The Nan Shan Hills (Yellow/Brown trail)
There are several hikes to do in the Nan Shan Hills. This trail used to be a good on going trail but it's no longer everywhere that easy to find. That said, with a little effort, you can easy do this hike (end of the page info about how to do it reverse). Here's how is goes:
If you come from George Town, take the 502 bus to Balik Pulau. One km after the junction Relau-Balik Pulau (this is after Paya Terubong), ask the driver to stop at the junction to your right. Coming from George Town this junction is not easy visible but there is a small temple on the left side of the road and a sign board with warnings.
The wide road goes to a farm house and than gets smaller. It leads slowly up to more farms. There's here and there a view to Bayan Lepas and Relau, even to the 2nd Penang Bridge. After about 15 minutes, you will cross a small stream and the path leads sharply up to your left side and goes to a farm. Pass the farm and continue on the main trail. 15 minutes later there's the first junction.
The left trail leads to a hill top. The farmers will tell you there's no continuation possible but at the very end of the trail, you can continue downwards because there's a forest track. Should you follow this track to your left, it will connect to a pool with sandbags on your right from where you can find your way down to the Nibbinda Forest Monastery and Balik Pulau Market (see this page for details). Should you want to explore the continuing trail. it's the old ridge path, nowadays no longer in active use and heavy overgrown. This trail leads eventually to the Anjung Indah top and the Thai Restaurant.
For the trail described on this page, take the right cement trail on the main track. This will lead to a small farmers hut. Pass it and just a minute later you're in the forest following a small stream. The path soon turns slightly to the right and leaves the stream.
On the way there are some minor junctions. Stay on the main trail and keep climbing so don't go too much to the right. The trail eventually comes at the top where there's a water basin and a couple of water tanks. This is a 4 way junction, 2 tracks leads back to the hills you just had to your right, so continue on the trail straight on.
A little further you're on a T-junction. The trail to your right leads to Paya Terubong and joins the "purple" trail. The trail to the left leads to a small farmers hut with another 4 way junction. Just before the hut is a trail to the left which leads back from where you came from. Behind the hut the trail splits.
The left trail (on the other side of the valley) has an opportunity to go to Balik Pulau via a very overgrown trail trail at first and later a short and sharp descent into a durian plantation from where you join a cement trail down to Balik Pulau.
The right trail leads within a few minutes to a large farmers hut. From here you have a nice view towards the TV Towers above the Cheng Kon Sze temple and the Nan Shan Hills top. To your left there's a hill that separates Paya Terubong from the Air Itam Dam-Balik Pulau road (Jalan Balik Pulau).
At first the farmer I spoke with told me there's no continuing trail but later he acknowledged that when he was a kid there was a trail. One of his workers confirmed it. So I took the small trail along his farm field that lead back in the forest. 10 minutes later I was in an rubber plantation and there were many trails perpendicular to the one I was on.
Follow the trail and descent whenever you can. On the way you will find blue barrels for water storage. Follow either the rubber trails or take shortcuts. It might take about an half an hour or so before you find a rubbish dump. Coming from above, turn right and descent to the cement path. You can follow it all the way down to enter the main Balik Pulau-Air Itam Dam road or, take the first cement trail to your right and continue following that trail.
This trail will lead ultimately to a farm and a wider road but I suggest to ignore the wider road and take the small cement trail down. The trail will pass a few huts and farms before ending at the Balik Pulau-Air Itam Dam road.
The hike should take approximately 3-4 hours depending of course how many breaks you take.
Doing it reverse, Balik Pulau to the Nan Shan Hills
You can easily do this trail reverse. Start in Balik Pulau and take the road to Air Itam Dam. Once at the first main junction turn right and a few minutes at the next junction continue straight. Follow the road further up by follow the sound of water. On the way you will pass a bridge with a constructed waterfall. The road turns right to a hut and than left steep up.
When the main road turns right, continue straight on the smaller cement trail (see below). After 4 minutes you will pass a junction with a path to your right, ignore it. The trail turns slightly left to a junction with 2 huts and a cement path which leads into the hills.
Follow the cement path all the way to the end (ignore the junctions) and keep climbing. The cement path will end after about 15 minutes climbing. Make sure you keep the water on your left. At the end of the path, turn right and start climbing towards the rubber plantation. In a few minutes you should see a rubbish dump.
Now look up, you will see all rubber trees uphill. Take a rubber trail and make sure you keep climbing to your left. On the way there are shortcuts, which are useful. Make also sure you keep having the hill on the other side of the valley on your left hand while climbing.
After some time you will see blue plastic barrels for water collection on the hill slope. You can climb through a steep "shortcut" trail to the highest barrel, there should be 4 of them.
Once you reach the last blue barrel, turn left and continue following the slope. If it turns out you come too high, you will enter the fern area around the top of the hill on a very clear path. This is tricky as you can easily walk around the hill and turn in the wrong direction and come back to one of the blue barrels!
So stay on the highest trail where there are no ferns but just rubber trees. The trail will continue into forest area where the path levels. After about 20 minutes (about 90 minutes after you started at the 2 huts), you will walk out of the forest into the Nan Shan Hills. Continue to the farmer shelter and turn right and follow the path down to Paya Terubong.
From Balik Pulau to the exit of the forest and entry to Nan Shan Hills should take about 2 1/2 to 3 hours.
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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:
Balik Pulau, Ngoh Han Hill Temple, Cheng Kon Sze and Paya Terubong
This is a challenging hike of 5-6 hours through orchards, farms, secondary rainforest and back via the United Hokkien cemeteries to Paya Terubong. It's a beautiful hike!.
Paya Terubong to Anjung Indah
Anjung Indah is the pass out of Balik Pulau. There's an awesome trail to hike from Paya Terubong using the Old Ridge Path to Anjung Indah.
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.
Paya Terubong to Balik Pulau
This is another alternative trail to hike from the Nan Shan Eating Stalls to Balik Pulau.
Relau Pass to Paya Terubong
It starts at the Relau Pass and leads through vegetable and flower gardens to a short steep hike up towards the Nan Shan Hills and from there to Paya Terubong. It's a nice track.
Anjung Indah to Nan Shan Hills and Nibbinda Forest
A cool and very doable hike which starts at Anjung Indah, following the ridge trail to the Nan Shan Hills and back via a second ridge to the Nibbinda Forest and Balik Pulau
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
There are several ways to hike from Paya Terubong to Balik Pulau, even with different starting points. Links below all show how to hike in between Paya Terubong and Balik Pulau:
Nibbinda Forest Monastery to Paya Terubong via Ridge path
This is a very interesting and very doable trail which leads from the monastery to the water basin and into the hills to the Nan Shan Hills from where you have several options to continue incl. Paya Terubong