Despite an unbeatable and fantastic panoramic view over the island, I felt like Penang Hill was a mere rural version of Victoria Peak and its famous Peak Tram. I couldn’t stop comparing the two attractions.
I arrived at Penang Hill on a very overcast day; the same day I also experienced the amazing Kek Lok Si Temple (but by then it had brightened up a lot). Nevertheless, I was excited to take the tram ride up to the top of Penang Hill, as a friend of mine had done this very touristy attraction the previous year and recommend it to me, and usually his judgement is sound. Penang Hill is actually a hill resort with many mountainous peaks on Pulau Penang, and is situated around 3 miles from the backpacker mecca of Georgetown. Many residents live on the Hill, and the area is also home to many species of animal, such as macaques and wild boar, though fortunately I did not see any of them – they must have been sheltering from the weather! This is usually something you don’t have to worry about over in Hong Kong (well, apart from during Typhoon Season)!
The funicular Penang Hill Railway, which reminded me a lot of the Hong Kong Peak Tram which leads up to the Roof of Hong Kong, is the principle way of ascending to the summit. It is a 25 minute journey to the top and I was disheartened to have to pay RM30 for the return fare, whereas Malaysians only had to pay about RM4. I hate this kind of touristic discrimination against nationality. Anyway, by around 11am, I was at the summit, and I must confess that the tram was packed like sardines, so I was very glad to finally get out and peruse around outside at the summit.
As well as the small café and souvenir shop at the summit, the views from Penang Hill were to die for, and perhaps are worth the time and effort to get up there just for these views alone. However, for those of us who have experienced the magnificent Victoria Peak over in Hong Kong, then I think Penang Hill will be something a bittersweet affair, as it just seems a bit…bland. There is just so much more to do at Victoria Peak.