I am sure just about everyone living in Singapore has explored the Botanic Gardens in depth, but for those who haven’t, or for people coming to live here and of course, for tourists, here is a favourite adventure our boys love – perhaps told in a different way? You can insert fairies, dwarfs, gnomes, princesses, or whatever is the current favourite creature/character in your kids’ imaginations, but for us – it’s all about dinosaurs… and dragons.
Head to the main entrance of the Botanic Gardens and stock up on fish food to the right of the entrance. Hopefully your children will not require a specific coloured container, because you can go through a lot of $1 coins trying to get a “red” one! Once equipped, head past the cafe (Casa Verde) and follow the path around to the left – although expect some distraction at the water features you have to walk past. Head to the end of this path, and go around to the right and down the stairs (or the kids can run down the hill) and walk towards Shaw Foundation Symphony Stage. When you look into the water in front of the stage, and the larger Symphony Lake behind, you’ll find it absolutely teeming with fish and turtles. We always walk around the lake clockwise, feeding the fish along the way, ending up at the hut at the far end of the lake from the stage. Here you can buy a drink or more fish food if needed. However, before you get to the “hut”, there’s a toilet which is worth a visit if the need arises, because there isn’t another toilet until the end of this adventure.
We’ve had some pretty amazing experiences around the lake, coming face-to-face with huge monitor lizards, swamp hens, and once we had the pleasure of seeing a turtle laying eggs up close – that was cool. For an extra adventurous feel, get the kids stocked up with binoculars or magnifying glasses as well – there’s lots to see from a distance or up close. The insects and bugs are also plentiful, so if dragon flies, water striders, butterflies and more are of interest to your kids, they are certainly going to see a lot of them. You can do a final fish feeding in the shaded hut, because it is choc-o-block with fish and turtles at this end of the lake – and you can enjoy seeing the turtles sunning themselves on every accessible landing. We all enjoy this walk and if you have extra little ones; this is could be enough for one adventure.
Now turn right outside the hut, but make sure you look over the railings, because there are always marsh hens scurrying around in the foliage below. You’ll quickly come to a path and you need to take a left and head towards signs to the Evolution Gardens. This is actually quite a walk and you’ll have to keep an eye out for signs (because there are a few paths coming off this one), but along the way it provides good poking around opportunities for the kids – my boys are always on the look-out for the best stick. It’s one of those places where you can breathe lovely fresh oxygen because you are surrounded by greenery, and while it can be a hot and steamy walk, it’s a really lovely thing to do.
By now, you should be getting close to the Evolution Gardens – follow the signs, cross a road, and at the second path, take a right and head up the steep path. The Evolution Gardens are really brilliant – as is all of the Botanical Gardens – and if your kids are at reading age, and curious about how the world got started, this place will give them a fantastic education, as it takes you through the evolution of our world in chronological order. My boys aren’t quite there yet, and the Dinosaur Adventure in the title comes from the discovery of big footprints in the concrete, which they claim are dinosaur footprints. We’re happy to go along with that, whispering as we hunt for dinosaurs. Throughout the Evolution Gardens there are wonderful things to see and explore, including massive rocks to climb, a volcano (equally climb-able), some petrified trees, and if it’s been raining, the pools near the base of the volcano are full of water, so the boys usually get wet and messy – we always take spare clothes. At the end, right near the other entrance/exit, we also have the “dragon caves,” which the boys enjoy climbing as well. Yes, there is a theme here, my boys are climbers.
The Evolution Gardens are great, and if you haven’t been here before, head on down. Whether you use it for its intended educational purpose or create a new mythical world for your kids, well that’s up to you. I expect you know where we stand. Either way, the adults get a good education too.
At the exit to the Evolution Gardens, head to the right, through the car park and you will arrive at the main entrance. Casa Verde is a GREAT spot for lunch or dinner, although it gets VERY busy on weekends and public holidays. The pizzas are awesome (and they do take-away), the muffins light and fluffy, the coffee is OK and they do fresh juices too. The toilets (with changing facilities) are also close by if you’ve been hanging on – and as always at Singapore’s great tourist destinations, they are of exceptionally high standard.
This adventure is usually a minimum of two hours of hot and hard walking (longer if you spend the time exploring the little stuff), and by the time we’ve killed a morning, the boys are happy to go home and not move. So a good option if you want to wear them out, which is usually our aim. It’s hot and sunny, so come prepared, and in the evening, the mosquitoes are out as well. Bring lots of water – it’s a thirsty adventure.