7 Days In Singapore – Day 4 – Botanic Garden And National Orchid Garden
Heather Markel, Writer, Speaker, Photographer, Traveler, Business Strategist
This is part of a series of posts on Singapore. Did you miss the previous walkthroughs? Click here to access them all.
By my fourth day in Singapore, I was beginning to realize that I had plenty of time to see the things I wanted, and that the heat meant, for me, that focusing on one “big” thing per day would be a lot better. In the afternoon, the sun was so strong it made running around to do and see everything very difficult. I decided it would be nice to see the Orchid Garden.
In case you didn’t know, orchids are “THE” thing in Singapore. While there are lots of shopping malls, they’re filled with stores you know from around the world. There aren’t a lot of things made, locally, in Singapore. So, if you want a taste of what Singaporeans told me they feel is what Singapore is known for, make sure you see the orchids! There is a small cluster of them in one of the cloud domes, near Gardens By The Bay. But the one you need to see is inside the Botanic Garden. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage site!
The Botanic Garden
To get to the orchids, you have to walk through the Botanic Gardens. This is why you should take the MRT to the Botanic Gardens station to get here. Depending on your plans, you could easily spend some time sitting and admiring the views or nature, or a lake, while in the gardens. There are a few restaurants where you can also eat or get a coffee, but, these will be more expensive than those local eateries where you can spend less than $5 for a meal.
The Orchid Garden
While entrance to the Botanic Garden is free, you have to pay a small fee to see the orchids. It’s worth it. The walk through the garden, to the orchids, takes 20 – 35 minutes depending on how fast you walk. It’s well marked, and as you walk along, simply follow the signs to the Orchids. The only difficulty (for some of us) is that the signs are in meters, which is like Greek to me. I saw the number of meters decrease, but had no idea how long it would actually take to arrive!
There’s a lovely clock and an obvious entrance when you arrive at the Orchid garden. I’ll be honest, before this trip, orchids weren’t a huge interest. I went to the garden because, well, “when in Singapore…” I’m glad I did.
The layout of the garden is beautiful, and I enjoyed strolling around at my own pace. I think the most fascinating part is how many varieties of orchids there are. I had no idea that they could make an infinite number of blends, and there’s even a Celebrity VIP garden. Orchid blends were created in honor of specific celebrities who have visited Singapore. Any varietal that’s succesful get a plaque and are named in honor of that celebrity.
If you’ve seen the movie “Crazy Rich Asians,” you may remember a scene where there’s a glitzy family party and they wait for a beautiful flower to blossom? There’s an open area inside the orchid garden that reminded me exactly of the room they stood in. I don’t believe it is, but it’s very similar!
The other thing this garden has is fauna from other parts of the world, much of which I recognized from my time in Kerikeri, New Zealand, so I was delighted to have the connection.
Otters And Lizards, Oh My!
The other fun activity I found within the Botanic Garden was the wildlife. I experienced most of it around the lake somewhere in the center of the gardens. There are giant lizards which took me by surprise. They are bigger than iguanas and smaller than crocodiles, but, as I raised my camera, I did wonder if I would get eaten.
The most fun, however, was watching the otters. There was a giant family of them, maybe 20, playing in the water. They seemed to travel in a pack, as they presumably looked for fish. They swam, playfully, from one side of the lake to the other, and I was entranced, watching them crawl out of the water, over a grassy path, into the lake on the other side. It seemed the adult otters crawled out, then grabbed their babies by the nape of the neck, to help them out of one lake and into the next.
Speaking of the fear of getting eaten, it turns out that I should, perhaps, have been more afraid of the otters. They certainly looked adorable, to me, but the day after I visited the park, they apparently almost ate a person.
Pro Tip: This activity is entirely outdoors, so in the heat, is best done in the morning. Check opening hours, but I found on some days they were open before 6am.