Going green in Singapore
As Singapore gears up to celebrate 50 years of independence, we take a look at one of the unexpected highlights of this dynamic city-state: its green spaces.
Singapore’s parks and gardens are one of its great delights, surprising visitors who expect to see only a modern urban metropolis. One of the biggest and best is the Singapore Botanic Gardens (www.sbg.org.sg) whose 183 acres are open to the public every day of the year. The lush and colorful gardens, alive with tropical plants and trees, are free, apart from the National Orchid Garden, which is located within the Botanic Gardens.
The Orchid Garden has over 60,000 orchids on display, artfully-arranged so that the predominant colors change with the seasons. There are over 1,000 different species of orchid on show, and a further 2,000 orchid hybrids. The orchid breeding program started here back in 1928, and some of the hybrids can be seen in the Celebrity Orchid Garden. They honor people like the actor Jackie Chan and the primatologist Jane Goodall, who have contributed to the work of the garden. In the VIP Orchid Garden hybrids have been named after notable visitors to Singapore, so here you’ll find orchids like Dendrobium Margaret Thatcher and Dendrobium Joe and Jill Biden!
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In addition to the Orchid Garden there’s a Ginger Garden, with several hundred species of ginger plants, a delightful Bonsai Garden, numerous outdoor sculptures including creatures in the undergrowth, and the Jacob Ballas Children’s Garden with tree houses, a maze, slides, bridges, and lots of fun things to do.
To the people of Singapore the Botanic Gardens, which were established in 1859, are as important as Central Park to New Yorkers or Hyde Park to Londoners. Don’t miss them.
Other green spaces
The Botanic Gardens are only one of Singapore’s many green areas. Use the city’s widespread Park Connector Network (www.nparks.gov.sg/gardens-parks-and-nature/park-connector-network) to visit some of the others.
Gardens by the Bay: One of the newer and more spectacular green initiatives in Singapore, the development of this 250-acre space is ongoing. It includes lakes, an aerial walkway, a children’s garden, and the remarkable Supertree Grove where artificial trees up to six stories high act as vertical gardens during the day and provide light shows at night.
Changi Beach Park: This is just one of Singapore’s several attractive coastal parks, with white-sand beaches, coconut trees, hiking and biking trails, BBQ pits, and a bistro.
Labrador Nature Reserve: Singapore also has several nature reserves including this one whose sea-cliffs are home to dozens of bird species including parrots and woodpeckers as well as sea birds.
For more travel tips on Singapore, go to www.insightguides.com.