My take on best kids attractions for Singapore
I was born in the UK in 1979 but moved back to Singapore to begin primary school in 1986. I spent more than a decade after getting through the tough Singaporean education system. I never really appreciated how much Singapore caters to kids/families until I had left for the US! Singapore is home to some select ‘crazy rich asians’ but everyone else is just, you know, cool. I’m super proud of this nation and what it has accomplished, especially given its very humble beginnings. We visit almost every year now and it is crazy how much the country evolves to stay ahead. Still by far the #1 travel destination voted by our kids!
Foundational list (photo slideshow)
Get this… it opens at 830!!! And it is intentional because Singapore is very hot. Do all the shows and the animal feedings especially the giraffe. Great kidsworld with petting zoo and carousel rides. You can even book a breakfast session with orang utans. Bring water play gear so kids can cool off when it gets hot, they have a fantastic water play area. Buy tickets in advance.
The Night Safari is right next to the Singapore zoo. I recommend buying the combo ticket if you’re planning on visiting both. You sit in these little buses and tour a different part of the Mandai Zoo. You HAVE to buy the tickets online in advance to reserve your time slot. It is one of the most popular night attractions on the island.
Jurong Bird park
If you do all three above, buy the park hopper online in advanced. Also opens at 830 so you can have an early start.
Gardens by the bay - water play for kids (free)
The garden domes itself is really impressive but our kids weren't that impressed. Given the price I would say it is just okay. The water play garden is FREE and impressive though. We visit this place multiple times every time we visit.
Kallang Wave mall - water play for kids (free)
SEA aquarium (catch the animal feedings) is one of the best aquariums in the area. Lots of other things to do in Sentosa like Universal Studios, cable cars, tanjong beach/waterplay area and our favorite, Kidzania. Kidzania is a city built for kids. Kids have “bank accounts” and they travel the city independently to do different jobs like pilot, baker, fireman etc. The first one in US will be opening in 2019 in the east coast. That was the highlight for our daughter this year. Minimum age of 4+ to truly appreciate. Tickets need to be reserved in advance,.
National gallery kids section (free)
The installations at the national gallery museum change constantly. It’s a free attraction that we make a point to visit every single time. Conveniently located at City Hall MRT. You can have lunch at Raffles City or the cute little cafe at the national gallery museum.
Singapore river cruise or open air double decker HIPPO bus tour
Singapore science center
Haven't been in 20 years but I can imagine they have upped their game. It was always a fun visit. Maybe better for older kids. Buy tickets online
Marina bay sands science center (kids free on Friday)
It’s pricey but I believe kids get to go in free on Fridays. Double check their site.
Botanical gardens Jacob ballas children's garden (free)
Opens at 8am free water play for little ones. There’s a new section now with trapeze and other fun activities for older kids. Easily accessible by train. However, I got eaten alive by mozzies. Either you have non-sweet blood or come prepared. Check hours here.
For any rainy day, google indoor playgrounds or hit the museums or libraries.
There is a ton of variety all over the island - both free and paid. Bring your own socks for both kids and adults or you'll have to pay extra.
Since we are usually out in the east, we like to hit the marine parade library on a rainy day.
If Ikea is still doing their ballpit thing, might be worth visiting! Our kids love doing pretend play in all the “rooms” at Ikea.
Full list: Best indoor malls (List from 2017)
Changi airport is an attraction!
Unlike most airports you actually want to hang out at Changi. There's a giant slide (that takes 6 seconds to get down), lots of playground, free movie theatres, amazing restaurants, sky train and lots of other seasonal activities. Go with plenty of time to explore. Once inside the departure lounge, don’t forget to visitthe butterfly garden. Apply for the Changi rewards card online so you won't have to pay the GST. Since we had a 6am flight to catch out of Singapore, we did a 1 night staycation at the airport hotel (crowne plaza) the night before. It is well reviewed and has an amazing pool. Highly recommend it.
Wild wild west at downtown east / Pasir Ris
Never actually made it out there.
Splash amaze water park (indoor for rainy days) / Punggol
Legoland JB, Malaysia - we took a coach center over and spent the day there. It was fun and we lucked out that it was a cloudy day! Most people recommend staying at the hotel which is supposed to be the highlight.
Animal resort/ only visit when visiting ivy in Seletar
Newly expanded Jacob Dallas / Dunearn
Still full of mozzies. We could only withstand for an hour.
Science center / Jurong
Fire station open house / Famous one is central fire station on hill street every Saturday. Great demonstration of all the different functions.
Fight jet lag with Universal studios from 2-8pm (90cm height) / Sentosa (get express pass for one adult)
Esplanade indoor kids play area (free): Walk by the river later to see the merlion. There's also craft and story time but check the schedule online. It's super clean and has the cutest kids toilet I've seen. Sweeping views of the city from the terrace too. It’s small and I wouldn’t make a special visit to this place but not a bad rest stop on a bad day while you’re out in the city. Check hours here.
Marina cove playground and beach (free)
First inclusive playground in Singapore with a massive slide. You can also rent family buggies here to bike up and down the coast. Beach area right in front of playground. But not as accessible. No train access yet. Lots of food options. It’s a good place to visit if you happen to be having some seafood at the seafood center. I recommend No Signboard Seafood Center. (Chilli crabs!!!)
Other travel tips
You’re going to need portable power banks because of the many photos you’ll be taking. Buy it now! This Jackery power bank was recommended by NYT and has a built-in cable for both apple and android devices. We love it!
Upon arrival at Changi Airport, purchase a $30 singtel tourist SIM from the “Changi recommends” booth. you'll get 14gb of data and unlimited data for Facebook and WhatsApp for 10 days. Unbeatable value!
For a child over 40lbs/40”/4yo, buy a foldable mifold booster so you can easily move around with taxi or uber.
Availability for taxi/uber/grab is really bad during rush hour. Try to avoid those times.
During off peak times, public transportation is easy and fun. Our kids loved the mRT and double decker buses. You can get the ezlink cards at any train station.
Kids easily get tired because of the heat. Bring lots of water, hats and plan for water play often to help cool off. If your child runs hot, make sure you get one of these: DLX Necklace Fan DSP
Hawker centers and food courts have lots of options for kids but you can't go wrong with hainanese chicken rice. My kids will eat it again and again and again.
Stuff (in general) is really expensive but I find in a pinch I can find most things at daiso. Including cheap sand toy sets. Also good for topping up on fun Japanese snacks.
Stroller is a must for under 3. They easily get tired and hot with all that walking.
Bring kids sweater or long sleeved out with you. The indoors is notoriously cold! They turn the AC way down to compensate for the heat outside.
If you're nursing, there are lots of nursing rooms in malls. But they can get hot because the rooms are tiny.
It's not uncommon to experience long lines at restaurants especially on weekends. Like if you plan to hit ding Tai fung. Go early to get a queue number or avoid it on weekends. Plan your meals ahead and most restaurants will take reservations during busy hours. You don't want to be stuck with hangry kids and nowhere to eat.
For lunch I might just get them a couple of soft Asian buns at a bakery like bread talk. Cheap and mess-free.
P.S. Don’t try anything funny in Singapore. They’re don’t joke about caning for vandalism or the death penalty for drug traffickers.