Air Itam Dam
Jalan Balik Pulau.
This picturesque dam is a popular weekend escapade. Pack a family picnic and spread out under the sun. Located next to Penang Hill, the dam boasts panoramic views of the island, so don't forget to bring your DSLR. We wouldn’t advise hiking even if you’re in the pink of health; it’s best to drive up the steep peak. A designated parking lot for visitors is located about 100 metres from the dam. While you’re in the area, why not visit the Kek Lok Si temple nearby? Daily, 6am-7pm.
NEW The Habitat
Bukit Bendera (+604 826 7677/ thehabitat.my).
If George Town’s hustle and bustle starts to get to you, a day at this lush rainforest and nature reserve should help. Exotic flora and fauna loom around every corner with the Red, Purple and Yellow Gardens housing flowering plants of the said vibrant colours. Also try and spot the Paper Kite Butterfly, Asian Fairy-Bluebird, Dusky Leaf Langur and other local fauna. Open daily save for Tuesday and Wednesday, The Habitat’s hours of operation will extend to seven days a week after its official launch in August 2016.
Mon & Thu-Sun, 10am-5.30pm. Adults, RM20; Children (aged 3-13 years), Students (with valid ID) and Senior citizens (above 60 years), RM10; Children (aged 0-3 years), free.
Monkey Cup Garden
Penang Hill, Jalan Stesen Bukit Bendera, Air Itam (+6012 428 9585/ www.facebook.com/monkeycup.pghill). Monkey cups (a familiar nickname for pitcher plants) are often in full bloom at this exotic attraction atop Penang Hill. The garden houses a wide variety of plants originating from the deep jungles of Malaysia and Indonesia to as far as Madagascar and Brazil. Bring a cardigan as it’s chilly this high up on the hill.
Daily, 9am-6pm. Admission, RM12.
Jalan Stesen Bukit Bendera, Air Itam (+604 828 8880/ www.penanghill.gov. my). The oldest hill station established during colonial times, Penang Hill is also known as Bukit Bendera and is made up of several hills including Strawberry Hill, Halliburton’s Hill, Flagstaff Hill, Government Hill and Tiger Hill, with the highest point being Western Hill. The most scenic way to reach the top is by air-conditioned funicular train. Alternatively, you can hike each green slope and explore the many trails leading to the top. At the peak you’ll find souvenir shops, a bird sanctuary, a museum, the Monkey Cup Garden, a food court and an open area for functions and camping.
Funicular train runs daily, 6.30am11pm. (Funicular train ticket price) Adults & Senior citizens, RM30, Children, RM5, Students with ID, RM15; (MyKad holders) Adults, RM10, Children, RM3, Students with ID, RM5, Senior citizens, RM5; Disabled, Free.
Balik Pulau Bao Sheng Durian Farm 150 Mukim 2, Sungai Pinang, Balik Pulau (+6012 411 0600/www.durian. com.my).
Get a taste of Penang’s iconic fruit from the source itself – a durian plantation. Bao Sheng runs tours year-round; expect to fork out more during peak season, but at least you’ll get a taste of the cream of the crop. Book an overnight package to stay in one of their villas, take advantage of the swimming pool, and enjoy durian for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Daily, 11am-7pm. Tours from RM55 per adult. Children aged 7-12 years receive 50 percent discount on all tours.
Jalan Batu Ferringhi, Batu Ferringhi. One of the more tourist-friendly beaches in Penang, Batu Ferringhi is where world class resorts hug the coastline. Go horseback riding or enjoy water sports such as jet skiing and parasailing. Come sundown, visit the bustling night market brimming with local souvenirs and knick-knacks.
(Night market) Daily, 5pm12midnight.
Batu Maung Fishing Village Jelutong Highway, Batu Pulau, Batu Maung (+604 626 1391).
Situated on the south eastern tip of the island, this small, close-knit village is famous for a strange and mysteriously large footprint imprinted on a boulder on the beach. The story of the footprint differs depending on whom you ask – the Chinese believe it’s the footprint of Admiral Cheng Ho while the Indians believe it was left behind by the monkey god Hanuman. The area is not the cleanest, but it deserves a visit. Penang Aquarium
Fisheries Research Institute, Batu Maung, Bayan Lepas (+604 626 3925/Facebook: Penang Aquarium). Housed within the Fisheries Research Institute, Penang’s sole aquarium boasts an impressive collection of tanks. Marvel at the exotic aquatic life on display and try to spot lion fish, angel fish, blue spotted stingrays, sharks and more.
Mon-Tue & Thu-Sun, 10am-4.30pm. Adults, RM5; Children (7-12 years), RM2; Children (7 years and below), free; Senior citizens above 55 years, free.
Bukit Mertajam Recreational Forest Park
Jalan Kolam Air, Mukim 15, Cherok Tok Kun, Bukit Mertajam.
Spread over 37 hectares of verdant, hilly terrain with its highest point being 457 metres, this park is immensely popular with healthconscious locals. It’s a fantastic environment for hiking and jogging, but those who shy away from activity can simply pack a picnic and enjoy the fresh air. Take a refreshing dip in one of several streams, shallow ponds and waterfalls.
Daily, 7am-7pm. Free admission.
Penang Botanic Gardens
Jalan Kebun Bunga, George Town (+604 226 4403/botanicalgardens. penang.gov.my).
Located at the western edge of George Town, the Penang Botanic Gardens was originally a research centre for investigating planting methods and crop viability. Today, it serves as a picturesque recreational spot with hiking paths and tracks leading to Penang Hill. Weekend mornings see the gardens bustling with local families.
Daily, 5am-8pm. Free admission.
Penang Municipal Park
Persiaran Kuari, off Jalan Kebun Bunga, George Town (+604 226 3051/www.penangmunicipalpark. com).
There’s a lot to do at this sprawling park at the edge of George Town. Formerly known as the ‘Youth Park’ and for good reason: there is a water park, skating rink, children’s playground, giant chess set and jungle gym that guarantee plenty of fun for kids. We especially like the street art park where aspiring graffiti artists can express themselves freely.
Daily, 7am-7pm. Free admission.
Pulau Aman, South Seberang Perai. Accessible via a 15-minute boat ride from Batu Musang jetty, Pulau Aman, which translates to ‘island of peace’,
attracts weekend trippers. Haggle with the local fishermen for fresh seafood and take it to the floating seafood restaurant where you’ll be able to enjoy the fresh catch there and then. Sporty types like coming here for a bout of water sports and jungle trekking.
Penang Bird Park
Jalan Todak, Seberang Jaya (+604 399 1899/www.penangbirdpark. com.my).
One of the firsts in the country, Penang Bird Park is home to over 300 species of birds from around the world. It also houses wild plants and animals such as pythons, crocodiles, turtles and deer. While the animals are cared for relatively well, the cages and amenities could use an upgrade.
Daily, 9am-7pm. Adults, RM38, Children (below 12 years), RM20; (MyKad holders) Adults, RM23, Children, RM13. Concessions, free.
Bukit Panchor State Park
Nibong Tebal Recreational Forest, Nibong Tebal (+604 593 2977). Covering only eight hectares of land, this recreation park is small but full of life. A boardwalk provides a safe path as you meander past flowing rivers and lush vegetation. There are also plenty of unique mangrove forests and bat caves to explore. Campsites are readily available should you wish to spend the night listening to the jungle come alive.
2938 Jalan Teluk Ipil, Nibong Tebal (+604 593 6369/www. amazingplanner.com. my). Twinkling fireflies are the highlight of this sunset cruise along the Sungai Kerian riverbank. Time your trip carefully as there are fewer fireflies during the full moon or on rainy nights. Visitors can also fish for octopus, explore a bat cave or visit Penang’s largest fish farm.
Visit website for tour packages, prices and times.
Entopia by Penang Butterfly Farm
830 Jalan Teluk Bahang, Teluk Bahang (+604 888 8111/entopia. com).
Previously the Penang Butterfly Farm, Entopia is an Eden for insects. It remains one of Penang’s most recommended attractions and is more than just a treat for naturalists and hobbyists as the farm plays a vital role in familiarising the Malaysian
public with entomology. The site has also gained global reputation as a butterfly breeding centre. Visit in the late morning or early afternoon when the butterflies are most active.
Daily, 9am-8pm. Adults (13 years and above), RM49; Children (4-12 years) and senior citizens, RM29; Children (3 years and below), free.
Penang National Park
Jalan Hassan Abbas, Teluk Bahang (+604 881 3530/www.wildlife.gov.my). Malaysia’s smallest national park spans a mere two and a half hectares, but it’s true that good things often come in small packages. Besides wetlands, mangroves, coral reefs, mudflats and pristine beaches, Penang National Park is also home to the Pantai Kerachut lake and a turtle conservation centre. The former is one of 20 naturally meromictic lakes in the world, meaning that a layer of warm sea water sits beneath a layer of cool fresh water, neither of which ever mix. If you’d like to see turtles in their natural habitat, visit the conservation centre during hatching season.
Daily, 7.30am-6pm. Free admission.
Taman Rimba Teluk Bahang Museum Perhutanan Hutan Lipur Teluk Bahang, Taman Rimba, Teluk Bahang (+604 885 2388).
With 32 hectares of flourishing vegetation, Taman Rimba is an enormous family-friendly picnic ground, perfect for a weekend escape from the city. If you’re feeling adventurous, check out the many hiking trails available, with towering trees providing shelter from the sun. As a reward, take a cool dip in the nearby stream once you’ve wrapped up your trek.
Mon-Thu & Sat, 9am-5pm; Fri, 9am12noon & 2.45-5pm. Adults, RM1; Children, RM0.50.
Teluk Bahang Dam
Stretching out as far as the eye can see, this dam isn’t open to the public until the International Dragon Boat races twice a year in May and December. That being said, it’s worth driving past if you’re visiting Entopia by Penang Butterfly Farm.
Open during Dragon Boat Festival, 9am-5pm. Free admission.
Tropical Fruit Farm
Batu 18, Jalan Teluk Bahang, Teluk Bahang (+6012 497 1931/www. tropicalfruitfarm.com.my).
The hour-long tour of the Tropical Fruit Farm gives you a good look at the in-season plants grown at this expansive 25-acre land. Join a guided tour to discover the origins, tastes and usages of each plant. Be sure to save room for the fruit buffet and glasses of fresh fruit juices.
Daily, 9am-6pm. Call or check their website for tour packages and prices.
Tropical Spice Garden
Lot 595 Mukim 2, Jalan Teluk Bahang (+604 881 1797/www. tropicalspicegarden.com). Transformed from an abandoned rubber plantation, the eco-friendly Tropical Spice Garden houses more than 500 floral species. Roam the eight acres of secondary jungle, enjoy hearty Thai-Asian delicacies at the Tree Monkey Restaurant, and sign up for a cooking class to learn how to whip up delicious local cuisines.
Daily, 9am-6pm. (Garden Audio Tours) Adults, RM26, Children (4-12 years), RM15; (Live Guided Tours) Adults, RM35, Children (4-12 years), RM20. Free for children below 4 years.
Penang Hill funicular train
Tropical Spice Garden