Introducing guest blogger Emma from Wanderlust & Wet Wipes
Affectionately known as The Little Red Dot, Singapore is the ultimate melting pot of life in the tropics and a cacophony of cultures all living on one little island. We moved from Qatar to Singapore in August 2019 and immediately started comparing and contrasting it to our former home.
While they seem very different, the two countries share a surprising amount in common including a large expat population, a largely minoritised migrant worker population, and a good deal of segregation between locals and foreigners.
It was the differences that we celebrated most and at the top of that list was how we had moved from 50 shades of beige to 50 shades of green. Moving in August from the relentless and blistering Middle Eastern summer meant we were practically the only people on the island not struggling with the heat and humidity.
The ability to go outside year-round was something that we relished after being cooped up for 5 long Qatari summers and some long British winters before that. As such, it seemed obvious to write about all the things we love doing outside in our new city.
This post is part of our Explore My City series – come and visit cities around the world through the eyes of local parents
Gardens By The Bay
Possibly one of the most iconic images of Singapore has to be the dreamlike supertrees that dominate the gardens. Towering over everything else in the vicinity, the sky walk linking two of them offers panoramic views of the back and of the city. There’s so much more to do in the Gardens By The Bay than just see the Supertrees. There’s an amazing splash play area that the kids will love, two biodomes (ok, technically not outside) and, several gardens to explore.
If the Supertree Grove isn’t enough to make you think of Singapore, then the area around Marina Bay must be. The Marina Bay Sands hotel is instantly recognisable and soars over the skyline while shorter but no less recognisable monuments such as the lotus flower-shaped Art Science Museum and the Merlion. This is a lovely place to spend an late afternoon / early evening walking around before stopping for dinner at one of the waterfront restaurants.
Singapore Botanic Gardens
Probably my favourite place in Singapore is the Botanic Gardens. These tropical gardens are spread out over 82 hectares and are incredibly well maintained and laid out. There’s a heavy educational focus throughout the gardens so there are lots of opportunities to learn! There are hundreds of paths and different areas to explore (after almost a year here I still find a new area every time I go!). We love the Jacob Ballas Children’s Garden as a family and often take the opportunity to walk around the rest of the gardens while we are there.
Sentosa might be a small Singaporean island but it packs a mighty punch. This is where you’ll find the high-end resorts, theme parks, a luge run and a zip line. There are beaches and restaurants to try and there’s even a cable car to get you there from the main island.
Whilst overall the island is quite touristy, this is also where you’ll find several of Singapore’s hidden gems including Fort Siloso and Tanjong Rimau, the largely undeveloped northern-west tip.
Ahhh the theme parks! Not everyone’s cup of tea and heavy on the budget side but they bring out everyone’s inner child! Head to Universal Studios or Adventure Cove on Sentosa, Wild Wild Wet on the main island or cross the border to Johor Bharu in Malaysia to visit Legoland or Hello Kitty Land.
Beaches around Singapore
While Sentosa can offer beaches, the main island can too. Beaches on the west and east coasts as well as further to the east in Changgi and north to Pasir Ris. If you fancy going further afield, head over to Pulau Ubin or Lazarus Island. The beaches are interesting if only for the views of the hundreds of container ships that sit at anchor.
Eat outdoors in Singapore
One of the things that Singapore does best is its outdoor eating scene. From hawker markets to riverside open-air restaurants on the quays to exclusive rooftop restaurants, there’s something to suit every budget and palette.
Speaking of the quays, the three quays that are joined by the Singapore river have been turned into a bustling collection of bars, cafes and restaurants. Wander along the riverwalk, stop to cross the many bridges or explore some of the streets leading onto the quays which have also seen a regeneration. There are playgrounds and various art installations to pause at along the way.
Playgrounds in Singapore
Singapore’s many playgrounds are free to use and are incredibly well maintained. From the train at Tiong Bahru and the ship themed playground at Sembawang Park Playground to the tall slides in Jurong Lake Gardens and many slides at Admiralty Park, there’s something for kids of all ages.
Fort Canning is a bit of a historical landmark for those history buffs among us but it is also a great place to while away the hours in the outdoors. With 9 gardens all connected by meandering trail paths Fort Canning also has a playground with slides that have an escalator to connect them.
MacRitchie and treetop walk
Walking around MacRitchie reservoir, it is possible to completely forget that you are actually in the middle of a big city. With trails that lead all around the water, it has a level of peace and serenity that is hard to find in a bustling metropolis. If you’re in the mood to get wet then there are kayaks and canoes to rent. For the more energetic, there’s a longer hike to take you up to the treetop walk – a bridge suspended above the canopy of the trees.
Singapore’s award-winning zoo is so tastefully done it makes you feel as if you’re in the wild with the animals. There are three different experiences you can do: the main zoo, the river safari and the night safari. All offer unique experiences and each gives you the chance to see different animals.
Bike tour or walking tour
One of our favourite ways to get to know a city is to meet up with a local and let them show us around. Personally, I prefer walking tours as they let you take everything in but they aren’t as good for small people with little legs. They definitely prefer biking around plus you do get to cover more ground.
River cruise or duck tour
Another great way to see Singapore is to change your perspective. Seeing it from the river is a brilliant way to see areas you wouldn’t otherwise get to. An added benefit is that you will pick up loads of information about the city, its history and its culture along the way.
While Changi Airport is technically indoors, you’ll feel like you’re outdoors exploring the Shiseido Forest Valley and marvelling at the Rain Vortex located in the Jewel shopping mall that links the three terminals. On various different levels you can follow garden trails, get lost in the Hedge Maze, walk or bounce in the Manulife Sky Nets, chase butterflies in the Butterfly Garden, grab a drink in the Cactus Garden, feel like you’re in the clouds in the Foggy Bowls, swim in the airport pool and, much more!
There are also plenty of indoor things to do there too – this is definitely a place to arrive early for your flight so you have plenty of time to see it properly – it wasn’t voted World’s Best Airport for the eighth consecutive time at the 2020 World Airport Awards for nothing!
How do you fit it all in? Check out our 5-day Singapore Itinerary perfect for families.
About the Blogger – Emma
We are originally from the UK we are a family of four currently living in Singapore. We’ve actually spent 9 of the last 11 years living abroad. In fact, in the last 11 years, we have lived on 4 continents: North America, Europe, the Middle East and, now, Asia.
The children (affectionately known as Thing 1 and Thing 2) are now 8 and 6 and enjoy travelling as much as we do: Pre-Covid, we travelled as often as we could which usually worked out as about once every 6-8 weeks.
Wanderlust and Wet Wipes is a family travel blog with an expat angle. Our mission is to empower families to travel more adventurously and authentically together creating memories to last for a lifetime. You can learn more here:
With thanks to Emma for her contribution to our guest series. You may also like to read Emma’s guest post on how to score upgrades flying Qatar Airways, or explore further around Asia pop over to Exploring Hong Kong with Kids.
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