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Singapore: The city in nature that is driving a boom in tourism

Baldwin Ho discovers how Singapore has blossomed into one of the world’s greenest cities.

By Baldwin Ho   |  

The Garden City vision for Singapore isn’t a new 21st-century concept, but it had already been announced back in 1967 by then Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew. He envisioned a green, lush, clean environment which would be more gratifying for Singaporeans and visitors alike. That policy was ahead of its time, but now is as pertinent as ever, and in this article, we’ll look at how the green revolution in Singapore has been winning plaudits across the globe and transforming this thriving metropolis into a city in nature.

Gardens by the Bay

supertrees singapore
The enchanting music and light show at the Supertree Grove

This horticultural centrepiece along with Marina Bay Sands has become emblematic of the Singapore image. The merlion, which is the mascot of Singapore, has, in recent years, taken more of a backseat. That is hardly surprising, given over one billion Singapore dollars has been invested in Gardens by the Bay. Their success story is driven by creating a visually mesmerising and entertaining space, whilst the educational and sustainable aspects are important, but never preached forcibly to you.

Highlights include the cavernous flower dome, which is the world’s largest glass greenhouse. They display plants from all over the world, including African Baobab and the monkey puzzle tree from central Chile. The cloud forest dome is even more impressive and resembles a creation from the set of Avatar. There are aerial walkways for you to observe the mountain greenery and you frequently spot local couples taking wedding photos in this dome.

They have an enchanting music and light show every evening, free of charge, called Garden Rhapsody, which is set amongst their iconic super trees. The themes change regularly to celebrate special occasions like Chinese New Year and Diwali, and they’ve also just launched their garden pods, so you can stay onsite.

Roof gardens

capitaspring singapore
The spectacular roof garden at CapitaSpring has amazing city views

With almost 80% of office spaces certified green in Singapore, you’ll find some spectacular roof gardens around. The newest opening is the slick office building, CapitaSpring with the highest farm-to-plate restaurant in the world. Yes, the sky restaurant gets its herbs from the urban farm, all on level 51. Lower down, they have four storeys of lush greenery and trees with an eye-catching spiral stairway across all four levels.

Even at the most famous rooftop cocktail bars in Singapore, you will discover a strong focus on green spaces, from CÉ LA VI sky bar on top of Marina Bay Sands to Mr Stork on level 39 of Andaz Singapore. The words ‘urban oasis’ is particularly apt for both and you can enjoy 360-degree views of the city at both locations. Don’t forget to try Melati, a premium non-alcoholic botanical aperitif which is a local success story.

Where to stay

parkroyal hotel singapore
PARKROYAL COLLECTION Marina Bay is Singapore’s first Garden-in-a-Hotel

Your top choice should be PARKROYAL COLLECTION Marina Bay. It is Singapore’s first Garden-in-a-Hotel and one of the most ecologically focused hotels in the country. There are over 2,400 varieties of plants and shrubs at the hotel with 60 varieties of flora. The plants are well-blended into the design of the hotel and the 13-metre living wall as you enter the hotel is hugely captivating and resembles a classic Chinese painting.

The breakfast buffet variety is unrivalled with a fine cross-section of Indian, Chinese and Western-style options. You might be astonished to discover all your breakfast fruits have been grown onsite. The hotel has an urban farm with over 60 types of vegetables, fruits, herbs and edible flowers, they are offering hyper-local food on another scale and truly live up to their reputation as a farm-to-plate restaurant.


jewel changi airport
Jewel Changi Airport boasts the world’s tallest indoor waterfall

When you think of shopping malls, it’s often a nondescript, dreary affair. That is most definitely not the case at Jewel Changi Airport, it’s a nature-themed haven for shopaholics. The rain vortex, the world’s tallest indoor waterfall, has been appearing on Instagram more often than most celebrities. The water cascades down seven storeys to dramatic effect and they also have breath-taking music and light shows on multiple occasions every evening. The installation has been designed by renowned architect Moshe Safdie who also designed Marina Bay Sands.

The canopy park on the fifth level is particularly appealing with 14,000 square metres of attractions integrated within the garden spaces. You can relive your childhood by going through planted hedge maze and mirror maze and there’s a suspended catenary glass-bottom bridge walk as well as suspended walking nets for the adventurous. And not forgetting the plethora of incredible shops such as the ever-popular gadget shop, Tokyu Hands. This is one airport, you’ll want to arrive at several hours beforehand, especially when they have countless diverse dining options with the likes of Perch, which offers welcoming Asian-European fusion dishes.