Every year, the family tries to travel somewhere the kids have never been to before. There is a lot to be appreciated with travel and travel with children – granted, they’re no longer children but are teenagers now, the boys officially 13 as of writing. So the previous fascinations for theme parks and other “kid” friendly places and activities no longer have the same reception.
We travel for a variety of reasons but mostly, it’s to have fun, learn about the culture and try to relate that with our own everyday lives when we are back in our home country. It is also a live and practical teachable moment to the kids when it comes to being mindful, considerate to others and how to be tolerant without being a pushover.
This year, we decided to go to Singapore. The small country is easy enough to travel to for Filipinos. There are no visa requirements, the weather is pretty much the same and the food is very familiar to Pinoys. There isn’t a shortage of things to do and see as well, at least for everyone in the family.
Singapore is one of my favourite cities. It’s clean, very walkable and the people are generally friendly. We did have certain “non negotiables” on the list such as Sentosa, Universal Studios and the Merlion park. Though the country is quite small, you would still need sometime, just to explore Sentosa alone. So, here was our list:
- Gardens by the Bay
- Singapore Flyer
- Marina Bay Sands – Have a meal up in the Skybar
- Art Science Museum
- Universal Studios
- SEA Aquarium
- Sentosa – Luge and Madame Tussaud’s
We didn’t even have time to go and visit the zoo and the safari, which will be done next time we visit Singapore.
Day 2: Gardens by the Bay, Marina Bay Sands, Art Science Museum and Singapore Flyer
Being old people that we are, we used Day one to rest and recuperate from the trip. We officially started on Day 2.
These places are close enough together that you can walk to each place. I highly encourage you to walk rather than taking a taxi or Grab. It’s healthier and while the weather may be too hot for walking, it is quite comfortable to take the route within the gardens going to Marina Bay Sands. Go early if you can, just to avoid the midday and afternoon heat. The Flower Dome and the Cloud Forest are the areas that are air-conditioned but they are also the ones that have an admission fee. The rest of the Gardens are free for you to roam and visit.
I advise that you take a map and assign one of the kids to be your Map Guy/Girl. It’s a teachable moment – you’re giving them life skills! The map will show you the way to the next stop on the list: Marina Bay Sands. It’s really much closer than you think.
The Skybar is reserved for hotel guests, so if you’re aching to get a 360 view on top of Marina Bay Sands, then you gotta book yourself there. You can go to the Skypark for a fee as well. There are restaurants in the skyjack but they’re reservation only for the air-conditioned areas. If you’re aching to take this iconic shot, just walk to where the pool area is (don’t go in, that’s only for hotel guests) and hang at the small park near the elevators. You can then snap this photo 🙂
Once satiated with drink and food, you can walk towards the mall/shops and out to the ArtScience Museum. An iconic Singapore landmark, the museum is shaped like a blooming lotus flower. They usually have different featured exhibits but not to miss is the Future Worlds exhibit. It’s a really cool combination of interactive art and technology.
From there, you can just walk to the Singapore Flyer through the Helix Bridge. Now, I see you guys rolling your eyes at the thought of having to walk and stuff. Well, interestingly enough, you can use the multitude of bikes and scooters that are all around the city. It’s for a small fee for the rental but I think it’s a really cool and different way to explore the city.
Day 3: Universal Studios and the SEA Aquarium
Universal Studios is big. Sentosa is even bigger. Allocate a couple of days at the minimum to explore this place.
To be completely honest though, if you are going here, you have to bring with you, boundless energy and a whole lot of patience – with the lines and all. One ride was at least a couple of hours waiting in queue! Unless you can afford to get the express pass, you’ll just have to endure.
The kids were not so keen on the rides, with the exception of Shrek’s Land Far Far Away. Jurassic Park was a hit as well as the Transformers. Outside of Universal Studios, Sentosa is also home to a myriad activities. The kids were quite excited about the Luge and the Mega Zip Line. We did the Luge on the first day, together with the Sky Lift. That was a lot of fun and worth the money!
The SEA Museum was a sight to see. When I was a kid, I’ve dreamed of being a Marine Biologist, but long story short – things happen. Anyhoo, my oldest son, Zac, seems to want to be one too so this trip to the aquarium was a treat for the both of us. Don’t be deceived by it, it’s a massive aquarium with a lot of variety. The kids loved the huge tanks and I love the fact that you can buy some corndogs and sit and watch the fish. It’s a wonderful experience, I swear.
Day 4: Sentosa again, Trick Eye Museum and Madame Tussaud’s
Day 2 in Sentosa gave us a better opportunity to go beyond the theme park and the aquarium. The kids wanted to do the Mega Zip line which was at the beach area so we took the train and lined up and did it.
But before that, we took some time to go and visit the Trick Eye Museum. It was part of the FUN Pass we previously bought (which I recommend you purchase if you prefer convenience) so we went to check it. Fun enough if you use the app – which I also suggest you download. The museum has free WiFi so no worries.
We also visited Madame Tussaud’s and Bea had her hand immortalised in wax…pending summer weather. Just before you get to the museum though, you will have to go through this interactive cultural show. The kids were not token, as teenagers are, but if you’re looking at understanding and appreciating Singapore history and culture, it’s a pretty interesting show.
Day 5: Chinatown and Merlion Park
On the last day, we reserved it for a last push at history and culture with a bit of shopping. so, off to Chinatown we went!
Not to miss is the Buddha Tooth Relic temple. Try to go upstairs and visit the museum and the exhibits. On the topmost floor is the orchidarium and where the monks pray while spinning a huge prayer wheel.
Then as a last hurrah, we had popsicles at the Merlion Park.
Important tips: Wear comfy shoes. Skip the heels when you’re going to be active. Also wear sunscreen as Singapore can get hot. Most importantly, enjoy!