I visited Singapore with my family – it was a trip of a lifetime for all of us, a holiday full of new cultural experiences, exciting food, brilliant shopping and attractions like we’d never seen before. There’s just so much to do in a place where most people only stop for a couple of nights on their way to or from another destination – it really is worth staying longer.
My family visited for a week, and the horticultural attractions were at the top of our to-do list. In honesty, I was a little unsure if they’d hold the attention of my wife and teenage daughter, neither of whom are garden lovers, but I needn’t have worried.
Our highlight was Gardens by the Bay, a free-to-see spectacle that made all of us gasp at one point or another. It’s dominated by Supertree Grove, a series of gigantic manmade ‘trees’ clad top to bottom in living greenery. You can climb the trees for a small fee and walk on gangways from one to another – a hot task, but one that’s worth it for the views. Best of all, the trees light up at night and there’s a free daily light and music show. We were surprised to see other visitors lying flat on their backs before the show started, but we joined them and could quickly see why being horizontal and looking up was a good idea. The light show was breathtaking, immersive and I realised part way through that I was crying at the beauty of it all – who’d have thought!
There are also two enormous climate-controlled glasshouses, which combined cover more than 20,000 square metres. We visited the Flower Dome first and found it full of immaculately grown plants and flowers from around the world – they really were the very best examples of any given plant you’re likely to see. The centre of the dome is used for special floral displays that are updated regularly. While we were there it was full of colourful azaleas and rhododendrons displayed with a Japanese theme.
But it was the second glasshouse that really made our jaws drop. The Cloud Forest glasshouse seemed taller than it was wide and, as the name suggests, it’s designed and planted to replicate a forest in the clouds, like those found in South America and parts of Asia. It was complete with spectacular waterfalls and a metal walkway that climbs right to the top of the glass. The scale is incredible and it’s impossible to stop taking photos! There’s a fee to enter both the glasshouses, but it’s totally worth it as you can easily fill a day with everything to see.
- Getting there: Kevin and his family flew direct to Singapore from London with British Airways. It’s a 13-hour flight
- Where to stay: Holiday Inn Express, Clarke Quay, Singapore
- When to visit: The climate is pretty consistent year-round at about 32°C with around 10 days of rain a month
Other horticultural highlights
Singapore Botanic Gardens
More traditional than Gardens by the Bay, but none the less spectacular. The Singapore Botanic Gardens are government-run and immaculate – expect tropical planting, giant lily pads and the most beautiful orchids you’re ever likely to see.
Although one of the most exclusive hotels in the world, there are plenty of outdoor areas of Raffles Hotel the public can access free of charge. I loved the giant containers filled with tropical foliage plants – excessive and fabulous all at the same time.
Jewel at Changi Airport
We were told to allow extra time at the airport on our way home to explore Jewel – this was excellent advice. Full of mazes, terraces full of plants and, best of all, The Vortex which is the world’s largest indoor waterfall. Mind-blowing!