By Desmond Simkimjin, a multi-talented playwright, businessman and food critic who teaches drama and creative writing to teens, and nurtures a love of painting.
Edited by Jessica Wright
Travelling with children can be a daunting experience, but in a city run as exceedingly well as Singapore it simply doesn’t get easier than this. A family trip to Singapore might feel like you’ve stepped into a dream; clean, efficient, convenient and safe it offers an Asian travel experience without the grunge and chaos of many of its counterparts. From a practical standpoint travelling Singapore with children checks all the boxes; efficient public transport and zero language barrier, the convenience of major public spaces being buggy-friendly and changing facilities that are widely available. As for the question of what to do in Singapore with kids, it’s easy to navigate with little babies and toddlers, endlessly entertaining for young children and a perfectly safe place to let your teenagers loose, Singapore is a wonderland waiting to captivate the imaginations of children of all ages. I personally have no children but even after decades in the Lion City, the beautiful beaches, gardens, the surreal futuristic structures, and endless entertainment choices never cease to make me feel like a kid. With so many things to do in Singapore with kids, and so many desirable kid friendly places, it’s a challenge to narrow it down, but I have tried my best!
Gardens by the bay
One of the many free family activities Singapore, Gardens by the Bay is a highly popular choice for what to do in Singapore with kids and will – like so much in Singapore – make you feel as though you’ve stepped through a wormhole and arrived decades in the future. The state-of-the-art green space shows a future-forward way of thinking about incorporating nature in society, with the gargantuan “supertree” structures that act as vertical gardens, aerial walkways and themed gardens including those which celebrate the Malay, Chinese and Indian cultural groups. While entrance into the park is free, some features an entrance fee such as the giant glass-domed flower and cloud forest conservatories. The cloud forest is a gargantuan dome that houses a 35 metre tall “mountain” complete with waterfall, suspended pathways and several layers and levels to explore. The glass dome effectively forms a micro-climate, one with blissfully cool air and tropical plant life not normally found in this region. The park can take a few hours to explore, and if you have time on your hands stick around for the nightly Rhapsody Sound and Light Show when the solar-energy harvesting towers, shaped like giant alien trees so iconic of Singapore, put on a harmonious and other-wordly light show.
Resorts World Sentosa
Resorts World Sentosa is so jam-packed with exciting adventures that you would need more than a month to get to everything. At the same time it is so firmly a must on my list of things to do in Singapore with kids that if your time in Singapore is limited I highly recommend you fit this one in; even if it is the only thing you do! Among kids activities Singapore, this comes out tops with several hotels, restaurants, shops and concerts to enjoy, not to mention the many themed parks that inhabit the island, including Universal Studios Singapore, S.E.A Aquarium, Dolphin Island and Adventure Cove Waterpark to name just a few. Universal Studios Singapore is one of the main attractions on the Island with exciting themed zones each featurings its own attractions, stores, restaurants and themed entertainment based on favourite blockbusters. A few of these include The Lost World, Ancient Egypt, Madagascar, Far Far Away – Shrek themed – Sci-Fi City and New York. Like any good amusement park, visitors are entertained at every turn, with street performers and themed decor to thrill even between events making for a most exciting family holiday in Singapore.
Also on Sentosa Island is the S.E.A Aquarium, a magical and entertaining endeavour to undertake with kids; one where the little know universe below the waves is brought to the fore in a vibrant and captivating way. One of the best indoor activities for toddlers in Singapore, you will be able to see all manner of sea creature up close and personal; from eels and jellyfish, to larger creatures such as dolphins and sharks. Other exciting features include undersea tunnels to navigate through the experience, touch tanks where kids can make contact with some of slippery and slimy things that inhabit the water, and aquariums under the floor. More thrilling adventures are to be had on Sentosa at Adventure Cove Waterpark with exciting water rides and if more you seek more naturally occurring waters, there are three beaches to choose from – Palawan, Siloso and Tanjong – each marketed for a different purpose. Palawan is great for families, and all beaches offer peaceful (and free) downtime between stimulating park excursions. Other water-themed adventures include the option to snorkel with fish, or visit Dolphin Island Marine Life Park where you can wade in to interact with stingrays and dolphins.
Of course if you feel your children are getting a little too accustomed to a life of luxury, you always have the option of setting them to work at KidZania; a mini world where children can sign up for jobs modelled on real-world jobs. Whether your child is destined to be a dental technician or the checkout at 7/11, at this educational “kid city” they will be able to experience their prospective career options and even get paid for their labor. Some of the more engaging displays include a mini-hospital where kids can practise their bedside manner and surgical skills. With so much to do and see you could consider staying on the island for a few days, but Singapore is comparatively quite small for such a thriving city, and getting around is really not a concern. Wherever you choose to stay, you can be sure you will not have far to travel to any of the given family activities singapore. There are some excellent places to stay in the city, and choosing where you set up base camp is merely a matter of personal preference.
Singapore Science Centre
Another popular one on the list of kids activities in Singapore, this monolithic science museum has plenty to keep the kids entertained and educated. An endless labyrinthe of rooms and educational areas that seem to go on and on, and outdoor exhibitions with live shows, this is another activity you might want to dedicate a decent amount of time to. If you don’t have hours and hours to spend exploring, I suggest you prioritise what you would most like to see. The internationally award-winning Science Centre is great for school-age kids and caters to a wide variety of scientific interests, even those which might be considered quite obscure such as the science of fear; explored by the Phobia² exhibition. More light-hearted exhibitions include the Butterflies Up-close – where you can witness the entire life-cycle of a butterfly from an egg to an adult – and Professor Crackitts Light Fantastic Mirror Maze, an infinite tangle of reflections and endless mirrored hallways. This is an ideal activity to those families travelling Singapore with tweens, but is an equally thrilling option for adults. For more grown-up Singaporean travel ideas ideas take a look at this great guide.
A winning option for where to go with toddlers in Singapore is the Singapore Zoo, but forget zoos as you have come to know them though because in true Singaporean fashion this park is a mind-blowing experience. Home to more than 2,800 animals from over 300 species of mammals, birds and reptiles the zoo is so ingeniously designed you might imagine there are no barriers between you and the animals. Tigers, lions, giraffes, and polar bears; you can expect all the familiar zoo favourites mixed in with more local fauna such as komodo dragons and orangutans. The park boasts an award-winning orangutan habitat and an internationally acclaimed experience between guests and the free-ranging orangutans. Other musts on the list of activities here include the the night or river safaris – highly recommended as one of the top things to do in Singapore with kids. As you will come to expect in any Singaporean establishment of note, the zoo is artfully organised with excellent wayfinding, so it’s easy to find any particular enclosure you might be interested in. The enclosures are spacious and lush, and offer views of content animals from multiple heights and angles and you can plan your visit around special events and feeding times dotted throughout the day.
Singapore Botanical Gardens
Another excellent free activity in Singapore, these beautiful gardens will keep your little ones entertained for hours on end, freeing you up for some well-earned rest and relaxation in a peaceful setting. The interactive Jacob Ballas Children's Garden, the largest children’s garden in Asia, promises to enthrall your littles complete with water-play feature, forest adventure playground, tree-top canopy and sandpit. Other fun activities in the botanical gardens include a leisurely stroll with swan spotting at Swan Lake, where you can gaze at white swans imported all the way from Holland, as well as a large bronze swan sculpture paying homage to the graceful birds. Themed guided tours of the gardens run each Saturday and are free of charge, while Symphony Lake features seasonal opera performances. A small fee can be paid to visit the crown-jewel of the park- the enchanting orchid gardens. If hours of adventures in the gardens leave you feeling a bit peckish there are several restaurants to choose from. In fact the gardens boast some of the nicest family friendly restaurants in Singapore.
Last but not least on the list of fun family entertainment is the 165 metre tall Singapore Flyer; a masterpiece of architecture and engineering. From this megastructure, Asia’s largest ferris wheel, you’ll have an absolutely breathtaking panoramic view that includes the mesmerising Singaporean cityscape, Marina Bay and even the surrounding islands of Indonesia and parts of Malaysia. As you can imagine this makes for a fantastic photo-op and with 30 minutes for a full rotation you’ll have plenty of time to get the perfect family portrait. While the view is exception by day, by night it is even better with magical views of the entire twinkling city in all its glory. Back on ground level shops, restaurants to browse and handy family friendly facilities.
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