Penang National Park: hike or boat to Monkey Beach


If you’re in George Town and would like to be out in nature, two relatively easy day trips are to go to Penang Hill and/or Penang National Park. I didn’t have enough time to go to Penang Hill but apparently it has amazing views and is much more developed with the botanic garden and the option to take a fununcular up the hill. I wanted something more wild and rustic since I no longer was going to make it to the Taman Negara, so I headed to Penang National Park.
From George Town, you can take “rapid” bus 101 to the park; it costs MYR4 and can take anywhere from 1 to 2 hours depending on the traffic and number of stops it makes. I took a Grab car there to save time, and it only cost MYR30, about US$7. I took the bus back into town.
Definitely bring water (or buy at entrance) and sunblock; it’s very hot and if you hike there’s no drinking water along the way. There were numerous food and drink vendors at Monkey Beach on the day I was there, including boats for hire. There’s no entrance fee but you do need to register your name at the park entrance.
You have the option to walk/hike or hire a private boat to bring you to the location you wish. I chose to hike to Monkey Beach and take a boat back to the entrance. The one-way boat back cost MYR50, about US$11 and takes 15 minutes. I hired and paid for a boat with Bob Cang before I left for my hike, but on that day there were numerous boats available at the beach in case you’re not sure whether you want to hike or boat back.
Here’s a map of the different hikes and sights, and the approximate distances and time needed:


The hike to Monkey Beach was moderately difficult, mostly due to the scrambling needed over huge tree roots and large rocks as well as the heat. I’d be careful or avoid if you have knee or balance problems. I do have some mild knee strain on one side, and I was extra careful not to twist or land on it improperly, and that knee was fine. I did seriously slam my other knee coming down over a boulder but rested and made it to the beach fine. There are other visitors on the trail in case you’re hiking alone and are concerned; it’s a well-traveled trail.


Monkey Mama and baby eating fish at Sungai Tulun, on the trail to Monkey Beach.
I spent a bunch of time observing and hanging out with a super cute monkey family eating fish and playing at Sungai Tulun, as well a stops to look at beetles, lizards and large ants. It took me almost 2 hours to get to Monkey Beach, stopping many times for observation, photos/videos and rest. I was drenched in sweat by the time I got there and cursed myself for forgetting my shorts and swim bottoms (I wore long pants to block against big bites and sun)…I really wanted to go into the water. But I found a chill little spot with seats and cool coconuts and enjoyed two coconuts with this lovely view: