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Tropical Spice Garden Penang REVIEW: much more than a spice garden

Tropical Spice Garden Penang REVIEW: much more than a spice garden

For a chance to understand the flora and fauna which makes Penang unique, take a trip to the Tropical Spice Garden Penang. In a handy location close to Batu Ferringhi, the Tropical Spice Garden offers much more than just another botanic garden, with a range of activities, displays and trails to keep you entertained, all under the canopy of the tropical rainforest. It’s especially fantastic if you are visiting Penang with kids.

Arriving to Tropical Spice Garden Penang

The Tropical Spice Garden is perched on a patch of land on the northern tip of Penang Island, only a few hundred metres along the coastline from Batu Ferringhi.

The 101 and 102 buses both stop directly outside the entrance on their way between George Town and Teluk Bahang.

Grab is an easy option when you arrive although it can sometimes be a long wait heading home as less vehicles drive past Batu Ferringhi, unless they’re dropping off at Penang National Park.

How much does it cost?

The entrance fee for Tropical Spice Garden Penang is good value and includes a small activity book if you’re visiting with children. The prices are:

  • Adults: RM28
  • Seniors: RM20
  • Children: RM15

If you’re here on the weekend, you have the option to take a guided tour at 9:30am or 11:30am. Spaces are limited to ten people and it’s best to book in advance. Prices (which include entrance fee) are:

  • Adults: RM48
  • Seniors: RM38
  • Children: RM28

You can pay at the entrance gate or book online if you prefer. As spaces are limited for the guided tour, it’s best to book this in advance if possible.

Entrance options, tour or self-guided?

The standard self-guided ticket is a good option if you’re content to explore the Spice Garden at your own pace and don’t need the extra information provided by the guided-tour. You’re given a map at the entrance which is well laid-out and designed, giving you a clear understanding of what there is to see and which route to take. Once you arrive at the different exhibits, you’ll find information boards to explain what you’re looking at, whether it’s a native tree, spice garden or turtle pen.

An audio tour is available to guide you around at an extra cost. It helps explain and inform some of the exhibits, and there’s an express version of the tour available if you’re in a rush.

Finally, if you want to delve even deeper into the Spice Garden, a guided tour is available twice a day on weekends for up to ten people. It’s a small and friendly tour with a knowledgeable guide who takes the time to answer questions and provide useful snippets of information about the flora on display. Make sure you book in advance for the guided tour to avoid disappointment.

Tips for visiting

  • the whole site is well-shaded from the sun and gets a little hint of the sea breeze, so it stays relatively cool throughout the visit (although this is still Penang, so expect to sweat!)
  • feel free to amble around if that’s your preference, but otherwise try to follow the map or a general plan as the path is quite windy and it’s easy to miss some areas if you’re not careful
  • a large part of the enjoyment is taking your time and checking out all the exhibits, so don’t rush around
  • if you’re visiting with kids, they’ll get activity book, some spices to grind, and ribbon to make a wish a tie to a butterfly sculpture
  • for kids and adults, check out the bamboo swing near the start. It’s sturdy enough to take a couple of adults, and you’ll get views out over towards the sea as you swing back and forth
  • wear some comfortable shoes as there is a decent amount of walking, including some gentle uphill sections
  • you can buy water at beginning in the shop and there’s some free herbal tea halfway along, but nothing else until you reach the gift shop at the end
  • keep an eye out for animals along the way. You will see some dusky-leaf monkeys and feel the mosquitoes. It’s possible a snake might be nearby as well, but you’re highly unlikely to encounter one and the path is always kept clear of leaves etc.
  • take some mosquito spray to ward off any biting insects

You can stop for some fresh herbal tea along the way where you’ll also find some concrete seats to relax on. It’s a nice place to take a break after the first half of the visit.

If you fancy a challenge, a reflexology path is laid out on the floor. The trick seems to be to tread as lightly as you can, and stop for a rest at each flat section. It certainly gives the feet a massage.

Penang Tropical Spice Garden for kids

Kids will love the Tropical Spice Garden, there’s a few exhibits especially tailored for them, including several slides (be careful of puddles of water at the end), spice grinding, and a bamboo swing.

They’re also provided with a cute activity book with some suggested activities (e.g. lie on the ground and watch the clouds, dangle your feet in the fish spa, etc), a prayer strand, and some local spices to grind at the pestle and mortar station.

The walkways are well-maintained and make for easy walking for kids, plus they’ll probably find the reflexology path easier than their parents.

Gift shop

The gift shop at the end is nicely in keeping with the Tropical Spice Garden; well planned with cute items available for purchase. You can expect to find things like spices, clothing, jewellery, plus food and drink, as well as very powerful aircon.

After your visit

After you leave the Tropical Spice Garden, you’re directly on the main coast road, so it’s easy to get a bus back to either Batu Ferringhi or George Town. Grab can be tricky to arrange as the location is slightly away from the main Penang areas, but one will accept the fare eventually.

There’s a fantastic, family-run restaurant directly opposite across the road which serves meals from RM6, including laksa, noodles and fried rice. Pull up a chair overlooking the sea and take in the view. In terms of cost versus views and quality of food, it takes some beating.

Final thoughts

Penang’s Tropical Spice Garden makes for an ideal half-day excursion in Penang, with a simple and easy-to-follow walk around what makes the island so special; spices and rainforests. If you fancy delving deeper into the information, take one of the tours, otherwise wander around at your own pace and take in the scenery and spices.