Gardens by the Bay is a must see on any visit to Singapore and was one of the attractions that made it onto our short list of things to do during our recent visit. It’s been 13 years since Craig and I first visited Singapore, there was no Marina Bay back then and Sentosa Island was nothing like it is now. This man made tourist mecca really is worth a visit even if you’re only on a stopover.
We stayed at the Holiday Inn Singapore Orchard City Centre. We took the MRT down to the Marina Bay precinct, you could easily spend a whole day wandering around there. The crowning glory is of course the distinctively shaped Marina Bay Sands Hotel.
We had the opportunity to stay there on our first evening and I have to say the infinity pool on the 57th floor is pretty spectacular. Although there are a number of great hotels in Singapore to choose from for the first time visitor that will suit every budget.
Getting to Gardens by the Bay
Bayfront MRT is approximately 5 stops from Orchard Rd so if you want to save some money, I advise to stay closer to Orchard Rd and get the MRT down to the bay area. Prices for hotels closer to this area are pretty steep so making use of the very efficient MRT will save you a fair whack of money and there are some great neighbourhood stays in Singapore that are cheaper for accommodation and the MRT makes them very accessable.
A new MRT line is under construction with a new station at Gardens by the Bay but it won’t be open to the public until 2021, a little way off yet. The MRT makes most areas in Singapore accessible, you can get to most places quickly maximising any Singapore layover. We have had many a layover in Singapore but its also a great city to stay a bit longer.
If you are only planning to visit the gardens and keep your feet planted on the ground, your in luck, that won’t cost you anything! Yep, zip, zero, zilch!
If you would like to visit the two Conservatories, which I highly recommend you’ll need to purchase a ticket for entry.
There is an extra cost to go up to the OCBC Skyway, this will enable you to walk across the raised walkways between the Super Trees and you’ll be able to go to the observation deck in the taller super tree.
You can also purchase a combination Gardens by the Bay and Singapore Flyer ticket. The Singapore Flyer is a short walk from Gardens by the Bay and will provide an amazing view across Gardens by the Bay, Marina Bay and on a good day you’ll see as far as Malaysia and Indonesia.
If you are thinking that these costs are not in your budget, I still recommend visiting as everything else is free of charge. The area is very busy and a very happening area of Singapore, its definitely worth the visit either way.
Gardens by the Bay
Once you exit the Bayfront MRT station, you very quickly see the Super Tree Grove towering above. It’s quite exciting as you start to get closer and see the OCBC Skyway hanging between a few of the towers.
The best thing about this area is unless you want to visit the enclosed exhibits, its totally free. Its just one of many cheap budget friendly or free things to do in Singapore.
The surrounding gardens are free to wander around and you can get some great photos with the iconic Marina Bay Sands in the background. We only had a few hours in the afternoon and I must admit I was pretty disappointed I didn’t get to see this at night.
Gardens by the Bay consists of 3 waterfront gardens, Bay South Garden, Bay East Garden and Bay Central Garden. All the gardens are connected and the whole site is situated on 101 hectares of reclaimed land. There are two conservatories as well, the Cloud Forest and the Flower Dome.
Super Tree Grove
The Super Tree Grove is what you see in a lot of the photos of Singapore these days. There are a total of 18 Super Trees with 12 of them located in the Grove. The Super Trees are tree like (obviously) structures ranging in height from 25-50 metres. They are vertical gardens that are illuminated at night using solar power which is built into there structure. The structures are covered in unique and exotic flora which is still growing around the frames of the trees and I am sure once it is complete it will look even more spectacular. The structures also gather rain water which is used to maintain the expansive gardens.
The OCBC Skyway provides a panoramic birds eye view of the gardens. The Skyway is accessed from a lift in one of the Super Trees and you walk along the elevated platform to another Super Tree about 200 metres away, this keeps the crowd moving in one direction. It’s the ideal spot to get some great photos of the Marina Bay area and the Singapore Flyer is also in view.
Flower Dome Conservatory
Unfortunately during our visit the Flower Dome was closed for temporary renovations. I was disappointed because I absolutely love flowers and can still vividly remember seeing all the beautiful orchids at the Botanic Gardens during our first visit on our honeymoon and. I think this would have rivalled that experience had it been open.
The Flower Dome is made up of 7 different gardens and an olive grove and bistro. The gardens feature plants and flowers from cool and dry regions including the Mediterranean and parts of Australia, South America and South Africa. The plants are mostly from semi arid tropical regions.
Cloud Forest Conservatory
The Cloud Forest is slightly smaller than the Flower Dome and is built over a number of levels. It successfully attempts to replicate the cool moist conditions located in tropic mountain areas located in South East Asia, America and South America. Its a lovely cool respite from the heat outside, especially the waterfall mist when you first walk in.
I especially enjoyed the delicate ferns and beautiful orchids on display and the kids enjoyed a blast from the past, with the carnivorous venus fly trap plants at the entrance (remember them, so retro!). The Lost Garden at the top of the structure is where you will find most of the beautiful flowers. The kids enjoyed looking out through the open windows behind the waterfall and feeling the drops fall on their faces.
I’m a bit embarrassed to say, we didn’t make it here, it was an oversight and I’m disappointed we missed it. I have since seen photo’s and I can see any child would love this wonderful area to have a splash and a play. It’s particularly disappointing as we were there when it was extremely hot and humid and we all could have done with a cool down. Located close to the Children’s Garden is the Adventure Trail that has kids trampolines, balancing beams, hanging bridges and the water play area.
Eating at Gardens by the Bay
There are a number of restaurants and cafes at Gardens by the Bay; Pollen, Majestic Bay Seafood Restaurant, Indochina, Bakerzin, Cafe Crema, Satay by the Bay, Conservatory Cafe and Children Garden Cafe. As you can see there is a wide variety of food to choose from and if all else fails there’s also a McDonald’s on site to keep the kids happy. A new restaurant recently opened called Super Tree Dining is located at the top of the highest Super Tree and I’m sure the view would be amazing.
On our recent trip to Singapore we dined at Satay by the Bay, a hawker market style food hall located at Gardens by the Bay. The kids enjoyed delicious Singaporean dishes such as dumplings and satay sticks and Craig had crab. This a great place to have dinner and very cost effective too, it’s licensed so you can even get your Tiger Tower if that floats your boat!
If you’re just after a drink or ice cream, you will find cute little refreshment van’s driving around. Just flag them down and purchase your chosen refreshment – the lemon and lime ice cream is delicious.
There are 3 gift stores where you can purchase something to remember your visit to Gardens by the Bay. We visited the Arrival Gift Shop at the entrance, there is also the Canopy Gift Shop behind the ticketing booth and the Conservatory Gift Shop between the exits of the Flower Dome and Cloud Forest. You are highly likely to come across all of them as you wander around.
Not all of us are able to walk as far as others, it’s particularly difficult in the heat and humidity. For those not up for the walk, no need to miss out, there are the following options for getting around:
Auto Rider SGD5
Shuttle Bus SGD3 (bus runs every 10mins)
Outdoor Garden Audio Tour SGD8
I really enjoyed Gardens by the Bay, we were on a very tight schedule on this visit and if I had my time over again I would make sure we arrived later in the afternoon and stayed until after sunset. I think while this area was beautiful during the day, I think it would be something spectacular at night. I would head there at 5pm, let the kids play in the playgrounds until closer to sunset then get dried and head into the Conservatories to be out in time for the lights to come on.
The Bayfront MRT station is a bit of a hike from the entrance of Gardens by the Bay, you sort of come out at the back so its perfect if you finish there and head to the MRT. Taxi’s are very economical in Singapore so if travelling with kids or elderly I would consider getting a taxi to the entrance, walking though and then getting the MRT back to your accommodation. Particularly if its very hot and humid.
Going later in the day might also be better as you are not walking around in the heat of the day. It is a long walk so another option if you do get the MRT is to get the shuttle bus to the entrance and work back from there. It’s relatively inexpensive and will make sure the kids last the distance!
We love Singapore as a family friendly destination and feel it is often overlooked. There are so many things to do in Singapore with kids and below are a few of my favourites:
Singapore Zoo & Breakfast with the organutans – one of the top zoos in the world, the open organutan enclosure or lack of enclosure is definitely a must see.
Night Safari – also located at the Singapore Zoo is a guided tour in a tram where you can view nocturnal animals and see what goes on at night. There is also a Creatures of the Night performance that focuses on recycle, reuse, reduce message for the kids.
Universal Studios Singapore – located on Sentosa Island where the kids can meet some of their favourite characters include Gru and the Minions from Despicable Me, Sesame Street favourites and Shrek and Princes Fiona.
Kidzania Singapore – this was our first visit to a Kidzania and the kids loved it, they were able to role play in employment roles such as pilot, flight crew, doctor, dentist, shop assistant, radio DJ and ice cream maker.
Also read: What you could get in Singapore for $10
Sal & Co.
Disclaimer: We had a mutually beneficial arrangement with Garden by the Bay although as usual, our opinions are our own.