Gardens by the Bay is fast becoming one of Asia’s most renowned tourist attractions. You can find this collection of waterfront gardens in Singapore’s downtown Marina Bay area. Together, the gardens cover approximately 250 acres (100 hectares) and were largely created with the intent of supporting Singapore’s push to become a "City in a Garden." The Singapore government also has hopes that Gardens by the Bay will become both the country’s premier urban outdoor recreation space and one of its main national icons. Judging by its popularity so far, Gardens by the Bay is living up to its large expectations. The Marina Bay area is located a bit to the northwest of Sentosa Island and its attractions.
Gardens & Conservatories
Gardens & Conservatories
Three main garden areas join together to form the larger Gardens by the Bay area. They include Bay South, Bay East, and Bay Central. Bay South is the largest of the bunch, and among its highlights are two waterfront conservatories. These conservatories are known as the Cloud Forest and the Flower Dome. Both are cooled so that they can house plant life from other parts of the globe. Also among the Bay South Garden highlights are the Heritage Gardens and the Supertrees. The Heritage Gardens are four themed gardens that offer insight into the history and culture of Singapore, while the Supertrees are lofty, man-made structures that mimic trees and serve as vertical gardens of sorts.
The Bay East area of Gardens by the Bay offers several delights of its own. Among them are swaying palm trees, wide-open lawns that are lush and inviting, and excellent views of the Marina Bay skyline. A two-kilometer (1.25-mile) waterfront promenade is available for those who wish to take it all in while on a stroll. Future development plans will add more substance to the Bay East Garden area down the road, so it is very much a work in progress. As for the Bay Central Garden area, it too has yet to be completed. Essentially, its purpose is to serve as a link between the Bay South and Bay East gardens. Among Bay Central’s main highlights will be a three-kilometer (1.85-mile) waterfront promenade.
Take a comprehensive look at a Gardens by the Bay map, and you will likely notice the Bay South Garden area’s two waterfront conservatories. As mentioned, these conservatories are known as the Cloud Forest and the Flower Dome. Both figure among the most popular sub attractions at Gardens by the Bay, and it is easy to understand why. At the Cloud Forest, visitors step into a cool moist environment that is intended to recreate the conditions of tropical mountain regions. Among the main features is a man-made mountain that stands 35 meters tall (115 feet) and comes complete with a waterfall. An elevator brings visitors to the mountaintop, and two walkways provide the means for getting to the bottom. Among the plants that can be found in the Cloud Forest are rare Wollemi Pines from Australia and carnivorous Pitcher Plants. Over at the nearby Flower Dome conservatory, the conditions are cool and dry. The intent is to create a Mediterranean type of climate, such as you would find in the Mediterranean Basin and such other world regions as South West Australia, South Africa, Central Chile, and California. Flower Dome highlights include the Flower Field and the Succulent Garden.
Gardens by the Bay Supertrees
Gardens by the Bay Supertrees
Also figuring prominently among the main sub attractions at Gardens by the Bay are the Supertrees. These manmade trees reach heights of up to 16 storeys and are found in the Bay South Garden area. Most are grouped together at the aptly-named Supertree Grove, while the others are situated in the Golden and Silver Gardens. In addition to adding scale and dimension to the Gardens by the Bay landscape, the Supertrees serve as vertical gardens that are planted with such things as orchids, vines, ferns, and bromeliads. Also fascinating is the fact that many of the Supertrees have photovoltaic cells that harness energy from the sun. The trees also collect rainwater and help to cool the conservatories. Elevated walkways connect some of the Supertrees together, and there are plans to install a Supertree food and beverage station that will be set 50 meters (165 feet) above the ground.
When Singapore visitors aren’t spending time at the casinos, shopping at Orchard Road, or enjoying any other number of activities, they can swing over to Gardens by the Bay and relish in the park’s wonderful environs. The general hours for the larger Bay South Garden area are 5 am to 2 am daily. Its two conservatories – the Cloud Forest and the Flower Dome – are open daily from 9 am to 9 pm, with last admission at 8:30 pm. Also found at Bay South is the Supertree skyway that is known as the OCBC Skyway. Its hours are 9 am to 9 pm daily, with last admission at 8:45 pm. Access to the general outdoor areas at Bay South is free, while there are admission fees for the conservatories and the OCBC Skyway. The other main areas of Gardens by the Bay – the unfinished Bay East Garden and Bay Central Garden areas – are open to visitors 24 hours a day and cost nothing to access.
The Gardens by the Bay address is 18 Marina Gardens Drive. Ways to get there include driving, taking a taxi, and going by bus. Walking there is also an option, especially if you stay at one of the nearby hotels, including a couple that have casinos. Those who are driving over can hop on the East Coast Parkway and get off at Exit 17A. From there, they can quickly access Marina Gardens Drive, which is where the Gardens’ main gate can be found. Parking is available for a fee between the hours of 5 am and 2 am. Those who prefer taking a bus instead will want to focus on the Circle Line and the North-South Line, as they provide access to the area. Complimentary shuttle bus service to Gardens by the Bay is sometimes available. It was made available in 2012 during the June 29 to July 8 period, for example. When available, the free shuttles travel back and forth between Gardens by the Bay and the Marina Bay MRT (Mass Rapid Train) Station. Once at Gardens by the Bay, visitors can choose to include a tour on their agendas. The tour options include guided tours for groups, tram tours that highlight the Bay South Garden area, and audio tours that largely focus on the conservatories. Added fees apply for the tours.