Gardens by the Bay
Bay South Garden, distributed under Creative Commons License
What is it?
Gardens by the Bay is a multiple award-winning futuristic park cum sustainability education center that was opened in 2012 to meet the National Parks Board's vision of transforming Singapore into a greener city. It is theoretically comprised of 3 garden areas, of which only Bay South Garden is sufficiently developed with tourist infrastructure. Bay South Garden is what people are normally referring to when talking about Gardens by the Bay, as it holds the two conservatories (Cloud Forest and Flower Dome) and the Supertree Groves.
Is it Worth Visiting?
If you are a big fan of beautiful, exotic flowers, you would probably have made a beeline for this tourist attraction without having read this review anyway. However, what if you are not? Is this park still worth going to if you have a limited time in Singapore?
Personally, while I am not a big fan of flowers and do not go out of my way to pay for nature-themed attractions, I would say,"Yes!", Gardens by the Bay is worth visiting, but not all attractions within are worth your time or money. Let's take a look at each attraction.
Upon entering, you will find respite from the exhausting Singapore heat in the form of a refreshing, artificial waterfall. Of course, you may just as well find yourself irritated by the tour groups that block the entrance taking pictures of it. In any case, the highlight of this conservatory (besides the exotic plants) are the elevated walkways that surround the "mountain"! Once you take the elevator up, you will have access to a lot of amazing, panoramic photo opportunities.
In addition to that, there are multiple sculptures and other forms of artwork, such as this Lego exhibit of carnivorous plants!
On the way out, there is a small exhibition center on climate change which children would probably enjoy.
On the whole, I was very impressed with the Cloud Forest conservatory and I would wholeheartedly recommend everyone to visit it! There is even a "secret garden" that takes you to the foot of the waterfall, just when you think you are done! If you only have time to visit one conservatory, make it this one!
This conservatory, while larger in size and containing more of a variety of plants from all around the world, was a bit of a disappointment for this non-flower fanatic. The conservatory is divided into different zones, such as a Latin America area or an Australian area, where plants from that geographical region are represented. Unfortunately, other than the wide variety of exotic plants, there was nothing else of interest, besides a few artistic sculptures sprinkled around the dome.
Still, unless you manage to get a ticket for a single conservatory, which is an option only open to residents at this point, you are stuck paying for both conservatories at a price of SGD$28 for adults and SGD$15 for children. If you can find a Groupon for it, it might be worth it.
Other (Mostly) Free Attractions
The 2 lakes located close to the conservatory are flanked by boardwalks, which make for a nice evening walk to admire the view and the pretty sculptures of giant dragonflies. The World of Plants is an educational area aimed at families with children and hosts several interesting sculptures made from plants.
The Supertree grove at the center of the park, which also serve an ecological purpose despite its concrete appearance, becomes truly beautiful at night as the Supertrees get lighted up! The OCBC Skyway, which links 2 trees in the grove is also open to the public at SGD$5 for adults and SGD$3 for children. The walkway, built at 128 meters above the ground seems rather promising, but unfortunately, I was not able to check it out.
So is it worth visiting?
Given the pretty grounds, if you are in the area, you should definitely stop by for some pictures in the park, especially if you happen to be there in the evening! Given that most of the park is free, those on a budget can easily while away an hour or two. For those who want to visit the conservatories, it would make sense to find a deal online, since entry prices are pretty steep for what you get if you are not a floral enthusiast (and as a non-resident, you will have to pay for both conservatories)! If you are short on time, you are not missing much by skipping the Flower Dome, but the Cloud Forest is really fascinating!
The closest MRT station is Bayfront, where you can take a short 15-minute stroll into the gardens. Alternatively, you can pay $2 for return shuttle service that will take you to the conservatories from outside the station.