Travelling Solo with a ToddlerAugust 29, 2018
Miri Marriott Resort & Spa ReviewSeptember 19, 2018
I recently took Chloe, my 2 year old, to Singapore on my own and it was a really good trip. It always amazes me on how such a small, tiny country can do so much. Maximising and literally squeezing all their internal resources available and placing strong importance on creativity and innovation, especially in their tourism sector. Being one of their neighbouring countries, allows us in Brunei to travel there conveniently whenever we need some inspiring touches and to fuel our creative streak. More so, it’s really one of the most family friendly countries I have been to and being in Singapore made traveling solo with my two year old toddler easier and enjoyable.
I chose to go to places which focused most on my daughter’s age, but most of the attractions are suitable for a wider age range, even fun for adults! Here’s the list of the places we went to:
An ideal place to cultivate interest in animals, flora and fauna. The 28 hectares of land houses to more than 2,400 animals from over 300 species, of which 34% are endangered. The Zoo is divided into three parts: the main Singapore zoo,the River Safari and the Night Safari (open in the evenings only) (The Jurong Bird park will also be moving to this location soon).
There were solid and wide enough pathways to conveniently travel with a stroller. Upon our arrival at 2PM, when the heat was at its peak, surprisingly we weren’t bothered as much as I would normally shy away from direct heat exposure. The open concept design where animals are exhibited openly with hidden barriers- glass and moats between visitors, was captivated enough to fill our minds with the adventurous wildlife experience. Shelters and shades were plentiful and water stations can be found as you tour around the animal habitats. Moreover, the prominent presence of nature makes it quite cooling and pleasant to travel around.
There are four shows available if you need to take a break from the walk. Each show last 15-20 minutes, twice a day, where animals and their trainers perform tricks and games that require both intellectual and physical strength. We managed to participate in one of their many feeding sessions for the animals (at scheduled times and at additional cost), which Chloe is still fascinated and remembers till today.
Now back in Brunei, Chloe showed greater interest in animal books/ toys and could relate to the Singapore zoo experience. Plus, all proceedings of the feedings and shows goes to help fund the Zoo’s wildlife conservation efforts. We spent about 3 hours in the main Zoo but we didn’t get to see all because the kids were so absorbed with the surroundings that we had to spend a longer time at each station. Plus, we had made dinner plans elsewhere and had to leave early.
Things we would do differently:
- Spend a day in Singapore Zoo, and arrive early as soon as they open their doors, to maximize the experience.
- Allocate a few hours for the River Safari (something we missed due to time constraints). We had the SEA Aquarium as part of our places to go, so we didn’t really feel like we missed out on this. But the Giant Pandas are one of the main highlights of the River Safari and, compared to SEA Aquarium, you get to have a closer wild and sea life experiences rather than housed in a fully conditioned exhibit showcase.
- Make reservations for the Jungle Breakfast with Wildlife at Ah Meng’s restaurant (at an additional cost). You get to have breakfast with the orangutans and other animals up close.
- Plan in advanced and search for the animal shows, feeding sessions and other activities available, to make the most out of the trip, especially if you have limited time. You can even go to the website and create a customised itinerary for your zoo trip.
Address: 80 Mandai Lake Road, Singapore 729826
Opening hours: 8.30AM- 6PM, Daily
Fees: Adult Ticket S$33, Child Ticket S$22(3 to 12 years old) and Senior Citizen Ticket S$15 (aged 60 and above)
A fully air-conditioned space, housing more than 100,000 marine animals of over 1,000 species, across 50 different habitats. As soon as we entered the aquarium, we were immediately transported into the underwater life experience by crossing under a glass window tunnel with an escalator. As we visited during the weekday, the space was just comfortable enough to blend into and enjoy the surroundings. But I could imagine it could be pretty unbearable with larger crowds during the weekends or public holidays, where some of the spaces are limited and with longer wait times to view the smaller aquariums.
Even for a weekday, there was quite a long queue at the Discovery Touch Pool (you get to touch some marine sea creatures- sea stars, urchins etc) so I decided to pass on this. Towards the end of the tour, you can immerse yourself in the world’s largest viewing panel in the world! (Measuring at 36 metre wide and 8.3 metre tall).
You literally feel like you’re at the bottom of the seabed, so surreal and amazingly therapeutic. Beside this gigantic aquarium there is the Ocean Dome where you can have a 180 degree view from within the huge aquarium! Chloe loved staying in this space and there were booths set up on that day providing kids with crafting activities.
Address: 8 Sentosa Gateway, Sentosa Island, Singapore 098269
Opening hours: Saturday & Sunday: 9.30AM-7PM, Monday to Friday: 10AM- 7PM, Except Thursday: 10AM- 6PM
Fees: Adult (Age13- 59) -SGD39, Child(Age 4 – 12) - SGD29, Senior(Age 60 and up)- SGD29
FutureWorld: Where Art meets Science Museum
This was one of our favourites! Singapore’s largest interactive digital playground, with 16 spectacular digital installations, spanning over narratives themes of nature, town, sanctuary, park and space. Chloe loved playing with the slide in the “fruit field”. As you glide down the slope, you become a beam of light-giving gives energy to the flowers and fruits to blossom and grow. The interactive artworks react to your input and make real time changes, which engages you at a whole new level. I lost count of the number of times Chloe repeatedly went up and down the slide. There are two other other exhibitions, good for older kids and you get a better deal if you opt for all three of them. Besides that, tickets are sold on same-day re-entry, giving the flexibility to enjoy a break for dining, shopping at The Shoppes at Marina Bays Sands or just to soak up on the beautiful scenery at Helix Bridge or catch panoramic view of Singapore at the 57th floor observation deck at MBS (open to public).
Address: 6 Bayfront Ave, Singapore 018974
Opening hours: 10AM-7PM, Daily
Fees: Adult $15, Child/ Senior Citizen/ Student $13.00, Family Package of 4 $12.50
Digital Light Canvas at Marina Bay Sands
With the same creator as The ArtScience museum, this digital light canvas is created by the Japanese Art Company- Teamlab. This was actually not a part of our planned itinerary. We so happened to capture a top view from the sidewalk, and Chloe was so mesmerized by the beautiful blend of moving colorful fishes swimming around in a gigantic digital pond accompanied by unique soundtracks. You can even use your mobile to control the installation by adding elements- such as fireworks or festival ornaments. It used to be a skating rink and it got replaced to provide an experience that keeps evolving. It truly was a magical experience.
Address:Marina Bay Sands, Level B2, Skating Ring, 10, Bayfront Avenue, Singapore 018956
Opening hours: Sunday to Thursday 11.30AM- 9PM, Friday- Saturday 11AM-10PM
Fees: S$5 (free for children under 2 years old and FutureWorld: Where art Meets Science ticket holders)
Pororo Park at Marina Square
I’m not familiar with Pororo animated series but knowing that this is the largest character themed indoor playground in Singapore, I knew this would be something worthwhile to explore. It originated from South Korea, and has a total of ten branches in Seoul, China and Singapore. The train ride at Pororo Express was a big hit, taking the child on a short trip around a snowy mountainous landscape being greeted by life-sized Pororo characters. I liked how they integrated educational elements into the playground by having activities/ workshops on science, art, cooking, magic, exploration and sport, all in one spot. Their daily interactive live shows performed by mascots of Pororo and his friends’ characters made the indoor playground experience more like a mini disneyland visit.
Address: 6 Raffles Blvd, 02-29, Singapore 039594 (Located in Marina Square Mall)
Fee: Under 1 years old- free entry, Under 2 years old- $24.50, 2-12 years- $29.90
Opening hours: Daily 10:30am -8pm, except Saturday 10:30am-9pm
Buds by Shangri-la at Shangri-la hotel
Now if you are familiar with hotels with kids club facilities, Buds by Shangri-la at Shangri La hotel sets a completely new benchmark for this. Spanning a total area of 2,150 sqm, with indoor and outdoor play spaces, incorporating themes of adventure, camaraderie, independence and embracing of nature and lots of fun interactive play for children. I was really excited to know that the playground is open to the public and non-hotel guests are welcome to join.
There are two indoor play spaces catered for different age ranges- for kids over four years old (Explorer Zone) and under four years old (Toddler zone), along with an outdoor playground where you can find a giant pirate ship structure integrated with things to climb and slides and a water play zone with splash pads.
Chloe enjoyed the Muddy area (one of the three themed activity space) the most. All the walls are dedicated to allowing children free expression through art and painting. At fixed intervals, the lights would be intentionally switched off to show the illumination of all the artwork which glowed in the dark. The playground was clean, equipped with nursing and baby care rooms and was so very designed. Couldn’t really fault this one but wish that we had allocated more time for this spot (we didn’t get to play in the outdoor playground). There are special rates and package deals for hotel guests if you wish to stay at this hotel.
Address: 22 Orange Grove Rd, Singapore 258350 (Located in Shangri-La Hotel)
Fee: Under 4 years old- $28 (Off peak) $36 (Peak), 4-12 Years- $48 (Off Peak), $58 (Peak). Check website for more pricing and package deals.
Opening hours:Daily 9AM-9PM
This is a specialty indoor playground catered for two age ranges: a toddlers play space for ages 0-3 and the main play space from children ages 3 and up. The toddler space is a separate area that is a smaller version of the main play space. It’s not the typical playground with slides, ball pits and climbing structures but more of a space filled with educational toys that are bound to fuel the imagination. There were lots of pretend play opportunities, from large doll houses, supermarkets, tea party supplies to train tracks… The layout of the space made it really comfortable for adults to relax and bond with their child. Another reason for coming here was because it is a really comfortable space and an ideal venue for a playdate, where mummies can meet and connect.
Address: 6 Eu Tong Sen Street, #03-51 Clarke Quay Central (Yellow Zone), Singapore 059817
Fee: Under 3- $18, School aged student- $22 (Off peak) $26 (Peak)
Opening hours: 10 AM to 8 PM, Sunday to Thursday, 10 AM to 9 PM, Friday to Saturday
My tree house at the Public Central Library
The world’s first green library for children, another innovative and distinctive place that I had to include as part of the itinerary. It is conceptualised and built on environmental principles, from design and infrastructure to the use of sustainable material.
As soon as we entered the library, we saw the striking canopy tree structure that made a significant presence of the environmental theme. It is constructed with recycled materials, where the leaves are entirely made of recycled bottles and the platform with recycled timber. The colorful design and bright LED lights made it look like a playground . Another eco feature of this library was the interactive “Knowledge Tree” where children can pose questions and be educated on the ecosystem. And the engaging “Weather Stump” designed for kids to view live real time weather information.
Address: Central Public Library, 100 Victoria Street, Singapore 188064
Opening hours: 10.00 am to 9.00 pm
Blue House infant & toddler atelier at UE Square
Inspired by Reggio Emilia, this is another indoor play space that distinguishes itself from the typical soft play space, but has an environment quite similar to an interactive children’s museum. As I’m familiar with this learning pedagogy, curiosity brought me there to see how Chloe would take it. There were lots of sensory driven areas, and it was interesting to see how the place provides an opportunity for her to focus and explore the materials for an extended period of time, due to her own curiosity and interest. I also really liked the layout of the place, designed with high ceilings and ceiling-to-floor glass windows allowing as much natural light in. There’s also an expert team of early childhood professionals offering educational sessions on storytelling, song, music, creative use of materials and textures, to make the experience more meaningful. I didn’t have time to do any of their classes, but they offer lots of daily sessions throughout the day. Do check their website for the schedule.
Address: 83 Clemenceau Avenue #01-35/36 UE Square, Office Tower, Singapore 239917
Fee: Drop-In session $25 (Check website for package deals)
Opening hours: Monday- Friday 9AM-5PM (Closed during weekends)
Here’s the list of places we intended to go but didn’t have the time:
- a) Jurong Bird Park
- b) River Safari at Singapore Zoo
- c) The Art ground at Goodsman Art Centre
- d) Jacob Ballas Children’s Garden at Botanic Garden
- e) Far East Organization Children’s Garden at Gardens By The Bay
- f) Marine Cove Playground at East Coast Beach
- g) Cool De Sac at Suntec City Mall
- g) Admiralty Park at the Woodlands