If Singapore is a Garden City, the Botanic Gardens are the heart of its flora. Spanning 64 hectares, the Gardens have kilometres of picturesque walking trails and represent 150 years of history. It’s free to enter, and the Gardens are open from 5am to midnight, making it an ideal place to go for a morning walk, play a game of Frisbee in the evening, or delve right in to the rich natural heritage of Singapore.
The Gardens were founded in 1859 and were the site of Singapore’s major agricultural developments such as experimentation with rubber trees, which became a major crop in the region. The Heritage Museum in the Gardens is a great way to start to learn about the site’s history. There are also 47 Heritage Trees in the Gardens, and they can all be accessed through a special walking trail; these trees represent some of Singapore’s most characteristic flora, as well as rare species.
The Botanic Gardens are home to one of Singapore’s most famous icons: the Vanda Miss Joaquim orchid. The world's first hybrid orchid originated in the garden of the amateur horticulturalist, Ms Agnes Joaquim (1854-1899), who was also one of the most prominent members of Singapore’s Armenian community. In 1981, the striking pink-and-white hybrid orchid was selected from among forty contenders to be Singapore’s national flower.
To check out a dazzling array of orchids, head to the National Orchid Garden, an attraction within the Botanic Gardens, which can be accessed with an admission fee. Here, you’ll see over 1,000 species and 2,000 hybrids of orchids: one of the crown jewels of this Garden City. Many of the orchids are part of the Gardens’ orchid breeding programme, which was started in 1928.
The Botanic Gardens offers many fascinating worlds for visitors to explore. Step into the cool surrounds of a primary tropical forest, with more than 50% of the species representing rare plants in Singapore. Or check out the Ginger Garden, Fragrant Garden, Bonsai Garden or Healing Garden to understand how plants are cultivated and used for therapies, food and aesthetics.
There are also several lakes in the Gardens, home to wildlife like fish, turtles and swans. Perhaps the most famous of these is Swan Lake, named after the pair of white swans that make their home on that lake. And at Symphony Lake, you can see free live music performances, from big band tunes to classical music. The lake houses a purpose-built stage, set among lily pads, and a vast green slope where everyone is welcome to bring a picnic blanket, wine, cheese and great company to listen to music under the stars.