Authored by Anitha Thanabalan (Contributor)
Penang is a highly developed island and one of the biggest cities in Malaysia. However, the cool thing about Penang is that it’s never too far away from nature.
Only less than an hour away from the city, you won’t even recognise that you are on the same very same island because there are so many places with such beautiful greenery and serenity. A lot of the west coast of Penang island is still undeveloped so you can visit different fruit farms and enjoy the abundance of outdoor activities and explore the nature in Penang.
Get Out and About Exploring the Nature in Penang – Malaysia
Waterfalls in Penang
When it comes to nature, one of the most beautiful things to see are the waterfalls, and Penang has quite a few of those. The most famous waterfall open to the public is the Titi Kerawang falls near Pantai Acheh. The falls is located on the west coast of the island on a mountain road that connects the small town of Balik Pulau with the fishing village of Teluk Bahang. It is about 100 meters from the main road, and there is a path that leads you there.
Another of the waterfalls in Penang is the Bayan Lepas Waterfall which is located just outside the town of Bayan Lepas. The area around the waterfall has been developed and beautified by the local waterway department. A bridge was built across the cascades and the water bank paved, so that vehicles can enter and exit. There is also a wooden pavilion where you can have a picnic while you enjoy the scenery of the waterfall. The waterfall itself has a height of just about 5 meters, and it flows down smooth rocks into a pool where swimming is possible.
Finally, the biggest waterfall is in Penang Botanical Gardens. The Botanic Gardens Waterfall is within the Penang waterworks department, so it remains a restricted area where access to the falls is monitored. It used to be one of the most famous waterfalls in Malaysia. However, now because of the waterworks department, you need to seek approval from the authorities to go to this waterfall. Established in 1910 and it is a sight that tourists should try and see.
Penang Hill was one of the first colonial hill station developed in Peninsular Malaysia. It was discovered soon after British settlement when Francis Light commissioned the area to be cleared to grow strawberries. On a clear day, you can see the mountains of Langkawi on a clear day. However, during the night time, the sight of a lit-up Georgetown is pretty great as well. The hike is quite high for most people because they can enjoy the fresh, unpolluted air with multiple nature trails. There are also about 100 species of birdlife, ranging from common garden species to exotic deep forest inhabitants. There is also a 220m walkway between towering trees 30m about dense jungle that offers excellent views of the hillside.
There is also the Penang Hill Railway which is the most popular way to get to the top of the hill. The location is at the foot of the hill, and it is one of the world’s oldest train system and has a 2,007m-long track that takes about 30 minutes to get to the top. As much as it is a relatively long trip, it brings you through beautiful greenery and bungalows that were built for British officials and other wealthy citizens.
Another way up to the top is by a 5 km drive up a private road that is only accessible to vehicles of hillside residents. However, if you pay a certain fee, you can also take the laneway. There is also a well-marked 8 km path that leads up from Moon Gate at the Botanical Gardens, it takes about 1 hour, but the walk is nice with plenty of places to rest along the way.
Penang National Park
The Penang national park consists of both land and sea and it is used by scientists, researchers, and nature lovers to explore its natural treasures.
It was previously known as Pantai Acheh Forest Reserve and it is home to about 417 different kinds of flora and 143 different fauna species. It is located at the northwestern tip of Penang island and was declared a national park in April 2003. The national park is the first protected area under Malaysia’s National Park Act of 1980 and was established to preserve and protect flora and fauna.
There are two beaches in the national park; Monkey beach and Turtle beach. There are two ways to get to both beaches. You can either hike for about an hour and a half to get the Monkey beach, and while that is the scenic route, it is a long hike. The other way to get there is by taking a boat and depending on the boat driver; one can range from around 50RM-70RM. Word of advice is to try and find a group of people to join the expense together.
These are just a few natural things you can do while in Penang, there are many nature trails as well if you are an avid hiker. But all in all, Penang is one of those places where you can enjoy the best of both worlds; nature and city life.