Tucked away on the west side of our sunny island is Singapore’s Chinese & Japanese Gardens. The Chinese Garden is a 13.5-hectare garden that is surprisingly similar in style to the many Chinese gardens I visited in China over the last few years.
The Chinese Garden were built in 1975 and were designed by Taiwanese architect Prof. Yuen-chen Yu. The gardens were modeled after the northern Chinese imperial style. While not as grand in scale when compared with for example the Summer Palace in Beijing, the garden is reminiscent of the imperial gardens in China.
Getting to the Chinese & Japanese Gardens
There are two main entrances to the Gardens. One is by car where you will be normally dropped off at the entrance by the car park. The other is by the entrance beside Chinese Garden Station.
If you are travelling by train, get off at the train station and walk towards the tall pagoda which should be one of the more eye catching features around.
If you are taking taxi, depending on the route you are taking (assuming you are coming from the City) you should either get off at the Chinese Garden car park area (if going via AYE) or at Chinese Garden Station (if going via PIE). This may mean a cheaper taxi fare by maybe 1 to 2 dollars from having avoided going around the perimeter of the lake.
As I drove to the Gardens, I parked my car at the designated car park area where I was greeted by the arched gates leading into the Garden:
If you are taking public transport or are getting off at Chinese Garden Station, you should see a long path flanked by rows of trees of both sides heading towards the tall pagoda:
When I entered through the arched gates, it dawned on me that this might have been a paid attraction in its heyday as you still can see the now defunct ticket booths by the entrance. Having passed through the main entrance, you will see a bridge leading you over a water body towards the Turtle Museum.
The Turtle Museum boasts of having the Guinness World Record of having the largest collection of tortoises and turtles in the world. The entrance price is, I think, 5 dollars or so:
Moving past the Museum, you will then see the Chinese influence on the Gardens. You will notice the Stone Boat that reminds me of the Boat of Purity and Ease built during the reign of Emperor Qianlong in the Summer Palace in Beijing and also what appears to be a corridor inspired by the Long Corridor of the Summer Palace that lies along the lake:
There is also a set of twin pagodas along the lake that looks out of place in tropical Singapore and more likely to form the backdrop of some garden in China:
If pagodas are not your type, there is also a Bonsai Garden within the Chinese Gardens. The architecture appears to be inspired by the Qing dynasty (although I am no expert of Chinese architecture) which offers its visitors a quiet and pleasant place to spend some time in:
Beside the Bonsai Garden is the tall pagoda. You can choose to climb up the pagoda if you wish to. Its 7 stories high and slightly frightening to take a peek down the spiral stairwell:
From the top of the pagoda, you can see the general layout of the both the Chinese Gardens as well as the Japanese Gardens (which is connected to the Chinese Gardens by a bridge):
The last main attraction at the Chinese Gardens is the Garden of Abundance which is based around the Chinese Zodiac. The Chinese Zodiac is based on a twelve-year cycle, each year being related to an animal sign in the following order: rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog and pig. Try finding your own zodiac sign:
You can then cross over to the Japanese Gardens. Be sure to take a picture with the bridge:
Unlike the Chinese Garden which open until 11pm each night, the Japanese Garden closes at 7pm. So be sure to time your visit if you intend to cover both Gardens.
The Japanese Garden is not just Zen-like (barren with just stone and gravel displays with that odd bonsai tree):
Instead, it is also comprised of a lush green garden as part of a “Stone Lantern Valley” display which makes it great for a spot for pictures:
You also find a big pond filled with lotus flowers and typical Japanese decor:
How long to spend in the Chinese & Japanese Gardens
I spent close to 1.5 hours to cover most of the Gardens. It will take another 15 minutes or so to get back to the train station or the car park area. So a safe estimate is maybe 2 hours?
Best time to visit the Chinese & Japanese Gardens
Early morning or late evening
Whether worth visiting the Chinese & Japanese Gardens
I guess that is the whole purpose of you visiting this blog. The answer depends on you and your preferences. If you enjoyed the photographs I posted here, the Gardens may be worth a trip.
My personal advice is it depends on your length of stay in Singapore. If time is tight, you might want to visit gardens that are closer to the city (Botanic Gardens (which I have already done a review on) and/or Gardens by the Bay).
If it’s your second visit to Singapore, this might be a perfect spot to visit instead of repeating the attractions you visited previously.
Another viable itinerary is to pair the Gardens with a visit to the Tiger Brewery in Joon Koon (just a few more stops away from Chinese Gardens) where you can finish off the afternoon with a cold pint of Tiger and free flow tasters of the other beers on tap.
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