Earlier in the year, Claire, Hugo, Evie and I visited Singapore for a family holiday and were blown away but what a great family destination it is. From outdoor adventures to interactive museums, here are five of the top activities that I’d recommend, as a father, for your Singapore holiday.
Kidzania is located on Sentosa Island and is basically a gigantic indoor theme park built exclusively for kids. Unlike other parks, adults can’t participate in the activities at all – the idea is to empower your children to be independent. The world is scaled down kid size, has its own multi-story buildings, cars driving on roads, its own money and about 70 different careers for your children to experience firsthand.
You’re probably wondering how can your kids experience a business – well that’s the wonder of KidZania, your children get to work in the businesses to understand what those types of careers might be like when they get older!
To give you a taste for what sort of job experiences are available at KidZania:
- Qatar Airways pilots
- Pizzahut chefs
- Maybank security guards
- Window washers
- Fire fighters
- Convenience stores
- Crime scene investigators
- Hospitals including emergency surgery
- Imaging studio for photography
- Much much more!
I mentioned earlier that KidZania comes with it’s own money, well for good reason; kids earn different amounts of KidZone dollars for completing different jobs – just like the real world. They have to pay KidZone dollars to learn new skills. After finishing up at KidZania, your kids can take their cash and withdraw any in their “chequing account” via an ATM and spend some or all of their money at a KidZania shop, sound familiar?
What I loved about KidZania was the variety of different careers, from window washers all the way up to complex professional industries like a doctor. I’d assumed that certain careers at KidZania would be overwhelmingly popular, however there were children spread out evenly across the entire theme park and it rang true for my children as well, Hugo liked being a pilot, Evie loved cooking pizza and they both loved washing windows – a new weekend pocket money opportunity there for sure!
The ArtScience Museum is located in the Marina Bay Sands precinct, so if you’re in the area you need to put the ArtScience Museum on your list. Like the spectacular Marina Bay Sands hotel, the ArtScience Museum building is an architectural marvel, with a unique lotus flower design whose giant curved petals spread out before you.
When we visited the ArtScience Museum, we explored an incredible, interactive exhibit called Into The Wild: An Immersive Virtual Adventure. To give you an idea of the scale of this art installation, it was a joint project between ArtScience Museum, Google using their Tango technology, Lenovo and WWF (World Wildlife Federation) in association with Panasonic and Qualcomm – say that five times fast! The exhibit spans multiple levels of the ArtScience Museum and over 1000 sq. meters, truly amazing.
Visitors use a smartphone device to explore the ArtScience Museum. As you pan around the museum, everywhere you look through the handheld device shows the real museum, overlaid with a spectacular virtual rainforest for you to explore! There are animals running across the floor, climbing in the trees and creeping through the undergrowth! You can stop at any time on something interesting, tap your smartphone screen to get additional information about it and then continue on to the next part of your journey before ultimately completing your objective!
To guarantee that you have enough devices, reserve your smartphone device in advance on the ArtScience Museum website. Make sure you’ve got your passport with you as you’ll need to provide it as security on the device, you’ll get it back when you return your device.
I love the ArtScience Museum first and foremost because it was a science museum, I could spend hours on hours in there and not get bored. I enjoy taking Hugo and Evie to these types of activities because it broadens their knowledge and gives them another perspective, much like travel does. Each time we visit a science museum, both Hugo and Evie have an fantastic time, are energised and ask about 250 questions about all different aspects of the exhibits they experienced.
Everything about the National Gallery in Singapore makes it a must visit. From the history of the former Supreme Court and City Hall which comprise the National Gallery, to the amazing architecture and of course spectacular South-east Asian art and culture, it’s a one of a kind experience!
Claire, Hugo, Evie and I spent several hours inside and it wasn’t nearly enough, so give yourself plenty of time. The National Gallery has a massive floor space and we spent about half our time in each building, reading just some of the history of Singapore, visiting judges chambers, viewing traditional paintings and more.
When our attention moved to the art side, the breadth of art was incredible, covering everything from paintings in various mediums, sculpture, 3D abstract installations, it was an absolute delight. One particular exhibit that both Hugo and Evie thought was very clever was a wooden chair that had been disassembled, cut into various pieces and ‘rebuilt’ over several meters. Of course, as you walk around the exhibit you can see what it is made of, but it doesn’t make sense entirely until you reach the viewing position and your perspective suddenly brings all of the individual pieces together to look like a perfectly normal chair.
What I love about venues like the National Gallery in Singapore is the variety. As you walk through the gallery, your kids are looking at everything as well – make no mistake. They’ll pick up on different pieces of art or aspects of a specific piece of art that takes their interest and I think this is the beauty of it. Just like a science museum, an art gallery expands their minds to understand how art comes in many shapes and forms, not just the traditional that they might be more used to seeing. They come to understand that someone was passionate about that particular piece and poured countless amounts of time into producing it.
East Coast Park
East Coast Park is a 15 kilometer stretch of greenbelt with accompanying beach on the southern side of Singapore. It covers an impressive 185 hectares built entirely on reclaimed land. East Coast Park provides a huge variety of outdoor activities for the whole family to enjoy, from beach volleyball parks, BBQ pits, bike and rollerblading paths, skateboarding parks, water activities like swimming or cable skiing and much more.
When we arrived at East Coast Park we grabbed a cold drink at a nearby McDonalds before setting off on our adventure for a few hours. We didn’t need to go far before we found a gigantic play area for the kids with climbing frames and huge slippery-dips.
From there we continued along and came across bicycle rental. This was incredible if only for the simple fact that I’ve literally, never in my entire life, seen so many push bikes in a single place – there had to be over a thousand! We rented four bikes, different sizes and styles and set off on our merry way – hilarious because for a moment we tested the old expression it’s like riding a bike; but we got going and had a fantastic time riding around for the next hour or two.
What I loved about this activity was we could all do it together, it wasn’t just Hugo and Evie or Claire and I, but everyone together. Anything outside is always a big plus in my book as well since everyone’s kids these days get too much screen time and reminding them that there is a big wide world outside that is fun to explore is great.
Far East Organisation Children’s Garden
Gardens by the Bay is an amazing venue built on 101 hectares of reclaimed land. If you don’t know about Flower Dome, Cloud Forest and the Supertree Grove yet, you certainly will once you start doing your research for your holiday to Singapore.
What might not immediately capture your attention however is the Far East Organisation Children’s Garden, which is located near Cloud Forest. Within the Children’s Garden, you’ll find trampolines, balancing beams, hanging bridges and more. Importantly though, you should bring your kids togs along with you as they have an amazing water play area with jets of water squirting high into the air. All you’ll hear are the squeals, laughter and giggles from children from around the world having an absolute blast – best yet it is totally free!
I loved that it was an outdoor activity and it was great to break up other sightseeing for some pure fun. Hugo and Evie ran around together in the giant jets of water, swinging around the poles and just having a riot of a time. Coincidentally, it was good timing from a weather standpoint, Singapore can be quite hot and humid so getting the kids into the water was an easy ask!
When you’re planning your next Singapore holiday with kids, I hope you include a few of the activities above in your itinerary. While a destination like the National Gallery mightn’t normally make it onto everyone’s holiday activity list, I can assure you that you’re kids will thoroughly enjoy it and the world is there to explore – be adventurous, do something different and revel in something new!
A revised version of this first appeared on the Expedia blog.