Balik Pulau - Ngoh Han Hill Temple - Cheng Kon Sze - Paya Terubong
This hike starts in Balik Pulau and takes approximately 5-6 hours. It's a varied hike through both orchards and secondary jungle with some excellent views to Balik Pulau and George Town.
Take the 502 bus in George Town to Balik Pulau (RM 3.40) and get off at the Balik Pulau bus station where our hike starts. Buses 401 and 401E also go to Balik Pulau but take considerable more time.
From the bus station, walk along the market to the houses. At the end of the road (200 meters or so), there's a dirt road. At the end of the dirt road, turn right. This is the main old road connecting Balik Pulau and Air Itam. After 20 minutes you will reach a junction with the notification "private property" and "no entrance". Ignore the sign and walk up until you see the road turning right. There will be some car tires on the road. Now you have to take the cement trail to your left. Follow this trail, it will lead steep up. There are several junctions including one with a small bridge but stay on the main path.
You may find further the path blocked by a chain but you can ignore this. After about 25 minutes you will leave the orchard and hike steep up through the jungle. Once back in another orchard (mainly durian and rambutan), you will find a junction. If you take the left, follow the trail until you almost reach the highest point. At the moment the trail moves away from the highest point, climb up to rubber tree trail and follow it to the next cement road. It's just 25 meters away.
If you take the right road, follow this straight on. After 10 minutes you will reach a 4 way junction, keep straight until the trail starts descending. At that moment, look for the rubber trail and climb up to the highest point where you will find the cement road.
Follow the cement road upwards to the Ngoh Han Hill temple. Here you can enjoy a spectacular view to Balik Pulau and Pulau Betong. You can refill your water bottles before taking the main asphalt road away from the temple (there is only one). It's mostly down with a few parts where you climb. The road eventually merges with the Air Itam-Balik Pulau connecting road. Take a rest at the shelter.
At the shelter, follow the road towards Balik Pulau (downwards). Almost immediately you will see a path to your left. Follow it for about 5 minutes until you reach a junction and turn left (going straight leads to a farm). Should you meet any farmers telling you it's a dead end, ignore this.
Once turned left, walk a few minutes until you find another junction with a proper concrete road that leads steep up. There's a shelter with farming materials too. It's a short but steep climb to the end of this road. (photo left below)
Now to your right there is a steep overgrown path which after several minutes levels. You're on the property of the farm below you. To your left you will see some secondary rainforest and to your right a hill slope with recent planted vegetables.
Follow the path (the greens on the left of the photo above) and take a look back towards Balik Pulau (first photo of this page). a truly spectacular view. After a few minutes you will reach a piece of burned forest to your left and directly after that, you will see a path to your left and a yellow board with the sign you have reached Bukit Penara.
Directly after the yellow board there's a junction. The path to your right will continue into the jungle for another 10-15 minutes before you come back on agricultural land. The trail will further lead into farm land and comes evetually back to the shelter on the Balik Pulau - Air Itam road. I have not been able to figure out if there was another way to reach for example the TV towers which are right above you.
Continue into the jungle. Follow the path that leads through the jungle for about 10 minutes until you reach the concrete road which connects Air Itam Dam (30 minutes steeply down) and the TV Towers.
You can walk to the towers, about 15 minutes away but there's not a whole lot to see. Instead, opposite of where you exit the forest there is a sign for the Cheng Jee Chan (Cheng Kon Sze). The concrete path lead to some steps and levels once you see the rock temple just above the Cheng Kon Sze temple which, once at the rock temple, you can see below. At the rock temple you might have already a glimpse of Paya Terubong.
From the rock temple, there's a staircase down (5-8 minutes) to the Cheng Kon Sze main temple.
The temple is more than 100 years old and certainly worth a visit. It's unlikely you will see visitors others than the usual people who hang out here. This might include a man in his 70's wearing no more than shorts who every day brings up a load of materials from the Kek Lok Si. You might be invited to drink some tea but you're not allowed to make photos inside the temple (more about the temple including photos of the Nine Emperor Gods festival here).
My photos of inside the temple were made during the Nine Emperor Gods festival, the only days the temple is really busy with worshippers. It is also the time when the beautiful 100 years old bronze lamp will be displayed.
Refresh yourself here before you go down to Paya Terubong.
From the temple, take the stairs to a smaller temple and eventually the exit gate on the road (to your left it will lead to the Kek Lok Si, to your right, it will be a dead end to farms although there used to be a connecting trail which is supposedly now closed by a Buddhist monastery, I didn't find any connecting trail).
Once at this road, the stairs continue opposite of you. The steps are partly worn out but easy to follow. It takes about 40 minutes to reach the main road. Once going down, just follow the steps, there are several junctions, ignore them. The exit is next to the United Hokkien cemetery with the bus stop almost next to you. There are several buses which can bring you back to George Town. The Shell petrol station has a small shop for refreshments.
The time is approximately
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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:
Hiking to Tiger Hill and Penang Hill
This is a reasonable popular hiking trail in the hills. The trek takes about 3-4 hours to Tiger Hill and another to Penang Hill.
5 Way Junction to Balik Pulau
This is, if you can't find the right trail, a very crazy trail. Take the right trail and it takes 3 hours, the wrong trail takes almost double. Here's the story:
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.
Paya Terubong to Balik Pulau
Hiking the Nan Shan Hills from Paya Terubong to Balik Pulau
3 to 4 hours hike across the Nan Shan Hills 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.
The Nibbinda Loop
An interesting 3 hours hike steep up to the Nibbinda Forest Monastery and further through the Bukit Relau Forest Reserve back to Balik Pulau.