Spending much of my childhood in south-east Asia, I wanted my six-year-old son to also experience the feeling of sheer wonderment – and enjoy the beauty of outdoor eateries and the hustle and bustle of the markets – that is the fabric of Singapore.
We spent the first week staying at the Singapore is a small and easy-to-get-around city, so you’re spoilt for choice with hotels. ‘We’ chose this hotel because of the photo of the pool and the ‘sick’ (not my words – my son’s!) waterslide. The hotel is beautiful. Our room was huge, the staff are faultless, the buffet breakfast was expansive, the pool is sparkling and warm and… yep, the waterslide is way too much fun – aka ‘sick’. We didn’t get to the hotel day spa, but it looked divine.
Our first outing was to the amazing Singapore Zoo. I have been to many zoos around the world, but none quite like this. It is set within a lush, tropical jungle and has been designed with the animals’ welfare first and foremost. There are no fences between you and the animals; instead, they have used deep moats which gives you uninterrupted views to all of the enclosures. We started our day at the zoo by having breakfast with the orangutans. This experience needs to be prebooked online and is certainly worth it if you want to get up close and personal with these beautiful creatures.
Apart from the animals, Singapore Zoo has an amazing waterpark for the kids, so remember to pack their bathers! It is truly a beautiful place and certainly on top of my must-see list of Singapore. On the same day we did the river safari, which took us on a fabulous boat ride which floats past a range of animals including the big catDay 3 was a visit to Chinatown. We spent the day rolling into one shop and out the next… Souvenirs were a-plenty but there were also beautiful, antique, silk and handcrafted chopstick stores that you could get lost in for hours. There is something for everyone. At the end of the street in Chinatown is the oldest Hindu temple in Singapore called Sri Mariamman. It is certainly worth a visit. As with most temples, inside is an open-air, large quadrangle housing many colourful shrines and deities. There is a peaceful mystique that blankets you, even with bustling Chinatown outside the walls. My fascinated son was also welcomed by a gathering of worshippers, sat and listened intently to the service (I didn’t know about his grasp of Hindi) and then shared in the food offering afterwards by these generous and warm people.s.
Whilst in the city of Singapore we also visited Raffles Hotel to enjoy some lunch and a Singapore sling. The highlight of this magnificent hotel was strolling through the gardens and experiencing what was, and still is, sheer opulence from the days of the British colonisation. Oh, and another highlight was seeing my son’s sheer horror and embarrassment when, at the table, I made sure he saw me casually throw a handful of peanut shells on the floor in the long bar. He caught on to that tradition with gusto and followed suit.
We were keen to get to the night satay market which opens at 7pm at the back of the Lau Pa Sat Festival Pavillion. Now this is a place to get all of your senses going. There is a long line of satay barbecues along a short, closed street where artisans constantly turn and fan their specially prepared satay skewers, almost like mini restaurants. While the satays are cooking, ‘waiters’ will find you a seat in the vast outdoor street area, give you their menu and call one of the many drinks ladies over to take your order. It is an organised chaos: Noisy, vibrant, fast, energetic and absolutely fresh and delicious. It’s a fabulous experience. We loved it so much went back a few times for dinner.
For the second week of our wonderful Singapore adventure, we stayed on Sentosa Island at the Shangri-La Rasa Sentosa Resort & Spa. We caught a taxi from merchant court in the Singapore CBD which took 15 minutes. (Nothing is very far away in Singapore and taxis are cheap.) After being so active the first week, we just wanted to live the fabulous resort life and chill out. The Shangri-La Resort is exactly that, a shangri la. From the moment you drive up the jungle-lined road to the magnificent open-air lobby, feelings of pure holiday luxury and fun overcome you. The resort is a tropical oasis, with three pools, all with full time lifeguards. There are monkeys which visit guests balconies at night and steal clothes (Note to self: Take wet clothes into room before going to dinner!); wild peacocks roaming the resort; and a five-foot monitor which visits for breakfast. Which brings me to the food… the buffet breakfast has everything you could ever want: Chefs making pancakes for the kids; omelettes; divine tropical fruit; Indian; Asian; Western – all cuisines are catered for. The buffet dinner was the same indulgent experience, but would vary with seafood or steak nights. For lunch, it was straight to the pool bar for two cocktails with a tray of satay for mum and I, and a hotdog and guava juice for my son.
The main pool is open until 9pm which is fantastic if you have been out sightseeing for the day. There are two kids pools: One has two fantastic water slides; and there is also a splash pad which is loads of fun. During the day the lifeguards run free pool activities for all the family and at night there is a dancing competition and an outdoor cinema for the kids.
Although Shangri-La is a very family-oriented resort with loads of activities for children, it is also suitable for couples of any age. There is an adults-only section in the enormous pool which has two jacuzzis to allow you to rest in peace and enjoy a cocktail. There are also several restaurants and bars.
Shangri-La backs onto Siloso beach where, being slightly removed from the resort and quieter, many adults with no kids choose to spend their days. The beach also has a pizza restaurant as an alternative to eating in the hotel. If you’re feeling energetic, there are a number of activities available during the day including a fabulous zip line on which you can fly 450m from the jungle to Siloso beach.
The day spa is absolutely beautiful at Shangri-La. Mum and I booked in for an hour-long relaxation massage which started with choosing our oil and a beautiful tea. The whole experience was luxurious and the therapist was amazing.
The rooms at the Shangri-La are beautiful and large. We stayed in a pool-view room which also overlooked the entire resort and the ocean. Our room had a balcony which was great for mum and I to sit and enjoy our morning coffee before my son awoke. The amenities in the rooms are luxurious and plentiful, also.
We spent seven days at Shangri-La on Sentosa Island and enjoyed every minute of it. My mum and I had many laughs relaxing by the pool and my son had a ‘sick’ time on the amazing water slides from morning until night. The lifeguards are great fun whilst keeping an eye on the kids tirelessly and there are heaps of new friends for your kid to make if they’re an only child, like mine. Not once did we feel like we should have cut our stay short. If anything, longer would have been our preference!
Whilst on Sentosa we did venture to Universal Studios which I would highly recommend. It’s a day full of fun and fantasy for everyone. There are plenty of rides for young kids (and old)… if you do go, don’t miss the 4d transformers ride, it’s sick!!
We saw a lot while we were in Singapore including: The Jurong Bird Park, which is full of rare and beautiful birds (macaws and puffins being our favourites); The Singapore History Museum, which gives you an indepth look at Singapore from the beginning to now; Changi museum, a very confronting insight into Changi prison during WWII; the unthinkable construction of Marina Bay Sands; and of course the famous Merlion. We loved all that we experienced and look forward to our next trip back soon.