For a real oasis – a slice of private forest amid the urban jungle – find your way to a botanical garden. Providing the public with awe-inspiring natural art, some of the botanical gardens in Malaysia have been around for a century and are steeped in history, while others are brand new.
Each one has something unique to offer, and is worth a visit, but we’ve rounded up our favorite must-see gardens around the country. This list of botanical gardens and arboretums in Malaysia is intended to include all significant botanical gardens and arboretums in both Peninsula and East Malaysia (Borneo).
National Botanical Garden
The National Botanic Garden of Malaysia, or Taman Botani Negara, is one of the largest and greatest of the country’s botanic gardens. Originally established in 1986, the garden serves as a massive knowledge center for nature lovers and botanists as well as a tourist destination. Activities here range from cycling, kayaking and fly-fishing to visiting the paddy fields, Animal Park and Four Seasons Temperate House.
Putrajaya Botanical Garden, Putrajaya
The Putrajaya Botanic Garden, known as the ‘mother of all gardens’ in the federal territory of Putrajaya, is divided into eight botanical themes, namely: Malaysian Ulam and Medicinal, Bambusetum, Zingiberales, Edible Fruit Arboretum, Lawn and Gramineae, Forest Fringe and Aboriginal Medicinal Plants, Conservatory and Ecological Pond. The garden also houses the popular Astaka Morocco (Moroccan Pavilion), inspired by Moroccan heritage and architecture.
Perdana Botanical Garden, Kuala Lumpur
With a history going back to 1888, the Perdana Botanical Garden in downtown Kuala Lumpur is one of the country’s oldest public parks. Formerly known as the KL Lake Gardens, the large park consists of a boathouse, conservatory, boardwalk, observation deck, Deer Park, information center, souvenir shop, cafe and more.
Rimba Ilmu Botanic Garden, Kuala Lumpur
A treasure trove not often publicized to visitors and tourists, the Rimba Ilmu Botanical Garden on the campus of Universiti Malaya is a unique botanical garden presented in an authentic forest atmosphere. The brainchild of the late Professor W.R. Stanton, then Head of the Department of Botany, the garden was established in the early 1970s. Designed in such a way to reflect a rainforest garden rather than just any flower garden, .the Rimba Ilmu Botanic Garden contains a few areas, namely Medicinal Plants, Palms, Citrus, Mixed Forest Species, Ferns and Fruit Trees. The Malaysian Nature Society, who runs the highly recommended Kuala Selangor Nature Park, has been organizing environmental programmmes at the botanical garden since 1997.
Taman Agroteknologi MARDI Cameron Highlands
Located in the compounds of a former research station established by the British in the 1920s, the Cameron Highlands MARDI Agrotechnology Park was officiated in 2003. Divided into six main areas, namely the English Garden, Herb Garden, Orchid Garden, Rose Garden, a research centre and an information centre, the park is operated by the Malaysian Agricultural Research and Development Institute (MARDI). Just 1 km from the town of Tanah Rata, the park can be easily reached by car, taxi, bus or even by foot.
Malacca Botanical Garden, Malacca
The Malacca Botanical Garden is located in the major town of Ayer Keroh in Malacca state. Also housing the Malacca Forestry Museum, the garden is divided into several sections including a Prehistoric Garden, Storyland, Orang Asli Park and Deer Park. Other attractions and facilities here include waterfalls, a suspension bridge, watch towers, campsites, beautiful picnic spots and children’s playgrounds.
Penang Botanic Garden, Penang
Not far from Penang Hill, the oldest hill resort in Malaysia, the Penang Botanic Gardens were originally established in 1884 under the supervision of Charles Curtis, an English botanist and the garden’s first superintendent. Occupying a valley described as “an amphitheatre of hills” and covered in lush tropical rainforests, its tranquil setting makes it a popular recreational spot for aerobics, jogging, walking and hiking. There are collections of rare plant species housed in the Aroid Walkway, Bromeliad and Begonia House, Cactus House, Fern Rockery, Herb Garden, Orchidarium, Palm Collection, Perdana Conservatory and Sun Rockery. The garden fauna include black giant squirrels, dusky leaf monkeys, long-tailed macaques and many insects.
Perak Botanical Gardens (Taman Botani Perak)
The 22.6 hectare Perak Botanical Gardens is located near the famed Taiping Lake Gardens. It is a collaboration between the Taiping Municipal Council and the National Landscape Department. Housing some 10,000 plants and 120 species, it consists of four themed areas: Palmatum garden, Perak Malay garden, northern zone endemic garden and a themed park occuping an area over 5.7 hectares.
Johor Botanical Garden (Taman Botani Johor)
The Johor Botanical Garden is a joint venture project between the federal government of Malaysia and the Johor State Government through the National Landscape Department and the Johor State Landscape Department. Besides being a lovely green recreational spot, other main functions of the garden include being a venue for conservation, education and research.
Labuan Botanical Garden (Taman Botani Labuan)
The Labuan Botanical Garden is one of the largest public parks in the duty-free island of Labuan in Borneo, East Malaysia. Occupying the grounds of an old Government House built in 1852, many interesting tales of its past residents, especially during Borneo’s headhunting era, are associated with the garden and residence that once stood there.
Sarawak Botanical Garden and Orchid Park
Situated in Kuching, the Sarawak Botanical Garden or Taman Botani Sarawak is a vast, landscaped garden with pathways, known for a wide variety of rare orchids and a greenhouse. Spend a relaxing afternoon meandering the panoramic grounds, complete with fish ponds, bridges and fountains. Make time for the on-site Orchid Park, housed in its own compound.
Mount Kinabalu Botanical Garden
The Mount Kinabalu Botanical Garden is home to a fascinating collection of native flora, including the world’s smallest orchid. Set within the Kinabalu Park UNESCO World Heritage site, views of Mount Kinabalu from the garden are excellent. Laced with soothing streams and several easy-to-walk trails, nature lovers will revel at the chance to observe the surrounding beauty while educating themselves via interesting anecdotes of the garden’s plants along with some cool demos.