Singapore might be a tiny island, but there’s always something to do in this dynamic country. And with tourism opening up post-pandemic, the country is gearing up with a slew of new and exciting attractions to cement its place as the prime tourist hotspot in Southeast Asia. If you’re looking to spend a weekend getaway in the tropical island but you have the kids in tow, don’t fret. There’s a host of newly launched family-centric activities, events and attractions designed to entertain, enthrall and energize both young and old.
Explore the best of the west
Start off with a visit to Singapore’s first baby panda. The birth of baby Le Le in 2021 sent Singapore into overdrive – and with good reason. He was, after all, the first panda cub born in Singapore after seven attempts to get his parents Kai Kai and Jia Jia – two giant pandas on loan from China – to conceive. It doesn’t hurt that he’s so incredibly cute as well. Growing from a tiny pink cub to a hefty 33kg, Le Le first made his public debut in the main exhibit in March 2022. He celebrated his first birthday in August to much fanfare, receiving, among others, a three-tier ice cake stuffed with treats. Visit the River Wonders’ Giant Panda Forest exhibit to catch a glimpse of the adorable cub, who is often seen playing with his mom, tumbling about the enclosure, or napping.
They say every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end, and for this it’s time to bid farewell to Jurong Bird Park. This is your last chance to pay a visit to the 51-year-old park before it shutters its original location after January 3, 2023. If you’re an ornithophile, don’t worry, it’s not gone for good. Its flock of 3,500 birds will be moving to a brand new Bird Paradise in Mandai Wildlife Reserve, joining the Singapore Zoo, River Wonders and Night Safari.
From now until its final day of operations, there will be a series of activities that’ll bring you on a trip down memory lane. Embark on a self-guided heritage trail to check out the park’s historical milestones; download a staff-curated trail to learn about the park’s best kept secrets, or take a snapshot with an old monorail at its defunct Panorail station. From November, seasoned guides running a Nostalgic Signature Tour will share little known anecdotes about the park’s architecture and its avian residents.
Spend time in the city’s center
Take time to explore the new additions to the Singapore Botanic Gardens, the only tropical garden to be honored as a Unesco World Heritage Site. Start off by soaking in a fairytale-like experience at the Tropical Montane Orchidetum. This dreamy new area located at the National Orchid Garden, an orchid repository within the Botanic Gardens, opened in April 2021, and has since gone viral on Instagram, thanks to its ethereal environment and a “Secret Ravine” trail that mimics mountain forests. Showcasing orchids and plants from a mid- to high-elevation montane forest (hence its name), there are three display houses here with over 1,150 species of orchids in naturalistic settings and features such as a waterfall. The highlight is the Sembcorp Cool House which has been expanded four times its original size and boasts a chilly temperature of between 16 to 23 degrees Celsius. You’ll feel like you’ve been whisked away to a cloud forest, half the world away.
Parents already familiar with the Jacob Ballas Children’s Garden will welcome Como Adventure Grove, a newish addition at the Singapore Botanic Gardens’ Gallop Extension. Opened in March 2021, the sprawling free outdoor playground draws inspiration from the parts of trees found on its grounds, so you can expect plenty of opportunities that allow children to explore nature and develop their sense of adventure and discovery. Highlights include a massive banyan tree climbing structure, two long tube slides measuring four meters and 2.1 meters long, nets and rope structures, an obstacle course, swings and a giant jackfruit to clamber on (it’s hard to miss).
Take a step back from nature and visit FutureWorld: Where Art Meets Science at the ArtScience Museum. A popular exhibition in Singapore, FutureWorld is a visual delight designed to astound its visitors through a collection of digital interactive installations. The four themes are all incredibly creative, cleverly leveraging on art, lights and technology for an immersive experience. The kids will love the City of Garden segment which allows them to slide through a “fruit field”. Over at the Sketch Aquarium, they can color a sea creature and watch it come to life in the aquarium. The most Instagrammable exhibit has got to be the Crystal Universe: you get to walk through an illuminated universe, feeling surround by an infinity of stars, thanks to a magnificent display of LED lights.