So what are your summer plans? In the UAE where we now live, the summer break lasts from the end of June to the beginning of September when school starts again. Yes you read that right, for us that’s eleven whole weeks of holidays. You might think woo hoo! But imagine having to occupy your children all day and still maintain some sort of sanity, while not withering in the 40+ degrees heat. No wonder there’s an expat exodus every summer! Most of my friends and their kids have left or are leaving, while our family is staying put for the rest of the holidays.
However, we were lucky enough to go back to Singapore for a (too-)SHORT trip and it was fabulous! It was also terrific to have so many options for TT to enjoy – museums, shops, theme parks, the zoo. Some of my friends have already recently visited my country and others are heading there soon for their holidays. I’ve been asked quite a few times this year for some recommendations, especially about kids’ activities and food. Well, since our recent trip is still fresh in my mind, I thought I’d actually make a list of my favourite things to do, places to go, and food to eat! And this might come in handy for the next friend who asks for ideas
Caveat: We haven’t lived in Singapore in three years but I try to keep abreast of the many changes and developments in the country. I’ve mostly included places that I’ve gone to and things I’ve tried. AND if any of my Singaporean friends have more suggestions or your own favourites, please leave a comment and I can add them to my to-do list for when we’re back in Sunny Singapore! So for starters, here are my Top 5 Fun Places to go with Kids
This museum recently opened while we’ve been away and on my sister-in-law’s recommendation, we headed there for a fun afternoon. We spent so much time in the kids’ sections that we didn’t even have time to explore any of the other areas in the museum. TT had a blast and we had a hard time tearing her away to go for lunch (at the very yummy National Kitchen, I must add). I loved how interactive the exhibits were and very unlike usual museums where you’re just supposed to be a quiet spectator. This place has definitely got it right in terms of 1) involving the kids and 2) letting them be artistic. As part of the exhibit, TT put stickers on the walls, floor and furniture in an art piece by Yayoi Kusama, and that has got to be every kid’s dream! In another room, she attempted 3D pottery by shaping the vessel and painting it on a touch-screen. When this was done, she could see it digitally fired up and then displayed at the front of the room. And the best part? A little Enchanted Tree that was life-sized and magical! Kids can run around, up the tree, and sneak into its trunk. What a way to light up their imaginations! I enjoyed watching TT scamper around with a new friend she made, while I reminisced about the Faraway Tree books I read as a child. I can’t recommend this place enough and wish we had spent more time there.
The Zoo, River Safari and Night Safari
I remember going to the Zoo when I was a child and our school organised excursions there after our year-end examinations. Of course, the zoo has made major improvements since the 80s and has also expanded to include the Night Safari and River Safari. All three are conveniently located next to each other, so you could actually spend the whole day here if you wanted. If you think you’ve already been to the zoo, there are so many other exciting activities unlike other zoos. Besides the usual animal shows, you can have breakfast with orang utans or get splashingly wet at the water play area at the Zoo, meet the two cutest pandas at the River Safari or have a nocturnal animal experience at the Night Safari. What is on our to-do list (since TT is still too young) is the Kidzranger Tour where children (aged 5-12) get to be little zookeepers. They’ll feed animals, learn about their habits and how to care for them. Sounds like a great programme that every little animal-lover should join!
Gardens By the Bay
Here you can find the largest man-made greenhouse and tallest man-made waterfall in the world. Each time we go, there is a different exhibition at the Flower Dome where you get to escape the heat and learn about flora. And without a doubt, the Supergrove Trees are a sight to behold, especially when the gardens are lit up at night. Kids will love playing in the outdoor gardens as well as at the playground, sprinklers and fountains in the Children’s Garden. And I’m sure they’ll be as excited as adults while taking a stroll along a walkway 22m up in the Supertrees. If you’ve forgotten, Singapore is known as The Garden City and the Gardens By the Bay is a prime example of how we have cultivated the country into the world’s greenest city!
Needless to say, a theme park has to be included in this list. Rides, thrills, and beloved movie characters – what else would a child ask for? (Best not to actually ask your kid that though 😉 ) The last time I went to Universal Studios was before we had TT when we could enjoy all the big rides. TT might be just the right age to enjoy some rides on our next visit. Younger children will have fun with dinosaurs, as well as Sesame Street, Minion, Madagascar and Shrek characters, shows and rides. And there is no doubt that older kids AND adults will be thrilled with more exciting rides from Jurassic Park, Transformers and Battlestar Galactica.
Recently declared as an UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2015, the Singapore Botanic Gardens is a place that many Singaporean families visit. This place is part of my childhood, and I vividly recall taking a picture with my sisters in front of its huge gates. It doesn’t cost anything to enter and there are usually many activities within the grounds like free concerts by the Singapore Symphony Orchestra, heritage and forest tours as well as picnics. In addition to the Jacob Ballas Children’s Garden where kids can play and learn about plants, there are often organised activities for children such as story-telling sessions, planting and drama workshops, that are available for a small fee. Such lovely greenery nestled in the heart of our city. Head there with the kids and let them enjoy a run around amongst the beautiful flora!
There is an abundance of organised kids’ activities that will ensure that they have TONS of fun AND learn something new at the same time. Beyond these five places, you’ll find numerous other museums, play gyms and parks to visit with your kids! I really miss this about Singapore, where there is certainly no lack of events and programmes for children and especially since TT is old enough to enjoy and appreciate such activities. This is also something that I desperately need during these 2 months of school break. In Abu Dhabi, most of the time children only have the option of going to play gyms. Educational activities seem to cater mostly for the older ones, and even then are pretty costly. The weather is also a huge issue as for half the year as it is way too hot to go outdoors. And there just aren’t enough indoor museums and sights with age-appropriate activities for kids. Hopefully in time, this will change for the better.
Well, have I convinced you yet that Singapore might be your next holiday destination with the kids? In the next post, I’ll let you know about five areas in this little city that I enjoy visiting. Till then, I hope that you’re having a happy summer!
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