Last week, when I was in Singapore, I visited two gardens, Singapore Botanic Garden and Gardens by the Bay. Both very different, but lovely, I think that the Botanic Garden was my favourite.
Not only is Singapore Botanic Garden the oldest garden in Singapore but it's also the first and only tropical botanic garden on the UNESCO’s World Heritage List. It's a place of true beauty. Open from 5am to midnight daily it's free to visit, so good to have this vast green space open to everyone to enjoy. I saw families enjoying the space, tourists and locals, some walking, some jogging, some meditating and some dancing in a group. It's a real 'peoples space'. There are also regular free concerts and festivals at the gardens for all to enjoy.
The gardens are kept immaculately clean and maintained and there are water fountains and vending machines to be found around the gardens as well as restaurants & eateries and of course a garden shop for souvenirs. I bought a lovely necklace from the shop, they take real orchids from the garden and dip them in gold or silver, creating lovely necklaces. Really unusual and really nice keepsake from my time there.
It's also the site of the National Orchid Garden, open daily from 8.30am-7pm. There is a small fee to enter this garden ($5 for adults, $1 for students, $1 for the over 60's and free for the under 12s). I've seen plenty of orchids before at RHS Wisley's displays in the Glasshouse but nothing on this scale - orchids of every shape and colour!
There's a British garden connection to these botanic gardens, in the form of botanist Dr. Nigel Taylor who, after 34 years at Kew Gardens, quit his position amid funding cuts and low morale and took up the position of Director at Singapore Botanic Gardens. There's a really great interview with him about making the move here on The Independent website: Botanist who left austerity-hit Kew for Singapore: 'It's a dream world here', really is worth a read.
We stopped and dined at Halia Restaurant. Halia means 'ginger' in Malay, and is quite apt as the restaurant is situated in the beautiful backdrop of the Ginger Gardens. We began our meal with a warm Ginger & Honey infusion which was just the nicest drink I've had in a long time (and something that I am keen to make myself now I have returned home). The food was delicious and made all the better for being surrounded by greenery and the sound of rainfall.
Here's my pick of the menu:
Paper bag oven baked halibut fillet, soy, ginger broth, sesame Japanese rice, wakame and truffle mayonnaise $40
Hokkaido scallop, plack pudding celeriac & vanilla puree, ginger flower sambal $27
Charred seasonal greens with ginger milk, finger lime, spring onion & shiso leaf $18 option to add salt cured wagyu beef for an additional $5
I can't emphasize enough just how much I enjoyed visiting Singapore Botanic Gardens, it was just superb - the variety, the quality and the friendly people.