This is a guest post by Aimee Chan, who is the editor of the family travel website Suitcases & Strollers, and who is based in Singapore. When she’s not working, Aimee enjoys hanging out with her young son and here she shares her favourite things to do with children where they live.
It’s tacky, kitschy and over-priced for Southeast Asia, but this is the Mecca of fun things to do with kids. It’s here that you’ll find Universal Studios, two aquariums, a luge, two beaches and a load of other activities (think monorail, cable car, the list goes on). One of the less well-known but definitely more interesting is the iFly – a giant wind tunnel tube that lets adults and kids sample the sensations of skydiving. (Even for tiny tots, this is a pretty amusing visit.)
While you’re there check out the Malaysian Food Street, an air-conditioned themed hawker centre for authentic and delicious Malaysian food. (Kids always love the chicken rice balls, Hokkien mee and satays.)
The Southern Ridges
At the other end of the spectrum, the Southern Ridges walk is a tree-top walk that will take you far from Singapore’s madding crowd. It’s peaceful, green and quite beautiful – plus it has the added bonus of being broken down into sections so if the entire 10 kilometres seems too long, you can just opt out. This is a tropical country though, so bring sun protection and mosquito repellant. (Tip: Be careful of the monkeys. They are extremely aggressive and will snatch food right out of your hands, so keep your distance.)
The Singapore Zoo is currently undergoing a renovation which will mean its array of rare animals will become even more impressive. In a cleverly designed area, orang utans hang in the open air right above your head and if you get there early enough there is a program to have breakfast with them. The animal shows are also very professional and unique, particularly the Elephants at Work and Play show. Bring towels and swimming gear with you because at the top of the Zoo is a brilliant free water play area. Helpfully it’s right outside Ben & Jerry’s so parents can enjoy an ice cream while the kids run amuck and cool off.
East Coast Seafood Centre
Dress in your darkest (or oldest clothes) and be prepared to get your hands dirty. The East Coast Seafood Centre is a super family friendly row of restaurants right along the water all specialising in one thing – the famous chilli crab dish. Even fussy kids who may not try it will get a kick out of seeing this. Imagine a huge bowl of steaming hot crab, covered in a luscious tomato sauce, best eaten by soaking it up with white fried bread rolls. You can expect to leave here covered in crab – but heartily satisfied. (Ask for a milder sauce for children or if your children are less adventurous, all the restaurants serve simpler dishes like fried rice and steamed fish.) If you have scooters or skates with you, bring them as kids can run amuck here while you enjoy a cold beer when all the stomachs are full.
After you’ve had a few days absorbing the teeming hustle and bustle of this very modern city, spend a day escaping to the quiet of Pulau Ubin. This backwater island is like stepping into the Singapore of yesteryear. Traditional kampong housing still exists, the rainforest is lush, beaches abound and its all best explored by hiring bicycles and just cycling around.
suitcases&strollers is an online magazine that provides inspiration for intrepid travel with kids.
Images courtesy of Singapore Tourism Board