When I think of Singapore ‘great food‘, ‘skyscrapers’ or ‘shopping’ come to mind. But travel along any of the main roads or highways and you’ll notice plants, trees and flowers carefully cared for by workers or locals – Singaporeans love to indulge in nature’s beauty.
When locals want to escape the noise or concrete they often head to the Singapore Botanic Gardens. With 74 hectares of space and free admission, there’s plenty of room for all. If you’re visiting the gardens for the first (or even fifth!) time, buy a ticket and head into Singapore’s prized National Orchid Garden.
I’ll be honest, I didn’t realise just how many species of orchids are found around the world. Not tens, hundreds or even thousands, but tens of thousands breeds of orchids can be found worldwide. Currently, 1,000 species and 2,000 hybrids can be found within the National Orchid Gardens.
Visiting Burkill Hall and the VIP Orchids
While some countries present fine wine, stuffed animals or – in the case of a gift to US President Barrack Obama from Saudia Arabia‘s leaders – a US$16,500 gold-plated clock, Singapore creates a unique gift for visiting foreign dignitaries, by breeding hybrid orchids.
Located behind Birkill Hall, a colonial plantation bungalow built in 1886, the VIP Orchid Garden showcases some of these breeds. Stop inside the hall to see which foreign dignitaries have been honoured with their own orchid breed before heading out to view them.
German Chancellor Doctor Angela Merkel, former South African President Nelson Mandela, Her Royal Majesty Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom, former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and former Australian Governor-General Quentin Bryce are among the dignitaries who have been honoured with orchids named in their honour.
Diana, Princess of Wales has also been honoured with a pure white orchid in Memorium and more recently, during an official visit to Singapore, Prince William and Kate were presented with their own orchid.
Next to the VIP Orchid sections is a small ‘Celebrity Orchid’ area where actors who have contributed significantly to society have been honoured. Among them is Hong Kong actor Jackie Chan, Italian singer and philanthropist Andrea Bocelli and Australian Bindi Irwin – daughter of the late Steve Irwin – who is a wildlife ambassador.
Exploring the National Orchid Garden
The National Orchid Garden is huge so you’ll need a good few hours if you want to see all of the gardens.
Get up close to natural tropical orchids in the Orchidarium before walking through the Misthouse, an area filled with colourful hybrids often found in mountains, highlands or that require a cooler setting – and a nice respite from Singapore’s humidity! There’s even a Bromeliad House where you might just be lucky to see a pineapple or two growing!
At SGD$5, the National Orchid Garden is a must visit when in Singapore. It’s a small price to wander the diverse gardens, get up close to Singapore’s national flower – the stunning Singapore Orchid, discover the diversity of this species of flower, and a chance to escape away from the concrete city into a land of colour and peace.
Singapore Botanic Gardens
1 Cluny Road
Admission to Singapore Botanic Gardens: Free
Admission to Orchid Gardens:
Adults – SGD$5
Students & Senior Citizens – SGD$1
Children under 12 – free
- Try to avoid visiting during the weekends because the Orchid Gardens are incredibly popular with locals and visitors. During the week, you won’t have to jostle for photography space with as many people.
- Want to go straight to the National Orchid Garden? Ask your driver to drop you off at the stop along Tyersall Avenue.
- The Singapore Botanic Gardens is Singapore’s first ever UNESCO nomination due.
- The SBG has placed handy ‘camera’ icons around the park indicating the best places to take photos!
- Bring water! Walking around for extended periods in Singapore’s humid weather leaves you parched. There’s a cafe near the entrance to the National Orchid Garden so remember to grab some snacks or at least a drink.
More photos from the National Orchid Garden
I visited Singapore as a guest of the Singapore Tourism Board.
All thoughts and opinions are, as always, my own.