I traveled to Singapore on business during the third week of August to kick-start Suyati’s operations in that island country. The first step – to incorporate the company and open the bank accounts. Since it was a business trip, I did not expect to spend any time sight-seeing. I had already traveled to Singapore on vacation a couple of times before and had done the typical touristy stuff – the Merlion, Night Jungle Safari, Jurong bird sanctuary, the Singapore Flyer, Sentosa islands, the river cruise, Clarke Quay shopping …yup, the works.
As I was talking to my CPA, he asked casually if I was planning to get some sight-seeing done. When I replied in the negative, he asked me to check out the Gardens by the Bay (GBTB or the Gardens) – a park constructed by the Singapore National Parks Board and dedicated to the public in October, 2011. I half-heartedly said yes, sure, if I find the time.
After the business formalities for the day were over, I did have time from 5 PM onwards. I hailed a cab and asked him to take me to the Gardens. 10 minutes later, my love story with the Gardens started.
Before I jump into why I loved the Gardens, let me get the basic information, do’s and don’ts etc. out of the way. Warning – the GBTB website does a way better job!
Spread over 101 hectares of reclaimed land, the GBTB is Singapore’s answer to a “city in a garden”. Access to the park, the trails, the sculptures and the themed heritage gardens are all free. Admission hours are generally from 5 am to 2 am for the gardens and the lakes. Hours of admission to the conservatories (two of them – Cloud Forest and Flower Dome) are from 9 AM to 9 PM, with the last ticket sale at 8 PM. Access to these (and the OCBC parkway at the Supertree Grove) are charged at different rates depending on whether you are a resident, adult, senior citizen, child etc. There are also guided tours, shuttle services and auto riders that charge a nominal fee. The gardens are closed on Mondays, but do check with the website before you head to the garden since the hours of admission varies depending on the day of the week and public holidays could change the opening schedule.
The light show at the Supertree Grove
Some tips and suggestions when you visit Gardens by the Bay, Singapore
- Carry water with you at all times. There are water fountains at most restrooms, so keep filling your bottle up. It is pretty sultry and humid, even in the evenings.
- Plan your conservatory visits during the hottest part of the day – usually between noon to 5 PM. These are air conditioned, temperature controlled domes (I actually had to wear my sweater!) and are a pleasure to walk around. Once it is cooler (first thing in the morning or when the sun is down) you can explore the rest of the gardens.
- The lights show (named the Golden Rhapsody) at the end of the day at the Supertree Grove is a must-see. I caught the one at 7:45 PM (not sure of the timing for the other one) and it was a perfect ending to the long day at the gardens. So plan all your explorations around this timing.
- Do wear your sunscreen, and keep reapplying it every 2-3 hours. Pack an umbrella too!
- If you travel by Air Asia to Singapore, do retain your boarding pass. I got a 10% discount off the admission price (SD $28) to both the conservatories.
- Pay that SD $3 for the unlimited shuttle rides. This helps you move from one attraction to another within the gardens. Shuttles come around at 10-minute intervals.
- Take a swimsuit with you if you plan on getting wet at the Children’s Garden’s open water park! On a hot day, this will certainly cool you down.
- Carry a notebook and pen if you are a flower girl! I am clueless when it comes to flowers and plants and did not feel the need to jot down anything, but there were a bunch of enthusiasts clicking snaps and taking down notes – either based on what the guide was saying, or from the detailed placards placed around most exhibits.
- If you are planning to do some shopping in Singapore, wait until you visit the gift shops in the Gardens. They have some really neat Singapore- and Gardens- specific memorabilia and souvenirs, at decent prices, that make for great gifts to take back home.
Now that I have got the formalities out of the way, here goes why I fell in love with the Gardens!
PS: All images in this blog are from the Gardens by the Bay website and they own the copyright for all these images. I did take oodles of pictures at the Gardens, but my phone broke down and I had to wipe it clean and start over. But take it from me, these images are way better than anything I took with my old phone. You are not missing anything!