Destinations

5 secret gardens hidden in urban cities

Clients are a tricky bunch – some want adventure, some want serenity, some want island, others want cities.

So how do you satisfy clients that want both the beauty of nature and an urban adventure? Easy peasy, send them to Singapore.

Singapore has an abundance of both, but you wouldn’t know it, because the greener side of things is almost hidden, making the nature even more exciting when you do find it.

Check out these five secret gardens tucked away inside the thrilling city that is Singapore.

1. Orchard Central Rooftop

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There’s nothing quite like lounging on a slice of green smack in the middle of Orchard Road, but that’s exactly what visitors can do at the top of the Orchard Central mall.

Here you will find waterfalls, bamboo groves, ponds, and sculptures by Japanese and Singaporean artists.

And that’s not even mentioning the glittering view of Singapore’s premier shopping belt.

2. The Pearl’s Hill city park

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A short stroll away from the temple, on a hill opposite the Singapore General Hospital, sits a nine-hectare wedge of tropical flora and fauna. The Pearl’s Hill City Park is built around a reservoir and offers a verdant refuge from the snarl of roads and high-rises that surround it.

Take a quiet stroll under the shade of Tembusu trees or, if you’re feeling more laid-back, park yourself by the pond, where turtles, frogs and other critters skip around lotus plants and lilypads.

3. Bukit Timah Nature Reserve

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Singapore will surprise you with her share of wildlife and nature. The garden city’s most unexpected gems is the hidden-away pocket of greenery that is Bukit Timah Nature Reserve.

Start your exploration of the reserve at the Bukit Timah Hill Visitor Centre. Here, you can learn about the varieties of flora and fauna that can be found in the park. The visitor centre’s exhibition gallery includes interactive touchscreens, informative forest ecology and tree-spotting displays, as well as the centerpiece — two Sumatran tiger replicas on majestic display. (The real Sumatran tigers used to roam the reserve.)

Gallery displays aside, the reserve is also home to plenty of natural biodiversity such as long-tailed macaques and a variety of bird species. Word to the wise: come prepared with mosquito repellent, and don’t feed the monkeys.

4. Tampines

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Our first stop takes us deep into the heartlands. Tampines is one of the most populated neighbourhoods in Singapore, yet it is home to two major parks—Eco Green and Sunplaza—and countless tinier ones.

The Tampines Changkat Butterfly Garden is one of the latter. Found in between two housing estates, the three-year-old garden is a kaleidoscope of flowering plants and butterflies.

More than a hundred of the winged insects, in all colours and patterns, flutter about the circular enclosure, some even daring enough to perch on visitors’ shoulders.

The mini-haven is a favourite among local residents; you’ll see kids, retirees and post-run joggers enjoying a quiet moment inside.

5. Singapore Botanic Gardens

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Yes, ok we know this isn’t exactly hidden, but how can you mention Singapore’s urban nature without dropping this one in? And unless you’re a bonafide local, there’s still plenty of untouched pockets of this park to explore.

The Botanic Gardens is the country’s first UNESCO Heritage Site, joining the ranks of iconic landmarks such as Cambodia’s Angkor Wat and The Great Wall of China.

Highlights include The National Orchid Garden, which boasts the world’s largest orchid display, with over 60,000 plants and orchids.

Meanwhile, the SBG Heritage Museum features interactive and multimedia exhibits and panels that detail the Gardens’ rich heritage, while the CDL Green Gallery displays botanical related exhibits.

Kids will have a blast at the Jacob Ballas Children’s garden where they can play and learn all about plant life. A host of restaurants and cafes are also available to satisfy thirsty and hungry visitors after a day out in the sun.

And once you’re ready to step back into the concrete jungle, the Orchard Road shopping district is mere minutes away.

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