Singapore with Kids
A disclaimer: I am not an expert on Singapore! But I’ve now flown through the city five times, staying for one day / two nights each visit, so I’ve become pretty good at maxing out our one full day there. And I’ve stayed in four hotels those five visits and figured out where I want to be based and where I don’t.
Singapore is my 12-year-old son’s favorite city in the world – despite our lack of extended time there. He loves the cleanliness and order, the street food, the marina atmosphere at night, the Segways that we always rent, and Chinatown. I didn’t like my first two visits to the city, staying too close to Orchard Road and getting lost in malls when I was simply trying to cross the street. Now that we’ve relocated to hotels near the marina, and figured out how to have fun days, I’m really enjoying layovers there.
And our last visit, in November 2019, it took us only 29 minutes to travel from our hotel room at the Fullerton Hotel to the Singapore Airlines lounge in T2 at Changi Airport, including checking in for our flight, checking luggage and going through passport control. I don’t know of any other major city where you can leave a centrally-located hotel and be at your gate, or in a lounge, in under half an hour.
Where to Stay in Singapore
I usually don’t start city posts by listing where to stay, but my visits to Singapore turned around when I discovered the Fullerton Hotel and Fullerton Bay Hotel – similar to how I started loving Bangkok layovers because of the Peninsula Bangkok. A hotel can make all the difference, especially when it’s located in the right place. The Fullerton Hotel is iconic – which I’m always a sucker for. It’s been around 90 years and was originally the city’s post office (the Heritage tour is fascinating) before eventually being converted to a hotel. Normally I would be happy with that and return every visit. But last year my son and I decided to check out the Fullerton Bay Hotel (obviously related) because I’m also a sucker for an amazing view, and the Fullerton Bay Hotel is right on the water. Long story short, I highly recommend both hotels. Choose between an amazing view or the iconic hotel, or choose based on price, but you can’t go wrong.
And one nice thing about both hotels: the kid elements. The hotels have emailed me in advance for my kids’ ages, and they’ve then had kid-sized robes and slippers waiting for them as well as kid toiletries, stuffed bears, and passes for a free daily ice cream cone. There’s also excellent staff interaction at both hotels that makes my kids feel welcome – not always the case at nice hotels. Oh, and the first time we were at The Fullerton Hotel the Argentinian national football team was staying there, which got me major dad points with my football/soccer-loving son.
What To Do in Singapore
Walk Around the Marina at Night
We always arrive in Singapore at night – one more reason we love the Fullerton hotels, since as soon as we check in and drop off our luggage, we can walk right outside and enjoy the atmosphere around the famous Merlion and along the water. And twice a night there’s a light show at Marina Bay Sands across the marina. The area in front of the hotels is the best place to see it.
Explore the ArtScience Museum
We love the ArtScience Museum at the Marina Bay Sands. Last year we saw the Marvel: 10 Years of Heroes exhibition, but regardless of which special exhibit is taking place, the museum itself is worthwhile. My son especially loves the art areas, where his drawings are immediately uploaded into the wall displays.
Walk Around Gardens by the Bay
While you’re over at Marina Bay Sands, head through the hotel to Gardens by the Bay. You’ll recognize it from Instagram – a forest of large metal trees (technically vertical gardens) that one day will be completely covered with plants. Always fun to walk through the trees and go up to the Skyway – an elevated path between two of the trees.
Whereas the ArtScience Museum and Gardens by the Bay are 15 minutes (walking) east of the hotels, Chinatown is 15 minutes west. The Buddha Tooth Relic Temple is probably my favorite temple in Asia, so we always start there, but all of Chinatown is fun to walk around. My friend Sabrina has a good post about everything to do there.
Explore Arab Street
Arab Street is a longer walk from the Fullerton Hotel so we don’t visit it as often as Chinatown, but it’s a fun area. And it’s only a little farther to Little India. Walk over and then take a taxi back.
Eat Street Food
Singapore is known for its street food, and other than getting breakfast at the hotels, it’s pretty much all we eat. But it’s not necessarily on the street. From the food court at Marina Bay Sands to Makansutra Gluttons Bay (5 minutes from the hotels across Esplanade Bridge) to Market Street Food Centre, just a few minutes from Fullerton Bay towards Chinatown, to Chinatown Food Street, there are congregations of street food stalls everywhere. Enjoy!
Rent Segways or Scooters
We started renting Segway Minipros near the Fullerton Hotel and Merlion three years ago and now it’s an annual tradition. Even at 9 years old my son was old enough to rent, and they’ve always been generous with when they start the one-hour rental time. We’ve still never fallen off the Segways or run into anyone, although going across a crowded Esplanade Bridge on a Friday afternoon is a little nerve-wracking.
Take advantage of the pools at the hotels – especially welcome after long flights. And enjoy the view!
Check out the calendar
If you’re planning a visit to Singapore, look at the calendar of events before you book your flights! Two trips in a row we’ve arrived either right before or right after major football matches that my son would have loved to have seen. And we were told the Saturdays leading up to the National Day (August 9) are fun because of all of the event preparations, fireworks, flyovers, etc… Of course we left on a Saturday morning. We’ll plan better next time!
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