The nearest town at the base station is Air Itam. If you are driving from downtown Georgetown, ample road signs are provided to lead to you to either Air Itam and Bukit Bendera (the local name for this hill station). Alternatively a taxi ride can set you back some RM10-15.
Penang Hill is probably one of the most popular destination for tourists in the island. Why it shouldn't be? There are only a few places left with this type of funicular railway system in Asia. I have seen a few of these in Switzerland, which were probably built during the same era as the one in Penang.
Built in 1923 by the British colonial settlers to escape the scorching heat of lowland Penang, the funicular railway originally had wooden cars. Now the cars have been upgraded to feature more state-of-the-art controls and signaling equipment, but the old world's charms are still present. The base station is pretty much left in its original design, except with frequent painting and regular maintenance. The cars do not have air conditioner units. Just prop open the window to enjoy the fresh air.
For my visit, I decided to do something different. I called the railway operator much earlier and asked about the last train available. Main reason being I wanted to enjoy the fabulous night view of downtown Georgetown. I found out only on Saturdays that the trains will operate much later than usual. On other days, the last train service can be as early as 1800hrs. Please do check in advance with the operator.
The air was cool at 2000hrs. There were barely any tourists on top. The whole of downtown Georgetown, the towering row of hotels at Gurney Drive, Penang Bridge and across-town Seberang Perai District were all brilliant lit up. It was quite a memorable experience to enjoy the view from Penang Hill at its best!
Unique funicular railway system. Cool and fresh air, though at 800 metres above-sea-level, don't expect it to be really cold.