As you stroll the lush paths of Singapore’s Botanic Gardens, you will swing by grassy slopes, gargantuan rain trees, ornamental water bodies — where you can spot gracious swans — and of course, myriads of themed-gardens that lure you with their distinctive design, collection of unique plants and exotic fragrances.
As the green lung of the island, this refreshing retreat is not only Singapore’s oldest garden but also — proudly — the country’s first UNESCO World Heritage site, having been inscribed on 4th July at the 39th session of the World Heritage Committee in Bonn, Germany. With more than 150 years of history, the gardens are indeed a testimony to Singapore’s rich heritage.
So whether you choose to visit in the morning, when groups of sports enthusiasts bask in the gardens’ quietness and enjoy a session of yoga or tai chi, or on a balmy weekend when crowds take over a patch of grass and set up a picnic feast with family and friends, the Botanic Gardens surely has something to offer to every visitor. Here are our favourite ways to enjoy this grand dame.
Set up a picnic at a free concert or movie screening
Although you can set up your very own gourmet al fresco dinner almost anywhere in the lush Botanic Gardens, an all-time favourite spot remains the sprawling verdant hill at Symphony Lake, where visitors can pop by for free open-air concerts year-round. All you have to do is pack your goodies in a picnic basket, gather your mates and find a good spot from where you can enjoy the music. And if you’re in the mood for a movie under the stars, then head to the serene surroundings of the Swan Lake, where you can catch screenings of local and international movies alike.
Go on a sunrise jog
If you fancy a refreshing start to the day, then just slip on your trainers and make your way to the Botanic Garden’s uphill slopes and uneven paths just before the break of day. Embark on your very own workout through the scenic gardens at sunrise, and you will be treated to an uplifting sunlight peeping through the trees. And don’t worry — the myriad paths crisscrossing the park are suitable for all types of runners from beginners to sprinters to endurance junkies.
Take a rainforest tour
Not many urban metropolises can boast of a luxurious rainforest in the heart of the city, let alone one nestled within a botanical garden! If you fancy a walk through Singapore’s green paradise, you will be awed by the sprawling six hectares of rainforest, which is home to an impressive variety of tropical plants. Forming a multi-layered ecosystem of trees, shrubs, plants and herbs, this viridescent oasis makes for a lovely walk when you are in the mood for a nature escapade. Take note that there are informative volunteer-guided walking tours every first Saturday of the month (except if it falls on the 5th), but at any time you can definitely opt for a self-guided exploration.
Learn about orchids at National Orchid Garden
For flower lovers, there’s nothing more enthralling than having the opportunity to admire over 1,000 species of orchids and some 2,000 hybrids in the same garden. A visit at the National Orchid Garden will unveil a vegetation aficionado’s dream: a bright-coloured setting of thousands of orchids and orchid hybrids as well as several displays of plants, which boast a unique design concept in four separate colour zones (yes, you can experience all four seasons in Singapore!) — a visual performance that will surely unleash the botanist in you!
Brush up your history at the Heritage Museum
While being connected to nature is fantastic, it also feels great when — after a thorough exploration of the gardens — visitors will stop by the Heritage Museum located beside the Botany Centre at the Tanglin Core and get fuelled with a dose of local history. Expect to learn interesting historical facts about the gardens starting with the colonial times to the post-war years and eventually to the present-day Singapore Botanic Gardens, which is so beloved by round-the-world travellers.