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Botanical Gardens Trails


The Botanical Gardens trails are some of the most popular hiking options for the people of Penang. I've already explained one of the more popular trails in this area: Moongate to 84 and further to the Moniot Road. This page will tell you about the trails around the gardens itself. However, these trails can easily be extended to for example 84 to Moongate (reverse) or even to Penang Hill.

Botanical Gardens cascades in the hills

That said, you will find these trails interesting enough to spend some quality time to explore. So where do we start? There are two starting points: the entrance gate of the gardens and the entry into the forest to climb Mount Olivia (more about this later).

Lily Pond - Pearl Hill - Cascades - Steps

The base of all trails around the gardens is the trail that starts at the Lily Pond. To reach the pond, start at the entrance gate and walk for about 10 minutes on the Lower Circular Road. You will pass the Orchid House. There's a sign board to the Lily Pond, 3 minutes walk.

Start of the trail when walking in the forest behind the Lily Pond Climbing steep up using ropes
Left: Mushrooms at the start of the trail at Lily pond
Right: Using the ropes to climb to the top of the hill

To start the hike, walk to the end of the pond on the right side. Search for a small path that leads steep up the hill. You may have to look a little bit and pass through the covering vegetation which separates the pond from the path. The path leads first up and then goes down to a little stream (just a minute from the pond) to your left before it starts climbing, first slow but further it becomes steep.

There are ropes to help you climb up and you will need them. The trail is quite easy to follow, just keep walking and climbing with the ropes. The climb to a junction takes about 20-25 minutes depending on your stamina.

Stay on the trail (the path to your right leads to Mount Olivia). There is a marker which tells you the direction to Lily Pond and Mount Erskine. From here on it's another few minutes until the path joins a clear trail. There are a few signboards here. One says 18, another says Lily pond and points (big blue arrow) back to where you came from. There is also a marker to 84.

Marker 18 in the hills around the Botanical Gardens

The path to your right leads to Mount Erskine and the market. Go left, this path is at first leveling but after about 15 minutes it starts slowly climbing. This path is also in use by mountain bikers who start their trail at the market at the foot of Mount Erskine but you won't see many of them. In fact, you will be lucky to see anyone here at all..

At one point there is a good view of Tanjung Bungah (if the weather is clear enough you can see the Malaysian mainland).

View to Tanjung Bungah

Spectacular view to Tanjung Bungah with Gunung Jerai in the back

You will pass Pearl Hill and start climbing to a view point of the Botanical Gardens and further to Komtar and (clear weather) Butterworth.

Another 10 minutes slowly climbing leads to a junction. There are a few small marker boards. Continuing on the path will lead to the abandoned Crag Hotel and Penang Hill and ultimately to Western Hill. Unless your desire is to hike another few hours, do not go this way. Continue to the left and start descending.

Around Pearl Hill
Low hanging clouds in the early morning give the forest a total different look.

After several minutes you will pass a rain gauge to your left. A bit further the path is almost totally overgrown but you will be able to pass.

Another minute further you will see a bridge and hear water streaming. It means it is time to refresh yourself. Just before the bridge you can climb down a few boulders and refresh yourself at a small cascade waterfall. Make sure you do not leave anything here. This is water win area!

Junction back to Botanical Gardens
Junction: straight goes to Crag Hotel, Penang Hill and Western Hill
left leads back to the Botanical Gardens

Back at the bridge, just follow the path for another 5 minutes. To your right you will see some steps which lead up to Point 46. Skip this and continue another minute or 2 on the flat path until you see steps going down. There are 1251 (counted myself) which lead back into the Botanical Gardens. Once down at the steps go right and follow the Upper Circular Road back to the Gardens entrance gate.

The bridge near the cascade waterfall Near the cascade waterfall

This trail should take you about 2 hours walking. Bring at least 1 liter water, you will need it.

Alternatives and extensions

An alternative to start this hike includes a climb to Mount Olivia. This is a little used trail and it requires you to pay some serious attention to where you exactly walk. Instead of starting at the entrance gate, look for a small bridge opposite of the Moongate. Cross the bridge and you will see a forest path leading into the jungle. It goes slowly up. After about 10 minutes, you may have some trouble to see the path clear but as you can neither go left or right, just look for a narrow opening. After this the path is clear.

Top of Mount Olivia

You might be lucky to see little paper markers from the Penang Hash Runners leading your further but in reality, you just follow the main trail until you come at a junction (about 20-25 minutes from the starting point). The path to your right leads to Mount Erskine, so choose left and keep climbing. There are a few branches off this path but all will lead your to the top of Mount Olivia (unfortunately no interesting views here).

From here the path goes slowly down until you reach the Mount Erskine-Western Hill connecting path. Go left and you reach within 10 minutes or so #18. What you have missed in excitement of rope climbing from the Lily Pond, is compensated in quality time in the forest. The total extra time is about 45 minutes.

The trail to Pearl Hill The trail to Pearl Hill
The trail to Pearl Hill

Follow the trail as described above until you see the steps to 46 (15 minutes). This can be a moment to decide if you want to extend your walk with a hike further to 46. From 46 you can either use the summit road to go back to the Gardens or continue to 84 and hike back via (if you want) Bukit Cendana and resting place 5 to go back to either Moongate or the Youth Park.

Another alternative is to walk in the gardens to the Penang Water Authority reservoir (you're not allowed to visit the large waterfall without authorisation). Just after the reservoir, there is an unmarked path that leads first gently, than later quite steep up to Pearl Hill. Further on the path there are a few ropes that helps you climbing. Once at the highest point there's a marker, follow direction to 46 and join the main trail.

Trails at the Botanical Gardens

Map is taken and modified from: Nature Trails of Penang Island,
Malaysian Nature Society, Penang Branch, Currently Out of Print.

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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


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.

Hiking to Tiger Hill and Penang Hill


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 Temple with spectacular views to Balik Pulau.

View to Balik Pulau from the Ngoh Han Temple

Air Itam Dam to Balik Pulau


An easy walk to Penang Hill

A very nice and relatively easy walk leads from the Penang Hill funicular railway stationto 84 from where you have several options to reach Penang Hill.

Easy walk to Penang Hill


The hike to Crag Hotel and Penang Hill

A very good hike from the Botanical Gardens via the trail to Western Hill to the abandoned Crag Hotel. Thbis trail leads through some beautiful secondary and untouched rainforest.

Hiking to Crag Hotel


Moongate to 84

The partly steep hike to 84 from the Botanical Gardens' Moongate is surely a trail you wan to explore. Here's why:

Moongate to 84


Moongate to #5 and Youth Park

This 2 hours hike which is popular with the locals. It's not too difficult but makes you sweat plentiful.

Both the trails to and from #5 are scenic regardless which path you choose. Here's what you can expect:

Moongate to #5

Moongate to #5 and Youth Park