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We invite you to explore some of the lushest gardens around the island that you’ve probably never even heard about, let alone visit.

Photo by Ong Yi Chao

You’ve roamed the Botanic Gardens dozens of times. You’ve crossed the Southern Ridges and you were one of the first to explore the Punggol Waterway Park. When it comes to green oases in the city, you’ve been there and done that. There are no gardens left on the island that you haven’t set foot on—or so you think.

Going Places Singapore introduces five gardens that are probably lurking beneath your radar. From landscaped rooftops to butterfly habitats, there are surprising and hidden emeralds in this city. You just need to know where to look.

Float like a butterfly

Our first stop takes us deep into the heartlands. Tampines is one of the most populated neighbourhoods in Singapore, yet it is home to two major parks—Eco Green and Sunplaza—and countless tinier ones. The Tampines Changkat Butterfly Garden is one of the latter. Found in between two housing estates, the three-year-old garden is a kaleidoscope of flowering plants and butterflies. More than a hundred of the winged insects, in all colours and patterns, flutter about the circular enclosure, some even daring enough to perch on visitors’ shoulders. The mini-haven is a favourite among local residents; you’ll see kids, retirees and post-run joggers enjoying a quiet moment inside.

Tampines Changkat Butterfly Garden
Tampines Street 11, next to Block 124

Nirvana calling

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From the east, we make our way to Chinatown, a district that’s typically crowded and screeching with touts and traffic. But there’s a little gem perched atop the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum along Sago Lane. From a staircase on the temple’s fourth floor, visitors can access a small garden on the rooftop. A large pavilion—the Ten Thousand Buddhas Pagoda—sits in the middle, ringed by shrubbery and the violet of orchids. Sheltered benches along the perimeter of the garden allow guests to find a temporary nirvana from the bustle of the busy district.

Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum
288 South Bridge Road

Run to the hills

A short stroll away from the temple, on a hill opposite the Singapore General Hospital, sits a nine-hectare wedge of tropical flora and fauna. The Pearl’s Hill City Park is built around a reservoir and offers a verdant refuge from the snarl of roads and high-rises that surround it. Take a quiet stroll under the shade of Tembusu trees or, if you’re feeling more laid-back, park yourself by the pond, where turtles, frogs and other critters skip around lotus plants and lilypads.

Pearl’s Hill City Park
Entrances on Pearl Bank, Pearl’s Hill Terrace, Pearl’s Hill Road and Chin Swee Road

On medical grounds

Hospitals and greenery go together hand in hand. Take Novena Medical Center, for instance. Guests will find on the eighth storey of the block a miniature, Zen-inspired garden with comfy couches sprawled on a wooden deck. Designed to provide respite for both patients and visitors alike, the garden even has a water feature and an attached café where you can grab a cuppa, lounge about, and forget the fact that you’re actually in a building for the sick.

Novena Medical Center
10 Sinaran Drive, 8th Floor

Paint the town green

If finding solace atop a hospital sounds strange, then lounging on a slice of green smack in the middle of Orchard Road is downright bizarre. But that’s exactly what visitors can do at the top of the Orchard Central mall. Unlike the rooftop garden at Shaw Centre (yes, where we watch movies), Orchard Central’s version is far more manicured. There are waterfalls, bamboo groves, ponds, and sculptures by Japanese and Singaporean artists. And that’s not even mentioning the glittering view of Singapore’s premier shopping belt.

Orchard Central
181 Orchard Road, 11th and 12th Floors