The Penang National Park (Taman Negara Penang) is located on the north-western side of the island at Teluk Bahang. The park with its rainforest and beaches is a great place to jungle trekking, camping, fishing, wildlife and bird spotting, or just relaxing.
To arrive at the National Park, you can catch the bus 101 that runs from the jetty in Georgetown every 10 to 15 minutes then get off at the last stop where the bus turns around. The trip takes around one hour, depending on traffic. The Penang National Park is opened every day from 8 am until 5 pm. Entrance is free, but you have to register at the office to get a permit.
Covering 1181 hectares of forest and 1381 hectares of wetlands, the park is an abundance of natural beauty with a diverse ecosystem. It has over 500 flora and fauna species, mangrove swamps, mudflat areas, coral reefs and nesting areas for some endangered turtle species such as the Leatherback and the Hawksbill turtles. If you’re lucky, you can spot rare mammals such as slow loris, flying lemur, civet cats, leopard cats, sea otters and pangolins.
There are two main hiking tracks through the forest. One route is along the coastline to Monkey Beach, then on a steep climb up to an elevation of 227m to Muka Head Lighthouse. The other takes you over the headland to Kerachut Beach then leads off to the most secluded of all the beaches at Teluk Kampi. They are often steep, wet and tricky with lots of roots, tree trunks and rocks, so wear proper footwear for trekking like shoes with decent grip and spare dry clothes.
Also, there is a 250-meter walkway with 15 meters above the ground allowing you a view of the tree top. The canopy walk is located just over 1 km from the main entrance. Tickets have to be purchased at the registration office with the cost is 6RM ($2) for adults and 3RM ($1) for children.
If you don’t like walking into the forest, you can hire boats at the entrance. Prices for hiring the whole boat (for up to 10 people) are currently 100RM ($24) to take you around the peninsular to the turtle sanctuary where Green Sea Turtles and Olive Ridley Turtles come up to lay their eggs from April to August and September to February respectively. Visit here at the right time to be able to view the baby turtles! Another trip is to take a cruise around the peninsular to Pantai Kerachut that you may catch a spectacular sunset.
There are plenty of free camp grounds set up around the reserve. Camping should only be done in the designated camp sites. Do not camp on the beaches as the turtles come on shore to lay their eggs. You should interact with the park headquarters in advance if you want to camp (Tel: +604 8813500). Remember to take all your water and food for your trip, as none is available on the reservation.
Tourists can find a few small basic guesthouses and homestays near Penang National Park such as the Fisherman’s Village Guest House, Amal Inn Budget Hotel, Ali’s Guest House and Miss Loh’s located off the road leading to the Butterfly farm in Teluk Bahang town. The best time to visit the park is from November to January as the weather is very pleasant and conducive for sightseeing. You should avoid come here in the wettest season (May to October).
If you are a nature lover, do not hesitate to visit The Penang National Park to explore its myriad of natural treasures!