Penang Avatar Secret Garden 阿凡达神秘花园
There is a parallel universe that does NOT in any way resemble Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park; Pandora — The World of Avatar dubbed Penang Avatar Secret Garden. This hillock is located behind Thai Pak Koong temple in Tanjung Tokong has been transformed by MBI into a neon fantasy.
For Malaysian Avatar fans, this is the closest they get the Avatar experience of the bioluminescent flora and fauna of the fictional moon, Pandora.
The Penang Avatar Secret Garden 阿凡达神秘花园 is a beautification project undertaken by the Tua Pek Kong Temple, with sponsorship from the MBI Group. The project began in August 2016, and opened to the public in time for the 2017 Chinese New Year. It involves the landscaping of the hill slope and beach area. At-grade as well as elevated walkways were also built for visitors to take strolls in the area.
The main attraction is the colorful LED incandescent rope lights. These are draped over tree branches and around tree trunks. The best time to visit is during night time when the lights sparkle best.
The breathtaking walk beneath the “Aqua Trees” is a thrilling experience. Just close your eyes to imagine being on Pandora moon in the Alpha Centauri A system.
Penang Avatar Secret Garden is perfect for that Instagram moment. The stunningly-lit garden looks surreal.
NOT A Na’VI VILLAGE
The entrance to the Chinese fishing community is via Flat Uda Tanjung Tokong.
The seafront Thai Pak Koong (God of Prosperity) temple was built in 1799. This famous temple is noted for its annual Chneah Hoay (fire-watching ceremony) which is performed on the 14th day of the first Chinese lunar month.
Embers in a ceremonial urn are fanned until the flames leaped up. The coming year’s fortune is divined in the conflagration.
In 2004, tsunami extensively damaged the Hai Choo Hooi (Sea Pearl Lagoon Cafe). However, the impact of the waves only dislodged one of the concrete lion statues at the temple entrance. The temple building is still intact. Only a few glass windows broke.
FAMILY FRIENDLY VOYAGES
For road trippers, here’s another great reason to visit Penang Avatar Secret Garden.
You may not get to taste the exotic flavors of Pandora. The Sea Pearl Lagoon Café has their signature dish of coal-baked crabs and salt-baked prawns to reel in the customers. The seafood is fresh and sweet with the smoky taste of burned marks on the shells.
SEAFOOD | SHELLFISH
I’ve been there several times with my friends and colleagues for dinner. We would order a few kilos of crabs and prawns, satay and some ordinary Hokkien Char Noodles.
We enjoyed our seafood dinner with cold beer or coconut water. In case you’re wondering if there’s any Na’vi-inspired refreshment.
The answer is no.
There are no “bioluminescent” frozen cocktails on sale here. You also can’t find any indigenous beers sold at the Penang Avatar Secret Garden.
THERE’S A NEW BEACH NEXT TO PENANG AVATAR SECRET GARDEN
In the late afternoons, it’s quite pleasant to walk on the smooth white sands. Many visitors pose for selfies with the newly installed stone statues of deities and sea creatures.
Go before sunset to enjoy a beautiful seaside view overlooking the North Channel.
NIGHT TIME MAGIC
Sea Pearl Lagoon Café,
336, Jalan Tokong Thai Pak Koong, Tanjung Tokong,
11200 Tanjung Bungah, Penang
WHERE TO PARK AT THE PENANG AVATAR SECRET GARDEN
Go early. Say before 6 pm. I would suggest parking a little further away and take a leisure walk there. Otherwise using an App Car is an excellent way instead of driving.
IF YOU’RE LOOKING FOR A PLACE TO STAY
I have personally been to the Penang Avatar Secret Garden five times since its opening. You may want to go more than once. So it’s best to stay at a hotel nearby.
Penang Avatar Secret Garden 阿凡达神秘花园 (GPS: 5.46381, 100.30778)
336, Jalan Tokong Thai Pak Koong, Tanjung Tokong, 11200 Tanjung Bungah, Penang
Opening Hours: 8 a.m.-12 a.m. (Daily)
Best time to go: 6.30pm in the evening for a stroll along the beach to view the sunset. Light Turns On at 7:30 p.m.
The lights can be a little overwhelming but if combined with the sunset and a satay, fried noodles or seafood dinner, it becomes an awesome trip. Enjoy yourself!
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