Unbeknownst to many, Singapore the metropolis is in fact filled with lush green spaces and incredibly rich and diverse fauna and flora, with tree-lined streets, more than 50 parks and four nature reserves.
Sitting at the crossroads of East and West, it has intrigued naturalists since the 19th century with over 8,300 species having been recorded in Singapore over the last 150 years. Today, for every five-star chef, visionary architect and high-end designer, visitors will find an attentive botanist or careful gardener tending to the beguiling landscape. Follow these top tips on the best ways to explore Singapore's green side.
Gardens by the Bay
Spanning 101 hectares, Gardens by the Bay is a showcase of horticulture and garden artistry, capturing the essence of Singapore as the premier tropical "City in a Garden". Catch the OCBC Light and Sound Show nightly from 7:45pm; a stunning display of magical lights and music amid the 16 storey, solar energy harvesting Supertrees. Other features include the Cloud Forest, a mountain environment set in a cool-moist conservatory, the Flower Dome where spring never ends, Dragonfly & Kingfisher Lakes and the Heritage Gardens. www.gardensbythebay.com.sg/en/home.html
Singapore Botanic Gardens
Founded in 1859 over 32 acres of virgin rainforest and overgrown plantations, the Singapore Botanic Gardens is home to innovations such as rubber cultivation and orchid hybridisation. Features include the Evolution Garden, the rejuvenated Tanglin Gate, the Jacob Ballas Children's Garden and the occasional free weekend concert on Symphony Lake. Best of all - entry is free! www.sbg.org.sg
National Orchid Garden
The National Orchid Garden showcases the results of the Singapore Botanic Gardens' orchid breeding programme which began in 1928. With about 1,000 species and 2,000 hybrids over three hectares, and 600 species and hybrids on display, the National Orchid Garden is the largest display of tropical orchids in the world. www.sbg.org.sg/centralcore/nog.asp
Bukit Timah Nature Reserve
One of only two cities in the world to feature a rainforest within its boundaries, Singapore offers lush green and scenic jungle trekking in the heart of the city at Bukit Timah Nature Reserve. Jungle activities include strolling, hiking, rock climbing, abseiling and mountain biking, and trekking routes included a hike to the highest point in Singapore - the Bukit Timah Hill, which sits at 164m above sea level. www.nparks.gov.sg/cms/index.php?option=com_visitorsguide&task=naturereserves&id=46&Itemid=75/
MacRitchie Reservoir Park
Lined with old rubber trees and surrounded by lush vegetation, Singapore's MacRitchie Nature Trail provides an unforgettable botanical experience, and now with boardwalks and walking trails, is a relaxing escape from the city. Visitors can enjoy aerial views from the HSBC TreeTop Walk - a 250 metre aerial free standing suspension bridge or relax with a picnic lunch, a spot of canoeing, a brisk walk or a lazy afternoon in the sun. www.nparks.gov.sg/cms/index.php?option=com_visitorsguide&task=naturereserves&id=49&Itemid=75
A reminder of old Singapore, this boomerang-shaped island is covered in trees and dotted with beaches and old Malay houses which are full of character. It contains the country's last kampongs where villagers still count on wells for water and generators for electricity. The best way to explore is by bike, which costs SGD$3-$8 to rent, with three cycling trails which lead past old fruit and rubber plantations, mangrove swamps, water-filled quarry pits and old wooden houses. www.nparks.gov.sg