The 10 best activities for families in Singapore
It might be small but Singapore packs a punch when it comes to child-friendly adventures. Whether you want to tick off the island’s must-dos or discover some offbeat activities – or do it all – here are ten fun-filled experiences the kids will love.
- September 2019
Singapore is always a safe bet as a family holiday destination. While you can’t go wrong with the classic child-friendly activities the island state is known for, there’s also a heap of lesser-known, offbeat experiences that will delight little ones and big ones alike. From animal encounters and water parks to museums, here is your must-list of old favourites and fresh new options both.
Have animal encounters at Singapore Zoo
Gazing into the deep brown eyes of Ishta, you could be forgiven for wondering if you’d ever had a more charming breakfast companion. One of the Sumatran orangutans at the Singapore Zoo opens in new window, Ishta nibbles on sunflower seeds while the human families can feast on more indulgent buffet breakfast options including pastries, eggs and tropical fruit. The open concept zoo uses opportunities like this to highlight the plight of many of the 300 species of animals it is home to, 34 per cent of which are threatened – such as the Sumatran and Bornean orangutans and white rhino.
Go kayaking in a mangrove
Seeing animals in their natural habitat is one of the joys of kayaking opens in new window in Sungei Khatib Bongsu, Singapore’s largest tract of mangrove riverine wilderness. Shy but curious otters poke their head out of the water to get a closer look at you as you glide past in inflatable kayaks, while huge white-bellied sea eagles call to each other with goose-like honks. Spotting animals here relies on keen eyes and little people take delight in looking for the wonderfully named apple snails and horseshoe crabs hiding in the water.
Reminisce at the MINT Museum for Toys
There’s something incredibly nostalgic about seeing row upon row of once-beloved toys at the MINT Museum for Toys opens in new window – there’s a 1950s Popeye and Olive Oyl tank (thought to be one of only two still in existence) and the long-haired doll that belonged to the little girl who inspired Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. Over the museum’s five levels, you can revisit your childhood (hello, Strawberry Shortcake dolls) while the kids press their noses longingly against the glass to get closer to the vintage Star Wars figurines. With more than 8000 classic toys from over 40 countries, it’s definitely worth booking a guided tour when purchasing your ticket to learn more about how toys have come to hold such cultural and historical significance.
Blow their minds at the ArtScience Musuem
A whale with colourful barnacles glides past my son, who stands entranced as the creature slips into the darkness ahead. Behind him, a green incandescent lizard suddenly twitches and then makes a run for it across the floor. This is not a wildlife park – we’re at a permanent exhibition at Singapore’s ArtScience Museum opens in new window called Future World. It’s an interactive and immersive haven for kids to experiment with digital technology and make their art come to life through activities like colouring in pictures, scanning their creations and watching them appear on a live screen, and designing their own colourful transportation network.
Castaway for the day on Sentosa island
You can get to Singapore’s favourite island resort of Sentosa opens in new window a number of ways but the one that will have the kids most excited is the monorail. In the five minutes it takes to arrive from the VivoCity station, the train will have breezed past enticing family-friendly destinations such as Universal Studios, S.E.A Aquarium, Kidzania (an interactive city built for kids), as well as tantalising glimpses of palm-fringed, white-sand beaches. Add to that water parks, nature reserves, animal experiences like the Butterfly Park and Insect Kingdom, plus indoor skydiving – all within a five square kilometre space – and it’s easy to see why Sentosa has earned itself the moniker, The State of Fun, and a reputation as the ultimate one-stop-shop for families.
Make a splash at Adventure Cove Waterpark
You don’t need to know what a hydro-magnetic coaster is (nor that this is South-East Asia’s first one) to realise the Riptide Rocket at Adventure Cove Waterpark opens in new window is more like a rollercoaster than a water slide. Perched on a thick, blue inflatable tube, jets of water propel you towards a labyrinth of steep drops and sudden twists that leave you feeling exhilarated, if also with a pounding heart. For those less enamoured with high-speed water slides, you can snorkel with marine life such as iridescent yellowfin surgeonfish and patterned clown triggerfish, while tiny ones will love dodging the water sprays and blasters as they try to find their way out of the Wet Maze.
Escape the rat race at Pulau Ubin
If you’re after an idyllic coastal experience without the crowds, head to Pulau Ubin, a boomerang-shaped island known for its natural beauty, authentic culture and laid-back ways. Located a 10-minute boat ride from Changi Point Ferry Terminal, the living museum-like island is home to one of Singapore’s last kampongs (a small rural village of community houses). While kids will enjoy ambling past the old wooden houses, trying to spot wild monkeys, it’s worth hiring bikes or taking a van to the nearby Chek Jawa Wetlands. Here, the boardwalk meanders around a thick mangrove shoreline where you can catch a glimpse of bright orange fiddler crabs, carpet anemones and mudskippers.
Cool down at Tampines One
Welcome to the jungle. At Tampines One opens in new window, kids can frolic safely with hippos or polar bears in this rooftop playground, which has three different water play areas (including the hippo area, the rainforest and arctic corner) surrounded by cute topiary animals. Little kids will have a blast crawling through the shallow pool, dodging the spray from the hippos’ mouths, while zooming down the polar bear and sea lion slides is a hit with the older siblings. Be sure to apply lots of sunscreen as most of the wet play area is in the direct sun but there are some shaded areas and dry play spots nearby.
Nurture their love for nature at Bay South
There’s a moment as you walk across the wide timber bridge at Gardens by the Bay’s opens in new window Bay South, with lush ferns and bromeliads planted below and tall palm trees swaying to the side, when you feel as if you’ve arrived in another world. You can’t help but stop in your tracks as you get your first glimpse of the Bay South’s iconic Supertrees – 18 futuristic vertical gardens reaching up to 50 metres and blooming with hundreds of species of orchids, ferns and tropical flowering climbers. Further on, a cool blast of air welcomes you into the Cloud Forest, a huge glass bio-dome that simulates walking through tropical highlands, where kids love being sprayed with mist from the 30-metre-tall indoor waterfall and learning about what’s happening to similar environments as the world’s temperatures rise. To cool off properly, head to the water play area at the Far East Organisation Children’s Garden, where big and little alike can dart under the twisting poles squirting water and the fish sculpture fountains.
Have a picnic with a view at Bay East
While Gardens by the Bay opens in new window has ranked in the world’s top 20 most checked-in places on Facebook, not many people realise that the gardens are actually made up of three waterfront precincts. Across the marina channel is Bay East, an immense green space with bike paths, verdant lawns and tranquil spots for a game of frisbee or a family walk. In the late afternoon, it’s the perfect spot to bring a picnic dinner and have some downtime while taking in panoramic views of some of Singapore’s most iconic spots. As night falls, the Supertrees of Bay South glow purple and green from across the water, while Singapore’s enormous ferris wheel – the Singapore Flyer – lights the sky. In a city where space and serenity are at a premium, this two-kilometre stretch of waterfront is one of its best-kept secrets.