Thursday 19 June 2014

Botanic Gardens top park in Asia on TripAdvisor

US travel site also ranks it 11th worldwide in its park category
By Cheryl Faith Wee, The Straits Times, 18 Jun 2014

FOR the second year in a row, Singapore Botanic Gardens has been ranked the top park in Asia by leading US travel website TripAdvisor.

It beat the likes of Jingshan Park in Beijing and Japan's Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park to top the park category of this year's TripAdvisor Travellers' Choice Awards, which is in its 12th year. The park category was added last year.

Overall, Singapore Botanic Gardens came in 11th in the world, with Stanley Park in Vancouver ranked No. 1.

The ranking was determined through an algorithm that considered the number of ratings and the quality of ratings on a scale of one to five, over a year.

"It is difficult not to use words like stunning when talking about the marvellous Botanic Gardens of Singapore," wrote TripAdvisor user Suratrichard from Thailand last December. "As you walk into the gardens, you keep finding more and more beautiful plants which are nearly all clearly labelled. So have a notebook handy as well as a fully charged battery in your camera."

In a press statement yesterday, Dr Nigel Taylor, director of Singapore Botanic Gardens, said: "This is an encouragement to us as we continue to work towards conserving the living heritage of the gardens for future generations to enjoy."

Ms Barbara Messing, TripAdvisor chief marketing officer, said in a press release: "TripAdvisor travellers have helped identify some of the best attractions around the globe.

"These award-winning landmarks and parks are an ideal starting point for taking in the world's must-see sights."

The gardens receive about 4.4 million visits every year, and this is expected to rise to six million visits a year in 2021.

By then, the Botanic Gardens MRT station on the Circle Line will be connected to the upcoming Downtown Line. Another station will also open near the attraction on the future Thomson Line. The opening of the Botanic Gardens MRT station in 2011 added about half a million visits per year.

The 155-year-old Singapore Botanic Gardens had submitted its bid to become the country's first Unesco World Heritage Site earlier this year. The results will be revealed next year.

It is a hit not just overseas but in Singapore too. Ms Ryane Wong, 24, said it is the ideal picnic spot.

"It is pretty sitting next to the water and you can sometimes see birds. It is a good place to chill and hang out," the project executive said.

7 things you may not have known about Singapore Botanic Gardens
Singapore's Botanic Gardens is not just any other park. Here are some interesting facts about our national garden
By Cheow Sue Ann, The Straits Times, 17 Jun 2014

Singapore Botanic Gardens has again been ranked the number one park in Asia in the TripAdvisor Travellers' Choice Awards for attractions. This is actually the second year in a row that the 74ha park has been ranked as such.

Here are seven things you may not have known about our award winning park:

1. VIP and Celebrity Orchids

The National Orchid Garden section of the Botanic gardens houses orchids named after the likes of Elton John, Jackie Chan and even Princess Diana and Nelson Mandela. More recently, Kate Middleton and Prince William were presented the Vanda William Catherine - a white and purple free-flowering orchid hybrid.

This garden is also lauded as the world’s largest orchid display features over 60,000 plants and orchids.

2. Singapore’s First Unesco World Heritage Site Nominee

The Unesco World Heritage Site nomination marks the gardens as a site of special cultural and physical importance. By being nominated, the Botanic Gardens will put itself in the ranks of sites such as Mount Fuji in Japan and the Taj Mahal in India.

You can pledge your support for this nomination here.

3. Oldest reference library in South-East Asia

The library is the one of the oldest reference libraries in South-East Asia containing 30,000 books and 41,000 rare books/journals and unique research papers/unpublished material. It was established in 1875.

4. Asia’s first children’s garden

Jacob Ballas Children’s garden is the perfect spot for children to play, discover and learn about plant life. It opened on Children's Day, Oct 1, 2007.

5. Most popular park in Singapore

As the only historic botanic garden in Singapore and one of few historic landscape gardens on the island, the Botanic Garden is the most popular park in Singapore, with more than 4 million visitors a year. Visitors to the garden include a variety of celebrities and dignitaries ranging from Queen Elizabeth II to Bindi Irwin, daughter of the late Steve Irwin.

6. Pioneering site of the harvesting of rubber

Nowhere in the British colonies were the effects of economic growth and discoveries felt more than at Singapore Botanic Gardens through the pioneering work on rubber cultivation and techniques for tapping. This became a major crop that brought great prosperity to the South East Asian region in the early 20th century. 

By 1917, the gardens had supplied over 7 million rubber seeds and encouraged plantation owners across the Malay Peninsula to grow rubber instead of other tropical crops - this underpinned the regions' early economic prosperity and gave it a significant place in the world commodity trading markets.

7. Home of the oldest ornamental water body in Singapore

It was constructed in 1866, shortly after the Gardens formation. It is considered to be the oldest ornamental water-feature in Singapore.

Home to numerous species of aquatic plants and fishes, the lake covers an area of slightly less than 1.5ha, with a depth of about 4m. The Swan Lake is named as such because of a pair of beautiful mute swans from Amsterdam that glide gracefully across the lake. These swans never fail to thrill visitors.

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