Penang Hill at a glance

Penang Hill is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Penang. Bukit Bendera, or Flagstaff Hill in English, is the most developed peak with an elevation of 735m (2,411ft) above sea level.

Penang Hill comprises several hills, namely Strawberry Hill, Halliburton’s Hill, Flagstaff Hill, Government Hill, Tiger Hill and Western Hill. The highest point of the hill range is at Western Hill, with an altitude of 833m (2,723ft) above sea level.

The area under the Penang Hill Special Area Plan (SAP) measures 468.38ha, corresponding to the area under the Bukit Bendera Local Plan. The Hill is mostly covered by pristine rainforest (69.03% or 323.3ha) where the water catchment areas take up 210.07ha or almost half of the Penang Hill area. Tat’s Stream and Highland catchment areas cover the north-eastern part of the Hill, the Air Itam Side Stream catchment area covers the south-western part, whereas the Waterfall catchment area covers the northern part.

Residential areas on Penang Hill largely consist of historic bungalows across the Hill, houses in agricultural lands and villages at the foothills.

Population on the Hill

Penang Hill is home to families scattered around different altitudes and areas. Most of the residents can be found at the foothill near the Lower Station.

The funicular train

The iconic Penang Hill funicular train has been running since 1923. Today, Penang Hill is served by the fourth generation funicular train, which has been in service in 2011.

* The train used a steam engine, but failed to run in practice.

* The four carriages were in use for the second generation train, retired in 1977 and replaced with the iconic red Swiss-made carriages which had fans and automatic sliding doors. These had a holding capacity of 80, with mostly standing room.

Flora and fauna on Penang Hill

Home to many unique species of flora and fauna, Penang Hill, with its rich biodiversity, is a treasure trove for nature lovers.

The Malaysian Nature Society (Penang Branch) has compiled the sightings of the key species in 1991 (revised in 1999). More than 100 plant families with several thousand tree species grow in the hill dipterocarp lowland rainforest, and over 500 species of ferns can be found on Penang Hill. Out of 200 species of birds recorded on Penang Island, more than half of them actually are found in the forest.

Number of visitors to Penang Hill

The new funicular train system was launched in 2011. Consequently, the number of visitors to Penang Hill spiked in the following year and has been gradually increasing since then, indicating the popularity of Penang Hill as a tourist destination in Penang.

Current and future development projects on Penang Hill

To accommodate the increasing number of visitors to Penang Hill and to add more to their experience and convenience, the facilities on Penang Hill are undergoing three phases of upgrades or development. The projects for the first two phases were completed in April 2015. The multi-storey car park was also completed and launched on January 19, 2015. It has the capacity for a total of 306 parking lots for vehicles, 182 lots for motorcycles and five special parking lots for the physically challenged (OKU).

The third phase will start in 2016. The lower station will be upgraded to house additional facilities such as a science-tech cafe, a children’s playground, a convenience shop, an ATM outlet, a souvenir shop and money changer and rented space for F&B outlets.

Under the planning of Penang Hill Corporation, the KBB Bungalow will be converted into an affordable mid-range cafe; Hillside Bungalow will also be available for public rental for overnight accommodation in the near future. A few ongoing private-driven eco-tourism projects will be opened to the public on the hilltop, including the Bee Gallery and the Habitat nature trail.

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