Clearly one of the most interesting attractions in Penang is Bukit Jambul Orchid, Hibiscus & Reptile Garden (last admission at 5:30PM). Located near Hotel Equatorial and only about 10 minutes from Penang International Airport, Bukit Jambul is home to Malaysia’s largest tame snake, a rare albino python, as well as many other amazing reptiles, animals and plants.
This 2-hectare nature garden was first thought of and was established by two friends, who were a horticulturist and herpetologist. The park is widely known among local and international visitors for its amazing plants and animals that are unique in this part of the world. Some of the park’s highlight attractions are a pair of Bengal tigers that grew up here since they were tiny cubs, a host of flightless birds (emu, ostrich and cassowary), different species of flowers (about 100 to 150 varieties), 15 species of snake, four giant tortoises, hibiscuses (two of which are named after former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamed and his wife), a cactus garden, and the largest tiger orchid in the world, with flowers that grow up to 3 inches across. Visitors are welcomed to the garden by a lovely, colorful parrot with a snappy “hello” greeting.
The park is not called “Reptile Garden” for nothing. Inside are amazing lizards, which include the giant albino Burmese python, Chinese rat snake (aka King Rat Snake or Stinking Goddess for the foul odor it emits when handled), green tree viper, green anaconda, blue tongue skink, and saltwater crocodiles.
All snakes are treated well, fed weekly with chicken meat and white mice. They are also treated by in-house and visiting veterinarians when ill. Of all the snakes in the garden, the Burmese pythons are most popular with guests since they may be photographed easily. They are relatively docile and may be tamed to a certain extent. To entertain and educate visitors, especially the children, a snake show is performed twice on weekends and holidays from 11:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m.
Other than the reptile and animal attractions, simply strolling within the park is quite an experience already. Inside is a refreshing waterfall, soothing Japanese pond, pottery corner, and tea kiosk to take a moment’s rest.
Bukit Jambul Orchid, Hibiscus & Reptile Garden is open every day from 9:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Admission is RM5 for adults and RM2 for children. Expect the park to be crowded with excited children and visitors on Fridays and weekends. And finally, to make each visit memorable, several souvenir items are sold including chosen species of orchids, hibiscuses and bromeliads. Also for sale are banana plants. Price range for dwarf banana trees is from RM25 to RM50, bromeliads sell for RM25 to RM80, while orchids are most expensive, ranging from RM10 to RM100. Also, pass by the souvenir shop and look for the coolest souvenir items, T-shirts, Chinese vases and porcelain, fridge magnets, picture frames, toy wooden snakes and other cool items to show off back home.