Singapore is a shapeshifter: yes, it’s a food lover’s heaven. Yes, it’s a shopaholic’s dream. But for parents? This city-state is all of these things and more, with a treasure trove of fun things for kids to do. Here are some of the best ways to entertain the whole family.
Discover the urban jungle
Singapore is known for its seamless integration of scenic gardens and soaring skyscrapers – that means you’ll have plenty of space to spread out with children. Hike the hills of Fort Canning Park, where nine historical gardens merge in expansive, shaded grounds that are perfect for a picnic or get busy in the interactive Jacob Ballas Children’s Garden – a labyrinth of streams, bridges and treehouses, with three curated trails aimed at educating budding naturalists.
The city’s emblematic Gardens by the Bay is also excellent for keeping all family members busy, no matter the age. The towering Supertree Grove delivers sweeping views of the city from the Observatory atop the tallest structure and your little ones will have a ball spotting topiary animals in the outdoor flora museum, World of Plants. There’s also a wetlands section, a cactus grove and more to discover.
If you’re looking for a full-day affair, Mandai Singapore Zoo has a wet play area (check the website for availability before your visit) in addition to a sprawling selection of 2400 different species to admire (everything from the two-toed sloth to the Malayan flying fox is here). Older kids will love Night Safari, the world’s first nocturnal wildlife park, which leads guests through the zoo at night on a guided buggy and allows visitors to observe animals at their most active time.
Get your thrills at an amusement park
Theme parks and kids are a match made in heaven. Here, Resorts World Sentosa is where all the magic happens. Getting there can be half the fun, too – you can catch the Singapore Cable Car over to the island from Faber Peak and enjoy spectacular views of the city all the way. Don’t forget to check package deals before you book; some include the cable-car ride as part of the ticket price.
Once you’re on Sentosa, the kids can choose their own adventure. At Universal Studios Singapore, themed-rides spanning beloved favourites like Madagascar, Jurassic Park and Sesame Street are great for little ones, while older kids can get their kicks on the world’s tallest “duelling” roller coaster, Battlestar Galactica: Human vs. Cylon, where twin roller coasters are launched simultaneously, ducking, weaving and almost colliding with one another over several exhilarating minutes.
Another guaranteed kid-pleaser is Legoland, just across the border in Johor Bahru, Malaysia, and a little less than an hour by bus from central Singapore. There’s the park itself, with Lego-themed rides across eight areas, as well as a water park with 20 slides and an immersive aquarium teeming with over 13,000 mesmerising sea creatures.
Dive into the water
When Singapore’s temperatures rise, staying in close proximity to air-con is only one way to cool down. HydroDash, a luridly-coloured floating maze on the waters of Palawan Beach, is another and great for kids over five. The huge inflatable obstacle course is divided into four sections dependent on difficulty, which will delight any older (and more competitive) kids.
Although the city has a deserved reputation for breathtaking hotel pools, it also has a handful of relaxing beaches for families, too. Changi Beach Park has plenty of swinging coconut palms on the sand for ample shade, calm lapping waters to swim in, as well as BBQ pits if you’re keen to make a day of it. Lively Siloso Beach on Sentosa is great if you have an age range in tow: beach equipment like stand-up paddleboards can be hired from the beachfront and if you’re worried about safety for less confident kids, there are Beach Patrol Officers supervising the beach to let locals know when it’s unsafe to swim.
The Science Centre Singapore tackles a range of topics, from space and climate change to genetics and kinetics, in engaging interactive exhibits. It’s not just a case of wandering around and “seeing stuff”, either – there are science camps, interactive workshops and exciting demonstrations too.
S.E.A Aquarium is also found on Sentosa Island. Budding marine biologists can tick marine life such as manta rays and silvertip sharks off their bucket lists, but if teenagers need convincing, consider tempting them with a certification in PADI Open Water Diving, offered on-site with a three-day program.
The enthralling ArtScience Museum is great for curious children. A dizzying amalgamation of art, science, culture and technology, this interactive museum offers an ever-changing array of exhibitions, screenings, talks, workshops and holiday camps, depending on the month. The museum’s highlight is the VR Gallery, which transports kids 13 and over to another universe of engaging artworks via individual virtual reality headsets, putting them in the driver’s seat for a unique adventure.
While not strictly a learning experience, no kid or kidult would pass up the opportunity to visit the fantastical Museum of Ice Cream. Teenagers will have endless content for their social channels (and plenty of corners to burn energy in) thanks to Millennial pink diner scenes and a pool of giant sprinkles, among other brightly-coloured exhibits. You’ll be craving ice-cream following your visit, of course, and the flavours offered at the on-site ice-creamery are pleasingly local: who could pass up a taro milk tea ice-cream sandwich, especially when it’s free?
The fun doesn’t have to stop when the troupe heads back to the hotel. The Shangri-La Hotel, Singapore caters specifically for families: not only do groups that stay in themed rooms have access to the Family Pantry, which has every piece of baby accoutrement you’ve got back at home from high chairs and baby bathtubs, to car seats and strollers, there’s also a huge, dedicated interactive play space and meals made specifically for the fussier eaters.
If you want a break from your action-packed itinerary, Sofitel Singapore Sentosa Resort & Spa offers plenty of kid-centric experiences: during Easter there are egg hunts, at Christmas exect panettone-filled brunches; and, best of all, there’s a year-round kids club jammed with activities from lantern making to face-painting.