Walk on the streets of any big city, London, Paris, Budapest or Barcelona and you may come across beautiful gardens, or lush parks, outside spaces where the locals can congregate and take a respite from the daily grind. Some cities are better at this than others. Singapore’s aspirations are ambitious. It does not want gardens in the city, but wants to be known as the first true City in a Garden. The plans may be ambitious, but they are certainly underway. A good friend of mine visited Singapore 7 years ago, when Gardens by the Bay was just being constructed. I could not imagine the city would have had as big an impact on her then it had on me. Gardens by the Bay was a big part of that impression as well as the rest of the careful green city planning.
Successive governments here have been carefully designing the city in the past decades. They have established world-class gardens like Gardens by the Bay, rejuvenated streetscapes and urban areas, and also wanted to enhance the city’s biodiversity. Drive along any road and you’ll find miniature gardens by the roadside or the central reservations. Roof gardens or skygardens are in abundance here crowning the city’s skyscrapers and trees and plants are bursting out of the balconies of hotels and residential blocks.
Of course the most visited garden of all is the Gardens by the Bay – a relatively new attraction, which is already such an iconic landmark of the city like Hyde Park to London or Central Park to NYC. The domes of the botanical gardens and the skybridges across the canopies of the supertrees are truly a sight like no other – a futuristic vision of a green city that has come to glorious life. The Flower Dome holds the world record title for the Largest Glass Greenhouse. The Gardens are still being developed – 2 out of the 3 bayside gardens have been completed, so I can’t wait to return to Singapore one day to experience all 3 garden areas in their full glory.
I mentioned in my previous post about the insane hot and humid weather we experienced while in Singapore. So entering the temperature controlled dome of the flower botanical garden was a welcome relief from the sveltering heat. Tickets to the Gardens can be bought online or at the gates. Price will depend on whether you are a local resident or not. For visitors to the city the combined Flower Dome and Cloud Forest tickets cost S$26. Admission to the Supertree Grove is free and to the Skywalk it is S$8.
Believe me when I say, you do not want to miss this! We could have easily spent our whole day here, it is awe-inspiring, inspirational, educational, with stunning plants and beautiful views from the tops of the Supertrees over Marina Bay Sands and the rest of the Singapore skyline. Adam and I both agreed that Gardens by the Bay was possibly the best attraction we have ever visited anywhere.
Unfortunately we did have to move on, we didn’t have that long left in this amazing city and we still wanted to explore. Most people will tell you that 2-3 days are more than enough for Singapore, some will even say that you can do Singapore over a longish layover. Well I’m here to tell you the opposite. I would have much preferred to extend our stay to 5-6 days, we could have easily filled it, the city has so much to offer, you really cannot do it justice in 2 days.
We spent some time just casually walking along the river, taking in the views over the Financial District, grabbing some food, and just generally having a nice relaxed afternoon. Singapore of course is also well-known for its fantastic food-scene especially the wide-variety of food-courts scattered around the city, especially in malls and some underground stations. Yes, Singapore is quite a bit more expensive than other countries in the region, but you can still enjoy the city on a budget, especially if you stick to food-courts, like we did. We ate like kings on S$4 per dish and the food was delicious.
Another excellent day out in Singapore with activities for all the family is Sentosa island. Here is a full list of attarctions on the island if you are thinking of going. We chose to visit The S.E.A. Aqurium, as Adam loves diving and fish and underwater stuff, and it seemed fitting. Also escaping from the heat of the day into a dark, cool place really appealed.
You can get to Sentosa Island by getting the Sentosa Express train from VivoCity (which is a huge shopping mall). You can also get to Sentodsa by cable car. We chose to get the train there and the cable car back, which offered beautiful views of the harbour at dusk.
After 3 days our short stop to Singapore came to a quick end. I wish we had stayed longer, but we still wanted to visit one last place before heading back to Thailand for the rest of our Asia adventures, so we decided to leave.
However as I said in my previous post I personally don’t think 2-3 days are enough to fully appreciate Singapore. I personally would have liked to have spent an extra couple of days there, but at least I have that excuse to go back again one day! 🙂
If you are thinking about visiting the city because you will have a long layover for example, here is a fantastic deal:
‘You may just be passing through this tiny island-state, but let Singapore’s sights and sounds, colours and beats, energy and electricity enthrall you on the Free Singapore Tour. If you have at least 5.5 hours (or at least 6 hours for City Sights Tour) to spare till your connecting flight, join one of our free 2.5 hours guided tours with 2 short stopovers. The Heritage Tour runs 4 times daily and the City Sights Tour runs 2 times daily. Find this deal here: http://www.changiairport.com/en/airport-experience/attractions-and-services/free-singapore-tour.html