When we told people we were moving to Singapore pretty much everyone was certain we would have a fabulous time. “There are so many things to do with kids in Singapore!” they said. “Think of the food! Think of the travel!”
Things to do with kids in Singapore
Right up until Covid-19 put the kibosh on everything, we threw ourselves into life here on The Little Red Dot. We came up with list after list of things to do with the kids in Singapore and I thought it was about time I shared our findings with you.
Gardens By The Bay
Let’s start with one of the most iconic symbols of Singapore. If you’ve ever done a search on Singapore, you’ll know that Gardens By The Bay is one of the first things that comes up. The unusual super trees tower over everything else around them and the bubble-shaped domes are iconic on the skyline. While you can tour the domes and walk along the aerial walkway between two of the trees, there’s so much more to The Gardens By The Bay. Covering over 100 hectares, there are gardens to explore. There are lakes to walk around and a fab splash pad and playground for the kids to explore.
Singapore’s Botanic Gardens are one of our favourite places to visit with and without kids. There are hundreds of miles of pathways all leading to different parts of the gardens. The entire place is based on education and holistic wellness. So from the healing garden and the ethnobotany garden to the National Orchid Garden and the Jacob Ballas Children’s Garden, there’s absolutely masses to do. With wildlife galore (think terrapins and monitor lizards to swans and kingfishers to monkeys and otters) and a variety of places to eat you could easily spend the whole day here.
Home to the Gardens by the Bay, Marina Bay is actually a far larger area than that. It boasts attractions such as the Singapore Flyer, the Merlion, the iconic Marina Bay Sands Hotel, and the Art Science Museum to name but a few. It’s super fun to wander around the area. You can make the most of the breeze coming off the water and marvel at the architecture.
Just across the bay from Marina Bay sits the little island of Sentosa. While much of Sentosa is residential, there is also loads to do with the family too. Take the cable car across from Mount Faber or Harbourfront to add to the excitement of getting over there. Once there, choose from riding the luge, relaxing at one of the many beaches or in the spas, heading to one of the theme parks or taking in one of the many shows that are on offer every day there.
This former site of 14th century palaces was also the Headquarters of the Far East Command Centre and British Army Barracks during World War II. Fort Canning has nine historical gardens to explore. This includes one that has been converted into an amazing kids’ playground and another with ancient baths supplied by a fresh spring. Fort Canning is also home to Battlebox, the former World War II British underground command centre. It’s now now a museum that portrays the end of the battle of Singapore.
If there’s one thing that Singapore does well, it is kids’ playgrounds. There are literally hundreds of them all over the island. You can find them at beaches, in parks and green areas and, tucked away wherever there is space. These playgrounds are almost all in impeccable condition and super imaginative. There are playgrounds based on modes of transport (think planes, trains and boats), playgrounds with loads of slides and playgrounds with splash pads. As long as the weather is fine, this is a great way to spend a morning or an afternoon. Given there are so many in such a broad spectrum of places, it’s easy to combine a trip to an attraction with a side trip to a playground. It’s my favourite way to explore as you can keep everyone in the family happy.
Singapore is known for being a melting pot of cultures and these cultures can be seen across the country. Singapore’s Chinatown is huge and quite the sight to behold. It has the most amazing heritage centre to tour as well as incredible shops and food places to check out. The Arab Quarter is another area that has incredible shops and restaurants to discover. Check out the mosques and the incredible Haji Lane with its street art. In Little India, the curry houses are incredible. Walking around there during Deepavali / Diwali is an experience in itself and we love seeing all the temples.
From high-end fine dining to hole in the wall hidden away places, Singapore’s food scene is absolutely incredible. You can eat looking out over the Padang and the Singapore skyline. Or you can people watch while you munch on char kway teow, dumplings and carrot cake (spoiler alert – no carrots) at one of the many hawker markets around town. Another favourite for families is to head to a themed café or restaurant such as the DC Comics Super Heroes Café, the Charlie Brown Café or the Settlers Café. For more general playing, try Marche or play board games over at The Mind Café.
There are masses of national parks in Singapore to explore, each with their own hiking trails. So far we have loved the relatively easy and flat Green Corridor and Bukit Timah nature reserve. Our favourite has to be the Treetop walk and the stunningly beautiful MacRitchie reservoir.
There are three regenerated quays down on the Singapore River. Each is bustling with energy and life. There are heaps of restaurants as well as gift and specialty shops. We love walking around them and stopping for an alfresco drink or meal.
From any of the Quays you can take one of Singapore’s River cruises or join a duck tour or an open-top bus tour. If you feel like being more active, consider a different mode of transport. Find a walking tour, a bike tour, or a Segway tour to explore the city with the help and inside knowledge of a guide.
Not to be outdone by all the outdoor activities for kids, Singapore also has a fantastic range of indoor activities for kids. It’s just as well, really, considering tropical rain storms are a regular occurrence on the island. There are trampoline parks and incredible multi-storey soft play centres such as Pororo Park, The Polliwogs, Little Planet Playland, Kaboodle, Amazonia and Fun N Laughter. For bigger kids, try Kidzania, SuperPark Singapore, AIRZONE, Kidzland, Kidz Amaze, iFly and the Science Centre.
Singapore’s beaches are something to behold. The ones on Sentosa are more manicured but they’re by no means the only ones. The beaches on the main island can be found on the east and west coasts as well in Changgi and Pasir Ris. Some of these offer spectactular views of the (literally) hundreds of container ships that sit at anchor in the bay. Singapore’s other islands also have great beaches so head over to Pulau Ubin or Lazarus Island.
Singapore is home to so many museums it’s hard to know where to start! Our initial favourites were the Art Science Museum and the Science Centre but we quickly discovered many more. The National Gallery has a fabulous kid-friendly area (the Keppel Centre for Art Education) and the National Museum is also interesting, if a little less engaging for kids. In researching this piece, I’ve also discovered many more to go and try. These include The Artground, the Red Dot Design Museum, the Trick Eye Museum (always a hit!) and the Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum. If you’re looking for more cultural/historical museums to take the kids to, try some or all of the following: the Asian Civilisations Museum, the Indian Heritage Centre, the Chinatown Heritage Centre, the Malay Heritage Centre and, the Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre.
Given its rich cultural diversity, it’s no surprise that Singapore has a multitude of religious sites to visit. The most famous is probably the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum in Chinatown. Chinatown also has the Hindu Sri Mariamman Temple right in the middle of it. Little India is another area with lots of temples including the Kwan Im Thong Hood Cho Temple, the colourful Sri Krishman Temple, and the popular Sri Verramakaliamman Temple. Little India also has the Masjid Abdul Gaffoor and in the Arab Quarter, you can admire the Masjid Sultan. There is plenty more to explore should the interest take you.
Continuing its theme of having amazing facilities for kids, Singapore boasts quite a few libraries (26 to be exact!). The most popular has to be the enormous Central Public Library in the National Library. There are other community libraries such as the ones at Harbourfront, Tampines, Woodlands, and Queenstown.
For animal-loving families there are so many options for getting close to wildlife. Starting with the very tastefully done Singapore Zoo/River Safari/Night Safari, there are plenty of opportunities for kids to learn about, and get really close to, some of the most famous species in the world. On the other side of the island, in Sentosa, the S.E.A Aquarium is a great place to go to learn about marine life. While on Sentosa, you could also pay a visit to the Butterfly Park and Insect Kingdom. If you’re looking for something more pet-related, head to one of Singapore’s many pet cafés. There, animal-loving kids can pet cats and dogs over a drink and a snack!
While Singapore doesn’t have the biggest theme parks in the world, no trip to the island would be complete without exploring Resorts World! From Universal Studios to Aventure Cove waterpark or Madame Tussauds to Sentosa 4D Adventureland, there’s loads to do there. If you’re feeling more adventurous, drive over the border to Johor Bharu in Malaysia. There you can check out Legoland Malaysia or Hello Kitty World.
There’s plenty for thrill seekers in Singapore to do to get their adrenaline fix. The Zip Line on Sentosa looks epic (you probably won’t be getting me on that one!) plus there are climbing centres all over the city. The treetops high ropes course is hugely popular too. For those with a real thrill fix to satisfy, iFly can offer indoor skydiving.
With borders closed for the foreseeable but that doesn’t mean that we can’t do anything. I’m personally hoping that the staycation will make a comeback! As domestic travel opens up, check out the amazing Ritz-Carlton, the Shangri-La, the Sofitel, and Amara Sanctuary for a bit of home-based R&R.
Last but by no means least, Jewel at Changi Airport is an incredible place to take your kids. The Shiseido Forest Valley with the Rain Vortex is mind-blowing! Don’t just walk around there, though. Also in Jewel, you can find family-friendly activities such as the Hedge Maze, the Manulife Sky Nets, the Butterfly Garden, the Cactus Garden (complete with café), feel the Foggy Bowls, an airport pool and, much more. There are also plenty of indoor things to do there too. Go early to experience it before your flight or consider spending a day here (Jewel is attached to the airport but is on the land side of security). It wasn’t voted World’s Best Airport for the eighth consecutive time at the 2020 World Airport Awards for nothing!
Any other things to do with kids in Singapore?
What are your best things to do in Singapore with kids? Anything from here that you tried and didn’t like? Or is there something missing from this post that I really MUST include? I’d love to hear from you!