Whether you want to catch a boat to one of Singapore's islands, or take a day trip to Malaysia, here's a handy guide to fun days out with kids
We love Singapore, but sometimes, our garden city feels more like a concrete jungle and it’s nice to escape with the kids for a full day every once in a while. Take a break from the metropolitan mayhem – even if there’s not enough time for a weekend getaway with the munchkins, our location makes day trips very viable. Read on for five of our favourite day trips from Singapore! Pssst: if you’re dreaming of a day by the sea, don’t miss our guide to Singapore’s best beaches!
St. John Island + Kusu Island
In spite of its checkered past – a quarantine station for leprosy cases and a penal settlement – St. John’s Island (pictured top) is an excellent place for swimming and sunbathing, with fine white sand and crystalline waters. You’ll probably be alone – all the more better for a ball game with the moppets on the sand (they can be as noisy as they want!). Do remember to pack lunches or a picnic basket though; there’s no food service on this island.
Board the next passing ferry for Kusu (tortoise) Island, where you’ll see, well, tortoises. Kusu is known as a religious destination (most of the action happens in October, which heralds an annual religious pilgrimage), and many of the temples are also heritage sites. See the famous Chinese temple Da Bo Gong, which was built in 1923, and the three Malay shrines on top of the hill. People climb up 152 steps to pay homage – challenge the littlies to a vertical race, if their energy hasn’t petered out by then.
Probably the most-visited destination on this list, Johor Bahru (JB) has unleashed some extremely kid-friendly attractions targeted at us Singapore dwellers in the recent year! For one, LEGOLAND Malaysia theme park – just a hop and skip across the 2nd Link Bridge – is sure to keep the munchkins occupied for the entire day, especially with their newest water park launch. If you’ve not already been there, pop across to the Puteri Harbour Family Theme Park in Nusajaya – little fans of Hello Kitty, Thomas the Train, Barney, and Bob the Builder would be left is such a tizzy.
Not everything in JB is about the kids of course – Honeys, this one’s for you! The Johor Premium Outlets promises whopping discounts off brands like Burberry, Ermeneglido Zegna, and Salvatore Ferragamo. Check out our guide to bargain shopping in JB. You know you want to…
Hire a car (with a driver, if you like) after landing– or book one while you’re still in Singapore! – and set off on a little road trip with the tots! See the Barelang Bridge, which is actually a chain of six bridges of that connect the Indonesian islands of Batam, Rempang, and Galang on the scenic drive south. For a bit of (eerie) history to impart to the littlies, check out the remains of Camp Sinam in Galang, which once housed refugees of the Vietnam War.
The unsullied Melur Beach nearby is the finest stretch of shoreline in these parts (better than any overpriced resort, we say!) After some fun in the sun, head to the Sekupang district for something that mums will enjoy – massages and spa treatments, at a fraction of Singapore prices!
Takes the littlies half a century back in time with a trip to Pulau Ubin. The rural charms – winding dirt paths, unfettered forests, and the much slower pace of life – will soothe any city slicker (especially the kids, we think). Rent bikes from one of the shops around the main jetty and cycle to Chek Jawa, a wetland reserve on the southeast coast. Pulau Ubin is a haven for wildlife, and Chek Jawa bolsters that by boasting a pristine shoreline ecosystem. Score fresh and cheap(er) seafood at the local eating houses as well. Wooden bumboats (probably an adventure for the kiddos in itself!) regularly ply the 15-minute commuter route from Changi Village Ferry Terminal to the Pulau Ubin Jetty. Read our detailed guide to a day at Pulau Ubin to plan your trip!
Contrary to popular thinking, Bintan isn’t all about well-manicured resorts. Its capital, Tanjong Pinang, has a lot more to offer than merely white sand and the waves of South China Sea. Experience a slice of Indonesian life with the great food – try a traditional nasi campur (literally, mixed rice) buffet, or a succulent seafood spread at Melayu Square.
There are also many quiet little stretches of sand along the east coast of the town, similar to those at the more populated Trikora area. When you’ve had enough of the beach, journey to the west to explore Penyengat (wasp) Island, just off the coast of Tanjong Pinang. We like the interesting blend of Javanese and Dutch architecture of the Sultan’s Palace, despite some of it being in ruins. Once a seat of the Sultan of the Johor-Riau Kingdom in the 18th century, the descendants of Riau royalty still live.
Want more? Check out our perfect day at Sister’s Island!
Images: Hello Kitty Town, Pulau Ubin (NParks).