If you’re in Penang and a question arises in your mind “what to do in Penang?”, then head towards the northern side of Penang Island and discover the most iconic symbol of Penang, the Penang Hill. Also known as Bukit Bendera or “Seng Kee Sua” by the Hokkien Chinese, it is located at Air Itam.
The Penang Hill is part of Penang heritage. It was originally discovered by Francis Light while he was on one of his horseback rides. The British called it the Flagstaff Hill. This is because after its discovery in 1788, colonial mansions were built on top of the hill, including the Governor of Penang’s home, The Bel Retiro. The name Flagstaff Hill came about due to the flag that fluttered from the Governor’s home. The location was very popular to build mansions on because of the cool climate. The Penang Hill is 823 meters above sea level, which keeps it cool and the air is still unpolluted here.
These colonial mansions still stand tall among the undisturbed flora and fauna atop Penang Hill. Visitors can view these mansions in all their grand galore. Being a responsible traveller, it is our duty to ensure that these mansions stay in their original form. Some travel tips would be to admire these colonial mansions and please do not attempt to take souvenirs home.
Some of these mansions have been converted in hotels, like the Bellevue Hotel, where one can spend the night and savour local and international delicacies. Other than that, you can hold conferences and meeting at the Railway bungalow, which is fully equipped with audio and visual facilities.
There are several ways to go up Penang Hill. You can opt walk up the hill, enjoying nature in all its glory, or take a jeep ride up the hill. If you’re not into jungle tracking and want a more enjoyable journey and want to enjoy another Penang heritage, then you can always take the train, which was officially open to the public 1923. It’s a half hour journey via the train and is rather enjoyable. Some travel tips for those who opt to walk up the hill, make sure you’re wearing comfortable clothes and shoes, make sure you have a partner with you as the journey will be long, and be ready for a good workout.
If you’re still wandering as to what to do in Penang, jungle tracking at Penang Hill is a great choice. Getting a good map is one way to ensure a good journey. You can take many tracking routes, some of them will take you through some colonial mansions, Tiger Hill, Chin Farm or temples. It’s all up to you. As a responsible traveller, try not to disturb nature by attempting to feed animals or pluck flowers.
It’s up to you, as to what you want your trip to be like. Plan it well before you even come to Penang, but if things don’t go exactly as planned, don’t be upset. Be spontaneous and enjoy every moment of your time in Penang.