One of Singapore's top tourist attractions, Gardens by the Bay combines the peace and tranquillity of a green oasis with cutting-edge technology and visionary landscape design. Some of the must-see sights in the Gardens include:
The centrepiece of the Gardens is the Supertree Grove. These towering structures of concrete and steel stretch up to 50 metres high and are covered in 200 species and varieties of plants including orchids, ferns and flowering climbers.
The supertrees also host the OCBC Skyway, a walkway strung 22 metres above ground between the Supertrees. It's an ideal spot for photographers to capture the Gardens, the iconic Marina Bay Sands building and surrounding Singapore skyline.
Although visiting the Gardens at night might seem counterproductive, the nightly Supertree sound and light show is worth a visit.
Gardens by the Bay has two cooled conservatories, boasting both the largest glass greenhouse in the world (the Flower Dome), and the world's tallest indoor waterfall (the Cloud Forest).
The Flower Dome is home to plants from the Mediterranean and semi-arid subtropical regions, as well as a frequently changing roster of stunning floral exhibitions.
The Cloud Forest's central exhibition is a manmade 'mountain' hosting a 35 metre waterfall and plants from tropical highlands up to those found at 2,000 metres above sea level. A lift takes you straight to the top of the mountain, and you make your way down along a series of metal catwalks. An added bonus is the views of the surrounding Singapore landscape. It's cooled to around 24 degrees, so if you're dressed for the Singapore heat, it might be wise to take a light jacket or scarf.
Cooling off at the waterplay fountains in the Children's Garden
The large and well-designed Children's Garden is reason enough for families to visit Gardens by the Bay. Its highlight is a waterplay area with loads of fountains to run through. For the really little ones, there's a toddler fountain area with adorable fish sculptures spurting out water.
It's not all about water through. Two playgrounds cater for toddlers and older kids. A favourite feature of the toddler playground is a child-sized topiary tunnel for little ones to run through. Not so good for tall parents who get dragged inside by their kids, but lots of shade and fun.
The 'treehouse' themed playground for older kids holds lots of climbing structures, ropes and slides, and is built among shady trees over a large sandy area. It links to an 'adventure trail' which winds around the Children's Garden complex.
There's a snack bar near the toddlers playground and plenty of shaded seating near the waterplay area. Note that the Children's Garden is not open on Mondays, and if it rains, the playgrounds and waterplay area will be closed due to the risk of lightning.
Other Garden highlights Heritage Gardens: Four themed gardens showcase the plants of Singapore's main ethnic groups and colonial past in the Chinese, Malay, Indian, and Colonial Gardens. Sculpture hunting: More than 40 sculptures are dotted around the Gardens, interwoven with the landscape. One of my favourites is called 'Planet' – a seven tonne, nine metre statue of a baby seemingly floating on a bed of grass.
"Planet": one of the many impressive sculptures in the Gardens
Events: The gardens host many events throughout the year, some highlights in 2016 being the Singapore Garden Festival in July, the Mid-Autumn lantern festival and light show in September, and a Christmas Market in December.
Tips Opening Hours: The general outdoor areas are open 5am – 2am, and admission is free. For the conservatories, Children's Garden, and OCBC Skyway, refer here for current hours and admission prices (the Children's Garden is free)
Getting there: Public Transport - the Bayfront MRT station on the Downtown (blue) line or the Circle (yellow) line is at the edge of the Gardens. Bus number 400 also stops nearby on Marina Gardens Drive.
There's a walkway from the Marina Bay Sands building, and some of the Hop-on, Hop-off tourist buses also include the Gardens as a stop.