Sabah Agriculture Park (Local Name: Taman Pertanian Sabah), in Tenom district of Sabah interior, is one of the largest garden parks in Malaysia. This attraction is so underrated because people think that it’s only about farming. In fact, Sabah Agriculture Park has a wide range of exotic flowers and fruits origin from the tropical regions of Asia, Central & South America, and Africa.
Furthermore, Sabah Agriculture Park is a 500-acre mega garden with over 20 mini gardens that have special collections categorized by plant families or characteristics. Casual visitors would be dazzled by thousands of flowers, trees, fruits, and vegetables in variety of forms and colors, and enjoy a stroll at the beautiful lakeside and model gardens. If you are an avid botanist, gardener or farmer, you would wish that you discovered this plant kingdom earlier.
Sabah Agriculture Park sprawls over an area of 6 square kilometres, which is too big for visitor to cover everything in a day. The park is like a buffet, you can spend from a few hours to a week, depend on how much you want to see. My favourites are Crops Museum for sampling of tropical fruits, Native Orchid Centre for rare Borneo orchids, and Model Gardens for photo-taking.
For a quick tour to experience the highlights, the following activities are suitable for family and normal tourists who want to spend only a few hours:
- Take a free ride on a tram-train to visit orchid and models gardens near the end of the park (save a lot of legwork). The tram starts around 9am and operates hourly (depend on the number of visitors).
- Check out Crops Museum and Ornamental Gardens near the entrance of the Park.
The park used to rent bicycle, which provides an excellent mean to explore the park. Sadly it’s not available now.
Sabah Agriculture Park is an ideal outdoor classroom for school trips. The educators also can organize knowledge quests for students to learn about plant in a fun way. Who knows this might inspire them to find their passions in agriculture and horticulture (other than becoming a Youtuber, just kidding).
Instead of wandering aimlessly in the park, an interpretation walk by a knowledgeable guide will make a big difference to your experience. They will share interesting stories of the plant, let you sample some foreign fruits and show you some special plant in the park. The guiding service is free. However, you need to request in advance with the Park by phone or through their Facebook (subject to availability).
- There are mosquitoes in areas near to water, you will need insect repellent.
- No water station in the Park, bring a bottle of drinking water with you.
- Visit in the morning so you don’t exposure to hot day. Use sunblock lotion (or umbrella) to prevent sunburn.
- June to August is the best period to visit because of the fruiting season.
- Wear comfortable walking shoes, especially the ones with slip resistant.
Gardens of Sabah Agriculture Park
There are over 20 sections that feature different flowers and plant. Every garden has signage, name plates and information panels (most have English version) for your DIY tour. You can walk to one garden to another via the network of paved path that connects most gardens. The following is an overview of the main gardens in the Park.
Ornamental Garden is the best starting point for flower lovers. This super garden has over 20 well-landscaped mini-gardens that showcase different groups of plant and flowers. Fans of Bougainvillea, Hibiscus, Hoya, Ixora, Lily, Clerodendrum, Cactus, Carnivorous or Parasitic plant would be really pleased by the magnificent collection there. Some species are endemic to Borneo.
Which flower is the Queen of the Tropical Flowers? What’s a wax plant? You can find the answers in this garden.
Do you know that coffee was introduced from America and oil palm is the native plant of Africa? Some crops are so useful (or tasty) that they become part of our lives. You would be impressed by 400 tropical fruit trees divided into 15 major sections on this 8-acre ethno-botanical garden. These are cash trees with economic values due to their uses as food, medicines, spices, oil, fibers, cosmetics, handicrafts, etc. Some of them are from South America, Africa, India and Australia. Read more…
Model Gardens consist of five small themed gardens to demonstrate different landscaping and gardening styles that serve specific community and environment. For example, City Garden with cooling water fountain and seats, Sabah Garden with common vegetables and local ornamental trees. Sabahans love to plant papaya, pandan, banana and shallot on their yards.
Hybrid Orchids Centre
70 species of showy hybrid orchids grow here, mainly under genus of Oncidium, Cattleya, Aranda, Renenthera, Mokara, and Doritaenopsis. This is also a great location to take some portrait photos. Read more…
Native Orchids Centre (must visit!)
Next to Hybrid Orchids Centre is the real gem of the Park, the Native Orchids Centre, where 400 species of indigenous Borneo orchids are cultivated. In contrast to the flamboyant hybrid orchids, many native orchids have smaller flowers, and some have smelly flowers. Some rare and endangered species found here include Elephant Ear Orchid, Rat Tail Orchid, Slipper Orchids, Bella Orchid, Giant Orchid and the Rose Orchid.
This garden exhibits how plants evolved and adapted to the environments even before dinosaur age, from pond to semi-arid zone, as well as harsh habitats such as salty and limestone territories. What would catch your attention there are the floating Giant Water lily that can hold a toddler, and the rotting smell of Giant Aristolochia flowers.
Near the Sapong Lake is a mini zoo that raises some livestock and farm animals, for example, deer, ducks, tortoise, goats, ostrich. Many children are afraid of chicken because they never see one. Time to bring them here to see the real stuffs.
Lakes & Camping Ground
Oddly, lake is not very common in Sabah, so I’m happy to see three lakes in the Park. Visitors can enjoy the view and walk on the suspension bridges, or have a scenic view of the lakes on top of the 4-storey lookout tower. The Park even creates four islands in the lakes, one of them is Camping Island, which has a camping ground with tents and toilets (alert: many mosquitoes).
For a permit fee (RM2.00), you can fish at the lake, which has Tilapia, Grass and Common Carp, Patin, Toman, Kalui, and Lampam Jawa, to name a few. You can take home your caught too (for RM8/Kg). Boating is another fun activity in the lake.
Amenities & Accommodation
Overall, Sabah Agriculture Park is a family-friendly park with complete amenities. Lot of parking spaces near the entrance. There are ticket counter, souvenir shop, restaurant, and toilets in the arrival hall.
Decent accommodation is available for those who want to overnight in the Park. However, it’s closed as of this writing. The fees below are for your info. You can follow their Facebook for the reopening date.
Hostel (per night per person): Adult (RM25), Student (RM15)
Chalet: RM150 per Chalet per Night (max 6 people)
Camping: RM 10 per person/night
The Park is open from Tuesday to Sunday from 9am to 4:30pm. It’s closed every Monday (unless that day falls on a Public Holiday).
The best deal is family group ticket for parents who bring two children. (For international tourists: Based on currency exchange rate (as of this writing), one USD can exchange for about four Ringgit (RM4 or MYR4).)
|Adult (13 years and above)||RM10||RM25|
|Student (Secondary school / Undergraduates of higher learning)||RM7||–|
|Child below 13||RM5||RM10|
|Accompanied child below 6||Free||Free|
|Government Pensioner / Senior Citizen||RM7||RM25|
|Family (2 adults + maximum 2 children below 13 years old)||RM20||RM50|
How to get there
Sabah Agriculture Park is about 164 kilometres from Kota Kinabalu City (KK), and 14 kilometres from Tenom town. The Park is highly accessible by highway and paved road, and takes nearly 3 hours of driving from KK. The GPS coordinates of the Park is 5.174728932499501, 115.98344250484831 (see Location Map). Do not rely on public transport to move around Tenom. Use your car or rent one.
The following is the contact of Sabah Agriculture Park:
Address: Taman Pertanian Sabah, WDT, 28, 89909 TENOM, SABAH, MALAYSIA
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
Phone: +60 87-737952 / 737558
Photos taken in Tenom, Sabah, Malaysia Borneo