when her majesty visited Penang in 1972.

The 87-year train was in used until February 2010 before being replaced by another Swiss-built modern electric funicular which can reach up the hilltop non-stop unlike its predecessor.

A small museum inside the station displays some photographs and oddments from those early days. On the way, you pass the bungalows originally built for British officials and other wealthy citizens.

Several new facilities in the pipeline such as flying fox, tree top walk suspension bridge and hawker center.

Flora and Fauna

The most common forest type found on Penang Hill is the hill dipterocarp forest. Growing at higher altitudes are some of the submontane oak-laurel as well as coniferous trees. The Tree fern which is normally associated with higher elevations is also found growing here. The Penang Slipper Orchid (Paphiopedilum barbatum) is fast becoming over-collected and disappearing.

Large mammals are not found in Penang Hills. Wild boars, small and medium sized mammals such as the squirrels, monkeys and tree shrews can be sighted. A number of species found in these hills are nocturnal. These include the civets, flying lemurs, flying civets and bats.

Train Operating Hours and Fees

From 6.30am to 9pm daily. Extended hours till 11pm on weekends and holidays.

For Malaysian: adult RM8 and children RM4 for round trip.

For foreigner: adult RM30 and children RM 15 for round trip.

Queues on weekends and public holidays can be horrendously long with old train service. Nevertheless, new train service with 10-30 minutes one way travelling time has reduced the waiting hour tremendously.

How to get there

Bus: 2-C
Rapid Penang: 204

A number of roads and walking trails traverse the hill. You can walk the 5.5km to the Botanical Gardens (Moon Gate) in about three hours from the trail near the upper funicular station. A signboard on the hill shows walking trails going as far as Teluk Bahang, but these are not well marked and not recommended. The easier Jeep track from the top also leads to the gardens, just beyond the Moon Gate. Round trip fee per person for jeep ride at RM60 onwards.

Stay and Dining

- The 11-room Bellevue Hotel is the only place to stay here, but while the garden offers some splendid views over Georgetown, it’s a little frayed at the edges and overpriced. The hotel has a restaurant, a ginger and aviary gardens featuring endemic ginger plants and exotic birds. The gardens opening hours is from 8am-6pm, and entrance fee is RM5 for adult and RM3 for children.

- David Brown’s Restaurant & Tea Terraces was opened in April 2007 is serving western and high-tea meals, it opens from 9am to 9pm.

- A canteen on the top with cheaper food is under renovation.

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Penang Hill Bukit Bendera

Location Map:

GPS Coordinates: N5.424906, E100.268959 Geotag Icon Show on map

Penang Hill Map:

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Posted by on June 5, 2011 under Nature.

Previose Post:

  • Shyamala

    10 February, 2012 at 9:18 am

    Ingin membawa rombongan seramai 43 orang ke Bukit bendera.Bolehkah buat booking,TQ

    • admin

      14 February, 2012 at 1:04 pm

      We let interested tour companies to handle your inquiry.

      • nikz

        8 March, 2012 at 8:05 pm

        macam mana nk booking ticket untuk rombongan???
        adakah harga untuk pelajar sekolah tetap sama?

        • admin

          12 March, 2012 at 7:27 pm

          Please call Penang Hill Corporation at 04-8288880.

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