Everything about visiting Gardens by the Bay, Singapore
It does look like an alien-made spikey futuristic out-of-the-regular-world kind of thing. Gardens by the Bay is the poster child of Singapore. It does seem to speak a lot about their vision and sustainable efforts.
But what are Gardens by the Bay? It is a garden for sure. But you know there is more to it. Why will a country put so much effort into creating something like this? And is there something which other people and countries can learn from it? Let’s explore more.
What are Gardens By the Bay?
The Singapore government established the Gardens by the bay as a futuristic park. As much as they contribute to the country’s identity, they also help in conservation in the area. The Gardens are constructed on a sprawling area of 101 hectares or 250 acres of reclaimed land. For those who don’t know, reclaimed land is making artificial land on the sea bed. They do it by adding rocks, cement and then soil on top of each other.
The gardens in total comprise of three Gardens – Bay South Garden, Bay East Gardens and Bay Central Gardens. But the most popular one is the Bay South Gardens. It is also a part of Singapore’s efforts to change from ‘Garden city’ to ‘City in a Garden’.
This will further result in the enhancement of the life quality of the citizens. Additionally, it will increase in the cover of flora and fauna in the country.
Tourism remains the foremost purpose of the place. On top of that, the calendar of the Gardens is also filled with music concerts, signature festivals, movie screenings, sports and community events, and educational workshops.
How were they conceptualized?
The conceptualization of the Gardens started in merely 2006. Singapore held a global master plan design contest. It drew more than 70 entries from 170 firms from 24 countries and 35 from Singapore itself. A jury board then shortlisted a few teams and two winners. They were Grant Associates for Bay South and Gustafson Porter for Bay East, both from the UK.
They further went ahead and put up a public exhibition for the people of Singapore. A gallery of design concepts and a master plan was laid out for the public to view and give feedback. A vast majority of the population reacted positively and said they will visit the gardens. The gardens thus started its construction in 2007. The Bay east gardens were opened to the public in 2011.
What does it consist of?
The vast gardens consist of The Supertree Grove, three conservatories, two lakes, various themed gardens and a number of unique sculptures sprinkled throughout the park.
The Supertree Grove is the centre of all the drama in Gardens by the Bay. It is common to be blown away by the sheer size and a very distinctive outlandish design style it bears. The Supertrees range in the height of 25 meters (82ft) to 50 meters (160ft).
The trees mimic the abilities of actual trees. For example, the photovoltaic cell goes on to generate power similar to the process of photosynthesis.
The trees also harvest the rainwater which adds to the irrigation system of the gardens. There are also a few hidden chimneys in the supertrees. They help in the regulation of cooling and act as exhausts for the conservatories.
The trees also host around 162,900 varieties of bromeliads, ferns, and climbers onto its trunk. To get a great view of the gardens, you can go up to the OCBC skywalk. The skywalk connects all the Supertrees together. Going up the skywalk is chargeable (find info below). The best part of the Supertrees is it’s night shows called Garden Rhapsody.
The trees glow in sync with some of the most famous melodies which change every month and its only one of its kind. It is not to be missed. There is also a restaurant on top of the main Supertree which is a great place for a 360° view of the garden.
Flower Dome was listed as the largest greenhouse in the world in the 2015 Guinness book of world records. It in fact covers 1.28 hectares and has 9 flower gardens inside it. The Flower dome is home to the plants which thrive in a Mediterranean-like environment.
Plants from five continents are planted here ranging from thousand-year-old olive trees to Magnolia and orchids. Additionally, you will find exotic flowers from semi-arid areas of the world. You will need a separate ticket to visit the flower dome (find info below). It takes about an hour to see all of it.
Contrary to the Flower Dome, the Cloud Forest copies the atmosphere of the tropical mountainous rainforests of South-East Asia and Central-South America. Mist covers most part of the Dome and you can start your journey at the top of an artificial hill, also its highlight ‘The Cloud Mountain’.
Thereafter, you descent downwards on a spiral passageway. The walk accompanied by one of the best indoor waterfalls in the world.
The Cloud Mountain is an intricate structure of ferns, orchids, climbers, spike and clubmosses, bromeliads and anthuriums. The mountain is distinguished into several themed sections by levels like The Lost World, The Cavern, The Waterfall View, The Crystal Mountain, The Cloud Forest Gallery, The Cloud Forest Theatre and The Secret Garden.
Floral Fantasy is the third dome which is majorly decorative and focuses on astounding the visitor. Along with education on horticulture, it’s a lavish show of what people can do in a fantasy world. As you enter the area, you will see a series of upside-down dangling flowers.
The gardens take inspiration from hanging gardens of Babylon and fairy tales. There is also a 4D simulator. It gives you a ride of the entire gardens from the viewpoint of a dragonfly.
The four areas in the dome are Dance, Float, Waltz and Drift.
A row of hanging floral globes in vertical motion will greet you on your way inside in the Dance section. You will accompany a gurgling brook around the dome in Float. Waltz gives a feeling of visiting the gardens during the rainfall with occasional showers and small waterfalls.
The pathway suddenly gets cavernous with dramatic and ominous lighting when you arrive in Drift.
Apart from these, there are also a few that tourists often frequent. Children’s garden is a fun and entertainment area specifically for the kids. It is a great place to spend some family time and for the kids to enjoy activities like trampolines, balancing beams and hanging bridges.
If you want a more peaceful time, look at heading to Serene Gardens. These are inspired by the Japanese philosophy of Zen and with small rapids, bamboos and lots of tranquillity. Also look for Bismarckias, a central feature in the Silver garden, endemic only to Madagascar.
Heritage Gardens dedicates the place to the cultural heritage of Singapore. Singapore is a melting pot of Indians, Malays, Chinese with Colonial influence. Therefore, there is a section for each in the Heritage Gardens. A great way to honour its history. Sun Pavilion is another garden that focuses on plants from the arid deserts and showcases many types of cactuses.
All of this is highlighted by some insane art and sculptures in different shapes, sizes, materials, and concepts.
Sustainability efforts of Gardens by the Bay
Apart from being a design wonder, a lot of details and efforts are put to make the gardens self-sustainable.
To start off, the gardens are designed as a catchment area. With frequent rainfall in Singapore, the garden receives the water. The underlying network of pipes sends the water to its two internal lakes – Dragonfly and Kingfisher. The lakes, in turn, use the same water to irrigate the gardens and reducing any dependency on external water supply.
The Supertrees have implants with a few functions of sustainability. Some of the Supertrees are fitted with solar panels that absorb power during the day. Another way to generate electricity in the area is by using horticultural biomass. The garden’s stall collects organic waste and feeds into a biomass boiler.
It subsequently generates electricity and helps to cool the conservatories. It also powers the light show that takes place every night. The gardens use the resultant ash in the gardens to improve the soil quality.
COOLING THE CONSERVATORIES
The conservatories replicate the climate of the Mediterranean for the foliage that grows in it. And since it is made of glass, it can get hot… very hot. So cooling is an important part of the whole system. A very unique solution is passing chilled water underground through metal pipes.
This is again powered by the biomass boiler (as mentioned above). This makes the air cooler on the ground level and gets the warm air to lift upwards. The boiler also dehumidifies the conservatories.
Visiting Gardens by the Bay
HOW TO REACH GARDENS BY THE BAY
Metro – The easiest way to reach Gardens by the Bay is via MRT.
On the Circle or Downtown line, get down at Bayfront MRT station. From there take Exit B.
On the East-West line, get down at Tanjong Pagar MRT station. Take Exit C and take the bus no. 400 from bus station 03223 at International Plaza, Anson Road. Get down at Bus station 03371 at Marina Gardens drive.
Walk – Follow the footpath under the East Coast Parkway (ECP) which will lead you to Bay South Gardens. If you are at Marina Bay Sands, take the overhead bridge (Lions Bridge) or the underground linkway via Bayfront MRT station at Exit B.
ADMISSION TICKET AND TIMINGS
The prices below are for foreign visitors only. Children should be age 3-12 years. To know more visit the official website
|SECTION||TICKET PRICE (ADULT/CHILDREN)||TIMINGS (Last admission at 8.00 pm)|
|Supertree Observatory||SGD 14/10||9.00am to 9.00pm Daily|
|OCBC Skyway||SGD 8/5||9.00am to 9.00pm Daily|
|Cooled Conservatories (Flower Dome and Cloud Forest)||SGD 28/15||9.00am to 9.00pm Daily|
|Floral Fantasy||SGD 20/12||9.00am to 9.00pm Daily|
|Outdoor Gardens||Free||5.00am to 2.00am Daily|
|Children’s Gardens||Free||10.00am to 7.00pm (Tue-Fri)|
|9.00am to 9.00pm (Weekends)|
NOTE that the park is free to visit and there is no entry ticket to go inside. You can look at the Supertrees from the ground. Thereafter attend the musical show (Garden Rhapsody) from 7.45-8.00pm and 8.45-9.00pm every day for free.
However, they do close some of the parts of the Gardens occasionally for maintenance. It is always wise to check before you plan your travel. Head to the official website to check the dates of maintenance and closure.
At the Counter
You can purchase your tickets at any of the three counters at the Gardens. (open from 9.00 to 8.00 pm daily):
- The Canopy (Located in front of Flower Dome entrance)
- Bayfront Plaza & Floral Fantasy (Next to the exit of Bayfront MRT)
- Supertree Grove (For purchase of OCBC Skyway tickets only)
You can also buy your ticket beforehand online on Gardens by the Bay official website.
I will recommend checking online aggregators like Klook or GetYourGuide to see if there are any discounts available on them.
Electronic Lockers – Lockers are available in the park at The Golden Garden, The Canopy and the Floral Garden. The lockers are available in different sizes and cost ranges from SGD2-6 for 21 hours of each cycle. The counter only accepts SGD 2 notes.
Mobile Charging Stations – These are available at the Visitor’s services (from 8.30 am to 9.00 pm) and 24 hours at Floral Fantasy.
Strollers and Wheelchairs – Strollers are available at the park till 9.00 pm at SGD 2 per day. The strollers are available for kids up to 15kg only.
ATM – ATM is available at The Canopy
Shuttle Service – Shuttles run around the park for SGD 3 per person and free for all wheelchair passengers. It runs at an interval of every 10 minutes from Bayfront Plaza to Conservatories.
Audio Tour- An Audio tour in a vehicle will give you an ongoing commentary of the features around the park. The ticket price is SGD 8, where the commentary takes place in English. Mandarin and Japanese language options are also available upon booking.
For more details visit the service section of the official website.
My Suggestion on Gardens by the Bay
The place should be on top of your list while visiting Singapore. Even if you have a day’s time in the city, take out time and visit the gardens. Budget travelers can simply avoid buying the tickets to the conservatories and enjoy the outdoor gardens.
The light show is a must-watch and is free as well. The best time to visit the gardens is late evening around 4 pm till the end of the Garden Rhapsody.
Here is a tip. You can also see the musical show from the top of Marina Bay Sands. The aerial view is a sight to see. Just make sure you are at the right spot at the right time!