Home to colonial architecture and some of the best street food in Asia, Penang’s charm is undeniable. The small size of Georgetown—the UNESCO World Heritage Site that serves as the island’s diverse cultural center—makes it easy to explore in just one day. Here’s what you need to know.
Penang Hill (Bukit Bendera Pulau Pinang)
Jalan Stesen Bukit Bendera, Air Itam, Penang
Unless you want to wait over an hour for the funicular, a skip-the-line admission ticket is a must. Penang Hill tour options—which typically include priority funicular tickets—are varied, and might include a guided nature walk, afternoon tea, or a sunset dinner. Many tours also combine a visit to the hill with a stop at Kek Lok Si Temple, one of the biggest Buddhist temples in Malaysia.
If you’re traveling independently, Penang Hill staff sometimes offer free nature and culture walks. Also, some attractions on the hill, including the Owl Museum and the Earthquake and Typhoon Pavilion, have entry fees. Check the Penang Hill website for details.
Things to Know Before You Go
Penang Hill is a good place for families and first-time visitors to spend half a day.
If you plan to walk to the summit, take plenty of water and avoid hiking in the middle of the day.
Watch out for the monkeys—they tend to steal food and loose possessions.
How to Get There
About a 30-minute drive from George Town, the base of Penang Hill is easily accessible by taxi and hop-on hop-off bus tours. The walking trails begin at the Penang Botanical Gardens.
When to Get There
The top of Penang Hill is one of the best places to catch the sunrise or sunset. The funicular usually runs from 6:30am till 11pm, and takes about 10 minutes to reach the summit. You can buy your ticket online in advance.
Treasures at the Top
Once you’re at the top of Penang Hill, you’ll find attractions to suit every type of traveler. A hotchpotch of landmarks reflecting Penang’s cultural diversity come in the form of a Hindu temple, a Muslim mosque, and a 200-year-old cannon that dates back to Penang’s colonial era. Nature lovers can follow walking trails that detail the hill’s rich flora and fauna.
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- Penang Hill Funicular Railway
- Kek Lok Si Temple
- Penang Botanical Gardens (Taman Botani Penang)
- Chayamangkalaram Buddhist Temple (Wat Chayamangkalaram)
- Penang House of Music
- Little India
- Upside Down Museum
- Penang Armenian Street (Lebuh Armenian)
- Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion (Blue Mansion)
- Asia Camera Museum Penang
- Khoo Kongsi (Leong San Tong Khoo Kongsi Clan House & Museum)
- George Town (Penang Georgetown)
- Penang State Museum and Art Gallery
- Penang Tunnel Museum (Penang Time Tunnel)