Be Courageous – Penang Hill Heritage Trail Walk – 6 Tips

For us, the Penang Hill Heritage Trail walk was totally unplanned – but what a blessing in disguise it turned out to be. We bumped our trip up Penang Hill to a weekend which is never a good thing if you want to minimize crowds. But alas, Christmas shopping waits for no child!

It’s a bit of a drive – 30 minutes in a Grab in moderate traffic from our fairly central location on Penang Island. Long enough to consider what tickets we’d buy. You can explore The Habitat Penang in addition to the Funicular (a tram that takes you up and down the hill) or spend your money on the attractions up top. Like the earthquake and typhoon simulator… a bit weird, we’re finding more and more at tourist hot spots that there’s all sorts of things for you to spend your money. In our experience, the main attraction is always the best use of time and money.

Fortunately, we didn’t push buy now on the nonrefundable tickets on Klook. We waited to see how we felt once we got to the top and it turned out to be a stroke of luck!

If you’re looking for other family friendly activities on Penang Island, check out our review of the Penang Tropical Fruit Farm and or overview of Penang Island and Georgetown.

Penang Hill Funicular

When we arrived – it was teeming with people! The wait was 3 hours in an actual queue to get on the Funicular (us post covid travelers aren’t really used to such things!). We didn’t want to queue, and we didn’t want to waste the morning just returning home again so we decided we’d ascend Penang Hill on foot via the Penang Hill Heritage Trail walk. Our 4 kids were game, including William, our 4-year-old, who had no idea what he was in for. There are a few stalls out front where we stocked up on water, snacks and sweets for encouragement/bribery and off we went.

Penang Hill Heritage Trail Walk

The walk itself is free, the path is behind the Funicular building (to the left if you are facing the building), the staff will happily point you in the right direction. It’s a well-marked path of concrete steps for most of the way until closer to the top it becomes a bit more of a dirt track, but it’s easy to stay on track.

The guidance was it would take us around 2 hours. I would say we’re just average when it comes to fitness, and it took us around 2.5 hours. On the way up, we had a good wildlife tour with monkeys coming to visit, giant lizards, giant spiders, hummingbirds and butterflies in addition to cute baby chicks on one of the local farms.

The trail stays pretty close to the Funicular tracks so you can see it whizz by from time to time, but otherwise its peaceful, hot, hard, but very, very rewarding. When we made it to the top, we were all very stoked with ourselves – it is very steep and quite the slog in parts, especially in the heat of the day (although, it is mostly well shaded from the sun). The achievement of trekking uphill through the hot jungle far outweighed anything we did or saw on the top of Penang Hill. However, the views really are spectacular.

Our 6 tips for the Penang Hill Heritage Trail Walk

  1. It’s hot! We were all pretty drenched in sweat at times so take lots (and lots) of water. Emily (our 12-year-old, and the fittest among the lot of us) hit a bit of a wall early on and it took a dose of electrolytes to bring her back to life. These have proven themselves time and again, we take them everywhere!
  2. It’s steep! Take good footwear. Our 4 kids did it in their crocs and Anne and I had our Tevas’s.
  3. It’s long! Take plenty of snacks, sugar and take plenty of breaks on the way up.
  4. It’s a jungle! Take lots of mozzie repellant.
  5. It’s worth it! We’ve been travelling for 7 weeks through SE Asia and seen and done a lot – the kids rated this one pretty highly.
  6. We didn’t walk back down, but you easily could with older children.

You can buy your ticket to get back down on the Funicular from the ticket office at the top. If it has closed (it was for us) hop on the Funicular and buy a ticket when you get to the bottom. The Funicular itself is efficient, but pretty uninteresting. You don’t see much and it’s not all that different to any other mass transport packed with people. I’m not sure how I’d rate this one if we had taken the Funicular up and back – the Penang Hill Heritage Trail Walk was definitely a pleasant turn of events!

Our 4 tips for Penang Hill

  1. Check the weather first so to ensure you’ll have a clear view of the beautiful views.
  2. Buy your Funicular ticket on arrival and then work out what you want to do at the top. The prices are similar on arrival as they are pre-purchasing. The tickets are non-refundable.
  3. Consider an early start to get the sunrise or a late visit to capture sunset and the city lights at night (the Funicular runs from 6.30am – 10pm). You’ll also beat the queues.
  4. It’s a popular attraction so visit on a weekday is you want a less crowed experience.

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