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Family-Friendly Singapore

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Singapore is an exciting, fast-paced city best known for its diverse culture and ultra-modern tastes. Usually a destination for the business traveler, Singapore is also a great vacation stop for families.

Many visitors are surprised when they first arrive in Singapore. The city has a contemporary, Western appearance and offers a friendly first foray into Southeast Asian culture. English is the primary language, although four official languages are recognized. Due to the tremendous impact of Chinese immigrants in Singapore, family is at the core of the society and great reverence and respect is paid to families, particularly children. It is not uncommon for strangers to comment or even pat young children on the head, so please do not be surprised.

singapore river

The Climate
Given Singapore’s location, it can be incredibly hot and muggy almost all year. Luckily, the comprehensive system of underground malls and pedestrian tunnels can help you easily escape the heat. Be sure to keep children well hydrated and bring along a sun hat and enough sunscreen for your stay.

Family-Friendly Dining
Singapore is well known for its culinary talents. There are many American-style restaurants for picky eaters. Plus, there are many food courts and hawker centers throughout the city. Not your typical mall fare, these food courts actually offer some of the best food in the city and can be a fun experience, especially for kids.

Sentosa Island
At the heart of family activities in Singapore is the resort island of Sentosa. Sentosa in itself could be a complete vacation featuring something for everyone including: sheltered beaches, shows, a wave house and the new Universal Studios Singapore. If your hotel isn’t on the island, it is a very easy sky tram ride over and there is plenty of parking if you have a rental car. Sentosa does a great job catering to families and offers plenty of special moments. One thing not to miss is the nightly show, Songs of the Sea. This musical celebration uses pyrotechnics, water jets and computer imagery to create an amazing evening that will entertain kids of all ages. Sentosa’s theme park attractions are a little pricey though and not different from anything you can find in the U.S.

merlion at sentosa island
At statue of “Merlion,” the half-fish/half-lion symbol of Singapore, on Sentosa Island

Singapore Zoo
One of my absolute favorite things to do in Singapore is to visit the phenomenal Singapore Zoo. The zoo specializes in animal displays that are open, using moats and hidden fences to keep the animals in and the people out. After a few minutes you feel like you are part of the exhibits rather than just a voyeur.

A feature that I particularly love is the opportunity to feed a variety of animals. Every day the zoo offers visitors the ability to feed more than 20 different animals, from jaguars to manatees. You pay a nominal fee for the food and then wait your turn to feed the remarkable animals.

To truly enjoy the zoo properly, you should plan to spend most of the day there. If you have the time, also make sure to stay for the zoo’s night safari. This unique adventure is the first of its kind in the world and takes visitors on an exploration of the zoo’s nocturnal animals. You begin with a tour on a tram, exploring the darkest reaches of the zoo’s jungle before a guided walking tour where you will learn about the nighttime habits of the zoo’s many residents. If your family likes animals, this is a must do activity. The zoo also offers a buffet style dinner at one of its restaurants, but that option is a little pricey and not worth the cost.

rhino at singapore zoo
Feeding rhinos at the Singapore Zoo

Singapore Science Center
Another popular family attraction is the Singapore Science Center. After a few days you come to the realization that Singapore does everything well, and its museums are no exception. The expansive science center has more than 1,000 displays covering a variety of science topics including aviation, robotics and astronomy. What makes this a great destination for kids is that so many of the exhibits are extremely interactive and allow people of all ages to play and learn. One of my favorite programs is the Discovery Zone, which is specifically designed for children aged four to 12.

No matter what you choose to do, everyone in your family will love the exciting, multi-cultural city-state of Singapore.

What are thoughts or suggestions on Singapore with kids? Let us know in the comments!

Matthew Long, Editor-in-Chief and creator of LandLopers.com, has a true passion for traveling. As someone who has a bad case of the travel bug, Matt travels the world in order to share tips on where to go, what to see, and how to do it all on a budget. Matt is a Lonely Planet Featured Blogger, as well as a contributor to TravelBlogSites.com, Traveldudes, and Travel Tidbits. Follow Matt on Twitter @Landlopers.

Comments

  1. Debra @ A Frugal Friend says:

    Oh, I loved Singapore…..and Sentosa Island made for a fun day! The city is really so easy to get around and the fact that everyone speaks English made it great (and easier) for Americans, unlike other countries.

    Great post! I also loved the Chinese and Japanese Gardens….got some great photos there, not to mention all the huge monitor lizards that just walk around not bothering anyone. Strange.

  2. Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says:

    Matthew – I have been wanting to go to Singapore ever since I blew a 2nd interview for a marketing job with Singapore Airlines years ago. It does sound like a very family-friendly place and an easy, less intimidating way for Westerners to get a first taste of Southeast Asia. Mayve I can just tak a Singapore Airlines flight there?! Thanks so much for writing this guest post for Travel Mamas!

  3. Kristy Harris says:

    Singapore is our home base and we love it, we have the best of all worlds, great access to local cultures and enough “western” culture to keep the grandparents visiting. Our kids love living here, eat more Chinese and Indian food than Mac&Cheese and are learning to appreciate different cultures beyond “American”. The best part about Singapore is the recent increase in budget airlines which make a weekend trip to Phuket Thailand a steal (sometimes you can get round trip tickets for less than US$100).

  4. Jacob Christopher says:

    I stayed with my family for a week in luxury Singapore hotels and the kids loved every place especially the animals.

  5. A great activity to check out would be the Singapore night safari

    you get to see animals at night and get dinner if you want, very fun and different experience – i really enjoyed it!

  6. Edwin Juen Jr says:

    We already booked a flight for Singapore this coming January 2013 (promo ticket). Thanks for this guide, it added a few things on what we plan to do there. 🙂

  7. Good review! A good point to spend time with kids in Singapore. Above everything, it is really important to carefully plan the day considering the kids’ mood. It taught a lot. Well noted.

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  8. Im happy to know that you have enjoyed Singapore and your kids. This country is truly a paradise to every visitor especially to children. I read that you have encountered some of the cutest animals in the zoo – thats super fun. I hope you visit the place again and enjoy just as much as you did.

  9. The Singapore Zoo is definitely one of my favourites! Would highly recommend the Asian Civilisations Museum to learn more about Singapore’s history, and Joo Chiat/Upper East Coast for the gorgeous shophouses 🙂

  10. Nomadic Foot says:

    its seems such a great and beautiful destination for family.

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