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Gardens by the Bay

Gardens by the Bay (59)

Inaugurated in June, 2012, the Gardens by the Bay are one of Singapore's essential visits for nature lovers, and indeed for anyone who enjoys spectacular gardens, plants and flowers. Covering an area of 100 hectares the gardens are characterised by their combination of nature at its wildest with the omnipresent modernity of the city.

Design of the gardens was commissioned to Grant Associates and Gustafson Porter, two renowned landscape architects from the United Kingdom whose projects emerged as winners of the international competition organized by the Singapore authorities and for which more than 70 entries were received from over 24 countries. 

The result is nothing short of spectacular. An explosion of living colour in the heart of a city populated by the most avant-garde skyscrapers. A space in which to rest the eyes and, without leaving the country, or even the city, contemplate an extensive range of species of trees, flowers, shrubs and other vegetation brought here from the four corners of the earth. It's easy to see why the gardens have been the recipients of many prestigious awards, including the "World Building of the Year Award" in 2012. The renowned Australian newspaper, the Sydney Morning Herald described the gardens as "Avatar, but in real life ", while the BBC referred to them as a "living miracle" and the New York Times included them in its ranking of 46 must-visit sites in 2013. 

For the development of the project the architects had to overcome a significant geographic barrier and the gardens now occupy a large expanse of land that had to be reclaimed from the sea. 

Among the more than 500,000 species of flowers, plants and trees visitors will also encounter some 40 sculptures, each one more spectacular than the last and highlights of which include a giant snail, a flower clock and a giant, 10-metre-long, 3-metre-tall baby that is the work of Marc Quinn, who portrays his son Luke as though he were floating. 

It is not surprising that in a very short time it has become one of the city's main attractions. 

The Bay gardens are divided in to two distinct areas, one which is open to the public and to which entry is free, the other requiring a ticket.

The free access area features outdoors gardens, the lake area and numerous Supertrees.

The outdoor gardens are grouped by theme: the Indian garden, the Malay garden, the Chinese garden, the colonial garden, the garden of fruits and flowers and the palm tree garden, to name but a few. 

The area that attracts the most attention is where the largest Supertrees are . Of the 18 Supertrees located in the Bay Gardens, 12 are found here. This extensive square is home to giant, 20-to-50-metre-high steel structures the sides of which are festooned with plants the likes of orchids, ferns, tropical flowers, etc. The Supertrees offer shade during the strongest hours of sunlight and surprise visitors at sundown with spectacular sound and light shows.

The Supertrees were built in an effort to contribute to the sustainable use of energy, and they both collect rain water and contain photovoltaic cells that allow them to accumulate the energy required for their illumination at nightfall. As darkness falls the trees light up, offering an image that is unique to this park. 

For those who decide to pay the entrance fee: You will be able to access two large steel and glass greenhouses in addition to a catwalk that runs along the top of Supertree Grove. 

A visit to the Flower Dome is like entering a world of eternal spring. This flower conservatory recreates Mediterranean and Subtropical climates and, in its various sections, houses more than 30,000 plants of 150 different species, including century-old olive trees and huge baobabs.

The Cloud Forest takes you on a visit to a tropical rain forest with its warm, ultra-humid climate. On entering through the lower part of the greenhouse visitors will be astonished to contemplate the spectacular mountain that greets them, with waterfall included. With a height of 35 metres, this is the highest waterfall in the world located in an enclosed space. We suggest you take the lift up to the top of the mountain and start your visit from there. As you descend, surrounded by lush vegetation and without losing sight of the great waterfall, the rain forest ambience will wrap you in mist and fine rain. The environment is so real you will believe you really are in the tropics and completely forget it's just a greenhouse.

The jewel in the crown, however, is the Skyway OCBC, a Supertree Grove walkway that links several of the Supertrees. At 22 metres from the ground and spanning a distance of 128 metres this walkway gives you the feeling you are floating and offers panoramic views of the Bay Gardens and the Marina Bay promenade skyline. 

If you are traveling with kids don't forget to visit The Children's Garden, an area especially designed for children. Ah, and don't forget your swimsuit. As one of the most ingenious elements is an extensive square where jets of water shoot out from the ground - fun is guaranteed! 

And finally, at nightfall you should not miss the Garden Rhapsody, a sound and light show that cannot fail to please the visitor. The show is repeated twice daily, so you have two opportunities to catch it. A magical way to end your visit to the gardens.

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