The gardens that were built from 2008 is now an iconic attraction. Built at a cost of just over S$1 billion, it was a vision to turn Singapore from a garden city to a city within a garden. And now it is presented to you – for free. Well, most of the facilities anyway.
First up, you will need to get here.
We recommend that you take the subway (MRT) to Bayfront station (via the Downtown or Circle lines).
From there, make you way to the Marina Bay hotel. Yes there are directions at the station pointing to the gardens, but ignore that. Once out of the station, ask the MRT staff or the Marina Shoppes associates on how access to the Marina bay overpass. You will ascend a series of escalators up the Marina Shoppes.
This overpass overlooks what is now the defunct part of the ECP freeway and brings you across to the gardens.
Nice to know that there are escalators at the end, so you need not do a lot of walking… especially on the way back. Do stop and have a look over the horizon. Fantastic if you have a good camera in the night with the lights on a clear day.
Coming off the link way the first thing that greets you is Dragonfly lake. The lake are named after the little inhabitants that are said to inhabit them – though the dragonflies can be a little hard to spot as they fly amidst the plants and lakes. If you had walked to the barrage, you will find Kingfisher lake. It would be nice to spot a king fisher there too. No luck for us. Stay here longer if you wish.
It’s probably be better to stroll along, to enjoy the views, and the 440m boardwalk along the Dragonfly Lake is indeed a secret gems and a fantastic photographic spot as the garden’s website suggest. It was rather breezy when we were here. So you won’t hear much of us in this video:
Take in the entire view of the lake with the super trees in the background. Do you know the aquatic plant in the lake help cleanse the water in the reservoir? Yes, the gardens were conceived as an ecological project dedicated to sustainability. As you are no doubt aware, it rains a lot in Singapore. Do you wonder where these water go? Not to the sea, but to Marina reservoir that is that rectangular body of water in front of the hotel.
Yes. There is a reservoir here.
You see, rainfall collects in the lakes which have been planted with native aquatic species that performs the role of ‘filtering’ the water. The water is then discharged into the reservoir. Just so you know that the bay was originally not closed off from the sea. Water was saline, but over time run off from the Singapore river and garden lakes have transformed it into a fresh water reservoir. All part of a conscious effort to be self reliant.
Trees of steel and green
Next up, stroll towards the super trees. It is just a short walk from the lakes and boasts yet of another series of achievements in species conservation and sustainability. Each of these 22 structures is between 22m to 50m high. Some of them are fitted to collect solar energy that helps to light up the trees in the night.
When we first came here in 2011, the “trunks” of the trees were quite bare exposing its steel structure. But now it is covered with climbing or creeper plants said to number 200 species or more.
Two of the trees are linked by walkway. For that you need to pay S$8pp for access. However you are not missing much, because the real heart stopper occurs in the evening.
You definitely would not want to miss an evening here with the trees. Called the “Garden rhapsody”, the trees erupt into a rapturous kaleidoscope of colors buzzing the night sky with the Marina bay hotel in the background.
Each night at 8pm, choose your favorite spot to listen and see the dazzling display. Definitely one of the must dos when you are here. The video will illustrate to you what you’d miss:
Gardens and the conservatories
There are four gardens, three of which (Indian, Malay and Chinese) represents the major ethnic groups that forms the majority on the island. They all feature the unique flora and garden cultures of the mélange that combine to make this island unique. See what the Indian people call ‘Celestial tree’ and sacred Banyan tree. Enjoy the Chinese rock garden, normally the domain of the wealthier folks and find out why Tongkat Ali is considered the Viagra of Southeast Asia.
We are reminded of the colonial past of Singapore in the colonial garden. This garden showcases the cash crop trees that were cultivated in the region and even on our red dot. Certainly they are still an important agricultural produce for our neighbouring countries. Actually you can “breeze” through these gardens rather fast and the best photo vantage with MBS in the background is from the Chinese heritage garden.
Invariably, you will come up to the conservatories : the flower dome and cloud forest.
Each being the size of almost 2 football fields, the domes – as the conservatories are called, are a paid admission attraction. We believe that it would bear spending a good 2 hours in each of the dome, so make it a half day event. Click here for more photos.
You know, right next to the flower dome is the Sun pavilion. We had noticed that not many people walk here. But right under the nose of visitors is a large collection of more than 1000 desert plants from 100 species!
If you have children, make sure they bring along swim wear. The children’s garden open up with a fantastic music and water sprouts that will surely keep your toddlers or little ones very happy! You might be too as you can see from the video:
And how can any place in Singapore be without food arrangements?
The gardens had been designed to provide the hungry visitor with many options. While the loaded (as we call the wealthier here) may dine on top of the tree at Indochine, others can easily find options at:
Super Tree dining – comprises of restaurant outlets, which we think is a little disappointing while Satay by the bay has a large number of hawker stalls.
Laid out like an outdoor food court unique to our little red dot, you can get the usual Asian food fixes while taking a break. Remember to ask and confirm the prices if you are unsure what you are ordering.
Lest you think this is all, the ones not tired can continue on to the Marina Barrage. Straddling across the Marina channel, this structure closed off the bay from the sea forming the reservoir. While not quite a half day event, it does warrant a visit for the views and is actually a very short walk from Satay by the bay. Click here for more photos. The really really lazy ones can for S$8pp get on a 22-seater audio tour that drives you about even as it provides commentary.
Now for those who are slack and do not want to do a lot of walking especially the way back, you can take – for $3 per person, a comfortable buggy ride from the flower dome back to the Marina overpass. You get to see quite some views along the way :
As we walk along the overpass back to MBS, a beautiful skyline greets you if you turn back. It must be really wonderful to wake up each day to this sight from the hotel rooms. And you now know that it can all be gotten – for free!
Remember, start from Marina bay overpass.