Air Itam Dam, Penang

I did a quick search on Google and sadly, not much were written about the place or history. From what I gathered (from the plaque placed at the dam), the dam was built by the Penang City Council between 1958-1962.


The dam is accessible from the Air Itam market where the Kek Lok Si pagoda is. It is just a short drive up. In the early mornings, joggers will hike up the hill. Notice the white trees in the above photo? They have been there for decades, as long as I can remember. They are bare except for a few frangipanis hanging on to the bare twigs.


As the name suggest, Air Itam dam is a dam that supplies water to part of the Penang island. We have another larger and newer dam in Telok Bahang plus smaller ones around the island. My elder brother used to scare me with stories of the possibility of the dam breaking (ala that Dutch story Dick VanDyke?) and drowning the whole island. 🙂 When you are up on the hill, looking down at the densely populated Air Itam, it does seem like a scary prospect.


It is the rainy season here and hence, the dam is filled to the brim. Water flows from the surrounding hills into the dam. I am curious where the extra water flows to? The river and into the sea?

However, during drought, this green lake will have murky waters and the white thing on the right of the photo will be exposed. It is sort of a funnel with a pillar with numbers of the depth of the water. It will be a sad sight then and we will start water rationing. (hardly happens though)


One can take a walk along the perimeter of the lake/dam. One the left side is the dam and the right are hillslopes like shown above and part of the walk will be in the jungle nearby.


If you are a Penangite and has never been up to the dam, do it soon. A walk there is good exercise with fresh air, beautiful sights, colourful flowers and chirping birds. And if you are a tourist visiting the pagoda, ask your guide to bring you up to the dam to get marvellous views of part of Penang island.

10 Replies to “Air Itam Dam, Penang”

  1. Awww…..I have fond memories of the dam. My uncle used to be a warden here. During school holidays I would visit him and my cousins in Penang and we would hike up to the dam and track the spring source.
    As kids, we were rather naughty and we used to piss into the streams leading to the dam exclaiming,”Now the people of Penang are going to drink my piss liao”
    It was also a favorite haunt for lovers at night…for the next day one can always locate used condoms near the clearings behind the bushes.
    Missed the assam laksa at Air Hitam.

  2. Wah…. that pokok still around ah? I remember going there in the morning and selalu kena hambat ngan anjing kat Kpg Pisang.
    I took some pics of the Teluk Bahang Dam (before camera kena curi). Teluk Bahang Dam a bit boring. Landscaping work takde langsung. Probably bcoz its still new.
    When I was a kid, I thought they have a giant ‘mangkuk’ in the middle of the dam.

  3. […] Air Itam Dam, Kek Lok Si and huge Kuan Yin statue on the hill.  These three places are located on the same spot.  Every tourists will enjoy the trip to Air Itam because of their ethnicity.  You can find flowers, local fruits, colour stalls selling all sorts of local goods and don’t forget the laksa. […]

  4. New here,
    Air Itam Dam has always been a place for my exercising destination. My house is just quite near the Air Itam market and will oftenly hike up to the damn during the evening after I get back from school. I’m a student in Saint Xavier’s too as your son’s.


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