Sometimes the best way to discover Singapore is by checking out the beauty that surrounds it. No, we're not talking about the usual agenda of tourist attractions, modern skyscrapers and shopping malls. Whether it's in a glasshouse or a nature reserve, there's no reason not to stop and smell the roses (and fresh air) while you soak up the Garden City's stunning greenery.
The latest attraction at Gardens by the Bay, Floral Fantasy, it combines flowers, artistry and technology together to create a special experience for visitors. You can find four diverse and beautiful garden landscapes at the attraction, and each showcases a different theme. Dance is the first garden landscape of Floral Fantasy. Walk into flowers being suspended upside down from above, forming a brightly-coloured canopy for visitors. Segue to the next part called Float where there is an open space with a body of water. Find your way through the twisty trees and droopy branches to the next arena called Waltz. Resembling a rainforest, the space is filled with driftwood structures and a two-metre-tall poison dart frog statue. Finish the tour at Drift which is reminiscent of a cavern. The semi-enclosed space is ringed with terraced rock where exotic South American orchids grow out from the rock, while hanging ferns drape down from the ceiling, creating a magical atmosphere.
Spanning 101 hectares, Gardens by the Bay comprises three waterfront gardens – Bay South, Bay East and Bay Central. Bay South, the largest at 54 hectares. Check the Flower Dome and Cloud Forest conservatories for a cooled tour of the world's flora. If you're willing to sweat it out a little, take a walk around the three waterfront gardens – Bay South Garden, Bay East Garden and Bay Central Garden.
Located in the tranquil North-Eastern part of the city, this park offers four unique themes with something for visitors of all ages. The Nature Cove features a picturesque view of the Waterway, with a relaxing lawn area for families to spend lazy Sundays. At the Recreation Zone, little ones can let loose with activities like water play and sand play, while the rest of the family gets a workout at the fitness corner. The Heritage Zone offers gorgeous greenery along the stretch of the old Punggol Road, where families can take a walk down memory lane, and the Green Gallery consists of a peaceful trail along the park's natural terrain.
Whether you're here to get schooled on its history or geography, this verdant park is ripe for exploration. Dig into the many nooks and crannies of Fort Canning Park. Follow the trail and admire a myriad of succulents that have made a home here. Stop by its colonial-era relics to learn more about the paramount roles the park played in the defence of the island and even before the British arrived, when it served as the residence of Malay royalty.
The best place for a picnic in the park? The Singapore Botanic Gardens, of course! Established in 1852, the Gardens are a tranquil respite from the city buzz. Highlights include the National Orchid Garden with the world’s largest collection of orchids – some 1,000 species and 2,000 hybrids, including the national flower, Vanda Miss Joaquim. There is also a swan lake where visitors can feed the black Australian swans, and the Evolution Garden Walk, a well-landscaped plot containing the fossilised remains of ancient trees. Hop on a guided tour if free-and-easy walks won't do. And if you're lucky, you might even come across some monitor lizards lurking in the area.
Unleash the explorer in you and island jump to Pulau Ubin. Head to Chek Jawa and take a walk along the 1.1-kilometre boardwalk – best visited during low tide – to study and gaze down at the marine wildlife in the millennia-old coral reef. Keep a lookout for sea critters such as mud lobsters, peacock anemone and the biscuit sea star. If you've still got much energy left in you, climb up the Jejawi Tower for a panoramic view of the island’s lush tree canopy, Chek Jawa wetlands, and even the Johor River. Make sure to have a pair of binoculars in hand as the high viewing area makes it a great spot for bird-watching.
Covered by lush rainforest and with landscaped slopes, Mount Faber is a lovely spot, especially at dawn and dusk. Formerly part of Telok Blangah Hill, it was renamed in 1845 after British engineer Captain Charles Edward Faber, who built the narrow winding road that leads to the summit. A jogger's haven, it is also popular with tourists because you can stand next to the Merlion for that quintessential Singapore souvenir shot. Did we also mention that it's one of the best sunset viewing spots in Singapore?
Continue along the Pasir Ris park connector towards Tampines and you’ll come across sprawling greenery formed by open grasslands, freshwater wetlands and a secondary rainforest – you’d never guess they wrap around one of the most populous neighbourhoods in Singapore. Wade through the greens as you take on the walking trail within the sanctuary to uncover its rich biodiversity, featuring many species of birds, butterflies, dragonflies and spiders.
Part of the Southern Ridges, the park contains the only rocky sea-cliff in Singapore, and offers a panoramic view of the sea and cliff side vegetation. It is not uncommon to hear songs of a variety of bird species, including the Oriental Magpie-robin and Black-naped Oriole. Remnants of World War II such as tunnels and a fort also provide an educational experience for visitors.