You might think you’ve stepped onto another planet at Singapore’s Gardens by the Bay. The park, a well-known attraction in the city, takes the traditional conservatory concept up more than just a notch or two. With its Supertrees, suspended walkway and ginormous domed glass greenhouses, the place is a horticulture wonderland with a futuristic vibe.
The Gardens is a must-see destination for travelers to Singapore. It’s a showpiece of innovation and artistry that presents the plant kingdom in a fresh, new way. This “green jewel” simultaneously entertains while educates visitors about plants from around the world, ranging from species in cool, temperate climates to those in tropical forests and habitats.
Comprised of two distinct waterfront sectors, Bay South and Bay East (with a third, Bay Central, to be developed), the Gardens offers a pocket of tranquility in the middle of one of Southeast Asia’s most bustling cities. Bay South, the largest of the gardens, opened in 2012, and is home to the attraction’s exciting wow factors. Bay East, on the other hand, is a vast waterfront green space, perfect for picnicking and relaxation.
It’s hard not to miss the iconic Supertrees that dominate Bay South and make it look like something out of a sci-fi comic book. These colossal vertical gardens are between 82 and 164 feet tall, averaging the height of a sixteen-story building. There are eighteen Supertrees in total, twelve of which are found at Supertree Grove. They’re comprised of nearly 163,000 plants and more than 200 species and varieties of bromeliads, orchids, ferns and tropical flowering climbers. Each tree has four parts: a reinforcement concrete core, trunk, planting panels for the living skin and canopy. The canopies are designed to provide shade in the day. Later at night, they come alive with a dazzling display of lights and sounds in a spectacular show set to music.
You’ll be mesmerized as you stand in awe of these giants. For another perspective, head up to the OCBC Skyway and stroll along the walkway connecting two of the marvels. Sitting 72 feet above ground, this aerial path gives visitors a panoramic vista of the Gardens and Marina Bay skyline.
The domes are also prominent features of Bay South. The Flower Dome, which spans nearly three acres, has the distinction of being the largest glass greenhouse in the world. Thousands of glass panels of different shapes and sizes cover the surface area of the dome in colossal jigsaw puzzle fashion. Inside this Eden of eternal spring, there’s a changing showcase of flowers and plants. Exotic species from five continents, including South Africa, South America, Australia, Europe and North America, are displayed in nine different gardens. Wander among the Baobabs and Ghost Trees, stroll through the olive garden, admire the beautiful Italian cypresses and venture into the desert for a look at the extensive variety of succulents. And know that you’ll be able to enjoy this multi-sensory experience in comfortable, cool temps, courtesy of a system that uses chilled water pipes within the ground slabs.
Displays in the Flower Field reflect seasons and festivals. For the start of 2019, the theme focused on the Chinese New Year and featured a picturesque landscape dotted with pavilions, rotating water wheels and an eye-popping archway of red lanterns. Dahlias, narcissuses and chrysanthemums added to the colorful scene, along with several whimsical sculptures of pigs to mark the Year of the Pig.
Cloud Forest, the other glass conservatory, is a tropical paradise. Enter to the thundering sounds of the world’s tallest indoor waterfall and be confronted by a 115-foot tall mountain covered in lush vegetation. Brave the mist and take a picture at its base. When you’re ready to explore the nooks and crannies of this distinctive formation, start at the top, where you’ll be surrounded by cloud forest plants typically found at around 6500 feet above sea level. Popular with many visitors are the greedy carnivorous species with their prey-trapping leaves. Take the time to also look for all the floral gems hidden in the carpeted layer of moss and ferns.
As you follow the Cloud Walk in the Lost World, you’ll have the opportunity to learn about rare plants and their quickly-disappearing environs, while taking in breath-taking views of the Marina Bay waterfront through the spectrally selective glass panels. When you approach the bottom of the mountain, join the Tree Top Walk, which leads you closer to the forest canopy for a unique perspective of the treetops.
Additional areas of Cloud Forest include the Crystal Mountain Cave, an area devoted to geology and the significance of fossils in disseminating Earth’s past; the Cloud Forest Gallery, an interactive exhibit examining mankind’s impact on our planet today with a strong message dedicated to minimalizing our negative environmental footprint; and the Cloud Forest Theater, a cinematic venue presenting two shows. The first, “+5 Degrees,” depicts how Earth will change when the temperature increases by five degrees. The second, entitled “Green World,” explores the actions we can take to make a positive difference now and for the future.
End your visit to Cloud Forest with a journey through the Secret Garden. A personal favorite, the garden is a warren of limestone forests and caves containing thousands of plants commonly found in these habitats, some which are endangered or close to extinction. It’s a fairytale-like atmosphere full of horticulture treasures. Don’t miss the mini orchids – so tiny that you can only view their blooms through a magnifying glass.
Gardens by the Bay also features the Far East Organization Children’s Garden, an outdoor playground with water features to ensure the kids stay cool in Singapore’s blistering heat. For those interested in the role of plants as they pertain to Singapore’s main ethnic groups and its colonial past, head to the Heritage Gardens. You’ll learn about the city’s rich history within this themed collection.
If you get hungry while exploring this famed attraction, grab a bite at one of the cafes on site. You can even enjoy high tea on the terrace of the Flower Dome. Or, dine with a view at nearby Marina Bay Sands Hotel (reached from the Gardens via a connecting sky bridge). Drink in Singapore’s picturesque cityscape at CÉ LA VI Restaurant and Skybar, atop the 57th floor of this famed luxury property. And if it’s just the views you want, opt for a ticket to the observation deck, located on the same level. From this birds-eye perch, the architectural wonders of the Gardens by the Bay can be fully appreciated.
If you go: