One of the most striking things about Singapore, when you undertake repeated visits to it as I have, is the way it constantly develops itself, adding attraction after attraction so there is always something new to discover, even on the shortest visit. Gardens by the Bay was under construction when I visited last year, and now is open, so I was keen to go and see what it was all about.
The gardens themselves are free to explore and they are vast. They look so established it is amazing to think that they didn’t exist at all a couple of years ago. They are split into various sections such as the Heritage Trail, the World of Trees and the Dragonfly walk round the lake. My top tip, if you have limited time, is to head to the visitor reception and pay SGD5 for a buggy ride round some of the areas, which really gives you a feel for the place, and an idea of what you might want to see more of.
The centre pieces of the Gardens are two huge incredibly impressive glasshouses, the Flower Dome and the Cloud Dome, which require purchase of a ticket. I visited them both on consecutive days (the Flower Dome was closed on my first visit, which was annoying as a combined ticket would have been cheaper) The Cloud Dome was fantastic, you enter a rainforest with a huge waterfall at its centre and gradually ascend a plant covered mountain, before working your way downwards via walkways to the forest floor. The Flower Dome was lovely too, but less breath-taking than the Cloud Dome. It showcases plants and trees from around the world and has a lovely cool climate. I could have happily spent a quiet afternoon there reading, if it wasn’t for the hoards of bored schoolgroups making a nuisance of themselves!
I tried out a couple of the catering options on my visit, Indochine, which is worth a visit for its location, at the top of one of the tallest artificial trees, offering good views across the gardens. However, the service was surprisingly bad, I have visited other Indochine outlets in Singapore and they knock spots off this one .It does have Wi-Fi though, so I was able to annoy UK based buddies by letting them know what I was up to! The other place I visited was Veranda, which promised a modern take on Asian classics, but didn’t really live up to its billing as there was very little Asian food on the menu. However, I did have a very nice Singaporean curry there. The gardens encourage picnicking, especially in the meadows, and I think this would be a very good option for future visits. Maybe the gardens could look more to promote this option and provide hampers? The other thing that was a bit random was the signage. I found, even with a map, I had to ask frequently for help, and the signposted directions to the MRT from the Domes were useless, I ended up walking far further than I needed to, and having forgotten to put my water in my bag (an essential for exploring Singapore in the heat) was somewhat hot and bothered by the time I reached the Shoppes by the Bay (which has equally useless signage).
Gardens by the Bay has successfully created a great new attraction in central Singapore, and it is hard to believe they haven’t been established for years. I would add it to the ‘must see’ list, although I think the Botanic Gardens are still my favourite for whiling away an afternoon as they have less of the theme park feel about them.