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The hike to Crag Hotel and Penang Hill


There are many trails leading to Penang Hill but the one via Crag Hotel is certainly one of the more challenging ones. The start of the trail is the Botanical Gardens.

Crag Hotel in 2013

Goal of the day: the long abandoned Crag Hotel in 2013

Take the Upper Circular Road and follow it for about 10 minutes until you reach a little bridge. Look just after the bridge to your left for a path with steps that lead steep up. Follow the steps until the path levels (about 20-30 minutes depending on your stamina) and follow it further (skip the junction to 46).

Wild mushroom growing after the rain
The first part of the hike: the steps up to the cascading waterfall

You will reach a small stone bridge and after you will start climbing through at first denser vegetation to the T junction. Going right leads to Mount Erskine, Mount Olivia and the Lily Pond (see my Botanical Gardens Trails page).

Hiking to Crag Hotel

There are markers at the junction. Going left leads ultimately to Western Hill but we won't go that far. We will follow the path which keeps climbing, for the most it's not very steep except a few points. On the way there are a few places with some views towards Tanjung Bungah.

The first rain gauge #3 appears after 15-20 minutes. Although you are on a top with little vegetation, there are hardly views from here.

Hiking to Crag Hotel Hiking to Crag Hotel

Another 10-15 minutes further climbing through the forest lead to rain gauge #4. You will climb further to the top of this hill with a junction to the Teik Quarry (and markers to rain gauges #3 and #9). The path now drops a little bit until the last 100 meter or so before rain gauge #9.

Fortunately there is a marker at this rain gauge otherwise you might not even see the path leading to the Crag Hotel. The fern is completely overgrowing the paths in this area. Few people come here.

Rain cauge at the junction to Crag Hotel
Rain gauge #9

At first it leads moderately down but soon it starts descending steeply into a valley. The further you descend into the valley the clearer the sound of water becomes. Unfortunately it's an underground stream. Keep a close watch on the path as it seems to appear and disappear.

Once you are at the bottom of the valley you have to climb over a boulder while the water is here very loud. Take a short break, eat a bit, have a drink because you will need your energy for the next challenge: the steep climb up to Crag Hotel.

Hiking Crag Hotel just before the last climb
Primary rainforest just before the climb to Crag Hotel

The path will continue passing more boulders. One particular large boulder might confuse you. The path seems to swindle left (including a blue marker that seem to want you passing that way) around the boulder where there is a huge tree blocking the path. It seems you have to climb on the tree and balance to the path higher up. Do NOT do this. It's dangerous (with the valley on your left) but it is also unnecessary as there is an overgrown path to the right of the boulder which passes the dangerous zon without problems.

Here the almost vertical climb starts. You can see the light and the green ferns high above you but it's still another 30-40 minutes away.

Hiking Crag Hotel just before the last climb
Just before the last steep climb up to Crag Hotel

The biggest disappointment might be when you reach the lighter area and stand surrounding with ferns but .... Crag Hotel is still another 10 minutes walk up.

You will arrive at the perimeter of Crag Hotel. It looks as if you can't enter the compound from here. You can go either left or right (I didn't see a path going directly in) towards the entry bridge of the hotel (I think going left is the easier and shorter path).

Hiking Crag Hotel Hiking Crag Hotel
Almost at Crag Hotel

At the bridge there might be some dogs, but they make more noise than they are dangerous. Walk up to the now completely overgrown entry gate (wood) and visit the hotel. It's certainly worth to do this.

The trail is about 7km and it will take you 4-5 hours to hike to Crag Hotel plus another hour back to the Gardens (4.7km) or 20 minutes to Penang Hill to take the funicular train to Air Itam.

You will have to bring at least 3 liters of water and some food. I think this is one of the great hikes in this area of the Botanical Gardens and Penang Hill.

Crag Hotel

The Crag Hotel

The hotel is long abandoned for visitors to stay. The hotel, in its glory days home to upmarket colonial visitors is nowadays slowly decaying in time. I've visited twice and it still amazes me no one seems to see the beauty of the place. The hotel is build on a hill top with spectacular views in almost every direction.

Building of the Crag Hotel

If you walk up to the main building, sit on the veranda, you can still breath some of the atmosphere it once had. Close you eyes and imagine the British, French and Dutch colonial visitors walking around enjoying the now completely overgrown gardens with lush flowers sipping tea. There is nothing left of all this but with some imagination you can still feel what it once must have been.

View from Crag Hotel

You will have views towards Penang Bridge, Straits Quay, Western Hill and Bukit Laksamana

Map of the huike to Crag Hotel

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


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


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


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


Botanical Gardens Trails

There are several trails to explore around the Botanical Gardens and they are not to be missed. Why? They're challenging and offer some beautiful forest life. You might be lucky to see snakes, monitor lizards, plenty of monkeys and black squirrels.

Botanical Gardens Trails


Kek Lok Si to Penang Hill

An attractive and challenging hike of about 4 hours including a visit to the Lean Wah Tong temple.

Bukit Kerajaan

Kek Lok Si to Lean Wah Tong and Penang Hill