PLACES OF INTEREST : Penang National Park




The Penang National Park (Taman Negara Pulau Pinang) is one of the few natural forested areas left on the island. Formerly known as Pantai Acheh Forest Reserve, the area was declared a national park in 2003.


Spread across the northwestern tip of Penang island is 1,181ha of hilly forest and 1,381ha of wetlands, mangroves, mudflats, beaches and corals. Interspersed with rocky outcrops, the coastline is home to some fine beaches and coves with basic facilities for camping at certain sites. Formerly known as Pantai Acheh Forest Reserve, the new park ? which holds the distinction of being the world?s smallest national park ? was gazetted in April 2003. It has a myriad of hilly but well-marked trekking trails of differing lengths and difficulty. Many of these trails lead to the eight main beaches within the park. The popular trail to Muka Head starts at the park entrance in Teluk Bahang Bay. The trek, on average, is about one hour and thirty minutes to Teluk Bahang. Another 30 minutes of climbing is required to reach the Muka Head lighthouse, which was built in 1883. The views from the top of the lighthouse are superb.



Another popular trail leads to Pantai Kerachut where the Meromictic lake is a popular attraction. A Meromictic lake is formed when two bodies of water do not mix. In this case, the cool mountain stream water stays at the bottom while the warm sea water at high tide sits atop it. However, the lake only exists for about six months a year, during periods of heavy rainfall. There is also a turtle hatchery at the end of the beach where primarily Green turtles (chelonia mydas) come ashore to nest ? as they do along western-facing beaches. However, two other species of turtle have been known to nest along these shores, the Olive Ridley (lepidochelys olviacea) and the Hawksbill (eretmochelys imbricata).


Teluk Bahang and Teluk Tukun both have camping grounds as well as facilities while Teluk Aling houses Universiti Sains Malaysia?s Centre for Marine and Coastal Studies (CEMACS). The Teluk Aling beach is suitable for campers and also acts as a rest stop for those heading for Muka Head. The highest point of the park?s rocky terrain is Batu Itam, which is almost 500m above sea level. Today, it offers vast opportunities for research, education, recreation and ecotourism activities such as climbing, trekking, swimming, wildlife observation or simply enjoying the natural environment. Penang National Park only receives daily visitors. Visitors are also reminded to deposit their garbage in the 'monkey-proof' trash bins where one has to push a leaver to open the hatch. The bins are located along popular hiking trails. Remember, pick nothing up (except rubbish!) and leave nothing behind.




The park contains several different types of habitat. Lowland and hill dipterocarp forests, wetlands, mangroves, mudflats, sandy beaches and offshore coral reefs account for a wide diversity of species habitation.


Regenerated forest is the main land feature although about 80ha is still virgin forest. Logging ceased in the area in 1962 and much of the forest has returned to a natural state. Pitcher plants, orchids and ferns are fairly abundant in the forest as are the heavy hardwoods like chengal and the lighter hardwoods like meranti and jelutong (Dyera costulata) with its straight trunk, silvery bark and broad leaves bunched in an umbrella shape. The jelutong tree supplies sap from which chewing gum is made.


So far, 417 species of flora and 143 species of arboreal and nocturnal mammals, reptiles, insects as well as amphibians have been discovered in the park. These include long-tailed macaques, leaf monkeys, mouse deer, the rare flying lemur, tree shrews, fruit bats, wild pig, squirrels, snakes and crustaceans.


Add to this 105 species of birds, which include the White-bellied Sea Eagle and the Brahminy Kite as well as turtles, dolphins and sea otters, and you will find an impressive range for such a relatively small area.



  • Well marked trails with rest stops

  • Rocky coastline interspersed with scenic beaches

  • Turtle sanctuary

  • Campsites with good facilities

  • Mixed tropical rainforest and coastal dipterocarp

  • Meromictic lake

  • Bird watching

  • Animal spotting

  • Swimming

  • Fishing





There is a full range of accommodation on Penang island. Basic chalets and modern camping facilities are found at Teluk Bahang while other campsites exist in the park. Rest points with tables and chairs are also found along some of the trails. Visitors who wish to camp in the park need to get permission from the park management. The office is open from 8am to 6pm daily. Camping and weekend programmes organised by the National Park are also available for students who are interested in this activity.




Penang island is quite easy to navigate. To get to the park, just take the Batu Ferringhi road all the way to the Teluk Bahang town and then head for the pier. From there, it is just a short walk to the park headquarters. Or you can hop on a Hin Bus no. 1-1 from Komtar. The 30km journey, barring traffic jams, will take around 45 minutes. The bus will pass urban and rural settings. Located at the end of Batu Feringgi Road is the fishing village of Teluk Bahang, and the entrance to the park.

PLACES OF INTEREST : Penang National Park