“It was absolutely terrifying,” he tells us, pointing to the heights soaring above us. “I thought I was going to drop off the edge.”
I squint my eyes against the sun and look up, following the triple towers of the Marina Bay Sands hotel that crest like waves, capped with a long ship-shaped cantilevered level where I can just make out a group of people taking selfies at the edge.
“I swam there in the infinity pool this morning,” he says. We’re chatting to an Australian fellow we met who recently retired from the bullbar business to sail around with the world with his wife. “You just look out and get vertigo. It’s unreal.”
Unreal would be the right word to describe everything around Marina Bay in Singapore, from the towering clusters of skyscrapers dwarfing the elegant colonial era buildings of the Fullerton hotel below, to the elegant lines of the Art and Science Museum. It’s all new, scaled up, exciting and ever changing – just like Singapore.
A modern paradise
Perhaps the biggest attraction of Marina Bay is Gardens by the Bay, a botanical garden from the future where sculpted metal “supertrees” soar over plant species from around the world growing in over 100 hectares of land.
The Marina Bay Sands hotel soars above this man made park, and as we strolled away from its intimidating heights, I wondered what the view from the top looking down at this fantasy land was like.
Gardens by the Bay is part of a government effort to transform Singapore from a garden city to what’s been dubbed a ‘city in a garden’. From the moment you walk inside, everything is green and light and airy, and it’s easy to forget that you are surrounded by one of the world’s busiest cities, with a port that runs 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.
Sunset in the treetops
We got to Gardens by the Bay just in time for sunset and quickly scaled up one of the main attractions, the supertrees, iconic metal sculptures that mimic the shape of a tree and perform its main functions, albeit in a very futuristic way. Each tree collects energy from its surroundings, like solar power, which is used to run the park’s lights and other systems.
Once up top on the skywalk, you have 15 minutes to look at the view – still dwarfed by the Marina Bay Sands – and soak in the atmosphere. It’s quite magical, being in the treetops but with sturdy metal flooring at your feet, and as the sun turned the sky pink over Singapore we were transported to another place, a city within a garden.
Under the domes
Back down on ground level we made our way to the two indoor attractions, the Flower Dome and the Cloud Forest, both housed inside temperature controlled conservatories.
The Flower Dome was stunning, with different sections dedicated to species from around the world throughout. You simply stroll around and see what you can find – highlights for me were the giant baobab trees and the Australian flora collections, which made me a bit homesick!
The Cloud Forest was my favourite though. I have been to cloud forests – zones of lush jungle at the cloud level – in South America and the concentration of life and beauty there is like nothing else. But these zones are under threat from man’s expansion through logging and housing and neglect through pollution and exploitation.
Entering the Cloud Forest pavilion, you are almost deafened by the immense sound of falling water from a gigantic waterfall with a peak nearly at the top of the roof. The displays are housed inside the mountain that holds the waterfall, and you make your way up and up and up along beautifully lit gangways, looking down at the trees and life passing below.
Right up the top, I crept out to the edge of the waterfall’s viewing area and looked down. The view was stunning – Singapore’s bright lights twinkling through the glass, beckoning us to go and explore.
What you need to know
Cost: It’s cheaper for locals to visit, but for overseas visitors standard tickets are S$28 for adults and S$15 for children, including entry to the Flower Dome and Cloud Forest.
When to go: Gardens by the Bay is open daily from 9am to 9pm.
How to get there: You can catch a bus or take a taxi to Marina Bay and walk around to the entrance of Gardens by the Bay, or go direct to the Marina Bay Sands and access it by crossing through the hotel’s lobby.
Booking: You can book through the Gardens by the Bay website here, or get tickets at the gates.
Special thanks to Gardens by the Bay for hosting our visit. As always, our opinions are our own.