The Singapore Botanical Gardens is a huge park in Singapore that is well used and well designed. Staying at the Traders hotel afforded me the chance to walk over quickly and enjoy the gardens for a morning. It was a really nice place that really reminded me of Yoyogi Park. It is still a private location so activities are relatively limited for commercial purposes but for a casual guest or groups of friends, there really isn’t any problem visiting the gardens. It may not be on the list of places to visit for a lot of tourists who just want to go shopping in Singapore, especially since it is located outside of Orchard, but it is a great place to relax and enjoy nature. I still saw a lot of tourists and I saw a lot of locals as well. It appears to be a very popular place and if I lived in Singapore, I’m sure I’d find a bunch of activities to do in the gardens every month.
The Gardens are about 2km in length and stretch from Holland Road to Dunearn Road. It is best to get to the gardens from Botanical Gardens Station but if you are staying in Orchard, it is possible to walk there, although with the heat in Singapore, I don’t necessarily recommend it. I didn’t see all of the gardens as I was there to relax. I didn’t rush through the gardens either but with time being somewhat limited and the need to take it easy due to the heat meant I couldn’t really do too much in the gardens. I explored the Tanglin Core which is just one corner of the entire gardens. When I entered from the Tanglin Gate, I headed up the hill to Swan Lake. I was surprised by the name and thought it was a surprising name. There is a large sculpture of swans in the centre of the lake and it wasn’t until after a few minutes when I saw the first swan that I understood why it was called Swan Lake. The lake itself is a good point of reference in the park but to be very frank and honest, I wasn’t too impressed by it. Due to the timing of my visit, a lot of the flowers were not in bloom. I visited the Sun Garden which was a bunch of cactuses in a small plot of land. The more interesting garden is the nearby Vanda Miss Joaquim which is a hybrid orchid that is the national flower of Singapore. This garden was very nice but since it wasn’t flowering, it wasn’t spectacular either.
The Singapore Botanical Gardens reminded me a lot of Yoyogi Park. It was similar in size and used very similarly. I saw countless numbers of locals in the park doing all kinds of activities. You had people enjoying the garden as a place to have a picnic and you had others who were practicing various events. Similar to Yoyogi Park, I saw cheerleaders practicing for their competitions and I’m sure there were others practicing other things as well. I also saw your typical photography clubs with cute girls getting their photos taken. I would imagine these are aspiring models in need of various shots and the clubs enjoy taking photos of cute or sexy girls. It’s a win-win for both, although I wonder if the girls really enjoy being with the guys or if they are faking interest in order to get good photos taken of themselves. Sometimes I wonder if they are just conceited and full of themselves or so insecure that they need the constant approval of the photographers. Either way, they were happy and all around the park.
The most surprising aspect of the gardens was the wedding photography. The garden doesn’t allow commercial business unless you get permission. I would imagine that various professional wedding photographers would pay a monthly or annual fee for the right to take photos within the park. I saw several groups that ranged from a simple bride and groom only to a full on wedding party getting their photos taken. Maybe the most surprising was where I saw a few men dressed as bridesmaids… The day I visited the botanical gardens, every corner that I visited had some wedding photography happening. It was a beautiful garden with various fauna and I can see why it was popular but I also felt that the business of taking wedding photos is huge in Singapore. I saw a lot of wedding photo shops in the shopping malls at that time and they even had a fair in Bugis as I was staying there. Perhaps they actually have a wedding season in Singapore. It did feel very Chinese to me as most of the wedding photographers looked of Chinese descent and so did the couples. I remember hearing about similar things from my friends and seeing similar things in Chinatown back home.
The Singapore Botanical Gardens is a beautiful garden and I would hazard to say it is better than the new Gardens by the Bay. While both are nice, the Botanical Gardens are more natural as it follows the landscape a lot better. It felt more like a park than a garden and I’m sure that I visited the gardens at various flowering seasons it would be more beautiful. The only problem I had with the gardens is that it was too busy. It wasn’t as tranquil as it could have been. I would love to see the gardens on a weekday when it isn’t as busy but like Yoyogi Park, I doubt the gardens are supposed to be enjoyed alone. It is probably better to visit it with friends for a nice picnic or to do some light sports like passing a baseball or something like that. Hopefully I can check out the rest of the park next time I go.
- Singapore Botanical Gardens (Official Site)