Most of us would be familiar with Singapore, with it consistently being one of the top travel destinations for young families. It’s not surprising that this garden city state ticks all the important boxes – clean, green, accessible, safe and fun! Singapore is one of the smallest countries in the world in terms of land area, but it is also importantly one of the world’s most competitive economies.
It’s extremely easy to get around Singapore. Directions and signs are shown in English and public transport is widely available. Taxis, Buses and the metro (colloquially called the MRT) are comfortable and widely available throughout the island and buses can be a little challenging for first time travellers understandably, being initially unfamiliar with the bus routes.
Singapore taxis are useful for getting to places which are not too accessible and they can be hailed along the roads (where safe, of course), or at taxi stands or via a handy app called “Grab” (which works a bit like Uber and Careem’s app), and of course there’s private taxis too via Uber.
The MRT is perhaps the most popular method of getting about and is a highly recommended use of public transport due to its cost efficiency. You can purchase a ‘Singapore Tourist Pass’ which is a stored value card (much like the oyster card and an NOL card) that entitles you to unlimited rides for either day, two days or three days. But beware because the MRT does get busy during peak hours – so try to avoid those timings if you can.
Before you head out, remember that Singapore has a tropical rainforest climate – warm, humid and wet. Hence, it’s a good job to be prepared for the scorching sun in the morning and a likely heavy downpour in the late afternoon.
Always have an umbrella or a cap handy in your bag and I would also advise on applying suncream and mosquito repellent, just to be on the safe side.
Out and About
Now that you’re prepared to explore, head for the great outdoors that Singapore has to offer. My personal favourite is Gardens by the Bay, (or ‘GBTB’ in short). It’s located in Marina South, behind Marina Bay Sands (the landmark hotel with the rooftop infinity pool) and is easiest to get there via taxi, but if you’re not in a hurry and are feeling exceptionally energetic, it is a 10 minuted walk from the Bayfront MRT station.
Botanic Gardens is also one of my firm favourites. Our children would spend hours in the Jacobs Ballas Children’s Garden, after which we would enjoy a put up by school bands or orchestras at the Shaw Foundation Symphony stage. The lawn around it provides a perfect relaxing picnic setting on a weekend evening so I would recommend you bring along along towels and a change of clothes for the water play in the Children’s Garden.
There are 4 entrances to the Botanic gardens. It will help if you know where in the Gardens you would like to visit before setting off, so you know which is the nearest entrance.
I also highly recommend a visit to the Singapore Zoo, the Night Safari and the River Safari, (even though zoos are often a controversial attraction). They are located to the north of the island not directly accessible by MRT. However, there are direct shuttle bus services from the city that takes you straight to the Zoo and there’s more information on the Singapore Zoo website including offers on tickets.
I believe Sentosa needs no introduction – it’s the island of fun. You can get there by taxi, the monorail or even a cable car that’s fun. Some of the attractions include: Universal Studios Singapore, Zip line, beaches, a water play area, an aquarium, casinos, a water and light show, and the list goes on. There’s so much to do and to see – so be ready to be entertained for a full day.
If it isn’t your first time to Singapore and you have already done all the above, you could consider heading to the Singapore Science Centre. It’s not your everyday tourist attraction as it is located in the West, about 40 minutes on the MRT from the city. The nearest MRT station is Jurong East and from there the Science Centre is about 10mins walk. It’s a real treat for all your budding engineers, scientists and ecologists – and even the grown-ups learn something too!
However, if you are more into nature and being outdoors, then Pulau Ubin, might just be your cup of tea. Pulau Ubin, which means ‘Granite Island’ in Malay, offers all the simple pleasures of a rustic island. The experience starts from the bumboat ride at Changi Village (Changi Point Ferry Terminal) ans when you get to the island itself, you are transported straight back to the Singapore of the 1960s!
Opt for a guided walking tour or go on your own cycling adventure around the island, discovering the many granite quarries, traditional villages, mangroves and a host of other things to see. etc. And of course, there are only ever cash transactions – because there are also no cash points/ ATM’s on the island (so please ensure you have cash on you for the day!) you can read more information on https://www.nparks.gov.sg/pulau-ubin and I’m hopeful that some of this has convinced you to consider Singapore as a family holiday destination. For those who already have that flight booked, I am jealous for sure and I am sure you will be well looked after by the friendly Singaporeans you will meet along the way.
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