With lush tropical greenery lining its streets, Singapore has long been known as ‘the garden city’, so it’s appropriate that these Gardens by the Bay, opened in 2011, were designed to translate this very garden city into a “city in a garden”.
The winner of the prestigious World Architecture Festival’s ‘World Building of the Year’ in 2012 – followed by more than 50 design and sustainability awards since then!
This 101-hectare wonderland is an enchanted – and enchanting – landscape that brings a wide-eyed smile to the faces of each and every visitor, no matter what the age
With its futuristic Supertrees – whose solar tips and trunks store the energy for the evening light spectacular – the Gardens by the Bay is a pretty spectacular destination to visit with kids. There are two main garden areas – Bay South Garden (the larger of the two) and Bay East Garden.
We started our day with an early morning amble through the Bay East Garden, an outdoor area with lovely views across Marina Bay. If you’re starting a little late in the morning, a picnic here would be a perfect way to start the day, enjoying the views and your meal whilst sitting beneath the shade of swaying palm trees before you begin the full tour of this amazing space.
After ambling the Bay East Garden, we nosed our way through the Heritage Garden, which showcases – in floral form – the diverse ethnic cultures of Singapore’s colonial past. The Malay garden tells intriguing stories about edible fruits and medicinal plants used by the local Malays, the Chinese garden sings with the poetry of plants along with the sacredness of plants, the Indian garden is laid out in the shape of a traditional kolam, while the colonial garden blooms with a history of the profitable crops and economic ideas that have shaped Singapore’s history.
Next was the Cloud Forest and Flower Dome – highlights of the garden complex that represent two opposites of cool climate landscapes. The Cloud Forest replicates cool-moist tropical climates while the Flower Dome demonstrates cool-dry Mediterranean climates. As we moseyed through these fascinating uber-bubbles past strange plants and lush highlands we were transported to other worlds.
In the Cloud Forest, a lush mountain showcases the world’s tallest indoor waterfall as well as the variety of plant life that lives in tropical highlands up to 2,000-metres above sea level. meanwhile, the Flower Dome is home to plants from deserts all over the world including South Africa, California, Australia as well as parts of Spain and Italy. It showcases the adaptations of plants to arid environments and is host to a 1,000 year old olive tree as well as baobabs and banksias.
On the stroll along the Skyway through the futuristic super trees I held my children’s little hands tightly. The suspended walkway is 22 metres high and 128 metres long, surrounded by the stunning garden and bay views. There are 18 of these super trees; 11 have environmentally sustainable canopies embedded with photovoltaic cells to harvest solar energy for lighting up the Supertrees or serving as air exhaust receptacles. There are also more than 160,000 plants planted on the Supertrees including 200 species and varieties of bromeliads, orchids, ferns and tropical flowering climbers.
Finally we landed in the afternoon at the Children’s Garden, a world of adventure and a great place for a cool off with interactive educational displays and a big water play zone. The kids explored the two tree houses before splashing around in the interactive water tunnel.
Why go A magical, dreamy wildlife wonderland that inspires a love of the world’s incredible flora with the bonus of a brilliant children’s garden and playground with an amazing water play zone.
Who is it best for All ages – different playground areas in the Children’s Garden have been designed for different ages from one to 12.
Top tip Pack swimmers and a towel – the water play zone is so great that kids won’t be able to resist splashing about and cooling off before moving on to other tourist destinations. Also, take a look at the self-guided tour suggestions; they have very conveniently created guides for visits of different durations, from 1 hour to 4+ hours. An excellent way to ensure you see the ‘best-of’ bits no matter how much time you have to spend in the Gardens.
Facilities Change rooms, toilets, cafes, lockers, first aid centre, stroller rental and free wi-fi.
Our favourite bits The water park play area is very exciting with sensors that detect movement; each time a little arm is waved here and there (motivated in part by the music that plays here), water sprouts from the ground and showers down from above.
While you’re here Stay till dusk when the majestic Supertrees spark up in a spectacular, surreal light display – Garden Rhapsody – which runs two times each night at 19.45 and 20.45.
In the area Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands features an indoor ice-skating rink and gondola rides through the middle of the mall and there is also the Helix Bridge that is well worth an evening walk across as well as the ArtScience Museum at Marina Bay Sands.