You’ve visited Penang and you are done with exploring George Town, checking out street art, visiting its heritage sites, and gorging yourself silly on Penang food, what next? One of the best things you have to experience when in Penang is nature. Located in the north-western part of Penang Island is Taman Negara Teluk Bahang – more commonly known as Penang National Park – Malaysia’s smallest nature reserve.
With an area of 1,213 hectares, Penang National Park is a coastal-forested area with wetlands, mangroves, mudflats, turtle nesting beaches, and even the only Meromictic Lake in Peninsular Malaysia, giving you the diversity of flora and fauna to explore. Set aside a day and experience nature in Penang!
Entry & Opening Hours
Penang National Park is free for all visitors to enter, you do need to register your information at the entrance. However, if you are planning to go on the canopy walk, then there is a fee of RM5 for adults and RM3 for children.
The park opens daily from 8 am to 5 pm, so plan your trip in advance and remember to allocate sufficient time to avoid rushing through your day.
Hiking Trails to Explore
From the entrance of the National Park, there are several trails that you can choose from to start your trek.
The easiest trail is to take the right fork from the entrance and head towards Monkey Beach and Muka Head Lighthouse. This route is considered the easiest as the terrain is mostly flat and follows the coastline, with some trekking in the jungle. It takes about 1 to 2 hours (one way, depending on your pace) to walk to Monkey Beach. Take a breather here or continue on the extended trail to Muka Head Lighthouse – Malaysia’s second-oldest lighthouse that was built in 1883 – for another 30 minutes (one way) and climb the spiral staircase up for views of Penang and the canopy.
Alternatively, start from the entrance but take a left and head into the jungle towards Turtle Beach (Pantai Kerachut). This trail is a similar distance but has steeper uphill climbs, which makes it a little more challenging with the elevation change. The trek to Turtle Beach will take you about an hour, and from there, make your way to Teluk Kampi, a lovely secluded beach that would be worth the effort of a grueling 15-minute (of a 45-minute trail) uphill climb.
If your plan is to hike through Penang National Park, there are other trails including an 11km trail loop, but be sure to do your research and go on one that is suitable to your fitness level!
If you are travelling with young kids or the elderly, or just prefer to avoid a hike but would still like to visit some of the beaches within the national park, the best way is to hire a boat transfer from the park’s office. Prices differ depending on the beach you plan to head to so make sure you discuss with the boatmen in advance.
Sights to see in Penang National Park
Bird watchers and photography enthusiasts can spot migratory birds at the national park from the months of September to April like the Fork-tailed Swift and Arctic Warbler. Year-round, you’ll also be able to find the largest concentration of White-bellied Sea eagle in the world here, alongside other resident birds like the Stork-billed Kingfisher.
Two species of marine turtles come by Pantai Kerachut to lay their eggs and the Turtle Conservation Center has a hatchery and rehabilitation center that helps in the protection and conservation of these turtles. From April to August, green turtles will come by to nest, while Olive-Ridley turtles will come by from September to February. The conservation center is open to the public daily for visits where you can learn more about the local conservation activities.
Another place within the National Park you should visit is the Meromictic Lake, a rare natural phenomenon where seawater and freshwater are collected but not mixed, because of their different densities. This unique lake is one of 5 found in Asia. It’s important to note that the lake might not be filled and visible due to the wet and dry seasons in Penang.
Where to Stay
If you plan to spend time in nature this trip to Penang, Batu Ferringhi is a recommended area for you to base yourself. Just a 10-minute drive to Penang Nature Park, it is also close to Teluk Bahang, nature’s playzone. For families, spend a day at Escape, Penang’s largest eco-friendly theme park for some family fun, or simply spend time and make the best of your vacation in Penang.
Have a Rockin' stay at Hard Rock Hotel PenangVisit hotel website