Penang’s habitat is well worth a visit
The island boasts an enviable range of historical and cultural attractions, not to mention a thriving food scene, beautiful beaches and some excellent shopping for those after a little retail therapy. It’s also packed with plenty of must-see attractions guaranteed to appeal to every type of traveller from families and honeymooners to food-lovers and those with a thirst for adventure including its latest – The Habitat.
A unique ecotourism experience, which aims to promote environmental consciousness and conservation awareness among its visitors, The Habitat is located on top of Penang Hill, some 820m above sea level. Offering up views over rolling hills, pristine rainforest, lush flora, enormous granite boulders and stunning views of city, jungle and sea, even better, there’s no need for any arduous trekking to the summit, with the first-of-its-kind ecotourism site easily accessible via a 7-minute ride on the Penang Hill Funicular Train.
Promising to offer visitors the most complete, exciting and educational Malaysian rainforest experience, The Habitat does not disappoint. There are various trails for all ages and fitness levels, all of which are wheelchair- and stroller-friendly.
The most popular, the 1.6km Nature Trail, starts just a few minutes walk from the Top Station of the Penang Hill Funicular Railway. Meandering below three of the hill’s oldest historic bungalows, the trail provides spectacular views of the rolling hills and the Andaman Sea beyond, not to mention a chance to glimpse local wildlife including Paper Kite Butterflies, Giant Black Squirrels and cute-as-a-button Dusky Leaf Langur monkeys. This enchanting realm allows visitors to experience Penang Hill’s rainforest at its very best.
Several themed gardens charmingly line the way and include the Colour Garden, Butterfly Bank, Fragrant Garden and Ginger and Palm Grove. But for the ultimate ‘selfie’ opportunity, head to the Treetop Walk , a 13m high- viewing platform located on top the plateau, which offers mesmerizing 360-degree views of Penang, including George Town, and serves as the highest public viewing point on the island. Look down on historic, Bel Retiro, the Governor of Penang’s mansion in all its splendor, and a clear day, you can even make out the islands of Langkawi in the distance.
Signage is positioned unobtrusively along the route to educate visitors about various plants and wildlife in display, but for the most comprehensive understanding of The Habitat and its uninque environment take advantage of one of the complimentary nature guided tours on offer conducted by award-winning naturalists, which run every 30 minutes.
Admission prices are just RM20 (around A$7 for adults) and RM10 (around A$3.50) for students and senior citizens and children aged 3 – 13 years old, is RM10. Children under 3 enter free-of-charge.
Opening hours: 9.30am – 6.00pm daily, closed on Wednesday