We spent almost 3 months in Penang before we discovered the Penang Secret Avatar Garden. Penang is full of secrets, and it’s one of the things we love most about this island. Many locals still aren’t aware of this secret Penang attraction. We visited the Avatar Secret Garden on one of our last nights in Penang. It’s the perfect place for a romantic date with your main squeeze, or an evening out with friends or family.
What is the Penang Avatar Secret Garden?
The Penang Avatar Secret Garden is one of the most psychedelic experiences you can have on Penang Island in Malaysia. It's like stepping into another world,
The garden itself is situated on a hill tucked behind a temple. Wooden stairs and pathways weave among giant trees draped with LED rope lights resembling the bio-luminescent vines from James Cameron’s 2009 blockbuster, Avatar. With a bit of imagination you’ll feel like you’ve been transported from this small attraction onto the planet Pandora to frolic among the blue people.
Finding your way there can be a bit complicated, entrance fees and parking costs can be convoluted, and expectation can be the ruiner of fun, but if you follow this quick guide you’re sure to have a magical experience at the Avatar Garden Penang.
Getting To The Secret Garden in Penang
Avatar Garden Penang address: 336 Jalan Tokong Thai Pak Koong, Tanjung Tokong, Pulau Pinang.
The secret garden is tucked behind the Thai Pak Koong temple in Tanjung Tokong. The easiest way to get there is via Jalan Tokong Thai Pak Koong off from the main highway, Jalan Tanjung Tokong.
Follow the narrow street all the way until you reach the temple gate.
The parking area can be accessed by car or motorbike. If you don’t have your own transportation you can very easily take a taxi or book a grab car on your phone.
Here you will likely be charged an entrance fee of 1-2RM/person or 5RM/car.
**A note on entrance fees** Please be aware that entrance fees and parking fees are subject to change at a moment’s notice. Whether or not there should be an entrance fee to this attraction is not for us visitors to decide. Consider that 4RM is roughly $1 and decide whether or not to let the cost outweigh a good time.
Is it worth the cost of entry?
Yes. 100% The cost to visit this unique attraction is very low when you consider how much you can get out of the experience. So don’t argue with the people who collect the fees. To get the most bang for your buck, plan to go around sunset then have dinner before or after depending on your style.
When Is The Best Time to visit?
Obviously, to appreciate the full effect of the LED lights at Penang Avatar Garden, you should visit at night. Sunset in Penang is around 7:30PM, so ideally you’ll want to arrive just before that to enjoy the sunset and capture some photos on the beach. Once it gets dark you can wander over to the garden and look at the pretty lights.
Tips For Enjoying Avatar Garden Penang:
The Avatar Secret Garden is actually a pretty romantic spot and would make for a nice (and cost effective) date. You can turn up the heat as you watch the sunset and stroll through the enchanting garden, just please be respectful of those around you...don’t go too crazy.
Once you arrive at the temple parking area, make your way to the beach to watch the sunset. Along the way you’ll find some stone statues and shrubberies resembling various animals and deities. We spent several minutes taking pictures and posing with the statues.
Next, we climbed up on the rocks and found ourselves a nice spot to watch the sunset. As we watched the clouds change shape above the waves we were able to reflect on our 3 month stay in Penang. The friends we’d made, new foods we’d tried, and lessons we’d learned. Once the sun was down we were able to watch the lights along the coast turn on a few at a time.
We wanted to wait until it was completely dark to enter the garden, so we killed a few more minutes by climbing the (now illuminated) tower on the beach.
Walking through the garden takes only a few minutes. Once you step into the garden, it’s a very immersive experience, you might even say psychedelic. By turning on your imagination, you’ll actually feel like you’re in an enchanted garden. The light effects are quite impressive. The darkness makes it difficult to estimate the actual size or distance of things, so you mind will play tricks on you. There are cool ultraviolet light effects too, so wear some white or bright colors if you want to glow!
Take it slow and really enjoy the experience, but manage your expectations. The garden is far more beautiful in person than it is in photos, but don’t come with unrealistic expectations. Remember that this is not a real magic garden that you’re visiting. These are trees draped with LED rope lights. Try your best to suspend your disbelief and just enjoy the experience for what it is.
Along the way you’ll find a giant illuminated Chinese chess set. Challenge your partner to a match, or just kick the pieces around (like we did) if you have no idea how to play Chinese chess.
What to eat near the Penang Avatar Secret Garden?
Most blogs recommend that you eat at the seafood restaurant right next to the temple. But, we’re not most blogs. Seafood is great and all, but word on the street is this restaurant might be a bit overpriced. Then again, if overpriced seafood is your thing, by all means….
Instead, why not try some of the street food dishes that Penang is famous for?
Viva Local Food Haven is a hawker food court about 1KM from the Secret Garden on Jalan Tanjung Tokong. There you’ll find lots of local specialties like char kway teow, hokkien mee, and chicken satay along with tons of other international food options. Grab a seat, order some drinks, then browse the stalls. Order your food from the stall, then pay whoever delivers it to your table when it arrives.
Final Round Up:
Is this a real magic garden?
No, this is not a real magic garden...these are trees draped with color changing lights.
What should I bring?
+ a camera that takes good pictures in the dark
+ your imagination
+ a significant other, some friends or your family
+ white or reflective clothing
+ water, Penang is hot and humid
Will I enjoy this?
If you can suspend your disbelief a little bit and use some imagination you’ll be well on your way to experiencing something close to an Avatar-like environment.
How long does it take?
It can take all of 5 minutes or an hour depending on how long you spend taking photos, or how much time your wait for other people taking photos. This place isn't super busy but it is a popular spot for locals. The pathway through the Avatar Secret Garden is short, but there's a lot to experience between the entrance and the exit.