There is so much fun to be had for families in Singapore - after four days, Aana Marinovich and her family still had a long list of must-sees for next time!
Our younger kids have always struggled with the hustle and bustle of Asian cities, even though we all love the food, and we love the culture... They become a bit overwhelmed in between. Well, no such worries in Singapore! This city is unbelievably clean and functional. Pathways are wide, toilets are spotless, transport is easy, and there is a long list of must-see and do activities.
Theme parks and Island fun
There are seven different zones, all with movie based themes (our kids’ fave was Jurassic Park), so if you’re there in peak time (July to October) I recommend fast passes so you don’t miss anything. Plenty here for the littlies as well.
Adventure Cove Waterpark
A cool place to hang out on a hot Singapore day. Rides for all ages, a massive wave pool, water maze, splash challenges, and the big bucket treehouse. Our kids loved the river float through the stingray aquarium.
A great place to base yourself if you’re planning a few activity-packed days.
It’s a beautiful lush jungle setting with tropical trees and wide pathways – great for walking and with prams. We decided to have breakfast with the orangutans and go on the night safari to see the animals when they come to life in the cool of the evening (better
for older kids and night owls).
Treetop Walk (free)
You’ll burn up some energy with this naturalistic walk through MacRitchie Forest. Near the end, you’ll cross a 250m suspension bridge (25m high) and meet the resident monkeys, who are cheeky to the extreme. Not pram-friendly and challenging with a front pack, so recommended for over-eights.
Art and Culture
Pulau Ubin (via 10 minute bumboat ride for $3)
We loved the natural setting of this old-style Singapore island for an easy day of cycling around on wide pathways or little bush tracks and eating at the local seafood cafes.
ArtScience Museum/Future world
An unexpected, hands-down favourite for all of us. Here, art meets science in a collaboration between an architect, engineer, computer programmer, and artist. It’s almost too hard to explain, except to say that you feel like you’re wandering through a digital painting of life, and it will mesmerise your kids for ages. Arrive early and enjoy it with no crowds.
Chinatown and Heritage Centre
Chinatown has something for everyone, and the kids love all of the cheap little trinkets the market has to offer (perfect place to get gifts for their friends) and, of course, the food. Definitely visit Chinatown Heritage Centre, a boutique-style museum offering kid-friendly displays, movies, and information about the tough conditions for the early Chinese immigrants in Singapore.
Gardens By the Bay
This would have to be at the top of the list for most families. There are two massive garden domes to explore, but with kids, make sure you prioritise The Cloud Forest. This 35m indoor mountain cloaked in vegetation has waterfalls, floating mist, twisting walkways, and peep holes. The Lego garden is amazing. The Flower Dome is also incredible and, of course, the Supertrees outside are a man-made work of art, with suspended walkways to get the aerial perspective, and then every night, there is a spectacular music and light show between all of the trees. Take something to lie on, and enjoy the show!
Pathways are wide, bathrooms are super clean and there are plenty of food options for all tastes. Children are safe in Singapore, and medical care is easily available. The general temperature outside can be very hot and humid, so plan for inside or water-play options during the hot afternoons.
Oh, the food!
The food in Singapore is fantastic, and best of all, it’s so international you simply never get sick of it. Mix it up and enjoy Malay, Chinese, Indian, and Western (and there’s plenty of other offerings if little fussy tastes prevail).
Best Western eats for kids:
Bergs Burgers on East Coast Road
Coastes on Sentosa Island
The Mind Café for board game fun while eating
PS Café at Dempsey Hill
Hawker markets (great for kids)
East Coast Lagoon Food Village (seafood and satay and best on weekend evenings)
Boon Tat Street – Singapore’s famous Satay Street
Chinatown Food Street (24 hawker stalls of Chinese food)
TIP: Give the kids $10 each to buy their own dinner at the Hawker Food Markets. They’ll be well fed and will love the freedom to make their own culinary choices.
Singapore Cable Car over to Sentosa
Get a birds’ eye view over Singapore and swoop right through the middle of a high rise building on the journey. Don’t forget to check out the loos at the base of Mount Faber with their enormous glass picture windows (aptly named peek-a-loos). faberpeaksingapore.com
For general sightseeing, you get a fantastic perspective of the architecture and sights via a bumboat ride around the harbour, and the kids will have more fun. clarkequay.com.sg
Public transport is the way to go! Buses, trains, and taxis in Singapore are easy and affordable, whereas hiring a car and parking is quite costly.
Orchard Road (tweens and teens will love the 313@Somerset Mall), Haji Lane, and Vivo City. For little gifts and trinkets, wander through Chinatown or Little India.
Where to stay
The York is close to Orchard Road, and is a great central spot for families. It’s very close to the hospital (not to be pessimistic, but I was secretly pleased to see that), with spacious and very nice family rooms, a pool, hot tub, and lovely little restaurant. Shopping at your doorstep! Village Hotel Katong is set in the more historic area of Katong, close to the Ferry and the Joo Chiat district, famous for great food and colourful traditional houses. The hotel's restaurant and rooms have a lovely Peranakan vibe, and with a recent refurb blending Chinese with Malay, Indian, Arab, and European decor.
Go to yoursingapore.com for details of all activities, food, and shopping.
Very impressive!: The Lotus building (Actually... All of the amazing architecture)
Magical: Downloading the app to create a shooting star through the Universe in Future World. Wow!
Treat: The desserts at PS Café
Freedom: Wandering around and choosing our own dinner in the hawker markets.
Scary: When the monkeys tried to steal food from my brother's back pack on the Treetop Walk
Fun: Snorkelling in the tropical rainbow aquarium with 20,000 fish
Laugh: Checking out the baboons’ backsides (seriously!)
Disaster: Watching Mum fall off her bicycle in Pulau Ubin (while filming us)
We travelled via Singapore Airlines, and if you have kids, this is a great way to go. The staff are so polite and lovely, that even with those inevitable moments we all have with kids on a plane, we never felt under stress. We just love that Singaporean serenity. The kids are well catered for, with personal built-in screens (seriously, how did families travel long-haul before this invention!), activity bags, children’s meals, and a constant supply of snacks and drinks. Very regular flight options from Auckland, Wellington, and Christchurch, which you can check out at singaporeair.com.
Club med is close...
An easy 45-minute trip away is Club Med in Bintan, which our kids decided was the happiest place they’d ever been. Seriously, you will never see your kids so quickly entrenched in the joys of resort life as you will here. The Gentle Organisers (GOs) are 20-somethings from all over the world, and are there to play, laugh, and organise events. Kids love them, and we parents did too. We played everything you can imagine, including tennis, badminton, beach volleyball, water polo, flour bombing, ping pong, snorkelling, canoeing, sailing, and beach yoga. Best of all, everything is included, even all of the fabulous food and beverages. Basically mocktails (and cocktails) on tap – it couldn't be better! clubmed.com