Perdana Botanical Gardens is one of Kuala Lumpur’s most popular parks. Its location near several other Kuala Lumpur attractions helps, as the Perdana Botanical Gardens zone encompasses tourism highlights such as the KL Bird Park and the National Planetarium.
As for me, I go semi-regularly to Perdana Botanical Gardens for a run or a ramble, mainly because there’s a cafe place next to the multi-storey parking! I’d stop for breakfast or lunch, depending on when I can drag myself out of the apartment on a Sunday.
There are no entry fees for Perdana Botanical Gardens.
- How to go to Perdana Botanical Gardens
- Highlights of Perdana Botanical Gardens
- History of Perdana Botanical Gardens
- Amenities in Perdana Botanical Gardens
How to go to Perdana Botanical Gardens
Perdana Botanical Gardens is quite easy to reach, as it is a main recreational and tourism complex of Kuala Lumpur. I normally come by car, but that doesn’t mean it is the easiest option to get there.
The Gardens has a longish layout that undulates down the slope of Bukit Aman from north to south. There are several entry points on its boundaries along this length. This means that people who don’t want to pay for parking would be parked all along these boundary lanes, which worsens the traffic – particularly on Sundays, when there are more tourists. If you do bring a car, I suggest you enter the Gardens from the north, where there is a multi-storey parking garage near the Royal Malaysian Police headquarters. Parking there only costs RM4 per entry.
Alternatively, it’s also a good idea to take public transport. There are several options, and they’re actually quite easy.
1. KL Hop On Hop Off tourist bus
For visitors to Kuala Lumpur, the KL Hop On Hop Off bus option is especially convenient for those who also want to pick up other KL attractions as well, and have already bought the 48 hour ticket. The Bird Park stop (Stop 9) is the most convenient. Walk north from the Bird Park and you should be able to get to the nearest entrance for Perdana Botanical Gardens from the signage at the road junction.
2. GoKL City Bus
You can also get to Perdana Botanical Gardens using the free GoKL City Bus. The National Mosque (Masjid Negara) is along the Red line bus route. This option involves a bit of a walk from the National Mosque into the Perdana Botanical Gardens complex. However, if you wanted to visit the Mosque and the Islamic Arts Museum anyway, this would be a good option.
3. Train options to Perdana Lake Gardens
You have several options to get to the Perdana Botanical Gardens complex by train.
If you’re already at KL Sentral station, you could actually walk through the station complex to the Muzium Negara (National Museum) MRT station. If you’re not already at KL Sentral, you can get to this MRT station by taking the MRT Kajang Line, and get off at Muzium Negara.
You can also take the KTM Komuter and the LRT to KL Sentral station. The LRT and KTM Komuter services broader commutes from suburbs outside the Klang Valley into Kuala Lumpur. The KL Monorail also gets you to KL Sentral, but you will need to pass through the mall to get to KL Sentral station.
Emerge to the street from Muzium Negara MRT station, and walk around the National Museum building. You will find a pedestrian path that crosses the main road via a tunnel. This tunnel emerges into Perdana Botanical Gardens. There will be a sign to mark the path.
As Perdana Botanical Gardens is also a tourism park, it is easy to get there by taxi or ride share. The local ride share pioneer is Grab, but there are also other e-hailing options these days.
Highlights of Perdana Botanical Gardens
Perdana Botanical Gardens is not that big. But it’s still big enough that you’ll need repeat visits to appreciate all the different sections.
If you’re coming by train, you’ll encounter Perdana lake first, which occupies much of the southern part of the Gardens. The path around the lake is popular with joggers. Looking south, the view is dominated by the high rises around KL Sentral.
The park widens towards the north, with the main entrance at the upper end near the police headquarters, and a smaller entrance at the lower end near the Royal Lake Club. The touristy part is at the main entrance side, and is where you’ll likely enter from if you came by car (and did not park illegally by the roadside). The herbarium is in this part, as well as a small but delightful souvenir shop with a small cafe, and (bizarrely) the Malaysian Cartoons & Comics House.
From this area, you descend down some stairs past the amphitheatre to enter the actual botanical gardens. This north part of the gardens is mostly botanical, with lots of trees and marsh zones.
The middle part of the garden has a fantasy feel. It begins with a children’s playground, which is across the road from the Sunken Garden. Nearby, the undulating canopy of Laman Perdana grabs your attention. Crossing it, you can see on a little lake island, the bamboo playhouse designed by Malaysian architect Eleena Jamil.
The marsh zone
For lovers of water bodies within gardens like me, the dips in the land where the old stream flows to the lake would be a draw. A wetland ecosystem of reeds and other riparian plants is cultivated around it. The stream has been modified with artificial banks and weirs, and in some portions you can find resident tortoises.
The specialist botanical gardens
Scattered around the Gardens are small sections focusing on specific botanical themes. A list of these gardens can be found on the Perdana Botanical Garden’s official website, although the list can be outdated. A couple of highlights for me are the herbs & spices garden, featuring tropical herbs. The cycads knoll further south is quite pretty as well.
Laman Perdana canopy
Perdana Botanical Gardens also has a fairly instagrammable artistic canopy. The space is called Laman Perdana (“Perdana Field”), and is a flat paved area covered with a glass and metal undulating canopy structure. The canopy notably has a large hole in the centre. I’m not sure why, but perhaps it acts as a kind of chimney for ventilation. Or maybe you gotta see it when it’s raining to get it. Laman Perdana can be rented as a venue for events & activities.
Of course, the lake which gave the park its original name of ‘Lake Gardens’ is also a highlight.
I don’t know how different it looks now from my childhood; I don’t remember. But this was where my dad used to take my brother and I whenever my mom needed us out of the house. (It was also where my brother somehow slipped off a bench on his head and had to be stitched, leading to perpetual sibling teasing about having been dropped on his head as a child.)
Today it is a long, placid lake ringed by a walking path. On the far end, the path connects to the tunnel towards the National Museum and onward to the train stations. On the other end, the path leads to a boardwalk area where you can step down to the lake to feed the fish.
The Sunken Garden
The Sunken Garden is a circular garden comprising of low hedges, down a drop from the surrounding area. One of the entryways has you viewing the garden from behind a hedge arch, which gives it a ‘secret garden‘ feel. The raised white flower pots and the trimmed hedges are reminiscent of a French garden, but the fountain in the centre is Andalusian in its geometric star pattern. It’s a great place to take photographs in. Though I hope it gets a trim and flowers replanted soon.
Cartoon and Comics Museum
I wasn’t sure if I should list this museum as a ‘highlight’, given that I haven’t personally entered it yet. (I keep telling myself, ‘next time’.) However, I decided to list it anyway, because it is the museum that highlights the work of legendary Malaysian cartoonists, including from the heyday era in the 80s and 90s of Gila Gila magazine, which had the tagline ‘Majalah Humor Nasional’ (‘The National Humour Magazine’). I really should go inside one of these days. It should give a good sense of mainstream cartooning in Malaysia.
History of Perdana Botanical Gardens
Perdana Botanical Gardens was once known simply as the Lake Gardens. It was still known as the Lake Gardens when my father took my brothers and I to the park as children.
The Lake Gardens was a colonial era project. The Sultan of Selangor had accepted British colonial advisors who, over time, carried out many projects in the Kuala Lumpur area (then part of the territory of Selangor) as de facto rulers of the state.
Lake Gardens was the idea of the Selangor State Treasurer, Alfred Venning. In 1888, he talked Frank Swettenham, the British Resident Advisor to Selangor at the time, into approving some state funds to create a garden. Located next to Swettenham’s official residence, the Carcosa Seri Negara, the park was opened in 1889 by the Governor of the Straits Settlements*, Cecil Clementi Smith.
At well over 100 years old, Perdana Botanical Gardens is the oldest public park in Kuala Lumpur.
Following Malaysia’s independence, Lake Gardens was renamed Perdana Lake Gardens in 1975 by the second Prime Minister of Malaysia, Tun Abdul Razak. The lake within the park was also renamed to Perdana Lake (formerly named Sydney Lake, after Swettenham’s wife). The park was subsequently upgraded to a botanical garden. And in 2011, it was renamed again to Perdana Botanical Gardens by Tun Razak’s son.
Venning also founded a social club, and located it next to Lake Gardens. The Lake Club was a segregationist European-only club, which became the ‘social scene’ for Europeans in Kuala Lumpur. The club still exists today. Now under the patronage of the Sultan of Selangor, it is known as the Royal Lake Club, and membership is no longer racially exclusive.
Amenities in Perdana Botanical Gardens
Perdana Botanical Gardens has several convenient amenities as a public park. Benches and tables are scattered through the park, along with the occasional gazebo. These and the grassy lawn areas are popular with visitors bringing a picnic. For visitors with children, there is also a playground area near the Sunken Garden.
The park has public toilets within its grounds. In the middle, next to the boardwalk area, there is also a restaurant serving local food. Near the amphitheatre, there is a Muslim prayer space, which makes it convenient for an all-day visit.
What it doesn’t have, though, are public drinking fountains. So if you’re coming for exercise and plan to stay a while, you might want to bring a water bottle, or pop into the restaurant for some F&B.
* The Straits Settlements was an administrative department in the British Empire, governing the three British colonies along the Strait of Malacca, which has been a key shipping route for centuries. The Straits Settlements comprised of Penang, Malacca, and Singapore.
Pin for your Kuala Lumpur inspiration!