Islands devoted to adventure, nature reserves within the city, and crazy theme parks: Singapore is one of the best family vacation spots on Earth
Skip the cabs, and hop on to a trishaw, which is quite like the Indian cycle-rickshaw only more comfortable. The Trishaw Night Tour is a fabulous way to explore the city, and gives you a unique perspective to the city. The next day, book a Sentosa Island Afternoon Trip, which includes a dolphin show, a light-and-sound performance and a tour of Underwater World. The Hop-on Hop-off tour is another fun tour option and includes river cruises as well.
The Singapore Zoo ranks among the best animal parks in the world. It is spread over 70 acres of land, and mercifully keeps its animals behind natural barriers and moats, not cages. The biggest draws here are the penguin, elephant, polar bear and seal shows. The majestic tigers and the wide range of reptiles make you feel that you’re truly out in the wild. You can also book a breakfast with the orang-utans (and yes, it is as exciting as it sounds).
Sentosa Island is choc-a-block with family-friendly adventures. Highly recommended is the Skyline Luge where you use a version of a go-kart to whizz downhill. A Skyride brings you back for seconds, which you’re sure to sign up for. There’s also the Tiger Sky Tower, which at 110 metres, is Singapore’s highest observation deck. The glass cabin commands a majestic view of Singapore as it ascends, and on a clear day, allows you to see as far as neighbouring Indonesia.
On your Singapore trip, few things will make for more amazing photographs than swimming with dolphins. You can book yourself a session at the Underwater World’s Dolphin Lagoon. It’s one of the best aquarium experiences you can treat your family to. If you’re feeling more adventurous, you can also choose to dive with the sharks. Though no prior scuba diving experience is required, children below 12 years of age cannot enter the shark tank.
For a thrill of a quieter kind, head to the Jurong Bird Park, or to the Butterfly Park and Insect Kingdom. While the bird park has over 5,000 birds, the butterfly and insect park has over 4,500 creatures of various colours and forms. At the ‘insect garden’, those with some nerve can even handle scorpions. Both places have interactive shows and play areas for kids. Don’t worry if you have tiny tots – they can be accommodated as well.
Singapore has a menu of theme parks to choose from, the craziest of which is Wild Wild Wet. The water-themed park has several types of rides to choose from. Slides, tsunami pools, smaller pools for toddlers, and a four-storey ramp slide are just some of the attractions. A short distance away, Ski 360 is a perfect spot for teenagers where you can head even at night. Try cable skiing or cable wakeboarding here. If the heat gets to you, head to Snow City, to ski and snowboard or have a classic snowball fight.
For a history lesson, you can strap on your boots and lead your family to Fort Siloso, a veteran of two world wars, which is now a military museum. Along the historical route is Haw Par Villa, a unique theme park that is home to 1,000 statues and 150 giant dioramas. Its most popular attraction is the Ten Courts of Hell, which depicts hell in Chinese mythology and Buddhism. That’s P-G gruesome at its best.
If you’d rather live out your thrills vicariously, sign up for a CineBlast ride at Sentosa. A 4-D simulation combines the thrill of a virtual ‘roller coaster’ with high-definition wide-screen projection. For physically testing afternoons, try indoor rock climbing at Climb Asia, or basic scuba diving at Scuba Corner. If you’re more comfortable on ground, try Gallop Stables: riding and feeding horses is a great, if unusual, way to bond as a family.
One of Singapore’s most popular destinations for the family is Universal Studio. It’s quite literally a space where there’s something for everyone. A favourite among its attractions is Madagascar, which features the cargo ship from Madagascar: A Crate Adventure Ride and all the characters. In addition to this, check out The Lost Word, Far Far Away, Ancient Egypt, Sci-Fi City, New York and the perennial favourite, Hollywood.
Singapore has no dearth of gardens and parks. One of the easiest ones to head to is the Singapore Botanic Garden, which is open till midnight. The colorful precinct also has Jacob Ballas Children’s Garden, with a small playground and tree houses with slides and a maze. Gardens by the Bay comprises three waterfront gardens, while the Labrador Nature Park has the only rocky sea cliff that the public can access.
The Bukit Timah Reserve and the Sungei Wetland Reserve are fabulous locations. The former is perfect for hiking and has some terrific trails. Mountain biking is best at Pulau Ubin, a small island off the mainland. The Sungei Wetland Reserve is great for spotting crabs and mudskippers, mud lobsters and their volcano-like mounds. If you are lucky, you may even spot the Malayan water monitor or a crocodile.