Singapore Botanic Gardens is the pride and joy of the city’s green heart. Here are our fave highlights...
We’re called the Garden City ‘cause we love our green spaces. And Singapore Botanic Gardens, the OG of all our parks, is a must-see for any nature lover. Spanning 82 hectares just five minutes away from Orchard Road, the Unesco World Heritage Site is over 150 years old. It houses thousands of plant varieties, including rare orchids and ancient trees. Filled with heritage charm, educational zones and forest habitats, it gives us all the reasons to play tourist in our own city! So start packing your picnic basket and plan a perfect park day out with our recommendations on what to see, do and eat.
Singapore Botanic Gardens guide: Things to do
1. Sundial Garden
Here’s a fun fact: the sundial in the Sundial Garden has been there since 1929! And even though it’s seen some rough times, the sundial still stands proudly. It’s surrounded by lush greenery, and the path to it is paved with a red brick road. This quiet spot makes for a tranquil stroll too. When you locate it, spot the figures carved on the base. It’s said that the identities of the robed woman and the turbaned male figure holding a lantern are still unknown.
2. Ginger Garden
Enter the Botanic Gardens through the Tyersall gate – the first sight you’ll see is this waterfall. Head over to the Ginger Garden for a relaxing introduction to the site. Spot giant Amazon water lilies floating in the pool and more than 250 species of gingers found in Asia, the Pacific, Africa and Indochina dotting the area.
3. National Orchid Garden
This is the star of Singapore Botanic Gardens – it’s where the orchids are out in full splendour. In the Sembcorp Cool House, 1,000 orchid species and hybrids make for a beautiful sight. Think tall, stunning leafy arches, fountains framed by colourful orchids and larger-than-life installations. Oh, and dress for the ‘gram because photo-worthy spots are found in every corner.
These orchids include some of the rarest in the world. A choice location for these magnificent orchids? The Tan Hoon Siang Mist House – it even houses award-winning orchid cultivars. Walk by the Crane Fountain and Silver Arches Display to admire more gorgeous petals. But take note: there’s an admission fee to enter ($5 adult tickets for locals; $15 for visitors).
4. Learning Forest
Lace up those hiking shoes ‘cause you’re in for an adventure. Situated within the garden’s Tyersall-Gallop Core, the Learning Forest features interconnected boardwalks and elevated walkways for you to explore. Feast your eyes on a range of habitats, including freshwater forest wetlands and lowland rainforests.
Stroll amongst towering trees for an awe-inspiring sight. The boardwalk features an impressive variety of forest ‘giants’, palms, epiphytes and climbers, as well as the Canopy Web. As you walk within the canopy, look into the crowns of trees and glimpse their flowerings up close.
Another must-see within the Learning Forest? Keppel Discovery Wetlands. It’s home to plant species typical of the region’s freshwater forest wetland habitats, which are now endangered. In addition, its boardwalk pays tribute to the gardens’ early botanists.
5. Tanglin Gate gardens
Step through the main gate to find the oldest part of the Gardens, established in 1859. The beautiful Swan Lake is home to White Mute Swans from Amsterdam. Plus, highlights in the area include the Bandstand landmark, a former stage for military band music performances, Bonsai Garden, and Sun Garden, with its desert landscape full of succulents and other plants from arid regions. To delve deeper into the world of greenery, pop by the Botany Centre or Heritage Museum.
6. Palm Valley
Looking for a scenic spot? Head to Palm Valley by the Nassim entrance. Over 220 species of palm trees in assorted sizes are arranged in a herringbone pattern. Look up to spot steams and leaves of all sorts – some are smooth, fan-shaped and feather-like.
7. Symphony Lake and its surrounding gardens
This is the most popular hangout in the entire Gardens. The Shaw Foundation Symphony Stage sits on an islet in the middle of a lake and plays host to incredible orchestra performances. Pack a picnic bag, head over with the fam and enjoy the melodious sounds while basking in the beauty of nature.
When you’re done relaxing, swing by the Evolution Garden. It’ll take you on a journey of plants through the years. The Healing Garden is another great spot to spend a tranquil afternoon. Its next-door neighbour, the Fragrant Garden, uplifts your spirits with a delightful aromatic experience. But it’s best enjoyed in the evening!
This one’s located close to the Bukit Timah entrance, which is easily accessible from Botanic Gardens MRT station. It’s the lake to visit if you just want a quick jaunt in the park. Across the spacious landscape sits trees capable of yielding products like spices, dyes, resins and fibres. You can even settle in for a spot of bird-watching! Nearby, the Foliage Garden takes you through ornamental plants and aquatic foliage. Meanwhile, the Jacob Ballas Children’s Garden is perfect for little ones to discover the wonders of plant life.
9. Gallop Extension
Have you checked out the Gallop Extension? The whopping eight-hectare addition holds two conserved buildings revamped to include new attractions. Take a couple of hours to explore the Botanical Art Gallery and Forest Discovery Centre @ OCBC Arboretum, Como Adventure Grove, and Mingxin Foundation Rambler’s Ridge.
Discover how art plays a part in the scientific documentation of plants through the Botanical Art Gallery. Housed within the Gallop House No. 7, Inverturret (which was built in 1906), the lovely space holds the first permanent display of botanical art in Singapore. Fawn over 2,000 botanical paintings and hundreds of sketches, line drawings and photographs.
Get your little ones to channel their inner Tarzan at the outdoor play garden, Como Adventure Grove. The kids will have a ball swinging, sliding and climbing on structures that resemble parts of trees located in the Unesco World Heritage Site. That includes the aerial root of Weeping Fig, a giant Cempedak and a Saga tree.
Soak in Old World colonial architecture at the Forest Discovery Centre @ OCBC Arboretum. Housed within the Gallop House No. 5 (Atbara) – the oldest surviving black and white bungalow in Singapore – the space explores Singapore’s forests. Uncover tidbits about our forest ecosystems and the importance of conservation through a series of installations and interactive displays.
Guide to Singapore Botanic Gardens: Where to eat
10. Prive Botanic Gardens
Take a seat in the alfresco area and enjoy dining amidst the lush greenery of the gardens. We love this family-friendly restaurant for its indoor playground, rock climbing wall and kids’ corner with books and colouring activities for tiny tots. Whether you’re here for brunch or afternoon tea, you’ll be well fed. Try dishes like eggs benny, Hainanese chicken rice, grass-fed beef burger, fish and chips, margherita pizza, and an array of coffees, teas and cakes.
Prive Botanic Gardens, 1 Cluny Road, Singapore Botanic Gardens, Singapore 259569
Helmed by Candlenut’s very own Malcolm Lee, be prepared for a culinary experience like no other. This window into culinary heritage offers you an intimate space to explore the origins of Straits cuisine. With chef Malcolm’s contemporary touch added to traditional methods alongside warm service, expect delicious food with a welcoming ambience. The menu is ever-changing, but we’re sure the meal will be delectable nonetheless.
Pangium, 11 Gallop Road, Singapore 259015
12. Little Spot
If you’re spending the day at Jacob Ballas Children’s Garden, pop into this kid-friendly cafe. It offers a kids’ menu, children’s books, and colouring sheets for fun times with the family. Hit by hunger pangs? Customise your own brunch with toast, eggs done your way and toppings like bacon, sausage and mushroom. Also on the menu: apple and bacon French toast, Cajun prawn penne, fish burger with fries, and quinoa bowl with green goodies.
Little Spot, #01-K1, 1H Cluny Road, Singapore 259604
13. The Halia
Named after the Malay word for ginger, The Halia is an exquisite space surrounded by the tranquil, leafy setting of the Ginger Garden. Dine indoors by glass windows or cosy up to Mother Nature in the alfresco area while indulging in refreshing salads, hearty pasta and meat, local delights and decadent desserts. If you can get away from work on a weekday, the breakfast here will kickstart your idyllic morning in the most pleasant way possible.
The Halia, Ginger Garden, Singapore Botanic Gardens, 1 Cluny Road, Singapore 259569
14. The Garage
Nestled among lush foliage, The Garage is a stunning 1920s Art Deco-furnished conservation building. It’s home to two stellar dining concepts. Botanico, located on the second level, is an elegant space filled with pockets of greenery. Its contemporary European cuisine is flecked with Asian influences, with refined dishes and cocktails that bring you on a botanical adventure. The popular wedding spot also features a cool alfresco area where you can clink glasses and enjoy the serene vibes.
But if you want a laidback experience, gather your family and friends for an afternoon hang at the ground level Bee’s Knees. The cafe-bistro serves great brunch grub, including everything from pizzas and pasta to pancakes and waffles. Plus, furry friends are more than welcome!
The Garage, Singapore Botanic Gardens, 50 Cluny Park Road, Singapore 257488
15. Restaurants and cafes at Cluny Court
For more dining options, head over to the nearby mall Cluny Court and take your pick. It’s got sandwiches and pizzas by Da Paolo Gastronomia, desserts from Ollella and Plain Vanilla Bakery, brunch grub at Prairie by Craftsmen, burgers from Relish by Wild Rocket, and baked goods by Swish Rolls.
Cluny Court, 501 Bukit Timah Road, Singapore 259760
Bookmark this guide to explore every nook and cranny of Singapore Botanic Gardens!