“Is there really that much to do there?” That was the question people repeatedly asked me when I said I was going to do Singapore with kids.
The answer? Yes!
Many people still think of Singapore as a stopover destination. Or they don’t believe you could spend more than a few days in the country without getting bored.
We spent six days in the city on our family trip – and it still wasn’t enough to see everything.
So, what can you do in Singapore with kids?
Here’s my list which includes one local secret that my kids still rave about.
What kid doesn’t love a themepark? Universal Studios Singapore is inside Resorts World on Sentosa Island. It features 28 rides, shows and attractions in seven themed zones.
Little ones will love meeting the Minions and Dianna from Jurassic Park. Go for a ride in crate just like Alex the lion and friends on the Madagascar Crate Adventure. Keep an eye out for Shrek as you spin through bubbling vats at the magic potion spin ride. And join Elmo on the Spaghetti sauce chase through New York.
Older thrill-seekers will find plenty of adrenaline-inducing rides at Universal Studios. Battlestar Galactica: Human versus Cyclon is the world’s tallest duelling rollercoaster. The accelerator is fast spinning, whirling pod ride that will have teens going back for more. While Transformers takes you on a virtual reality race to save the planet.
Where: Resorts World Sentosa.
I’m not normally a fan of visiting zoos around the world, but Singapore Zoo is different. The real focus of this zoo is on conservation. At breakfast with the orangutans, families can eat a buffet breakfast while the keepers feed the animals and talk about their efforts to continue the health of the species. My son loved holding a snake and asking questions about its habitat. My daughter was not so keen.
She did like the seal show. The seals show off their tricks as the keepers tell guests about natural instincts and habitats. At the end of the show, the seal may splash you.
Sprinklers spray a cool mist of water over the paths to keep guests cool. The kids ran in and out of them all day. Singapore Zoo also has a waterpark so bring your swimmers and a towel. Expect to spend a whole day here. Take the kids on the river safari and you can get up close and personal with manatees.
Where: 80 Mandai Lake Rd, Singapore
Adventure Cove Waterpark
In Singapore, you’re never far from a waterpark. Our favourite is Adventure Cove on Sentosa. The Duelling Racer is great for competitive families. Grab a mat and race each other down high-speed timed waterslide. You may need to do “best out of five”. The Riptide Rocket is Southeast Asia’s first hydro-magnetic coaster. Think of it as an intense rollercoaster on water. Expect powerful climbs, plunging drops and terrifying twists.
Adventure Cove has plenty to do for kids who like their water-play more chilled out. Head to Adventure River for a lazy ride through the aquarium. Families can snorkel with 20,000 tropicl figh on a coral reef. Splashworks has a ninja course set up over water and the wet maze will surprise you with dumps of water.
Where: Resorts World Sentosa
Sentosa Cable Car
The Singapore Cable Car provides an aerial link between Mount Faber on Singapore’s main island to the resort island of Sentosa. The cable car offers stunning views of Singapore Harbour and is a great way to get your bearings. Each of the 67 cable car cabins fits eight people. Some of the cabins have glass bottoms.
Where: Tower 2, 1 Harbourfront Ave, Keppel Bay Tower
Get the best view of Singapore on board the Singapore Flyer. This giant Ferris-wheel stands at 165m tall with a diameter of 150 metres.
Each rotation takes about 30 minutes. Each capsule carries 28 passengers for a birds-eye view over the entire island. An interactive screen inside the capsule gives passengers information on Singapore’s history, culture and landmarks. This is a great activity to do early on in your trip to get your bearings. Or at the end of the trip to see all the places you have been.
The first flight is at 8.30am and the last flight is at 10.15pm. Guests can upgrade to a premium champagne flight or a private capsule.
Where: 30 Raffles Ave, Singapore
The awesome treehouse at Singapore Botanic Gardens. Picture: Alison Godfrey
Singapore’s Botanic Gardens has huge tree houses for kids to climb into, logs to scramble over and winding paths to explore. Pack your swimmers and a picnic. You should expect to spend a whole morning here.
Little kids will love the sandpit playgrounds, the splashing water fountains and the suspension bridge. Dip your toes into the water from the floating platform, explore the caves and indulge your senses in the sensory garden. The hardest part of Singapore’s Botanic Gardens is getting the kids to leave.
Where: 1 Cluny Rd, Singapore
Orto (formerly Bottle Tree Park) Shhh – secret
A Singapore ex-pat told me about this fantastic park. We made sure we included it on our itinerary as she said it was her children’s favourite place to go. I’m so glad we did.
At Orto, kids can wander around streams and ponds with a fishing rod or net and try their hand at catching goldfish. As you get more confident at fishing, try the bigger ponds. The bigger the pond – the bigger the fish.
Orto also has a new trampoline park and a paintball centre. Just in case the kids tire of fishing.
Where: 81 Lorong Chencharu Singapore
Tanjong Beach Club
Along the beachfront at Sentosa, you’ll find a bunch of kid-friendly beach clubs. We loved the Tanjong Beach Club. Pull up a lounge, a cocktail and a bite to eat. As you relax the kids can swim in the club pool or play on the sand on the beach. Warning – unattended children will be given Redbull super soakers. Or so the “Pool Rules” sign says.
Where: 120 Tanjong Beach Walk Sentosa.
Gardens By The Bay
You can’t go to Singapore without checking out the Supertrees. These man-made structures are covered in greenery and light up spectacularly at night. A walkway connects the Supertrees and offers a stunning view of the city. But be warned – kids who are afraid of heights might find this walk challenging.
The Cloud Forest can be found in the huge Gardens By The Bay domes. This misty garden has a towering indoor waterfall and beautiful tropical gardens to explore. Climb to the top of the waterfall for a spectacular view through the water over the indoor forest below.
Where: 18 Marina Gardens Dr, Singapore 018953
Hawker Centre Food
Singapore’s Hawker Centre stalls are a cheap and tasty dinner option. The government grades the stalls according to strict standards and regulations. Look for the charts on the wall to determine which one has the highest rating if you are at all worried about food safety. The local speciality is Hainanese Chicken Rice. This simple dish is great for kids. Chicken rice is simple but tasty.
My children sought out the steamed barbecue pork buns. These make easy filling snacks on the run. You can always tell which outlet has the best food – it has the longest line.
Where: All over Singapore
Singapore Aquarium is a cool escape from the city’s humidity. Inside you will find more than 100,000 marine animals from over 1000 species including nurse and hammerhead sharks and giant moray eels. Kids will love the bottlenose dolphins, the seahorses and the rare and bizarre Vampire fish. Time your visit with a feeding session to see the animals swarm the divers for food. Kids aged above 12 with a diving certificate can get into the tank for a shark dive. No dive certificate? You don’t have to miss out? You can still enter the tank in a customised acrylic container for a shark experience sure to thrill.
Where: 8 Sentosa Gateway, Sentosa Island
Shopping on Orchard Road
Orchard Road is a shopping paradise. But be warned – it’s easy to lose your bearings. The shopping centres run underground beneath the road and are all interconnected. This is a great place to escape the heat. If you go in June to August you could score a bargain at the Great Singapore Sale (GSS). During the GSS retailers offer up to 70 per cent off the origianl prices. The deals cover just about everything – jewellery, fashion, toys, electronics and even hotel stays.
Where: Orchard Road Singapore
Catch a bumboat (yes, the kids will LOVE that name) to Pulau Ubin for a daytrip. You won’t believe this stunning island is actually part of Singapore. Pulau Ubin is what Singapore was like before development. It’s an island of jungles, mangroves and gentle waves.
Once you depart the ferry wharf, make the short walk into town and hire a bicycle at one of the many hire shops. Kids bikes and bikes with child seats are available. As you cycle around the island you will spot locals disappearing into the bushes. They are collecting durian. The local delicacy grows in abundance on Pulau Ubin and you can taste it for free, fresh from the trees.
Climb to the top of Pulau Ubin’s observation tower for an incredible view of the island, the city and the Singapore strait all the way to Malaysia. It’s a long way up, but little legs can do it. Make sure you stop and take the time to peer into the mangroves as you ride. The kids love to spot crabs and crawling creatures in the squelchy mud.
Where: Catch the ferry from Changi Point ferry terminal direct to Pulau Ubin
Singapore’s Buddhist and Islamic temples are open to tourists. You will need to cover your shoulders to enter. If you don’t have appropriate attire, you can grab a shirt for free out the front. A visit to these temples is a great way to teach the children tolerance and understanding of other religions.
The Sultan Mosque is particularly beautiful with its striking gold dome. Helpful guides will explain the rituals and teachings as you wander through the building. Watch as the faithful pray inside the grand building, bowing in unison and prayer.
Singapore’s Tooth relic Buddhist temple claims to hold a relic of Buddha’s tooth. My kids found this fascinating and could not stop asking questions about where the rest of Budda was. Inside the incense filled building families can explore the history of Buddhism in Singapore and even take some time out to practice meditation – if you can get the kids to sit still that long.
Where: Sultan Mosque 3 Muscat St, Singapore 198833 and Buddhist temple – 288 South Bridge Rd, Singapore 058840
Bonus extras you should consider
Legoland Malaysia is just one hour from Singapore by bus or private car. You can easily add it into your itinerary. Stay at the Legoland hotel for a themed adventure.
Feel like you need to stop and flop? Take a few days after Singapore and head to Bintan or Batam Islands in Indonesia. Families can reach the island by ferry from Singapore. Bintan has the all-inclusive Club Med. At Batam Island, you can stay in a three-level townhouse with private pool, kitchen and rooftop garden at Montego Bay Resort.