Yunnan Garden


As gardens of Singapore go, the Yunnan Garden is a relatively hidden gem; full of detail and waiting to be discovered!

Discover the Yunnan Garden

Yunnan Garden is a 9-acre Chinese garden situated in the heart of the Nanyang Technological University (NTU) campus, in far west Singapore. As a fairly new addition to Singapore’s long list of enticing gardens, Yunnan has remained a hidden gem since its grand opening, on February 13th 2020. However, it is steadily rising in popularity. Throughout the garden, visitors can discover Chinese architecture, winding trails, and a beautiful waterfall connected to the Nanyang Lake.

Reopening the Yunnan Garden

Although the Yunnan Garden has only recently officially opened up again to the public, it was actually established in the 1950s. The space was initially intended as a place of leisure and tranquillity for both local residents and the students of Nanyang University – the predecessor of the National University of Singapore (NUS). Gradually the Chinese-style garden became an iconic feature of the university, the only private institution conducting classes in Chinese at the time.

Following some much-needed revitalisation, the Yunnan Garden was reopened in 2020. Its renewal included a closer integration with the nearby Chinese Heritage Centre and the introduction of new garden features while preserving distinguished aspects like the 1960s Senegal Mahogany trees. Even as Nanyang University evolved into NUS, the Yunnan Garden has retained its purpose as a calming space for NTU students, residents, and staff. However, it isn’t simply filled with wandering intellectuals; the additional features make it fun for the whole family. There’s a spacious playground equipped with climbing nets, slides, and water fountains for children that also features gym equipment for adults.

The Waterfall and Nanyang Lake

Some of the Yunnan Garden’s new elements included a 5.6-meter flowing waterfall, a playground, and serene walkways around an expanded Nanyang Lake. The waterfall, adorned with large stones, actually brings the Nanyang Lake into the garden to be admired, and is teeming with colourful koi fish. It then leads water away into an artificial wetlands located in the lower garden. These wetlands are a haven for flora and fauna that form a stormwater management system, removing pollutants and purifying rainwater.

Boardwalk Trails at Yunnan Garden

Whilst the waterfall remains a scenic attraction, the easily accessible boardwalk trails are a highly popular draw of the park. There are a total of 19 trails to take at Yunnan Garden, from the Orchid Trail, to the Art and Literature Trail. They stretch to and from the pagodas, across the many different ponds, and even up to the waterfall viewing platform. They also slip down to ground level at different points to allow easy access to the garden. With QR codes along the way, providing screenfulls of information once scanned, there’s lots of learning to be done whilst exploring the peaceful space.

Yunnan Garden
- John Eggers

Heritage Monuments and Pavilions

Inspiration for the Yunnan Garden came from traditional Chinese gardens, which is why its design incorporates details like the Jurong West Nantah arch, the geometric layout of pathways, and the striking red pavilions. Each of these features contributes to a symbolic tip of the hat to Chinese inspiration and its heritage.

The Jurong West Nantah arch, despite being a replica, still provides an authentic touch for all photographs taken at Yunnan. Originally, the arch formed the entrance from the Old Upper Jurong Road to Nanyang University. Today it is an ode to a simpler time, and the university’s humble origins. It stands in the main garden among the other popular monuments like the red-roofed pavilions, and Nanyang University Memorial.

Botanical Diversity inside Yunnan Garden

As we mentioned, the trails bring visitors into contact with a range of different garden treasures, from pagodas to waterfalls. But there is also a variety of flora along the way that fit into the categories of the aptly named trails; Herbal Trail, Orchid Trail, Bio Active Trail. For example, along the Herbal Trail visitors can discover different types of herbs, and so on.

When the garden was recently revamped, more than 1,000 new trees, of around 80 different species, were planted at Yunnan. This greatly enriched the garden’s biodiversity. Other botanically diverse additions include the planting of a wide range of flora. From cosmetic and medicinal plants, to potatoes, celery, and other fruit and vegetables. The themed mini gardens, like the Butterfly Garden, introduce whole new ecosystems to Yunnan as well. As with Singapore, which is comprised of a plethora of cultures, religions, and traditions, the diversity in Yunnan Garden knows no bounds!

To discover other themed gardens in Singapore read our Butterfly Garden article. And for this one you, don't even have to leave the airport!

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Yunnan Garden Questions