Penang is an island that covers all destination aspects, from night markets to touristy spots, Penang has it all. Even better still, Penang has a little something for everyone to enjoy, whether your a nature lover or a city lover.
And this is exactly why you should take the chance to visit all the beautiful nature that Penang has to offer. Among the two that stands out is the Penang Habitat and the Penang Tropical Spice Gardens.
Whether you are an ecologist or simply a person who likes natures, now you have another reason to visit Penang Hill. Introducing The Habitat – the world-class ecotourism site on Penang Hill with a paved nature trail, gardens, treetop walk and more important, guided tour allowing townies like us to understand more on flora and fauna surrounding the rain forest.
Habitat is not just a guided walk. Not solely conducted by local professional guides who will give you great insight into the local flora and fauna. The park is home to giant black squirrels, colugos, dusky leaf monkeys and other small jungle critters.
There are quite a few reasons why you should go there now, but I’ll tell you the five perks I like the most.
1. The Giant Swings
Face it: everyone loves swings. And even more, if they are giant, wooden, and overlooking a beautiful patch of rainforest, that rolls down green hillslopes. Did I mention the sea, simmering away on the most apparent days, and views that stretch as far as Kedah? If you have thought long about where to go on your next special date, one of the Habitat’s two giant swings may as well be the perfect place. Just remember that monkeys will keep an eye on you from the canopy all around.
2. Flora and Fauna at your Fingertips
The beauty of taking a stroll at The Habitat is to be close to nature. You won’t see scores of animals here, but the flowers and trees are plentiful enough to make many stops along the 1.2-kilometre pathway. The guide who’ll accompany you will be great in pointing out all the unique characteristics of trees, insects, and flowers along the way. Any visit will be a real chance to dive deeper into a part of Penang that, unfortunately, many visitors forget in favour of boutique hotels and cafés.
3. The Views are Really Not Bad Up Here…
Yes, Penang Hill has excellent views almost from anywhere you look. But with all the food outlets, people moving about, buggy carts speeding up and down, and the hordes of selfie-stick-toting tourists traversing the paths, you’ll have to compete elbowing your way across the view deck. Since the Habitat is on the opposite side of the hill from George Town, over the Botanical Gardens, it offers much more rewarding views.
4. A Tree Top Walk that’s Unique in All of Penang
Another perk that sets The Habitat apart from other Penang parks is the new Tree Top Walk, named Curtis Crest. This circular ring soars over the park’s canopy, granting unparalleled views on both sides of Penang Hill. Whether you prefer seeing a slice of George Town elongating into the Straits Sea, or take a peek at the plains of Kedah dominated by Gunung Jerai, you can walk, and walk on. Keep enjoying the views from Penang’s highest human-made platform.
5. Great Food in a New Café overlooking the Rainforest
The latest addition to The Habitat is a brand new café tucked behind their souvenir shop, and right before the path that leads you back out to the top of Penang Hill. The ambience is excellent: a stylish noir décor overlooking a hill slope, filled with trees teeming with birds and monkeys. There’s an attractive rooftop area to be completed soon, where a bar with lounge chairs will be a perfect spot for sundowners looking out over one of the island’s greenest corners.
A very good tip for visitors
- Remember two things: first and foremost, the jungle is at its best in the early morning, especially if you are a photographer.
- Try to come when The Habitat opens at 9.30 am to enjoy the park with quieter – weekday mornings are perfect.
- Also, you may want to know that with a Malaysian MyKad you would not have to pay the crazy tourist price.
TROPICAL SPICE GARDEN
The Tropical Spice Garden is another prime tourist attraction in Penang that you shouldn’t miss. Located in an eight-acre valley fronting the shores of Teluk Bahang, it showcases a landscaped garden that consists of tropical collection from all over the world.
With more than 500 varieties of tropical herbs and spices, you can rest assure that the nature sight and sound from the Tropical Spice Garden will offer you a tranquil retreat from the hustle and bustle of the city. Are you ready for a mini-tour with us? Let’s go!
1. Water Garden
The first stop will be the Water Garden. It is directly on the left of the registration counter. You will be greeted with fishes swimming in the pond. It is hard to take photographs because the fishes swim really fast and the water is not very clear. However, the massive pond with floating Lillies is quite a sight!
2. Spice Globe
At Spice Globe, you will get to learn fascinating stories behind some of the most well-known spices, including nutmeg and tiny clove. Take your time to know about the journeys of the early traders and wars. Trust us, it is not as boring as it sounds!
3. Spice Terraces
Spice Terraces consist of plants that make the spices. Take a tour and learn about the plants. Apart from that, you can also learn about the Penang’s history and contribution to the spice trade, from an unknown island to a bustling centre for spices!
4. Heart Of The Garden
There is a giant swing in the heart of the garden. It is perfect to relax and take photographs. Pro-tip, the best way to take the photograph is the front, but it is a little elevated. How are you going to do? Bring your selfie stick along and you will beautiful photographs, for sure!
5. Bamboo Garden & Tea Kiosk
One of the most exciting parts of the tour is the Tea Kiosk! There are different brews, and we had Revitalising Misai Kucing Tea when we went. It is a little bit sweet, but it feels really calming—a nice treat after a long walk. You can take a seat and enjoy the tea. Fret not. There are shaded seats!
6. Reflexology Path
There is a reflexology path along the way from Bamboo Garden & Tea Kiosk towards Beverages of the World. Take off your shoes and take a step on it, if you dare! Rumour has it that it will hurt a lot if a person is unhealthy, we are wondering if that’s true or is just a myth?
7. Jungle Walks
If you are not opting for the Express Tour, you can stop Jungle Walks! It is a good place to be fully immersed in nature. However, it is not recommended for children or senior citizens as some of the steps may be slippery or too steep. Precaution is better than cure!
8. Slides & Ladders
Instead of snakes and ladders, they have slides and ladders! This playground is great for children as they have different lengths of slides for them. Unfortunately, we believe that it is currently closed for some kind of renovation. Hopefully, it will be up when you are going!
The daily guided tour which is available for free is available on first come first serve basis at 9:30 am, 11 am and 12:30 am. When you have finished the entire trail, you will be led to a Lone Crag Villa – unique 20th-century straits colonial holiday bungalow which has been converted into a visitor centre.
Inside there is a Spice museum, Spice cafe, Gift Shop and also a Garden Shop. Have a sip of cool drinks at the cafe to rejuvenate your body after the long walk. At the same time, catch some of the breathtaking ocean views that can be seen from there.
There you go. The perfect nature getaway at a world UNESCO Heritage Site. Trust me! You wouldn’t want to miss out on these two gorgeous places while in Penang.