Walking in Penang for the non-suicidal – Walk 6 – climbing the Penang Hill road to the top

This is my second attempt at the hill, (first attempt here) having turned back after 3 KM because I wanted my legs and joints to gradually get accustomed to the climb, and not have a painful recovery time after.  And indeed that was effective, and I didn’t suffer. Now four days after the first climb I intended to climb further, and to the top if possible.

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 concentrate on 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

It is really steep in places, and coming down it can be better to walk backwards, and/or zig-zag across the road.  The road is quite shady from trees, so even later in the day one is protected from the sun. This time I started off around 8.00 AM, having parked quite near to the entrance of the road and the Botanical Gardens, although at this time of day it is very full with people who come to exercise in the 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

And it’s 5 KM – actually 5.1 KM – of windy road.

Yes, it's very windy

Yes, it’s very windy

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

About 50 metres further on were some monkeys.

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first monkeys spotted

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

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bigger rest hut

And the next monkeys were a bit past 1.5 KM.

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quite a lot of monkeys this time

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a lot had babies

At about 2.5 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 – about half way up

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, and therefore easier.

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

I made it to 3.0 KM, where I had turned back last time after 52 minutes.

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I turned back at 3.0 KM the first time – but this time I carried on

I continued on, passing another couple of rest areas, and then came to a big house, at around 4.1 KM.

big house

big house

At around 4.55 KM the road even has a gentle decline for a little way, but then it is all uphill to the top at 5.1 KM.

at last, the top

at last, the top

It had taken me one hour 38 minutes to climb from the bottom to the top. Now, time for a little look around.

Proof I made it

Proof I made it

There is a hotel on the left, the Crag Hotel. Apparently it is derelict. I was too thirsty to explore.

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The Crag Hotel

Time to head to the hawker centre for a drink.

hawker centre straight ahead

hawker centre straight ahead

Food was on the top floor, drinks on the lower floor.

lower floor

lower floor

I really didn’t have the energy to walk up to the Indian temple, or indeed to walk anywhere, so I just rested with a drink and looked at the view. Half an hour later I decided to head back down.  By the way, the funicular goes down to a quite different area of Penang, so if you came to the Botanical Gardens by car, it is not convenient to catch the funicular back.  If you had come by public transport, then you could.

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Going down the hill was much easier having done it a few days previously. My muscles were used to it more.  I did walk backwards or zig-zag a few times on steep slopes, but mostly I could cope OK.

I saw the monkeys again on the way down.

Mother monkey holds baby monkey by the tail when they walk

mother monkey holds baby monkey by the tail when they walk

They were mostly quite tame and non-aggressive

Many were quite tame and non-aggressive

Two monkeys were quite aggressive, but scared of my walking stick.  All the others were no problem, and some were quite tame.

and back at the entrance

and back at the entrance

The walk down this time mostly felt quite easy, except for the very steepest parts.  Coming down took me one hour 12 minutes.

Sunday had a lot more cyclists than today, a weekday, but otherwise today had about the same number of walkers, motorcyclists and 4WD’s – the exhaust from the older ones was sometimes annoying.  The few cyclists were either struggling up in their lowest gear, I suppose – still going at three times my walking pace – or wheeling down the hill quite quickly.


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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