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Relau Pass to Paya Terubong (Yellow trail)

The Relau Pass is located just south of Paya Terubong on the way to both Relau and Balik Pulau. Right at the pass there is a short steep trail leading into the hills westwards. Although there are many trails there is only one way to cross the hills into the Nan Shan area. Here's how to hike it:

Start at the Relau Pass

If you come from George Town, ask the driver to stop at the pass, cross the road and start climbing the path which at first is very steep but it's only for the first few minutes. After that the path climbs more gently. Directly after entering the forest, you'll see an antenna mast with a short trail to the left. Ignore it and follow the main trail.

First junction, go left

The first junction, it's at first unclear to go left or right. The right trail is leveling but leads only into the jungle with no possibility to continue anywhere. So take the left trail. This trail starts climbing and after a few minutes another junction follows, go right. Again another few minutes later there's a 3rd junction and again you have to take the right trail.

View to the Relau Pass

The first glimpses of south east Penang become visible. The trail keeps climbing and within another 10 minutes another junction is reached. The continuing trail leads just over the hill with views to Paya Terubong but will ultimately become a dead end. Should you want to explore this trail, expect to spend about half an hour to go and come back to the junction.

Crucial junction
The crucial junction, continuing is a dead end, so go left.

The trail leads to a farm and further to a small well where farmers tap their water but the forest is too thick to enter (see photo below).

Thick jungle above the Relau Pass

The next 25 minutes on the left trail it gently climbs. Here and there you will get some good views to the Second Penang Bridge. You are now also in more vegetable gardens. Once you have come to the point below at the photo, you have to pay good attention. The continuing trail swindles further for another 15 minutes but ends at a flower farm. From that point on there is no path or jungle trail further.

Vegetable gardens

So you have to go back to this point on the photo above. Just before this point there is a small creek with a stone bridge and a tiny trail which leads uphill through a ginger flower plantation.

Trail through the ginger flower plantation
The trail through the ginger flower plantation.

It's a tricky trail and leads steep up. Follow the trail for a few minutes and stay left, there is a little wooden bridge but climb along the vegetable field. It's a trail of rocks and dirt. Once up there's a cement trail and to your right a blue hut. Pass the hut and the water tank and tiny creek and follow the path up to a 6 way junction which is just 10 minutes further climbing.

Climbing up to the hut
The tricky trail up to the hut.

There is only one way out from here but it is worth to check some of the other trails. From right to left (counting from arrival):

  1. The first trail to the right leads to a small hut and a vegetable and fruit plantation.
  2. The second trail to the right leads in a minute to a larger shelter.
  3. The photo below is made with the second trail to the right and the 3rd trail to the left which will lead down to a 5 way junction with connections to the top of the next hill and a good trail to Air Itam Dam and Balik Pulau, this page. More about this trail later.
  4. The first and second trail to the left lead both to a hill top with a dead end. The plantation is primary flowers but there are some awesome views to both George Town and Bayan Lepas with both Penang bridges to be seen.

6 way junction
Arriving at 6 way junction with views to Paya Terubong, Air Itam and George Town.
This particular point is clearly visible from the main road as it is a hole in the hills.
If you come from Air Itam, look to your right and you'll see the hole in the hill.

The best way to hike up to the top (dead end) is to take the main trail to the left. This trail continues climbing and has the promise of more great views further on at the top of the hill. Indeed you are able to see the Balik Pulau area from the end of the trail but unfortunately I didn't find any continuing trail.

Me at 6 way junction
Me at 6 way junction.

View to Bayan Lepas

So head back and take the first cement trail to the left. It will lead to a hut and further up on a hill top with some spectacular views within a flower garden. It's irritating there's again no continuing trail but it's certainly worth to climb up here.

End of the cement road
End of the cement road, there's no paths further, not even higher
up at the flower plantation.

So you have to walk back to the 6 way junction and continue the only way possible, the path just behind the shelter. This path goes through some forest and ends at the 5 way junction with connections to Balik Pulau and Paya Terubong. Take the right road and walk down to the Chinese Temple, about half an hour away and from there further down to Paya Terubong, the Nan Shan eating stalls where you can get a bus in front of the 7-Eleven.

Back at 5 Way Junction
Back at 5 way junction, left goes to Balik Pulau, main road to the main hill top and Air itam Dam
and to the right, the road leads to Paya Terubong.

The hike should take approximately 3-4 hours depending of course how many breaks you take and how much time you spend in exploring the dead ends.

Doing it reverse.

Some say doing this hike reverse is more difficult. In reality, it's quite doable. Here's how to do it (a slight difference to find the right trail is necessary though).

Critical junction to Paya Terubong
If you come from Balik Pulau, you've come from the right road and have to turn right
here. This is the critical junction for continuing to Paya Terubong.

Start in Balik Pulau and start walking to the Air Itam Dam. Just follow the main road until there is a clear V-junction, go right and climb for the next few minutes to the next junction. The road to Air Itam turns left, for Paya Terubong, continue straight. Follow the wide road until you pass a small artificial waterfall crossing the road. The road turns left and continues steeply up double backing the stream. Pass the stream again until you reach a junction (a minute from when you pass the stream). Take the road to your right and follow this all the way up. At the end of the cement road, you're in the rubber plantation. Once you're at the end of the trail, look for the rubbish dump as on the photo below and start climbing the rubber trail.

The rubbish dump in the forest

Now you have to start climbing all the way up to the pass in front of you by following the rubber trail. Whenever you can climb up to the next level, do that and keep continuing left. Once you're on the highest level, look for iron sticks in the ground which are the border of the rubber plantation and the jungle. These sticks also give way to the last 20 minutes climbing on a clear jungle trail to the first vegetable field in the Nan Shan Hills.

Edge of the rubber plantation
Follow the red iron sticks from rubber into the jungle (or reverse)

Once you reach the vegetable garden, follow the trail down to the first hut and further to the second hut at the 4 way junction. You can walk through the hut and continue going down to Paya Terubong.

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:

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Read more and book your hiking tour.

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or check the hiking and biking pages

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View to Paya Terubong

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Nibbinda Forest Monastery

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