Want to get far from the madding (and maddening) crowd for a while? Several easily accessible parks in Penang are perfect spots to rejuvenate your spirits.
1. Penang Botanic Gardens
Where in Penang can you find trees whose fruits resemble cannonballs and candles? In the Penang Botanic Gardens! The cannonball tree and candle tree are part of thousands of species of trees and plants found in this park. Also, a hiking trail near the park’s entrance leads to Penang Hill, 2,700 feet high. You can take the challenge to trek up!
Founded in 1884, Penang Botanic Gardens comprises 10 attractions, each showcasing themed plant collections such as ferns, orchids and cacti, amongst others. Water features are also aplenty, ranging from lily ponds to waterfalls to fountains. Penang Botanic Gardens is located at Jalan Kebun Bunga on the north-eastern fringe of Georgetown.
2. Penang National Park
Before you dismiss this coastal national park as just another teeming forest with chattering monkeys, it would behoove you to know what to expect along its trails. There’s a lighthouse built in 1883, a small ancient grave of Indonesian Aceh origin, a WWII trench used by the Japanese Imperial Army, a turtle hatchery at Malaysia’s sole meromictic lake (where surface water and lower level water do not mix), a beach where sea corals are visible, and another beach where Green Sea Turtles come to nest.
As you trample over shady trails bordering the coastline, apart from the ubiquitous mangrove, keep your eyes peeled for wild orchids, cashew nut trees, pagoda-shaped sea almond trees, orange-barked pelawan tree, insect-eating pitcher plants and lots more.
From birds and insects come chirps, drones and trills to keep your ears entertained, not to mention hoots from dusky leaf monkeys. Located at Teluk Bahang at the north-eastern part of the island, Penang National Park is only 30 minutes’ drive away from Georgetown.
3. Penang Municipal Park
Multiple activities await you in this lush 70-hectare park at Persiaran Kuari. For a start, there are facilities for skateboarding, roller-skating, and archery. The Penang Archery Club operates the archery range from 2 pm to 4 pm on Saturday and Sunday.
For more sedate activities, you can play chess on a giant chessboard, take selfies in the graffiti garden or soak in the sights of a beautiful landscaped garden meant for bridal photography. Kiddies are catered for in the wading pool, children’s playground and accessible playground. The latter is for use of physically- and mentally-handicapped children.
The best part of the park is the various activities that are held at scheduled times. They include ballroom dancing, line dancing, aerobics, tai chi, and zumba, amongst others. For details, please check the park’s official website.
4. Relau Metropolitan Park
Fill your lungs with cool fresh air as you jog along shady undulating tracks in this hilly park in the district of Relau, near Penang International Airport. While you limber up at the exercise stations, your kids can frolic in a wading pool. Name tags on fruit trees, hardwoods, spices and herbs allow for an educational experience as well.
After your jog or stroll, massage your tired soles by treading on a pebbly reflexology path or go up the three-storey watchtower to admire the views. An old abandoned mansion – dubbed Relau Mansion by locals — is found at the fringe of the park, and is frequented by paranormal investigators!
5. Desa Ara Public Park
Come to this park in the months of March, April and July to see the tabebuia rosea trees lining its perimeter displaying its blooms. Ranging from purplish pink to white, tabebuia flowers are nicknamed “the cherry blossom of Penang”. The park is located at Jalan Sungei Ara 1.
Tabebuia rosea trees are also found along Jalan Mayang Pasir 2, Medan Bayan Lepas, Jalan Sungai Ara 11, Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu Highway, and Lorong Bayan Indah 1.
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