Singapore’s Gardens by the Bay simply transport you to another world where nature and technology work seamlessly together to create a one-of-a-kind experience for its visitors. This billion-dollar sprawling waterfront garden spans over 101 hectares of reclaimed land, and features space-age bio-domes, giant cyborg trees, and countless flora from different environments and climates.
The Flower Dome replicates dry Mediterranean climates, while the even more wondrous Cloud Forest reproduces the tropical mountain ecosystem, complete with cascading waterfalls. The Supertree Grove stands like Giants connected by the OCBC Skyway, with breathtaking views of the gardens, city, and South China Sea. This place is fantasy come-to-life and you have to pinch yourself to make sure you’re not dreaming.
A forest in the clouds
The two conservatories are the Gardens’ most interesting showcase with glass bio domes replicating different climates. These conservatories are designed for sustainability, with systems that aim to harness rain water and solar energy to reduce waste, and ultimately reduce energy consumption. Due to time constraints, we were only able to visit one of the bio domes and chose the Cloud Forest.
As I entered the bio dome, a blast of cold air greeted my hot sweaty body, signaling a change in temperature. From the entrance, the mountain in the center rises impossibly tall, standing at 115 feet and covered in flowers and lush vegetation indigenous to the tropical mountain region. The world’s tallest indoor waterfall comes roaring down, creating a fine mist that lingers around the dome and makes it feel like I am indeed on the top of a mountain. The minute I entered the door, I was transported to a different world, a futuristic world. Outside the Supertrees look like remnants of a civilization in a post apocalyptic Earth.
Within the Cloud Forest, are 7 distinct zones – Cloud Walk, Lost World, Waterfall View, Crystal Mountain, Earth Check, +5 Degrees and Secret Garden. To get to the top, you have to go around the mountain and take the elevator all the way up to the Lost World at the summit. Here you’ll find plant life from tropical highlands 6,500 feet above sea level ranging from the more benign variety such as orchids, ferns, begonias to the more dangerous kind like pitcher plants and Venus fly traps.
The conservatory houses over 60,000 plants that grow at specific altitudes. To descend, get on the Cloud Walk a pathway that juts out from the mountain, and walks down to other zones. At the very bottom you can learn more about global warming and the impact it has on our environment. The film takes you on a hypothetical path from now until the year 2100 when the earth temperature goes up 5 degrees and everything pretty much dies.
The Cloud Forest is open daily 9:00-21:00. Tourists pay $28 SGD for the combo ticket that includes the entrance fee to the Cloud Forest and the Flower Dome or $16 SGD if you only want to visit one of the conservatories.
While the two dome conservatories require an entrance fee, the outdoor areas of the Garden remain free to the public. The Supertree Grove, in particular, is worth a visit. The ginormous futuristic 16-story tall trees remind me of something out of this world. These man-made structures are built on reclaimed land as part of an efficient green space project with many environmentally sustainable features. Each tree is surrounded by a steel skeleton that is used as the framework for planting various flowers, ferns and other vertical climbers. The Supertrees are designed to mimic the function of a real tree with built in photovoltaic cells to harvest solar energy to keep the structures lit at night. Some Supertrees are used as air exhaust channels while others collect rain water for the conservatories.
For those who like a view from the top, pay an additional fee of $8 SGD to go up the skybridge suspended between three of the trees. From the top you can enjoy a panoramic view of the garden and the city. Or consider dining at the Indochine restaurant , located at the pinnacle of the tallest tree, where you can enjoy the food with a 360 degree view from the lounge and a tree-top roofless bar. In the evening, the trees come alive with an exhilarating display of light and sound. The Garden Rhapsody is a choreography of lights that change color in-sync to music.