Saturday, October 27, 2012

Travel Report : Singapore Botanic Gardens

After living in Singapore for several years, I finally got to visit Singapore Botanic Gardens this past weekend. For you who don't know, this garden is one of the attractions to visit if you're ever in Singapore. The garden is really huge and I don't think you could explore it in its entirety in a day. Because of its size, the garden has several entrances. You can reach the place by private car, taxi, bus, or more conveniently by MRT, just alight at Botanic Gardens station.
To be more accurate, I have actually been to the garden, only not for pleasure so I never got to really explore it. The first thing we saw when we went in was the Swan Lake. There were not that much swans in sight, though. Only 3-4 swans, perhaps it was too hot for them to swim around. Two of them were cleaning their feathers near a bridge, we got to see them up close.
Swan Lake

Symphony Stage
Back of the house of Halia Restaurant

I made a mistake of visiting the garden at 2pm - it was unbelievably hot! Also, always keep in mind that Singapore has high humidity so you'll be sweating like a pig. It's best to visit the park in the afternoon say around 4pm so it won't be so hot. Forget about makeup and heels unless you really wanna be a pain to your group. Also, don't forget these items to make your trip there more comfortable:
- Umbrella; and if you're a hat person (which I'm not), wide-brimmed hat
- Wet tissues
- Water bottle
- Sunglasses
- Hair clip for ladies (and gentlemen) with long hair. Keep your hair above your neck, it'll help with the hot weather
- Coins for buying drinks from vending machine
- And don't forget to slather on sunblock

You can walk behind this waterfall

Now, since the garden is very huge, if you're a tourist with a limited time I suggest to make it your mission to visit a few key places within the garden rather than just to wander aimlessly in and around it. Botanic Garden houses several attractions in it but in my opinion you should at the very least visit the National Orchid Garden and Casa Verde.

National Orchid Garden's Main Building
They charge SGD5.00 per person as an entrance fee to the National Orchid Garden. There's a souvenir shop as well that sells anything orchid-related that is worth checking out. I recommend checking out the chocolate boxes. It's like the Merlion chocolate box only the chocolate comes in various orchid flower shapes instead of Merlion.

Once inside, you are free to explore the photogenic garden, get your camera at the ready! (Warning: photo spam ahead)

This one is called 'White Fairy', they have it all throughout the park in bunches. It's very pretty, I feel like I'm in a wedding or something.

 When you walk in the area where there are lots of 'White Fairy' orchids, you might notice a faint pleasant floral scent lingering in the air. We even caught some people sniffing on those flowers because they thought the scent was coming from them. Don't be fooled, though. Look up and you'll see the tall trees covering the area are actually Frangipani trees and the scent is coming from them.

I used to have this plant in my backyard in red color. Didn't know they have the pink variety.

Orchid in soft blush color, very pretty.

Arches with tiny yellow flowers on them.

Friendly bird

The Cool House

The architect is careful not to create any spacious nook inside, I guess it's to prevent people from lingering because the air inside the Cool House is very comfy.

After you're finished with the Orchid Garden, head further to Casa Verde (about 10 minutes walk), one of the watering holes available in Botanic Garden. It's a casual eatery serving local and western food located near NParks building, the government body which deals with parks and greenery in Singapore. There's another shop as well selling home furnishings if you're so keen on it.

Now, the prices might seem steep at first glance but trust me, it's worth it. Their servings are generous and there's no service tax, not to mention you're eating in a lush surrounding. The downside is the place is usually packed if you visit during mealtimes, try to visit at odd hours to avoid disappointment.

I ordered their whole day gourmet breakfast (shared with my friend) which consists of juicy scrambled eggs (and it's creamy, too. You can really taste the milk), a toast, a bacon, a sausage, hash browns, grilled cherry tomatoes, juicy button mushrooms, and arugula salad. It cost me SGD 15.00.
Whole Day Gourmet Breakfast, the juicy button mushrooms was the highlight for me!

Presentation of dishes is good and more importantly they're tasty! Of all the dishes that I've ordered, I've yet to be disappointed. Can't say the same about the drinks though, which are so-so. I got watermelon juice which was freshly juiced right in front of me, no sugar added. My friend got a latte. They were disappointingly served in plastic cups.
Semi al-fresco dining.

Casa Verde
There will usually be a line at the counter. You order, pay, and collect your drinks first and the food will be delivered to your table once ready. Do remember that because this is not a fast food joint, you'll usually need to wait for about 15 minutes for your food.

We then decided that it was time to go home. If you plan to take public transportation, you still need to walk to the nearest bus stop or MRT station because Casa Verde is located in the middle of nowhere. It is however, located near the taxi drop-off point. We walked for a good 15 minutes (great to work off all those food) to the MRT station, took several photos along the way.
Overgrown bougainvilleae, so magical.

Never knew bougainvillaea could grow in such a vast manner.

White bougainvillaea
Overall, the experience was a nice one although I personally much prefer the parks along South Ridges which is more suitable for hiking and exercising rather than sightseeing or picnic. The Botanic Garden is very tourist friendly and it's located near Orchard Road and several other malls so if you're done with the garden you can easily move on to these places.

In lieu of a summary, I'd like to offer you an advice instead, drawn from my own experience of visiting the garden and I hope it can help giving you a better experience or at the very least, for your considerations. Here goes my advice of the day:


Unless you absolutely have to. Or you want to. Granted they don't charge shockingly exorbitant amount, but still. Look for vending machine, instead - you can save almost half the price. Or better still, carry a water bottle. You can refill it at any drinking water fountain all over the park to your heart's content at no charge. Make the most of what the garden has to offer!

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