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I have always been intrigued by those strange looking tree-like structures each time I saw them in the distance when coming from the airport. It always reminded me of the movie Avatar and I was curious to see it all up-close. It wasn’t until my 6th trip to Singapore that I finally got the chance to visit the Gardens by the Bay – one of the most famous tourist attractions in Singapore. It’s actually an initiative of the government to transform Singapore into a ‘City in a Garden’. For the generation growing up in the concrete jungle, that’s certainly a novel concept.
Gardens by the Bay consist of parks sprawled over a hundred hectares with about 380 varieties of plants from all over the world. Although flowers and plants might not be everyone’s idea of fun, for me it was definitely a hit destination. This magnificent floral spectacle made me feel one with nature 🙂
Here’s what to expect when you visit this place.
As soon as I entered the Cloud Forest, I was greeted by a 115 feet waterfall showering down over a huge pillar of colorful flowers at the entrance. It replicates the environment you find in tropical mountain regions 3300-9800 feet above sea level, found in South East Asia and Central and South America. It was remarkable!
It felt as if I stepped into the world of enchantments and fairies. The sight and sound of the waterfall, the mist, the cold and the exotic vegetation gave the place a magical feel. I made my way around the walkway. Slowly. After sufficiently saturating myself with the wonders of the flora, I took a lift up to the top of Cloud Mountain and work my way back down again along the slippery walkway, just to recap the unique experience of being there.
At the end of the Cloud walkway, there was more to discover; a huge lion intricately carved from a single piece of wood, a doorway shaped like roaring lion’s jaws, just begging to be stepped through, and a family of foot-high snails made from stone. Everywhere I looked there was always something amazing.
I would have happily meandered at a more leisurely pace, to enjoy the amazing landscaping of The Cloud Mountain, but I had little time left. So I proceeded to the Flower Dome.
The climate here is mild and dry, meant to replicate the semi-arid environment of the Mediterranean and parts of Australia, South Africa, and South America. The floral display changes depending on season and theme, just like this one.
year of the goat theme
As I walked around, the magical feeling that I had at Cloud Forest was replaced by something else. The Biologist in me kicked in. I couldn’t help myself but marvel at every single exotic plant and colorful flower that seemed to be peeping at me from every direction. There were various costumed statues in some of the gardens, which proved to be very popular as photo ops for many of the visitors.
I continued to roam around Flower Dome until I found the Flower Field. It was an explosion of colors! The floral display was delightful, vibrant and memorable. I felt as if they were all mine even though there were lots of other people inside hehehe.
Supertrees are those tree-like structures that I’ve been seeing in the distance, on my way from the airport. They dominate the Garden landscape with heights that range between 25 metres (82 ft) and 50 metres (160 ft). They are vertical gardens themselves that perform a multitude of functions, which include planting, shading and working as environmental engines for the gardens.
The Supertrees are home to enclaves of unique and exotic ferns, vines, orchids and also a vast collection of bromeliads such as Tillandsia, amongst other plants. They are fitted with environmental technologies that mimic the ecological function of trees. They are embedded with cisterns and photovoltaic panels that harvest solar energy and help fulfill the utility needs of the gardens – such a clever idea!
Between two Supertrees there is a 128-meter long walkway that offers a bird’s eye view of the gardens and Marina Bay, which lies at the southern tip of the island city. It’s one of the best spots in Singapore for taking great photos.
The night was starting to set in so I went to watch the Supertrees light up. It was mesmerizing, watching the color slowly work its way up the trunk. I walked over to the main garden and joined the hundreds of people sitting around on the stone benches.I looked around and actually felt overwhelmed by how awesome it was to be surrounded by the magnificent trees that were so out there, the comparisons to Avatar have come thick and fast for Gardens by the Bay.
Without thinking if it’s appropriate, I just lay on my back for a different view and, from the corner of my eye, I noticed that everyone else next to me began doing the same, falling like dominoes, changing the angle of view for a new experience. It was another beautiful moment in my incredible trip I’ll never forget.
As I was still laying there, the soft music came in louder, more dramatic, creating the tension it was clearly aiming for. For the next 15 minutes, it was as if the trees were passing around the light. Sometimes it would start from the base of their trunks shooting up and out to the very tips of their twigs, then it would go back the other way. The waves of light would pass and cross each other in a dazzling display of light in motion, all perfectly synchronized with the musical score.
It was absolutely incredible and totally unexpected, by me anyway. It was obviously what everyone else there had been waiting for, and from the announcement at the end, I know now that it happens every night. As the light show ended, the crowd stood up and applauded. I honestly think it was one of the most emotionally charged light show I’ve ever seen… or maybe I felt that way just because it was Valentine’s Day. LOL!
Soon after the light show, a live band started to serenade the audience. They have chosen a great set of songs to create the right mood for the year’s most romantic night. I stayed for a while and sang along with the band before my stomach rumbled, which reminded me I haven’t eaten anything yet since I came here.
Good thing Gardens by the Bay has a number of cafes and restaurants that serve an eclectic array of food; European, Asian and Italian cuisines, and even offer delicious choices for vegetarians. For those looking at Singaporean delicacies, the Majestic Bay Seafood Restaurant offers classics like Chilli Crab, Black Pepper Crab, and Peking Duck. But being frugal as I am, I satisfied myself quite adequately at the nearest hawker 🙂
- 9:00 am to 9:00 pm daily.
- Last ticket sale is at 8:00 pm.
- Last admission is at 8:30 pm.
- SGD 28 for adults
- SGD 28 for senior citizens (60 years old and above) and
- SGD 15 for children ages 3-12 years old.
How to get there:
- Gardens by the Bay is located at 18 Marina Gardens Drive, Singapore.
- Board the MRT and alight at Bayfront MRT Station (Circle Line).
- Follow the signs to Exit B.
- Follow the underground link way, then cross the Dragonfly Bridge to go to Gardens by the Bay.
Airline Freebies for travelers:
- Singapore Airlines and Tiger Airways provide discounted admission if you present your boarding pass; 10% off with a Singapore Airlines boarding pass, and SGD $8 off adult admission to both conservatories with your Tiger Airways boarding pass.