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30 things to do in Singapore with kids

With Singapore likely to be one of the first countries Australians will be able to visit thanks to its success combating COVID-19, MARIANNE ROGERSON reveals 30 fun family experiences in the island city-state

the artscience museum
The ArtScience Museum

1. SINGAPORE ZOO

A visit to Singapore with kids wouldn’t be complete without a trip to the Singapore Zoo. Often regarded as one of the best zoos in the world, the Singapore Zoo is set in a natural rainforest setting with spacious landscaped enclosures. Don’t miss Breakfast with the Orangutans – the perfect start to your day.

2. JURONG BIRD PARK

Asia’s largest bird park houses over 3,500 birds from over 400 species and is set in a beautifully landscaped park. Visit the world’s largest walk-in aviary, feed the Loris, Ostriches and Pelicans and watch the fun shows, including Birds n Buddies Show and the Thunderstorm Experience.

3. SEA AQUARIUM

sea aquarium
Sea Aquarium

There is an amazing variety of sea creatures to see at the SEA Aquarium in Resorts World Sentosa – over 800 species are represented across the 49 different habitats. With over 100,000 marine creatures in all, it is hard not to be impressed – especially when you reach the grand finale: the Open Ocean – a panoramic marine vista complete with manta rays, sharks, and goliath grouper.

4. NIGHT SAFARI

A visit to the ever-popular Night Safari, gives you the rare opportunity to get up close and personal with hundreds of exotic nocturnal animals in their natural habitat. Nestled in 40 hectares of lush secondary forest, subtle lighting facilitates the viewing of more than 1,000 nocturnal animals from 120 different species in the tropical jungle.

5. UNIVERSAL STUDIOS SINGAPORE

Enter the world of movie magic at Southeast Asia’s only Universal Studios theme park at Resorts World Sentosa. Meet some of your favourite movie characters, while riding movie-themed rides and roller coasters. Fun!

6. ADVENTURE COVE WATERPARK

adventure cove water park
Adventure Cove water park

Adventure Cove Waterpark is where thrill seekers go to get wet and wild. Six waterslides include the Riptide Rocket, Southeast Asia’s first hydro-magnetic roller coaster (a slide that takes riders upwards), while a wave pool and the 620m-long Adventure River inner tube ride add to the fun.

7. SENTOSA BEACHES

Tanjong, Palawan and Siloso Beaches line the southern coast of Sentosa Island, and are where you need to head to when you’re in need of some beach action. Here you will find some cool beach bars, plenty of palm trees and lots of sand for building sandcastles.

8. SINGAPORE BOTANIC GARDENS

a waterfall in singapore botanic gardens
A waterfall in Singapore Botanic Gardens

Head to the Botanic Gardens to enjoy some peace and tranquility. There is a huge variety of lakes, fountains and sculpture gardens as well as plenty of well-manicured lawns to run around, paths to scoot on, and turtles to feed. Don’t miss the beautiful Orchid Garden, and also the dedicated Jacob Ballas Children’s Garden complete with tree house and water play areas.

9. GARDENS BY THE BAY

The super trees of Gardens by the Bay are one of Singapore’s most iconic attractions and the gardens are also home to over a quarter of a million rare plants. Two climate-controlled conservatories make for a welcome break from Singapore’s heat and humidity. The highlight for the kids is the fabulous water play area (closed on Mondays). Don’t miss the nightly light shows.

10. AFTERNOON TEA AT RAFFLES

afternoon tea at raffles
Afternoon tea at Raffles

It’s not cheap, but indulging in a Raffles Hotel afternoon tea is a real treat for the whole family. Tuck into scones, sandwiches and pastries in decadent surroundings and to the accompaniment of a live harpist. End the experience with a Singapore Sling in the famous Raffles Long Bar, where the kids will love the novelty of eating peanuts and tossing their shells on the floor.

11. SINGAPORE CABLE CAR

One of the most fun ways to get to Sentosa is by Cable Car. Start at Harbourfront to ride up to Mount Faber and take in the views at the top, before re-boarding the cable car to take the 12-minute journey across Keppel Harbour to Sentosa. The Sentosa Line then takes you onward towards all the attractions of Sentosa at Merlion Station, Imbiah Lookout and Siloso Point.

12. PULAU UBIN

Just a 10-minute boat ride from Changi, Pulau Ubin lets you step back in time to a Singapore from fifty years ago. Hire bikes on arrival (children’s bikes and baby seats are available) and head to the Chek Jawa Wetlands – one of Singapore’s richest ecosystems, where you can explore the mangroves and coast via boardwalks, and climb the lookout tower. Getting there via bumboat is half the fun.

13. WET MARKETS

the little india wet market
The Little India wet market

For an authentic shopping experience away from the organised calm of the air-conditioned malls, head down to a local wet market to take in the sights and sounds of local Singapore. This is a great introduction to local fruits, vegetables and seafood for kids. The Tekka Market in Little India is a popular one, and don’t miss the live frogs and turtles in the wet market in the basement of the Chinatown Complex.

14. HAWKER CENTRE

Having a meal at a Hawker Centre – the city’s version of street food – is one of the culinary highlights of Singapore. There are Hawker Centres all over Singapore, but Lau Pa Sat in the heart of the CBD and Makansutra Gluttons Bay next to the Esplanade Theatre are two popular choices with visitors.  

15. CHINESE GARDEN

Jump on the MRT and head west and you will find the beautifully presented Chinese Garden. Pack a picnic and enjoy the sprawling lawns, rainbow bridges, arch buildings, pagodas and koi ponds. Don’t miss the fabulous Bonsai garden.

16. CHINATOWN

shop for souvenirs in chinatown
Shop for souvenirs in Chinatown

Chinatown is one of the most popular areas of Singapore with tourists, thanks to its beautifully preserved shophouses, souvenir stalls and abundance of places of worship to admire. It’s a great place to shop for souvenirs with street stalls along Pagoda and Trengannu streets. There are some great bargains to be had.

17. LITTLE INDIA

A wander through Little India will have you wondering whether you are in Delhi rather than Singapore. This most vibrant and colourful part of Singapore houses several spectacular temples and bustling shops selling everything from gold jewellery to Hindi music CDs, cheap clothing and souvenirs. The Tekka Centre houses one of the best wet markets in Singapore.

18. MACRITCHIE RESERVOIR

an aerial view of macritchie reservoir park. image by darren soh
An aerial view of MacRitchie Reservoir Park. Image: Darren Soh

The primary rainforest of the MacRitchie Reservoir is home to more than 840 flowering plant and 500 animal species and there are several hiking trails and boardwalks to choose from. The highlight is the TreeTop Walk, a free-standing 250m long suspension bridge which gives you a bird’s eye view from its 25m high position. It’s an 11km round walk to get to though, so not for the really little ones!

19. HAW PAR VILLA

This strange and surreal statue garden in the West of Singapore is filled with hundreds of multi-coloured statues and tableaux depicting Chinese myths and legends. Photo opportunities abound for snap-happy mums and dads. The highlight is undoubtedly the 10 Courts of Hell, depicting scenes of bloodthirsty torture, which of course may not be suitable for younger children…

20. RIVER CRUISE

a singapore river cruise in a bumboat
A Singapore River cruise in a bumboat

A boat ride along the Singapore River is one of the best ways to take in the sights of the Colonial District, Marina Bay and the Quays. Board the boat in either Robertson Quay or Marina Bay (near Merlion Park) to ride the whole river and enjoy the views.

21. FORT SILOSO 

Head to Fort Siloso on Sentosa Island to experience life as a soldier in the 1880s and in World War II. The sole surviving coastal fort in Singapore is now a museum dedicated to the memory of soldiers who lost their lives trying to defend Singapore. The museum is visited via self-guided tour, with waxwork models and audio recordings bringing the scenes to life. Kids will be wowed by the 6-inch gun crew in action.

22. CHINATOWN HERITAGE CENTRE

The Chinatown Heritage Centre celebrates the early Chinatown residents and depicts the difficulties they faced. Divided between the maze-like warrens of three restored shophouses, the exhibitions explore the harsh conditions that forced many Chinese migrants to flee their home country in search of a better life in Singapore.

23. NATIONAL MUSEUM OF SINGAPORE 

the national museum
The National Museum

If you only have time to visit one museum in Singapore make it the fabulous National Museum of Singapore, to give you an overview of the history of the country. Starting in the 14th century, the exhibitions take you through the arrival of Sir Stamford Raffles and his influence, the difficult times of World War II and the Japanese occupation, and on to the building of modern Singapore. There’s plenty of hands-on activity, flashing lights and attractive presentations to keep the kids happy.

24. NATIONAL GALLERY SINGAPORE

Set in the beautifully restored City Hall and Former Supreme Court buildings, the National Gallery houses 8,000 artworks – the largest public collection of modern art in Southeast Asia. Look out for the striped wall labels, which have been specially written for families and kids. Check their website for the regular family programmes, which include storytelling, workshops and activities.

25. CAPTAIN EXPLORER DUKW TOUR

Much more fun than a standard open-top bus tour, the Captain Explorer DUKW Tour takes you on an adventure aboard an authentic revamped Vietnam War-era vehicle. You begin the tour with a drive around some of the city’s landmarks in the colonial district – Padang, City Hall, Esplanade – before splashing down into Marina Bay for views of the Merlion and the Singapore Flyer.

26. SINGAPORE FLYER

the singapore flyer
The Singapore Flyer

The Singapore Flyer was the world’s tallest observation wheel until the High Roller opened in Las Vegas on 31 March 2014. Regardless of its superlative status, the Singapore Flyer still stands at 165m tall – the height of a 42-storey building – and offers fabulous views across Singapore and the surrounding islands.

27. MEGAZIP ADVENTURE PARK

There is plenty to keep adrenaline junkies happy at MegaZip Adventure Park on Sentosa. The MegaZip flying fox whizzes you 450 metres over the jungle canopy before depositing you on Siloso beach, while Climbmax is an aerial obstacle course of wobbly bridges, cargo nets and tightropes set high amongst the trees. There’s also ParaJump, a free-fall parachute simulator, and MegaBounce – trampolining with secured elasticated ropes.

28. RIVER SAFARI

see a panda at river safari
See a panda at River Safari

Tucked in between the Singapore Zoo and the Night Safari, the River Safari offers a wildlife experience inspired by the world’s most iconic rivers. Housing over 6,000 animals, the River Safari is home to the world’s largest freshwater aquarium and also features beavers, crocodiles, tapirs, squirrel monkeys and more. The highlight for many is the Giant Panda Forest, home to Singapore’s two resident Giant Pandas, Jia Jia and Kai Kai.

29. ARTSCIENCE MUSEUM

This museum-cum-art gallery at Marina Bay Sands hosts an impressive line-up of international touring exhibitions from art and science; media and technology; and design and architecture. The permanent exhibition, Future World, is always a hit with the kids but keep your eye on their visiting exhibition programme too. Visit on a Friday, and up to 4 children under the age of 12 go free with every adult ticket purchased.

30. BUDDHA TOOTH RELIC TEMPLE AND MUSEUM

the buddha tooth relic temple
The Buddha Tooth Relic Temple

The magnificent Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum is located in the heart of Chinatown. Try to visit when a daily ceremony is taking place in the 100 Dragons Hall on the ground floor to hear the monks chanting. The museum itself will be above the heads of most children, but the magnificence of the golden room surrounding the Sacred Buddha Tooth Relic Chamber should inspire some awe, and you can set them to work counting all of the Buddha statues in the Ten Thousand Buddhas Pavilion on the roof.

singapore with kids book cover

This is an edited extract from Singapore with Kids: The Ultimate Travel Guide for Families by Marianne Rogerson, which is available in paperback and as an e-book on Amazon.

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