Cycling around Penang: Around the Island (full day)
Cycling around Penang is a full day's bike ride of about 70 km. You will be roughly 5 hours on the bike but have plenty of time for stops. I recommend early, say 9AM from George Town. If you can, start even earlier, to take advantage of the cooler morning.
Take your bike on the way to Batu Ferringhi. Try to avoid rush hour so leave after 9AM. This is an on going road and traffic can be a little busy. The road is slightly rolling but never difficult. Batu Ferringhi is about 15 km from George Town.
At this time of the day, there's not a lot to see, so keep pedaling to Teluk Bahang. On the way you will pass the Tropical Spice Garden.
Teluk Bahang has two major attractions to visit: the Pinang National Park and the Butterfly Farm. Although I strongly recommend these both attractions, I also recommend them to visit as a full day trip.
Have a coffee at the local market, it's an interesting place where you can see locals doing their daily shopping. Continue to the Teluk Bahang Dam, which has nice views over the reservoir towards the national park and the Andaman Sea.
Don't be afraid the first 200 meters to the dam, it's a steep little climb but after that, it's a nice moderate rolling road for about 4 km.
With very little traffic and shades from the surrounding jungle this is a terrific road to cycle. On the way you will pass several places of interest.
The first is the Titi Kerawang waterfall. It's a busy place during the weekends with local tourist coming for a picnic. During the weekdays it's quiet. There are some fruit stalls with bananas, durian, nutmeg and other local fruits.
Further on the way you will find a little Nyonya restaurant. I would recommend a stop here to taste the local produced nutmeg juice.
The last attraction on the road before entering the Balik Pulau area is the Tropical Fruit Farm. Have another break if you like. It's a cool place to hang out for some time.
The descending to Balik Pulau starts with a moderate swindling road down.
Once at the lowlands, there are two ways to reach Balik Pulau town center. You can continue on the main road (#6) or take the junction P16 at Air Putih. Earlier junctions are dead end roads to small fishing villages.
The P16 is a straight forward long road passing several local villages. It's the more quiet road than road #6. It also let you skip Balik Pulau town (for now) and visit Pasir Panjiang (popularly known as Pulau Betong).
Continue on the P16 (it will turn into the P237) until you reach a T-junction and turn right. Follow this road for about 4 km until you reach the end. This is Pasir Panjiang (Pulau Betong) beach. On the way you have some fine views to Pulau Betong, the island.
There are no stalls or restaurants at the beach so make sure you have water and food with you.
Continue back to Balik Pulau by staying on the same road but pass the junction P237. The road will lead you directly into Balik Pulau.
Balik Pulau is a relatively small town, see my Balik Pulau page on my Pangkor website. There's not a whole lot to see in town but I recommend to have a bowl of laksa in one of the 2 famous laksa restaurants in town. They are located next and opposite of the central market and open for breakfast and lunch.
There are two ways to continue. You can cycle the old road, #6 to Teluk Kumbar and Bayan Lepas. Most of the old road has been replaced by a new highway. It's still a very quiet and easy road to cycle.
Teluk Kumbar has plenty of good and cheap seafood restaurants and a pleasant beach. To find my favorite restaurant, once in teluk Kumbar, take the junction P225 (Jalan Gertak Sanggul). Cycle until you see on your left hand a sign for a Thai restaurant (it's behind the old bus station. You can have lunch or early dinner before you cycle the last 18 km back to George Town.
This is not a pleasant road to cycle. At first road #6 is fine and wide but once passing the airport it can get really busy. There is however at this point no real alternative although you can follow the direction to Batu Maung and from here along the coast cycle further to George Town (road #3113). This road ends at Queensbay Mall. Basically you have to continue on the highway back to George Town.
Should you want to avoid the highway, stay on road #6, a busy on going road that leads along the airport back to George Town via Bayan Lepas and Jelutong.
Regardless, both highway and old road are unpleasant cycling.
The alternative is to take the road back to George Town/Air Itam. This is a very good 2 lanes highway which swindles up to the highest point with a restaurant named: "End of the World". From here you have some fine views over Balik Pulau. It's a 5 km climb, never too steep or too difficult but the road is also reasonable busy.
Once at the top, have a rest and enjoy the view towards the Balik Pulau area. There are restaurants and fruit stalls (seasonal) plus a toilet.
Going down is easy. The first 3.5 km is wide open roads. After 3.5 km you will reach a T-junction. Here you have the choice to follow directions to Air Itam (left) and George Town (right).
The road to the left start climbing again for another kilometer (first part is quite steep) but descents into Paya Terubong and Air Itam. From here you can follow directions through the urban area back to George Town, another 6 km.
Alternative you take the road to the right at the junction. This road leads all the way down to Bandar Baru from where you have to take the old road to George Town. Personally I find the descending pleasant but the continuing road into George Town very unpleasant.
Depending how many stops you make, expect 5-6 hours cycling.
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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:
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.
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.