The International Steam Pages

Penang's Top Ten Walks - Paya Terubong to Balik Pulau

This is one of my 'Top Ten Walks' in Penang, click here for the full list. This is a Grade 2 walk. There is a sketch map at the bottom showing the route followed.

This is a summary of the original report which appears elsewhere on these pages - Garden in the Sky Revisited, part of a series of pages on walking the hills of Penang, click here for the index.

Please visit my Penang buses page for information on accessing the starting point.

This trail starts from the Nanshan eating place in Paya Terubong - take a 502, 201 or 202 bus, the 502 being by far the best option as it is the most direct service. The concrete path climbs from the left side of Jalan Orental 6 opposite through vegetable gardens, it lacks shade so make sure you have a hat for this one. This is an unusual Seven Brothers shrine on the climb decorated for Chinese New Year. Further up there are views back towards George Town.

The road levels out as you reach the Tua Pek Kong temple, this looks up towards where you will be walking (along the contour path about žs up but not along the road shown lower down).

Follow the road to the right behind the temple, at each of the next three junctions you should take the left fork, which will lead on to a trail that loops around and follows the contours before heading up a small valley with a stream on the right - although only a single concrete track it is wide enough for trucks. The first view is looking south-east and the second one north-east - the required road is immediately behind the temple.

This will bring you to a six way junction. Reading in a clockwise direction facing in the direction of approach:

  • First path left is assumed to go up to more vegetable gardens and is unlikely to offer a through route as the hill they are on is isolated.
  • The second path left is the one we have followed which has got us to Balik Pulau previously although we would not recommend it.
  • The third and fourth paths are dead ends.
  • The fifth path (to your right) leads uphill to a higher vegetable area, roughly in the direction of Bukit Penara, take this one!

At the top of the first rise is yet another collecting shed and ahead lie the masts atop Bukit Penara.

Continue to the next junction at the water tanks. Turn left and head towards the ginger covered hill opposite.

Follow the path through them and climb up to the ridge, do NOT take the small path on the right which leads only to more vegetable gardens before the forested area on Bukit Penara. From the small shed at the top, a good path leads north-west and over the trees you can see Bukit Elvira. The path turns back to concrete and starts to descend, mind the bee hives!

After just one junction with another path running down you will come to a house with several dogs - no problem if the lady is at home! From here on down the road is wide enough for 4 wheeled vehicles which means it is significantly less steep for the most part. Along the way is an extraordinary unfinished house on concrete stilts, it appeared to have been an attempted rebuilding of an earlier structure. 

This is the view looking down to Balik Pulau and Pulau Betong.

Ahead you will see some Areca palms and will join the well known Air Itam to Balik Pulau Road.

Follow the well graded road down to Balik Pulau (it's still quite a way!). From there after some refreshment you can take the 502 bus over the hill to Komtar or the infrequent 501 bus to Teluk Bahang - check the bus guide for the times.

Nanshan Highlands


 ____ = Concrete Road

 ____ = Path

 ____ = Easy 'Off piste'

 ____ = Seriously 'Off piste'

(Not all paths are shown, there are many more
which are seasonal or just go to houses.)

Click here for information on the maps.

Rob and Yuehong Dickinson