I don’t know if it was because I had overly high hopes for this place, or because it was quite hot, or because it was Sunday and therefore teeming with other families and tourists, but for us Gardens By The Bay was a bit of a disappointment. Yes, the kiddie area is pretty good- in fact if it wasn’t for the adventure course, tree house play area and water play we would probably swear to never return here. It’s just not (in our opinion) as good as other places to go in Singapore.
Having said that, it is probably well worth a visit even if just the once. It’s a tourist must-do for good reasons- the Supertree Grove is iconic and as a (mostly) free attraction you’ve not much to lose by going. As a family we’be been completely spoiled already having moved here from South Devon in the UK, where a Sunday was spent wandering around The Eden Project. So to be honest, the domes at Gardens by the Bay were nothing special apart from the seasonal displays they have on (sorry Singapore!!!). But the Supertree’s are obviously something completely different and are definitely worthy of a cheesy photo or two (especially at night when they’re all lit up), however it’s worth mentioning that the OCBC Skyway (the walkway where the most iconic snaps have been taken) is ticketed but at $8 per adult it’s not exactly pricey (but you do basically just wander on a bridge high up, taking clichéd “Singapore” photo’s and that’s about it). Hence the tourists.
The kids area, or the Far East Organization Children’s Garden to use it’s correct title, is great though. Given that this is Singapore there’s a water play area (although not the best free water play if you ask us), a tree house themed play area (which Finn and Clara really did enjoy, see pics below for more), and (depending on the time of year you visit) special exhibitions with hands on activities. It’s fun to waste away a few hours or so, but if you really want a decent free water play head to the Palawan Pirate Ship on Sentosa (formerly the Port of Lost Wonder) – granted, it’s pricier to get there and back though – and if you’re after nature head to the Botanic Gardens (the newly opened Learning Forest looks a-mazing). But, if you’re in the vicinity of Marina Bay Sands and need to kill a few hours or so, then this is an easy win.
Sorry- not the most positive of reviews I’ve ever done, it’s not THAT bad. We were just not wow-ed by it, and I was expecting to be. We were also slightly disappointed by the food options on offer, the golden arches by the taxi drop off made my heart sink as it swarmed with tourists, setting the tone for the rest of the afternoon (in stark contrast, I can highly recommend the Bee’s Knees in the Botanic Gardens as a mid-wander stop off). I suppose ultimately I prefer a much more laid back vibe which is the polar opposite of our Gardens By The Bay experience- it had an almost theme park like frantic feel, right down to the wildly overpriced stalls and activities in the Supertree Grove. If you can hack that pace, the noise and the crowds then you’ll probably enjoy this place as it wants to be interesting, it’s just too clichéd as a Singapore destination to get it quite right.