The Singapore Botanic Gardens is one of our favorite attractions in Singapore. This garden of more than 160 years old, spanning over 82 hectares, is the only tropical garden to be recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site. The Gardens is home to more than 10,000 species of flora and fauna. It’s a paradise for nature lovers, with a vast array of beautiful orchids, palm trees, and various exotic plants. The garden also boasts the world’s largest collection of tropical orchids, with over 1,000 species and 2,000 hybrids.
Covering such a huge area, it can seem a bit overwhelming for first-time visitors, that’s why we decided to come up with this Guide to show you how we would “do” the Gardens.
Timing is Everything – Beat the Heat and the Crowds The gardens are open daily from 5 am to midnight, but the best times to visit are early in the morning or late in the afternoon. Not only will you avoid the heat of the midday sun, but you’ll also beat the crowds. Trust us, nothing ruins a peaceful stroll through the gardens like a horde of tourists elbowing you out of the way to get the perfect selfie.
When visiting the Botanic Gardens, be sure to wear comfortable walking shoes, bring sunscreen, insect repellent, and water (and maybe some snacks while you are at it).
- Getting There and Away
- Must Sees/Good to Sees
- Fuel Up – Food Option in and around the Gardens
- Important Last Notes
Getting There and Away
The Garden is well serviced by bus/MRT, and definitely very accessible by car/taxi/Grab. However finding the most convenient place to stop can be challenging for the uninitiated.
|Entrance||Best if you are visiting||Bus||Nearest MRT||Parking|
CDL Green Gallery
Library of Botany & Horticulture
SBG Heritage Museum
|7, 105, 123, 174, 174E, 75, 77, 106||Napier MRT Station (TE12)||Basement car park at Botany Centre (5am – 12am daily)|
|Tyersall- Gallop Entrance||National Orchid Garden|
Botanical Art Gallery
COMO Adventure Grove
Forest Discovery Centre @ OCBC
Mingxin Foundation Rambler’s Ridge
|Botanic Gardens MRT Station (CC19)||Open-air car parks at Tyersall Gate and Gallop Gate|
|Nassim Entrance||Palm Valley, Rain Forest|
Shaw Foundation Symphony Stage
|Bukit Timah Entrance||Bukit Timah Gate|
Eco-Lake and Eco-Garden
Jacob Ballas Children’s Garden
|48, 66, 151, 153, 154, 156, 170||Botanic Gardens MRT Station (CC19)||Open-air car parks at Cluny Park Road and Jacob Ballas Children’s Garden|
Must Sees/Good to See (TLDR)
Once you’re inside the gardens, it’s time to explore! The gardens are divided into different areas, each with their own unique features and attractions. If your time is short, we would recommend zooming in on the National Orchid Garden and the Tanglin Gate. And for groups with children, we would highly recommend a few hours at the Jacob Ballas Children’s Garden.
For those with time to spare, don’t be afraid to wander off the beaten path and discover hidden gems like the Evolution Garden or the Eco Lake. And be sure to keep an eye out for the thousands of plant species, including rare and endangered ones.
Tanglin Core (Tanglin Gate)
– This is the oldest part of the gardens, established in 1859. The main entrance to the Tanglin Core is through the Tanglin Gate, where you can find the stunning Victorian cast iron gazebo at Swan Lake
The National Orchid Garden
Find out more about Singapore’s “Orchid Diplomacy“.
At the moment, the Orchid Garden is the only ticketed attraction within the Botanic Garden, but we can confidently say that this place is a must-visit destination for anyone looking to be dazzled by the world’s most magnificent orchids. From the moment you enter the garden, you’ll be transported to a lush tropical paradise filled with exotic blooms and fragrances. The garden is an oasis of peace and tranquility, a place where you can forget about the hustle and bustle of city life and immerse yourself in the natural beauty of the world.
The National Orchid Garden is not just any garden, it’s a marvel of design and engineering. It’s home to over 1,000 species and 2,000 hybrids of orchids, making it the largest orchid display in the world. The garden is divided into several sections, each with its unique theme and design, such as the VIP orchid garden, the celebrity orchid garden, and the misthouse orchid garden.
One of the highlights of the National Orchid Garden is the Tan Hoon Siang Mist House, which features a diverse range of orchids and other tropical plants. The orchid garden also houses the Cool House, which is designed to simulate the cool temperatures of the mountainous regions where orchids grow.
The National Orchid Garden is not only a feast for the eyes but also an educational experience. You’ll learn about the fascinating history of orchid cultivation in Singapore and how the orchid has become a symbol of the city-state. You can take a guided tour to learn more about the different varieties of orchids and how they’re grown.
Jacob Ballas Children’s Garden
Jacob Ballas Children’s Garden is where fun and education go hand in hand. As the largest children’s garden in Asia, it offers a unique and interactive experience for kids to explore the wonders of nature.
Nestled in the heart of the Singapore Botanic Gardens, this magical garden is specifically designed for children aged 14 and below, with a range of exciting activities and educational programs to engage and entertain them.
From the suspension bridge and treehouse to the water play area and maze garden, Jacob Ballas Children’s Garden has something for every child. They can learn about plant life, biodiversity, and environmental conservation while having a blast playing and exploring.
There are plenty of opportunities for them to get their hands dirty and interact with nature.
NOTE: Adults are permitted entry only if accompanying a child. Adult visitors without children must consult the Service Desk for entry.
Shaw Foundation Symphony Stage
The Shaw Foundation Symphony Stage is a remarkable performance venue that showcases an incredible variety of concerts and events throughout the year. From classical music performances to contemporary concerts, the stage has hosted some of the biggest names in the local entertainment scene.
But what do you do when there are no performances scheduled? The lush greenery surrounding the stage makes for a picturesque picnic spot. Pack a basket with your favorite snacks and enjoy a relaxing afternoon in the great outdoors, or take a leisurely walk around the park and appreciate the beauty of nature.
The Botanic Gardens’ new Gallop Extension is an awesome place to explore.
This new 80,000m² expansion offers a range of experiences for visitors of all ages, including a nature play garden, and two restored colonial-era black-and-white bungalows, Inverturret and Atbara.
Inverturret now houses a must-visit art gallery featuring over 2,000 botanical paintings and illustrations, while the 120-year-old Atbara now serves as the Forest Discovery Centre, where visitors can learn about different forest habitats and restoration efforts in Singapore.
Mingxin Foundation Rambler’s Ridge, a breezy ridge-top trail, offers a unique hiking experience through Southeast Asia’s tropical hills, and the OCBC Arboretum serves as a living library of over 2,000 rare and endangered forest trees. With so much to offer, the Gallop Extension is not to be missed.
Fuel Up – Dining Options In and Around the Gardens
Exploring the gardens can be thirsty work, so you’ll want to refuel at some point. Luckily, there are several dining options available in and around the gardens.
First up, we’ve got the Corner House. This classic restaurant is located in a beautiful black-and-white colonial cottage and serves up an omakase menu that changes frequently. Some dishes to look out for include the wagyu with yuzu kosho and curry cauliflower with dahl aioli.
Next, we have The Halia. This restaurant offers a mix of European and Asian cuisine and has a beautiful outdoor seating area with views of the gardens. Some of their standout dishes include the chilli crab spaghettini and the Halia’s signature ginger flower cocktail.
We also like Prairie by Craftsmen. This cafe is located just outside the Botanic Gardens and offers great coffee, brunch, and pastries. They’re known for their fluffy pancakes, avocado toast, and specialty coffee.
If you’re in the mood for some local flavors, head over to Adam Road Food Centre. Even though it’s smaller than many other hawker centres, it’s known all over Singapore for its hawker food. Must-try dishes here include the satay, mee goreng, and nasi lemak (including one favored by the Sultan of Brunei).
Another great hawker centre to check out is Newton Food Centre. It’s famous for its barbecued seafood and grilled meats. The must-try dishes here are the black pepper crab and (our absolute favorite!) the barbecued stingray.
Lastly, a short hop away from the Tanglin entrance is Dempsey Hill. This charming enclave situated in the lush greenery of Singapore. Once a British army barracks, it has been transformed into a lively dining and entertainment hub that is loved by locals and tourists alike. With its charming colonial architecture and picturesque surroundings, Dempsey Hill is a popular spot for romantic dinners, weekend brunches, and casual hangouts. There are many great restaurants in Dempsey Hill, offering a wide range of cuisines to satisfy any palate. We should probably do one post just for the food on Dempsey, but very quickly some of the restaurants we like on Dempsey Hill includes:
- The Dempsey Cookhouse and Bar: This stylish restaurant by celebrity chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten serves up an eclectic menu of contemporary European and Asian dishes. The elegant space boasts high ceilings, plush furnishings, and stunning garden views
- PS.Cafe at Harding Road: This popular cafe chain is known for its chic, laid-back vibe and delicious comfort food. The Dempsey Hill location is housed in a restored colonial building and features a spacious outdoor terrace.
- Burnt Ends is a one-Michelin-starred restaurant in Singapore that is known for its Australian-style barbecue cuisine. The restaurant moved from its original location near Keong Saik Road to this larger compound at Dempsey Hill in 2022. The place houses the Burnt Ends Bakery, the main dining hall, and a new cocktail bar.
Important Last Notes
The Botanic Garden has a plethora of events for locals and tourists alike. Do check out the Events Calendar during your trip to see if there are any concerts, farmers markets or orchid fairs while you are here.
Be Respectful – Follow the Rules and Enjoy the Gardens
Last but not least, it’s important to be respectful of the gardens and its wildlife. Don’t pick the flowers, disturb the animals, or climb on the trees. And if you’re visiting with young children, be sure to take advantage of the stroller and wheelchair accessibility, as well as the baby-changing facilities and nursing rooms.
For us, the Singapore Botanic Gardens is a must-visit destination for anyone who loves nature and plant life. With these insider tips, you’re sure to have an enjoyable and memorable visit. So hop on the MRT, pack some sunscreen, and get ready to explore this green oasis in the heart of Singapore!