Cloud Forest: The tropical rainforest inside a city

Enter the world’s best greenhouse – like no garden you've seen before.

Where can you find a tropical highland rainforest, in a city that sits right at sea level? In Singapore, of course! While Singapore is often thought of as a city-state, there’s plenty more natural beauty than you might expect, and the stunning Cloud Forest, part of the Gardens by the Bay development, is right in the middle of the city.

Opened in 2012, the Gardens by the Bay precinct is one of the biggest tourist attractions in Singapore. It is part of a wider strategy to position Singapore as one of the world’s greenest cities, both aesthetically and environmentally.

“Comprised of sprawling flower gardens, lawns, paths and towering ‘mega tree’ structures, the Gardens also include two enormous greenhouses.”

Comprised of sprawling flower gardens, lawns, paths and towering “mega tree” structures, the Gardens also include two enormous greenhouses, housing the Cloud Forest and the Flower Dome. These greenhouses are masterpieces of sustainable engineering, with no supporting columns inside and very little net energy use.

The Cloud Forest stretches over almost a hectare, housing a temperate highland rainforest that includes the world’s highest indoor waterfall. The Cloud Forest is kept at about 90% humidity, with a constant temperature of between 23-25ºC, accurately replicating the environmental conditions of tropical highlands more than a thousand metres above sea level. It’s home to a wide variety of plants, including venus fly traps, and the rare Australian Wollemi pine.

The centrepiece is a 42-metre, man-made ‘mountain’, covered in lush vegetation and featuring a 35-metre artificial waterfall. Visitors to the Cloud Forest can ride the elevator to the top of the mountain, before descending via a series of elevated walkways across several distinct zones that go way beyond plant life. One of the highlights is the “+5ºC” room that takes visitors on an interactive voyage into the future, to discover the effects of global warming and climate change.

The S$20 (A$19) entry to the Cloud Forest will also get you into the adjacent Flower Dome, which replicates the drier, semi-arid conditions found in places such as Australia and South Africa. You would never believe that such a range of life and environments could exist in a nation typically thought of as a concrete jungle.

Even if you’re only hiking through a greenhouse, and not the deepest jungle, make sure you’re covered by a good travel insurance policy. Get a quote today.

Recommended reading - Issue Nine Spring 2014

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