Tropical Montane Orchidetum
It’s no secret that we Singaporeans love our parks and gardens, from neighbourhood enclaves to popular spots like MacRitchie Reservoir. For folks who haven’t heard, the Singapore Botanic Gardens has recently opened its newest attraction: Tropical Montane Orchidetum.
Located within the National Orchid Garden, the attraction features dreamy trails winding through a “secret ravine” and air-conditioned glass house. We headed down to check it out, and here’s what you can expect in that latest addition to our things-to-do scene:
PSA: Entry is free for Singapore citizens and PRs from now till 11th April 2021.
Ethereal glasshouse garden with 16-degree temp
There are five new and revamped additions to the National Orchid Garden, but perhaps the most enticing one for all those looking to escape the heat is The Sembcorp Cool House.
Located at the far-right end of the garden, this glasshouse gem emulates the climate at 1,000M-2,000M elevation. For us, that means A/C-like temperatures of 16-24 degrees. Visiting in the middle of the afternoon? No sweat.
In its recent enhancement, the glasshouse has been extended more than four times its original size, now spanning 1,100SQM and featuring two storeys. Its high ceilings, paired with cooling temperatures, may bring to mind the famous Gardens by the Bay – but resemblance to the popular landmark isn’t all it has to offer.
A scene out of a fairytale
Once you step in through their sliding glass doors, touch low-hanging flora and wander amidst a whimsical garden of more than 1,000 species of orchids and hybrids. There are also more than a hundred different species of other flowers and ferns.
Dendrobium orchids – native to Asia
The path will take you through five bio-geographical regions: Malesia, Continental Southeast Asia and South Asia, Australasia, the Afrotropics and the Neotropics. Having visited Tasmania, it was intriguing to spot the region’s iconic, almost fluffy-looking tree fern growing right next to dainty orchids native to Asia.
Take your time to check out all the various plants and flowers, labelled with both large informative signboards and cute tiny tags. If you’re looking to get a shot for the ‘gram, this glasshouse is also your best bet. Our photographer’s pro-tip is to play around with the height of the space and different elevations for a cool perspective shot.
Emulated mid-elevation Brazillian or Mexican forest
Sure, the highest peak we have may be Bukit Timah Hill, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the flora of a chilly forest here in Singapore. The Yuen Peng McNeice Bromeliad Collection emulates a 650M-1,000M elevation forest in its expanded display house.
Under a sloping grid shelter is a bustling abundance of Neotropical plants that are typically found in Central or South America – think Mexico or Brazil.
Follow a winding path that takes you round a small trickling stream and past around 100 species of orchids and hybrids. There’s also a collection of wispy air plants, alongside tiny red pineapples that intrigued many passers-by – including us.
Award-winning orchids display
Those who have visited the National Orchid Garden in the past may remember the Tan Hoon Siang Mist House – which has now doubled in size. It mimics a Paleotropical garden, a term we had to Google. It refers to a 650M-1,000M altitude garden typically found in tropical Asia, New Guinea, Africa and the Pacific islands.
Wallpaper-worthy greenery aside, this exhibit features some of the most exceptional orchids you can find in Singapore. This includes unique, uncommon and award-winning hybrids that you can go up close to. Spot the Papilionanda Tan Hoon Siang, named after one of the leading contributors to the orchid cultivation industry in Singapore.
Right next to it is Palilionanda Tan Chay Yan, a vibrant orange award-winning hybrid which Hoon Siang bred to commemorate his dad.
Palilionanda Tan Chay Yan and Papilionanda Tan Hoon Siang
Winding “Secret Ravine” linking the new attractions
The above three enhanced display houses are the stars of the show, but between them aren’t the usual, boring concrete pathways. A Secret Ravine meandering around rare orchids and coniferous trees interlinks the trio.
The picturesque walkway is shrouded by plenty of greenery and filled with all sorts of flora, from Swamp Orchids to ferns growing out of rock crevices. It mimics tropical ravines, found in the deep and narrow valleys of mountains – they contain some of the richest endemic biodiversity in the world.
Lowland Habitat Trail with lookout points
Hikers out there may be familiar with the ever-changing landscapes as you make your way up mountains. Find the experience replicated here with the Lowland Habitat Trail, which encapsulates the views one would get at the start of a mountain hike.
We recommend starting your visit to the Tropical Montane Orchidetum here, before making your way to its other attractions to complete the full “experience”.
In this section, lowland streams and tropical Neram forests make way for a hillside trail. We felt like we were whizzed out of Singapore, thanks to the presence of zero high-rises and lush greenery in its stead.
Tell yourself you’re in the forests of Borneo and you may as well be right. Many of the region’s endangered species of plants can be spotted here, including rare species of orchids, labelled with signs throughout the trail. They’re not always in bloom though, so consider yourself lucky if you spot them!
Visit the Tropical Montane Orchidetum
Nothing quite beats travelling, but what might bring you closer to the rest of the world is the Tropical Montane Orchidetum in the National Orchid Garden. Plus, who could say no to wandering through “A/C-like climate”?
Other than enjoying new additions, there are also plenty to explore within the National Orchid Garden – including fountains, VIP orchids and floral arches.
Entry is free for Singaporean Residents and PRs from now till 11th April 2021 – but be sure to visit as early as possible, as we spotted snaking queues. If you’d rather avoid the crowds, save your visit for a later date. Regular tickets are priced from $5/adult or $1/student or senior citizen.
National Orchid Garden
Price (Singapore resident): $5 for adults, $1 for students and $1 for seniors above 60
Price (Standard rate): $15 for adults, $3 for students and $3 for seniors above 60
All entry is free for children under 12.
Address: 1 Cluny Road, Singapore Botanic Gardens, Singapore 259569
Opening hours: 8.30AM – 7PM, Daily
Telephone: 1800 471 7300
For more nature in Singapore:
Cover image adapted from: TheSmartLocal
Photography by Pichan Cruz.