Singapore is such a great city to take children we are forever grateful that it is a main stopover from Australia (where we live) to most other places in the world. It’s the hub of the Southeast Asian region and offers a fascinating blend of East and West. Compact, clean and fun for all ages, Singapore promises an enriching weekend getaway that other world-class cities can only dream about.
From The Ground
Being an island state, Singapore is compact and the things to see and do are not far from each other. To get a taste of many different cultures in the one place, Singapore’s diverse nationalities are also all in the one place, letting you take any of the many city bus tours into compact mini-countries such as China, India and Malaysia represented in different neighborhoods.
Such a multi-cultural atmosphere means that food is from all over the world and there is plenty of it. Take a walk past the food hawkers on Trengganu Street in Chinatown to savor exciting atmosphere and the amazing range of exotic finger food from the stalls that will tempt most little princes and princesses.
There are plenty of family tours available including the wacky Singapore DUCKTours (65/ 6338-6877), a fabulous drive around the city then a paddle up the river using an amphibious vehicle.
From The Air
The same folks have also recently launched an unforgettable way to get an overview of the city and despite my fear of heights, I can proudly say I rose above it all in a giant helium balloon. New for 2007, helium balloon rides are given by the DHL Balloon ( 65/ 6338 6877) based on Bugis at Tan Quee Lan Street. It’s easy to take the subway there; grab the MRT and get off at Bugis station (EW12), then walk to the open plot of land next to the 7th Storey Hotel.
The kids pointed to all the great towers they could look down upon, and their young eyes picked out fascinating little details that we our older ones would have missed.
The newest way to see Singapore from up above is in the recently open Singapore Flier, the highest Ferris Wheel in the world. At nearly 500 feet up in the air, this world-renowned Ferris Wheel stands the same height as a 42-story building. Located at Marina Bay and Raffles Avenue, a 30-minute ride on the flier will give families the most breathtaking views of Singapore’s skyscrapers, greenery, the beautiful sky and the bright city landscape. Rides in one of the 28 large capsules are available until 10:30pm every evening and are around $20 Singapore for kids and $30 for adults.
Nature in the City
Other family attractions include the colorful Jurong Bird Park (2 Jurong Hill Singapore 628925; 65/ 6265 0022) with its pink flamingos and the world’s highest artificial waterfall. The night safari at the Singapore Zoo (80 Mandai Lake Road Singapore 729826; 65/ 6269 3411) is another exciting way to see and experience colorful and exotic animals.
The Singapore Botanic Garden (Cluny Road Singapore 259569; 65/ 6471 7361) is cherished by locals, and recently opened is Jacob Ballas Children’s Garden located within the Bukit Timah Core provides the very curious with hands-on opportunities to get to know some very exotic Asian flora. The first of its kind in Asia, this is sure to be popular among those who are used to “don’t touch” gardens.
Where to Sleep with the Kids in Singapore
Accommodation is varied and mostly pleasant, with myriad hotels in every price range. However, highly recommended are:
Meritus Mandarin Hotel
6 Raffles Boulevard, Marina Square
(65/ 6845 1000)
This hotel has a unique attraction apart from being a welcoming, luxury type of place. Each morning an old man arrives with a collection of his song birds, puts up their cages around the atrium of the hotel… then they sing. Lovely warbles and trills that echo around the atrium, fascinating the children, welcoming us into the day as we stepped out of our rooms, and welcoming us back in from the street when we returned each day. The birds are a distinctly Asian touch in this hotel whose modern grand dÃ©cor extends to spacious rooms, smart bathrooms and excellent restaurants.
Shangri-La Hotel, Singapore
22 Orange Grove Road
(65/ 6737 3644)
As this Asian luxury chain’s very first hotel, the Shangri-La Singapore celebrates three decades of welcoming dignitaries and celebrities to its lush, 15-acre garden setting, home of the namesake purple-spotted green Shangrila Orchid. Children will especially like the koi ponds and waterfalls accessible from the renovated Garden Wing which features connecting rooms and suites. A dramatic 24/7 cafe, The Line, boasts 16 theater kitchens where chefs prepare sushi, saute pasta, flip burgers, primp desserts and much, much more, not to mention the classic Cantonese cuisine in their more formal place.
7 Raffles Avenue
Singapore 039799 Singapore
(65/ 6 337 8888)
This Ritz Carlton is for those with grand tastes — tastes that include baths with a harbor view, raised feather beds and luscious landscaped gardens full of tropical plants, rocks and waterfalls. The Greco-Roman-style swimming pool is ringed by deck chairs that are individually re-covered after each family moves on. I could live like this forever.
Getting to Singapore is easy, from almost every corner of the world. Singapore’s Changi Airport is served by more than 70 airlines and includes a new dedicated terminal for low cost airlines.
Getting around this compact city state is easy, too. Within Singapore, an efficient transport system includes a subway train, buses, taxis and ferries to the islands. Other than on the hottest days, your family will walk to most attractions. You won’t have trouble finding your way around; though Malay is the official language, English is widely spoken along with Mandarin and Tamil.
The local currency is the Singapore Dollar and credit cards from all countries are accepted. A 10% service charge plus 5% Goods and Services Tax, and 1% excess are often charged when booking accommodation.
It’s always a good time to visit. Singapore’s weather is warm and humid all year, hovering between 23°C and 31°C (73°F to 88°F). Rain falls during the monsoon season from November to January, bringing refreshing relief from the heat.
Photo credit: “Singapore Panorama v2” by Someformofhuman – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons
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