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The Anjung Indah - Nan Shan Hills - Nibbinda loop
(Blue trail north - Pink trail south)

If you are looking for a forest walk that is as remote as you can get it in Penang, this is the one to explore. The trail overlaps quite a bit of hikes elsewhere described. Take the 502 bus from either the city center of Balik Pulau to Anjung Indah. Here you can have a nice view of the Balik Pulau area before you enter the forest.

View to Balik Pulau from Anjung Indah

Take the steep slop up to the restaurant and continue along the restaurant and pass the living quarters for the staff. Just after the huts climb up the grass field to your right. Follow the hill at the higher point, the grass field will turn around the hill until you enter the forest. A minute later you will find a water collection point for the restaurant. Signs by the Penang Throttle Adventure Club (PTAC) will guide you.

Forest entry

The path leads into the Bukit Relau Forest Reserve. The trail is quite clear but in any case, you should be able to follow the PTAC sign papers. The path slowly starts climbing but is never difficult. You won't be able to walk very fast as there are many obstructions like fallen trees and thick vegetation where you have to take care to stay on the path.

Bukit Relau Forest Reserve

After about 20 minutes the PTAC sign papers turn right and continue steeply down, basically towards The Hill. This is not what we want this time. The trail to the right with the sign papers is very clear but you have to turn left. There are a couple of fallen trees that hinder your view. Climb over the tree and you will see the ridge path continuing.

Crucial junction in Bukit Relau Forest Reserve
Crucial junction. Here the PTAC papers want you to turn right, instead, you should
go around the big tree, get over a huge log and continue on the ridge.

Keep in mind you have to stay at all times on the ridge. Should you for whatever reason turn away f rom the ridge, try to climb back where you find the small trail. I've had this several times, especially coming from the other side, so I speak from experience.

Once the trail starts climbing again the forest gets thicker but the trail stays on the ridge. If you continue without making any sidetracks, you should be able to reach the last hilltop in about 45 minutes. The hilltop is clearly marked by a huge tree crossing the trail. From this point on the trail turns slightly left and starts descending.

Bukit Relau Forest Reserve

This is again a tricky point. About a minute from the hilltop you will reach a junction. It's an easy to miss one but remember this: at the junction the continuing path starts to descend steeply in the valley below and lead ultimately (about 10 minutes) to a pool and a dam. You can follow the stream back to Balik Pulau but it's a hell of a hike without much of a path to lead you.

So turn onto the path to your right and follow the clear trail for another 5 minutes. You'll see to your right the hills on the other side of the valley. You have arrived at the Nan Shan Hills.

The last hilltop
The last hill, from here on it's a minute or 2 down to a junction
which leads to the Nan Shan Hills exit

Once you exit the forest you have several options.

  1. Continue to Paya Terubong by going left and follow the trail all the way down to Paya Terubong.
  2. Continue to the Relau Pass by going left and follow the trail to the 6 way junction.
  3. Continue to the Balik Pulau connecting road by going left and follow the trail to the hut further down and turn right, turn into the forest and walk down to the Balik Pulau connecting road Jalan Tun Sardon.
  4. Continue to Balik Pulau via the connecting Air Itam Dam-Balik Pulau road by continuing to 6 way junction, turn left and find the trail back to the other side of the hills.

A much nice option in my opinion is to turn back to Balik Pulau using the ridge path to the Nibbinda Forest Monastery.

The water tanks at Nan Shan Hills
The water containers on the Nan Shan Hills.

When you exit the forest turn left until you reach the cleared land area, a minute away and start climbing the hill towards the water tanks on top of the hill. Here you have a nice view in Bayan Lepas direction (south) and the Nan Shan Hills (north). Continue down to the main track. To your right there's a farm hut but the track goes back into the forest.

Top of the hill
Top of the hill, the left trail comes from Nan Shan Hills, the right trail continues
steep down to an area with scrub and cut forest, impossible to pass.

Almost immediately after entering the forest there's a large tree across the path. Climb over it and continue until you see a clear path to your left (about 2 minutes walking). The path starts with a couple of steps made into the hill side.

Climb up to the hilltop which takes no more than a few minutes.

On the ridge to Nibbinda Forest Monastery
On the ridge to Nibbinda Forest Monastery.

Once at the top, you have the continuing path right in front of you. Follow it but in case of doubt, stay on the ridge as much as possible. There are a few junctions which all lead steep downwards.

Within 15 minutes you should reach a cleared land area with a sign board of Bukit Relau Forest Reserve 1911.

Bukit Relau Forest Monastery signboard

Follow the forest edge to the other side until you see the trail descending. You have 2 choices. The first one is to descend here to a clear path below the field. If you follow this path you will eventually reach the Balik Pulau-Air Itam Dam connecting road not far from the Nibbinda Forest Monastery entry point.

More challenging is to find your way through the forest and rubber plantation.

The marker stone
The marker stone

It starts with the marker stone. This is the forest entry point. A minute after entering the forest you come at a rubber plantation. Now there are several ways to continue. First you have to realize where you are:

  1. To your right there's the ridge path
  2. In front of you there's a hill and you will want to continue to the other side of it where you find the Nibbinda Forest Monastery.
  3. To your left downwards there's a stream as described here.

You can take either way. I've done all 3. None is very straightforward but also none is too difficult.

The trail after the marker stone
Trail after the marker stone. At this point you can turn right and find the ridge path
or continue further down using the rubber trails to the other side of the valley.

Walk the ridge

If you think the ridge is your choice, once back in the forest, take the first trail to your right. Most likely it will quickly end in an obstruction but you should be able to continue a little further down (remember, this is a rubber plantation). You might have to do this 2 or 3 times before you come back to the ridge. Follow the ridge to the hilltop.

To the other hill by using the valley

In a way this is the easiest thing to do. Just continue down until you reach the bottom of the valley and turn right. Once you can cross the valley bottom, follow the rubber trails back up. Again, this is a little trial and error.

Water reservoir

Going to the stream

Should you decide to go to the stream and from there back to either Balik Pulau or the forest edge trail to the water reservoir and Nibbinda Forest Monastery, continue descending with the ridge in your right eye corner. In other words, as long as you continue down and left but not too far, you should be OK.

From the hilltop to Nibbinda Forest Monastery

Once you are on the last hilltop either by using the valley or the ridge path, you have to descend. This is relatively easy, especially the first part as this is a clear path. In a moment you're in the rubber plantation. From here on you simply have to continue down by using the next available moment to go down to the next level of the rubber trails.

A swim in the water reservoir
Cooling off in the water reservoir.

You have to do this several times before you can see the water reservoir through the trees. Regardless which trail you take, it shouldn't take more than 15-20 minutes from the landmark stone to the water reservoir.

From the water reservoir to Nibbinda Forest Monastery is an easy 5 minute walk.

The Nibbinda Forest Monastery
First house of the Nibbinda Forest Monastery, take the steps to
the house and find the trail 20 meters below it.

Three trails to Balik Pulau

There are three ways to continue to Balik Pulau.

  1. When you arrive at the stupa, follow the cement trail to your right and continue going down steeply until the road merges with the main tar road leading down to the Balik Pulau-Air Itam Dam road.
  2. Walk around the stupa towards the monastery and follow the road down to the Balik Pulau-Air Itam Dam road.
  3. This is a little more challenging. Use the steps to the first house to the left (photo right) of the stupa. Below the house is a clear trail leading down to a small bridge, turn right at the bridge and continue this way to Balik Pulau market.
    Should you choose this, when at the house descend along the cement to a lower level of grass field, turn right and after a couple of meters left and you'll see the trail. It's only 2 minutes from the house to the path.

Nibbinda Loop, Nan Shan Hills, Paya Terubong, Anjung Indah Map

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Special Hiking Tours in Penang

Join us on our special hiking tours in Penang. We will bring you around in the jungle of the Botanical Gardens. Our tours include:

  • Botanical Gardens: Lily Pond - Waterfall
  • Moongate - Hikers Resting Spot #5 - Youth Park
  • Trails to Crag Hotel and Penang Hill

Read more and book your hiking tour.

Hiking in Penang around Botanical Gardens

or check the hiking and biking pages

Balik Pulau, Ngoh Han Hill Temple, Cheng Kon Sze and Paya Terubong

This is a challenging hike of 5-6 hours through orchards, farms, secondary rainforest and back via the United Hokkien cemeteries to Paya Terubong. It's a beautiful hike!.

Balik Pulau, Ngoh Han Hill Temple, Cheng Kon Sze and Paya Terubong

View to Paya Terubong

The Anjung Indah Loop

The loop starts and finishes at the top of the pass on the road to Balik Pulau. It's a cool trail with at parts some serious challenges.

The Anjung Indah Loop

Anjung Indag to the southern Relau Pass

An intestering though not too easy walk, especially when in the forest from Anjung Indah to the Southern Relau Pass.

Bukit Relau Forest Reserve

Paya Terubong to Balik Pulau

There are several ways to hike from Paya Terubong to Balik Pulau, even with different starting points. Links below all show how to hike in between Paya Terubong and Balik Pulau:

Crossing into the Nan Shan Hills

The trail leads through farmland into the forest continuing into the Nan Shan Hills before it turns again into the forest and rubber plantation before joining the main road to Balik Pulau.

Crossing into the Nan Shan Hills

Air Itam Dam to Balik Pulau

This is an interesting option. The trail can easily be cycled and hiked. You'll pass beautiful tropical rainforest and cultivated areas with fruit farms, a wonderful day out in the heart of Penang with an option to visit the Ngoh Han Hill Temple with spectacular views to Balik Pulau.

View to Balik Pulau from the Ngoh Han Temple

Air Itam Dam to Balik Pulau

Cheng Kon Sze (Ching Ji Chan)

The Cheng Kon Sze temple as is, is already a good reason to hike or bike up. However, the trails are worth exploring too.

Take the bike and cycle steep up or go on foot from the main road and hike all the way to Air Itam Dam. You will have a very enjoyable hike or bike adventure.

Cheng Kon Sze

Relau Pass to Paya Terubong

It starts at the Relau Pass and leads through vegetable and flower gardens to a short steep hike up towards the Nan Shan Hills and from there to Paya Terubong. It's a nice track.

Relau Pass to Paya Terubong