Away from the beach-resorts and the busy city of Georgetown, Penang Hill (Bukit Bendera) offers great views and birders some good opportunities. There are still some decent tropical forests here and residential areas also host some typical birds. There are various swifts and swiftlets, swallows, bee-eaters, bulbuls, munias, babblers, flycatchers, sunbirds, spider-hunters and White-bellied and Rufous Woodpeckers. The top of the hill is reached by regular funicular trains from Air Itam. But best to visit on work-days not weekends to avoid the crowds. Penang Island lies off the west coat of Peninsula Malaysia. It is accessible by a road-bridge, the longest in Asia, from near Butterworth on the mainland.
These hills in Malaysia lie around 2 hours north of Kuala Lumpur. Though parts can be heavily touristed, especially at weekends, there are many spots off the beaten track where birds and other wildlife can be found. The hills are mostly forested, away from the fruit and tea-plantations, and being up top 2000m asl are cooler than the lowlands. Several trails, not always well-marked or maintained, sometimes steep, lead from the road between Tanah Rata and Brinchang, which are the best bases. Key birds include Rufous-vented Niltava, Bay Woodpecker, Mountain Peacock-Pheasant, Green Magpie and Slaty-backed Forktail.
Before joining any wildlife watching or birding tour, wherever in the world, try to establish if the travel company you are considering booking with operates in an environmentally friendly, responsible manner.