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Kek Lok Si to Penang Hill via Lean Fah Tong temple (red trail)

There is an interesting hike from the Kek Lok Si to Penang Hill to do. This is a different hike as described on my hike to Tiger Hill from which you can access Penang Hill too. This hike stays on the "Air Itam" part of the hills. It starts with the usual point: Kwarn Inn Sahn Pow Yin Sian Psi (P) gate. Hike up towards the Air Itam Dam but instead of continuing all the way, find the junction to the Lean Fah Thong Temple (Thai Seong Loh Kwan). See the map at the end of the page: red trail)

Lean Fah Thong Temple (Thai Seong Loh Kwan)
Lean Fah Thong Temple (Thai Seong Loh Kwan) in the early morning sun, later
this particular day it would pouring down rain.

This is a steep track that starts at a small temple on the way up to the dam. After about 15 minutes climbing you will arrive at the welcoming stone of the Lean Fah Thong Temple. Another 10 minutes further you will enter the temple complex.

Air Itam Dam from high above
The Air Itam dam from high above at the Lean Fah Thong Temple entrance

Turn around just before the entrance gate and have a look at the Air Itam Dam far away and below you.

Lean Fah Thong Temple (Thai Seong Loh Kwan)
Entrance gate of the Lean Fah Thong Temple (Thai Seong Loh Kwan)

The temple is reasonable new and sees not many visitors. Yet, it's nice enough on the way up to Penang Hill. Check the left hall where a Tua Pek Kong takes care of travelers. The sign you look for are the walking sticks.

Lean Fah Thong Temple (Thai Seong Loh Kwan)

There is no direct road up to the connecting road to Penang Hill as described in my page to Tiger Hill using the Old Ridge Path. There is a path behind the temple but it doesn't seem to go anywhere else than just a farm nearby.

Lean Fah Thong Temple (Thai Seong Loh Kwan)
The entrance stone with the path to the temple (right)
and the path to the bridge and dam to the left.

To reach the main road to Penang Hill, you have to go back to the entrance stone. Here a small cement path branches of to a small bridge and a dam (to your left). Follow the trail and stay left (even when you have a tar road branching off to your right). It takes just a few minutes to reach the main trail. Once on it, go right and follow the wider road.

Lean Fah Thong Temple (Thai Seong Loh Kwan)

At some point you will have a very nice view towards the back of the Lean Fah Thong Temple and the Kek Lok Si.

Stay on the main road, there are two junctions to farms on the way before reaching a junction that reads: Middle Way. You've been on and off through cultivated land and forest but now you're about to enter more secondary rainforest proper.

View to Kek Lok Si and Lean Fah Thong Temples
View to Kek Lok Si (right) and Lean Fah Thong Temple (left)

At the "Middle Way" junction, go left and continue climbing for another few minutes until you see a shelter. This is a good place to have some rest before entering the rainforest.

View to Air Itam
You're gaining height quickly. You can see the Kek Lok Si
and Lean Wah Tong to the right and Penang Bridge op top.

Just after the shelter, take a small path to your left as the main path in 100 meters runs dead in a farm field. Follow this trail for a few minutes through the forest until you reach the next farm. Just at the entrance of the farm there is a trail to your right along the fields (left) and forest (right). 2 minutes later you will see an overgrown entrance to the jungle. Once in the forest, everything will be quiet and shady.

Bukit Kerajaan forest
Bukit Kerajaan (government hill), there are many hills in Penang with this name
so it's probably just an announcement and not the name.

Follow this trail, it's overall in good condition but there are a few points where you have to climb fallen trees. It's 30-35 minutes to the next junction which reads "Tiger Hill and Dam", to your left. This is the entry to the Old Ridge Path. Take the junction to your right.

Bukit Kerajaan forest
The T-junction after passing the Tiger Hill-Dam sign. Going left leads straight up
to the Summit Road, going right swindles around the hill in front of you and
will ultimately lead you to Moniot Road and St. Brelades.

15-20 minutes later you will arrive again at a junction. The path crosses a stream and you can go either left or right. The path to the left is wide and open and for the most flat. It will take about 15 minutes to reach the Summit Road. From there it's another 45 minutes to Penang Hill (right) and Tiger Hill, 15 minutes (left).

Almost at the Summit Road to Penang Hill
The last 50 meters climbing up to the Summit Road

If you want to stay longer in the forest, go right. This trail goes up and down a few times, never too steep but at times it might be difficult with fallen trees and at the end of the trail a broken bridge. After the broken bridge it's another few minutes before the trail joins Moniot Road. Go left to St. Brelades and Summit Road. Penang Hill is 20 minutes easy walk away (Tiger Hill another 40 minutes, left). From the junction to the back of Mon Sejour and St. Brelades takes 70 to 80 minutes.

St Brelades

Should you consider doing the trail the opposite way, follow the sign to St. Brelades on the Summit Road. After St. Brelades the road goes steeply down. After 3 minutes you will find the trail to your right. Once on the trail, you will pass a broken bridge after which you arrive behind Mon Sejour. Just 20 meters after arriving at the farm field, there's a pond to your right. Ignore it and find the trail back just after the pond, it leads away from Mon Sejour back in the forest.

Mon Sejour
Mon Sejour from the back

Follow this path which leads mostly flat with here and there a little climb towards the only junction. Continuing straight it will look lighter, it's the Summit Road. Take the small path which leads shortly up to your left to the Tiger Hill and Dam junction which is 20 minutes away.

Time schedule to expect:

  • Kek Lok Si - Lean Fah Tong: 45 minutes
  • Lean Fah Tong - Middle Way Junction: 40 minutes
  • Middle Way Junction - Tiger Hill Junction: 45-50 minutes
  • Tiger Hill Junction - Summit Road: 30 minutes (Penang Hill, 45 minutes)
  • Summit Road (St Brelades) - Tiger Hill Junction: 55-60 minutes (Penang Hill-St. Brelades, 15-20 minutes)
  • Tiger Hill Junction - Kek Lok Si: 60 minutes

Schedule is not to be taken exact.

Bukit Kerajaan

At Penang Hill you can decide to take the funicular train back to Air Itam or continue to Crag Hotel, 84 and 5 and Moongate (Botanical Gardens and Youth Park). Another option is to hike further to Tiger Hill and hike the opposite way as describe here. This is only an option if you make an early start.

Hiking from Air Itam to Tiger Hill and Penang Hill

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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 Off The Grid

This hike doesn't take too long, about 3.5 to 4 hours but it's seriously challenging. Check out why.

Air Itam Dam Off The Grid

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:

5 Way Junction to Balik Pulau

Kek Lok Si to Old Ridge Path via rain gauges 28 & 29

This is a very challenging trail with a 2 hour climb to rain gauge 29, the highest point in this trail (almost as high as Penang Hill). The trail goes through secondary rainforest on very good paths.

Kek Lok Si to Old Ridge Path via rain gauges 28 & 29

Rain Gauge 29

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