Hiking Penang National Park in Malaysia

Canopy Walk in Penang, MalaysiaPenang is an island off the northern coast of Malaysia.  I went there to obtain a 60-day Thai visa, which was a worthy excuse to stay a few days longer.  The island is awash with multiculturalism because of its location as a strategic point during the days of spice trading.  Residents are of Indian, Chinese and Malay ancestry and it is possible to visit a Buddhist Temple, Hindu Temple, mosque and Christian church on foot within 30 minutes.

I had read in the tourist map that Penang National Park, a large forest preserve on the fringe of the ocean,  was a gorgeous hiking spot, so I decided to give it a whirl.  Getting there was much easier than I expected.

The infrastructure and public transportation in Malaysia is much better than that of Thailand;  I hopped on a sparkling clean, modern- looking bus that swooped me up from right in front of my guest house and dropped me off an hour later 50 meters from the park entrance.

I was told, by a female park ranger wearing a burka, that admission was free, but that I  would have to pay 5 Ringets (approximately  $1.75 ), if I wanted to stroll among the trees in the rainforest canopy walk. I did, so I shelled out the cash, grabbed a remarkably well-illustrated trail map and entered the park.

Because of the delicate, creamy pallor of my skin, I had come prepared with 45-proof sun block—strong enough to protect a baby’s bottom in the Sahara—but to my delight almost all of the trails were under the dense rainforest canopy.

However, that did little to prepare my from the crushing heat.  At 10:30 a.m., the temperature was already in the low-nineties.  The humidity felt like it had to be a minimum of 80% percent and within ten minutes my shirt was so drenched with sweat that I could ring water from it.  I tore it off and put it in my bag.  Yes, it’s generally a poor idea to trek topless through foreign rainforest, but when the heat is so oppressive that you feel like you’re locked in a moving sauna, your options are limited.

Despite the weather, the park’s landscape was stunning.  The well-maintained trails weaved down the coastline, abutting the crystal-clear water.  Every so often, there would be a break in the foliage where one could take in the majesty of the ocean, the jaw-dropping cliffs and, in the distance, view the skyline of downtown Penang.

Hiking in Penang, Malaysia

In addition, at regular intervals, small side trails would lead off on to the beach.  One of my favorites was a foot path that lead to a rope swing, where I enjoyed the breeze while watching fisherman in tiny skiffs collect their lines.

Penang Park has six well-established trail destinations,  most of them are either scenic vistas or beaches, though there is also one lake. They range in length from a half-hour to two hours and if I had allotted more time for my trip—and I should have—I would have likely trekked to Monkey Beach, which is apparently a very groovy place to swim, fish, camp and do whatever else one pleases.

But, I only had about two and half hours total, so I walked to a place that was inexplicably called “CMC point.”  It was a golden, sandy beach where one could sit in the shade on a pack of boulders and stare out at the water.  It was nice, but it was freakishly hot, and I found myself quickly desiring the canopy’s shade.

Although there are numerous stairs, bridges and other features built into the trails at Penang, there are still some tricky parts where a twisted ankle could easily occur.  However, I was pleasantly surprised to find that in one particularly difficult section, a rope had been stretched between two boulders that could be used as a sort of primitive guide rail to help hikers stay upright.

On my way out of the park, I took a slight detour to check out the canopy walk.  If you never been on a canopy walk before, it typically consists of a rope ladder stretched between trees with some wood planks inside.  The first time you walk on one, it’s insanely scary, but it loses its edge pretty quickly.

Frankly, the canopy walk in Penang was pretty underwhelming, but for two bucks and five minutes of your time, it’s worth it.  From there, it was only ten minutes back to the front of the park.  It was now around 1:30 p.m. and my body was soaked in perspiration, but the coolness of the ocean breeze had somewhat mitigated the fierceness of the heat.

However, the moment I left the canopy, I was blinded by the tropical sun and scurried toward the bus station for cover.  It is hot in Southern Louisiana in the summer, there’s no doubt about that, but the heat in Southeast Asia is a completely different animal and a brutal one.

Nevertheless, Penang Park is a much do if you happen to be in the area.  In addition to hiking trails, it also has a number of primitive camping sites, just in case your sweat lodge at home is malfunctioning.

This entry was posted in hiking. Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post. Comments are closed, but you can leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

6 Comments

  1. Posted April 9, 2013 at 10:40 pm | Permalink

    I’ve been surfing online more than 3 hours today, yet I never found any interesting article like yours. It is pretty worth enough for me. In my view, if all webmasters and bloggers made good content as you did, the web will be much more useful than ever before.

  2. Posted May 14, 2013 at 4:19 am | Permalink

    Wonderfull !Thanks for sharing your experience.

  3. Posted October 4, 2013 at 8:45 pm | Permalink

    This post is actually helpful. I’m able to override author’, email’ and url’ default settings, but I am not able to override comment_field’, it is getting duplicated, i.e. the default textarea is also appearing with my custom comment textarea. Any help would be appreciated.

  4. Posted January 6, 2014 at 4:19 am | Permalink

    What’s up colleagues, its great post about teachingand
    fully explained, keep it up all the time.

  5. Posted July 26, 2014 at 6:55 am | Permalink

    Often times we do not even know that our customers are unhappy because only 2% will tell you.
    If I see an item that I think is too nice to pass up, I will ask about future reductions, and I
    time the full price purchase within the window that I can get an adjustment, usually 14-30 days post
    initial purchase. Target a Point of Interest “” It is also possible to
    target specific points of interest with your geo-targeted ads,
    such as an airport or major attraction.

  6. Posted March 29, 2015 at 12:48 am | Permalink

    Fantastic adventure, sometime you can try to Mount Semeru Trekking