If you have your children’s grandparents in Singapore for a visit, we’re sure they’ll enjoy their experiences at the Night Safari or the Botanic Gardens. (The National Orchid Garden is always a hit.) Here are few more things to do that are perfect for young and old alike!
# Take in the views
Singapore River Cruise
Taking a “bumboat” cruise along Singapore’s quays gives a great perspective of the city, but also an insight into the way it has developed. These boats were used historically to bring goods from shops down the Singapore River to the lowdowns – or warehouses as we’d call them now. You can point out the statue of Sir Stamford Raffles and the various parliament and court buildings.
Although it’s an oldie, we think the Cable Car is a goodie – for those without a fear of heights, of course! The views from Mount Faber down to Sentosa are always worth showing off – and it’s a different way to get on to the island or do some shopping or eating at VivoCity. If they’re up for a walk, the view from the nearby Henderson Waves (Singapore’s highest pedestrian bridge) is also worth showing off.
Another one that’s been around for a while is the giant observation wheel on the edge of Marina Bay. It’s 165 metres in diameter (30m bigger than the London Eye), and good for getting your bearings. Motorsports fans will enjoy it too, since it sits on turn 19 of the Singapore F1 track, right next to pit lane, giving some perspective of where the race takes place.
# Explore the culture
Aside from getting an eyeful of Singapore’s colourful shophouses, a good starting point to learn about the Peranakans (Chinese or Indian immigrants who married indigenous people from the Malay Archipelago) is the Peranakan Museum, though the Peranakan Tiles Gallery in Chinatown is also worth visiting. Owner Victor Lim has dedicated most of his life to preserving a piece of Peranakan culture through his collection of antique tiles and heirlooms.
If the grandparents are looking to add something of cultural significance to their own home, Singapore is a top place to shop for antiques! To find vintage and second-hand furniture pieces that tell a story, take them to the likes of Just Anthony, Woody Antique House, Emperor’s Attic, Li Bai Arts & Antiques or Past Perfect Collection. (Don’t miss our feature on antiques in Singapore!)
# Discover the history
Singapore Then & Now
The National Museum is undergoing refurbs, but some exhibitions remain open, including Now Boarding: Experiencing Singapore through Travel, 1800s – 2000s, which shows how Singapore evolved into a popular travel destination, through the eyes of those who arrived here from past to present.
Bukit Brown Cemetery is home to 100,000 tombs of Singapore’s pioneers dating back almost 200 years, and the main trail is an easy enough spot for a stroll (earlier in the day is better) – it’s fascinating reading the headstones.
World War II buffs should head to the Former Ford Factory (where British forces surrendered in 1942) or to Fort Siloso at Sentosa, which has waxwork soldiers dressed in full uniform – wool vests and all! Changi Chapel is only $8 to enter and a fascinating look at the resourcefulness of POWs, mainly from the UK, Australia and New Zealand, during the Japanese Occupation. The Battlebox at Fort Canning – the British command centre during the war – will reopen soon after a makeover.
Also interesting is driving or walking around Singapore’s old black-and-white houses, many of which played a role in WWII – those at Adam Park even witnessed a hard-fought battle, with one section dubbed “Hellfire Corner”. At Alexander Park, there are black-and-whites in lots of different styles in the one area, which were lived in by all levels of the civil service and judiciary.
# Eat the food!
Heading to a hawker stall is a must, of course – and Lau Pa Sat is a good choice for combining loads of food choice with a heritage setting (the building dates back to the 1890s). For a meal in air-con, don’t miss Din Tai Fung, which has many outlets across Singapore. The xiao long bao (soup dumplings) are particularly revered, though there’s an art to eating them!
A lovely way to spend the afternoon with or without the kids is at a high tea. Lots of hotels offer the experience, and we’re sure any grandparent with a sweet tooth will thank you. (They can also enjoy a glass of bubbles or two!) Notable options include the Shangri-La Singapore, Parkroyal Collection Marina Bay, Pan Pacific, Voco Orchard, Andaz, Sheraton Towers and Singapore Marriott Tang Plaza. (Check out our feature on where to go for afternoon tea here.)
Enjoyed reading about things to do with grandparents in Singapore? For more helpful tips, see our Living in Singapore section!