Painstakingly manicured, the Singapore Botanic Gardens are a living, breathing monument to Singapore's eminence as a garden city. The three lakes and open spaces of the Gardens are complemented by elegant displays of orchids and the only urban tropical rainforest in the Eastern Hemisphere. This green sanctuary, tucked away in the city, is perfect for an evening stroll.
A favourite recreational area for many, the Gardens have captured the hearts of many Singaporeans. This is one of Singapore's oldest and most well-kept parks, pioneered by Singapore's founder and a naturalist himself, Sir Stamford Raffles. The Botanic Gardens encompasses 74 hectares and are the only free botanical gardens that opens from 5am to midnight every day of the year, making this a must visit, whether you're looking for some peace and quiet, or just longing to admire the beautiful landscape of the gardens.
Check out the National Orchid Gardens for its exotic orchids. The three hectare site has a collection of more than 1000 exotic orchids and 2000 hybrids, displayed in their full splendour amidst waterfalls and fountains, including Singapore's national flower, the Vanda Miss Joaquim. Look out for the orchids named after famous visitors such as Margaret Thatcher and Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and be wowed by the fantastic collection of orchids that have either been carefully cultivated or imported from overseas.
Another must-see attraction is the tropical rainforest in the heart of the city, something unique to Singapore as this is the only urban tropical rainforest in the Eastern Hemisphere. The rainforest is spread across about 6 hectares of land. It is one of a few patches of original jungle left in Singapore and features rare plant species, tall rainforest trees, and a glimpse of Singapore's original timber trees.
Dine at the Halia Restaurant. Halia, Malay for ginger, located in the Ginger Garden. Get reacquainted with the different types of ginger and sample its fare with an appeitising educational brunch, tea, lunch or dinner at the Halia Restaurant. Western and Asian flavours come together for a flavourful meal. Of course, the recipes also incorporate ginger as one of its main ingredients. Come for a traditional English tea and sample the interesting ginger jam.
Keep the kids entertained at the Jacob Ballas Children's Garden, where children will be amused by the play areas, playground, tree-houses, slides and a maze. Botanic education is also on the menu here, where curious children can learn about photosynthesis or the uses of different plants.
Head down to the Saraca Stream to see these unique trees. Look out for the Yellow and Red Saraca Trees and chill out by the calming lakes. Pick a spot at either the Symphomy Lake, the Swan Lake or the Eco-Lake and if you're in luck, you'll also get to enjoy free performances by the Singapore Symphony Orchestra and the Singapore Chinese Orchestra. Be sure to call ahead and ask about the performance times.
Tour around the park for free with guided tours conducted by volunteers to get more information about this park. Visit the park on the 2nd Saturday of the month for the Rainforest Tour or the 3rd for the National Orchid Garden Tour. Tours are usually conducted at 9 am, 10 am, 11 am and 4 pm. Make sure you register for the tour 15 minutes before it commences at the Visitor Centre near Nassim Gate.
Come chill out at the Botanic Gardens and enjoy a picnic and a lazy day out and improve your knowledge of botany at the same time.