Sick of paying to play? We've tracked down loads of places island-wide where the kids can retreat inside and you won't have to spend a single cent...
Our fair city is full of awesome, fun things to do. But every so often we’re confronted with the one-two punch – we can’t go outside AND it needs to be free. Thankfully the haze has skulked away with its tail between its legs (please…never come back), but there are times when the rain sets in or it’s just too hot to face an outdoor adventure. So we’ve circumnavigated the island seeking out indoor spaces to entertain kids that won’t cost you a thing.
Developed in conjunction with the National Arts Council, The ArtGround is the place to be for immersive arts and cultural experiences for kids. Fitted with regular art installations by professional artists, kids get to discover the fun in art. But they’re not the only ones. There are regular interactive programmes for tots over at the Baby Stage space too!
The ArtGround, 90 Goodman Road, #01-40 Goodman Arts Centre; www.theartground.com.sg
Asian Civilisations Museum (ACM)
Whether you have lived in Asia your whole life, or are making it your home for now, this museum is packed with really cool stuff from around these parts and is a worthwhile expedition for finding out about Asian history and culture. We particularly love checking out the bounty from a 9th-century Tang shipwreck – extra marks for this one as it is not only fun, but free!
Asian Civilisations Museum, 1 Empress Place Singapore 179555. p. 6332 7798; www.acm.org.sg
Buddah Tooth Relic Temple and Museum
There are so many beautiful temples to explore in Singapore, and we especially love The Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum, a four-storey Buddhist temple and museum complex found in the heart of the Chinatown district. The temple is based on the Tang dynasty architectural style and built to house the tooth relic of Buddha. This place is ornate, opulent and full of fascinating tales and history. Make sure you catch one of the free guided tours for this must-see temple and museum.
Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum, 288 South Bridge Road Singapore 058840; www.btrts.org.sg
Central Public Library
Located in the belly of the National Library, My Tree House is a beautifully and sustainably designed haven for book lovers – and it’s the world’s first ‘green’ library for kids. Jam-packed with over 45,000 books for kids four to 12 years, there’s enough here to keep even the most avid of bookworms entertained. With plenty of space for the kids to lounge around with a good read, you will also find e-reading kiosks and The Knowledge Tree, an interactive installation that promotes environmental awareness. It’s all in line with the library’s eco-friendly ethos. Saturday and Sunday reading sessions make this a great weekend pit stop for all. If you can’t make it into the central location, head to your local library for a reading session instead.
#B1-01 National Library Singapore 100 Victoria Street Singapore 188064; www.nlb.gov.sg
Changi Airport has loads to keep the kiddos busy – both airside and open to the public. The Changi Aviation Gallery at Terminal 3 is the perfect place for plane spotters of all ages. Kiddos can also check out the action on the tarmac: the area provides the ideal spot for viewing the ground operations too. Once your future pilots have watched the thousandth plane take to the skies, steer them over to the fun exhibit in the area, where you will find 50 cool facts about how Changi Airport is operated on a daily basis. There’s also a free playground on Basement 2 in Terminal 3 to tire the kiddies out.
Kids aged five and up and over 1.1 metres can head to the one-and-a-half storey tall slide at basement two of Terminal 1. It’s open from midday until 10.30 every day.
And don’t forget you can catch the Skytrain between terminals at no cost.
Changi Airport, www.changiairport.com
City Square Mall
This is a small playground nestled in the basement of City Square Mall. If you’re just looking for somewhere for kids to stretch their legs, or to kill some time after picking up some grocery essentials or sports equipment from Decathlon, this is perfect.
City Square Mall, 180 Kitchener Rd, Singapore 208539; www.citysquaremall.com.sg
The Clementi Mall
If you live on the west side, you can always pop to The Clementi Mall with your toddler for a run around at the small playground on level 5. This playground isn’t going to blow your mind, but it does give littlies an opportunity to move – with a small climbing frame and slide on a padded surface.
The Clementi Mall, 3155 Commonwealth Avenue West, Singapore 129588; www.theclementimall.com
Who doesn’t love a good trip to Ikea? If the rain has set in and the kids fancy a change of scene (and you fancy a few minutes without kids), pop along to Ikea. You can browse random objects that you 100% need in your life and the kids can spend a while in Småland at both the Alexandra and Tampines stores. Children must be between 90cm and 120cm and toilet trained to visit and they’re welcome to stay for up to one hour.
Ikea, locations at Alexandra and Tampines; www.ikea.com/sg/en
Malay Heritage Centre
Head over to the Istana Kampong Gelam (aka the Malay Heritage Centre), the former home of the Sultanate of Singapore, for a cool history lesson and to check out the permanent exhibits showcasing the colourful history and culture of the Malay community here in Singapore. There are six galleries spread over two levels, so plenty to keep the kids busy with! Entry is free to Singaporeans and PRs only.
Malay Heritage Centre, 85 Sultan Gate, Singapore 198501; www.malayheritage.org.sg
Conveniently positioned near many of the kids stores on level 3 is a little playground perfect for toddlers and kids under 10, with soft flooring. The compact playhouse has a slide, rock wall and fireman’s pole, plus there is a four way spring see-saw.
Marina Square, 6 Raffles Boulevard, Singapore 039594; www.marinasquare.com.sg
Our Tampines Hub
The Festive Mall Play Zone at Our Tampines Hub has a fence too! A spacious padded area is the perfect place to get the toddlers running and tired before nap time. The playhouse has a slide, bridge and climbing net and there are a couple of interactive play pieces and a see-saw. There are often bouncy castles that spring up and are free to use too, as well as regular movie screenings in the Festive Mall.
Our Tampines Hub, 51 Tampines Ave 4, Singapore 529684; www.ourtampineshub.sg
If you want to head into Orchard and fancy making a pit-stop for the kiddos to play, pop up to level 5 of Paragon where there’s a free substantial play area that is relatively enclosed. Level 5 of this complex is dedicated to kids’ stuff, so you can always pick up any necessities for the kids while you’re here. The kiddos might even be lucky enough to hitch a ride on a coin-operated kiddy ride nearby!
Paragon, 290 Orchard Road, Singapore 238859; www.paragon.com.sg
Pip’s Playbox is an arts space just for kids. Housed on level 4 of The Esplanade, it has a cosy loft and a roomy arts and craft area where the kids can do heaps of self-guided activities. You’ll also find a reading corner filled with books by Singapore writers and illustrators – so sweet!
Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay, 1 Esplanade Drive, Singapore 038981; www.esplanade.com
Singapore Airforce Museum
For a high-octane, free day out, you can’t get any better than the Airforce Museum. Sprawling over almost 11,000 m² of land, the kid-friendly exhibitions spread across a mostly covered outdoor gallery plus eight air conditioned indoor galleries. Who knows, maybe while you’re daydreaming about Maverick and Iceman, your little one might have found a vocation.
RSAF Museum 400 Airport Road Singapore 534234; www.mindef.gov.sg
Smaller kiddies will be entertained at the play area on level 3 at Suntec City. With a springy floor, interactive elements, tunnels and a slide, there’s plenty to keep the little ones active.
Suntec City, Level 3, Suntec Tower One, 7 Temasek Boulevard, Singapore 038987; www.sunteccity.com.sg
Oh yes, we love a good fenced in play area, so the small playground at Waterway Point makes us happy. It’s only really suitable for toddlers, but its cute Alice in Wonderland theme, with toadstools and caves is cute enough to keep them busy for a while. Be sure to head back to Waterway Point when the rain stops – bigger kids will love the outdoor playground and water play area.
Waterway Point, 83 Punggol Central, Singapore 828761; www.waterwaypoint.com.sg
Top image: Aaron Mello via Unsplash
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