Are you heading over to Singapore anytime soon?
If you are, there is one attraction we enjoyed so much that we know it will make a great addition to your itinerary – the Singapore Botanic Gardens (SBG) are sensational and a must-visit!
Having spent 6 months in Indonesia, we were coming from Bukit Lawang, a stunning place in the middle of the jungle, and so we had high expectations.
Singapore did not disappoint. It was an incredible experience and a place we hope to return to.
It’s very different from the rest of Southeast Asia and has a unique culture. There is a lot to do, and visiting this UNESCO World Heritage Garden comes at the top of the list, especially if you’re anything like us and always searching for green spaces and nature.
In this post, I’m sharing my Singapore Botanic Garden guide with you to highlight the star attractions and the ones we love the most.
I also hope this will provide you with some valuable insights, as we missed a fair bit since we didn’t plan it too well. I don’t want you guys missing out; planning is key to an enjoyable visit!
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About Singapore Botanic Gardens
I love Botanical Gardens and Singapore ranks high on my list of favorites (Italy’s Villa Taranto comes in as my all-time favorite).
However, Singapore’s Botanic Gardens are not just lovely and well worth a visit; they also hold a fascinating history.
As you walk around the park (I say park because the Singapore Botanic Gardens are more like a huge park rather than a garden) you’ll notice a lot of information regarding the history and founding.
Established in 1859, the most important thing you’ll learn is that the gardens are a tribute to the city’s commitment to greenery.
Singapore’s dedication to preserving nature has earned it recognition on a global scale, winning accolades like the “City in a Garden” for its outstanding green initiatives.
The Botanic Garden’s lush landscapes, which were once swamps, have witnessed the transformation of Singapore from a swampy colonial outpost to a flourishing modern metropolis. The transformation to a botanical marvel is truly remarkable and adds a lovely layer to the Gardens’ history.
They are a fantastic escape from the fast-paced inner city and, honestly, truly wonderful to explore.
UNESCO World Heritage Site Recognition
To make things even better, the Singapore Botanic Gardens achieved UNESCO World Heritage status in 2015 due to their outstanding historical and cultural significance; they have since become a living heritage site.
UNESCO praised their role in plant research and conservation, including their pivotal role in the region’s rubber industry, making their historical impact epic.
While we were there, we learned that in the early 20th century, the gardens were a pioneering hub for rubber cultivation and research. Henry Ridley, the director at the time, successfully developed a technique for tapping latex without harming the trees, making rubber production more efficient.
So, when you stroll through this green haven, remember you’re in a place not just beautiful but officially recognized globally.
Where Is Singapore Botanic Gardens
Singapore Botanical Gardens are centrally located in the heart of Singapore in the Tanglin district, just a bit west of the Orchard Road shopping district.
They are superbly accessible with multiple metro stations and gate entrances providing access.
Quick Overview of Singapore Botanic Garden
Entry & Opening Hours: Daily from 5:00am to 12:00am
How Much Time to Spend Inside: 6 hours
Entrance Fee: Free to enter (exceptions apply i.e. Orchid Garden)
When you begin planning your visit to the Singapore Botanic Gardens, there are a few things to consider.
- The Gardens are vast, and you’ll want enough time to explore the various sections like the National Orchid Garden and Symphony Lake. We spent the whole day exploring; if you’re anything like us, you’ll need at least 6 hours, and it’s unlikely you’ll see it all – make sure you decide on how much time you want to spend there and which gardens you want to visit. Click here to download maps of the Botanic Gardens.
- Consideration of what to wear and pack for your day out is also important. The gardens have lovely walking paths to discover, so you’ll need comfy shoes. The weather can be hot and humid, too, and you should consider packing snacks.
- Consider the time of day for your visit. Early mornings can be particularly stunning as the air is fresh, or late afternoons when the sunlight bathes the gardens in a warm glow.
- Check if any special events are happening during your visit. It could add a lovely touch to your experience. If you prefer a more structured exploration consider guided tours, as they can provide insightful information. (More information about the guided tours are below.)
Top Attractions at Singapore Botanic Gardens
There are loads of attractions and activities here. I’m reviewing more of them in detail below, but I wanted to share our top 5 favorite sites with you first.
I would say these gardens are all “must-visits,” but those I mention further below are also spectacular; if you have time, visit them all.
National Orchid Garden – Recommended!
Firstly, let’s talk about the National Orchid Garden, an absolute must-visit…that we didn’t visit!
We were visiting Singapore on a budget and had seen the Cloud Dome at Gardens by the Bay the day before, so we decided to skip it since it’s full of orchids as well.
However, I think we made a mistake and should have visited; this garden boasts a stunning collection of orchids, including the delicate and rare Vanda Miss Joaquim, Singapore’s national flower.
For nature lovers, this part of the Garden is a slice of tropical rainforest. It’s a superb spot for a short hike, contrasting the more manicured sections.
2. Symphony Lake & Palm Valley
A beautiful spot to relax, you can enjoy open-air concerts here. The lily-filled lake and lush surroundings create a lovely atmosphere perfect for a picnic.
3. Ginger Garden
We enjoyed the vibrant and fragrant Ginger Garden. It’s where you’ll find an array of ginger species, heliconias, and other tropical plants. Did you know Turmeric and Cardamom are part of the ginger family?
There is also a beautiful waterfall feature here!
4. Eco Lake & Surroundings
At the Bukit Timah gate entrance, you’ll find lovely manicured gardens dotted around the Eco-Lake. There’s an eco-path circling them, which is perfect for a short visit – the Herbs and Spices Garden was interesting.
5. Healing Garden
This unique garden is designed to showcase plants with medicinal properties. It’s a fantastic place to explore the relationship between plants and human health; it was a favorite of ours.
How to Navigate Through Singapore Botanic Garden Zones
The park is huge, and therefore, it has multiple entrances. Depending on where you’re going depends on which gate entrance you should head to.
The Bukit Timah and Tanglin Gate entrances are the most popular and the easiest to reach.
However, I think starting at Tanglin Gate is a better option, and working your way to finish at Bukit Timah Gate.
For the best experience, consider visiting the Singapore Botanic Gardens over 2 days.
You’ll have a much better experience and can divide your days into the south section (Tanglin, Tyserall, and Gallop zones) and the north section (Bukit Timah and Nassim zones).
If you want a comfortable and quick journey, jumping into a taxi or Grab (Uber equivalent for Southeast Asia) is the easiest way. You can request a taxi to take you directly to the Singapore Botanic Gardens.
Otherwise, we used the MRT (Mass Rapid Transit) train. You have some options:
- Botanic Gardens MRT Station (yellow line) or Downtown Line (blue) will drop you at the Bukit Timah Gate Entrance,
- Or Napier MRT Station on the Thomson East Coast Line (brown) will drop you at the Tanglin Gate Entrance.
Brief Overview of the Zones
Tanglin Gate Entrance Zone
Main attractions and activities: Bandstand, Botany Centre, Plant House, Library of Botany & Horticulture, SBG Heritage Museum, Herbarium, Heritage Garden, and Swan Lake.
Tyersall Gate Entrance Zone
Main attractions and activities: National Orchid Garden, Ginger Garden, and the Learning Forest.
Gallop Gate Entrance Zone
Main attractions and activities: Botanical, Mingxin Foundation Rambler’s Ridge, OCBC Arboretum, Art Gallery, COMO Adventure Grove, and the Forest Discovery Centre.
Nassim Gate Entrance Zone
Main attractions and activities: National Parks Headquarters, Palm Valley, Healing Garden, Evolution Garden, Rain Forest, Shaw Foundation Symphony Stage, Symphony Lake, and Visitor Centre.
Bukit Timah Gate Entrance Zone
Main attractions and activities: Centre for Urban Greenery & Ecology, Eco-Lake and Eco-Garden, Ethnobotany Garden and Centre for Ethnobotany, Foliage Garden, Jacob Ballas Children’s Garden, and Seed Bank (1D)
This is the oldest part of the gardens, which were established in 1859. I suggest following the Main Gate Road past Swan Lake into the Heritage Garden and Sun Garden.
Don’t forget to stop by the Bandstand to snap a photo! (Check out the featured photo at the top of this post to see what it looks like.)
The Swan Lake
Swan Lake is a picturesque oasis where you’ll hopefully find White Mute Swans gracefully gliding across the water.
It’s a great starting point for your day as it’s framed by lush greenery and is a fantastic spot to connect with nature.
Heritage Garden, Sun Garden & Vanda Miss Joaquim
Afterward, step into the Heritage Garden, paying homage to the rich plant heritage of the region and showcasing a diverse collection of plants.
Later, visit the Sun Garden, a desert landscape characterized by succulents and other plants from arid areas.
Be sure to stop by the vibrant colors of Singapore’s national flower, the Vanda Miss Joaquim.
These gardens offer a fantastic blend of nature and heritage, offering a unique glimpse into Singapore’s botanical legacy.
The Botany Centre
If you have time, right at the entrance is the Botany Centre. It’s a visitor’s information centre for research.
You’ll find facilities like the Singapore Herbarium, the Library of Botany & Horticulture, and the Orchid Breeding and Micropropagation Laboratory here.
Lastly, don’t forget to stop by the iconic Bandstand.
It’s a historic gem that witnessed hundreds of musical performances by military bands and events over the years.
It has lovely surroundings and is a fantastic spot to sit back, relax, and soak in the atmosphere, so of course we missed it!
Next, you’ll want to head towards the Tyersall Zone.
If you continue from Vanda Miss Joaquim, you can either loop the Rainforest path or enter straight into the Ginger Garden – we enjoyed this garden a lot.
That will lead you into Orchid Plaza, where the entrance to the National Orchid Garden is found. When you’re done inside, head to the Learning Forest.
The Ginger Garden was a favorite of ours. It was really enjoyable to explore this garden, which features a captivating collection of ginger species.
It’s quite an aromatic experience since you can smell ginger plants strongly.
There is also a lovely waterfall feature here, where you can stand behind to grab a fantastic shot…that we missed, again.
National Orchid Garden
The stunning National Orchid Garden is one of Singapore’s treasures and not to be missed… so of course, we didn’t visit!
Unbelievable, I know, but that doesn’t mean you guys should miss out.
It’s home to a floral masterpiece boasting an incredible array of orchid species, or so we are told.
This garden is said to be a breathtaking showcase of orchid diversity, with over 1000 species and 2000 hybrids on display.
Price: Adults: $5 SGD / $3.70 USD (Local), $15 SGD / $11.15 USD (Standard), Free for children under 12. Tickets are also available for sale here.
Opening Hours: Daily from 8:30am to 7:00pm
The Learning Forest
Designed to integrate the existing rainforest to form an enlarged forest habitat, which will educate and inspire you.
This biodiverse haven features elevated walkways and diverse plant species. Discover the intricacies of the ecosystem and enjoy a serene retreat in the heart of the Gardens.
Walk along the HPL Canopy Link into the Mingxin Foundation Rambler’s Ridge at the Gallop Extension.
A few highlights of this zone include the following:
SPH Walk of the Giant
The SPH Walk of the Giants is a majestic pathway around 26 meters (85 feet) long that will take you 8 meters (26 feet) into the towering canopy.
The boardwalk brings you up close to a mixture of plant species found in lowland rainforests.
It’s a superb experience, offering an impressive variety of forest ‘giants’, palms, epiphytes, and climbers.
Keppel Discovery Wetlands
The Keppel Discovery Wetlands is an incredible 1.8-hectare restoration project in the SBG. The project mimics the original forest wetland ecosystem that was historically found in the vicinity.
Its goal is to retain a harmonious blend of wetland ecosystems and sustainable design featuring a boardwalk and aquatic plants.
HPL Canopy Link
As I mentioned above, you can access the Gallop Zone via a Canopy Walkway.
It’s a 200-meter (656 feet) long barrier-free pedestrian bridge with access to a variety of species that are characteristic of lowland deciduous forests.
Also known as the Gallop Extension, it’s an 8-hectare addition to the Singapore Botanic Gardens. It brings the complete area of the Gardens to a fantastic 82 hectares.
Forest Discovery Centre
The Forest Discovery Centre is a hub of knowledge, showcasing the secrets of Singapore’s forest ecosystem.
Featuring informative exhibits and interactive displays, it’s an educational space that sheds light on conservation and the rich biodiversity of forests and their vital role in maintaining ecological balance.
The best parts of this centre include a photographic installation of forest trees, family-friendly displays, and videos featuring three distinctive forest habitats found in Singapore.
Opening Hours: Daily from 9:00am to 6:00pm
Note: Closed every last Monday of the month
Botanical Art Gallery
The Botanical Art Gallery is a haven for art enthusiasts and nature lovers, showcasing a collection of botanical illustrations.
The gallery celebrates the beauty and diversity of plant life through the lens of artistic expression, including more than 2,000 botanical paintings, as well as hundreds of sketches, line drawings, and photographs.
Opening Hours: Daily from 9:00am to 6:00pm
Note: Closed every last Thursday of the month
Como Adventure Grove
Como Adventure Grove is a space designed for outdoor exploration and play for children with adaptive components that will help introduce children to nature.
Opening Hours: 7:00am to 7:00pm
Mingxin Foundation Rambler’s Ridge
Mingxin Foundation Rambler’s Ridge is a scenic trail that winds its way to the top of 350 meters (1,148 feet) providing breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape.
Opening Hours: Daily from 7:00am to 7:00pm
Continuing with your visit, you’ll want to head back into the heart of the Singapore Botanic Garden and pick up a path toward the Nassim Zone.
Head towards Palm Valley and Symphony Lake before exploring the Healing Garden.
If you didn’t visit the rainforest path earlier, now is the perfect time. There is also a visitors centre here highlighting the best of Southeast Asian architecture.
Palm Valley and Symphony Lake
This is such a great valley and the perfect picnic spot.
The Palm Valley and Symphony Lake form a picturesque landscape within the Gardens, showcasing a stunning collection of palm trees.
Adjacent to it, Symphony Lake provides a serene atmosphere with its tranquil waters filled with giant lily pads, often hosting open-air concerts; this was another area we really enjoyed.
This rainforest is a lovely part of the SBG, highlighting the oldest remnants of Singapore’s primary rainforest. It’s made up of numerous herbs, ferns, climbers, shrubs, and trees and is lovely to walk around.
There is a loop, but you could easily walk half of it, which would pop you out right near the visitors centre and park headquarters.
The Healing Garden is a unique and therapeutic space featuring a curated collection of plants known for their medicinal properties.
We enjoy learning about the relationship between plants and well-being, so this was the perfect garden for us to explore. We spent a lot of time gaining insights into traditional healing practices!
Unfortunately, the Evolution Garden is another we missed, but for those of you interested in an educational journey through the evolution of plant life on Earth, make sure you visit.
This thoughtfully curated space showcases plant species representing different stages of evolution, providing a fascinating glimpse into the diversity and adaptation of plants over time.
The Fragrant Garden
We only got a little time to take in the Fragrant Garden, but I have read it’s a good spot to visit in the evening as many of the plants in this garden give off their scents during the night.
If you’re looking for the perfect date-night stroll, visit these gardens!
Bukit Timah Zone
You’ll find the Bukit Timah Zone at the north end of the Singapore Botanic Gardens. It was one of our favorite parts with some lovely attractions.
It was the last zone we visited and a little rushed; I suggest breaking your visit into 2 days if you want to take it all in and fully appreciate the SBG.
You’ll likely pass into the Foliage Garden to get from the healing garden into the Bukit Timah Zone. It’s a green haven showcasing a diverse collection of foliage plants with various textures, shapes, and shades.
Eco-Lake & Garden
Nestled at the start of the Bukit Timah entrance, the Eco-Lake & Gardens is a serene place for bird-watching and the learning of economically important plants.
There are smaller gardens around the lake, such as bamboo, bougainvilleas, fruit trees, and herbs and spice gardens.
We finished our visit with a stroll around the lake, trying to spot the resident Black Swans; I think it made a perfect spot to end the day.
The Ethnobotany Garden is a fascinating exploration of the relationship between plants and people. The garden features over 300 plant species with cultural and traditional significance.
It provides insights into how different communities have used plants for various purposes.
Jacob Ballas Children’s Garden
Designed for young explorers aged 14 and below, the Jacob Ballas Children’s Garden is a magical realm where learning meets play.
Featuring interactive exhibits, water play areas, and themed gardens. It’s a delightful space for children to engage with nature in a fun and educational way, making it a fantastic family-friendly destination.
Opening Hours: Tuesday to Sunday from 8:00am to 7:00 pm
Note: Closed on Mondays
Singapore Botanic Gardens Guided Tours
Did you know that Singapore Botanic Gardens conducts free guided tours?
They have volunteers who will take you around every Saturday to explore the very best of SBG.
Generally held in the mornings, these tours visit areas like the Healing Garden, Rainforest, Gallop Extension, Heritage Tour, and Learning Forest. It’s also possible to join a nature sketching workshop!
Check dates and times for free guided tours: Official Website
If you can’t make a Saturday tour don’t worry. It’s also possible to join guided tours through other reputable companies throughout the week.
These are great if you want local insights from knowledgeable guides to lead you through the gardens.
- Take this tour of the Botanic Gardens at sunrise, Tiong Bahru Market, and Gardens by the Bay
- Take this tour of Singapore Highlights, which includes a visit to Botanic Gardens
What To Wear For Visiting Singapore Botanic Gardens
It’s important to pack right when visiting Singapore.
Considering the tropical climate, it can get hot and humid, so lightweight and breathable clothing, comfortable shoes, and sun protection are essential for a relaxing and enjoyable stay.
You want to make sure you’re wearing light fabrics such as cotton or linen, which will keep you cool in the warm and humid weather.
We took both walking shoes and sandals, which were perfect for strolling around different sections of the Gardens. The terrain is generally easy to navigate, but uncomfortable footwear is going to ruin your day.
If you like hats, make sure you pack one, as they are great for shielding yourself from the sun.
Be sure to apply lots of sunscreen, too, and bring sunnies to protect your eyes from the sun.
Always carry a refillable water bottle with you!
Consider packing a light rain jacket or a small umbrella, especially if you’re visiting during the wet season.
While there is no strict dress code, wearing modest clothing is respectful since Singapore is a mix of cultures.
Where To Dine Near The Gardens
Botanico At The Garage
An all-time favorite, Botanical is a contemporary bistro with a seasonal, quality-driven menu. The cuisine is inspired by the season to produce fresh and robust flavors “straight from the heart”.
- Location: 50 Cluny Park Road, Level 2, Cluny Park Gate (Singapore 257 488)
- Nearest Car Park: Eco Garden (via Cluny Park Road)
- Opening Hours: Tuesday to Thursday 6:00pm – 10.30pm / Friday 12:00pm – 3:00pm & 6:00pm -10.30pm / Saturday & Sunday 11:00am – 3:00pm & 6:00pm – 10:30pm. Closed Sunday.
- Contact: (+65) 9831 1106
Halia at Botanic Gardens
This is a fusion cuisine with European-Asian flavors. The Halia was established in 2001 and is named after ‘Halia’ – the Malay word for ginger.
The restaurant embodies “a restaurant in a garden and a garden in a restaurant” with specialties, including Halia’s Singapore Chilli Crab Spaghettini.
- Location: Ginger Garden
- Opening Hours: Daily from 12:00pm to 3:00pm & 6:00pm to 8:30pm
- Nearest Entrance: Tyersall Gallop Entrance
- Contact: (+65) 8444 1148
Prive Botanic Gardens
This restaurant is hugely popular, featuring an all-day dining menu. It has indoor and alfresco options including offers such as the “Early Morning Rooster Specials” and the affordable “Weekday Delights.”
It’s also pet-friendly and kid-friendly with a kid’s play area and menu.
- Location: Symphony Lake
- Opening Hours: Daily from 8:00am to 9:00pm (Last order 8:30 pm)
- Nearest Entrance: Tanglin Gate
- Contact: (+65) 6776 0777
Where To Stay Near Singapore Botanical Gardens
Singapore is a dream for most, but to ensure you have the best experience, it is important to choose the right accommodation.
There are various options to suit most budgets, but remember that Singapore isn’t a budget-friendly destination like most of Southeast Asia.
That said, you can still find affordable stays from hostels to Airbnb. You’ll also find breathtaking luxury hotels, condos, and resorts.
- Mid-Range Option: Citadines Connect City Centre – Check pricing and reserve on Booking.com | Book a room on Agoda
- Budget Option: Wink @Upper Cross Street Singapore – Check pricing and reserve on Booking.com | Book a room on Agoda
As always, I want to leave you with some final thoughts about Singapore Botanic Gardens and what we thought.
Overall, we enjoyed this botanical garden immensely. It ranks as one of the best in the world, and it doesn’t disappoint.
Walking through the various gardens, it’s evident how much time and care has been put into their creation; a visit is an absolute must!
As for our favorites, the Ginger Garden was amazing, alongside Palm Valley and the Eco-Lake.
In hindsight, I would have preferred splitting our visit over two days to ensure we visited all the attractions. However, we were short on time.
I would return to the Singapore Botanic Gardens, and it becomes a place I happily recommend to my readers. I hope you enjoy your visit too!
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Featured photo & pin #1 top photo credit: zambezi via Depositphotos.com