At the heart of an urban bustling Singapore, lies its green lung- an endless canopy of virgin forests, that remind this tropical country of its past and conserves its future. The Singapore Botanic Gardens is a 74-hectare stretch of green carpet that provides shelter and rejuvenation to nature lovers, fitness enthusiasts as well as to those looking for a break from the noise.
Stroll along for a walk in the wilderness as you hear the voice of only your thoughts. Forget the frown and wear a curve on your lips as you hear the busy chirping of birds as they begin the day. Sit on one of the many benches as you see the old, the young, the spirited, and the dogs sprint to life in the fresh air. This is one of the few areas in Singapore where you can sit from day to night, without a care in the world and no one would bother you.
If you want a bit of blue amidst the endless greenery, hop over to Swan Lake, home to a myriad plants and fish and a pair of beautiful swans brought over from Amsterdam that will take your breath away.
And if sitting and doing nothing bores you, take a walk in the National Orchid Garden and browse over a varied orchid collection of 1000 species and 2000 hybrids. If you are hungry, or are simply looking for something to munch on, the Botanic Garden Singapore also has a food court near Tanglin Gate that serves traditional breakfast with coffee, toast and soft-boiled eggs.
With a variety of flora and fauna, the Garden has exchanged many hands since its origin. Established in 1859 by the Agri-Horticultural Society, it is a big part of why the city is nicknamed ‘Garden City’. Initially, the colonial government handed the Society 32 hectares of land in Tanglin. A disused plantation mostly consisting of a canopy of virgin forest, the difficult task of transforming it into a beautiful garden was left to superintendent Lawrence Niven. What you see in the Garden today, is largely based on the design made by Niven. However, as the Agri-Horticultural Society ran out of funds in 1877, the colonial government took over the management.
The first rubber seedlings arrived in the Garden from Kew in 1877. Henry Nicholas Ridley, a naturalist, spearheaded the rubber cultivation in the Gardens and was appointed its Director in 1888. In 1925, Professor Eric Holttum became the Director of the Gardens and introduced a massive ‘orchidisation’ program that put the Botanic Gardens Singapore firmly on the commercial orchid cultivation map. Today, it also boasts of the largest tropical plant collection.
In fact, in May and October of 2014, the Gardens witnessed a host of additions, including two giant flower sculptures near the Eco Lake, by Croatian artist Ana Tzarev. A new garden shop was opened near the Tanglin Gate center in September of the same year. The exquisite clock tower donated by the late environment advocate, Lady Yuen Peng McNeice has been moved from the visitor center to the orchid plaza outside the National Orchid Garden. The locations of visitor services counters at the Tanglin and Nassim gate entrances have also been adjusted to make them more visible and to increase visitor flow.
Speaking of the improvements, the current Director of the Gardens, Dr. Nigel Taylor said, “We constantly improve our landscapes as part of our landscape management plan. We also improve the facilities and amenities to better cater to the changing needs of our visitors”.
Singapore Botanic Gardens Map
Facts about Singapore Botanic Gardens
- The 155-year old Garden has submitted an application to be listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in December 2012. This recognition is deemed to elevate a cultural or natural site into one as having outstanding timeless value. Speaking on this, Dr. Nigel Taylor, Director of the Gardens remarked, “The Singapore Botanic Gardens fulfills the criteria for World Heritage Site assessment, and is a well-loved outdoor area for Singaporeans from all walks of life.” UNESCO may decide on the Garden’s nomination by next June.
- There are a large number of heritage trees in the Botanic Gardens Singapore, but the Tembusu tree is about 150-year old. During the flowering season, its creamy white flowers give off a strong fragrance at sunset. Over 40 heritage trees are now a part of this historic garden.
- A jewel on a hilly top, the National Orchid Garden is the main attraction of the place. The Burkill Hall is a colonial plantation bungalow that hosts exhibitions on different hybrids named after VIP visitors. At the back of Burkill Hill, lies the VIP Orchid Garden which showcases some VIP hybrid orchids like the Dendrobium Margaret Thatcher and the Dendrobium Elizabeth.
- The Orchidarium houses natural orchids in a tropical setting while the Tan Hoon Siang Misthouse contains a selection of colorful and fragrant orchids. The Lady Yuen-Peng McNeice Bromeliad House displays plants from the Bromeliaceae family that also includes the pineapple. The Coolhouse, on the other hand, showcases orchids that are only found on tropical highlands by recreating that environment.
- The Botanic Gardens Singapore boasts of a 6-hectare long tropical rainforest that is older than the Gardens. Along with the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, it is a tropical rainforest located within city limits; a rare feat.
- The Singapore Botanic Gardens Heritage Museum located on the Holttum Hall is right next to Botany Centre in the Tanglin Core of the Gardens. It was built in 1921 to serve as the Director’s office and laboratory but has since evolved to be the Urban Redevelopment Authority conservation building.
- The Jacob Ballas Children’s Centre is located at the quieter northern end of the Gardens, and has its own visitor center with a café. Meant exclusively for children, this park has a playground, a Water Play area, a maze and tree houses with slides. The visitor center of the Children’s Garden also boasts of a splendid sculpture by Israeli artist Zodok Ben-David that looks like a tree from far but is actually 500 human figures bound together.
Where is Singapore Botanic Gardens ?
The Singapore Botanic Gardens is located on 1 Cluny Road, Singapore 259569. Its closest MRT station is the Botanic Gardens on the Circle Line and the future Downtown Line.
Best time to visit Singapore Botanic Gardens
With a hot and humid climate, the Singapore Botanic Gardens provides a breath of fresh air in the highly urbane city. The ideal time to visit is between June and August.
Singapore Botanic Gardens Hours
The Botanic Gardens Singapore is open daily from 5 am to 12 am, making it an ideal place for an early morning or late night jog. The National Orchid Garden is open daily, from 8:30 am to 7 pm, although ticket sales close by 6 pm. The Jacob Ballas Children’s Garden is open from Tuesday to Saturday between 8 am and 7 pm; last admission is by 6:30 pm. The Singapore Botanic Gardens Heritage Museum is open daily, from 9 am to 6 pm; except every last Monday of a month.
Singapore Botanic Gardens Tickets
The Botanic Gardens Singapore does not charge any entry fee except for the National Orchid Garden.
More about Singapore Botanic Gardens
Nearby Attractions: CDL Green Gallery, Singapore Botanic Gardens Heritage Museum, Symphony Lake, Botany Centre, Ginger Garden, Tanglin Gate