Steel, novel structures tower over the overgrown terrain. Full of ecological solutions, innovative, surrounded by vegetation, among which reigns the national flower of Singapore – the orchid. Get ready for one of the longest posts on our blog – it’s impossible to write just two sentences about this place!
If you are going to spend just a short while in Singapore this is it, TO one place you must see! :) Regardless of the weather and time of day. Seriously.
During the day, you can enjoy a real feast of colors, feel like you are in a forest or even a jungle, see a variety of plants and ornaments, find shelter from the sun or rain. In the evening, the place is transformed into a light and music show. The beautifully illuminated coastline and the famous trees and people who lie down to look up admire the amazing show played twice a day, in the evenings. What if it’s raining or you don’t take the heat very well? Here you will find covered, air-conditioned gardens, which we will write about later in this post.
And believe us – even for laymen like us, whose knowledge of flowers is limited to a dozen species, it was one of the most beautiful experiences of our lives :)
During our entire stay in Singapore, we went to Gardens by the Bay a total of 4 times! We happened to come especially for the evening shows, as we were charmed by the prevailing atmosphere after dark.
Table of contents
Some basic information about Gardens by the Bay
Gardens by the Bay, Polish for Gardens by the Bay, poses quite a threat to the half lion half fish, called Merlion, in the battle for Singapore’s symbol. It is the aforementioned futuristic gardens that are becoming the most recognizable place in Singapore, and it is here that more tourists come.
The gardens have won many awards, such as Best Building in the World – World Architecture Festival 2012
, the award for Outstanding Achievement by the Themed Entertainment Association in 2014, and breaking Guinness World Records – Flower Dome, as the largest greenhouse in the world (2015)
. Anyway, you can see an impressively long list of awards and accolades here.
And it must be said that these are unique structures that resemble a landscape from another world. Protruding glass domes, steel, tall trees decorated with flowers, and illuminated in the evenings. The ubiquitous mix of nature and modern constructions prevails here. A mix that ensures that neither side is disadvantaged, and in fact they work perfectly together to provide visitors with a unique experience.
Where did you even get the idea for this venture? The idea is part of a larger initiative to transform the city from a “Garden City” to a “City in a Garden,” led by the National Parks Board Singapore. The main goal of this vision is to improve the quality of life, educate the public and show technological solutions in synergy with nature by increasing green spaces and improving their condition. And you can see it at every turn. Not only at ground zero, but also when you look up at Singapore’s tall skyscrapers. There are large green terraces and balconies with lush vegetation. Even the hospital building we passed by every day had several of these places!
Moreover, the whole idea is guided by the goal of environmental sustainability, the use of renewable energy sources and education, and there are really a lot of ways to approach the topic here. This is best illustrated in the graphic below:
There are a lot of interesting places in Gardens by the Bay, and the area is so vast that at least one day is needed to see the highlights.
The complex is divided into 3 parts: Bay South, Bay East and Bay Central. The largest of the three, and loaded with the greatest number of tourist attractions, is Bay South, and it is here that we will focus on in the following paragraphs. Bay East is the second-best green space, but it has a completely different character. Here you can take a break from the hustle and bustle of the city, walk, play sports and it is a place frequented by locals rather than tourists.
Visitors to Singapore, however, focus on Bay South, and no wonder. There are the famous super-trees(Supertrees), two giant greenhouses(Cloud Forest and Flower Dome) where you can admire a total of more than 220,000 plant species from the farthest corners of the world, and themed gardens.
Super trees – in what, other than size, are they super?
Supertrees grow above the other trees at Gardens by the Bay and dominate the local landscape. So it’s not surprising that it’s in their direction that most tourists head immediately. We, too, decided to admire the artificial trees first, before heading to other attractions in the park.
These extremely interesting structures make your neck and neck hurt from looking up all the time. However, it is also worth looking down sometimes, because at the foot of the trees you can find information and interesting facts about the trees and their functions. We were here during the day and couldn’t get enough of it, but it was only at night that we were fully charmed. But about that in a moment, because first some important information about the trees themselves.
There are a total of 18 of them in the entire complex, 12 of which are located next to each other in the so-called Supertree Grove (this is the most popular place with giant trees). The other six were placed in the Golden and Silver Gardens, so don’t be surprised if you come across more artificial trees while exploring the Gardens.
They range in height from 25 meters, with the tallest being 50 meters, and what’s more, there is a restaurant at the very top. But it’s not just their sheer height that earned them the title of super-trees, as they perform many other interesting functions.
They are vertical gardens and are home to hundreds of thousands of plants (more precisely, almost 163,000 plants of 200 species). Almost entire tree structures are overgrown with smaller plants. And so we stood looking at numerous orchids, ferns, bromeliads, tropical vines and many, many other exotic plants that only grow on trees here. Everything, of course, has been perfectly planned and the choice of plants is not random. Those selected are those that are lightweight and durable, easy to maintain, will survive in Singapore’s natural climate, and, of course, will look perfect and please the eyes of visitors.
Giant trees also play an important role in providing energy and irrigation for the entire complex. They collect rainwater, filter the air and convert solar energy, which is used, for example, for light illuminations or transported to greenhouses.
And speaking of light illumination, a fantastic light and sound show called Garden Rhapsody is a must-see. It is held in the evenings, twice a day: at. 7:45 pm and 8:45 pm, but we recommend coming early to get a comfortable seat, even spread out with a blanket and while lying down admire the amazing play of lights to the beat of familiar tunes. This is one of the best and unforgettable experiences during our trips.
You can find a sample from the show on our You Tube:
Giant trees can also be viewed from a height, or more precisely while walking on a special footbridge suspended 22 meters above the ground, between several trees in Supertree Grove. This is an attraction with an additional fee ($8) and unfortunately it happens that in worse weather conditions it is closed (even a light rain here means worse conditions).
We headed to Cloud Forest when the falling rain began to inconvenience us. “Forest in the clouds” or “Clouds in the forest” is an attraction that may not seem attractive to everyone at first glance. As mentioned, admiring plant specimens is not one of our greatest passions, but we nevertheless decided to take a peek inside on the advice of many who have traversed the Gardens by the Bay trails before us.
And guess what? We do not regret any dollar spent on this place! And we spent a lot of them, 28 on two sites: Cloud Forest and Flower Dome (the latter will be discussed below). First of all, it’s not for the plants alone that one enters here, as the biggest attractions are a giant waterfall and two “in the clouds” paths. Second, the way the whole thing has been developed makes us learn about the history of the land and the natural world in an interesting, interactive way.
Cloud Forest is a large, streamlined, glass-roofed building with a high hill dotted with plants (the building is taller than Flower Dome). On one side of the hill, a waterfall falls from the very top, and on the other are two paths and numerous exhibits. There is quite high humidity here from both the waterfall and sprinklers, at about 80-90%, and the temperature is constant at 23ºC – 25ºC.
Immediately after entering, we found ourselves on a platform with a view from below of the waterfall in all its glory. On the wet platform. Some even put on raincoats (yes, inside!). If someone is bothered by a little water, then you can too, but for us it was mainly cooling. From below, the waterfall appears even bigger and stronger. Water falling from 35 meters with tremendous force, makes all conversations and other sounds drowned out (this is the highest covered waterfall in the world!). It is even impossible to cover the waterfall with the lens. Fortunately, we had a wide-angle lens (M.ZUIKO DIGITAL ED 9-18mm f/4.0-5.6) on loan from Olympus for this trip, which came to the rescue in such situations.
Once we were able to take satisfying photos we headed further along the marked path. It leads around the green hill to the elevator, which takes you to the very top. From here you descend or take the elevator to the various floors, where exhibitions and two paths await: Cloud Walk and Treetop Walk.
The whole thing is best illustrated by the map:
The hill itself is strewn with numerous plants, including orchids, ferns, begonias and even carnivorous plants. There are also additional gardens, plant installations and various cultural touches at the bottom. It is tempting to stop every now and then, but it is better to accelerate towards the elevators, because it is at the top that the most interesting attractions await.
However, in order to get to the top you have to stand off in the elevator queue. And there is no that it hurts, there is no that with a child – everyone stands. Fortunately, it goes smoothly, as there are several elevators in operation here, and the facility’s employees oversee the best possible loading of people.
After exiting the elevator, we found ourselves at the very top of the hill where theLost World (Lost World) is located. We passed by a pond with an unimaginably smooth sheet of water. It was tempting to throw something in ;) In addition to the pond, there are plants that grow in the natural environment at altitudes above 2,000 meters above sea level. It was interesting to note that several plants were built from Legos.
From Lost World begins the first of two tracks suspended as if in the clouds. This one is called Cloud Walk and allows you to see the entire Cloud Forest from a footbridge suspended in the air. So you can admire both the plants in the upper parts of the mountain, but also the views outside the dome. In addition, there is occasional irrigation of the facility creating “clouds” on the path.
One floor below is the Grotto (The Cavern), which can be used to reach the waterfall.
The next level is Crystal Mountain, where there are fossils and an exhibit on the history of the earth and the formation of the continents. Our attention was especially drawn to the real stalactites and stalagmites, mounted on platforms.
Another path leads from Crystal Mountain: the Treetop Walk, which is a path along the tops of trees, or more precisely, among the tops of exotic trees.
Below, we’ll look forward to one more exhibition and mini-movie that we thought were the most memorable. On the one hand is Cloud Forest Gallery, a place that shows the destructive impact of humans on the environment. The exhibition features dramatic videos, photos and infographics that illustrate how the world has been changed by humans, what changes have affected the planet, plants and animals. On the other hand, it is shown how each of us can start living more in harmony with nature through simple habits and changes that will positively affect the size of our ecological footprint.
New to this section is the Cloud Forest Theatre, which is a mini-cinema with a display both on the screen and on the floor that makes it feel like ice is crumbling under our feet or whales are swimming around us. It is not a 3D cinema, rather a simple projector, but the effect is interesting. The idea of the film is to show how the world would change if the average temperature on the planet increased by just 5 degrees. Needless to say, the aforementioned “merely” is actually the beginning of a disaster?
And finally, at the very bottom is the Secret Garden, which we treated a bit lightly after the earlier dose of impressions. Perhaps a bit misguidedly, as this section contains more than 7,000 plants from 135 species, so there is plenty to see. And you can watch in an interesting way, because there are magnifying glasses here, through which you can admire, for example, miniature orchids.
As we walked down each floor, we looked through the glass windows at the intensifying rain. It was our first day in Singapore, the weather did not spoil us, but we were happy to be tucked away in a relatively dry room, and on top of that, air-conditioned. Especially since there was another covered attraction ahead, the Flower Dome.
To be honest, we weren’t initially interested in going inside, and probably if we had had the choice and opportunity to buy tickets separately, we wouldn’t have bought the ones for Flower Dome. Have we changed our minds now, after visiting the place? The answer a few paragraphs below.
Flower Dome is the second glass pavilion besides Cloud Forest. Lower, but larger – it even bears the title of the world’s largest such building without columns. The dome consists of 3,332 glass panels of 42 different shapes. Inside, the temperature is pleasant, at a constant 23ºC – 25ºC, and the humidity is lower than Cloud Forest (about 60-80). Some even say that there is an eternal spring here, and this term immediately makes us think of Madeira;)
Inside, the entire area is divided into continental zones, and unlike Cloud Forest, there is no imposed direction to explore here. You can walk freely between the different parts, which are on different levels or platforms.
At first we were surprised and a bit intimidated by the crowd inside. Maybe it was a matter of weather, maybe the popularity of the place, but at times it was so bustling that we had to shout to each other. Fortunately, it became quieter after moving away to the part with baobabs and desert plants. It was in this part that we could see African baobabs that weigh up to 32 tons! Next to it we could see various species of cacti and aloes, which, however, remained in the shadow of long-lived and powerful trees.
But it’s not just plants adapted to dry climates that are under the giant dome. You can walk among 1,000-year-old olive trees from Spain, Chilean palms, dragon dracaena (yes, the kind we saw in the Canary Islands!), European conifers, while viewing many exotic flowers or fruit trees. In order not to be boring, there are many installations, sculptures or ornaments referring to various cultures, history or fictional characters (such as the Alice in Wonderland motif among the plants).
The entire Flower Dome is one big feast of colors, thanks mainly to the tulip exhibition taking place during our visit. Among the tulips, there were houses and other structures, as well as some creepy human faces sticking out above the flowers ;-)
We stayed at the Flower Dome until dusk and were surprised ourselves that we spent so much time inside. The pavilion is a perfect complement to Cloud Forest – both attractions, although similar from the outside, show the natural world in a completely different way inside. If we had to choose one of them, the choice would still be Cloud Forest. However, it’s a good thing we were forced to buy a combination ticket, otherwise we wouldn’t have seen one of Singapore’s most interesting sites.
So, is it worth it? Definitely yes!
A few words about the gardens themselves
Okay, there will be a lot more than a few words, but the rest of the South Bay section, in addition to the aforementioned attractions, is also worth noting. So if you have the opportunity, stay here a while longer then be sure to take advantage of it.
We walked around the gardens both during the day and at night, often, unfortunately, in the rain. During the day it is a place full of greenery, recreational paths, sculptures, thematically arranged spaces. It can be completely dark at night in places, but most of the alleys are illuminated and it’s worth heading to Super Trees or toward the waterfront to admire the illuminated buildings and Ferris wheel.
You can walk around the gardens with a map in hand and look for particular areas, or you can simply take a walk in front of you and look where your feet take you.
One of the places on the map that caught our attention at first was…. a children’s playground. Every parent knows that it’s always a good idea to have a playground of some sort on hand, right? :) On the grounds of Gardens by the Bay there is Far East Organization Children’s Garden – a water playground for the little ones. Unfortunately, we never managed to enter it, because it was always closed when we came – we assume that once we were too late (it’s open until 7 pm), and the second time it rained harder, so maybe that was the reason? Fortunately, during our stay in Singapore we saw and experienced firsthand what real water playgrounds for the little ones are, and there are quite a few of them in Singapore.
So let’s move on to the attractions for those a little older. Certainly noteworthy are theHeritage Gardens, which show Singapore’s history and culture through plants, and references to other cultures in themed gardens: Chinese (with a hidden Buddha statue), Malay, Indian and colonial. Unfortunately, during our visit, the Indian Garden was just under renovation.
The World of Plants section of the site is also interesting. This place full of lush greenery also plays an educational role, if not primarily. There are several installations here, interestingly arranged artificial plants that explain interesting natural phenomena. It is here that lurk fig leaf animals, or magnified fungi, bacteria and invertebrates that play a very important role in our ecosystem.
You can also take a look at the Sun Pavilion, which replicates the drylands and is home to 1,000 desert plants.
The garden is also a kind of exhibition. Not far from the glass pavilions is a 400-meter-long path along which rocks of natural and intriguing shapes are arranged. Among them are also 4 typical sculptures: two Chinese totems, a dragon and a dragonfly. Anyway, various sculptures are scattered throughout the gardens, and there are 40 in all.
Not enough attractions? How about some water attractions? There are two lakes in the gardens, Dragonfly and Kingfisher, where diving is said to be popular. We didn’t try and we didn’t see any divers ;)
Finally, some practical information.
To get to the Gardens, take the Circle Line to the Bayfront MRT station. Upon surfacing, the hotel is immediately in sight
Marina Bay Sands
on the left, and to reach the Gardens you have to go to the right and cross a wooden bridge called Dargonfly Bridge.
But before you head to the bridge, it’s worth climbing (or driving) to the viewpoint above, right next to the aforementioned bridge. It’s really crowded here in the evenings, and if you want to set up your camera tripod it can be hard to do so just before dusk.
The open areas of Gardens by the Bay are free, but there are a few places with additional fees:
- SuperTrees can be admired for free, but to walk the OCBC Skyway you have to pay $8.
- Cloud Forest and Flower Dome cost $28 – the combined price for both venues, and note, as non-residents we do not have the option to buy entry to only one venue. You have to buy a combination ticket and that’s it.
- There are several restaurants and cafes and souvenir stores in the gardens.
Phew, bravo you just reached the end of one of the longest blog posts :) So it’s time for a recap.
Landscapes straight out of sci-fi movies are an undoubted attraction of Singapore. Can modern, futuristic buildings ever be a top tourist attraction? It turns out that as much as possible! This is a true mastery of horticulture, with a lot of excitement and an educational dimension.
Great landscaping, innovative solutions make this place unique and make it to our list of the most interesting places in the world! For both big and small :)
Read more about Singapore and what to see in our post Singapore – TOP 9 places you must see!
We invite you to watch our video on You Tube, Gardens by the Bay, what’s there to see?:
Or if you prefer to our gallery of photos from Gardens by the Bay: