As a 15-year-old, when I heard that my family was taking a trip to the Gardens by the Bay at Marina Bay Sands in Singapore, I was far from keen. But as I stepped into the one-of-a-kind Cloud Forest I was transported to a world far from the crowded streets and tall skyscrapers of Singapore. The cool mist and deafening noise from the 30-meter waterfall evoked an extremely realistic atmosphere reminiscent of a real rain forest.
After a few minutes of staring, wide-eyed and fascinated, at the waterfall, I began a stroll on a walkway that twisted a path inside, around, and above the three-story indoor mountain, which was covered by thousands of tropical plants.
The Gardens, which opened in early June, contain thousands of different plant species from around the world in themed gardens. The gardens range from India to California and Thailand to Australia.
The comprehensive Garden Cruiser Tour is the best way to begin your trip. The tour takes you on a relaxing 20-minute ride through the park and allows you to explore all of the outside elements of the Gardens, including the Heritage Gardens, Supertree grove, and the Meadow.
After the tour, we ventured inside the Cloud Forest and the Flower Dome. Both are indoor, climate-controlled attractions to allow for the perfect environments for plants from around the globe to thrive. Although the attractions are very tourist-y, they manage to maintain some degree of an enchanted-gardens type feel. Each step will take you to a different region of the globe. I saw orchids in hues of yellow, green, pink, purple; colors that I didn't even know existed, and giant cacti in geometric shapes and small, spindly cacti in organic twists. I smelled aromas that not even Bath and Body Works body sprays can capture.
After the Gardens, we stopped for lunch and were sorely disappointed with the options. The one restaurant that was open, the Verandah, had a nice atmosphere, but was out of stock of at least half the food. The limited choices that were actually available were mediocre at best. The customer service was incompetent and it took us nearly a half hour to order our food.
Admission to the park is free, but the indoor attractions range from eight to 28 Singapore dollars each and the Garden Cruiser Tour is an additional five Singapore dollars.
Overall, the experience was surprisingly worthwhile and one that should definitely be explored.
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