Sensational Singapore - things to do and the best family friendly hotels in Singapore
As a city bursting with energy and jam packed full of entertainment for both adults and kids, it was a no-brainer to feature Singapore as one of our highly recommended holidays for families. Along with all its offerings, Singapore is a personal favourite of ours because although it can be a perfect holiday in its own right, the convenience and cost efficiency of combining Singapore with a dreamy tropical location such as Thailand or Malaysia can be very appealing.
Being Canberra based we are also super excited that Singapore Airlines are now offering direct flights from Canberra. It will be a beautiful thing to board the international flight from home and wipe out the 4-5 hours of connecting to a major city. With a little luck we may even begin our journey by boarding an international flight with fresh and happy cherubs which will be lovely!
So here are 4 big reasons we think Singapore is a great holiday option for your family.
1. Safe, Clean, Convenient
So it doesn't sound very sexy and not high on the list of priorities for solo travellers but when it comes to adventures with little ones we still want to know that we are protecting them from harm wherever possible and that help is easy to come by when needed.
It is no secret Singapore's MRT (train) system is world leading and this makes travelling with young kids a breeze. Stations are easily located throughout the city, they are super clean and efficient and getting from point A to B is really simple and quick. For those with prams we found this was never an issue with clearly marked lifts at all stations and easy to get on and off the trains.
Add to an impeccable transport system the access to top grade medical facilities/hospitals and a culture of respect for families and we think Singapore ranks near the top for child friendly travel. We have consistently received priority assistance through Changi airport with our young girls despite never expecting or asking for help. They just like to greet their family visitors with a smile and a helpful detour to the front of the immigration line which is a nice touch at the end of a long flight.
2. Amazing architecture
Kind of a strange topic to include in a family travel website but Singapore has some really cool buildings which kids actually notice! The combination of the Marina Bay Sands, the gardens below and the Singapore Flyer all set against the opposing views of Chinatown make for an interesting mix of old and new.
If you like a stunning sunset with a cosmopolitan twist to it, take the time to visit the viewing deck of the Marina Bay Sands hotel. An expansive vista of the city as it lights up for the evening is further improved with a cold beer or wine at the rooftop bar (if the kids are behaving of course! ;-).
3. Kid friendly activities in Singapore
There are literally dozens of big ticket tourist attractions in Singapore and a majority of these fit nicely in the family travel niche.
Marina Bay Gardens
For us one of the most enjoyable afternoons we have enjoyed in Singapore was visiting the Gardens by the Bay which sits grandly in behind the Marina Bay complex. The Gardens are a stunning complement to the modern surrounds and gives a really beautiful element of nature so close to the CBD. The stunning tropical gardens are interwoven with some really interesting sculptures and architectural elements.
Of course the kids run through this in oblivion and come to life when they reach the Far East Children's Garden which includes a fantastic water play area and climbing park. Here you can easily kick back for a few hours while they run wild and finish it all off with an an ice cream. A sure fire guarantee for relaxed, happy kids and parents.
Note that the Children's Garden is closed for cleaning and maintenance on Mondays!
While at Marina Bay Gardens make sure you check out the Cloud Forest Conservatory. Such a clever and beautiful educational experience for kids. Across the hallway I really enjoyed the Flower Dome as well. It is really beautiful and full of interesting artworks and quirky things to see for kids. I definitely think it is worth taking the time to see both!
It ranks highly on the must see lists for Singapore and it definitely is in a lovely setting with some great displays. Note that the zoo is probably one of the only tricky places to get to via public transport. You can reach it via a combination of train and buses but maneuvering prams and two young kids on and off crowded local buses proved tricky.
You can also catch the MRT to Woodlands Station on the North-South line. From here it is a super cheap taxi ride to the zoo (approximately 8 Singapore dollars)
I would recommend catching a tourist shuttle bus for direct transport to and from the zoo if you have toddlers or babies. The zoo itself runs these buses from all major hotels within their ticket price options.
The Singapore Zoo is set in beautiful green acreage and is a delightful day out with kids. Most impressive are the free ranging orangutans, the humongous alligators that make you nervous as you tentatively hold the kids up to see them over the railing and the African elephants. If you make it to the ranger talk for the elephants you can stick around at the end to feed the elephants some fruit for a small donation.
Make sure you pack the kids swimmers for the zoo as there is a wonderful water park complete with slides and splash area which is a good way to wrap the day up and cool the kids off before heading out.
Save time in cues and pre-purchase cheap Singapore Zoo tickets before you travel here.
A multi billion dollar tourist hub Sentosa Island has been specifically tailored and built for family entertainment. We are not traditionally big on amusement parks but were looking for a fun, let off steam day for the kids so Adventure Cove Waterpark hit the spot. A lively and fun water park, there were plenty of rides and attractions for all age groups and our kids had a ball. To save a little money make sure you pre-purchase your tickets for Adventure Cove - tickets online are cheaper than at the gate and saves you lining up to purchase.
Hop On Hop Off Bus
To combine transport and entertainment I recommend spending a day on the hop on bus networks in Singapore. With audio commentary and open top views kids find this a fun activity which can be broken up with lots of stops at key tourist spots such as the Singapore Flyer, Botanical Gardens, Shopping hot spots and cultural visits.
There are a few companies running these including the SIA bus which is part of some deals if you have flown with Singapore Airlines. We used the CitySightseeing company and had a great day exploring all the pockets of Singapore.
What is refreshing about Singapore is the large number of attractions that are free and easy to roam about at leisure. Despite being a bustling city there are plenty of relaxing pockets of green space and water play areas to cool off and escape the city noise.
4. Shopping galore
No need to say much more. Within the CBD area you cannot walk far without running into another massive shopping mall with many of them connected by underground walkways to escape the heat in the middle of the day. Orchard Road has to be the pick of it though with a long boulevard of shopping heaven for the shopaholics amongst you.
Where to stay in Singapore
Hotels in Singapore are not overly family friendly and it can be difficult finding rooms that can accommodate more than 3 people.
Apartments with HomeAway are a fantastic family friendly solution in Singapore for more space and independence. It will allow you to stay in fabulous self-catering apartments with amazing facilities such as resort style pools and gyms.
If you prefer hotels then a great option are the range of Accor hotels in Singapore. The Grand Mercure Roxy is a good family friendly option with rooms that can accommodate 4 people (2 queen beds) and free airport shuttles. When the sales are on you can also pick up great priced rooms at some of the Ibis hotels although most will require booking 2 rooms if travelling with more than three people.
Holiday Inn hotels are also a very family friendly option with most hotels offering kids eat and stay free packages. Check current prices for Holiday Inn hotels here.
If you feel like a bit of a splurge on something a little more decadent then the Swissotel Stamford Singapore was where we stayed on our most recent visit to Singapore and caters really well for families. I managed to find a great deal initially and at check-in we were offered an upgrade for a reasonable price to the executive Level 60 rooms. This gave us perks like free meals and drinks in the Executive Lounge which had AMAZING views over Singapore harbour..... only drawback, kids were not allowed in for the evening meals.
The family rooms consist of two queen beds and the hotel has two pools (one which is shallow for the kids). Best part of this hotel - breakfast! Probably one of the best hotel breakfasts you will find. Second best part about this hotel is the location - as central as you can get and directly linked toone of the largest shopping centres and MRT stations making your stay in Singapore a breeze.
Worthy of it's own mention, Changi airport is a treasure trove of family friendly facilities. Unlike many airports throughout the world Changi really does look after passengers transiting through Singapore. Travelling with kids can be tough so any bit of luxury at airports can be a big bonus. Check out the options via the airport website with cool extras like showers, playgrounds, gardens, pools and even a butterfly garden.
No need to be bored waiting for that next flight!
Changi airport also has on-site terminal hotel rooms that offer basic bedding and a shower for those times when you have a long stopover and want to freshen up.
You really shouldn't hesitate to consider Singapore for your next holiday with kids. Engaging, exciting and beautiful - it truly is a great place for family travel.
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