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Penang Hill (Bukit Bendera) is located in the area of Air Itam, which is about 6km distance from the city. It was formerly named as Flagstaff Hill after a flagpole signal transmitter at Bel Retiro, the home of the Governor of Penang in older days.
Standing 823meters above sea level with average temperature of 20-27 degree, this hill was founded by Francis Light during his horse track in year 1788. Full development on the hill only began later on in the 19th century when the British colonials started to construct private bungalows due to the cool temperature uphill.
A total of about $1.5 Million was spent in the project of the Swiss-made funicular railway transportation in order to make the hill easily accessible. This Penang Hill Railway was constructed in the year of 1897 and it is one of the oldest funicular systems in the world. The Funicular train could accommodate maximum of 80 passengers in one ride that takes about 30 minutes to uphill of 710 meters above sea level. The length of the railway track is about 2007 meters. Near the ticketing counter at the foot of the hill, visitors may also find a gallery of photos and historical objects to know more about the Penang Hill.
The only remaining hotel on the hill is the Bellevue Hotel, which has a beautiful Aviary Garden where tourists can spot pea fowls, crowned pigeons pheasants, macaws, parrots, hornbills and Bali mynahs. Besides, there are an extensive collection of art displays by local and regional artists throughout the hotel.
Another interesting attraction about Penang Hill is the Mosque and Indian Temple which was constructed next to each other, which truly represents the harmony despite difference in Malaysia. There is also a bird sanctuary at the Bellevue Hotel grounds that is worth visiting.
Various leisure activities can be carried out on the Penang Hill, to name a few, jungle trekking, canopy walking, flora and fauna experiencing. The Canopy Walk is a 220-meter walkway supported by soaring tree trunks, about 30 meters high in the air. Be prepared to be amazed at the scenery around while you are walking here.
Among the fauna that can be spotted within the forest on the hill includes squirrels, monkeys, wild boars, flying lemurs, civets and bats. The forest has been kept undisturbed as possible to allow the most natural appreciation experience to the tourists. While types of fascinating plants available uphill include Exorhopalia Ruficeps, Hazel Maingaya Malayana, parasitic plant and others.
Looking at all these attractions, it’s no wonder that the Penang Hill is a must-visit destination while you are on the island of Penang.