At one time best known for its almost clinical attitude to cleanliness (see: chewing gum), The Lion City, which celebrated its bicentennial in 2019, has since become one of the hippest and buzzing cities on the planet. The last few years have seen an explosion of new attractions. The Gardens by the Bay, 101 acres of reclaimed land transformed into a nature park complete with multi-coloured neon-lit ‘trees’, is the most recognisable, but it is far from the only star.
Here’s our top picks for what to see and do while visiting Singapore with kids.
Singapore with kids – Our Top 10
1. Gardens by the Bay with the Supertree Grove
It’s ranked the number one attraction in Singapore by Tripadvisor, has reached more than 50 million visitors to date and contains more than 1.5 million plants: no wonder it’s one of the most checked-in places on the planet. An awe-inspiring kaleidoscope of colour and light, equally mind-blowing whether you visit in the daytime or night (handy to know for jet lagged afflicted visitors), this nature park is a blueprint for how all cities should do their green spaces. Prepare to be wowed.
2. Hawker Heaven – Michelin-starred street food
Singapore is a cultural melting pot and has a huge range of cuisines to match. Where else in the world can you eat street food at a Michelin-starred restaurant for two dollars a plate? The best place to head no matter what time your body clock registers is Lau Pa Sat (aka ‘Satay Street’) a 24-hour covered food market in the central business district. Here, you can eat together at a central table but each family member can select their own cuisine of choice – what will you be tucking into? Make ours a dim sum.
3. The world’s most exciting airport. No, really!
Where else would you willingly want to spend 48 hours in an airport? Putting Terminal 4 to eternal shame, Singapore’s Jewel Changi Airport is where passengers and slack-jawed wonder collide in an array of beautiful spaces and art installations. There’s a canopy park and skywalk, a bouncing net (suspended trampoline), hedge maze, mirror maze, rain vortex (of course), slides, forest valley, and… well, just look for yourself here at Jewel. Never has an airport been more aptly named.
4. Cable car to Sentosa Island
A decade ago, Sentosa Island was practically undeveloped, with an ancient fort (Fort Canning) to explore (tunnels which kids love playing hide and seek in) and Palawan beach to soak up the rays on. Today, it’s a smorgasbord of natural and futuristic delights. There’s an aquarium, Universal Studios, and a Skyride Luge. If you’d prefer to be located here during your stay there are upmarket hotels such as the Shangri La. The question is, how to get there (the options sum up Singapore to a tee): taxi (dull), monorail which runs to Palawan Beach with multiple stops en route, cable car and boardwalk.
5. Rooftop views from Marina Bay Sands
It’s the hotel that looks like a boat on stilts and boasts the world’s largest rooftop infinity pool, but you don’t have to be a guest here to enjoy all there is to see and do at Marina Bay Sands. You can buy tickets to access the rooftop which offers arguably the best views of Singapore – and on clear days to Indonesia. Downstairs, though, there are also Michelin-standard restaurants, a shopping mall and food stalls where all Asian cuisines are covered – no wonder it’s where the locals hang out.
6. Soak up the atmosphere in China Town
One of Singapore’s most colourful districts, head here at mealtimes to sample delicious, authentic Chinese food. As well as an array of hawkers’ stalls and restaurants, there are also trendy bars, indie shops, and boutiques to explore. It’s easy to get to – just hop on the MRT (arguably the cleanest, most efficient underground in the world, and blissfully air-conditioned). Take a look at this great Time Out article, The Ultimate Guide to Chinatown Singapore for some hot tips on where to eat in Singapore with kids.
7. Shop ’til you drop in Little India
One of Singapore’s most vibrant districts, you’d be forgiven in thinking you’re in downtown Kolkata wandering through Little India’s buzzing streets, where you’ll find an eclectic mix of old businesses, flower garland sellers, boutiques and shops as well as a multitude of eateries selling fares from around the subcontinent. Don’t miss out on the 24-hour Mustafa Centre (again, a jet lag tip!), which sells everything from groceries to electronics.
8. Admire the skyline form the Singapore Flyer
What better way to admire the Singapore skyline and a panoramic view of the bay than taking a ride on the city’s answer to the London Eye – the Singapore Flyer aka Asia’s largest observation wheel at 165 metres high? As well as the capsule ride, there are shops, restaurants and other facilities here. Head to Marina Bay to find it. (Note that the Flyer may be temporarily suspended in inclement weather, so do book and check before heading there).
9. Singapore Zoo
Singapore Zoo seems to have found the right balance between animal welfare and conservation, where animals aren’t in enclosures but free to roam on ropes and platforms, separated by visitors but invisibly so. You can have breakfast with the orangutans should you choose, go on a river safari where you explore different environments by boat (the pandas are the star attractions), or choose a night-time safari (a world-first) to witness nocturnal creatures. Known as the world’s best rainforest zoo, the park occupies 28 hectares on the margins of Upper Seletar Reservoir within Singapore’s heavily forested central catchment area.
10. Rainforest and orchids at the Botanic Gardens
Having celebrated its 160th anniversary in 2020, Singapore’s Botanic Gardens is yet another example of how a metropolis puts nature at its heart. Boasting the national orchid gardens with over 1,000 species and 2,000 hybrids, an ethnobotany garden, a rainforest, and the first garden in Asia dedicated to children, the Jacob Ballas Children’s Garden it’s no wonder that this spectacle has been granted UNESCO Heritage status, the first place in Singapore to be awarded the honour.
Next steps to visiting Singapore with kids
Feeling inspired? If you’d like to know more about our Borneo, Malaysia and Singapore trips, visit our Borneo and Malaysia section. Or, for the ideal R&R adventure, taking in Singapore highlights, lush tropical beaches, and national parks, have a look at our Mainland Malaysia and Singapore sample itinerary, which can be tailored to your family’s wishes.
To chat through any aspect of travel to Singapore, or to plan your complete family itinerary, please ring us on 01728 752751 or get in touch via our website form.
We always love to hear from families who have travelled with us, so please send us your photos and reviews of your experiences in Singapore with kids, whether on a stop-over or a longer trip.
Liddy Pleasants, MD Stubborn Mule Travel