After Monday’s post about the Chelsea Flower Show and now today’s featuring the Botanic Gardens in Singapore, it’s starting to look like Garden Week here on The Wanderblogger! Although I do love a bouquet of flowers as much as the next girl, that was completely unintentional and we’ll be back to regular travel programming next week!
I’ve been wanting to write about Singapore’s Botanic Gardens for a long time, though. When we lived in London, one of my favorite places was the gardens near our house. (Chiswick Gardens, in case you’re curious.) They were my sanctuary from the noise and chaos of the city and you could find me there at least 3-4 times a week. I have found a similar sanctuary in the Botanic Gardens here in Singapore. (Although, it is a lot more hot and humid in these gardens than it ever was in London!)
The Botanic Gardens are centrally located in Singapore, making them super easy to access for both residents and tourists alike. Besides visiting regularly on my own, I make a point to take all of our visitors here, too, so the following pictures were taken on at least four different occasions. (That should explain the drastically different lighting conditions. It was super fun trying to edit these to all look cohesive. Ha!)
The Botanic Gardens
The Botanic Gardens in Singapore are one of three gardens in the world that have the honor of being designated as a UNESCO world heritage site. (Kew Gardens in London is one of the other two.) At 158 years old, the Botanic Gardens date back to Singapore’s British colony days and that is certainly reflected in the design and style of the gardens. (Maybe that explains why I felt right at home here!)
Over 4 million people visit the Botanic Gardens every year, but thanks to their large size and lots of places designed for quiet privacy, the gardens never feel particularly crowded. One of my favorite times to visit is in the early morning, and not just because this is typically the coolest and least crowded time of day. (Although that is nice!) I like to visit in the morning because this is when many of the older folks in Singapore gather for tai chi in the park. It’s so cool to see, and sometimes if classes are free and they see you watching, they’ll motion for you to join in, too. (Definitely one for the travel experience collectors!)
Mornings are also when most other group activities take place like yoga and various boot camps, but if you’re not coming to the Botanic Gardens for a work-out, there is still plenty to do and see at any time of day. I recommend entering the Botanic Gardens via the main gate (Tanglin Gate) and making your way north through the park before exiting at the Bukit Timah Gate where there is an MRT station to take you to whatever is next on your sight-seeing list. Along the way, make stops at Swan Lake and the Bandstand gazebo in the southern section of the park, Symphony Lake and the National Orchid Garden (more on that below) in the center of the park, and the Jacob Ballas Children’s Garden in the northern section if you’re coming with kids. If you’ve got plenty of time, the Learning Forest, a series of boardwalks and elevated walkways through the center of the gardens, is pretty cool for both kids and adults!
The National Orchid Garden
Whatever you do, if you visit the Botanic Gardens, don’t miss the National Orchid Garden. It’s the only part of the park that has an entrance fee, but I swear it’s worth it. The National Orchid Garden is not just one garden, but many, some indoors and some outside. (If you can’t stand the Singapore heat a minute longer, then the Cool House is for you!) I love this part of the park. It’s definitely what sets the Botanic Gardens apart from other city parks.
Over 1,000 species and 2,000 hybrids of orchids are grown here, including Singapore’s national flower, the Vanda ‘Miss Joaquim’. (I love that name!) Some things you can’t miss in the National Orchid Garden – the Misthouse (my favorite), the VIP and Celebrity Orchid Gardens (orchids that have been named after famous celebrities and visiting dignitaries), the Cool House, Burkhill Hall (one of Singapore’s famous black and white houses), and the Bromeliad House (the one with all the hanging vines in the photos above).
The Botanic Gardens are free to enter and are open from 5am to midnight every day, so fitting them into your travel schedule shouldn’t be too difficult. The National Orchid Garden is open from 8:30am to 7pm and tickets are $5 for adults and free for children under 12. Students and seniors can get in for just $1. If you visit the website below, you’ll be able to check out the park’s schedule of free garden tours and concerts at Symphony Lake. Most are on weekends, but sometimes you can get lucky and see something cool during the week!
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