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Penang Hill (Bukit Bendera)

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Early adventures

huge dipterocarps like this one at the botanic garden, used cover most of penang island

There’s a quite charm about this hill station. Certain romanticism persists despite recent developments on the island. Gone are the days when the vistas below was nothing but an endless green swath of rainforest trees, gigantic specimens of which until the 1930’s blanketed the island and the rest of the mainland. Gone are the days when the only way up and down the hill in 1890s was by pony or sedan. Visitors to Penang Hill would trek all the way to the botanical gardens, where upon they would take in the sights at the waterfall for a moment or two before embarking on the uphill trek.

From the garden, a narrow road led up onto the crest of the ridge. There were two local companies run by Chinese who provided pony and sedan services plus extra labour to carry supplies up the hill. The charge for pony up or down the hill was $1½ and 35cents for a chair coolie. Five to eight coolies were required for each chair and the services of this sedan were normally required by the women, children, the sick and the older genteel. Men and officers would walk the distance. The walk up took roughly 2 – 3hrs but with jungle canopy shading sojourners below along the trail, and the gradual drop in temperature as they ascended towards the 821m peaks, this slow climb was probably bearable.

signboards along the way

Lying stretched out at the edge of Bellevue Hotel’s lawn, looking down on a land lip below where Crag Hotel used to sit and the sea beyond, with a cool evening breeze rising up from the open water and purple silhouettes of the mainland mountain range behind, it was a wonder ~ was this what Sir Francis Light saw over a hundred years ago? Standing on this spot? The serenity, the vastness, the unmatched beauty – a divine creation unadulterated?

Penang Hill was possibly the first hill station built in the British colonies and pre-dated the larger hill stations in India such as Simla which were developed in the 1820’s. In 1805, Penang saw a short-lived 2nd revival when she was made the fourth presidency of India (other presidencies were Bombay, Madras and Bengal). The reason for its prestigious status was based on several exaggerations including its strategic position as a potential naval base and its economic potential.

Penang Island was known as the Prince of Wales Island then and Penang Hill was called Government Hill, Great Hill or just The Hill. But this hill station actually straddles several peaks, sitting on the upper ridge between Fern Hill and Strawberry Hill with the governor’s bungalow located on Flagstaff Hill (so named because a flagstaff was hoisted up to alert the community living below in Georgetown of any pending dangers and more importantly - to signal the arrival of the mail boat from Britain, probably the most important cargo for the small colonial society living in these far flung outposts). The hill station was first developed as a convalescence station and saw some busy times from 1800 to 1820 when more military officers and civil servants were posted to Penang in 1805.

Despite its newfound interest, total population of Europeans was probably no more than 300 and the hill station remained small and personal. Unfamiliar with the temperate conditions and the harshness of the Malayan jungles, there was certainly a demand for quiet, tranquil resorts to convalesce above the level of disease and mental stress that several suffered in the lowlands. Although temperature on Penang Hill was not high enough to create a cool environ for the colonists, (at only about 5°C cooler than that in the lowlands but that, was when the world was a lot cooler), it was reported that there were improvements in some patients, having been transferred from the lowlands.

There really wasn’t much for the early visitors to do except nature trekking, a stroll around the beautiful gardens that was later landscaped to look just like gardens back in Britain, a game of croquet, reading, painting and just to take in the wonderful view from the peak.

Bungalows on Penang Hill

today, it's monkey class - free seating for our furry passengers.On other days, it's used as a trolley hooked to the tram for luggage transfer.

A bungalow in the 1800’s referred to temporary hill dwellings used by Europeans. Dwellings of more permanence in the lowlands were called houses or residences. The bungalow was described as one-storeyed, low ceiling buildings that were square or oblong shaped mostly. The structure sat on slightly raised platforms, plinths or low brick pillars. The walls were made of mud or covered with woven mats and roofed with attap. A generously spacious verandah ran round the house where guests could sit, enjoying the evening vistas from any angle of choice. Shaded in the early afternoons from the sun by bamboo chicks, sipping English tea or Whisky stengahs was a ritual with these sojourners. The interior was structured with an open area where the living and dining area was located and from this, doors led to bedrooms on both sides of the central area. The architecture and layout of these bungalows were very similar to houses in Madras. There were a few that were infused with Malay architecture.

The early bungalows were later replaced or reconstructed into brick structures. Most of the mainland hill station bungalows were erected by the PWD (Public Waterworks Department) and there are many similarities architecture and structures at Penang Hill, Fraser’s Hill and Cameron Highlands. Many are still standing today.

The Bel Retiro bungalow, located on Flagstaff Hill, was commissioned in 1789 for the Governor of Penang and still remains the holiday residence of the Governor today. Another early bungalow was the Convalescent Bungalow, which required official permission to overnight. There was also the Medical Officer’s residence on Fern Hill, which had a dispensary to help and treat patients convalescing at the hill station.

Thomas Halyburton, a British Merchant and part time sheriff of Prince of Wales Island built his bungalow on Haliburton Hill. This bungalow was also known as Belle Vue and the hotel that sits on this site has retained its name Bellevue Hotel. Within the grounds of this hotel today is an aviary with a variety of exotic birds on display including macaws, cockatiels amongst others. Entrance fee is RM4 for adults and RM2 for children, and operating hours are 9am to 6pm, seven days a week. Bellevue Hotel also serves steamboat dinners for those who stay overnight on Penang Hill.

crag hotel on the peak. the derelict hotel was used as a location shoot for the film 'Indochine' starring Catherine Deneuve

The other bungalow worth a mention is the Crag owned by a Scotsman by the name of Captain Kerr. The famous Sarkies Brothers who also owned Eastern & Oriental Hotel in Georgetown, The Raffles in Singapore and The Strand Hotel in Rangoon Burma ; acquired the Crag, converted it into a hotel and opened for business in 1895. The hotel comprised of a ‘village of bungalows’ grouped around or close to the central building where the dining and sitting rooms were located. The hotel saw numerous days of social events and maintained a hotel until it was taken over by the Uplands Preparatory School and now is under the TNB or The National Electricity . There are plans to build the Xylarium (Wood Museum) at the Crag hotel site and is scheduled to be completed in mid 2007. The museum will host a collection of wood samples from around the world including the type of wood that most likely was used to build Noah’s Ark. Not too sure about the Crag Hotel's fate though. Our councils are not particularly concerned with preservation or conservation when it comes to colonial architecture or historical influences.

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Penang & Surrounding Day Tours ~ Penang

 

Tour

Seat-In-Coach

Min no of adults

Pick up time

Duration

Adult

Child

Round Island Tour

RM 80

RM 60

2

9.00 am

4 hrs

George Town City Tour

RM 80

RM 60

2

2.00 pm

4 hrs

Penang Hill & Kek Lok Si Tour

RM 115

RM 80

2

2.00 pm

4 hrs

Scenic Night Tour + Hawker Dinner Tour

RM 115

RM 90

2

7.00 pm

4 hrs

UNESCO George Town Heritage Tour

RM 105

RM 75

2

9.00 am

4 hrs

UNESCO Heritage Walking Tour

RM 225

RM 115

2

2.00 pm

4 hrs

UNESCO Heritage Trishaw Tour

RM 120

RM 120

2

9.00 am

4 hrs

Breakfast at Local Wet Market Tour

RM 235

RM 125

2

9.00 am

4 hrs

Botanical Garden & Butterfly Farm Tour

RM 115

RM 90

2

9.00 am

4 hrs

Tropical Spice Garden with Cooking Class Tour

RM 318

RM 168

2

9.00 am

4 hrs

Orang Utan & Mangrove Forest Tour with lunch

RM 310

RM 195

2

8.00 am

8 hrs

The Lost World Of Tambun with lunch

RM 305

RM 195

2

8.00 am

8 hrs

Langkawi Geo Park Discovery Tour with lunch

RM 420

RM 250

2

7.00 am

8 hrs

Pulau Payar Marine Park - starts from Penang & ends in Penang

RM 320

RM 220

2

7.00 am

9 hrs

Pulau Payar Marine Park - starts from Penang & ends in Langkawi

RM 375

RM 265

2

7.00 am

9 hrs

Other Day Tour Packages and Activities

Heritage Walk Georgetown

RM60 per pax (3-9 pax)

3

9.00 am-12.00 pm

3 hrs

UNESCO George Town Heritage Sites + Traditional Trades + Penang Famous Hawker Food Tour

from RM 250 nett

2

9.00 am

8 hrs

UNESCO George Town Heritage Cycling Tour

from RM 88 nett

3

7.30 am

3.5 hrs

UNESCO George Town Flexible Bicycle Tour

from RM 88 nett

3

7.30 am

3.5 hrs

Guided Nature Trek to Penang National Park

from 175 nett

4

8.00 am

7.5 hrs

Mangrove Sunset Cruise

RM 220 nett

4

4.00 pm

4 hrs

Balik Pulau Old Trades Tour 

RM 185 nett

2

8.00 am

6 hrs

Balik Pulau Cycling Tour

RM 60 nett

2

3.30 pm

4 hrs

Please Note :

• The seat-in-couch can only be conducted with the minimum number of person/adults required.
• Children aged between 3 – 11 years old
• Pick-up and drop-off service from major hotels except Bayan Lepas or Bayan Baru
• Services of an English Speaking Driver
• Touring by air-conditioned car or van (depending on the group size)
• Admission to attraction where applicable (refer to itinerary)
• Meals provided for the Scenic Night Tour, Breakfast at Local Wet Market Tour,  Orang Utan & Mangrove Forest, The Lost World Of Tambun, Langkawi Geopark Discovery, Pulau Payar Snorkeling Tour
• Car can accommodate up to maximum 4 adult or 2 adult 2 child
• Van can accommodate up to 7 adults
• All meals & admission to attraction for private tours are at your own expense
• Any unused services are non-refundable, non-exchangeable and non-deductible
• 100% cancellation charge applies for no-show or cancellation within 48-hrs

Tour Conditions

Every person participating in the tour organized by the Company is regarded in every respect as carrying his or her risk regarding loss or injury to person or property.  The company accepts no responsibility for losses or expenses incurred due to delay, sickness, weather, strikes, war or other causes.  Such losses and expenses shall be the responsibility of the traveller.
We advise you to wait at least 5 minutes before the stated pick-up time.

**Please Note that there will be a non-refundable handling charge on payment made. Conditions apply.

booking
booking

 

 

Accommodation and Packages to Penang and Surroundings

Accommodation :

George Town ~ within the UNESCO World Heritage Core and Buffer Zones

Boutique Hotel | Eastern & Oriental Hotel | 1881 Chong Tian Hotel | Penaga Hotel | Seven Terraces | Spices@Lumut Lane | The Boutique Residence Hotel | Yeng Keng Hotel |

Heritage Stay | 23 Love Lane | Coffee Atelier | China Tiger | Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion | Cintra Heritage House | Muntri Mews | Segara Ninda (Residence of Ku Din Ku Meh) | Soul Kitchen Residence | Straits Collection | Straits Heritage |

Heritage Inn | Ren i Tang |

Backpackers Budget | Cocoa Mews | Guest Inn Muntri | Ryokan Chic Hostel | Red Inn Heritage Guesthouse | Red Inn Cabana | Reggae Penang Love Lane Hostel | 100 Cintra Street | 75 Travellers Lodge | Hutton Lodge | Olive Spring Hotel | Oriental Guest House | Transfer Lodge |

4 star | Bayview Hotel Georgetown | Cititel Penang |

3 star | Hotel Continental | Hotel Malaysia | An-Nur AnCasa Express |

Budget Motel | Banana Boutique Hotel | Broadway Hostel | Hon Ping Motel | New Asia Heritage Hotel | Oriental Hotel | Towne House Hotel | Chulia Heritage Hotel |

Retreat | Sekeping Victoria |

Guesthouses | Red Inn Court | Retro R by Straits Heritage | Wil House | Kimberley House | Muntri House (guesthouse) |

Georgetown ~ Outside of the UNESCO World Heritage Core and Buffer Zones

Boutique B&B | Chymes | Mango Tree Place | Palanquinn Heritage Suites |

Heritage Stay | Clove Hall | Hotel 1926 | Macalister Mansion | Noordin Mews | Deluxcious Hotel | Heritage Lodge |

5-star | Hotel Royal Penang | Traders Hotel |

4 star | Georgetown City Hotel | Sunway Hotel |

3 star | G Inn | Hotel Grand Continental | Red Rock Hotel | Hotel Sentral George Town | So Hotel, George Town | Super 8 Hotel | Yes Hotel |

Business Hotel | 69 Boutique Hotel | Old Penang Hotel (Penang Times Square) | Grand Paradise Hotel | Heliconia Hotel |

Serviced Apartments | Bobo Vacation Home | Desa Pelangi Condominium | Gurney Residence |

Budget Motel | Goodhope Inn | Paramount Hotel |

Hostel | YMCA | Syok@Chulia St |

Holiday Home Rental | Green House @ Popus | Twelve Inn Boutique Home | Melody Home @ Georgetown |

Guesthouses | 8 Penang Old House Homestay | 12 Penang Old House Homestay | Reflection GuestHouse |

Gurney Drive

5 star | Evergreen Laurel Hotel | Gurney Resort Hotel & Residences | G Hotel | Northam All-Suite |

Budget | Goodhope Inn |

Tanjung Tokong

3 star | Sentral Seaview Hotel |

Budget | Sea Wind Beach Motel | Baan Talay Homestay |

Apartment Rental | Apple Apartment Stay | Brezza Home |

Tanjung Bungah

4 star | Copthorne Orchid Penang | Flamingo By The Sea | Four Points Penang | Rainbow Paradise Beach Resort |

3 star | Tanjung Bungah Beach Hotel |

Boutique B&B | Chymes | Sea Home Boutique |

Batu Feringghi

Boutique Hotel | Lone Pine Hotel |

5 star | Shangri-La Rasa Sayang Resort and Spa | Hard Rock Hotel | Parkroyal Resort |

4 star | The Bayview Beach Resort | Holiday Inn Resort | Hydro Majestic Hotel | Shangri-La's Golden Sands Resort |

Serviced Apartment | Bayu Emas Apartment | Happy BeachPad @ Bayu Emas | Sri Sayang Resort Service Apartment |

Holiday Home Rental | Penang Hills Bungalow 5 | Penang Hills Bungalow 21 | Penang Hills Bungalow 22 |

Resort Villa | Lost Paradise Resort |

Guesthouse | Lazy Boys Guesthouse |

Butterworth

Balik Pulau

Retreat | Malihom Private Estate | Bao Sheng Durian Farm |

Bukit Jambul

5 star | Equatorial Hotel |

4 star | Vistana Hotel |

Bayan Lepas

2 star | Anggerik Lodging Hotel | Hotel Seri Malaysia Penang |

3 star | B Suite | The Krystal Suites |

4 star | Eastin Hotel |

Retreat | Fig Tree Hill Resort |

Pulau Jerejak

4 star | Jerejak Rainforest Resort | Sun Yi Villas |

Pulau Tikus

Holiday Home Rental | Twelve Inn Boutique Home |

Penang Hill

Hotel | Bellevue Hotel |

Sungai Nibong

Serviced Apartment | Century Bay Residences |

2 star | Apple 1 Hotel |

Seberang Jaya

4 star | Sunway Hotel Seberang Jaya |

Bukit Mertajam

2 star | Hotel Palm Inn | Starway Hotel |

4 star | Summit Hotel |

Kepala Batas

2 star | Hotel Seri Malaysia |

Trips & Packages :

Day Trip Packages

| UNESCO Little India & Pinang Peranakan Mansion Walking Tour | UNESCO Heritage Trail & Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion Walking Tour | UNESCO Heritage Trail with Street of Harmony & Historical Enclave Walking Tour | UNESCO George Town Heritage Sites + Traditional Trades + Penang Famous Hawker Food Tour | UNESCO Heritage Trishaw Tour | Breakfast at Local Wet Market Tour | Heritage On A Plate Walking Food Tour |

Trekking Trip | Guided Nature Trek to Penang National Park |

Bird Watching Trip | Penang Hill Bird Watching Trip |

Cooking Classes | Cooking Traditional Food Class with Nazlina in Penang | Cooking Classes with Pearly Kee ~ Penang's Nyonya Cuisine | Tropical Spice Garden with Cooking Class Tour (transportation included) | Tropical Spice Garden with Cooking Class Tour (transportation NOT included) |

Cycling Trip | UNESCO George Town Heritage Cycling Tour | UNESCO George Town Flexible Bicycle Tour | Balik Pulau Old Trades Day Tour | Balik Pulau's Afternoon Cycling Tour |

Penang Day Tours

| Mangrove Sunset Cruise | Round Island Discovery | George Town City Tour | Penang Hill & Kek Lok Si Tour | Scenic Night Tour + Hawker Dinner Tour | Botanical Garden & Butterfly Farm |

Day Tours Outside of Penang

| Bujanga -  The Valley of Dragons | The Lost World Of Tambun with lunch | Langkawi Geo Park Discovery with lunch | Pulau Payar Marine Park - starts from Penang & ends in Penang | Pulau Payar Marine Park - starts from Penang & ends in Langkawi |

Combination Trips

Nature/ Highland/ Island / Culture / Heritage

| 5 Days 4 Nights Kuala Lumpur & Penang - Cooking Class + Food Trip Package | 5 Days 4 Nights Kuala Lumpur Cooking Class + Food Trip Package | 7 Days 6 Nights Peninsular Malaysia Nature & Island Trip | 7 Days 6 Nights Peninsular Malaysia Animals , Nature & Island Trip | 8 Days 7 Nights Kuala Lumpur, Penang & Langkawi Tour Package | 9 Days 8 Nights Peninsular Malaysia Highland, Nature & Island Trip |

 

Malaysia Highlands

Peninsula Malaysia Hills & Mountains

| Cameron Highlands | Bukit Chini | Fraser's Hill | Maxwell Hill | Bukit Jerai | Gunung Tahan | Penang Hill |

Sabah and Sarawak, Borneo Highlands & Mountains

| Mount Kinabalu | Kelabit Highlands (Bario) |

We accept online payment for the following credit cards :