Insider tips from Time Out Singapore editors ensure your itinerary in the city of the Merlion is as enjoyable for your kids as it will be for you.
Night at the museum Just the thought of spending hours in museums makes children pull long faces, but not in Singapore. Long term favourite, the MINT Museum of Toys (www.emint.com). is an ever-evolving celebration of childhood, both real and re-imagined. The five-storey building houses over a century’s worth of toys and memorabilia ranging from popular Disney characters to tin figurines from the mid-1800s.
The Children Little Museum is an oft-missed trove of childhood curios in Kampong Glam. Known as Ah Kong Tiam (Grandfather’s Shop) until 2003, this two-storey antique museum in the Arab Quarter remains fairly inconspicuous except for its unofficial mascot: a man-sized robot standing guard by the door. The second floor is devoted to playthings from a typical kampong (village) childhood. Kids will love playing pretend at the built-in interactive exhibits such as a barber’s station.
Get inside A sure-fire way to keep tiny tots happy amid hectic sightseeing is a trip to the indoor playgrounds and entertainment centres in the city.
Playful Elves (www.playful-elves.com.sg), Singapore’s latest family entertainment centre, is filled with enough activities and attractions to exhaust even the most restless feet – from bouncy castles to castle climbing. For the adventurous, there’s the Play Forest where little ones can protect the forest from the monsters and participate in a treasure hunt.
Go Go Bambini (www.gogobambini.com) an instant favourite with mothers and kids, has an interactive playscape, a soft play area for kids under the age of three, a cafe that dishes out yummy salads and pastas, as well as a nail bar for tired mothers.
Then there’s The City By Littlez (www.thecity.com.sg), which uses role-playing and learning stations, like a supermarket, health clinic, nursery, cafe, fire station and beauty salons, to teach kids about the real world in a fun way.
Animal Planet The Singapore Zoo (www.zoo.com.sg) is one of the world’s first ‘open concept’ zoos with its residents living in landscaped enclosures instead of traditional cages.
The 28-hectare attraction is home to over 4,000 animals, including the world’s largest colony of orangutans, an exotic white tiger and Hamadryas baboons. For an after-dark adventure, Night Safari (www.nightsafari.com) – the world’s first night zoo – features nearly 140 species of animals from anoas to zebras in a mock natural environment. Take the tram, which leaves every 15 minutes or so, to explore the 35-hectare outdoor space. The accompanying tour guide offers a commentary on every species; the route goes through seven simulated geographical zones, including the Himalayan Foothills.
Jurong Bird Park (www.birdpark.com.sg), with its exotic and endangered South-East Asian species, makes for an excellent, intimate tryst with birds. The key attraction is the largest walk-in aviary in the world, where you’ll find a 30-metre man-made waterfall and more than 1,500 birds from Africa and South America flying freely around. As you step into the tropical rainforest at the Butterfly Park & Insect Kingdom (www.jungle.com.sg), you’ll be greeted by the colourful winged creatures. Featuring over 3,000 species of butterflies and rare insects, this living museum is a real eye-opener.
After a rendezvous with terrestrial and aerial creatures, meet some aquatic friends at Underwater World (www.underwaterworld.com.sg). Sentosa’s pioneering aquarium boasts an interactive stingray feeding pool, a marine reef display and the city’s first fish reflexology spa – the fish nibble at dead skin on your feet. The highlight is the travelator ride through an 83-metre acrylic tunnel with sharks, rays, eels and schools of fish swimming overhead.
Going green Established in 1852, the Singapore Botanic Gardens (www.sbg.org.sg) is a verdant respite from the city buzz. For a taste of the exotic, visit the National Orchid Garden with the world’s largest collection of orchids, including Singapore’s national flower, Vanda ‘Miss Joaquim’. Feed black Australian swans at the swan lake or experience the Evolution Garden Walk, a well-landscaped plot with fossilised remains of ancient trees.
Also a part of the property, Jacob Ballas Children’s Garden is Asia’s first children’s garden. Here kids are taught about plants and their conservation.
Spanning an area of 101 hectares, Gardens by the Bay (www.gardensbythebay.org.sg) comprises three waterfront parks: Bay South, Bay East and Bay Central. Bay South is the largest at 54 hectares. Check out the Flower Dome and Cloud Forest conservatories for a cool (quite literally) tour of the world’s flora.
Need to know
Getting there Emirates flies direct to Singapore from Dhs2,459 return. www.emirates.com.