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I have recently returned from a mammoth trip to Australia. On the way home we decided to break for a few days in Singapore. I once lived in Singapore and remembered being taken to the Botanic gardens by my parents and was keen to revisit with my own children.
Singapore city is now a maze of high-rise concrete with expensive designer shopping malls. Together with the unbearably high temperatures and 100% humidity, the green open spaces and shaded benches of the botanic gardens become very appealing!
The botanic gardens were founded in 1859 and consist of 74 hectares of gardens, containing tropical plants and abundant wife life. The botanic gardens are split into areas and there is even a children's garden! Admission is free with the exception of the orchid garden.
The botanic gardens are situated at 1, Cluny road. We arrived by taxi and the fares are very reasonable. The taxi drop off is located in the middle of the gardens by the visitor centre. We did have to wait for over half an hour to get a taxi home and I would advise you leave plenty of time if you are on a tight schedule, especially in the evening when the crowds arrive!
There are several bus services to the gardens including 7,105,123 and 174. There are several entrance gates to the park including the Tanglin gate,, Nassim gate,Tyersall avenue, Cluny park gate and the Jacob Ballas children's garden via the junction of Bukit Timah Kheam Hock roads.
The efficient train service ( MRT) can be used. You will need to get off at the botanic garden station which is about a 20 minute walk from the Nassim gate or a 40 minute walk to the Tanglin gate.
If you have a car then there is plenty of free parking at all the entrances.
The botanic gardens are open every day from 5am until midnight. The orchid garden is open from 8.30 am until 7 pm. There is a small charge for the orchid garden of 5 dollars for an adult and children over 12. Children under 12 are free.
What is there to see?
You could easily spend all day at the gardens and still not see all that is on offer. The gardens are split into areas and everything is well signposted. In addition I suggest you collect a free map available form the visitor centre when you arrive.
The botany centre.
Located at the Tanglin gate end ,this is where the gardens were first established in 1859.There are many historical trees in addition to colonial buildings that were once the homes of the directors of the gardens.
The swan lake.
This is a beautiful lake where you will often see wedding parties posing for photos. The lake dates back to 1866. There are several swans on the lake as well as a large bronze swan sculpture.. The island on the lake is covered in lush palms. This is a great place for a picnic as there is lots of shade to be found.
The ginger garden.
This is a fun area for children as there is a waterfall that you can walk behind! There are also several hundred species of ginger and other plants from related families. There is a large pool with giant Amazon water lilies. We all loved the ginger garden as the water features helped cool us down!
The eco garden.
This garden is designed to showcase plants that are economically and ecologically important. There are trees, shrubs and herbs on display that produce dyes, spices, resins and medicines. There is another lake with black, Australian swans.
The rain forest.
This area contains over 300 species of plants in 6 hectares. There are climbers, ferns and numerous weird and wonderful shrubs to see. This is where you will see the tallest and most impressive trees, some over 50 metres in height dating back to 1819.
National orchid garden.
This is the only garden you will need to pay to visit and in my opinion the cost is well worth it! The colours and shapes of the orchids are truly amazing! There is also an expensive gift shop just before the entrance turnstiles if you fancy taking home a souvenir!
The gardens also have numerous freestanding scultures,all of them elegant and well worth a closer look. There are the swans, a girl on a bike and another girl on a swing. The figures add to the beauty of the gardens. There is also a Victorian bandstand and a large stage situated at Symphony Lake, where (free) performances are often staged at weekends.
My children's favourite area was the Jacob Balls children's garden. The garden is free to enter and is available for parents or carers of children up to aged 12. The gardens are closed on Mondays. This is where we spent the most time!
The garden is accessed via a turnstile. The children's garden is designed to allow children to explore and discover the power and beauty of plants. There is a well designed tree house complete with enclosed slide and a wobbly rope bridge to navigate.
There is a small allotment with herbs and other plants grown for food including bananas and pineapples. There is cooling water feature where children (and adults!) can fun into the fountains that erupt randomly. I loved the miniature palm trees! There are picnic tables and benches and this would be a perfect place to eat! I noticed that you can host children's parties in this garden if you are local.
Pets are allowed into the gardens but have to be on a lead. No dogs are allowed into the children's garden.
There are several cafes and the popular Halia restaurant that was highly recommend to me. However we decided as time was tight to take a few snacks and plenty of water, so we could spend out time exploring.
There are toilet facilities situated throughout the gardens and all are immaculate, as are most things in Singapore! The toilets situated next to the children's garden have small, child sized toilets and hand basins.
We spent just a few hours in the gardens as we had an evening flight. However I would have liked a lot longer to explore. There are more areas to see than I have mentioned and I would have liked to have visited the so called healing garden for example.
The gardens are apparently particularly lovely at night when the lake and fountains are lit up. When we visited there were several wedding parties, so this is obviously a popular wedding venue!
The gardens are a good place to spot wildlife. We saw several species of birds including some very pretty kingfishers and bee eaters. There were also squirrels and lizards. I have been told that there are snakes in the gardens although we didn't see any.
Overall I would highly recommend a visit to this lovely oasis. It is just 5 minutes from the bustling madness that is the Orchard road but it feels like a different planet! The children's garden will appeal to children of all ages and is a great place to relax whilst the children explore in safety. Best of all the gardens are free, with the exception of the orchid gardens!