Generally thought of as a big business hub in South-East Asia, or as an ideal stopover between the lands ‘down under’ and Europe, Singapore actually has much to offer in terms of a proper holiday destination. Families most would benefit from its compact size yet wealth of attractions, which suit all ages and assure that a week spent there is spent well.
If you are a child, have a child or just are a child at heart, I heartily recommend seeking out the following locations and booking them on your next trip through to Singapore:
Yes, there are many zoos in the world, but this one features at the top of the ‘best zoos’ list for very good reasons. It features some of the most open yet immersive enclosures for both animals and people.
For myself, the biggest highlight are the multiple monkey experiences – from the very front door where the local tamarins have made home in the branches above, to the free-range zone in the centre of the park where monkeys and chimps are free to explore the trees above your head, or jumping around in the ponds and riverlands below. This experience means you do feel you get more of the sense of their natural behaviour as well as being up-close and personal.
You don’t need to be in any way an expert at photography to take some marvellous shots from the average digital camera or even camera phone here; so is the beauty of the location which is mostly free from wire fences or glass enclosures.
Show-wise, you can skip the breakfast experience, but ensure that you make time to see the Rainforest Fights Back; a combination of both animal talent and important message on nature of environment. On the day we visited, we were surprised to have an intruder in the form of a rogue monkey join the keeper on stage – a stark reminder that we are invading their natural habitat, not the other way around.
In terms of facilities, you’ll have the opportunity to rest your weary feet by catching the tram between locations, or perhaps stop off half way and enjoy a free mini-waterpark whilst eating lunch. It’s a great day out for all ages, and even worth doing over 2 days if you find the heat overbearing. Better still, take advantage of the 4-park zoo pass which grants you entry into the River Safari and Night Safari next door, and the Jurong Bird Park located on the other side of the Island. For the sake of your sanity though, do not try to squeeze more into your day than just the Zoo – space those activities out across your week of the Singapore holiday.
If you are travelling as a family, it is likely you are already acquainted with the delights of Sentosa Island – home to many family friendly holiday resorts. However, if you are based on the mainland of Singapore, you should immediately be hopping over on the monorail from Vivo City Shopping Centre to discover its many highlights.
Once there, avail yourself of the Sentosa Fun Pass – a multi entry card offering discounts – to discover as many attractions as you can; including the SEA Aquarium and Trick Eye Museum, or cool down in the Adventure Cove Waterpark. There are cable cars reaching across the Island which give some of the most picturesque views across Singapore, or if you fancy venturing underground, then the ‘older kids’ can avail themselves of some gambling opportunities at the Resort Casino located below the main shopping street ‘Sentosa Gateway’. The casino is free for tourists to enter (bring your passports for proof), but entry is at a charge for locals.
If you are over 17 years old, you’ll be kicking yourself for not being younger. This amusement park allows children from ages 3-17 to be part of the real world and try out numerous job opportunities hands-on in a fun and educational way. If only real life work was as good as this!
Upon entry you are greeted at the Qatar Airways Airport check-in counter, issued with a boarding ticket as well as a KidZania Maybank debit card, in which the kids use to store KidZania dollars at the upon completion of a job and or exchange to participate in certain activities. There is the chance to be a firefighter, surgeon, parcel couriers, ice cream makers, police officers, candy makers, pilots and aircrew, or even Pizza Hut employees where kids can make own pizza for lunch.
This is a place where kids can perform jobs like mum and dad, earn money, and even purchase important elements like life insurance; so teaching them the value of earning cash from a honest days work and saving for something they would like to do.
It may not live up to the lofty heights of the American versions available in Los Angeles or Orlando, but the Sinagpore outlet of Universal Studios still has plenty of thrills to keep everyone in the family entertained for a day’s outing.
The park is open from 10am until 8pm, and its recommended to arrive as early as possible to avoid the crowds. It was possible to conquer both Madagascar Land and Far Far Away Land without any crowds or queuing, but by 11 am crowds did start to build. Therefore, I would highly recommend purchasing the Express Pass (which can be pre-booked), as the wait for most rides by lunchtime is generally 50-75 minutes long; as opposed to the much smaller express pass queue which guarantees only a 5-10 minutes wait. It’s an absolute bonus, especially if your tolerance for queues is at a minimum in the hot and steamy Singapore weather.
The most popular rides include Transformers (a virtual 4D action-packed and fast-moving ride), Revenge of the Mummy (high-speed rollercoaster) and Lost World (featuring river rapids and a steep water fall). For the older kids, these are the ones to hit first at the park – located at the far end. For the less adventurous, the shows and street entertainment do make you feel like you had really stepped into Hollywood. Try out Waterworld, but avoid sitting at the front if you don’t want to be soaked!