(Taken from Gardens by the Bay with some modifications.)
Directions to Gardens by The Bay
1. By MRT: Bayfront MRT, Exit B. You’re reached the Dragonfly and Kingfisher Lakes.
2. By Car:
a. ECP (towards city). Exit 17a. Turn left to Marina Place, then turn left to Marina Gardens Drive. Straight all the way to the Visitor Center’s carpark.
b. ECP (towards Changi Airport): Exit 17. Turn right into Marina Station Rd, then turn left to Marina Place, and turn left to Marina Gardens Drive. Straight all the way to the Visitor Center’s carpark.
c. By Taxi: “Uncle ah (or Auntie), Gardens by the Bay, kam xia!”
Things to See and Eat
The Gardens open from 5am to 2am daily. This guide is in three sections: (A) the free areas in the gardens; (B) the semi-free areas; and (C) the must-pay area.
1. The gardens highlighted in orange on the map are all free, no or little shelter. Bring umbrella, wear sunblock. Among the interesting gardens are the Heritage Gardens (Malay, Chinese, Indian gardens) showing the rich culture of Singapore.
Another scenic and free site is the Dragonfly & Kingfisher Lakes, which can be seen immediately as you come out of the MRT station.
2. If you drive, you’ll arrive at the center of the garden, the Visitor Center. There is a very interesting bull sculpture at Golden Garden, showing off his balls. (Sorry, camera lens frosted up; the camera was trying to censor the photo.)
At the Golden Garden, you’ve two choices of food: Cafe Crema, which serves sandwiches, such as their specialty “Big Bad Wolf”, or Verandah, an Asian/Japanese Bistro, serving food like black pepper crab linguine, Kurobuta “Kong bah” on Japanese Rice.
3. The Supertree Grove, which is probably one of the two most iconic structures in the Gardens, is free to enter but if you want to climb up the structure to OCBC Skyway (9am-9pm), it costs S$3-$5 depending on your age. The Supertree Grove looks like an alien UFO at the moment, but when the vines grow to cover the entire structure, it would look quite magnificent.
Night view of Supertree Grove, showing the iconic building, Marina Bay Sands as backdrop. (These photos of Supertree Grove are courtesy of a friend of ours. Thanks!)
At the Supertree Grove, there is a large space, Supertree Dining (7.30am-10pm daily), housing five different types of cuisine: Hill Street Coffee Shop; Peach Garden Noodle House; Casa Verde; Texas Chicken; and Canele Patisserie Chocolaterie.
Hill Street Coffee Shop
Hill Street Coffee Shop preserves the look of 1960s kopitiam (coffee shop) with marble-top tables and wooden chairs, serving affordable hawker favorites such as laksa and char kway teow.
Other dishes we tried are kampong rendang chicken nasi lemak ($8.90), which is so-so but with great achar; laksa ($8.90), can’t be compared to the best laksas in Singapore but there are worse ones than this one; and hokkien mee ($9.90+, pictured left), our favorite of all because it has wok hei (read this entry to know what wok hei is) and the vermicelli is stir-fried in a broth that is simmered for hours to absorb the flavors of pork bones and prawn shells. After we decided that this is the best dish, we read the press release to find out that the shi-fu who cooks this dish has 20 years of experience.
Peach Garden Noodle House
Pineapple shaved ice ($8.80+) and Dragonfruit shaved ice ($8.80+)
The owner of Peach Garden Noodle House says this is a casual joint – but the prices are a tad steep. A pity we didn’t try the famous XO fried carrot cake ($10+), made famous by a Minister of Parliament, but we had some dishes that can only be found at this outlet. Among them, the costly xiao long bao ($12.80) leaves the deepest impression. The broth that the singular XLB soaks in has a lip-smacking, gluey texture, full of collagen, that is also very savory. The goose liver in the XLB enhances the buttery flavor but a pity that the skin breaks easily since it’s soaked in broth. The noodles from the dumpling noodles ($7) are very delightful, delicious with a bouncy texture but we didn’t care for the dumpling and would suggest that you order another noodle dish. The shaved ices are exactly that: the fruit with ice but they are very refreshing.
Canele Patisserie Chocolaterie
Sitting at Canele is an interesting experience because, as you can see in the photo, the tree extends all the way up to an opening in the roof and it is watered by rain (test your eyesight: can you see drops of rain falling onto the tree?) Canele offered us limited edition summer macarons ($2.50/piece; $11.50/6 pcs; $21.50/12 pcs); chicken caesar wrap ($8) and chocolate caramel ice cream ($3). It also serves sandwiches, crepes and soups for a lazy afternoon tea.
Casa Verde, meaning “Green House,” an apt name in a garden, shouldn’t be an unfamiliar name. It is staunchly set at Botanical Gardens for years and is under one of our favorite groups, the Les Amis Group, which has the finest restaurants in Singapore.
Casa Verde also serves pastas and wood-fired pizzas and is the only place in Gardens by the Bay that you can kick back with a pint of beer.
The (only?) halal food place in Gardens by the Bay that can cater to school excursions, Texas Chicken uses fresh–not frozen–chickens that are imported from Malaysia daily. The chicken is cut into 8 pieces so that it is slightly bigger than other fast-food chains. Another unique factor is that they offer honey butter biscuit, kind of like a scone.
We tried the spicy chicken ($7.60 for a set meal) and fire wrap ($7.80 for a set meal). The chicken is very, very awesome, crispy and so moist inside, rivaling KFC. But the fire wrap’s chicken is dry. The PR explained that the wrap is made fresh with every order but because this is a media tasting, which catered to more than 60 media companies, the wrap was made for some time and could have been dry for that reason. Fair enough.
(C) MUST PAY
We have so far talked about the free and semi-free parts of Gardens by the Bay and the food in each section. The areas you must pay to enter are the second iconic structure of Gardens by the Bay, besides the Supertree Grove, are the modern-looking domes, the greenhouses. (Probably) Modeled after UK’s Eden Project, two greenhouses, Cloud Forest and Flower Dome (9am-9pm), side by side. The admission charges depend on your age, your citizenship and whether you want to visit one or two greenhouses. Visit Gardens by the Bay Website for more info on price.
However, the eateries are outside the domes so you don’t have to pay. Seventh Heaven, located between the two greenhouses, is an ice cream parlor while Pollen is a fine-dining restaurant at the Flower Dome. For review of Pollen, click here.
Bakerzin, Satay by the Bay, and IndoChine will be opened later this year. We will update this list when they open.
Written by A. Nathanael Ho.