Even if you know absolutely nothing about Singapore, there’s a good chance that mesmerizing Gardens by the Bay have somehow found their way into your life. The image of its dramatic supertree grove, dancing its vibrant colours in Singapore’s evening sky, is not one that many people can let go of easily!
More spectacular at Gardens by the Bay in Singapore is, of course, to visit for yourself and see the breathtaking scenes with your own eyes. As you’ll quickly realize there’s more to Singapore’s Gardens by the Bay than its space-age good looks.
Ready for an unforgettable experience in Singapore? Discover all you need know about Gardens by the Bay with this complete guide for what to see & do in 2020…
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What to expect at Gardens by the Bay
Thanks to popular media (and, especially, the blockbuster hit movie Crazy Rich Asians), nearly everyone on the planet has probably caught a glimpse of the Gardens by the Bay at least once by now.
Like any tourist attraction that get this much attention, you’re bound to ask the obvious question: Is it worth the hype?
Well, in my own opinion, it’s simple: Yes, it sure is.
There’s no doubt that Gardens by the Bay is insanely popular. At times (such as during the evening light & sound show) maybe a little too popular for some tastes. But, whatever you do, don’t let that stop you from experiencing everything the Gardens have to offer.
In the travel industry, you’ll often hear a cliché thrown around that “There’s no place on earth quite like it.” This is one of the rare instances where it might actually be true—it may even be, on its own, one of the top reasons to visit Singapore!
What will amaze you about Gardens by the Bay is that it truly IS unique.
From the supertree grove to its conservatories, this top Marina Bay attraction is an innovative place that has few parallels anywhere else in the world.
That alone should be enough to get you to slide on over, whether you have just 24 hours in Singapore or a more extended stay.
Stretching out over about 250 acres of reclaimed land in Marina Bay, this is hardly a typical urban park wedged into the corner of a city.
There’s plenty of space here, enough that you’ll have no problem getting off-the-beaten-path to indulge in some of the city’s quieter moments with little interference from the usual tourist crowds.
For all of its goodness (and considering it’s one of the best things to see & do in Singapore), admission is, surprisingly, free.
You’ll only pay if you wish to take on extra activities like visiting the conservatories or strolling the walkway in the supertree grove.
What to see & do
We’ve all met those over-hyped tourist attractions that are little more than a one-trick pony. That’s certainly not the case here.
Whether you visit during the day or at night, there are plenty of things to do. In fact, exploring the Gardens at a leisurely pace could take the better part of a day!
Supertree Grove & OCBC Skyway
The most famous section of Gardens by the Bay is, undoubtedly, the spectacular space-age Supertree Grove in the Bay South Garden.
Approaching the Supertree Grove via walkway from the iconic Marina Bay Sands Hotel will make you feel as if you’ve stepped onto another planet—especially if you happen to visit after sundown!
The main grove contains twelve supertrees of varying heights and sizes with 6 others spread out elsewhere in the gardens. Planted upon the trees, you’ll see over 200 species of different flower adding colour to the scene.
To get the most out of your visit the Supertree Grove, I’d recommend climbing up to the OCBC Skyway (S$8).
This aerial walkway twists through the supertrees, suspended 22 metres from the ground, offering incredible bird’s-eye views of the park and grove.
PRO TIP: If you’re planning to also visit the Cloud Forest and Flower Done, you can save money on your OCBC Skyway admission and avoid the queue by purchasing your Gardens by the Bay ticket online!
As beautiful as the supertrees are by day, the best time to wander through the Supertree Grove is after the sun goes down.
Every evening at 7:45pm and 8:45pm, the Supertree Grove hosts the Garden Rhapsody, a spectacular light & sound show that springs the gardens to life.
If you’ve built up an appetite while visiting, you can pop into the Supertree Food Hall, a small food court serving up international favourites like Vietnamese, Indian, Japanese, Cantonese, and more…
Located between the Supertree Grove and conservatories in the Bay South Garden, the Heritage Gardens are a relaxing walk through the history & culture of Singapore’s three main ethnic groups (Chinese, Indian, and Malay) as well as its colonial past.
Each garden showcases an aesthetic typical of the groups’ horticulture and landscaping design.
You also find small exhibits that detail how certain plants and herbs are intertwined with spiritual, culinary, and medicinal traditions.
- Indian Garden: Tells the story of the influence of Hinduism on Singapore’s Indian culture and how the Vedas tie into everyday life and the horticulture. The exhibition here also speaks to the importance of plant life to the ancient healing system of Ayurveda as well as the body art practice of Henna and floor design principles of Kolam. The featured tree species & plants here include the Asian Palmyra Palm and the Banyan Tree.
- Chinese Garden: Walks through the use of plants in Chinese arts & culture and the aesthetic of typical Chinese garden that attempts to balance natural landscapes with artistry. Some of the species you’ll find here include pine, Chinese pistache, and King Sago Cycad.
- Malay Garden: The exhibits here focus on the use of fruits and vegetables like coconut, durian, and pandan for both medicinal and culinary purposes. A few of the plants you’ll spot here include the Bread Fruit Tree, Star Fruit, and Tongkat Ali, considered a powerful aphrodisiac.
- Colonial Garden: Thanks to its tropical climate, Singapore was once an important centre for the world spice trade. In the Colonial Garden, you’ll encounter some of the most sought-after spices & plants for traders including nutmeg, rubber, cloves, coffee, and cocoa.
Need a break from Singapore’s heat? Step into the misty Cloud Forest, a domed conservatory mimicking the vegetation and geology of tropical highlands.
As you walk throughout the Cloud Forest, you’ll spot a barrage of colourful flora and lush plants that’ll fill up your Instagram feed in no time!
The Cloud Forest spreads out over several levels, giving visitors a chance to catch its sights at varying altitudes.
Strolling along the two walkways—the Cloud Walk and the Treetop Walk—offers the most spectacular views to the outside.
The highlight of the Cloud Forest is, undoubtedly, the central waterfall.
At 30 metres high, it’s the world’s largest indoor waterfall.
(Although as beautiful as it is, the new indoor waterfall at the Jewel in Changi Airport might give it a run for its money!)
PRO TIP: A combo ticket for the Cloud Forest and Flower Dome runs at S$28. I’d recommend, however, purchasing your ticket online including the OCBC Skyway to skip-the-line and save money over buying each individually!
Like the neighbouring Cloud Forest, the Flower Dome is the perfect place in the Bay South Garden to escape the infamous humidity of Singapore while brightening up your day with some lovely flowers & plants.
This conservatory, one of the world’s largest greenhouses, emulates a Mediterranean climate and spreads out over 9 different flower & plant exhibits spanning 5 continents.
Some of the highlights in the Flower Dome (at least for me!) include the wacky baobab trees, the quirky sculptures and cacti of the Succulent Garden, and the Dutch-inspired field of tulip flowers.
PRO TIP: Save money and skip the queue by purchasing your ticket online! This combo ticket includes entrance to both conservatories and the OCBC Skyway.
Far East Organization Children’s Garden
If you’re travelling to Singapore with little ones, make sure to stop by the Far East Organization Children’s Garden as you romp on through.
This large recreation area in the heart of the gardens is perfect for family-friendly fun.
It features everything from play equipment for toddlers to canopy tree houses and a water park for older children.
The areas you should check out at the Far East Organization Children’s Garden include:
- Toddler Play Zone (1 to 5 years): A playground with fun-filled activities from a sway bridge to the popular Fish Fountain, an interactive series of water tunnels filled with fish sculptures.
- Rainforest Tree Houses (6 to 12 years): Older children will love a chance to play in these two 4- and 7-metre-high tree houses set along a 130-metre-long trail through the rainforest landscape of the gardens.
- Water Play (6 to 12 years): Looking for a family-friendly cool down from the dead heat of Singapore? Take the kids to this fun-filled water park featuring motion-sensored water play for an unforgettable interactive experience.
- Amphitheatre: A performing venue, capable of holding up to 300 people, that’s used for the park’s various educational events.
Bay East Garden
Although lesser-known than the main gardens, Bay East Garden is worthy of a stroll for its spectacular Singapore skyline views over Marina Bay including the Bay South Garden, the conservatories, and the Singapore Flyer.
In a busy city like Singapore, a chance to chill out in this relaxing 32-hectare green space shouldn’t be taken lightly.
Open 24 hours a day, the Bay East Garden is a Singapore favourite among joggers who crave an opportunity to breathe in a little fresh air before submitting to the weekday grind.
On weekends, it’s an equally popular relaxation spot for families looking to briefly escape the bustle of the city centre.
Traditionally, it’s been a little tougher for travellers to get over here.
This is slated to change as Founder’s Memorial Station (opening 2025) on the the new Thomson-East Coast MRT line will provide direct access to the Bay East Garden from every corner in Singapore.
Satay by the Bay
As you’d expect of Singapore, any major tourist attraction here has gotta have a nice place to seriously chow down. And while Satay by the Bay might not hold a candle to some of Singapore’s top hawker centres, the views alone should put it onto the radar if you get a little peckish while exploring.
Despite the name, Satay by the Bay isn’t just about those oh-so-delicious juicy meat skewers. (Although, as you’d imagine by the name, that IS the signature dish here.)
Whether you’re craving BBQ stingray, chili crab, roasted duck—or many of Singapore’s top dishes, for that matter!—you should have no problem finding it here.
The food stalls here start opening at about 11am, but try to visit in the evening to see the food court at its most atmospheric.
- Address: 18 Marina Gardens Drive, Singapore
- Opening Times: 5am to 2am (daily)
- Admission: Free
By MRT: As usual, the MRT is the best way to get here. The park is connected to Bayfront MRT Station (Circle and Downtown Lines) via underground passageway.
By foot: If you’re already at Bayfront Plaza in Marina Bay, walk through The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands and the hotel and cross over the Dragonfly Bridge to get into the gardens.
To get to the Gardens’ further-flung attractions like the conservatories, there’s an option to catch a shuttle bus from the Bayfront park entrance if you’re not keen on walking the whole way.
Where to stay: The best hotels near Gardens by the Bay
If you’d love to stay close to this incredible attraction, I’d be remise not to throw the iconic Marina Bay Sands into the equation. Without a doubt, this 5-star luxury hotel is one of the absolute best hotels in Singapore—if not all of Asia!
Here’s a quick rundown of some of the top hotels in Marina Bay to start your search…
- Pan Pacific Hotel: A 5-star hotel that’s the best value for a luxury hotel in Marina Bay, if not the entire city! Rooms here are spacious and modern with a dash of colour to brighten up your stay. With six on-site restaurants and a massive outdoor pool with city views, the chill factor here is high.
- The Fullerton Hotel Singapore: Located on the CBD side of Marina Bay, this legendary 5-star hotel features elegant rooms and a breadth of eating & drinking options in one of Singapore’s most coveted central locations.
- Marina Bay Sands: Since opening in 2010, this hotel has become a fixture in the Singapore skyline and is, undoubtedly, become one of world’s most famous places to stay. Besides the rooms themselves, the hotel offers a staggering selection of food & drink options along with the world’s largest infinity pool and a 57th-floor observation deck with swoon-worthy views.