A day out at Gardens by the Bay, Singapore
I know I'm a little late to the game as Gardens By The Bay has already opened its doors to so many visitors way back in 2012. I have been to the gardens several times for work, and just to enjoy the beautiful skyline and the tall Supertrees; but never have I had the chance to head into its various attractions!
I finally had the chance to see the Flower Dome, the Cloud Forest, as well as walk on the SuperTree Grove and OCBC Skyway earlier this month. As of the time of writing, they also recently launched new attractions such as the Floral Fantasy and the Serene Garden. So here's bringing you a guide to our amazing man-made garden in the heart of Singapore!
What is the Gardens By The Bay?
Gardens By The Bay is a 101-hectare park on reclaimed land, lying in the heart of Singapore. After being known for decades as a garden city, the Gardens By The Bay was part of the project to transform Singapore into a city in a garden. The addition of flora and fauna in this area of Singapore seeks to get us one step closer.
Yet, even though it is highly majestic and is truly an attraction that you absolutely need to see when visiting Singapore, it does have its own share of critics. For instance, many have critique on how gardens by the bay isn't quite a garden since it is fully man-made. The floral and fauna within the gardens are all "imported". Hence, wildlife do not fancy the greenery in the gardens and do not see it as a potential habitat and living environment. Others have also criticised how the gardens were built for reasons other than having more green spaces in the city state. The pricey fees to get into the various attractions (even for Singaporeans) do seem to suggest so.
Even if that is the case, now that the Gardens By The Bay is built, perhaps we should embrace it and instead proudly showcase Singapore as a modern landscape and how we were successful in reclaiming land and creating a garden within our city.
Furthermore, these by bringing various flowers that are not indigenous to Singapore into the large Flower Dome allows visitors to have a taste of what it could be like to enjoy Spring Sakura Flowers in Japan, or even bringing a little bit of the Netherlands by bringing in beautiful Tulips.
How to get to Gardens By The Bay?
The nearest MRT station, Bayfront, isn't quite near to the gardens at all. You can take both the Circle Line or the DownTown Line to get to this station. The station is actually located under Marina Bay Sands and you'll have to take a 15-minute walk to the SuperTree Grove before you arrive at Gardens By The Bay. But, come 2021, visitors will get a train station within the gardens!
Alternatively, to half your walking distance, you could take the MRT to Downtown and change to bus 400 to get to the stop "Bef Gardens By The Bay".
By taxi / grab / gojek
Taxis are also a pretty convenient way to get around in Singapore. If you were to be in the Central Business District (CBD) already, it isn't that expensive to get to Gardens By The Bay. But, for travellers visiting Singapore, if you are travelling within the CBD when the Electronic Road Pricing (ERP) tolls are up, you may just have to pay surcharges that cost more than the actual taxi fare.
In Singapore, we no longer use Uber, but Grab or GoJek. You could download these applications prior to your trip to Singapore and book your private hire cars on the apps to your destination. These transport options does not mean you escape the ERP though!
By Private Car Charter
One of the most amazing ways to get to Gardens By The Bay is via the bike! Just like how I enjoy cycling in Valencia and in Copenhagen, it is a great way to explore the city. There is actually a path from East Coast Park to Gardens By The Bay. You could rent your bicycles at East Coast Park from $8 onwards and on weekdays they usually offer 1 hour rental with another hour for free. Two hours is more than sufficient to get from East Coast Park to Gardens By The Bay and back but if you would like to explore the Gardens too, you may just want to rent the bicycle for a longer duration.
Gardens By The Bay Admission Charges?
The Gardens itself is free-of-charge. You can roam around to look at the Super Trees from the bottom, dine at the food and beverages area there, and stroll along the area. For #travellerswithchildren, you should also bring additional change of clothes for your kids and have them play with water at the Children's Garden. But to enter the following attractions you will need to pay for them!
The combo tickets (Flower Dome + Cloud Forest) cost $28 for visitors and $18 for Singapore Residents. Visitors may want to purchase their tickets on Klook to save $5! We definitely recommend purchasing tickets beforehand so that you can skip the long queues at the ticket counter!
The OCBC Skywalk can be bought at an additional $8 or simply purchase all three attractions for $30 online!
The new Floral Fantasy attraction is an additional $20 for visitors and $12 for Singapore Residents. Yes, the attractions is that expensive in Singapore (maybe that's why I took so long to actually visit these attractions!)
If you're wondering what these different attractions are, read on!
The flower dome is listed as the largest glass greenhouse in the world! Here, you'll get to see a variety of flowers and plants from all around the world. The atrium is where you'll get seasonal flowers. For instance, I was there during the Cherry Blossom Festival and the entire area is filled in a sea of pink and white and you'll get to walk through the Japanese Inari Gates! I instantly felt like I was back in Kyoto (sans the crowd!)! Now, they have launched their Tulip Mania so if you head over, you'll see countless colourful Tulips as though you are in Keukenhof! :)
There is also an exhibition area within the Flower Dome where seasonal fairs like the Japan fair when we were there in the Flower Field Hall.
The Cloud Forest is the other conservatory in the Gardens. When you step in, you'll be greeted by the beautiful and humongous man-made waterfall! Here, Singapore tries to break another record by constructing the world's tallest indoor waterfall at 30 metres high. You can head up to the back of the waterfall later but here's where most travellers spend quite a bit of time snapping photographs with the fall!
Walk along the path and get to the escalator to bring you all the way up. Check out the other side of the waterfall too!
There is quite a bit of walking to do in this conservatory as the only way down is via the Treetop Walk around the waterfall. Here, you'll get to experience what it is like to be in the tropical highlands.
Especially with Singapore's hot weather, it was quite nice strolling in the air-conditioned conservatory and observing all the various plants and ferns. The view of the Marina Bay Sands and the setting sun also made all that walking worth it!
What was interesting for us was that we managed to see pitcher plants up close! As these plants belong to the cool and moist Tropical Montane region, we don't get to see them much in Singapore. It was truly an eye-opener as I watch insects slowly being digested by the plant!
There are also some salt crystals and some interactive exhibits near the end of the trail.
It was night by the time we completed the two conservatories. The OCBC Skywalk is a little tricky to enter as you'll need to get a time slot. We were so fortunate to get hold of the penultimate time slot of the day at 8.20pm!
There was quite a bit of a queue as you'll have to take turns to take the escalator all the way up. When you are up there, you'l get a splendid view of Singapore's skyline, the SuperTrees that were lit up, and the Gardens By The Bay.
We also waited to watch the Garden Rhapsody lightshow from the top of the SuperTrees! It wasn't our first time seeing the lightshow but definitely the first time from the top! Should you be there, you may just want to linger around for a bit longer to wait for the 8.45pm show. Garden Rhapsody takes place twice every day; once at 7.45pm and the other at 8.45pm.
The other good time to head up the Skywalk is during the golden hour when the sun is about to set. The afternoon's a little too hot to be walking up there and you'll probably just want to get down quickly so pick a suitable time to make your additional $8 worth it!
As this was a new attraction, it wasn't opened when we were there. It is the latest thematic attraction where artistry, flowers, and technology collate to create a fantastical experience for visitors through four garden landscapes and a 4D ride.
If you have visited the Floral Fantasy and would like to share your experiences and photographs with us, feel free to write to us!
What to eat at Gardens By The Bay?
After all that exploring and walking, your stomachs must be hungry! There are a variety of food and beverages options at the Gardens such as Macdonalds and seafood restaurant Majestic Bay. There is also a new Food Hall that offers a plethora of international food options. But for travellers visiting Singapore, we do recommend heading to Satay By The Bay at the other end of the Gardens, near to the Children's Garden.
It may not necessarily be the best Singaporean Food but you get quite close to what we eat in our hawker centres. Purchase vouchers online to save 5% off your meal!
Where to stay in Singapore?
While it sure sound good to be able to stay at the Marina Bay Sands Hotel as it is located just across the gardens where there are a multitude of food and shopping options; it is certainly not for everyone (priced upwards of $500).
Nearby, you could also consider boutique brands like Sofitel Singapore City Centre with excellent service and great products! It is also situated right beside Tanjong Pagar MRT so you can conveniently head to the other parts of Singapore! Should you book them early, you could get rooms at about $280. Read more about our stay at Sofitel Singapore City Centre here.
For a more affordable option, we liked Hotel G for its fuss-free rooms. Though small, it is extremely cosy and located close to Bugis and Orchard Road. Rates are at about $120 per night.
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