Singapore is a great destination, and it’s so small that in just a few days, you really can cover a lot of ground. On our last trip, we had fun hitting the top ten sights of the city as well as really indulging in eating some fantastic food in the Hawker Centers. On our final day, we headed over to the famous Gardens by the Bay. It seems that while we were researching our trip, photos of the super trees were on every website, and it was one of the things to do in Singapore at night. We couldn’t wait to go!
Blooms aren’t the only things to see at the Gardens by the Bay!
We took the bus to the Marina Bay Sands hotel, and as we disembarked we had to wind our way to the back of the hotel and head towards the river, the first thing you see is the shuttle ticket booth and a couple of beautiful dragonfly sculptures. We took the shuttle to the endpoint and immediately bought tickets for the two conservatories, Cloud Forest and Flower Dome.
Flower Dome was the first on our agenda, and immediately we were greeted with a digital display of various flowers. This led us into a tunnel where there were ecological video games that teach how to be more environmentally aware. We took our turns at them, and they weren’t too challenging as a game, but they were very informative. The kids were loving them as they moved around doing more than just looking.
Upon entering the greenhouse, the path winds through a number of countries’ climates and plants that are indigenous to them. My favorite was the baobabs and the olive trees, but there were so many varieties that it was a bit overwhelming. Informative placards told visitors about the climates, the plants, how the plants were used in that country’s economy, and much, much more.
One of the most enjoyable areas of the Flower Dome was the ever changing, themed floral display. As we were there during the Christmas season, it was holiday-themed. I was surprised at how much I learned and how fun it was, another area that really please the kids. Informational signs pointed out all kinds of plants from the every day to the exotic, their uses, and some interesting trivia. I love that kind of stuff!
From the Flower Dome, we walked across directly to the Cloud Forest. If we felt cool and comfortable in the first conservatory, this one was even better as we were greeted with the spray from the waterfall. This amazing greenhouse is set up in such an original and innovative configuration. It’s basically an inside hill (35 meters tall!), with exterior walkways and tunnels through the middle. The first thing you do is take the elevator to the top so you can slowly make your way down through nine levels of ecological zones.
The tropical feel and amazing flora is the main reason you are there, but there are also other exhibits on each level, like the crystal gallery and the multi-media changing Earth cinema. It was easy to spend a few hours reading and soaking in all kinds of information as we marveled and meandered around the walkways. At the bottom were two entire rooms dedicated to education on what’s happening on the planet at any given time, like what will happen if our temperature is raised +5 degrees Celsius. Again there is so much information coming at you from a dizzying array of digital graphs and videos that it is too hard to really digest it all. Numerous visits would be a must!
The two conservatories well exceeded our expectations, and it was so nice to be able to explore them during the heat of the day when the outside temperature and humidity could easily wear you down. From there we walked through the souvenir shops and the Supertree Grove, although due to high winds we weren’t able to go up on the skyway while we were there.
Visiting the Gardens by the Bay was everything we expected and more. I love a well-thought out exhibit where you can follow a path and see everything. I love a museum, or in this case greenhouse, that is informative, educational, takes the visitor from plant to product, tells trivia and stories, and is interactive. Not only was it a great walk, up and down, high and low, it was so different in each part that you really felt that you were getting a lot out of it. The docents were knowledgeable and helpful. There are numerous educational programs, self-led and docent-led. There are programs for children and adults, seasonal programs and events. It was all really impressive. I loved it.
I wish we had gone earlier in our trip, because I probably would have gone twice since there is so much to take in. I also would have liked to go around sunset instead of spending all my time there during the day. This would have allowed us to see the lights and have a cooler walk around, but I don’t think we would have seen so many open plants, so I do think it takes a couple of visits. If I lived in Singapore, I would buy a season pass. It was that worth it.
Gardens by the Bay has a fantastic website as well. Not only can you plan and buy your tickets ahead of time, but there are books for children, links to 360 degree panaromas, and just a wealth of information. Make sure to really peruse it before going so you can make the most out of your visit.
Jim and I enjoyed the Gardens by the Bay so much I would put it as one of my top attractions in the world for new and innovative ways to learn about plants, biodiversity, and our planet. Excellent!
Special note: All this thought, work, upkeep, and education costs money. It certainly wasn’t the cheapest thing we did in Singapore, but for all of you traveling on a budget, you can do all the outside parts, the Meadows and the Supertree Grove for free! I find that to be amazing!