Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum

Singapore Botanic Gardens


The Singapore Botanic Gardens (SBG) has had a long history in Singapore, spanning 150 years since the first Botanic Garden was set up in 1822, at Government Hill (Fort Canning Hill) by Sir Stamford Raffles. Singapore’s founder was an avid naturalist, and established the Garden primarily to cultivate cash crops such as nutmeg (Myristica fragrans), clove (Syzygium aromaticum) and cocoa (Theobroma cacao). After its doors closed in 1829 following Raffles’ demise, it was 30 years before the present-day Gardens was founded by the Agri-Horticultural Society in 1859. In 1874, after the transfer of ownership to the colonial government, botanists and horticulturists – trained in the famed Royal Botanic Gardens of Kew – were brought in to maintain the Gardens. In 1888, the Gardens received its first Director, Henry Nicholas Ridley, who guided the Gardens into its most productive period thus far, with the large-scale planting of Rubber (Hevea brasiliensis) just preceding the ‘rubber rush’ following the boom in the automobile industry in Malaya.

Spanning 63 hectares, the Gardens encompasses a myriad of horticultural attractions such as the Ginger Garden, National Orchid Garden, and the Jacob Ballas Children’s Garden. Within its grounds also lies a 4-ha rainforest, a remnant of the original primary forest that was once widespread in Singapore. Despite the forest’s small size, over 300 native species – including forest giants and rare species – can be found in it.

Apart from enjoying the various attractions, the SBG also offers opportunities for nature activities such as photography and birdwatching. Picnicking at the Symphony Lake is popular with families as are strolls around the grounds. Apart from its recreational value, the Gardens also places emphasis on scientific research and education. In line with this, the SBG offers a variety of workshops such as on gardening and learning about plants, as well as guided tours around its grounds. The Gardens houses the Singapore Herbarium (SING), and the Library of Botany and Horticulture – two very important resources for students, educators, and researchers.

Getting there

The Gardens is open from 5 am to 12 midnight daily (no admission fee, but entry charges into the National Orchid Garden apply) and can be accessed via its four major entrances: Tanglin, Burkill, Nassim, and Cluny Park Gates, as well as through the Bukit Timah Entrance. Visitors may access the Gardens by bus (via Holland Road – services 7, 75, 77, 105, 106, 123, and 174; via Bukit Timah Road – 48, 66, 67, 151, 153, 154, 156, 170, and 171), car (parking lots are available at the SBG Visitor Centre, Bukit Timah Car Park at Bukit Timah Core, Botany Centre, Jacob Ballas Children's Garden; public lots are located along Tyersall Avenue), or MRT (alight at the Botanic Gardens Station of the Circle Line; nearest entrance is via Melati Gate, near the junction of Cluny Park and Bukit Timah Roads).

Other Resources

Kiew, R. & L. Chan. Habitat Management: the Strategy to Preserve the Biodiversity of the Singapore Botanic Gardens Rain Forest. http://www.bgci.org/congress/congress_1998_cape/html/kiew.htm. (Accessed April 2012).

Loh, K. S. God's Wonderful Creation. http://wondercreation.blogspot.com/search/label/Botanic%20garden. (Accessed April 2012).

National Parks Board. Singapore Botanic Gardens. http://www.nparks.gov.sg/cms/index.php?option=com_visitorsguide&task=parks&id=33&Itemid=73. (Accessed April 2012).

Singapore Botanic Gardens. National Parks Board. http://www.sbg.org.sg. (Accessed April 2012).

Tan, R. Botanic Gardens Rainforest Trail. http://www.wildsingapore.com/places/sbg.htm. (Accessed April 2012).


Wee, Y. C., 1984. The changing role of the Singapore Botanic Gardens. Paper presented at International Symposium on Botanic Gardens of the Tropics, 17-19 Dec 1984, Penang, Malaysia.

Wee, Y. C., 1991. The Singapore Botanic Gardens: National asset or regional treasure? In: Proc. 1st Confer. of Intn. Assoc. Bot. Gdns. Asian Div. (eds. M. Kato, S. Kawakami & H. Shimizu), pp. 90–95. Japan Association of Botanical Gdrnens, Tokyo.

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