Things to do in Singapore with your kids

Have you heard? Singapore has been named the most expensive city to live in for 2014. Your trip there shouldn’t be an epic blow to your bank account though. I just got back there from vacation with my wife and toddler. For those who have never been to Singapore, you might think of it as just a city full of buildings and business trips. You’d be surprised however to find out how family friendly the whole city is. Here are some of the places I suggest you try out while there:

1. Ibis Bencoolen – Their rooms here may be small if you have more than one child with you. But for its location, price, and assertive staff, Ibis Bencoolen was perfect for us. ibis bencoolen taste

It’s walking distance from Bugis Junction and practically a 5 to 10-minute drive from anywhere around Singapore. Plus, taxi drivers know where it is (at least all of the rides we had), which means that it won’t be a nightmare going home after a long day of sight seeing. A wonderful stroll down Arab St. is also nearby the hotel: arab street shopfront jar concengco

Ibis Bencoolen also offers a free shuttle ride to Universal Studios. Just be sure to approach the front desk about it and they’ll give you a confirmation letter. You’ll need to present that letter, your key card, and key card holder to the driver of the shuttle to be able to get on. (UPDATE: As of Dec. 26, 2014 This shuttle service to Universal Studios has ceased operations.)

2. Universal Studios – This one is probably a no-brainer if you have kids. My toddler is 2 and a half years old, and it was a great surprise to know that he was free of admission. Kids this young will love the show that Elmo and the gang put on at New York and meeting with the different characters in each land such as Bumblebee the Transformer, Shrek and Fiona, and the Minions. And if they love dinosaurs, this place will surely get them excited: jurassic park in universal studios

There are shows that they’ll love too like the Shrek 4-D show and Elmo’s Spaghetti Chase.

spaghetti space chase uss jar concengco

Some rides like Madagascar: A Crate Adventure are kid-friendly, just as long as they’re a certain height and are able to sit on their own.

madagascar ride uss jar concengco

We deliberately chose to go to this park on a Monday, which means no parade, but shorter or no lines. Long lines kill the vibe! 3. Vivo City Mall – One train ride away from Universal Studios (using Sentosa Express) is Vivo City Mall. I’m only going to talk about one thing about this mall and that’s the Rooftop Water feature. It’s huge (apparently it spans the area of 4 olympic sized pools)! It’s real shallow and meant to be walked through. So no swimming here. But still, I’ve never seen another mall have anything like this before! And it’s such a hit with the kids! Yes, you can walk in there (just remove your shoes):

vivo city rooftop water feature jar concengco

4. Tiong Bahru – Tiong Bahru is a hip neighborhood that is away from the skyscrapers that Singapore is known for. Instead you’ll find small, artisanal, and unique shops such as Nana and Bird, Strangelets, and Books Actually. With your kids, be sure to check out Woods In The Books where they’re sure to find a book or two that they’d like to take home.

woods in the books tiong bahru jar concengco

Once you’re done with shopping, you can have a nice snack at any of the Plain Vanilla Bakery or 40 Hands Cafe. Or if you’re looking for a meal, check out PoTeaTo.

plain vanilla tiong bahru - jar concengcoplain vanilla tiong bahru - jar concengco 2

5. Singapore Zoo – After experiencing a place like Safari West in Santa Rosa, CA where the animals are free ranging, I thought that I’d never be able to fully enjoy a regular zoo again. But Singapore Zoo was beautiful. You can see they care for their animals and they give them ample space.

rhinos singapore zoo jar concengco

It was a great way for my boy to see so many animals up front in one day.

zebras singapore zoo jar concengco

If you’d like to see the animals in action (like the polar bear), make sure you know of the different feeding times when the animals come out.

kids watching the pygmy hippo

There’s also a tram ride that goes around the zoo you can ride to make things easier.

Zoo map_B_V24

6. Bumboat Ride along Singapore River – There are numerous ticket booths for the Singapore River Cruise. We got ours right in  front of the Fullerton Hotel. The ticket actually gets you a round trip pass for the whole day. You can get off at any station and get on again. Your last stop will be the station where you got on. So this is helpful in planning your sightseeing for the day.

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You can get an interesting view of the Merlion from the boat.

bumboat ride singapore jar concengco

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photo by clarice marucut

The Bumboat Ride also plays a video about the sights you’re passing with interesting facts. You can also get off at the Fullerton Hotel, cross the Cavenagh Bridge and take the kids to the Asian Civilisations Museum for a history lesson.

asian civilisations museum jar concengco 1 asian civilisations museum jar concengco 2

7. Gardens By The Bay – I wish we had more time to see the Gardens By The Bay. We had the opportunity to see it in the evening. And I heard it has a totally different ambience in the daytime. At night, the lights are on and they even have a light/music show where the lights of the Supertrees are synchronized to music. Our two and a half year old had a wonderful time running around the large expanse of grass and us adults absorbed the enchanting otherworldly beauty of the place. There isn’t an entrance to this part of the park, but if you’d like to enter the Flower Dome or the Cloud Forest you can check their website for admission and hours.

gardens by the bay jar concengco

This city is so progressive because its people are disciplined, the service you get is top notch, and art can be found everywhere. And with that, I’d like to share with you our video of the trip: https://vimeo.com/88259417 Also, one resource that I found real helpful was Singapore’s Official Tourism website. ‎ You’ll get a lot of tips and suggestions there. Enjoy your trip and let me know how it goes! All photographs above were by me, jar concengco.

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