Nature in the City: discover Singapore’s horticultural wonders

From the UNESCO World Heritage Singapore Botanic Gardens, to urban farms and horticultural experiences, Simon Calder highlights the best of Singapore’s natural beauty

Simon Calder
Tuesday 10 January 2023 15:41 GMT
Singapore Reimagined: Exploring nature in the city

Singapore is the ultimate urban environment – yet it is also part of South East Asia, a region profoundly rich in nature. The city-state is literally returning to its roots, and rejoicing in the work of Mother Earth.

Singapore’s vision is to be a ‘City in Nature’ and aims to provide more habitats for Singapore’s flora and fauna – and to embrace nature within the built environment.

Add the National Orchid Garden at the Botanic Gardens to your to-view list (Singapore Tourism Board)

The Botanic Gardens, close to the city centre, represent one of the finest of Singapore’s many green spaces. Sir Stamford Raffles, the founder of modern Singapore, was also a keen naturalist – and proposed a national garden two centuries ago. In the 21st century this is the only tropical botanic garden on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

It provides plenty of space for exercise and enjoyment. Before the working day begins, the gardens play host to Qi Gong – the ancient ritual that tunes the human body to perfection.

On the highest hill in the Singapore Botanic Gardens, you can find the horticultural inner sanctum in the shape of the National Orchid Garden. For almost a century, the gardeners have bred orchids to create more than 2,000 new hybrids.

Hi-tech horticulture

The incredible architectural atrium at PARKROYAL COLLECTION Marina Bay is another aesthetic must-experience (Singapore Tourism Board)

A green vision is embedded in the city’s character. In the atrium at the PARKROYAL COLLECTION Marina Bay, nature has come to stay. Outside in the hotel’s urban farm, crops from spinach to papaya are cultivated – using coffee grounds to nourish the plants as they flourish beneath an equatorial sun.

At Cloud Forest at Gardens by the Bay, nature coexists beautifully with 21st-century creations. It’s home to one of the world’s tallest indoor waterfalls and a lush mountain clad with plants from around the world. And don’t miss Supertree Grove, where twice each evening, you can witness the dramatic sound and light performance that is Garden Rhapsody.

Head to Supertree Grove in Cloud Forest to enjoy a dramatic sound and light performance (Singapore Tourism Board)

At the east of the island you’ll find Changi Point Coastal Walk – and quite possibly some splendid isolation, leading to your own private beach and sheer coastal bliss. Wherever you are in Singapore, the natural world is never far away.

From stunning beaches and natural wonders to diverse locales, incredible cuisine, and hi-tech horticulture, Singapore is ever-evolving, and seamlessly blends the old with the ultra-new. Find out more about this fascinating city-state and plan your trip from stays to sightseeing here

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