The best hikes and walks in Penang are not in central George Town. If you want to exercise your legs and increase your heart rate, here are the best hikes and walks you’ll want to try.
Thanks to its steep forested interiors and extensive coastal plains, Penang is an ideal getaway for all who enjoy nature. Why not leave the treadmills to the gym bunnies and start your exercise regime with nature instead? These eight destinations will sort you out.
This national park may be the smallest in Malaysia, but don’t underestimate the increased heart rate it’ll give you. There are two hiking trails here. The easier coastal routine leads you on a leisurely trek to Monkey Beach, where there’s sand, shadow (from the trees), and song (from the small café). The jungle route takes you on a steep climb through dense forests towards Pantai Kerachut, also known as Turtle Beach, thanks to the Penang Turtle Sanctuary located here.
Spanning nearly 80 acres and located 15 miles (24 kilometers) from central George Town, this recreational park is a family-friendly site with a spiderweb of hiking trails. Camping areas, mini waterfalls, and picnic tables are provided. For the physically challenged (or the very tired), there is a well-maintained network of footpaths to facilitate leisurely strolls.
Start your hiking trail from the Moon Gate at the Botanical Gardens. The entire hiking experience will take you three hours, and parts of the journey feature climbing aids (steps and holds) to better facilitate your steep hike. Bring water, bug spray, and light snacks. If you plan to hike back down, we recommend starting your hike in the morning; you don’t want to get yourself lost in the woods after dark.
If you want a short trek upwards, Bukit Jambul is the way to go. Thirty minutes is all you need to get from bottom to top, and most of the way is paved or padded with large flat stones. This is a popular hiking trail for families and small groups—and why not? The view is great, the hike is short, and the toilets are clean. Incidentally, if you need them, the toilets are available at the start of the trail.
Also known as “Waterfall,” the Botanic Gardens is a large sprawling garden with excellent foliage. There’s not much of a hike here, but it is an extensive place to stroll around and locals come here to walk, jog, and practice tai chi. The garden is further divided into 12 subsections, including the fern rockery and the orchidarium, which means that aspiring botanists and plant-enthusiasts will enjoy the walk, as well as the natural company.
It may be called “Youth Park,” but this park isn’t just for youths. Featuring a small water park with child-friendly fountains, a moderate-sized skate park, and a leisurely reflexology path, this park is an all-inclusive nature-infused site with something for everyone. If you wish, you can also begin your hiking trail to the Penang Hill from here.
For walks, jogs, and runs, the Air Itam Dam is a huge reservoir for water coming through Paya Terubong and Penang Hill. At 700 feet (213 meters) above sea level, the air here is refreshingly pollution-free, and the site is a tranquil alternative to the busy Youth Park and Botanic Gardens. The only drawback is that the weather here tends to be hot, but as long as you bring you hat and water bottle, this walk will be a treat.
Located on the mainland, this forest reserve trail leads you on a moderately-intense hike from bottom to top, where you’ll be rewarded with a lovely verdant view of hilly Prai. The hill is also known as “Cherok To’kun.” The entire hike takes about an hour, and a telecommunication tower is located at the peak.