Behind the well-known and very large Marina Bay Sands complex (well it should be, google it if you know it…) lies a fairly decent sized chunk of nature in what is a very small country / city-state to begin with, aptly named Gardens by the Bay.
Whilst not overly large on a map the winding footpaths and tall trees help give it the illusion it’s many times bigger than the area actually is. The main attractions in Gardens by the Bay include the OCBC Skyway at the Supertree Grove, the Cloud Forest and the Flower Dome which all have an entry fee however the outside free area is also very nice with various displays such as sun pavilion and kingfisher lake. There is also a Children’s Garden but I didn’t check it out, being a solo guy traveler, hanging out in a children’s garden…you know….
A ticket to the Flower Dome and Cloud Forest will set you back $28 SGD if you a tourist, don’t buy a ticket to OCBC Skyway at the domes, its opening is dependent on weather and has its own ticket booth anyway.
I was directed to start at the Flower Dome first. What a great place to chill out and enjoy the cool and controlled temperature. It’s filled with flowers and small shrubbery from around the world with educational things like videos and signs you can read if plants are really your thing…(e.g. how do Australian plants deal with bushfires or how do plants in Africa live so long)
There is even a restaurant / function venue but it was closed for some special event when I was there.
The crew from the Better Homes and Gardens show would have an absolute field day here.
The exit will take you into a typical gift and souvenir shop area which will then have another path and entrance to the Cloud Forest. Straight away you are faced with an impressive monolith of nature which is the main structure you get to walk around on.
Where flower dome was focused on flowers and small plants cloud forest is focused on…you guessed it, forests and jungles. The underneath levels form the “lost worlds” display which I guess you could describe it as a Jurassic Park / World feel to it, minus velociraptors or an Indominus rex trying to eat you.
The forest structure itself will see you go up an elevator and then you just follow the marked out path up the rest of the way to the top and then back down with various displays about how trees work in our ecological systems. It ends with a small movie room showing a small doco-film about the effects of global warming and the extreme effects of a +5*C increase in average global temperatures. I recommend you stay and watch this, it’s actually very good. Unless you’re some climate change denier then you probably wouldn’t be at the cloud forest anyway.
After exiting via the gift and souvenir shop there is a McDonalds I quickly got a quick bite at.
As it was pure luck I was here near sunset on a Saturday the OCBC Skyway makes for some impressive viewing and being a Saturday in March there was a 6:45pm light and music show event on.
It is free to wander around the bottom but if you want to go up it will cost you $5 and if you go in peak time like I did be prepared to wait as they only let a few people up at a time.
Gardens by the Bay
Price: Free unless you go into attractions
Getting there: Train to the Marina Bay or Bayfront MRT and walk or shuttle bus ($3 SGD from Bayfront)
OCBC Skyway: Best done at sunset. $5 SGD entry
Flower Dome and Cloud Forest: $28 SGD Entry for tourist.
Hours: 9am-9pm for the paid attractions, the larger Gardens by the Bay is open 5am-2am.