Singapore is nicknamed the “garden city” and with the additional Gardens by the Bay in 2012 their nickname is more like “the city in the garden.” The beautiful Gardens by the Bay takes up 250 acres of reclaimed land and consists of gardens along the bay (south, east, and central). Bay South is the biggest and is home to most of the current attractions at Gardens by the Bay including the Cloud Forest, Flower Dome, Super Trees, and plenty of space for events etc.
We ended up spending a majority of our day exploring part of the gardens and the Cloud Forest and Flower Dome Conservatories at Gardens by the Bay. I took hundreds of pictures that day, so bare with me as I take you along my recap for our day at Gardens by the Bay – Day 1. We were so tired and honestly over the garden by the late afternoon that we had to return the following evening to explore the Supertree Grove and OCBC Skywalk.
Getting to Gardens by the Bay will be much easier when the MRT Circle line is finally completed (I remember construction on the Circle Line near NUS in 2006), but until then you will need to stop at the Bay Front MRT and walk to the garden. You can access Gardens by the Bay directly from Bay Front MRT through a long tunnel thing and walk up the stairs (there is only 1 small elevator but direct) or through Marina Bay Sands over Lions Bridge.
What I enjoyed from Lions Bridge is that it gives you a nice view of Gardens by the Bay and that definitely boosted our excitement as we approached the gardens. And then you just need to go down the escalator to the Bayfront Plaza/info center/shuttle stop.
And you know you have (sort of) arrived when you see the Gardens by the Bay. I say you have sort of arrived, because this is 250 acre garden. So walking is an option, but it could be a bit of a hike. They have shuttle buses for SG$3/person to take you to your destinations in the garden. But you may miss garden views because the shuttle bus only drives along the perimeter.
So frugal me, took my family on a hike. So we started our ‘hike’ on the Dragonfly Bridge. The Bridge (like the rest of the garden) is decorated for Mid-Autumn Festival and here we had some orange monkey (light) arches.
Walking towards Gardens by the Bay from Marina Bay Sands you will find a dragonfly statue on Dragonfly island to your right. And now that I go through my pictures, I realized I never bothered to take a picture of it.
Instead I snapped a picture to what was on the left side of the bridge. Here you can see the ferris wheel, Nibong Island, Silver Garden, and the Flower Dome.
We followed the directional signs toward “Cloud Forest Flower Dome” and wandered into several smaller gardens that surround the Supertree Grove/OCBC Skywalk (which we went back to another day).
We didn’t really explore each of these gardens, but you can easily differentiate each garden one at a time. We stared with the Malay Garden, then through the Chinese Garden, and finally through the Indian Garden.
I was kind of sad to see that the shuttle bus actually goes along the same path we were taking because by the time we were going through the Chinese Garden and Indian Garden we really wished we on that shuttle. The Singapore hot and humid was getting to us.
At least we were finally at the canopy where the Cloud Forest and Flower Dome are located. Yuntiha and I purchased standard tickets for double conservatories for SG$28/person. We struggled to decide which conservatory to go to first.
CLOUD FOREST CONSERVATORY
The Cloud Forest Conservatory features a nearly 115ft (about 11 stories) tall concrete forest mountain with a waterfall and all. This is also the worlds tallest indoor waterfall.
As I mentioned before, we were pretty hot after our little “hike” through the Malay Garden, Chinese Garden, and Indian Garden so as we entered the Cloud Forest, we immediately felt a relief from the waterfall. I don’t remember but that might have been why we went to the Cloud Forest first.
The temperature in the dome remains between 23-25 degrees C (73.4 – 77 degrees F) at all times. The lush green concrete mountain made me pretty happy.
We continued along the path around the base of the Cloud Forest mountain/waterfall and with no wait headed up the elevator to the top where we will slowly make our way back to the base.
At the very top is the “Lost World” where we saw flowers and plants that will grow in high altitude environments (about 2,000meters or 6500 feet above sea level).
This really looks like it could be a secret garden with rare flowers and plants. I don’t know how rare they really may be but I can already imagine some old Chinese tv dramas where they have to make their way up the high mountains to harvest a rare flower that will cure all. Anyone know I’m referring to?
Anyways, it’s pretty nice standing at the very top of the concrete waterfall mountain with a glass ceiling letting all of the natural light in (and still not feeling the heat of the sun).
Our descent from the lost world starts with the Cloud Walk. There were no clouds in sight for us that day but I’m sure there really could be clouds up there if were really descending from the top of a 6500 feet tall mountain.
The walkway was actually rather scary! In a way it is a big bridge kind of thing. Does that mean I am pretty good at dealing with my fear of bridges. Mom and Yunti dealt with the height by only walking on the middle section of the walkway no matter what. They didn’t want to walk or stand anywhere near the sides.
The Cloud Walk gives you a closer look at the plant life that grows on the side of mountains at high altitudes. And we had a nice little view of gardeners at the Cloud Forest hanging on a rope (what is that called? rock climbing? belay?)
There is something comforting about having my camera in hand as I’m walking along this bridge walkway.
One of my favorite moments at the Cloud Forest was when I managed to get Mom and Yunti stop and pose on the bridge. You can really see how high we were with the the Tree Top Walk below.
And that is what the Cloud Walk looks like from below. It’s pretty interesting how it is shaped.
We spent so much time just lingering along the Cloud Walk section of the mountain.
It really was quite fascinating seeing the lush green mountain to one side, views of iconic Singapore sites on the other, and the continuous sound of the waterfall in the background.
And when I finally got used to of the height and the bridge walkway, we made it into the Cavern. This is pretty much another level down from the very top of the mountain. From here, you get more in depth information about the plants and environment.
Although it’s a cavern, you do not feel as though you are in a cave at all. It’s still really bright with natural light from the many “windows” framed by the plants growing on the outside of the mountain. And it is from these “windows” where we get perfectly framed views of Singapore.
And another level below the Cavern is the Crystal Mountain. This is where you will find some beautiful limestone on display.
I think the Crystal Mountain would be much more fascinating if we didn’t already see the limestone in Jenolan Caves in Australia. It’s cool to have a good view of limestone formations I don’t you can really learn much about limestone and how you conserve them seeing that the limestone really shouldn’t be here in the first place.
We enjoyed the mirrors above instead.
And then we made our way to the Tree Top Walk.
The Tree Top walk may be much lower on the mountain but by now we we are finally standing much closer to the top of the trees in the Cloud Forest. But I guess this makes up for not going to the MacRitchie Reservoir TreeTop Walk (that’s a real tree top walk). This could even be better since we’re inside.
Because of the shape of the conservatory building, you still feel the effect that you’re outside. It was kind of cute that day with a big group of elementary school kids visiting the conservatory as well. We arrived at the same time as them, but they started from the bottom and were still making their way up when made it to the Tree Top Walk.
And the unique shape of the conservatory also gives you views of Singapore through its many windows.
And before finally arriving at the ground floor of the conservatory we entered the Earth Check Exhibit and +5 Degree Exhibit. Both exhibits give us a little overview the effects of global warming and finally showing off how Gardens by the Bay is working towards conservation.
And after a couple dark exhibits (dark in lighting and dark in making us feel a little depressed about global warming) we walked out to the Secret Garden. It actually feels quite magical emerging from the inside of the mountain behind a waterfall.
You can find unique artwork created from the roots of the trees and discover little plants throughout. They did make it easier to spot “secret” plants with magnifying glasses. So how much of a secret is that?
The Cloud Forest really is a unique experience.
I can’t really imagine where else you can experience anything like this. I’ve seen blogs about the Cloud Dome but I never would have imagined it to be like this. I wonder if my description can be any better.
Either way, there is always something mesmerizing about waterfalls. The Cloud Forest even lets you get right up to the waterfall half way up the waterfall and behind the waterfall at the base.
After all that walking, we headed outside and found lunch at McDonalds. We pretty much just looked up at the directional signs and headed towards food. There are quite a few other food options, but might as well try some McDonalds in Singapore. After lunch we made it the Flower Dome Conservatory.
I thought I was saving the best for last.
The Flower Dome is the shorter dome compared to the Cloud Forest and is the worlds largest glass greenhouse. And the temperature in the dome remains between 23-25 degrees C (73.4 – 77 degrees F) at all times just like the Cloud Forest.
And this is where you can go to see spring all year long and even travel the world at the same time.
The Flower Done features spring gardens from all over the world and also displays a themed garden in the main flower field at the center of it all.
But before heading to the flower field, we traveled the world first where we found trees! The conservatory is big enough for full size (at least they look full size) trees.
Just downstairs from the entrance hall, we wandered into the Australian Garden. Australia is a pretty big region and I wonder how diverse their plants are throughout the country.
At the center of the Australian Garden are the Queensland Bottle Tree. And as the name states, these trees are native to Queensland Australia; located in the north eastern region where the great barrier reef is located but I’m sure these trees are not found near the great barrier reef.
These trees are have these big (elephant like) trunks that are actually full of water. And because it stores so much water, it’s a great source for water. I’m assuming thats where the name Bottle Tree may come from.
Next was the South African Garden. We passed through this garden rather quickly but revisited the South African landscape when we reached the flower field.
There is a Californian Garden. This one took me by surprise. Is California really that unique to deserve its own garden? The other gardens featured much bigger regions such as Australia, South Africa, and South America.
It looks like the California Garden takes up its own corner but as we wandered toward the California Garden felt as though I didn’t see anything. We walked up the stairs and end at a small platform area with with familiar plants. Oh! And it featured a little grape vine area.
But the most memorable part was this little pot with a small fruit tree and vegetables. Isn’t that so stereotypical of what people think of California? Vegan, eating organic greens etc.
We headed down the stairs from the California Garden and found this family with their luggages. I thought this was quite beautiful and unique (and artsy) but some think its a little creepy.
According to the sign nearby, these statues are a gift to the garden. And I believe it was either from the Singapore Airport or was once displayed there.
The Mediterranean Garden is located perfectly over the flower field. And this is where you Date Palm trees etc. Did you know the Mediterranean Basin was the first place in the world to practice agriculture?
I found this little guy peeping through the fence from the Mediterranean Garden.
After exploring several regional gardens, we finally headed toward the flower field. Theres definitely more greenery than flowers in most of the gardens. To find the flowers, you just have to look between the gardens and see what spring flower happens to be growing.
This was our view of Flower Field when we first entered the Flower Dome. When we visited, the flower field had a South African theme.
Depending on the time of the year, this ever changing flower field may or may not be even more fun. For example there is Tulipmania right now (Apr. 1 – May 7).
The flower beds are set up in the center with clear pathways for everyone to enjoy.
And Dad and I took this opportunity to sit down in the flower field garden area as we watched people walk by taking pictures of everything (which was what I was doing too).
I was getting pretty tired by the time we got to the flower field.
The theme was Tribal Tempo, basically a South African Safari.
This garden mainly featured unique flowers (that look like they would be from a desert) like the King Sugar Bush and a flower called the Pink King. These flowers are actually quite rare because they live in very fragile environments and today they’re mostly cultivated in greenhouses and nurseries.
They really don’t look like much on their own, but when bunched together in a planter (like the picture above) it was quite unique and pretty!
I actually think the Pink King is much prettier when it is not in full bloom yet.
And then I realized this is definitely a dessert environment, because I see Aloe plants. I live in Southern California so I’ve seen quite a few of these plants. Aloe is so good for you and yet they’re so ugly and almost scary looking.
The rest of the flower field is full of these “filler” flowers. Ok, these flowers were colorful and fun but I wish it would be more dense.
I don’t think I was being realistic if this is supposed to be a South African Safari (Tribal Tempo).
Anyways, I was pretty much done with the Flower Dome by the time I got to the flower field. But we headed back upstairs to see the Bababs and bottle trees and the succulent garden.
There are no flowers but lots of very uniquely shaped trees and lots of succulents and cacti. And many of those beds seemed to be getting switched out when we visited. It was much more eye candy from a far seeing some art work created such as the big dragon and the horses.
We had planned to have dinner at MBS or at Gardens by the Bay and then head to the Supertree Grove for the lantern festival and OCBC Skywalk but by the time we were finished at the Flower Dome it was about 3:30pm and I needed a nap.
We wandered into the Silver Garden on our way out where we got a little preview of what the Supertree Grove will be like. And we left just in time as the rain was rolling in. Hang tight for Yunti’s post about the Supertree Grove and OCBC Skywalk in our next post!