The Tropical Spice Garden Story

Tropical Spice Garden was once an abandoned rubber plantation along Penang’s northern shores.

Its founders, David and Rebecca Wilkinson, envisioned a serene, tropical garden. Funded by Bertam Consolidated Rubber Co. Ltd. the couple assembled a talented team that included Lim In Chong, Frederick Walker, Katharine Chua and Kenneth Khoo to help them transform this abandoned rubber plantation into one of South East Asia’s award-winning eco-tourism destinations.

Tropical Spice Garden opened to the public in November 2003, showcasing over 500 varieties of exotic fauna and flora (with an emphasis on spices), spread over 8 acres of secondary jungle.

Tropical Spice Garden opened to the public in November 2003, showcasing over 500 varieties of exotic fauna and flora (with an emphasis on spices), spread over 8 acres of secondary jungle.

It is now one of Malaysia’s premier eco-tourism destinations with a number of prestigious awards including:

  • Gold Award, Laman Floral Garden Award, The Malaysia International Landscape & Garden Festival 2004
  • Merit Award, Tourism Malaysia ‘Best Man-Made’ tourism attraction 2005/06

Today, Katharine Chua helms Tropical Spice Garden as its Managing Director, continuing the legacy of its founders. Tropical Spice Garden consistently ranks as among the must-visit eco-tourism spots in Penang.

We hope to instill and nurture an awareness of nature and the importance of plants in a spectacular and easily accessible setting. Most of all, we hope to offer you a truly unforgettable garden experience!

The Garden Inspiration

Actual work on-site took one and a half years to complete, and involved the major challenge of harmonising over 500 species of tropical flora with the natural valley fronting the Straits of Malacca.

We worked to preserve as much of the original indigenous flora and fauna while maintaining the original topography of the site to give the Tropical Spice Garden a timeless, natural feel. Many of the existing rubber trees were left undisturbed, to give shade and shelter to visitors (and also to the Garden’s smaller inhabitants).

Water plays a prominent role in the Garden, and our design team was able to skillfully re-route the water from a small nearby waterfall through a series of man-made canals into a pond by the visitors’ entrance. From many parts of the Garden, visitors can hear the gentle, relaxing gurgle of water meandering through the grounds.

Environment Conscious Organization

Tropical Spice Garden is more than just a garden! We’re an organization of environmentally and socially-aware individuals.

  • Our team members come from the local community and live within Tropical Spice Garden’s neighbourhood. It’s great being able to rely on a tightly-knit, bunch of friendly neighbours!
  • During the development of the Garden, we utilized mainly natural and recycled building materials salvaged from pre-war shop houses or sourced from local antique stores. After all, old is gold!
  • Our Garden only uses organic fertilizer and integrated pest control methods to limit the negative impact we have on the cycle of life.
  • We love to recycle! So please help us out by depositing your rubbish in the appropriately marked dustbins.
  • We make it a point to deal with smaller local vendors and traders to support their businesses and share the success. After all what comes around, goes around and we want to play our role as a responsible and caring organization.


To be a sustainable community project that preserves and instils appreciation for our natural heritage and peoples history through ethical means, whilst continuing to re-invent the past for future generations


To be an internationally recognized spice garden that brings a peoples history, culture and living environment together as an eco-tourism destination.


The Tropical Spice Garden logo is a flower. But not just any flower. It’s a modern interpretation of the Bunga Kantan or Torch Ginger, indigenous to Malaysia and South East Asia. Did you know that torch ginger flower (finely chopped) is an indispensable garnish for our famous Penang assam laksa?  Our logo reflects our pride in our local roots and  emphasizes our role as a botanic institution (and it helps that we love to eat laksa too!).

Torch ginger