Singapore – Overview
So many people see Singapore purely as a business centre, or a stopover destination when en route somewhere else. But there’s much more to it than that. In fact, some of the criticisms levelled at Singapore, like its squeaky clean, sanitised tech-metropolis nature, are very good reasons why it’s worth visiting, especially if you have young children. You can concentrate on showing them the sites and tasting the food without worrying about all those things that contribute to giving other Asian cities their “character”.
There’s plenty to see, the shopping Nirvana of Orchard Road is like something out of Bladerunner (though with slightly more Louis Vuitton), Marina Bay will make your eyes boggle, yet there are old parts of Chinatown that have barely changed in years. It’s incredibly underrated as a destination in its own right, and as a stopover, for a bit of shopping, sightseeing and pool-side action, really quite unmissable.
Singapore – Hotels
Goodwood Park Hotel
22 Scotts Road
T. +65 6737 7411
One of the oldest hotels in Singapore, Goodwood Park is something of an antidote to the jutting glass towers that surround it. It’s a great place for kids too – cots or single beds can easily be accommodated in the spacious rooms, and the central garden and pool area is especially children friendly.
Four Seasons Hotel
190 Orchard Boulevard
T. +65 6734-1110
Very well organised hotel for travelling families. All sorts of gear provided. Cots provided if required, along with baby bath tub, bottle sterilizer and warmer. Also, child-size bathrobes and slippers, plus children’s menus in the restaurants and Sunday brunch featuring a kid’s buffet menu and playland. The concierge has lots of experience with family activity requests. Babysitting is no problem either – they need 24 hours notice, and it is charged by the hour. Thre is a kids / family pool on one floor and a fitness / lap pool on another, so you don’t have to worry about your two-year-old colliding with Ian Thorpe.
5 Raffles Ave
T. +65 6885 3030
Superb luxury hotel, and kids are welcome too. 1 cot per room is complimentary, rollout beds are chargeable however, depending on the room category. Child sized robes and slippers here too. There is a mini swimming pool for children as well.
41 seah street
T. 6403 6000
A popular hotel with families. Cots are provided, if required, for no charge. Older children will need their own room though, as roll-out beds are not available. Breakfast for children below 12 years old is complimentary. They also offer baby sitting service in the hotel – prior booking essential. The rooftop pool area is timber decked and perfect for family relaxation.
Singapore – Eating and Drinking
Level 2 The Regent Singapore
One Cuscaden Road
T. +65 6725 3232
Stylish Italian restaurant in the Regent Hotel. Stick with the magnificent antipasti buffet or opt for additional a la carte dishes. On Sunday lunchtimes there is a kids play area open alongside between 12pm and 3pm, with a bouncy castle, Wii, DVDs playing etc. There are supervisors in charge, so if you prefer to linger over a glass of wine they can look after your little ones.
#01-04 5 Purves Street
T. 6333 3131
Euro bistro cooking with local ingredients and a Singaporean twist in a clean and minimal environment at very reasonable prices. Often very busy and larger strollers might be a squeeze. Great place for a family meal though, especially if your kids are hungry as the portions are quite large!
Red Star Chinese Restaurant
#07-23 Blk 54 Chin Swee Road
T. +65 6532 5266
Old school Chinese restaurant, with weekend dim sum (served from early morning through to mid afternoon) probably your best bet. Original and therefore funky interior, proper old wrinklies pushing trollies around. With thousands of families catered for over the years your kids will have to do something quite spectacularly horrendous to even raise an eyebrow.
Maxwell Road Hawker Centre
1 Kadayanallur St
This very popular hawker centre still appears to be generally off-radar as far as tourists are concerned. The vast majority of the multitudes dining here are local workers, schoolchildren and those in the know, despite the efforts of international foodies like Anthony Bourdain singing its praises. Stalls to visit include the legendary Tian Tian Chicken Rice (expect to queue), Zhen Zhen Porridge (try their traditional congee with pork and century egg), and Marina South Delicious Food stall. But it’s generally all good. Be advised that Western babies slurping noodles will draw an enthusiastic crowd.
Singapore Shopping – Fashion
2 Orchard Turn
T. +65 6238 8228
Cutting edge architecture and high end fashion collide in this temple to commercialism. If you absolutely have to spend a load of cash the this place has been designed expressly to help you do so. But like the other major Orchard Road malls, the experience wandering within is bizarrely calming. Until your bank manager phones you up that is.
290 Orchard Road
T. +65 6738 5535
Another beautiful mall – still lots of top end brands, but also some stores for the younger amongst you, with Evisu, G-Star and People of Asia Company represented. Market Place supermarket in the basement.
Singapore Things to Do – Family
Singapore Botanic Gardens
1 Cluny Road
T. +65 6471 7138
Open from 5am till midnight 7 days a week and free to get in (apart from the National Orchid Centre, for which there is a small entrance fee), the Singapore Botanic Gardens is great option when you’ve spent the morning running up a huge credit card bill in the Orchard Road shopping centres and need to unwind. Doing a full circuit is worth the effort.