Singapore is one of the world’s most kid-friendly cities and if it’s not on your list of places to take a family vacation, there are a number of reasons to consider it. Between experiencing a fascinating melting pot of culture and hub of world-renowned cuisine, parents definitely win too. Over the years, I’ve been lucky enough to experience Singapore multiple times with just my husband and twice now as a parent. If you’re visiting Singapore with kids, here are 12 things to do though there are plenty more. Be sure to book a long enough stay.
1. Night Safari
Singapore’s most famous attraction is the Night Safari. The name might imply that it’s geared toward kids only, but the evening hours and places to grab a cocktail before touring the park lend it to also being a popular date night venue. The Night Safari is the world’s first nocturnal zoo where the animal’s are free to roam between enclosures like a natural habitat (large animals are contained by cattle guards, for example). Arrive when it opens at 7:00pm and take the 45-minute narrated tram ride first to understand the park layout and see quite a few animals. Frankly, if the kids are tired after this (which is usually the case with my daughter who goes to bed at 8:00pm) that’s completely OK. Call it an evening. But if they still have stamina, try to see the Creatures of the Night show (check the website for dates and times) and walk into the bat enclosure. Read more about our experience at the Night Safari and our crazy stop at the fish spa inside.
2. Singapore Zoo
The Singapore Zoo is famous for an open concept where thousands of animals roam freely in the open. Explore zoo pathways and perhaps see an orangutan swinging overhead. Watch as a small kangaroo hops just a few feet in front of you as it crosses into another enclosure. It’s truly amazing. The majestic white tigers (contained by a moat) are my favorite. The lush rainforest foliage is stunning and, thankfully, provides some shade as you explore (more on Singapore’s weather at the end of this post). If your kids can’t handle a full day at the zoo, make sure to study the zoo’s schedule online. Quite a few animal feedings and even elephant rides happen in the afternoon while Jungle Breakfast with Wildlife is a fun morning event that allows a photo opp with orangutans. We’ve done the latter and I recommend it highly.
3. River Safari
We haven’t yet been to the new River Safari, a river-themed zoo and aquarium, but it’s on our list for our next Singapore family vacation. I’ve heard the river boat rides are a highlight. The park is divided into 10 different eco-systems around the world from the Mississippi River to the Yangtze River. Over 5000 animals call the River Safari home with a number of them endangered species such as the Giant Panda and Chinese alligators.
4. Jurong Bird Park
Simply put, our recent experience at the Jurong Bird Park was greatly enhanced by booking the private Feeding Frenzy tour (click for a review of our experience) because my daughter got to feed some pretty unusual birds while learning all sorts of interesting tidbits provided by our guide. The park is easy to navigate, we enjoyed the High Flyers show, ate a delicious lunch of local cuisine and took pictures with parrots. It’s perfect for a half-day.
5. Universal Studios
Since we are so close to Universal Studios in Los Angeles, we’ve always skipped it in Singapore in lieu of the Wildlife Reserves Singapore parks. However, 18 of the 24 rides and attractions are unique to Universal Studios Singapore and attractions based on Shrek and Madagascar probably appeal to young kids. The park is divided into seven themed zones surrounding a lagoon that are based on TV shows or big movies. Character appearances are scattered throughout. I’ve been advised in the past to purchase tickets in advance as they limit the amount sold to control crowding.
6. Singapore Flyer
Step on board the world’s largest Ferris wheel for a birds eye, 360° view of Singapore and even parts of Malaysia and Indonesia. Yes, the Singapore Flyer is bigger than the London Eye. Bring your camera as the ride lasts about 30 minutes. It’s located at Marina Bay, where the famed Marina Bay Sands Resort is so plan time for #7 below.
7. Sands SkyPark And ArtScience Museum
The Sands SkyPark and ArtScience Museum are a part of the Marina Bay Sands Resort. The SkyPark is the flat area seen at the top that appears to hold the three taller buildings together. It stretches longer than the Eiffel tower is tall and it’s as long as 4.5 A380 jumbo jets. The museum, shaped like a lotus, is in front of the SkyPark complex and has a bunch of interactive exhibits that tie science and art together over 21 galleries. It rains a lot in Singapore (it’s the rainforest, after all) so rainwater caught by the top of the building floats into a cylindrical waterfall that is re-directed for use in the museum’s washrooms.
8. Marine Life Park
Marine Life Park on Sentosa Island houses three major family attractions. S.E.A. Aquarium is home to 800 species of marine animals including 200 sharks. It’s the world’s largest aquarium, as accredited by GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS. For thrilling waterslides, a wave pool and Southeast Asia’s first hydro-magnetic coaster, head to Adventure Park. Or, swim with Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins at Dolphin Island.
9. MegaZip Adventure Park
Home to some of the most extreme zip lines in Asia, an aerial rope course and a free-fall simulator, MegaZip on Sentosa Island is fun for older kids who would like to zip over rainforest and the beach. This is now one of Singapore’s most popular attractions. After you’re done pushing boundaries, chill on Siloso Beach (see below).
10. Go To The Beach
Why not take a dip in calm waters off of Sentosa Island? The sand is pretty and it’s a fabulous way to cope with the sometimes scorching weather. With its cool restaurants, bars, beach rentals and other conveniences, Siloso Beach is perhaps the most popular. Locals and tourists flock to kayak, play a pick-up game of volleyball, or take a walk. We spent the night at the Shangri-la Rasa Sentosa Resort here a few years ago and my then 4-year-old loved Siloso beach so much I couldn’t get her to explore anything else on the island, as mentioned in my post about our stay on Sentosa Island.
11. iFly Singapore
There’s no need to jump out of a plane! Try indoor skydiving at iFly Singapore where a wind tunnel propels you up into the air for a panoramic view of the South China Sea and Siloso Beach. Gear rental is included as is professional training and guidance from certified instructors. And, it’s much less expensive than jumping out of a plane!
Singapore is where my 6-year-old daughter developed a love of nasi goreng, laksa and other regional dishes that aren’t common here in Southern California. Aside from shopping, eating is widely considered the second most popular Singaporean national pastime. If your waistband and budget allow for a hotel Sunday brunch (see our Easter brunch at The Ritz-Carlton Millenia Singapore), make that your main meal. In the meantime, experience the famous hawker centers, such as Maxwell Hawker Centre pictured above for an outstanding meal in the neighborhood of $5-$10 USD. Loads of rice and fresh fruit is available for picky kids, but do indulge in Hainanese chicken rice, known as simply chicken rice, and other local favorites.
Family Hotels in Singapore
Even before my daughter was born, our two hotels of choice were the Four Seasons Hotel Singapore and The Regent, also a Four Seasons Hotel. They are located just a few minutes walk from each other near the heart of Orchard Road, a mecca for shopping enthusiasts like me. I highly recommend either as a base for a successful Singapore family vacation. The historic Raffles Hotel is where the Singapore Sling (click for their recipe) was invented and is another option for a luxury family hotel. My husband’s boss was partial to the Shangri-la because his kids like the swimming pool. There are plenty of choices.
Other Tips For Visiting Singapore With Kids
Singapore is nestled at the tip of the Malay peninsula and is a metropolis that has risen in the middle of a rainforest. This means that the climate year-round is actually fairly stable, but this means it’s hot, humid and rainy. Umbrellas are a necessity as is sunscreen and bug spray. The humidity tends to tire out kids prematurely so keep that in mind when planning itineraries if you’re not used to that sort of climate. The Singapore Zoo, Night Safari, River Safari, and Jurong Bird Park are all a part of Wildlife Singapore Reserves which means you can purchase bundled tickets online that will both save month and time waiting in line to enter the park.
Singapore is small, but don’t make the mistake of not booking a long enough holiday because there is so much to do! Have a question about things to do in Singapore with kids? Just ask.
Photo credits: Night Safari, Singapore Tourism Board; Singapore Flyer, Singapore Tourism Board – Photographer- Mori Hidetaka; Maxwell Hawker Centre, Singapore Tourism Board