Singapore has lots of nicknames (the little red dot, the lion city, etc), but it’s also known as a City in a Garden. Singapore Botanic Gardens is an iconic landmark and is a UNESCO Heritage Site.
Singapore is so hot that sometimes it’s hard to find the energy to leave the comfort of air conditioning to do something outdoorsy. A trek in the Botanic Gardens is quite refreshing and I’ve never left regretting my walk.
It’s a tropical Central Park. You’ll find a wide variety of trees (apparently more species than you’ll find in North America!). You won’t find squirrels in the garden, but you’ll definitely encounter monitor lizards that slowly inch their way across the path.
Garden Fun Facts
- There is a path of brick steps in the Garden that was built by Australian Prisoner of Wars during the Japanese occupation of Singapore in WWII. You’ll find the bricks marked with arrows, which symbolized the POWs defiance.
- The Botanic Gardens used to be a popular zoo in the late 1800s but was later abolished due to raising costs and insufficient infrastructure for large animals
- The $5 bill features iconic tree that is still alive in the Gardens. The Tembusu tree is approximately 170 years old
- National Orchid Gardens: Singapore’s national flower is an orchid and there is an extensive orchid collection at the Botanic Gardens. This is the only part of the Garden that requires a fee, but worth if if you want to see over 60,000 types of orchids
- Shaw Symphony Stage: there are often free concerts here.
- Rainforest: This is a section of the garden that has a small tropical rainforest and the trees are actually older than the garden! Singapore is one of two cities that have a tropical rainforest within its city limits (Rio de Janeiro is the other city).
- Ginger Garden: I had no idea there were so many different species of ginger. There’s also a small waterfall in the garden as well as a restaurant called Halia.
- The Garage: Take a break and grab a snack or a coffee at The Garage. The building used to be a stable for cars but has now turned into two restaurants: Bees Knees and Botanico.
History on Botanic Gardens
The garden used to be a plantation and was later reopened as a national garden. Originally, Sir Raffles, the famous Brit who founded Singapore as a colony, established the garden to help cultivate crops to grow the local economy. The Agri-Horticultural Society transformed the plantation land in 1859.
In 2014, the garden was submitted as a UNESCO World Heritage site based on its historical and cultural significance.
The garden is now very accessible and a good respite if you tire of roaming the shopping malls of Orchard Road. When I visited Singapore in December of 2015, it seemed like they had just started building the MRT but now the garden is entirely accessible and much more convenient.
Have you been to the Botanic Gardens? Let me know what your favorite spots are!
The garden is quite large (almost 183 acres) so you’ll want to use this handy map to figure out where you are and map your route. The website for the garden also outlines a few trails and shares the timetable for guided tours.
To access the Botanic Gardens, take the MRT to the Botanic Gardens Station on either the Circle Line or Downtown Line.