HIKING Malaysia

Penang park – 2-day hike near George Town, Malaysia

Penang National park is the smallest National park in Malaysia, 2300 hectares nevertheless it’s size it’s worth of visit. The entrance is free, you can do a day visit or spend couple of days there, camping and doing longer hikes. We spent two days in the park, camped one night at Turtle beach. The park is nice; jungle and beaches, with some animals and many birds. The routes are very clear and easy to follow thou there are some very steep ups and downs on longer routs. The main problem is the heat, it gets very hot. Inside the park you can’t buy anything (only at Monkey beach but expensive), so it’s crucial to bring enough water, specially if you plan to camp.

Likes. First of all, beautiful nature, many birds and animals. Second, free entrance, free camping, all places of interest inside are free.

Dislikes. Very hot and many mosquitoes at night. 

How to get to Penang park from George Town?

It’s located 15km from Georgetown, easy to get by public transport. Bus №101, leaves every 10-15 min. from the bus terminal. If you have time Penang park hiking can be a nice alternative to bustling Georgetown city.

What can you see in Penang National park?

Many monkeys, turtles (in Turtle sanctuary), squirrels, otters, rats (watch your food), lizards (small and big), different snakes, tons of birds, bats etc. At Monkey beach fishermen catch everyday a lot of fish and shrimps, we were told you they give them away almost for free every night.

Trails in the park, easy to follow. Penang park hiking.
Trails in the park, easy to follow. Penang park hiking.

Places of interest in Penang National park

For us, big hiking lovers, a visit to the park was one of the best things to do in Penang.

  • Turtle sanctuary.
  • Meromictic lake.
  • Canopy (was closed when we were there, costs 5 Ringgit).
  • Monkey beach.
  • Light house.

Penang park map 

Penang park hiking itinerary

Day 1. Park entrance – Turtle beach, 6 hours

Georgetown – Penang National park, by bus, 1 hour. Entrance – Meromictic lake – Pantai Kerachut (Turtle beach) – Kem Seraya – Bukit Batuhitam – Pantai Kerachut, 6 hours

In the morning we took bus №101 from the bus terminal, it leaves every 20 min. and costs 4 Ringgit. Important! You don’t get change on buses so have to pay exact. Bus journey takes about an hour, you get off at last stop, right in front of the park entrance. Then you register, get a map and start the hike. If you want to camp tell about it at the registration, they will give you a different map.

Turtle beach. Penang park hiking.
Turtle beach. Penang park hiking.

First part of the hike to Turtle beach is not very steep or difficult, it took us about 1 hour. You can’t swim here due to waves, currents and many jelly fish in the water.

Turtle sanctuary

Once at the beach we went to check the Turtle sanctuary. It was established to protect turtles and increase their population in the wild. Baby turtles are kept in the sanctuary till they reach certain age when they have more chances to survive in the wild. Once turtles reach the age they are to be released in the open water. The Green turtle lays its eggs from April to August. While the Olive Ridley turtle lays its eggs from September to February. Basically you can see baby turtles at the sanctuary all year round.

Baby turtles at Turtle sanctuary, Penang park hiking.
Baby turtles at Turtle sanctuary, Penang park hiking.

After visiting the sanctuary we continued our walk towards the faraway camping where we were planning to spend a night. The walk was quite tiring, 350m up to the next campsite Kem Serya, on the way we drank almost all our water and hoped to find a river, creek or just a tap in the camping. We had purifying tablets and needed just some water source. After about an hour up we finally arrived at the camping and found it completely abandoned. It had everything, platforms for tents, showers, toilets and a kitchen but no running water.

Abandoned Kem Seraya camping. Penang park hiking.
Abandoned Kem Seraya camping. Penang park hiking.

We kept walking to the next camping Bukit Batuhitam, which was about an hour away with very little water left. The path to the camping looked abandoned and after hitting one more 200m up we decided to turn around and go back to Turtle beach. The walk back took us about 1,5 hours, most of the way very steep downhill.

Camping at Turtle beach

Except for us there was a group of locals (7 persons), not many people thou it was Saturday. The camping is free, has cold showers, toilets, basins, tables and benches. For cooking you can make a fire inside the kitchen area. Don’t leave your food unattended during the night we saw some rats around. We tied our food bag to the ladder. There are many mosquitoes use repellent or they will eat you alive.

Campbell making coffee at Turtle beach camping
Campbell making coffee at Turtle beach camping

Day 2. Turtle beach – Light house – Exit, 5 hours.

2nd day. Turtle beach – Teluk Duyung (Monkey beach) – Light house – Entrance, 5 hours

Next morning we woke up quite late and started walking around 10am. The earlier you start the better, it gets very hot in the afternoon. The path goes along the coastline with some hills and bridges, some work out for the day.

We reached Monkey beach in two hours and finally could chill down swimming in the water. Monkey beach is the only one you are allowed to swim at. Be careful its name doesn’t come from nothing, there are many monkeys around. Don’t even think to feed them! We were almost attacked by some because of our rubbish bag that was attached to one of the backpacks. Monkeys desperately wanted it! Watch your belongings.

This monkey with a baby tried very hard to steal our rubbish bag
This monkey with a baby tried very hard to steal our rubbish bag

You can camp at Monkey beach as well (5 Ringgit). It’s more touristy and busy with more island vibe than Turtle beach. The only one place in the park where you can buy food and drinks.

Finally swimming on Monkey beach! The water is very warm.
Finally swimming on Monkey beach! The water is very warm.

From Monkey beach we went to Muka Head light house, about 30 min. walk, all the way up till you reach the top. It’s opened from 9am till 3pm, you can go inside, it’s free, the view from the top is spectacular.

Muka Head light house, Penang park
Muka Head light house, Penang park

After the light house there was only one way to go, back. All the way to the exit took 1,5 hours, on the way we saw two snakes, one big lizard and many naughty monkeys.

Getting back to George Town

To catch a bus back to Georgetown keep in mind that not all buses go to the park entrance, you have more options if you walk 800m along the road to the bus stop near the gas station.

What will you need for the hike?

Tent, sleeping pad, trekking shoes, sunscreen, mosquito repellent, towel, torch, food and water for all the time you are planning to spend in the park, purifying tablets or filters solve water issue. We used gas stove for cooking but you can just bring ready food.

I love swinging! There are many swings at Monkey beach. Penang park hiking.
I love swinging! There are many swings at Monkey beach. Penang park hiking.

It was our first multi day hiking in South East Asia and not the last one. More adventures are coming soon.


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