Monday, December 27, 2010

Penang Hill

Penang Hill

Historically, this hill was cleared by Captain Francis Light to grow strawberries. The oficial name of the hill was Flagstaff Hill (Bukit Bendera when translated into Bahasa Malaysia) but it is today commonly known as Penang Hill.

Known in the local language as Bukit Bendera, this hill is the first hill station in Malaysia and is about 830m or 2730 feet above sea level. The temperature at the peak is about 3°C to 5°C lower than the temperature at the hill below. Hence, this hill is an ideal place to escape the heat of the day.

Latest Update on the funicular train service: The train will be replaced by a RM63 million upgraded system which is expected to be ready in 7 months time. Hence, the current funicular train will stop operation from Feb 21, 2010 until September 28, 2010. Once it is ready, it will be able to carry a maximum capacity of 1,000 passengers/hour compared to 250 currently.

You can hike all the way up the hill or take the funicular train which has been operational since 1923. The upper funicular train broke down for about 6 months recently but is now up and running since 20 Dec 2008. If you plan to take the train, it is a good idea to go up during weekdays from Mondays to Fridays as it is usually crowded during the weekends. The train can only take up to a maximum of 80 passengers per trip. Going up during the night time will enable you to see the beautiful bright city below during a clear night.

The funicular train can take up to 80 passengers per trip. The time taken to go up the hill with a change of train in the middle is about 30 minutes.

The scenery that you can expect to see as the train goes up the hill.

The total time taken to reach the top of the hill is 30 minutes. You will need to take 2 trains. One will take you to the middle of the station where you can stop and take a stroll on the park. You will then need to take another train to reach the top. At the top, you will be able to see a spectacular view of the island and Penang Bridge on a clear day.

Refreshments and snacks are sold at the tea kiosk on top of the hill. A hotel, police station and post office facilities are also located on the hill. Along the way up, you will see the lush greeneries of the tropical rainforest and bungalows that were originally built for the British officials. There is a 11-room Bellevue Hotel that you can stay if you want to but many would prefer to stay at the beaches or city where there are more choices of hotels.

If you are one who prefer to hike, you can hike from Penang Botanical Garden at the Moon Gate all the way to the upper funicular train. The total distance is 5.5km and it will take you about 3-4 hours to reach. It is better to take a guide along with you if you are not familiar with this trail.

Another view of the train.

The scenery below as seen from the middle section of the hill.

Train Fees & Operation Hours
The funicular operates at the interval of 30 minutes everyday.
Sunday to Thursday : 6.30am to 9:15pm
Friday and Saturday : 6.30am to 11.15pm 
The fees are RM4/adult and RM2/child below 12 years old.
Contact Tel: +6 04-829 9412 for further information.

Getting Here
If you are driving, go towards the direction of Air Itam. It is located near Kek Lok Si temple. There are parking bays available outside the main entrance to the station.
If you are taking public transport, the Rapid Penang buses you can take is U204.



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