Old is gold

Heritage Attractions

With the oldest building (Convalescent Bungalow) dated to 1803 , Penang Hill is a good repository of bungalows featuring a fusion of architecture from British colonial to Asian and modern architecture.

Bel Retiro is a government bungalow on Penang Hill. It was built in 1789 for the Governor of Penang, and remains within the exclusive use of the government. It is the most prestigious property on Penang Hill, built in the 1800s as a resort for high govenment officials and visiting dignitaries. Bel Retiro Bungalow was the favourite retreat of the first Yang di-Pertuan Agung (King) and Tunku Abdul Rahman (Prime Minister) whenever they visit Penang. Senior government officers built their bungalows close to Bel Retiro, on the principle of closeness is next to greatness. Although the bungalow itself is out-of-bounds to the general public, one can hike up to its gate, a beautiful brick structure with an arch entranceway called the Gate House, for a nice photo opportunity.
Bel Retiro
Lower Station
Second Generation Funicular
Mon Sejour
Entrance Railway
Fourth Generation Funicular

How we get here

Key Historical Events

It was not an easy path that the Hill had grown over time and moulded it into the great place that we share today.


  • 1905
    • The experimental train was completed on 1 January 1905 but was rendered ineffective, due to technical faults.
  • 1920
    • Construction works to build the first-generation train was initiated by Senior Resident Engineer Mr. A.R Johnson in April 1920.
  • 1923
    • Penang Hill Railway was completed on 21 October 1923.
  • 1924
    • Penang Hill Railway Service was officially opened to the public and was launched by Sir Lawrence Nums Guillemard, governor of the straits states on 1 Jan 1924.
  • 1941
    • The railway service was halted in 1941 during Japanese’s conquest in Malaysia.
  • 1942
    • Penang Hill Railway Service was restored in 1942.
  • 1950
    • Penang Hill Railway Ordinance No.42 of 1950 was gazetted.
  • 1972
    • Queen Elizabeth, accompanied by Lord Mounthbatten and other dignitaries, riding the Penang Hill Railway on 8 March 1972.
  • 1977
    • The funicular railway was taken over by the Penang State Government on 1 February 1977 and was maintained by JKR (Jabatan Kerja Raya).
    • The old coach of the Railway was replaced with the Switzerland-made second generation coach in 1977.
  • 2009
    • PHC was established in 2009 through an enactment passed by the Penang State Legislative Assembly. It was formalized on 27 May 2010.
  • 2010
    • The last operation of the second-generation coach was on 22 Feb 2010.
  • 2011
    • Penang Hill Corporation took over Penang Hill Railway Service on 19 March 2011.
    • The third-generation coach was opened to the public on 24 April 2011.
  • 2012
    • Dataran Bukit Bendera, an open space area for events and public activities was officially launched on 30 June 2012.
    • ‘Viaduct Trail’ that connects the car park to the Penang Hill funicular train station was open to the public.
  • 2013
    • Retractable roof at Lower station was launched on 15 Aug 2013.
    • Elevated covered walkway connecting Upper Station and Astaka was completed on 5 Sept 2013.
    • Upgraded the landscape of Summit Road and lighting up both the lower and upper stations and the hilltop in 2013 to give Penang Hill a romantic mode and it is already part of PHC’s initiative to ensure the safety of the visitors.
  • 2014
    • Penang Hill Heritage Forest Challenge - The inaugural international hiking challenge was organized on 22 February 2014 by PHC, in collaboration with Penang Forestry Department, PAAA, JKKK, Penang Hill Resident Association and MSN.
    • By-paths A, B, C and D at hill top were opened to visitors on 24 March 2014 for nature lovers to explore.
    • Rebuilt “Heritage Trail since 1890” was open to the public on 16 August 2014.
    • Slope stabilization work was carried out at various areas and hill drainage was upgraded in 2014.
  • 2015
    • Penang Hill Multi-storey Car Park was officiated on 20 January 2015.
    • The viewing deck was launched by Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng on 9 February 2015.
    • Skywalk with lift to Keretapi Bukit Bendera Bungalow was opened to public on 16 June 2015.
  • 2016
    • Climb to Change a Life - This inaugural event, aimed at helping children with movement difficulties to discover their potential while enjoying Mother Nature as well as to promote Penang Hill as the “Hill of Love” was launched on 24 April 2016. This event also brought awareness and better understanding to the public, hence moving towards a more barrier-free society.
    • Penang Hill Special Area Plan was gazetted on 1 September 2016.
    • By-paths E, F, G, H, I and J were opened to visitors at hill top on 22 December 2016 for nature lovers to explore.
  • 2017
    • PHC launched "Towards the Penang Hill Non-smoking Zone Gazettement" programme on 1 Oct 2017.
    • The new Visitor’s Guide and Nature Walks were launched on 26 October 2017.
    • Penang Hill Funicular Service suspended on 4 November 2017 due to landslides.
    • Penang Hill Funicular Service resumed and Penang Hill was reopened to the public on 30 December 2017.
  • 2018
    • Trash-Free Trails Project - This project aimed at creating public awareness as well as to inspire others on the need to protect and preserve the environment especially the hiking trails towards Penang Hill which was launched on 5 January 2018.
    • PHC’s new website was launched by Chief Minister, YAB Tuan Lim Guan Eng on 19 January 2018 in conjunction with “Special Recognition Day” to appreciate the contribution and efforts by those who helped in the recovery process.
    • The inaugural Penang Hill Festival was held from 21-29 July 2018.
    • Slope stabilization projects at Upper Tunnel, Middle Station, Mosque Temple and Bel- Retiro was completed on 29 Sep 2018.
    • Penang Hill Lower Station (Phase 3) was completed on 23 November 2018.
  • 2019
    • Official launching of Penang Hill Lower Station (Phase 3) and the introduction of E-Boarding System (EQMS) at Lower Station on 16 January 2019.
    • Slope strengthening work near Middle Station, Bel- Retiro, Mosque and Hindu Temple was completed on 11 March 2019.
    • PHC Funicular Service was awarded a Special Recognition for Public facilty award by PropertyGuru at the 6th Annual PropertyGuru Asia Property Awards (Malaysia) on 12 April 2019
    • Official visit by The Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah and Raja Permasuri Agong Tunku Azizah Aminah Maimunah Iskandariah to Penang Hill on 21 December 2019.
  • 2020
    • PHC has been awarded the Malaysia Tourism Quality Assurance (MyTQA) from the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture Malaysia (MOTAC) on 13 June 2020
    • PHC has successfully submitted its application to be recognised as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve on 29 September 2020
    • PHC has been awarded ‘MSOSH OSH Gold 1 Award for 2019’ by the Malaysian Society For Occupational Safety and Health (MSOSH) on 28 October 2020

Grab your tickets online!

Purchase your funicular railway train tickets here!