Whether it’s plenty of fresh air, kid-friendly activities or great brunch spots, Singapore Botanic Gardens has everything you’ll need for a fun day out with the fam
The only tropical botanic garden in the world that’s also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Singapore Botanic Gardens is one of the best parks on the island. Not only does it have a wide array of lush gardens, educational activities, sensorial experiences and fun playgrounds, the Singapore Botanic Gardens also has plenty of options for recreational fun and must-try dining. Planning a trip here with the kids? Consult our kid-friendly guide to Singapore Botanic Gardens for all the best places to bring the fam.
Jacob Ballas Children’s Garden
Gallop Extension at Singapore Botanic Gardens
COMO Adventure Grove Playground
National Orchid Gardens
Healing Garden, Fragrant Garden & Ethnobotany Garden
Where to Eat at Singapore Botanic Gardens: Cafes & Restaurants
Other Places to Visit at Singapore Botanic Gardens
Getting to Singapore Botanic Gardens
1. Jacob Ballas Children’s Garden
Designed for children aged 14 and below, the Jacob Ballas Children’s Garden is an experiential learning environment that lets kids delve into plant ecology and the environment with plenty of room for exploration, adventure and play. It’s the first garden in Asia that’s dedicated to children (you may only enter if you have a child with you), and there is plenty that will excite kids who love the outdoors. In addition to growing vegetables and a forest with its own stream and ponds, the Jacob Ballas Children’s Garden has a suspension bridge for adventurous little ones, nature play areas, a treehouse with swirling slides, and a potting garden for those developing a green thumb.
There are eight curated trails children can experience – Play, Grow, Explore (download the fun Explore activity sheet here!), Learn, Farm, Orchard Stream and Forest – and you can download a detailed map to see all the different highlights within each zone. While most of the playground is open, the Flying Fox, Photosynthesis Play and the Water Play areas are all closed until further notice.
To Enter Jacob Ballas, you will need to make an online booking to enter the garden. Do note this part of the Singapore Botanic Gardens is closed on Mondays.
Where to Eat Nearby: Little Spot
Opening hours: 8am to 7pm, closed on Mondays (except if it’s a public holiday)
2. Gallop Extension
An 8-hectare addition to the Botanic Gardens, the Gallop Extension is the largest expansion in the Botanic Gardens’ history! Although the Gallop Extension opened in October 2019, several sights and kid-friendly spaces only opened earlier this year on 13 March 2021. Currently, the Gallop Extension comprises two conserved black and white colonial buildings that have been refurbished into the Botanical Art Gallery and Forest Discovery Center, the COMO Adventure Grove, Mingxin Rambler’s Ridge and the OCBC Arboretum.
Where to eat nearby: Bees Knees Petite
3. COMO Adventure Grove
COMO Adventure Grove at Singapore Botanic Gardens is the newest free outdoor park playground where kids can connect with nature. This biophilic playground is inspired by forest canopies, jungle trails and Singapore’s diverse flora, and there’s plenty of climbing, sliding and swinging to be enjoyed!
Kids will love hopping around the pod and seeds of a Saga tree, climb over the jagged surface of a giant Cempedak structure or even climb up structures that resemble the roots of the Weeping Fig – all of which are designed to introduce children to nature through play.
Click here to read about the COMO Adventure Grove playground!
Where to eat nearby: Bees Knees Petite
4. National Orchid Gardens
The orchid is Singapore’s national flower, and the best place to get your orchid fix is at the National Orchid Garden on the highest hill of Singapore Botanic Gardens. The garden hosts some of the most exotic orchid collections in the world, and the space recently underwent a $35 million makeover, complete with breathtaking new exhibits. Here are some of the best spots at the National Orchid Garden:
- The Mist Garden and Silver Arches: The Mist Garden features lowland Neotropical orchids that grow within a collection of bromeliads. The misters are activated once every hour to mimic the plants’ natural environments. There is a considerable temperature drop as you walk amongst the lush greenery. Enjoy a tranquil walk under the tall and majestic Silver arches clad with a variety of orchids and silver foliage, including some species from South America.
- The Enchanted Garden: This green space comprises the Crown Pavilion and Golden Bird Cage, and features a vast array of orchids nestled within unique foliage. Many of these orchids have won awards for their exceptional flower quality and vibrancy. A variety of fragrant orchids also showcased here include the Papilionanda Mimi Palmer which smells of sweet jasmine and Oncidesa Sharry Baby, which smells like chocolate.
- The Burkill Hall and the VIP Orchid Garden: One of the oldest buildings in the gardens, the Burkill Hall is one of the last surviving examples of an Anglo-Malayan plantation-style house in Southeast Asia. Named after the two former directors of the Singapore Botanic Gardens it’s a popular event and exhibition space. Behind Burkill Hall lies the VIP Orchid Garden, where you’ll see different orchid hybrids named after VIP visitors like Prince William. Many beautiful statues adorn the gardens and it’s an idyllic spot for a good shot for the ‘gram!
- The Golden Shower Arches: Keep an eye out for a striking display of the beautiful Golden Shower or Dancing Lady orchids. Laid in masses and elaborately arranged on arches, these tiny bright yellow orchids on display are always a delight to walk past and are a very popular wedding photography spot.
- The Tropical Montane Orchidetum: The sprawling Orchidetum brings visitors on a journey up a mountain forest through landscapes that represent various habitats. As you walk into the trail, nature takes over your senses, and the Neram forests and lowland streams make way for a hillside trail. The information boards scattered around offer insights into how riverine forests in Borneo are home to 250 species of orchids. At one point the path winds down to elevated metal ramps with panoramic vantage points.
- Yuen Pend McNiece Bromeliad: The long, winding walk takes you to the first display house that has been upgraded to emulate a mid-elevation (650 to 1000 metres) forest environment. Underneath the sloping grid shelter is a vast array of Neotropical plants and climbers mainly found in the Caribbean, Central or South America. A small trickling stream takes you past many species of Bromeliad plants and orchids. There’s a quaint pineapple grove here, too!
- Tan Hoon Siang Mist House: a wide selection of rare and award-winning hybrids like the lady’s slipper Papilionanda orchid and the Tan Hoon Siang orchid. Wandering through the mist house closely will uplift and transport you, and you should look out for the story of how an orchid saved Tan Hoon Siang’s life during the Japanese invasion is fascinating.
- The Sembcorp Cool House: The latest showstopper at Singapore Botanic Gardens, the Sembcorp Cool House is a glasshouse designed to mimic a high-montane forest – these typically exist at altitudes of between 1000 and 2000 metres, with temperatures between 16 degrees Celsius to 23 degrees Celsius. It’s a welcome respite from the hot sun, and there are more than 1,000 orchids and hybrids, plus metal and stone sculptures on display. Walk along the pathway to explore five biogeographical regions: Malesia, Continental Southeast Asia and South Asia, Australasia, the Afrotropic and the Neotropics. There are loads of spots for Insta-worthy pics, and it’s a great multisensorial experience.
Where to eat nearby: Botanico or Bees Knees at The Garage
5. Swan Lake
One of the major attractions at Singapore Botanic Gardens, Swan Lake was constructed in 1866 and is thought to be the oldest ornamental water feature on the island. There are many species of aquatic plants and fishes in the lake, and plenty of visitors come here to turtle-watch. Swan Lake is also known for its Nibong palms, which were planted in 1891.
Where to eat nearby: Fusion Spoon or Bees Knees
This octagonal gazebo was first built in 1930 and was first a designated spot for regimental performing bands. These days, you’re more likely to find engaged couples, newlyweds and families using the spot to snap gorgeous photos. It’s one of the most iconic landmarks at Singapore Botanic Gardens, and it’s often identified also the ring of Yellow Rain trees that surround it.
Where to eat nearby: Halia
7. Ginger Garden
Enter this relaxing garden via the Singapore Botanic Gardens car park and check out several hundred species of ginger and plants from related families. There are different zones here, and you’ll find various gingers organised by their regions of origin. There’s a fun little waterfall to explore and a pond that’s filled with giant Amazon water lilies, too!
Where to eat nearby: The Halia
8. Healing Garden, Fragrant Garden & Ethnobotany Gardens
There are three gardens that should be on your list when you make a trip to the Singapore Botanic Gardens. At the Healing Garden, you’ll find more than 400 varieties of medicinal plants from Southeast Asia, all laid out thematically in correlation to the parts of the body each plant is meant to heal. As some plants may have toxic properties, you should always keep a close eye on the kiddos and keep your furbabies away from this garden. The Fragrant Garden is filled with sweet and aromatic smells – plus butterflies and insects – from the many plants within. It’s best to visit this garden at night, as that’s when many plants exude their scents. At the Ethnobotany Garden, look out for colourful murals on large boulders (pictured) at each of its four zones – Living, Craft and Construction, Symbolism and Medicinal – which showcase how Singapore indigenous communities used various herbs and plants for rituals, cooking, healing purposes and more.
Where to eat nearby: Bees Knees or Botanico
The Eco-Lake is the perfect place to wind down after a long day of walking! Spot families of otters and turtles as well as a pair of black swans from Western Australia. The lake’s shores border the Eco-Garden, which houses plants that have held economic importance in human history– think spices, dyes, resins and fibres to fruits, timbers and more. Located close to the Bukit Timah entrance, which is easily accessible from Botanic Gardens MRT station.
Where to eat nearby: Da Paolo, Cluny outside of the Botanics
10. Where to Eat at Singapore Botanic Gardens: Cafes & Restaurants
Want a quick pick-me-up? Head to brunch or lunch at one of these restaurants or cafes in the Singapore Botanic Gardens:
Bee’s Knees Petite
Located at the heart of the Gallop Extension, Bee’s Knees Petite is a small cafe offering pastries and brekkies, as well as a diverse all-day dining menu or grab-and-go food to explore the surrounding grounds.
Bee’s Knees Petite, Singapore Botanic Gardens, 9 Gallop Road, Singapore 259014
Fusion Spoon (Halal)
Located at Singapore Botanic Gardens’ Tanglin Gate, Fusion Spoon (right next to the closed outdoor toddler playground) offers casual Western, Japanese and hotpot dishes (all halal) for families.
Fusion Spoon, Singapore Botanic Gardens, 1 Cluny Road, Tanglin Gate, #B1-00, Singapore 259569
The Garage: Botanico and Bees Knees
Located in a stunning 1920s black and white conservation building, there are two dining concepts here. Botanico, is on the second level, offering contemporary European cuisine with Asian influences (their botanical cocktails are hit!). Then there’s Bee’s Knees on the ground level with a casual all-day dining menu. This alfresco cafe is popular with morning dog-walkers and early risers.
The Garage, Singapore Botanic Gardens, 50 Cluny Park Road, Singapore 257488
Casa Verde (closed since 12 September 2021)
Sadly this spot has now closed – we look forward to the new concept as this cafe used to be a hit with families and dog walkers!
Casa Verde, Singapore Botanic Gardens, 1 Cluny Road, Singapore 259569
Tuck into upmarket fine dining French-Asian cuisine served omakase-style at Corner House. The menus change frequently, and wine pairings are available.
Corner House, EJH Corner House, Singapore Botanic Gardens, 1 Cluny Road, Singapore 259569
The Halia (Halal)
Situated in the Ginger Garden, The Halia dishes out contemporary European with a distinctly Asian twist (all dishes are halal). There’s also a delish kids menu for littlies and a communal feast option if you’re sharing with a group of five.
The Halia, Ginger Garden, Singapore Botanic Gardens, 1 Cluny Road, Singapore 259569
Little Spot (previously known as Food For Tots)
This kid-friendly cafe set just inside the Jacob Ballas Children’s Gardens makes an easy pit-stop when your kids are hot and hungry after playing at the playground. Little Spot is alfresco (but covered with fans blowing) and they serve kids meals, coffees and casual dishes. There’s usually an interactive play area complete with a little reading nook (closed during the pandemic).
Little Spot, #01-K1, Jacob Ballas Children’s Garden, 1H Cluny Road, Singapore 259604
11. Other Places to Visit at Singapore Botanic Gardens
Planning another day trip to the Singapore Botanic Gardens? Here are some other sights, gardens and attractions you should consider:
Here, you’ll find 49 bonsai specimens that range from tropical to sub-tropical species and varieties
Interested in botany research? The centre houses the Singapore Herbarium, the Library of Botany and Horticulture, and the Orchid Breeding and Micropropagation Laboratory.
Heritage Museum & CDL Green Gallery
Expect interactive and multimedia exhibits, historical items in the form of old photographs, artefacts, plant specimens, rare botanical books, oral recordings, botanical paintings and more – many dating back to the early 19th century.
Tucked inside a six-hectare rainforest, you can explore the Keppel Discovery Wetlands to learn about plant species that typically make up freshwater forest wetland habitats. Alternatively, hit up the SPH Walk of Giants. This elevated boardwalk takes you eight metres above ground so you can get up close to some of the forest’s biggest giants. Check out the Canopy Web while you’re at it to get a feel of what it’s like to peer into the surrounding trees and see them flowering up close. Click here to download a map of the Learning Forest, or click here for a virtual tour!
12. Getting to Singapore Botanic Gardens
Singapore Botanic Gardens is open from 5am to midnight daily and admission is free for all. Want to navigate the Gardens easily? Click here for a series of Singapore Botanic Gardens maps, which include downloadable activity sheets plus maps for the Rainforest Trail, Jacob Ballas Children’s Garden, the Gallop Extension, Learning Forest and more.
Getting to Singapore Botanic Gardens by car: There’s ample car parking available at Gallop Gate, Jacob Ballas and Tyersall Gate, and you can enter via Holland Road and Tyersall Avenue. The taxi drop-off is located at the pick-up and drop-off point at Gallop Gate.
Getting to Singapore Botanic Gardens by MRT: Botanic Gardens MRT stations right outside the Singapore Botanic Gardens. – you’ll be close to the Eco-Lake and a 10 minute walk to Jacob Ballas Gardens. Alternatively, get off at Farrer Road MRT station and walk through Woollerton Gate, which is connected to the other attractions at Gallop Extension via Gallop Valley.
Getting to Singapore Botanic Gardens by bus: Hop on buses 7, 77, 77, 105, 106, 123, 174, 174E or NR8 if you’re entering via the Tanglin Entrance. Alternatively, take buses 48, 66, 67, 151, 153, 154, 156 and 170 if you’d like to use the Bukit Timah entrance.
Singapore Botanic Gardens, 1 Cluny Road, Singapore 259569, www.nparks.gov.sg/sbg