Walking in Penang for the non-suicidal – Walk 6 – climbing the Penang Hill road (partly)

On my list of things to do for the past few years has been to climb Penang Hill. And one of my new year’s resolutions is to get out into nature more. A climb up Penang Hill seemed to fit the bill.

Now, I believe there are various routes up Penang Hill, and Wikipedia tells you more. So my aim is to eventually try all of them, or at least the ones easily accessible from where I live. And to become used to the climb so I can do it quite quickly and maintain an increased fitness level.

The first route I decided to try was the sealed road from the entrance of the Botanical Gardens. It is 5.1 KM. As it is a sealed road, even if it rains there is no problem with mud. And it seems no problem with mosquitos either.

Entrance is very near the Botanical Gardens entrance

Entrance is very near the Botanical Gardens entrance

I had heard that it is really steep, and coming down it can be better to walk backwards. Rather than put too much strain on my muscles, leading to days of soreness, I also decided just to climb until thought I’d done enough, and not aim for the top. Then next time climb a bit higher, until eventually after two, three or four climbs I reach the top.

I had also heard that the road is quite shady from trees, so even later in the day one is protected from the sun. So I started off around 9.55AM, having parked quite near to the entrance of the road and the Botanical Gardens.

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There is a little blue sign every 0.1 KM, so you can easily see how far you have progressed.

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Starting off at 0.0 KM

The photo below shows I have made 100m progress, and can still see the entrance.

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0.1 KM

The first 1 KM was very steep, with almost no stretches with a gentle incline. At 0.4 KM was the first rest hut.

rest hut

rest hut

After I had been walking 25 minutes there was another rest hut.

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bigger rest hut

At about 2.6 KM there was a bigger rest hut with boiling water for tea and cold water to drink, with adjacent toilet block, and a few people resting.

rest spot with facilities

rest spot with facilities

After the first kilometre there were steep stretches of road, and other stretches of road that weren’t so steep, so it was a bit less of a strain than the first kilometre, but thereafter easier.

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a steep stretch, although from the photo it is hard to tell

Finally, at 3.0 KM I decided that was enough – I had been walking, with a bit of dilly-dallying – for 52 minutes.

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I turned back at 3.0 KM

I was back down at the entrance 46 minutes later, walking backwards some of the time on the steep stretches.  But, as you can tell, walking back wasn’t much faster than ascending.

I climbed on a Sunday, probably the busiest day of the week, but still it certainly wasn’t crowded. A few people were walking, some cyclists were either struggling up – still going at three times my walking pace – or wheeling down quite quickly, some motorbikes, and some 4WD’s carrying passengers – the exhaust from the older ones was sometimes annoying. Mostly you could stay in the shade, but still the effort of walking made you quite hot.


Walking stick, hat, sweat band, paper & pen for notes, camera, comfortable shoes,  –  water if you wish, but you can get it on the way and at the top, anyway.


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