Singapore: Home to Asia’s Best Orchid Gardens
Nearly half of the world’s orchids are produced in three Asian countries – Thailand, Taiwan and Singapore – so it is little wonder that when senior travellers from other parts of the world are in Asia, many like to include a visit to an orchid farm or an orchid garden on their itinerary.
All three countries have many orchid gardens which are open to visitors, but Singapore in particular is especially well geared up to cater for orchid lovers. In fact Singapore is home to the best tropical orchid garden in the world, and is the only city in the world to have hosted the World Orchid Conference more than once.
Not only does Singapore have the world’s best tropical orchid garden, it has the two largest plant conservatories in the world that are open to the public, both of which feature year-round displays of orchids from both temperate and tropical climates, and has a large annual indoor orchid show.
There is probably no other city in the world that has so much to offer orchid enthusiasts. Whilst it is possible to see Singapore’s orchid gardens in one day, it is a more relaxing experience to set aside two days for the visits.
One day can be spent at the Singapore Botanic Gardens, on the north side of the city, which is home to the National Orchid Garden, and the other day at the Gardens by the Bay, on the south side of the city, which is the location of the Flower Dome and Cloud Forest conservatories.
National Orchid Garden
The National Orchid Garden is an outdoor garden, so it is best to plan to visit either early in the day or late in the afternoon. Whilst parts of the orchid garden are shaded, most of the garden is exposed to the sun, so it can be very hot in the middle of the day.
The orchid garden opens at 8.30am and closes at 7.00pm. Admission is a very reasonable $5 for adults and $1 for senior citizens over 60 years of age. The botanic gardens themselves are open from 5.00am to midnight, and admission is free.
The National Orchid Garden is home to over 1,000 species of orchids, and about 2,000 hybrids, which are rotated through the displays as the plants come into flower. Whilst many say the best months to visit are March to May, the displays are spectacular in any month of the year.
There are often special exhibitions or displays that will be of interest to orchid enthusiasts at different times of the year. Check the website of the Singapore Botanic Gardens to see what events might be on during the dates of your proposed visit.
There are several very good restaurants at the botanic gardens, as well as gift shops and snack bars, so it is easy to spend the balance of the day there either before or after visiting the orchid garden.
Gardens by the Bay
The two conservatories at the Gardens by the Bay always have many orchids on display amongst the thousands of other plants being grown there. The Flower Dome conservatory replicates a drier Mediterranean climate, whilst the Cloud Forest conservatory has, as the name suggests, a humid tropical cloud forest atmosphere.
Therefore in each of these conservatories there will be different species of orchids to see. In the Flower Dome conservatory, there will be many orchids from cooler climates than what are normally grown in Singapore and on display at the National Orchid Garden.
In the Cloud Forest conservatory, there are hundreds more tropical orchids from higher altitudes than can be seen in the mist house at the National Orchid Garden. In this conservatory there are many rare species that are hard to find in orchid gardens in other parts of the world.
As with the botanic gardens, there are often special exhibitions and displays at the Gardens by the Bay, so check what events may be on prior to your visit. The Gardens by the Bay receive a higher number of visitors than the botanic gardens, so expect some crowds on weekends and public holidays.
The conservatories are open from 9.00am to 9.00pm. A ticket to visit both conservatories costs $28 which many visitors will find quite expensive. There is a discount for Singapore residents, but unfortunately no discount for senior citizens.
Other Asian orchid gardens
Orchids can be seen growing in public gardens all over Asia, but none come close to the quality and scale of the displays in Singapore. Even the orchid displays at Singapore’s Changi airport are more impressive than those in the so-called national orchid gardens of some Asian countries.
Probably the next best garden after Singapore to see orchids would be Thailand’s Nong Nooch botanic garden near Pattaya. It’s a very large and impressive botanic garden but the orchid displays are relatively small compared to what can be found in Singapore. There are some smaller orchid gardens in other parts of the country.
Indonesia has some small orchid gardens attached to some of its botanic gardens, but these cater more to orchid enthusiasts who like to see rare Indonesian species that can’t be found in other gardens. Bali also has a small orchid garden that was established primarily for tourists.
Malaysia has several orchid gardens including one in the capital, Kuala Lumpur, next to its Bird Park. Whilst these are generally well maintained, they may disappoint if visiting after Singapore due to their much smaller size.
Taiwan has a number of small orchid gardens in cities with botanic gardens and attached to commercial nurseries. These specialise mainly in Phalaenopsis orchids, which is the main type of orchid produced in Taiwan for export.
There are also orchid gardens of varying sizes in Hong Kong, Vietnam and India. There is none of any significance in the Philippines, which is disappointing given that there are so many species of orchids that are endemic to the Philippines, and the climate there is ideal for growing tropical orchids.
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