The Gardens by the Bay are a signature attraction in Singapore, with advertisements and ticket sales all over the city. The Gardens by the Bay fascinate by day, then light up to mesmerize by night with 32 hectares of themed gardens and the famous SupertreeGrove.
Value: 5 (without cooled conservatories)
This could vary wildly depending on whether or not you go to the two cooled conservatories at Gardens by the Bay. Without the cooled conservatories, the gardens are great to explore for free, and while they won’t take up a ton of time, they are close to Marina Bay Sands and other attractions, so you won’t have to travel much out of the way. The cooled conservatories seem very similar to some of the things you can see at the Singapore Botanic Gardens and National Orchid Garden (see our review for the Botanic Gardens and Orchid Garden here), and at almost six times the cost of the National Orchid Garden, the cooled conservatories aren’t a good value. In addition, only Singapore residents get the option to buy tickets to just one conservatory, stiffing the tourist crowd a bit.
There are plenty of interesting things to see here, but the SuperTree Grove is what really makes the Gardens by the Bay stick out: giant metal structures in the shape of trees that light up at night and have ferns, bromeliads and other flora climbing up their “trunks.” There are also interesting sections of the park that explore some of the plant history of India and other surrounding regions, but it’s not close to the amount of detail of the Singapore Botanic Gardens.
Sorry to be giving another garden a pedestrian score for interest, but when the most captivating thing to me in the Gardens by the Bay is the man-made Supertree Grove, then the rest of the gardens probably aren’t that engaging. Again, if this is just a part of your morning or afternoon in conjunction with a trip to some other nearby attractions, it’s worth perusing. There’s also a free, fascinating (in a weird way) “Future of Us” temporary exhibit near the gardens that is basically Singaporean propaganda if you need to get out of the rain and feel a lot of hope about being a kid in Singapore. (“The future is not set, just as the past was not,” says the Future of Us exhibition.)
Without visiting the expensive cooled conservatories, you can still have a totally worthwhile experience at Gardens by the Bay. It’s free to visit the rest of the park, including the many themed gardens honoring Singapore’s varied cultural influences and the Supertree Grove. At the low price of free, the gardens offer great bang for your buck.
Singapore’s love for the themed garden is fascinating, and they’re unlike anything I’ve seen elsewhere, making this garden quite unique to Singapore. The Supertree Grove is also bizarre and fascinating both at night and during the day. Worth a visit, and not something you’ll likely see anywhere else.
Compared to the National Botanic Gardens, the Gardens by the Bay offer less information on the various exhibitions, and there’s generally more open space and less “dense” interesting stuff. For that, I’m giving it a 3 versus a 4.
Need to Know
Getting There: From central Singapore, take the Downtown Line toward Chinatown or the Circle Line toward Marina Bay and get off at the Bayfront stop
Hours: The outdoor gardens are open 5am to 2am, while the cooled conservatories are open 9am to 9pm every day.
Cost: Free (S$28/person for cooled conservatories). You can also eat here at a few restaurants that advertise hawker fare, but it will be 3-4 times more expensive than a hawker center.
Time to Spend: 2-3 hours, maybe 4-5 if you bought tickets to the cooled conservatories.