Penang National Park

Penang National Park or Taman Negara Penang (Malay) may be Malaysia’s smallest national park at only 23 sq km! But it is not without its treasures!

The forested park sits close to the coast and is teaming with all sorts of tropical wildlife. Like silvered leaf monkeys, monitor lizards and many species of birds!

Hike through Penang National Park to reach the beautiful coast or take a scenic boat trip. A visit to Penang National Park is definitely one of the best nature-related things to do in Penang!

Table of Contents:

Penang National Park Map

Don’t underestimate this park even though it’s small!

Penang National Park Entrance Fee

It’s free for all visitors to enter Penang National Park. You only need to register at the entrance!

Note: Entrance is no longer free. It’s RM10 for locals, and RM50 for foreigners. And payment is in cash so make sure you have enough on you.

Entrance To Penang National Park In Teluk Bahang
Entrance To Penang National Park In Teluk Bahang – Photo by Travelswithsun

This is via a QR code that will direct you to a short Google form. The information they require is your departure date, IC number (if Malaysian), intended destination as well as activities, and number of people in your group.

However, there is a small fee for the canopy walkway – RM5 for adults and RM3 for children.

Penang National Park Office Opening Hours

The park is open for most of the day when it is still bright. But always allocate more time than you think you will need to avoid having to rush through the park!

The earliest that you can start your hike is around 8am.

Teluk Bahang Jetty At Sunrise
Teluk Bahang Jetty At Sunrise – Photo by Travelswithsun

Penang National Park Hiking Trails

There are three routes to go trekking in Penang National Park starting from the entrance:

You can take the right fork to head to Monkey Beach and Muka Head Lighthouse.

Or you can go left to see the turtle sanctuary at Pantai Keracut, Teluk Kampi, and further on to Bukit Batu Itam!

If you start early, have great fitness as well as a tolerance to high heat and humidity, you may be able to see everything in one day.

Route 1 – Penang National Park Office – Pantai Teluk Aling – Monkey Beach – Muka Head Lighthouse

Route 1 - Penang National Park Office - Pantai Teluk Aling - Monkey Beach - Muka Head Lighthouse
Route 1 – Penang National Park Office – Pantai Teluk Aling – Monkey Beach – Muka Head Lighthouse

Of the three trails, this is the easiest. As it is mostly flat and just follows the coastline with parts of the trek in the jungle until you get to Monkey Beach (Teluk Duyung).

If you continue the walk for 30 more minutes, it will take you to Muka Head Lighthouse at the other end of the beach.

When it comes to Muka Head Lighthouse, this is where your heart will definitely start working harder:

Expect to spend an hour (or less) to and from this trail which involves overgrown stairs and an incline almost all the way up to the lighthouse (240m above sea) where you can get partial views of the sea.

Notes:

  • We would not recommend doing this trail solely for the views, just do it for the exercise.
  • This is not a loop trail and you will be using the same route on the way back down to the beach.

The way up is not easy for children or those who are unfit. There may also be fallen trunks to get over (or under).

There are a total of 3 huts and when you have passed all 3, you are close to the top.

  • Route 1 Distance: 5.2km
  • Route 1 Duration: Approximately 2 hours
  • Highest Elevation Change: 230m

Tip: Duration to Monkey Beach is about 1-2 hours depending on your pace. This doesn’t include the trail up to Muka Head Lighthouse.

Route 2 – Penang National Park Office – Canopy Walkway – Meromictic Lake – Pantai Kerachut – Teluk Kampi

Route 2 - Penang National Park Office - Canopy Walkway - Meromictic Lake - Pantai Kerachut - Teluk Kampi
Route 2 – Penang National Park Office – Canopy Walkway – Meromictic Lake – Pantai Kerachut – Teluk Kampi

Note: Canopy Walkway is usually closed. Ask the staff at the entrance to the park or choose route 3 if you are planning to go to Kerachut Beach.

Well-marked but steeper than the other trail (to Monkey Beach), this shaded trail has an unavoidable uphill climb across the headland and down to Pantai Kerachut (Turtle Beach).

Beautiful Day At Pantai Keracut Of Penang National Park
Beautiful Day At Pantai Keracut Of Penang National Park – photo credits to vronerl_aus_muc (Instagram)

The total duration is roughly an hour.

From Pantai Kerachut, you can make your way to another beach, Teluk Kampi.

The starting point of this 45-minute trail is on the left of a campsite kitchen close to the pier. The trail will go around the meromictic lake.

There will be a grueling 15 minutes of uphill climbing during the trail to Teluk Kampi. But this lovely secluded beach is worth the effort!

  • Route 2 Distance: 6.4km
  • Route 2 Duration: Approximately 2 hours, 10 minutes
  • Highest Elevation Change: 170m

Tip: Duration to Pantai Kerachut is about 1 hour, 40 minutes

Route 3 – Penang National Park Office – Pasir Pandak – Meromictic Lake – Pantai Kerachut – Teluk Kampi – Bukit Batu Itam

Route 3 - Penang National Park Office - Pasir Pandak - Meromictic Lake - Pantai Kerachut - Teluk Kampi - Bukit Batu Itam
Route 3 – Penang National Park Office – Pasir Pandak – Meromictic Lake – Pantai Kerachut – Teluk Kampi – Bukit Batu Itam

Be prepared to hike for the better part of the day if you want to do this 11km loop trail!

Beginners are advised to try another trail as this one will take you to the highest point in Penang National Park.

The jungle trail starts the same as the Pantai Kerachut trail. At least for the first 30 minutes before it branches out and gets very steep! Thankfully, there are rest points along the way.

Pantai Keracut Of Penang National Park
Pantai Keracut Of Penang National Park – photo credits to ewchuah (Instagram)

Look out for the vantage point for views of the surrounding hills and Teluk Bahang valley!

  • Distance: 11km
  • Duration: Approximately 4 hours
  • Highest Elevation Change: 450m

Boat Trips For The National Park

At the park entrance, there are plenty of boatmen offering boat rides to the following beaches:

  1. Monkey Beach (Teluk Duyung) – RM100
  2. Pantai Kerachut – RM200
  3. Teluk Kampi – RM220
A Boat Seen At Penang National Park In Teluk Bahang, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia
A Boat Seen At Penang National Park In Teluk Bahang, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia – photo credits to jess_travel18 (Instagram)

Note:

  • The prices listed here are just for reference
  • Negotiating is normally expected
  • The boats fit up to 12 people
  • Price is by group and not boat (so if you want to split the cost with strangers, try to act like you’re from the same group)
  • Sunset cruises are available

You should pre-arrange for a boat to pick you up at any of these beaches at a particular time so you don’t have to hike back to the entrance. Furthermore, phone signal is limited on the beach.

Sunset At Penang National Park
Sunset At Penang National Park – photo credits to haidarhydar (Instagram)

If you are physically capable, you should attempt to hike at least one-way to appreciate the national park up close!

Note: It is possible to book a boat from the beaches back to the entrance of the park but it can cost more.

1. Pantai Teluk Aling

You can stop at this quaint beach midway on the Monkey Beach trail.

Pantai Teluk Aling At Penang National Park
Pantai Teluk Aling At Penang National Park – photo credits to mey_almi (Instagram)

The noticeable landmark here is the long pier that belongs to the Centre for Marine and Coastal Studies (CEMACS) who maintain a turtle sanctuary within the national park!

2. Penang National Park Monkey Beach (Teluk Duyung)

This is a small but inviting stretch of white sand at Monkey Beach attracts many visitors during the weekends!

Monkey Beach At Penang National Park
Monkey Beach At Penang National Park – Photo by Travelswithsun

It may not be as peaceful during these busier days because of food hawkers and motor sports out on the water too!

Additionally, it is possible to camp here as there is a proper campsite by the beach albeit there is a restriction of the number of campers on the beach per day.

Note: Access to this beach is either by hiking or taking a boat from the park entrance.

3. Muka Head Lighthouse Penang

At 227 meters above sea level, expect alright views from this lighthouse that requires an extra 30 or 45 minutes hike after the Monkey Beach trail!

Muka Head Lighthouse - Accessible From Monkey Beach At Penang National Park
Muka Head Lighthouse – Accessible From Monkey Beach At Penang National Park – Photo by Travelswithsun

You can climb up into the 14m tall lighthouse although you should note that the highest section is unsafe.

Opening Hours: 9am to 3pm

4. Canopy Walkway

Note: This suspension bridge is often closed during and after big storms for repair and maintenance. Check with the staff at the national park entrance before you go for this route (Route 2 – see above).

For a fee of RM5 per adult (or RM3 for children), you can access a 210m-long canopy walkway at Sungai Tukun. It is 15 minutes’ walk from the main entrance.

This 20-minute trail via the canopy walkway cuts the time needed for the two main trails.

Opening hours for the canopy walk: 10am to 1pm and 2:30pm to 4pm (Closed on Friday)

5. Meromictic Lake Penang

This is a bizarre lake that is made up of fresh water and sea water. The water doesn’t mix because of the different densities and temperatures between them.

Meromictic Lake Near Kerachut Beach In Penang
Meromictic Lake Looking A Bit Dry Near Kerachut Beach In Penang – Photo by Travelswithsun

Other such unusual lakes in the world like this one are Bababu Lake in the Philippines or Lake Fidler in Australia.

Sometimes, the lake at Pantai Kerachut is not visible (e.g. in February or between June and July). This is typically during dry seasons.

6. Pantai Kerachut Penang

Also known as Penang National Park Turtle Beach, this beach is closest to the meromictic lake. And at one end of the beach is a small turtle sanctuary.

Pantai Kerachut (Keracut Beach) In Penang National Park
Pantai Kerachut (Keracut Beach) In Penang National Park – Photo by Travelswithsun

Sunsets are particularly lovely at this beach. There’s nothing to eat or drink at this beach so make sure to bring your own refreshments (especially if you plan on taking on the hike to get here!).

There is a shower at this beach. Though again, swimming here is at your own risk as there have been sightings of jellyfish.

7. Penang Turtle Sanctuary

The Turtle Conservation Centre at Pantai Kerachut is where you can see two species of turtles, the green sea turtle and the Olive Ridley turtle.

Turtle Hatchery Pantai Kerachut
Turtle Hatchery Pantai Kerachut – photo credits to justine.plz (Instagram)

Opening Hours: 8am to 5pm

8. Teluk Kampi Penang

Further up from Pantai Keracut is a tough climb to Teluk Kampi and its wonderfully fine sand.

This quiet beach is one of Penang National Park’s best kept secrets!

Note: You can take a boat here from the entrance of the park too!

9. Bukit Batu Itam

Less people take this newer trail so you can expect it to be overgrown with forest undergrowth.

Bukit Batu Hitam Campsite At Penang National Park
Bukit Batu Hitam Campsite At Penang National Park – photo credits to ewchuah (Instagram)

Descent can be treacherous due to some steeper portions of the trail! Especially the last leg as Bukit Batu Itam is the highest peak in the park!

Note: There is a small campsite at the summit.

One Day In Penang National Park:

Want to see all the main highlights in Penang National Park but don’t have enough days?

There is a way to see both trails (Monkey Beach and Pantai Keracut) in the same day if you take some time to plan ahead!

First, take the trail for about 1 to 1.5 hours to Pantai Keracut where you will pass the Meromictic Lake.

After checking out the turtle sanctuary, you can take a 15-minute boat to Monkey Beach.

Take a 30-minute detour up to Muka Head Lighthouse if you have time to spare and want more exercise (don’t do it for the views).

And then, you can hike back to the main entrance from Monkey Beach which is another 1 to 1.5 hours, depending on your personal level of fitness!

Penang National Park Review

Whether you decide to take the boats or hike at Penang National Park, it’s best to go as early as possible.

You might end up doing the hikes and these can take much longer if you’re not very fit or if the trails are muddy.

What You’ll Like:

  • Beaches are more beautiful and less crowded than the ones at Batu Ferringhi
  • Opportunities to see lots of local flora and fauna
  • Free entrance!
  • Shaded trails
  • Not too far from the main tourist areas in Penang
  • Most of it can be explored in a day
  • Trails are great for cardio excercise

Good To Know:

  • Poorly maintained (e.g., litter on the beach, debris on the trails, etc).
  • Expensive boat fees
  • Limited phone signal in the park
  • Not necessary but if you need a navigation app for the trails, Maps.me is quite accurate

Activities At Penang National Park

There are a lot of things to do at this national park!

  • Hike the nature trails
  • Spot and observe local wildlife
  • Have a picnic at a secluded beach
  • Swim (at your own risk) at the beach
  • Visit the turtle conservation centre
  • Climb up to Muka Head Lighthouse
  • Take a boat tour to see the other beaches in the park
  • Watch the sunset from Pantai Keracut
  • Go fishing (only where allowed)
  • See a meromictic lake
  • Have a BBQ (only where allowed)
  • Camp (advanced booking is required)
Sumptuous Picnic At A Beach In Penang National Park
Sumptuous Picnic At A Beach In Penang National Park – photo credits to julielondons (Instagram)

Tips For Visiting Penang National Park

Your visit to the Penang National Park will be better if you’re prepared:

  • If you go swimming, beware of jellyfish. It is at your own risk too as there are no lifeguards!
  • Bring more water than you think you’ll need – the jungle trails are extremely humid
  • Mosquito repellent and sunscreen is necessary!
  • Pack snacks but keep any food out of sight from monkeys
  • Wear trainers or similar
  • You can hire a guide or boat at the entrance of the park!
  • A towel will come in handy for sitting on the beach
  • Trails are not safe or suitable for children
  • There are organized walks into the park if you require some local guidance. You can arrange for these at the entrance of the national park
  • Outdoor parking is available (fees are RM4)
Macaque Seen At Penang National Park
Macaque Seen At Penang National Park – photo credits to piastaric (Instagram)

Where To Stay Close To Penang National Park

Visitors who have their own tents can register with the Penang National Park to camp (for free) at one of the designated campsites (at Pantai Kerachut and Teluk Kampi) within the park.

Camping At Penang National Park
Camping At Penang National Park – photo credits to ewchuah (Instagram)

There are limited spots per day.

Except for the designated campsites, the beach is off-limits for camping so nesting turtles can be left alone.

Contact number for the Penang National Park: +604-881 3530 or +604-881 3500

Read more:

How To Get To Penang National Park From George Town

Getting To Penang National Park By Bus

Bus route 101 (via Teluk Bahang)

Look out for Bus 101 that goes to Penang National Park from central George Town at Lubuh Chulia (Chulia Street).

Rapid Penang Bus Making A Turn At Chulia Street, George Town, Penang
Rapid Penang Bus Making A Turn At Chulia Street, George Town, Penang – photo credits to len_j_p (Instagram)

First Bus: 5:30am

Last Bus: 12:00am

Alternatively, you can take either Rapid Penang 101 or 103 from KOMTAR in George Town. The last stop is conveniently just before the national park’s entrance.

A one-way trip takes roughly 45 minutes.Bus fees are cheap and usually under RM5 though you should carry exact change.

Getting back to George Town from Penang National Park however, requires you to walk to a bus stop 15 minutes away.

Read more: 4 Best Ways For Getting Around Penang (With All Penang Transport Options)

Getting To Penang National Park By Car

By car, it’s a ~40-minute drive to Penang National Park from George Town.

Penang Tour - RayTheTour & Travelswithsun

Instead of taking the bus or a taxi, you can take a private tour service like RayTheTour:

  • Comfortable and private transport from your hotel and back
  • Flexible/ customizeable Penang itinerary from morning to evening
  • Local insight from Penang-born guides that are experienced
  • Easy booking process
  • Tours to Ipoh and Cameron Highlands are also available!

WhatsApp us or leave us a message on Facebook to book a tour!

Further reading:

Conclusion

You just need one day (or two) to explore Penang National Park. Even though it is small for a national park, it’s bursting with wildlife!

And visitors have more than just tranquil beaches and jungle trails to discover at this park, including a rare meromictic lake!

PS: You can check out this Penang travel guide if need more help on your trip to Penang.

Disclaimer: This site contains affiliate links. We may receive a small commission for purchases or bookings made through these links at no extra cost to you. Thank you!

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