Singapore’s Botanic Gardens were founded in 1859. They cover 183 acres and include a vast range of plants from palms and rainforest to economically important plants and a specialist orchid collection. Just a short distance from the island’s main shopping street, the extensive parkland provides an oasis of calm and you will see local people practising Tai Chi and groups of students taking outdoor exercise classes here.
|You are likely to see people practising Tai Chi in the Gardens|
By night the gardens are lit and occasional concerts take place by the Symphony Lake.
Exploring the Botanic Gardens
The Gardens are divided into different areas of interest. Near the main entrance are the Healing Garden (with plants grown for medicinal purposes) and the Evolution Garden which tells the story of plant life on Earth. Walk past the Visitor Centre to the Symphony Lake and Palm Valley which features over 200 species of palm. Nearby is a small enclosed area of rain forest with easy paths where you can see many of the forest plants that covered the island prior to its colonisation.
|Walking through the Gardens|
The attractive Ginger Garden, with its waterfall, features many of the 1,500 members of the ginger family. You may be surprised to find that these not only include spices such as turmeric and cardamom but also a number of lilies and even bananas.
Look out for animals and birds as you walk the gardens. Apart from ducks you may see kingfishers, bee-eaters or, if you are lucky, birds of prey. Animals in the park include squirrels, lizards, snakes and frogs.
|Look out for small birds in the Botanic Gardens|
National Orchid Garden
The National Orchid Garden includes over 1,000 species of orchid and many hybrids. Within the garden is the Orchidarium, which provides the natural conditions for many tropical orchids, and the Coolhouse which replicates a tropical mountain environment.
The VIP Orchid Garden has a collection of brightly coloured hybrids which have been named after distinguished visitors including Margaret Thatcher and Nelson Mandela.
|The Gardens have an enormous selection of orchids|
Getting to the Botanic Gardens
Take the MRT train to Botanic Gardens: the exit is at the northern end of the park and from here you can walk through to the Orchid Garden at the opposite end. The Gardens are open from 5 am to midnight and the Orchid Garden from 8.30 am to 7 pm. Entrance to the Gardens is free but there is an admission charge to the Orchid Garden.
It is best to visit at the beginning or the end of the day to avoid the heat and the guided tours. An umbrella is advisable as sudden torrential downpours are common. You can get a drink or a meal at the Visitor Centre.