Singapore’s newest attraction, Gardens by the Bay, is more than just the much photographed Super Trees. On a recent visit, I saw that it also included the Flower Dome and Cloud Forest. And these attraction, at Bay South, is only one finished site of the three that are planned for this massive government-funded project.
This area of Singapore, adjacent to the celebrated Marina Bay Sands Hotel, is built upon reclaimed land. Anything beyond the Raffles Hotel, in fact, used to be the sea.
Ferne Yap, Senior Manager at Garden’s by the Bay, and her college Juliana, led us underneath the Super Trees. Just as we arrived, a colossal mass of storm clouds rolled in. We were then informed the 22-meter-high skyway, which connects the trees, had been closed due to the weather.
11 of the Super Trees are equipped with solar panels that are used to light up the trees at night.
As the storm unfurled, we ducked inside the Flower Dome. I was immediately impressed by the structure. It’s an all-glass panel roof with the support structure on the outside. Inside, you’ll find not only flowers, but thousand-year-old olive trees, gigantic Baobabs, and other obscure species; all of them from Mediterranean-type climates. One can only imagine how they’ve uprooted and transported these large trees from far off places like Senegal, Chile, California, and Australia.
I inquired how Gardens by the Bay acquired such remarkable specimens. Yap reassures me that many of the trees were gifts of governments, or trees that were being cleared for development.
The Gardens by the Bay has a bio-mass furnace which generates electricity from its horticultural waste.
Next we head over to the Cloud Forest. The Cloud Forest recreates a high-elevation, high-humidity environment. Mist immediately coated our faces as we walked inside the similarly fashioned, but taller, glass structure.
“This is the highest indoor waterfall in the world.” Yap explained to me.
I looked up at the 35-meter drop off the top of the man-made mountain. The whole mountain is covered in green: plants that love moisture cling to side of the cliff walls. We took an elevator to the top of the mountain and wound our way down through the different levels. Along the way we spotted the carnivorous pitcher plants and many orchids and other flowers.
Gardens by the Bay is accessible via Bayfront MRT station. Entrance to the outdoor gardens (5am-2am) is free, but an admission fee of $5 is required to walk the skyway. The Flower Dome and Cloud Forest (9am-9pm) cost $28 combined. For more information visit their website: http://www.gardensbythebay.com.sg/en/home.html
If you’re looking for a hotel in Singapore, there is the nearby Marina Bay Sands, which is truly extraordinary looking. Most of us can’t afford a room there, so that’s why the next best thing is to get a drink on the top floor bar and enjoy the view over the Gardens by the Bay, the Financial District, the Singapore River, and the rest of the city.