Singapore is one place where you can be sure the whole family will have fun. From exciting theme parks and spectacular zoos to sunny beaches and beautiful botanical gardens, you'll find lots of things to occupy your kids - and yourself, too.
Singapore is sunny all year round, so anytime's a good time to bring your family on a trip here. If your visit coincides with the Arts Festival, you'll find special activities for kids - or the Great Singapore Sale - which often lasts for the whole month of June, and has department stores and shops all over the island giving great discounts. Christmas, when the whole stretch of Orchard Road is strewn with fairy lights, is also an excellent time to bring the kids.
Where to Stay
The town centre, near Orchard Road, is only a few minutes away from a mind-boggling array of restaurants, fast-food outlets, ice-cream parlours, cinemas, arcades, and shops, shops, shops.
There are many luxury hotels in this area - such as the Four Seasons Hotel Singapore, the Shangri-La Hotel Singapore and the Singapore Marriott Hotel - but if you're on a tight budget or have a very large family, there are many cheaper options available. For mid-range hotels, there's the Allson Hotel, or the Carlton Hotel Singapore. There are also the ever-reliable YMCAs -- one is located at the eastern tip of Orchard Road, and the other on Stevens Road.
Another ideal area to stay in is Sentosa - Singapore's offshore island theme park. There's the Beaufort Hotel as five-star choice, or you can rough it out in hostels and guest houses. Your kids can spend one or two full days just wandering around the island, with its many theme sites and attractions.
Most of the hotels are family- and children-friendly, with large rooms and other amenities on hand. The larger hotels often have a day-care nursery or offer baby-sitting services and some are attached to, or near, 24-hour convenience stores. Many hotels offer to book you on day tours, or operate special bus tours of their own -- so you can see all the sights without too much of a hassle.
Where to Go
A must for the children is Singapore's world-famous Night Safari. This fascinating zoo is special in many ways - it features only nocturnal animals housed in their natural surroundings, without cages or barbed wire. Book yourselves on the tram ride that will take you on a winding journey through the deep jungle, thick rainforest or dusty savannah - all in the dark of night.
The Singapore Zoological Gardens and Jurong Bird Park also feature animals in their natural surroundings. These are ideal places to introduce your children to wildlife, and even to have a picnic. The night safari, zoo and bird park hold regular daily shows featuring seals, boa constrictors or parrots doing clever and amusing stunts. If you're game for it, you can also arrange for your family to have breakfast with the friendly orangutan of the Singapore Zoo.
If you're hankering after the wide open spaces there's always the Botanical Gardens, a large and beautiful landscaped park where you can choose to wander in the Tropical Plants and Jungle section, the National Orchid Garden, or the Palm Trees section. Families are often seen having a picnic in these scenic surroundings.
Don't forget to set a day aside for Sentosa, Singapore's island based theme park. You can get there by taxi, ferry or - most fun of all -- by cable car. At the island, you can visit Underwater World, a spectacular aquarium where you can see all kinds of fishes, sharks and giant squid; Volcano Land, where you journey to the centre of the earth; Fantasy Island, a huge pool with slides, rides and waterfalls; and lots more.
Sentosa has a few pretty, artificial beaches, but if you want the real thing you can bring your family down to East Coast Park. Besides lazing at the beach, you can go para-sailing, wind-surfing or roller-blading and cycling along the special pathways by the sea. There are great food centres and seafood restaurants at East Coast Park, too.
Where to Eat
Most restaurants in Singapore - except for a very few - welcome children and large groups. High chairs for toddlers are often provided, even at coffee shops and some food centres. The food in Singapore is very varied, so beware of spicier varieties of Indian, Malay and Thai fare if your children aren't used to it.
Some of the best restaurants to bring a family to are: Harry Ramsdens, which serves fish and chips; California Pizza Kitchen; Billy Bombers; The Rainforest Café; Planet Hollywood; Crystal Jade Restaurant, which dishes up dim sum and Chinese food; Sanur, which specialises in Indonesian food, and the Satay Club at Clarke Quay.
What to Buy
You can buy almost anything in Singapore, of course, but perhaps the cheapest goods to buy here are consumer electronics. Video game consoles, CD players and personal digital assistants are usually available at low or reasonable prices. You can go to ethnic quarters like Chinatown and Little India to buy cute little cheong sams (Chinese dresses) or sarongs for the kids, or to bargain for some exotic games or toys.
Fun for Kids
- Don't miss the highly entertaining animal shows at the award-winning Singapore Zoo.
- Go wakeboarding and spin around the waters of Singapore
- Cool off with a big splash at the Fantasy Island, Sentosa.
- Make friends with a pink dolphin. Visit the Dolphin Lagoon at Underwater World, Sentosa.
- Take a bumboat ride from Changi Point and explore rustic Pulau Ubin on a rented bike. Bring along camping equipment if you want to spend the night star gazing.
- Come face-to-face with a cougar at the Night Safari.
- Visit the world's largest fountain at Suntec City. It is believed that walking clockwise around the fountain 3 times while touching the water will bring luck and good fortune.
- Instead of a lazy dip in the hotel pool, why not be energetic and go water-skiing at the Kallang Basin.
- Visit the Singapore Science Centre for an educational and entertaining experience.
- Saddle up a horse on Sentosa and enjoy an exciting horse ride on the resort island.