Photo by Unsplash

Experience Cambodia in Singapore in this vibrant floral exhibit

Gardens by the Bay holds an “Orchids of Angkor Wat” display until September 8. 

Haven’t been to Cambodia but going to Singapore soon? Then you can hit two destinations with just one plane ticket!

Gardens by the Bay brings the mystique of Cambodia’s best known attraction to humid Singapore in its ongoing “Orchids of Angkor Wat” display. Aside from a glimpse of the splendor of the largest religious structure in the world, you will also be treated to over 50 species and hybrids of vibrant Cambodian orchids.

Gardens by the Bay’s Cloud Forest. Photo from Unsplash

In this inaugural collaboration with the Royal Embassy of Cambodia in Singapore, “Orchids of Angkor Wat” in Gardens by the Bay’s Cloud Forest shines the spotlight on the mesmerizing beauty of Cambodian orchids, highlighting why they captured the imagination of the kingdom across centuries—and even the world beyond.  

A sacred symbol of nobility

Unknown to many, orchids are beloved in Cambodia because they were revered by the ancient Khmer Empire as symbols of nobility and as “hallmarks of religious beliefs.” So well loved were these flowers that they were featured in carvings at Angkor Wat. 

Orchids are well loved in Cambodia because they were revered by the ancient Khmer Empire as symbols of nobility and hallmarks of religious beliefs. Photos from the Gardens by the Bay on Instagram

In Gardens by the Bay, one of Singapore’s most distinct tourist attractions, the floral display features an impressive collection of orchid species native to Cambodia as well as their hybrids. The flower exhibit is made even more stunning against an Angkor Wat backdrop. Amid the landscape are local wildlife such as the Asian elephant and the Kouprey, or forest ox, according to the official Gardens by the Bay website.

A recreation of Angkor Wat

The centerpiece of the “Orchids of Angkor Wat” exhibition is a 3.5-meter-tall recreation of Angkor Wat, surrounded by palm trees — Cambodia’s national tree — and, of course, a dizzying array of colorful orchids. 

With this exhibit, you can also experience what it must be like to walk through Angkor Thom—the most enduring capital city of the Khmer Empire—with devas or gods lining the walkway. The hypnotic stone sculptures are juxtaposed against a variety of orchids, making for Insta-worthy shots. The replica sculptures, representing ancient Khmer architecture and culture, are surrounded by white orchids with yellow and orange centers, creating a stark contrast against the purple orchids in the background. 

The exhibit lets you imagine what it must be like walking through Angkor Thom, the most enduring of the Khmer empire’s capital.

The exhibition further includes five stone replicas depicting scenes from Cambodian architecture, on loan from Artisans Angkor, showcasing people’s daily lives and the deities of Cambodia during the Khmer Empire of centuries past.

“The display showcases a stunning replica of the Angkor Wat Temple and sculptures representing Cambodia’s ancient Khmer architecture and culture,” said the Cambodian Embassy to Singapore, as quoted in an article on The Phnom Penh Post.

Over 50 species and hybrids of vibrant Cambodian orchids are on display.

“It also features sculptures of some of the diverse wildlife in Cambodia, including the Asian elephant and the Kouprey, a remarkably rare forest ox, adorned with exotic Cambodian orchids.”

This harmonious blend of art and nature encapsulates the spirit of the Kingdom’s unique and lasting heritage.

A rich biodiversity

The exhibition opened on May 17 as a collaboration between the Cambodian embassy in Singapore and Gardens by the Bay. 

Ambassador Sok Khoeun emphasized the event’s significance in promoting Cambodia and strengthening Cambodia-Singapore relations, as per the same article. He mentioned during the inauguration that Cambodia’s Angkor Wat and Singapore’s Gardens by the Bay are two of the most visited places in Southeast Asia, with the former ranked first and the latter at second.

The “Orchids of Angkor Wat” exhibit aims to inspire visitors to travel to Cambodia.

Part of the 50+ orchid species on display is the exotic slipper orchids and the popular hybrid Vandachostylis. The Dendrobium Adastra, with its drooping blooms that resembles a “waterfall of flowers,” is another highlight.

The orchids displayed at “Orchids of Angkor Wat” include species that are native to Cambodia, or hybrids that can trace their roots back to orchids from the Kingdom, as per the Gardens by the Bay’s media team. These are proof of the rich biodiversity of the country.

The opening ceremony featured Cambodian cultural performances, including the traditional Moni Mekhala dance. 

Despite being home to such a diverse variety of orchids, however, it is believed that only slightly more than half of the 500 species in Cambodia have been documented. According to Cambodia’s Center for Biodiversity Conservation, as of February 2023, they have collected 210 types, but have just identified 119 and the remaining 91 have not been identified.

“Angkor Wat is one of the most visited attractions in Asia, and we are honored to partner with the embassy of Cambodia in Singapore to recreate this majestic landmark at Gardens by the Bay, while also introducing visitors to Cambodia’s rich orchid heritage,” Ambassador Sok Khoeun said, as quoted by the gardens’ media team.

The “Orchids of Angkor Wat” display promises to be a major attraction, drawing visitors to Gardens by the Bay and inspiring many to explore the real Angkor Wat in Cambodia.

The exhibit runs until September 8. Admission is part of the Cloud Forest fee.

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