I’ve been to Singapore before, but just for a day, en route to India. Perhaps it was more than a day, but I recall so little due to jet lag that I needed to go back.
A month before our trip we found out that a friend of ours was going to Singapore for work. So we quickly made arrangements and booked a flight to meet her there for a weekend. We brought our nanny along for the ride, so that we could venture out at night as well.
The Singapore Dollar (SGD). For the most part they don’t take other types of currency. While you can get away with a credit card at all of the “established” places, hawker centers and a lot of cabs only take cash, so make sure to have some with you.
It is super easy to get around Singapore and super affordable. Since we had E and her stroller, we opted for cabs and Grab taxis to get around.
- Getting to/from the airport: Getting to the city centre from Changi is cheapest via the MRT (metro train) or a bus, but the most convenient way is to take a cab. It’s quicker and will take you directly to your destination. And at $1 USD per mile, less than that per kilometer, they’re also super affordable.
- Getting around the city:
- As mentioned above, cabs are a great way to get around. However, only some cabs take credit cards, so make sure to ask before you get in.
- Public transportation, i.e., the MRT and bus, is also popular. We didn’t take it because cabs were more convenient, but more information can be found here.
- Grab, the Uber/Lyft of SE Asia, is also super convenient. Grab is great because while it does the same thing as those other services, it doesn’t require you to use a credit card to pay. You can get to your destination and pay with cash which is a nice option if you’re worried about international credit card fees. As a side note, there’s a difference between a Grab car and a Grab Taxi when traveling with children. There’s a law in Singapore where Grab cars cannot transport children who need a car seat, unless you bring one with you. However, Grab taxis are OK to transport them without car seats. So be sure to order appropriately if you’re in this scenario.
Where we stayed:
We stayed at the Singapore Marriott Tang Plaza Hotel which we booked through K’s company. It’s a beautiful hotel with your typical Marriott amenities as well as an amazing Asian breakfast buffet. These types of buffets have everything from the typical delicacies of the location/country that the hotel is in, to your basic favorites like crispy hashbrowns and donuts. They’re my favorite part of staying at Asian hotels.
The best parts of this specific hotel were that it’s right across from the Ion Orchard that houses the tasty Food Opera food court, and there’s a very popular speakeasy called The Other Room attached to the Marriott lobby. It’s in a great location.
We didn’t shop, but if we wanted to, all we had to do was step outside and look around.
What we saw:
The great thing about Singapore is that there are attractions that are enjoyable for both kids and adults. My favorites were the aquarium, Robertson Quay, and the evening light show at Gardens by the Bay.
- S.E.A Aquarium – It gets packed but still safe, so go early. Some suggest starting at the exit and working your way to the entrance to avoid the crowd, but once it’s busy, there’s a crowd no matter where you start.
- ION Orchard
- Robertson Quay
- Kenko Spa – If you’ve never been to a fish spa and don’t have very ticklish feet, definitely give it a try
- Singapore Botanic Gardens
- The Merlion
- Gardens by the Bay – The light show is amazing, but there’s only one exit out so be prepared for the sea of people all looking to do the same thing
Where to eat / go out at night:
Hawker centres are the best way to experience Singapore flavors, but there are amazing restaurants as well. My favorites below were the Food Opera and Ya Kun Kaya Toast.
- Super Loco – We, surprisingly, hung out at this Mexican joint twice because the tacos and drinks were great
- The Warehouse Hotel
- The Other Room
- Food Opera in the ION Orchard – If you like Asian curries, try the curry noodle at the hainan chicken stall, it’s AMAZING. It’s also a great place to try regular hainan chicken, satay, char kway teow, and fritters
- Toast Box
- Blu Kouzina
- Clarke Quay – This area has more of a party vibe than other places we saw in Singapore. Even if it’s not your scene, it’s worth checking out just to see.
- Ya Kun Kaya Toast – Kaya toast is a great way to start the day and iced kopi or kopi peng is a tasty way to beat the heat while getting your caffeine intake
- Samy’s Curry – If you’ve never eaten on a leaf and like Indian food, don’t miss this spot!
- Satay By The Bay
If you love coffee, definitely check out a kopitiam, a Singapore coffee shop and check out their variety of kopi offerings. I got my fill at Ya Kun. But coffee snobs beware, it is not like your typical single origin fare.
Also, I wanted to try the Newton Food Centre but didn’t get a chance. So if you go, or you’ve been, please let me know what you think!
And, I went to the rooftop of Marina Bay Sands – Ce La Vie on my first trip to Singapore so we skipped it this time around, but I would highly suggest going to one of their rooftop shops if you haven’t been.
Where to shop:
Shopping wasn’t a focus for us in Singapore, but here are some unique options to check out if you’re interested.
- When to go: Being near the Equator, it’s summer in Singapore all year round so there’s no real off-season. But the hottest months are May – September, specifically May and June, and the rainy season usually starts from November – March. Make sure to check out the outdoor attractions either early in the morning, or in the early evening/evening to avoid the glaring heat if you do go during the summer months.
- What to pack: Anything you’d pack for a summer in a city is probably your best bet when going to Singapore including sunblock and bug spray. Don’t forget your swimmers if your hotel has a pool. And if you’re planning to pop into one of the swankier places, gents bring a set of trousers, and ladies, you’d be fine in a summer dress and flat sandals (unless you want to break out your heels of course)
- Language: English is one of the four main languages spoken in Singapore (others include: Malay, Mandarin, and Tamil). So you should have no problem ordering food and getting around.
It certainly helped to have our nanny with us as it allowed us to check out some of the night life, but overall, Singapore is super kid-friendly.
My favorite parts were watching E freak out when she saw any fish at the aquarium, lounging by the riverside with E and friends, and watching E stare at the light show in the Gardens by the Bay, filled with wonder.
Whether it be for personal or work reasons, we will be back again, Singapore!
Edited by: Betty Ho