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Paya Terubong to Balik Pulau (hike or bike)(Purple trail)


There is an interesting hike possible from Paya Terubong to Balik Pulau with some awesome views 360 degrees over the island at its highest point. If you are stationed in George Town, take the 502, 201 or 202 bus and get off at the Nan Shan eating stalls in Paya Terubong. For the cyclist there is excellent news. This trail is good to do on bicycle providing you have a mountain bike. Some of the road is steep but certainly doable)

Top of the hike from Paya Terubong to Balik Pulau
View to the 2nd Penang Bridge from the top of the Nan Shan Hills

The trail start next to the 7-Eleven shop where you walk towards the hills and almost immediately take the junction to your left. This is a 4-wheel drive road leading up to the vegetable farms. This trail will not cross into any jungle area, but it doesn't mean it's all very easy. Be however prepared for many views to George Town and Paya Terubong in the first hour or so.

Start of the walk, keep following the main road.
Start of the walk, keep following the main road.

After 10 minutes there's a small shrine dedicated to "7 brothers". Further on the way up, stay on the main road, junctions, even though some look proper will lead to farms. In about 35-40 minutes you will a Tua Pek Kong temple (Nan Shan Da Bo Gong.) This is a small temple with just before the temple a smaller road continuing into the farm fields. The continuing road leads to the right and continues in half a circle further up.

7 Brothers Shrine

On the way up, almost from the beginning, there are views to the Paya Terubong flats which easily make it the worst photo to make in Penang. Further up, views to the congested George Town, Paya Terubong and Bayan Lepas start to appear. Once you complete half the circle after the temple, you will have also much better views to the airport and the Second Penang Bridge.

Ugliest place in Penang

Once you have passed half the circle after the temple, there's a small junction with a trail leading steep up and a path to the left that goes more gradual. Follow this. Soon this path, the left half is paved, the right half is not start again to climb. You will reach now a small valley where the trail levels.

Top of the hike from Paya Terubong to Balik Pulau

Ignore the junction to your left and continue (stay on the paved road which now is a bit wider) until you find a small shrine at the junction of the trail to your far left. The left trail lead with care to the Relau Pass. The second and third trail will ultimately lead to Balik Pulau through the jungle and rubber/durian plantations.

Continue on the main road which now turns sharply right and steep up. To your left you will see two blue roofed farm shelters. Remember this, as later you will pass these two shelters later on.

Take the left path
Take the left trail, it will soon start ascending again

It takes about 15 minutes to reach the top of this hill where flowers and white eggplant grows. Here you have an amazing view towards George Town and Butterworth with Kulim Hill in the far back, the First and Second Penang Bridge and to the south west glimpses of Balik Pulau and further a clear view to Pulau Betong island. To the north you will see both the TV towers which tower over the Cheng Kon Sze temple. I can't see how there is a possibility to hike from here to the towers as there is a valley with secondary jungle in between the hill and the hill with the TV towers.

Top of the hike: TV Towers of Air Itam 
Hoover your mouse over the photos to get a better view

Top of the hike: view to Balik Pulau & Pulau Betong Flower gardens The pass to the Balik Pulau valley  
The pass to the Balik Pulau Valley View from the top to the pass into the Balik Pulau Valley Junction to the Pass/top of Nan Shan Hills

Continue to Balik Pulau is easy. Descent until the first junction right (if you come from above). This is a small farmers trail which descents into a ginger flower plantation. Once on the trail, it takes 5 minutes to reach the first blue roofed hut. The trail turns right and climbs steep up with the TV towers right in front of you.

Direction Air Itam Pass

For Balik Pulau, continue on the main trail. There is a sign of No Admittance, but you can ignore that. The path continues further down to the connecting Balik Pulau-Air Itam Dam road. From the top to this point is about 20 minutes steeply down.

Direction Air Itam Pass

A few minutes walk through the forest lead to the other side of the hill and a small farmers hut at a T-junction (photo below). If you continue straight and further down, it will lead to the Air Itam Dam-Balik Pulau pass from where you can further descent to the Air Itam Dam and Air Itam/Kek Lok Si. It's about 20 minutes stiff descending.

Exit to the Air Itam Dam-Balik Pulau Road
Exit to the Air Itam Dam-Balik Pulau Road. Turn left and descend in about 40-50
minutes back to Balik Pulau. Alternative, turn right and start climbing to the pass
(about 10-15 minutes and walk from there back to Air Itam Dam.

More challenging is to take the trail a minute after the hut in the above photo to your left. 3 minutes later you will find the end of the cement trail. Innitially there was a small overgrown path visible at the end of the path but recently the area below has been cleared. What you have to do is to continue as far on the overgrown path which is a few minutes from where you left the main cement path.

Trail ends, drop down 10 meter to a new trail

You will see a cement trail a bit further at a lower level. You can work your way to the cleared area and from there join the cement trail.

Once you're on this trail, you will find a maze of trails on your way. It's a little try and error but for the most, keep the trail that continues straight and which levels. On occassions you will go descending as long as you stay on the main (read wider) cement trail. The main trail will also at a few places sharply but short ascend but will also continue slowly down.

Mostly abanonded path

Keep an eye on the hill slopes on the other side of the valley of Bukit Elvira and make sure you continue out of the valley towards Balik Pulau. At one moment the road widens on a 4 way junction. The trail left obviously leads up in the hills to another farm field. The continuing road leads sharply down to a farm.

Turn left away from the wider road on the small farmer cement trail
Turn left away from the wider road on the small farmer cement trail.

The second path to your right leads to a water tank. Next to the water tank there's a small trail heading down which leads back to the wide road you just skipped to your far right. The wide road now turns into a small cement trail. Follow this trail which drops down in 20 minutes to the Balik Pulau-Air Itam Dam connecting road. From there it's just another 20 minutes to the Balik Pulau bus station where you can board the 502, 401 and 401E bus back to George Town.

Last 20 minutes going down

  • The hike should take approximately 4 hours depending of course how many breaks you take.

Nibbinda Loop Map

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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


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!.

Balik Pulau, Ngoh Han Hill Temple, Cheng Kon Sze and Paya Terubong

View to Paya Terubong


Paya Terubong to Balik Pulau

This is another alternative trail to hike from the Nan Shan Eating Stalls to Balik Pulau.

Paya Terubong to Balik Pulau


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.

The Nibbinda Loop

Nibbinda Forest Monastery


The Anjung Indah Loop

The loop starts and finishes at the top of the pass on the road to Balik Pulau. It's a cool trail with at parts some serious challenges.

The Anjung Indah Loop


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:


Crossing into the Nan Shan Hills

The trail leads through farmland into the forest continuing into the Nan Shan Hills before it turns again into the forest and rubber plantation before joining the main road to Balik Pulau.

Crossing into the Nan Shan Hills


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

Nibbinda Forest Monastery to Paya Terubong via Ridge path


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


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.

Cheng Kon Sze


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.

Paya Terubong to Anjung Indah


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.

Relau Pass to Paya Terubong

Balik Pulau to Air Putih

A less explored area in the Balik Pulau area leads from the bus station/market via the Catholic Cemetery to Air Putih with some sidetrack excursions possible. This trail can be done on foot or bicycle.

Balik Pulau to Air Putih


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

Anjung Indah to Nan Shan Hills and Nibbinda Forest Monastery