ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Penang Botanical Gardens.

Updated on May 3, 2017
Will Apse profile image

The author has worked in conservation and woodland management over many years.

Penang Botanical Gardens with signs to the many attractions.
Penang Botanical Gardens with signs to the many attractions.

The Malaysian island of Penang is one of my favorite travel destinations. The historic heart is Georgetown and this is the best place to stay and to enjoy the night life. Outside of the city, though, there are plenty of places to visit.

One place I always visit, and one of the best day-trips from Georgetown, is the Penang Botanical Gardens.

It is around twenty minutes by bus and only ten minutes by taxi. The trip takes you from the bustling city to a relaxing walk in well maintained parkland, filled with fascinating tropical plants.

You can meet a few Macaque monkeys, too...

Peaceful Parkland in Penang Botanical Gardens
Peaceful Parkland in Penang Botanical Gardens
The Macaques are friendly. This one is showing off its dazzling blue eyelids
The Macaques are friendly. This one is showing off its dazzling blue eyelids

The Walk

The main walk circles the entire gardens and takes you to all the important locations.

Walking non-stop it is about thirty minutes round at a leisurely pace. Most visitors will stop at various attractions like the bromeliad house, cactus garden or waterfall so it will take a good deal longer.

In the center is parkland with neatly mowed grass and clumps of trees of all kinds. These include huge hardwood trees like tamarinds and also palm trees like the striking, red-stemmed lipstick palm.

Lipstick Palm and electric vistor bus (half hidden in the background)
Lipstick Palm and electric vistor bus (half hidden in the background)

Okay for Young Children or Seniors?

The gardens are built on a slope, essentially the side of a ridge. It is a moderately steep climb from the entrance of the gardens to the top of the park.

Young children may tire. Most adults, even quite elderly people, will cope because the path loops round the ridge and maintains a gentle slope, that is not too stressful.

The Electric Visitor Bus

If you think it might be too much of a walk for any reason, there are little buses which will take you at a slow and pleasant pace around the gardens.

You can just see one in the picture above.

The walk  takes you up to quite a height but it is not too steep.
The walk takes you up to quite a height but it is not too steep.

Plants the Garden is Most Proud of

One of the great things about walking around a Botanical Gardens is that trees, shrubs and sometimes even herbs are reliably named.

So you can be sure that when you look at a rubber tree, an ironwood, a tamarind, or a coffee bush that it really is what it says that it is.

Cannonball tree. Penang, with closeup of flower
Cannonball tree. Penang, with closeup of flower

Cannonball Tree

The Cannonball tree is very rare and rather unusual. The trunk is thick and covered with a tangle of stems that bare masses of very beautiful flowers.

The name comes from the spherical, cannonball-like buds.

The woman in the picture above gives an idea of the scale. These are striking trees.

Bromiliads being grown for the gardens.
Bromiliads being grown for the gardens.

Bromeliad House

Bromeliads are striking plants and the showier species are familiar to gardeners all over the world.

They are not native to SE Asia but many bromiliads are well adapted to rainforest conditions.

Many species in the Penang Botanical Gardens are epiphytes, that is they live on trees rather than in soil.

Above you can see where they are grown. You will see plenty of these plants on trees or in clusters in undergrowth as you walk around.

Agave flowering in the cactus garden. Penang Botanical Gardens
Agave flowering in the cactus garden. Penang Botanical Gardens

Cactus Garden

The cactus garden is small but there are plenty of fine (generally huge) specimens to admire.

The flower of the cactus pictured was about fifteen feet (5 meters) tall.That is tall even for a member of the Agave cactus family!

Other Plant Collections

You will find other plant houses and gardens dotted around the park.

  • Ferns
  • Aroids
  • Orchids
  • Begonias
  • Herbs
  • Water Lilies

There is also a formal garden.

Waterfall painted in 1818 and almost unchanged today (though it is easier to reach!)
Waterfall painted in 1818 and almost unchanged today (though it is easier to reach!)


A fast flowing stream runs right through the middle of the gardens and there are a series of waterfalls.

At the top of the ridge, some of the cascades are truly spectacular and have been an attraction for two hundred years, as you can see from the painting above.

Lower down, there are gentler falls where children play.

Follow the signs
Follow the signs

Much Longer Walks

You can take various hikes from the gardens to the heights of Penang Hill which is a large park in its own right several kilometers away.

You should be properly prepared for a walk through a tropical jungle.

Mosquitoes are not a problem in the botanical gardens, for example, but they will be found in numbers in the shade of the forest.

It is not a good idea to go on your own, in case you fall and cannot walk. You might encounter snakes, giant centipedes and scorpions so always be on the look out away the city and its crowds.

Other Creatures you Might See

A Little History

The gardens can trace their origins back to 1794. A young botanist from London established a small spice garden for the East India Company not long after Georgetown was established.

Getting There

A taxi works out at around 25 ringgits (about 8 dollars) from Georgetown. Taxis are easy to come by in the high season. Always ask what the journey will cost first, though. Meters are not much used!

The bus route is the number 10. Buses are not as regular as they might be, however. When I visited last, they were only running at 45 minute intervals.

You can work out all your bus travel destinations here:

You could look into the travel passes, too, which are very inexpensive. A seven day bus pass is 30 ringgits!

penang hill:
Penang Hill, Penang, Malaysia

get directions

penang botanical gardens:
Botanical Garden, Bukit Bendera, Penang, Malaysia

get directions

georgetown malaysia:
George Town, Penang, Malaysia

get directions


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • Will Apse profile imageAUTHOR

      Will Apse 

      9 months ago

      Thanks bhattac, and well worth a visit.

    • bhattuc profile image

      Umesh Chandra Bhatt 

      9 months ago from Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India

      A nice sketch. Well presented. Liked it.

    • Will Apse profile imageAUTHOR

      Will Apse 

      6 years ago

      Penang is a fantastic holiday destination. I still have a dozen pages that I want to write about the many attractions.

      And with all this encouragement. I will make it!

    • sunilkunnoth2012 profile image

      Sunil Kumar Kunnoth 

      6 years ago from Calicut (Kozhikode, South India)

      I would love to visit the places you mentioned. Well written article. Informative and useful. So shared on FB. Thank you for sharing some information here for the benefit of travel enthusiasts.

    • torrilynn profile image


      6 years ago

      This appears to be such a beautiful tropical place to visit. thank you for this hub.

    • Will Apse profile imageAUTHOR

      Will Apse 

      6 years ago

      My wife loves those kinds of sweets but I am much more of a savory man which makes Georgetown an excellent destination too! Indian Curries, Dim Sums etc there is plenty to choose from.

      And the Botanical Gardens are an excellent place to walk off some of that rich food!

      As to the macaques, the ones I came across were better behaved than most. I imagine that they can unzip a bag and make off with your lunch though, given half a chance, lol.

    • greatstuff profile image


      6 years ago from Malaysia

      The last time I was there, it was over 30 years ago and at that time the place was overran with the Macaque monkeys. They may look friendly, but they are actually waiting for the right moment to snatch whatever food you have in your hand! When I go up to Penang (from Kuala Lumpur) the first thing that I do is go for their famous food, and it is the Penang Road Cendol for me. Did you try this when you were there?


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)