Visiting a mall or local attraction is no longer like the pre-COVID-19 days. If you're thinking of taking the kiddos to Cloud Forest at Gardens by the Bay in Singapore, here are 10 things to know before you go.
Quite honestly I don't know what finally sparked the decision to take the kids to a local attraction. We've been staying home most weekends since the beginning of the year (yeah, you heard me right) due to the COVID-19 outbreak. I think it could be a combination of seeing pictures of friends being out, a desire to support our local businesses and economy, the ongoing promos at the local attractions and feeling a little less worried knowing that measures like mask wearing and limited capacity are in place at attractions. Whatever the case, the hermits finally decided to head out and visit the Cloud Forest at Gardens by the Bay.
We had visited the Cloud Forest when Big E was around four and I remember she was rather scared of the heights from the Cloud and Treetop walks and loud noise from the waterfall. It also felt too cold for us then as we weren't dressed for it, so the trip wasn't exactly very enjoyable. But this time round with the girls older and everyone dressed for it, the girls were able to better appreciate the environment and blooms.
The mist, beautiful flowers and greens as well as light filtering in from the dome give the Cloud Forest such a magical quality that we all enjoyed the visit so much.
I got lots of questions from parents after I posted our trip on social media (whether it was crowded was the main concern!) and trust me, I had all these questions in mind before we decided to make the trip. Despite the relaxed measures in the phase two reopening in Singapore, I think many of us parents still have qualms on whether it's safe to take our little ones to attractions, especially if they could be crowded and really, pictures of crowded malls do nothing to set our minds at ease. And I think it's a valid concern; visiting a mall or local attraction is no longer like the pre-COVID-19 days.
So here are some answers to the questions I got from parents which I hope will help you decide on whether you want to make that trip, and coming from my family who have stayed home for the longest time because we were really uncomfortable with being out, you have the honest opinion of an OCD mum here 😁.
1) Do we need to book tickets online before going?
Yes, you'd need to. When booking your tickets from The Gardens by the Bay website, you will need to select a day and one-hour time slots for your visit as the venue has limited capacity and it's also to ensure better crowd regulation and safe distancing.
2) Wait, one-hour time slots? Isn't that really stressful to try to make it in within the time slot?
This was one concern I had too. With children, we hardly ever get out of our house on time even when I tell everyone beforehand the time we're leaving the house. But the time slot you pick is actually the time you can enter the attraction. E.g. if you picked 10-11am, you can enter any time within that hour. It also doesn't mean that you have to leave at the end of the time slot, you can leave any time you like. Note that if you're late for your time slot, you may not be allowed in if the subsequent entry time has reached its quota. Also, an hour is about just right to go around the attraction.
3) Okay, that sounds less stressful. How soon do I need to book my tickets?
It's best to book at least a few days ahead. I actually went back to the Gardens by the Bay website over the week to check the ticket availability because I was still undecided on whether we should go. I was also hoping to book a slot where there were less people (you can see how many tickets are still available when you select a time slot). But turned out by Friday, the Saturday tickets were all sold out and there were only 9-10am and 7-8pm slots available for Sunday, so we took the Sunday 9-10am slot. I didn't manage to book a slot with less people (the Sunday 9-10am slot was sold out eventually), so if you've set your mind on a day and time, just go ahead and book it. Given the limited capacity, I really don't think it would be easy to find a so-called less crowded slot unless you like the evening 7-8pm slot - that was still available on Sunday morning.
4) Was it crowded over the weekend?
Not at all despite our Sunday 9-10am slot being sold out. When entering the venue (we had arrived at 9am), there were only a few people in the queue getting their e-tickets scanned and having their safe entry checked. I suppose with the tickets allowing entrance at any time during the booked slot, it does help with crowd control outside the venue. In Cloud Forest itself, we felt comfortable walking around as there were no crowding at any one place and most people moved along after taking photos. The crowd is definitely considered thin for a weekend. We left at around 1030am. There were visibly more people (presumably because the 9-10am slot people have yet to leave and the 10-11am slot people have arrived) after 10am but it still didn't feel crowded at all. Btw do note that re-entries are not allowed.
The photo above is basically more or less the people who were there taking photos of the waterfall when we entered at 9am.
5) In that case, is there a most ideal time to visit?
Generally I think Singapore attractions and malls tend to have less people in the mornings compared to the afternoons, so my family tend to visit places in the morning and I think at the Cloud Forest, the 9-10am slot was really quite ideal for us. Also there is misting in the Cloud Forest at these timings: 10.00am, 12.00pm, 2.00pm, 4.00pm, 6.00pm daily. You might want to coincide your visit with these timings as the place is really beautiful with mist around.
6) What should we wear there?
The temperature inside Cloud Forest is 23-25 degrees Celsius, according to Gardens by the Bay. My kids get cold easily, so they were wearing long pants and cardigans. They noted it was very cold at some points like near the air vents and waterfall, then very hot at certain points. I think for young children, a cardigan or long-sleeve top, and preferably and jeans or long pants would be good. For adults, we were pretty comfortable in short-sleeved tops and jeans.
7) Would kids of all ages enjoy it?
Big E didn't enjoy it very much when we were there when she was around four years old as she was rather scared of loud noises (the waterfall was pretty loud) and heights (there is a cloud walk and tree-top walk in there, the highest being six-stories high).
But that said, I've seen young children happily walking around without any fear of the noise or height. In our latest visit, the girls were a little nervous at the cloud and treetop walks because of the height but they are able to stomach it.
But I do find that at primary-school-going age, and probably for some kindergarteners as well, they would be able to better appreciate some of the things there. Like my kids, now at eight and ten, would read about the plants there...
...while the elder one enjoyed the Cloud Forest Gallery (an interactive exhibition) and theatre as well.
8) Should we visit the other conservatories like The Flower Dome?
We only visited the Cloud Forest. The Flower Dome definitely had a much longer queue (at least about ten) waiting for their tickets to be checked when we arrived at 9am at the Cloud Forest. I can't really say much about the crowd inside The Flower Dome as we didn't go in there, but there are promotions if you purchase tickets for two conservatories at one go. We only decided on visiting Cloud Forest as we didn't intend to dine out (nope still not doing that) so we had to make it back home in time for lunch and we think the Cloud Forest's more exciting for the kids with the waterfall and cloud/treetop walk, but that's just a personal opinion.
9) Are there any promotions going on?
There is a six-month unlimited visit pass for visits to the Flower Dome and Cloud Forest which are available now at $20 for adults and $12 for children. We didn't get this but per entry tickets which after discounts were at $9 for adults and $6 for children (Singapore residents rate). I've never been big on long-term passes for attractions unless I'm absolutely sure we would want to re-visit many times and I also don't like to feel obliged to visit a place just to make my money's worth. But if you think you might like to revisit the place within six months, the six-month pass does look like a good deal. See ticketing at Gardens by the Bay for more details.
10) Are eateries and gift shops open?
Yes, they are open. See The Gardens by the Bay website for dining options and opening hours. But we didn't dine there. We left at around 1130am and had passed by McDonalds; all available tables were taken up of course (there is social distancing meaning some tables could not be occupied). Not all the gift shops are open but the one at Cloud Forest was and many items were at 50% off.
Btw you don't see many pics of us here, maybe it's just me but somehow with the masked faces, I find that the pics with us don't look so nice 😅 Anyway, we were all happy to be out finally 😆
Whether or not you decide to visit a local attraction, I think ultimately in this new norm, wherever we go, we just need to keep in mind about personal hygiene and be socially responsible. On our part, it's really the logical stuff like making sure we don't touch our eyes and faces, mask up, avoid touching surfaces unnecessarily, and when there are more people taking photos in a certain area, avoid it or wait for the crowd to clear before going over.
I think many local attractions and businesses are doing their parts to keep their premises clean like with regular disinfecting and limiting capacity, and if we are able to, we can try to support them. Have you visited any other attractions in Singapore so far during phase two? Do you take any extra precautions when doing so? 😊
Disclaimer: We paid for our tickets, and my opinions and reviews here are strictly my and my family’s own.
©Vivian Teo. All content and photos are copyrighted to Vivian Teo unless otherwise specified.