Wow, does Singapore have a lot to offer the family traveller. Perhaps that’s why so many of my friends are moving there this summer (grrrr..) We recently spent a long weekend there and here are some tips on what to do and where to eat. It is by no means a comprehensive guide as I feel we barely scratched the surface. One of Singapore’s downfalls is the incessant heat which means it’s hard to get a lot of sightseeing done. Temperatures may cool off slightly from November to March with December and Jan being the wettest months.
Where to stay
We stayed at the Shangri La, which is a 5 minute walk from one end of Orchard Road. I highly recommend this hotel if you’re looking for a great location in the city but with the feel of a resort. You can read more in my review.
Singapore has tonnes of accommodation options to suit all budgets, check Tripadvisor for the latest reviews. I have previously stayed at the Marina Mandarin which was also nice, especially if you want to be close to Marina Bay.
If you really want to get away from it all and experience a true resort holiday, skip the downtown hotels and stay on Sentosa. I have heard great things about the Shangri La Sentosa and The Capella although both are quite pricey.
What to do
- Explore the city by boat! This was a great way to get acquainted with the city. There are River Explorer ticketing kiosks at various points along the river – we climbed aboard at Merlion Park. The tour took approximately one hour with a running commentary on the history of Singapore. The kids got slightly bored towards the end but enjoyed being on the boat.
- Visit Gardens By The Bay, a botanical wonderland located close to the Marina Bay Sands.
Some of the attractions are free and others such as the Cloud Forest have an admission charge. Pack your kids swimwear and head straight for the Water Play in the Children’s Garden. They’ve got Disney tunes blasting and the kids will love running around in the water fountains.
- If you’re in town on a Friday, kids go free at ArtScience Museum in Marina Bay Sands. Check to see what’s on in advance. The Dreamworks exhibit was fun although I wouldn’t have gone if my kids weren’t free of charge.
- Head to one of the city’s ethnic enclaves; Arab Street, Chinatown, Kampong Glam or Little India. As the kids weren’t at all interested in doing this and the heat was stifling, I chose one.. Little India. What a colourful area this is, you truly feel like you are transported to ‘India lite’. My girls loved the colourful clothes, blaring Indian music and food stalls.
- There are even more green delights at the Botanical Gardens, specifically the Jacob Ballas Children’s Garden. Be sure to get dropped off at the right entrance or you might have a long walk ahead of you.
- If animals are your thing, Singapore has it all. Take your pick from the Bird Park, Night Safari, River Safari and Zoo. It was a tough choice for us but we decided to do the Night Safari as it was something unique. If you can, don’t visit at the weekend when crowds are enormous and you may have to wait a long time for the tram. If you’ve got young kids who struggle to stay awake past 7pm, don’t bother and save it for when they’re older. Next time we go back, we’ll do the River Safari which looks awesome.
- Shop till you drop. There is a hidden maze of shopping malls along Orchard Road. The ‘Great Singapore Sale’ runs for 8 weeks from May to July and is a great time to visit the city if you are a shopaholic.
- Universal Studios! We had a blast, my 6year old proclaimed it the best day of her life. My 3year old was a bit scared by it all. Here are my tips on visiting Universal with a breakdown of the best rides for little ones.
- The S.E.A. Aquarium on Sentosa is pretty good but not the best I’ve been to.
- We didn’t have the time to visit the Adventure Cove Waterpark on Sentosa but I heard it was excellent. My feeling with watermarks is that unless your kids are tall enough for the rides, you’re better off saving the money and swimming in your hotel pool.
- If your kids are lego nuts, you may want to factor in a visit to Legoland in Malaysia. For more information, check out the wonderful Accidental Tai Tai’s review of her trip.
Where to eat
- I love Singapore’s hawker food centres. They are the best place to try local Singaporean cuisine at a cheap price. There are lots to choose from. If you’re at Gardens By The Bay, head to ‘Satay By The Bay’ for (true to its name), delicious satay. East Coast Lagoon is the best for amazing seafood although it’s a bit far out of downtown. Zion Food Centre was close to our hotel and home to the most delicious ‘carrot cake’.
- Restaurants are plentiful in Singapore’s Quays. We went to a delicious Mexican in Robertson Quay, Super Loco. Robertson is a nice area for a quiet stroll along the water.
- For something special, try The White Rabbit at Dempsey Hill. Dempsey itself has a cool collection of restaurants and shops and is a nice escape from the hustle and bustle of downtown.
- The best roundup of family friendly restaurants can be found on the fantastic Mum On The Move Blog.
Jetlag & Mayhem’s Tips For Visiting Singapore
- It’s likely to be hot. Be mindful of this and book a hotel with a decent swimming pool!
- Getting around is relatively easy. There’s a convenient train system (MRT) or you can take taxis. Taxi fares are relatively inexpensive although you may find yourself waiting in a lengthy queue for one.
- If you are walking around the Orchard Road area, take advantage of the underpasses and don’t walk at street level. I had no idea of the vast labyrinth of tunnels connecting everywhere underground with aircon.
- Chewing gum is illegal in Singapore!
For more tips on visiting Singapore….
- Mum On The Move’s ‘Off The Beaten Track’ Ideas
- A roundup of the best food from MakeMyTrip
- My Little Nomads Top 11 Things To Do In Singapore