10 Fun Singapore Botanic Garden Facts

One of the most amazing tropical gardens in the world covers an immense space in one of the most fascinating city-states on the planet.

In this article, you’ll discover the ultimate list of fun and interesting facts about the Singapore Botanic Garden, one of the best places in the city to relax!

1. It’s located just northwest of Singapore’s Central Area

The Singapore Botanic Gardens is an amazing piece of nature pretty much located in the heart of the city. It borders one of the most popular shopping districts in the city called “Orchard Road” to the northwest

It’s also located just a few kilometers to the northwest of the most famous landmarks in the city, including Marina Bay Sands, Gardens by the Bay, and the iconic Merlion Statue.

The garden is free to enter and there are multiple gates to enter the area in various zones. The main gate is considered to be the so-called “Tanglin Gate” which is located at Holland Road in the southern part of the garden.

Singapore Botanic Garden Entrance
Entrance to the garden / Maksym Kozlenko / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/deed.en

2. It covers an enormous area and features over 10,000 plant species

The distance from the southern part of the garden to the northern tip is 2.5 kilometers (1.6 miles) long. The entire garden covers an area of about 82 hectares (202.63 acres).

One of the most remarkable facts about the Singapore Botanic Garden is that a total of 18 hectares (44.47 acres) was added to the garden in 2009. This ensured that the garden is now about 4 times the size of when it was originally founded in the 19th century.

The garden is home to over 10,000 different types of tropical plant species, including 1,200 types of orchids and 2,000 hybrids as well.

Interesting Singapore Botanic Garden facts
Pathway in the gardens / Pixabay

3. The 1st garden was established by the founder of modern Singapore

The history of a botanical garden on this location dates back to the 1820s. This was a time that Sir Stamford Raffles (1781-1826), a man who is considered to be the founder of modern Singapore, used this area to cultivate plants.

He established this garden in the year 1822 and his main goal was the grow plants that could have economic value. These could either be plants bearing fruits, vegetables, spices, or any other type of raw material that could be sold to make a profit.

Even though this original garden closed in 1829, just a couple of years after Raffles’s death, his ideas lived on. Little did he know that his original plan would end up becoming extremely successful in multiple ways for Singapore!

Sir Stamford Raffles
Sir Stamford Raffles in 1817 / Wiki Commons

4. The current Botanic Garden started as a public park in 1859

The current Singapore Botanic Garden was established in the year 1859. This was the year that the Singapore Agri-horticultural Society was awarded 30 hectares (74.13 acres) of land in the Tanglin area.

The original plan wasn’t really to turn this area into a public space but rather a “pleasure garden” for the members of the society.

Shortly after the garden was established, a landscaping architect named Lawrence Niven was hired and his layout of the garden pretty much resembles the pathways and planted areas as they appear today!

The society eventually ran out of money and the Singaporean government took over the garden’s management in 1874.

Botanical Gardens singapore fun facts
Viewing deck at the botanic garden / Edwin.11 / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

5. The magnificent Swan Lake was excavated in 1866

One of the first features of the garden to be completed following the completion of the original layout was Swan lake. This is one of the 3 artificial lakes inside the gardens, the other ones being Symphony Lake and Eco-Lake.

This fascinating lake covers a total area of 1.5 hectares (3.7 acres) and is one of the most popular attractions in the garden apart from the amazing plants.

And yes, you guessed it right, mainly because of the wonderful swans (imported from Amsterdam) that live here.

Swan Lake in Singapore botanic garden
Swan Lake inside the garden / Elisa Rolle / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/deed.en

6. The technique to extract rubber from plants was perfected here

Just like how Sir Stamford Raffles originally envisioned it, an extremely lucrative product ended up being cultivated here, rubber.

The first rubber plants arrived here from the most popular botanical garden in London called “Kew Gardens” in 1877. It was the director of the garden in Singapore, a man named Henry Nicholas Ridley (1855-1956), who first experimented with rubber extraction techniques in the latter part of the 19th century.

He eventually succeeded in developing a highly efficient extraction technique and encouraged other planters across Malaya to adopt his technique. This resulted in Malaya becoming the number 1 producer and exporter of natural rubber in the world in the first decades of the 20th century!

Rubber plantation singapore 19th century
The 19th-century Rubber Plantation / Wiki Commons

7. It became the world’s commercial center of a particular type of plant

Rubber wasn’t the only export product that made the Singapore Botanic Gardens famous. The city-state is world-famous for its cultivation of various types of orchids, and over 1,200 orchid species alongside 2,000 hybrids grow here today.

One of the best places in the world to admire orchids is a special section of the garden called the “National Orchid Garden.” This section inside the botanic garden was opened in 1995 and is the only section inside the park that requires to pay a fee to enter.

One of the orchids you can admire here is the national flower of Singapore, the amazing Vanda Miss Joaquim, a plant considered to be the most amazing hybrid orchid in the world!

National Orchid Garden Singapore
National Orchid Garden / Source

8. The garden has a number of amazing attractions

The attractions inside the National Orchid Garden include the “Burkill Hall,” a plantation bungalow dating back to 1886, the VIP Orchid Garden which features some of the most amazing hybrids, and the “orchidarium” which houses various types of orchids in a natural tropical setting.

Apart from the National Orchid Garden and the artificial lakes, the park also offers multiple other interesting attractions, including:

  • A tropical rainforest – One of the few tropical rainforests in the world located within the borders of a city, the other ones being the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve in Singapore and the Tijuca Forest in Rio de Janeiro.
  • The Ginger Garden – A 1-hectare (2.47 acres) garden dedicated to plants from the family “Zingiberaceae” or “ginger family.”
  • The Saraca Stream – Water flowing down a little hill which is lined with plants and trees from the Saraca family.
  • Palm Valley – A wonderful lawn that has become one of the most popular spots in Singapore to relax and enjoy concerts.
Saraca Stream Singapore Botanic Gardens
Saraca Stream / Wiki Commons

9. The children’s garden was named after its donor

Another addition to the Singapore Botanic Garden is the “Jacob Ballas Children’s Garden.” This section of the park was named in honor of Jacob Ballas, a rich Jewish-Singaporean philanthropist who passed away in 2004 and who sponsored the construction.

The National Park Boards of Singapore declared this as “Asia’s first children’s garden” and features multiple play areas for kids, tree-houses with slides, a maze, and most importantly, an interactive learning exhibit that teaches children how the process of photosynthesis takes place.

Jacob Ballas Children's Garden
Jacob Ballas Children’s Garden / Source

10. It has become one of the most popular attractions in Singapore

Because of its rich history and the significant role that the garden played in the cultivation of various plants, it has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site since 2015.

The garden is used for both cultivation and education purposes and is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Singapore, welcoming over 4.5 million yearly visitors!

There’s hardly a better place to relax in the city than in this amazing park, right?

Palm Valley botanical gardens
Palm Valley inside the gardens / Calvin Teo / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/deed.en