Bright blooms and gorgeous greenery envelop visitors at the Penang Botanic Garden. Relax in the natural surroundings and listen to the sounds of wildlife in their natural habitats far from the busy hum of the city. This oasis in Penang will impress you with its delightful display of flora and fauna.
Established by the British more than 125 years ago, the Penang Botanic Gardens showcase an amazing feat of landscaping as well as impressive plant specimens. In 1884, the gardens’ first curator, Charles Curtis, transformed this former granite quarry into well-ordered gardens. They are also known as the Waterfalls Gardens because of the cascade on the present-day reservoir, but for safety reasons, that area is not currently accessible. Luckily, there’s a spectacular array of local and international plants to distract you.
For a peaceful and enchanting stroll around the grounds, start in the Formal Garden and Quarry Recreational Park. The more than 200 varieties of orchids, some quite rare, can’t help but catch your eye in the Orchidarium. You’ll want to keep your hands to yourself in the spiny Cactus House around the more than 60 species of cactus. If you’re on the lookout for the resident wildlife, hike up Monkey Path. You can reach Penang Hill in just about an hour. Keep your eyes peeled for the macaques from which the trail takes its name, and save the snacking for later, as these cheeky monkeys are renowned for being both curious and hungry. You may also spot black giant squirrels basking in the sun and a variety of butterflies collecting nectar.
Buses cover the 8 kilometres from the Penang capital of George Town to the Botanic Gardens and allow you to rest your feet before you start walking around this beautiful site. The gardens are open daily from 5am to 8pm, and guided tours are available. Ask your guide about some of the more famous occupants of the garden, such as Penang’s namesake, the Pinang Palm, and the cannonball tree. Its spherical, reddish-brown cannons are actually fruit. Entry is free.