You’ve seen the iconic other-worldly images of Gardens By the Bay on social media and in travel sites. This is a greenspace like no other, filled with beautiful gardens and mind boggling high tech wonders, Gardens By The Bay is what happens when nature meets staggering wealth.
The gardens represent one of the many future-oriented urban design projects supported by Lee Kuan Yew, the first prime minister of the Republic of Singapore. The 100 hectare (250 acre) gardens were carved out of a portion of previously environmentally degraded shoreline. There are actually three sections to the Gardens, the largest being the South Garden which is home to the conservatories and the Supertree Grove.
The eighteen “Supertrees” are perhaps one of the most iconic design elements in the Gardens; they are certainly one of the most photographed and their images dominate stock photography of the city. The Supertrees are complex engineering marvels that not only support the growth of a wide variety of plants from around the world, but also serve as solar power collectors and air flow/temperature regulators for the two large, nearby conservatories. They also light up at night, and twice every evening (at 19:45h & 20:45h) there is a musical element to the free light show.
The two magnificent conservatories – the Flower Dome and the Cloud Forest – are architectural marvels that dominate the skyline. These are the only elements in the Gardens that charge an entry fee. Unfortunately when we were there the Cloud Forest featured an Avatar Experience, which put the cost of entry at $53 pp – well outside our budget.
But don’t let the cost of entry to the conservatories put you off visiting. Our favourite spots were free: two lush, spaces to wander and learn
The Kingfisher Wetlands are stunning, with a beautiful lily pond, some magnificent public art with over 130 species of birds having been spotted there. If you take the time to relax at the edge of the lily pond the birds perched in trees all around sense that you’re no threat and resume their routine of singing and foraging. Just lovely. Water cascades and streamlets, added to improve water circulation and aeration, also add to the peaceful audio landscape of this area.
And a visit to the Palm Grove is an absolute must. Here you’ll find a palm tree grove where you’ll be able to wander amongst some of the most magnificent palm (and faux palm) trees you’re likely to see anywhere in the world, accompanied by well written, self-guided interpretive panels that explain what you’re seeing. It’ll give you a whole new appreciation for the relationship humans have with these amazing trees. This space was almost deserted when we were there, providing shelter from both sun and rain, so you can spend as much unrushed time as you wish to explore.
Oh, and if you’re hungry there’s a bit of a “hidden” gem just below the Palm Grove that we stumbled across while escaping a heavy downpour (*in a place with such outstanding wayfinding there was little indication that this place was there – very odd) The Jurassic Nest is a gentrified food hawker space (so prices are a bit higher than a regular hawker market) that features foods from Singapore, India and Thailand. While we didn’t buy anything the food that people were eating looked good. Might be worth checking out.
Super easy to access using the MRT. Take the brown Thompson East Coast Line right to the Gardens By the Bay station. From the station exit it is a short walk to the gardens proper.
Travel time example: 15 minutes from Orchard MRT.
Engineering an Ecosystem
We saw this fascinating flow chart that explains how the Biomass Boiler generates electricity, which heats water. All of this is part of a process which helps cool and dry the air for the conservatories. Below the graphic you’ll see the legend, explaining each step.
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