I visited the futuristic park filled with towering ‘supertrees’ featured in ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ and it looks like something straight out of science-fiction

Singapore's Supertrees are one place you need to visit.

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Singapore’s Supertrees are one place you need to visit.
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Harrison Jacobs/Business Insider

  • Summer blockbuster “Crazy Rich Asians” is set in Singapore, which is known worldwide for its extravagance and wealth.
  • The Gardens By The Bay, featured in “Crazy Rich Asians,” is a major landmark in Singapore, featuring more than a million plants, the world’s largest glass greenhouse, and a grove of 160-foot tall ‘supertrees.’
  • I recently visited the Gardens By The Bay to see what it was like and found myself marveling at the beautiful park.

Singapore is known worldwide for its extravagance and wealth, and it’s the setting of “Crazy Rich Asians,” the summer blockbuster everyone’s talking about based on the bestselling novel by Kevin Kwan.

The wedding at the heart of “Crazy Rich Asians” takes place at one of Singapore’s most iconic sites: the $700 million futuristic botanic garden known as The Gardens By The Bay.

Built in 2012 on 250 acres of reclaimed land, Gardens By The Bay is a nature park built as part of the government’s initiative to turn Singapore, long known as “the garden city,” into a “city in a garden.”

But to call Gardens By The Bay simply a park or a garden is a massive understatement. The site is an architectural, technological, and natural marvel, consisting of 1.5 million plants of over 5,000 species, the world’s largest glass greenhouse, and a grove of 160-foot tall ‘supertrees’ that look like they popped out of a science-fiction movie.

I got a chance to visit the Gardens By The Bay this spring. Here’s what it was like:


The idea for the Gardens By The Bay was conceived by Dr. Kiat W. Tan, a botanist and now CEO of the park. He wanted to turn reclaimed land on Singapore’s Marina Bay into one of the world’s best gardens. You can get a good view of the Gardens’ two seashell-shaped biodomes from the Marina Bay Sands, the landmark hotel that overlooks the park.

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Shutterstock

Source: BBC

I also visited the Marina Bay Sands »


But most people know about the Gardens By The Bay because of the Supertree Grove, 12 tree-like structures that act as vertical gardens and range from 82 feet tall to 160 feet tall.

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Shutterstock

When you enter the Gardens By The Bay, you can see some of the smaller Supertrees at the entrance, as well as the biodomes. There are six scattered outside of the main grove.

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Even the smaller Supertrees are impressive. The ‘trees’ are covered with 162,900 plants from 200 species on panels attached to the reddish trellises. The idea behind the trees is that the longer they are maintained, the more full the plants on the ‘trees’ will become. Come back in 10 or 20 years and you probably won’t be able to see any of the trellises.

Singapore's Supertrees are one place you need to visit.

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Harrison Jacobs/Business Insider

Source: CNN


While most people have seen the Supertrees somewhere on the internet, the Gardens By The Bay’s real stars are the biodomes. There is the 129,000 square-foot “Flower Dome” and the 86,000 square-foot “Cloud Forest.”

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Source: BBC


Because the climate inside the domes needs to be cooler than tropical Singapore, they are made of 6,000 coated double-glazed glass panels that let in 66% of sunlight and 33% of external heat. The domes are also air-conditioned to the right temperature.

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Courtesy of Annie Zheng

Source: BBC


The Flower Dome is maintained to have a semi-arid, sub-tropical climate ideal for plants from places like the Mediterranean, California, Australia, Chile, and South Africa.

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Courtesy of Annie Zheng

There are plants from five continents, including Baobab trees from Africa, Olive trees from Spain, and Kangaroo Paw trees from Australia. It’s strange to see so many cultures and climates come into contact with each other.

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Harrison Jacobs/Business Insider

Source: Singapore Guide


The Cloud Forest conservatory is smaller than the Flower Dome, but it might be more impressive. Its climate mimics that of mist-covered tropical highlands and contains 72,000 plants.

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Source: Gardens By The Bay


Such climates are characterized by persistent low cloud cover. Cloud Forest mimics this with periodic misting and the centerpiece of biodome, a 115 foot-tall “mountain” with the world’s tallest indoor waterfall.

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A key part of Tan’s vision was to introduce plants to Singaporeans that they’d never seen before. The entire biodome is filled with lush vegetation.

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You can take an elevator to the top of the mountain and get a view of the waterfall looking down.

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Harrison Jacobs/Business Insider

At the top of the mountain, there is a section of “cloud forest” vegetation that is typically found 6,500 feet above sea-level, like Venus fly-trap plants and pitcher plants.

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Courtesy of Annie Zheng

Source: Gardens By The Bay


When I went in the late afternoon, the top of the mountain was peaceful and calm, even with the many tourists milling about at the bottom.

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The Cloud Forest conservatory feels as much an architectural marvel as a natural one. After seeing the waterfall and the top of the “mountain,” I walked on a walkway that winds around the whole building to the bottom.

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Harrison Jacobs/Business Insider

The walkway gives you views of the different plants at each height, as well as excellent views of the Supertree Grove and the Singapore skyline.

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Harrison Jacobs/Business Insider

As you get closer to the bottom, you reach the “tree top walk” where you feel like you are literally walking on the conservatory’s many trees.

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Harrison Jacobs/Business Insider

Cloud Forest also has a number of special exhibitions that you can stop and see, like this extensive orchid garden of many rare orchid varieties. They even had one of the world’s smallest orchids. You could only see it through the magnifying glass.

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Harrison Jacobs/Business Insider

Source: Gardens By The Bay


One of the newest sections of Cloud Forest is the “Secret Garden,” which features 7,000 plants of 135 species usually located in limestone forests and caves.

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Courtesy of Gardens by the Bay

Source: Gardens By The Bay


After sufficiently exploring the biodomes, it was time to head to the Supertree grove. I was worried because some tourists had told me it was disappointment. But I can tell you the trees look just as strange and awe-inspiring as in photos.

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Harrison Jacobs/Business Insider

The design of the Supertrees is inspired by the Karri trees of Australia and the magical forest in the classic Japanese film “Princess Mononoke.”

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Harrison Jacobs/Business Insider

Source: BBC


Since I was there late in the day, there was practically no line for the elevator to the suspended walkway that circles the Supertrees. The view is spectacular at the top.

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Harrison Jacobs/Business Insider

The Supertrees are super high-tech and eco-friendly. Eleven of the trees have solar cells embedded to harvest solar energy. One actually expels non-toxic fumes from a biomass boiler that burns plant waste, generating power used to cool the biodomes.

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Harrison Jacobs/Business Insider

Source: BBC


My favorite view of the SuperTrees was looking at the plant-covered trunk. The plants are a variety of orchids, ferns, bromeliads and flowering vines.

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Harrison Jacobs/Business Insider

When the sun came down, crowds gathered around the base of the Supertrees. I wasn’t sure why at first, but figured I might as well sit, too.

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Reuters

Suddenly, the trees started lighting up in coordination with themes from popular movies like “Indiana Jones” and “Star Wars.” Called the Garden Rhapsody, the light and music show happens twice a night. The music changes from night to night.

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As I left, I couldn’t stop looking at the trees in all their neon glory. I highly recommend stopping by the next time you are in Singapore.

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Harrison Jacobs/Business Insider