Family Vacations to Singapore

Singapore skyline
Singapore skyline (courtesy, Singapore Tourism Board)

Singapore Family Travel Tips

  • You must be at least six years old to swim with the dolphins at Underwater World on Sentosa Island; children ages 12 and over can dive with the oceanarium's sharks or the dugong (a relative of the manatee).
  • Pack the children's swimsuits and let them cool off in the water play area (part of the Rainforest Kidzworld playground) at Singapore Zoo.
  • To take part in the Jungle Breakfast at Singapore Zoo you need to book at least one day in advance.

One of the world's great economic success stories, the unique island nation of Singapore, the "Lion City," is a destination best known for its shimmering skyscrapers, sprawling port, and bustling business community. While some more adventurous travelers to Southeast Asia perceived the nation as a tad boring, the same could not be said for families. This safe, sensible destination packs a host of family attractions into a compact, easily navigable city.

The climate is a key attraction. Because it lies only 85 miles north of the equator, the weather is warm year-round. The humidity can be high, but you can seek refuge in a world of air conditioned hotels and shopping malls—all indoor attractions have air conditioning. The lush jungle and developed land of Singapore may spread across 58 islands, but the real star is Singapore Island, where you will fly into, no doubt be based, and certainly spend most of your time.

Singapore is very much a modern city: the majority of those impressive gleaming glass and steel skyscrapers were built after the Second World War. The last vestiges of British colonial rule can be found elegantly reclined around the Singapore River, including a statue of Singapore's founder—Sir Stamford Raffles, the famous hotel named after him (Raffles), and the grand Empress Place building.

Other city districts of interest to families are colorful Chinatown, with its recreated historic buildings and engaging markets, and Little India, where extravagantly colored saris shout from windows and the smell of aromatic spices fill the air. Singapore was once at the core of the spice trade, a great mercantile hub that attracted scores of Chinese, Thai, and Indian immigrants. This history created the cultural and ethnic melting pot that intoxicates many visitors today.

Most family attractions lie outside the city center. On Singapore Island the highlights are Jurong Bird Park and Singapore Zoo. The former is an award-winning attraction that boasts over 600 species as well as over 8,000 birds in total. Housed in a variety of imaginatively designed zones, it keeps even the most demanding juvenile ornithologist happy. Singapore Zoo spreads across almost 70 acres of rainforest and is an oasis for humans and animals alike. It offers a variety of species, from cheeky chimpanzees and orangutans to hulking rhinos and elephants.

Just offshore, Sentosa Island is another world-class family attraction, an entire tropical island given over to leisure and having fun. Choose from a myriad of walking trails, cable car rides, dolphin shows, family-friendly restaurants, old military installations, and much more. It's a suitably eclectic escape for a suitably eclectic and rewarding family destination.

Published: 25 Jun 2009 | Last Updated: 30 Mar 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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