Singapore is a city of modern and futuristic architecture, cultural districts and green parks. In the last category, the most famous is obviously Gardens by the Bay. But there are other gorgeous park to discover, and my favourite are the Chinese and Japanese Gardens, also known as Jurong Lake Gardens.
The Chinese and Japanese Gardens were built in the 1970s to add greenery to the district and attract people there, as it was a very industrial area. They are two small islands located on a lake, and separated by a bridge.
They’re not very well known in the tourist community, which is a shame because they are truly lovely. But I’m also glad because that means the gardens are mostly empty, except for some joggers and locals wandering around. The calm silence is very nice and makes it the perfect spot if you want a break from the hassle and noise of the big city.
Chinese Garden: an Introduction.
The Chinese Garden was built following the architecture of Chinese imperial gardens. For example you’ll find a stone boat that is a replica of the one at the Beijing Summer Palace.
Brightly coloured buildings, courtyards, koi ponds and large pavilions are a-plenty. There are also statues of Chinese heroes, like Hua Mulan (I love that story, and it’s definitely my favourite Disney movie), and Confucius.
You’ll find many things in the Chinese and Japanese Gardens, like the Live Turtle and Tortoise Museum. We didn’t go because it wasn’t free and we didn’t really want to take the time to visit it. Apparently it holds the Guinness World Record for the largest collection of turtles and tortoise in the world, which is cool I guess if you’re into turtles! What is even cooler is that they have tortoises with 2 heads and 6 legs. I shit you not. I learned that after and maybe would’ve paid to see that.
You get a bonsai, you get a bonsai, everybody gets a bonsai!
A great spot in the Chinese and Japanese Gardens is the Bonsai Garden. I adore bonsais with all my heart, I mean how could you not? They’re gorgeous tiny trees! So imagine my reaction when we entered this huge garden with over 2000 beautiful bonsais. They come from China and other places (Malaysia, Taiwan, Indonesia…). You can really tell that the gardeners are passionate and care for the bonsais.
And it’s not just the bonsais, the whole garden is amazing. There are unique rocks perched on stone blocks, round doorways, little bridges over streams, perfect white buildings, and just a soothing atmosphere. I could seriously imagine a scene from Memoirs of a Geisha being filmed there. Yes I know the movie is set in Japan, but the actress is Chinese ok!
It is a place for reading poetry, learning to paint and meditating. Well at least that’s what I wanted to do.
In the land of Pagodas
The Chinese Garden wouldn’t be complete without a few pagodas. And boy are the pagodas there striking and beautiful.
The most impressive is the seven-storey pagoda known as the Cloud Piercing Pagoda. It is 48m high and perched on a small hill so go ahead and climb to the top for a great view.
My favourite pagodas were the Twin Pagodas. Twins because they are right next to each other, both three storeys, and on the same walkway over the lake. I have to say this is the most perfect place to take a photo, and even better if you’re there for sunset!
What’s your Zodiac sign?
Enter the Garden of Abundance to see sculptures of the twelve Zodiac signs. Each statue has a little bench so you can sit next to your sign. Of course we had to take pictures with ours!
I’m a pig (that doesn’t sound right…). Pigs are supposed to be diligent, compassionate, calm, easy-going, devoted, but also irritable. Which sounds a lot like me. Lucas is a rooster, which means he’s popular, hardworking, active, frank and loyal. Check, check, check, check, and check!
And apparently, the worst match possible for a rooster (love-wise) is a pig… Whoops. We’ve been happy together for 4 years so I guess that’s wrong haha!
I also learned that my lucky flowers are hydrangeas and daisies, which is awesome because I love both those flowers.
A little bit of Zen at the Japanese Garden
The Chinese and Japanese Gardens are connected by a bridge called the White Rainbow Bridge. Like the name indicates, it is a gorgeous long white bridge with arches.
Out of the two gardens (Chinese and Japanese), the Japanese Garden is definitely simpler but just as pretty. There isn’t a lot to see except the lotus pond, but just walking around the pond and crossing red arched bridges is great. Or if you’re like us, re-enacting the scene from Lord of the Rings (You Shall Not Pass!).
There is a tranquil feel to the place and you’re immediately transported to Japan. Well at least what I think traditional gardens in Japan look like.
If you’ve seen all the musts in Singapore and still have time to spare, I truly recommend going to the Chinese and Japanese Gardens. I was blown away by the architecture, the atmosphere, the plants and the quiet!