Sidetrip: Singapore

We've just done another short trip, this time down to Singapore with Mrs Tall's brother and his daughter, who's just a bit older than Daughter Tall. Singapore isn't very exciting, but there are several fun things for small children, which makes it a pretty good family holiday choice. And although it's relatively distant from HK (the flight's about 3-3.5 hours), airfares are cheap, with lots of flights and flight/hotel packages to choose from.

Just a couple of recommendations for family fun in the Gumless Lion's City:

The Singapore Zoo and Night Safari are excellent, can't-miss-with-the-kids choices. They're right next to each other, and you can buy a combined ticket. The only drawback is finding some dinner, as they're out in the middle of nowhere, and the only choices are rotten fast food outlets.

Wild Wild Wet is a water park our little girls enjoyed immensely, and that had some decent rides for grown-ups, too. It's out in the eastern suburbs, near a small amusement park (WWW is open daily, the theme park only on weekends and holidays), but its entrance is buried in a nondescript shopping arcade. Once we finally found it, we had a great time. It's definitely worth 2-3 hours.

A combined visit to the Singapore Science Centre and Snow City (right next door) was also a huge winner with the girls, although not that much fun for the grownups. The Science Centre's attractions seem aimed at pretty young children. Snow City comprises a single refrigerated room that's got a hill for snow tubing and a very small play area. Coats and boots are included in the entry price, but although we brought along some winterwear to supplement the supplied items, we still ended up renting additional snowpants and gloves. And they were needed: the air temperature inside was -8 C, and felt like it. Being there brought back many unpleasant memories of shoveling snow in the bleak dawns of my childhood, so I was eager for our hour to end. But even though the snow in the play area was hard-packed and too cold for forming snowballs/snowmen, the girls didn't seem to mind at all.

All the other Singapore cliches held true: good hawker centre food, clean clean clean, nice and green -- and eager to get back to HK after about 72 hours.


A trip to Singapore

FamilyB spent last week in Singapore, making the most of the HK$900 air tickets on offer recently.

We stayed at the Shangri-La resort on Sentosa island. Singapore hotel websites all list 'maximum 3 guests per room', but I guess this applies to adults only. It was no problem to have our two young daughters (3 & 5) in the room with us. By the time their two beds were added, the room was just about full - maybe we should have gone for the Japanese tatami approach!

It's not as fancy as the Shangri-la's here in HK, but comfortable enough. The first room we were given had a nasty damp smell, but after we asked for, and moved to a different room, everything was fine.

They have a nice big swimming pool, plus a smaller kids pool with water slides. We made good use of that, swimming every morning & evening. And the highlight for our 5-year old was their kids club (Toots Club). If she'd had her way, she would have been waiting on their doorstep at 8:59 in the morning, and staying til they threw her out at 6pm.

It's a free, full-day baby-sitting service for kids aged 5-12, and the lady in charge did a great job. It's a shame that our younger daughter was too young, or I can imagine MrsB and I could have had a few days out seeing grown-up stuff.

We stayed a full week, Sunday til Saturday, despite warnings from several friends of excruciating boredom after anything more than a three-day stay. That probably reflects on our under-achiever's approach to vacations, where we don't actually seem to get a whole lot done!

The only big attraction we made it to was the Night Safari, and I agree with Mr Tall that it was excellent. Their website says it opens at 7:30, but in fact the first show of the evening starts at 7:30. We arrived about 8, saw the 8:30 show, then took the safari bus after that. It made for sleepy girls by the end, so if we went again we'd get there earlier, in time for the 7:30 show.

Other places we all enjoyed were the chair lift and luge ride, and butterfly park on Sentosa Island. There are free buses running around the island, so it's easy to get to these places from the hotel.

As you head out and about, it's also worth carrying a change of clothes with you for young kids. At several places we came across little water parks, where the children could spend a half hour splashing around and cooling down.

I was able to slip away for a couple of hours here and there to visit some of the WWII exhibits - more on those later.

So, a good trip. I can imagine going again in the near future for a short break just with MrsB, or again as a family in a couple of years time, when both girls could be dropped off at the kids club for some of the time.

Any other recommendations fo things to do in Singapore, with or without children?

Singapore Science Centre

We made a trip out to the science centre last summer and can second it as a recommendation. The kids (aged 3 & 5 at the time) enjoyed it, although my son was a bit scared on the rubber dinosaurs (come on, who wouldn't be scared?).

We also had some friends treat us for lunch at the "Lagoon Hawkers Centre" at East Coast Park - closest MRT is Bedok (about 10 mins from the airport). It has a beach and someone who comes over to make sand sculptures with the kids. Shame it was chucking it down the day we were there. Great food though, very nice curry puffs.

re: Singapore Science Centre

Looks like that's a definite for our next visit - glad to hear we haven't exhausted the list of possibilities!