These days, Singapore’s reputation as a City-in-a-Garden or a lush Garden City has truly been heightened. Renowned kingpins such as the Gardens by the Bay (and even UNESCO Heritage Site Singapore Botanic Gardens) aside, Jewel Changi Airport’s new indoor forests and its recently opened Canopy Park has added a new dimension to the offerings of tropical Singapore.
We take a closer look at what makes Jewel and Gardens by the Bay distinctively different (coupled with some interesting fun facts!), and tell you why ultimately –both are not be missed when you’re in Singapore.
A song of water and mist
Arugably the main highlight of both Jewel and Gardens by the Bay, the waterfalls in both attractions are where people covet the best Instagram-worthy shots. However, with different spots and vantage points to enjoy each of these views, you can still get distinctively different experiences at both gardens!
The HSBC Rain Vortex cascades through an oculus in the roof of Jewel’s distinctive glass and steel façade. Gushing over 500,000L of water and mist, it is truly a sight to behold from each of its five levels, totalling 40 metres in height. Travellers will be able to bask in its full glory at different vantage points.
In the Gardens by the Bay’s mysterious Cloud Forest dome which is shrouded in mist, a waterfall plunges from the “Cloud Mountain”. With staircases leading up six levels to the peak from the ground floor, visitors will get the opportunity to get up close and personal with the waterfall as they ‘climb’ the mountain and get a different perspective from each level.
Scale new canopy heights
Head up to Jewel’s Canopy Bridge for an entirely different view. Suspended 23 metres above ground with a glass bottom at the centre of the bridge and a fog-emitting walkway, the Canopy Bridge offers a gripping vantage point for the nature enthusiast.
Alternatively, you can be on cloud nine at the Gardens by the Bay’s Supertree Grove or stand below these futuristic marvels in awe. Experience the unique sensation of floating above the ground on the OCBC Skyway aerial walkway, and observe the scenic beauty of the surrounding flora set against the backdrop of Singapore’s high-rise skyline and the renowned Marina Bay Sands.
Fawn over flora and fauna
At Jewel, the airport truly transforms into a lush indoor garden wonderland. The Shiseido Forest Valley brings you a sensory experience featuring more than 2,000 trees and palms, and over 100,000 shrubs. Mimicking the climate found in tropical highland forests that are often shrouded in low altitude rain clouds, the plants here span about 120 species and come from countries including Australia, China, Malaysia, Spain, Thailand and the United States. See if you can spot a pair of 100-year-old olive trees from Spain, which are the heaviest trees in Jewel, weighing 4,000kg each with a girth of around 3 – 4 metres!
No four seasons in tropical, humid Singapore? No problem. With more than 30,000 plants from around the world, the Gardens by the Bay brings you the plants from a range of temperate climates including olive trees from the Mediterranian and cactus varieties from the semi-arid subtropical regions. Specially maintained at a temperature of 23 to 25 degrees, the largest glass greenhouse in the world will take you on an educational learning journey through the various labels and fun facts on the various species that can be found throughout the park.
Fast becoming an annual highlight, Gardens by the Bay brings in the world-famous tulips from Amsterdam, the sakura from Japan and countless other installations.
Creative fun for all ages
Beyond admiring the amazing flora and fauna, there’s always something for everyone. Over at Jewel, the 14,000 square metres Canopy Park offers a range of play attractions and creative gardens. The Manulife Sky Nets are suspended five floors above the ground and features both a tauter walking net, and a bouncy version! For the young ones and the young at heart, you’ll be guaranteed a ball of a time indulging in creative play. Get lost in the world’s first garden-themed Mirror Maze and Singapore’s largest Hedge Maze, slide down the giant Discovery Slides or hide in bowls of gentle mist in the Foggy Bowls – there’s an option for everyone for endless hours of fun.
For those who prefer stable ground, head on down to the Gardens by the Bay’s Far East Orgnisation Children’s Garden. Taking playtime to the next level with interactive play delights, there are special zones catered to children of various ages. For toddlers to clamber and play around, the Toddler Play Zone consists of a sway bridge, stepping springs and a fish fountain with an interactive landscape of water tunnels and fish sculptures. For adventurous children above the age of six, the Rainforest Tree Houses (with heights of 4 metres and 7.5 metres respectively) are located within a dense canopy of trees spanning a 130-metre-long forest trail. Other highlights include water play features and educational programmes in a lush natural setting – suitable for kids of all ages.
Immersing yourself in an experience
If you need a break or something more relaxing after a walk in the park, the Changi Experience Studio takes you on a virtual expedition through the past, present, future, and behind the scenes of Changi Airport. Whether you are on the Amazing Runway or Garden of Harmony, find out what makes the world’s leading airport tick, when you’re on a tour through an interactive and immersive experiential space.
Over at Gardens by the Bay, you can similarly be on tour – this time on a outdoor garden cruiser. Sit back and relax, as you go on a 25-minute ride around the sprawling outdoor gardens. It’s not just the flower domes and supertrees – there’s more than that at the Gardens by the Bay with new features like the Serene Garden and Floral Fantasy (which features a 4D ride as well) to take you through diverse floral landscapes.
Dining with a view
Jewel brings you the best from around the world at its alfresco-modelled dining area at the Canopy Park, with stunning sights and sounds of the HSBC Rain Vortex and lush Shiseido Forest to boot. Combining the best of alfresco dining in an air-conditioned setting, options from London’s Burger and Lobster to Singapore’s very own Tiger Street Lab offer visitors local favourites and global cuisine all in one place.
Offering panoramic views of the Marina Bay waterfront, dining at Pollen is an experience like no other. Situated within the Flower Dome’s Mediterranean garden, enjoy a culinary experience within the cool 20 degree celcius conservatory.
Turn on those night lights
To wind down for the day, nightly light shows are something one can look forward to at both Jewel and Gardens by the Bay. At Jewel, the HSBC Rain Vortex truly comes alive as it switches from mystical blue to calming green to passionate red in a mesmerising display of colour as light effects swirl around it, and the sound of music reverberates for 5 minutes.
The show takes place at an hourly interval starting from the first show at 7.30pm, and the last ending at 12.30am.
At Gardens by the Bay, the larger-than-life supertrees in the Supertree Grove are the highlight of the Garden Rhapsody light and sound show. Decked out in dazzling lights that dance to the tune of the music – the first show takes place at 7.45 pm and the second show comes on at 8.45 pm.
Themed shows are unique to Gardens by the Bay and this includes Disney-themed events, retro light shows and a Garden Waltz, all part of the Garden Rhapsody series of events.
Pro tip: Pack yourself a picnic basket, get a blanket and lay under the ‘stars’ for the light show as you view the stunning dance of lights from a different perspective.
In their own ways, both Jewel and Gardens by the Bay encapsulate the unique Garden City offering of Singapore by offering visitors exceptional experiences. These urban gardens located in a wondrous world where nature meets retail for Jewel, and against the sprawling Marina Bay skyline for Gardens by the Bay will cater to your nature calling without having to venture to the wild outdoors.