We've got the deets on all things kid-friendly in two of our fave 'hoods in Singapore: Novena and Toa Payoh!
One of the reasons we love living in Singapore is the fact it’s just so darn easy to get anywhere, even if you don’t drive. You can hop on a bus (kids love riding the bus!) or get on the uber-clean MRT to get anywhere with kids – hassle not included. This time, we’re taking a trip to the cool ‘hoods of Novena and Toa Payoh. Once again, we’ve done our homework to bring you all the kid-friendly goodness to be had in this part of Singapore town. You’re welcome.
BONUS: if you’re schmoozing about Novena and Tao Payoh, you’ve probably come across Balestier; it’s a tiny little subzone within Novena that’s impossible to miss! We’ve covered some new kid-friendly things you shouldn’t miss!
THINGS TO DO OUTDOORS IN NOVENA, BALESTIER & TOA PAYOH
1. Check out all the cool kids’ playgrounds
We’re huge fans of kids playing outdoors and getting a good dose of Vitamin D. That’s why we love the fact that Novena and Toa Payoh have great playgrounds for climbing, sliding and just having a swingin’ good time! Of course, the iconic Dragon Playground in Toa Payoh deserves a mention but be warned – it’s not the easiest playground to get to and there isn’t much around it, apart from the Dinosaur Statue Playground at Kim Keat Ville for dino-loving tots. Also on our cool playground radar is the Toa Payoh Crest Playground and Toa Payoh Sensory Park, which encourages kids to use all their five senses to make the most out of their visit. In Novena, we love the Thomson Park Playground on Lincoln Road. The shady trees keep our bubs safe from the sun and it’s also a quick walk to United Square Mall.
2. Explore Toa Payoh Town Park
Here’s an idea for an easy-breezy Saturday afternoon: grab some snacks and other picnic essentials from Toa Payoh Central (it’s got a huge Fairprice and ValuDollar$) and go across the road to Toa Payoh Town Park. It’s a pretty green spot in an unexpected area and provides a nice respite from city life. We also love the fact that it’s breezy and shady, so settling down for a picnic isn’t a pain. Don’t forget to take a stroll around the park – it’s quite picturesque with all the mini-bridges and ponds.
Toa Payoh Town Park, Junction of Toa Payoh Lor 2 and Toa Payoh Lor 6, Singapore 307591
3. Embark on a Toa Payoh heritage trail
Aside from its scrumptious food, Toa Payoh’s rich history calls for a heritage trail. The trail will have your kiddos and you discovering the gems of Toa Payoh with a time travel back to the 19th century. It’ll be a great way to introduce the kampong era as you tour temples and villages around the hood. Plan your routes well and enjoy every corner of this historic town!
4. Go on the Balestier Heritage Trail to see historical landmarks
Balestier has an electic mix of architecture, truly a place where you can still see pre-war shophouses! Think a mix of old and new. Join the Balestier Heritage Trail where you can see a number of historical sites, from colonial-stye villas to traditional shophouses and temples. This thematic trail introduces you to some landmarks that have shaped Balestier Road from its early days to the recent past. Also, this is a self-guided trail so you and the kiddos can take it free and easy! There are 10 spots to cover from the Maha Sasanaramsi Burmese Buddhist Temple to Balestier Point.
INDOOR THINGS TO DO IN NOVENA, BALESTIER & TOA PAYOH
5. Get your culture fix at Sun Yat Seng Nanyang Memorial Hall
Although it technically isn’t in Novena (it’s in Balestier), the Sun Yat Seng Nanyang Memorial Hall museum is close enough to visit. But if you’ve got younger kiddies, feel free to skip this one. It features galleries dedicated to the history of modern China and the role the overseas Chinese played in supporting the revolution – much too heavy for the young ones, we think! But if you’ve got slightly older history buffs, it’s definitely worth a visit.
Sun Yat Sen Museum, 12 Tai Gin Rd, Singapore 327874
6. Explore one Singapore’s most kid-friendly malls
There’s a reason why United Square Shopping Mall is known as a Kids’ Learning Hub. If you’re looking for after-school lessons for kids or a place to shop for birthday pressies (it’s got a Toys R Us!) or clothes, United Square Shopping Mall is the one-stop shop for anything kid-related. It’s just a quick walk from Novena MRT and fully kitted out with a luxe nursing room and family restaurants. There’s always lots of events going on in the main atrium and our perennial fave – the Zoomoov animal rides– on the first level. For healthy snacks, head to Little Farms (FYI, they’ve got great coffee) and for a treat, head to Hoshino on Level 2 for fluffy Japanese-style souffle pancakes. We also love the fact it has a dedicated (and gigantic) CottonOn Kids and H&M Kids with great selections. Take. Our. Money.
United Square Mall, 101 Thomson Road, Singapore 307591
7. Play the day away at the amazing Kidz Amaze at SAFRA Toa Payoh
If the weather’s looking grey, kids will love this alternative – the Kidz Amaze indoor play centre at SAFRA Toa Payoh. Spanning a massive 12,700 square feet, it has an awesome jungle gym and a maze with fun play elements that’ll keep your kids climbing and jumping. Younger bubs will love the cute soft play areas that have been specially designed by early childhood experts to help develop their motor skills. Pretty cool stuff, we think!
Kidz Amaze, SAFRA Toa Payoh, 293 Lor 6 Toa Payoh, Singapore 319387
8. Unleash your inner monkey at Climb Central at Novena Square mall
Looking for a fun weekend activity? Head to Climb Central at Novena Square mall for a walk-in rock climbing sesh or sign up for one of the kids’ programs for little ones aged five to 12. It has dedicated climbing lanes for kids and even kid-sized climbing shoes and harnesses. Parents can join in the action or leave it to the professionals and watch from the comforts of the viewing platform. Climb Central also holds birthday parties and holiday camps for future climbers.
Climb Central, Novena Square, 238 Thomson Road, #03-23/25, Singapore 307683
9. Catch flicks with the fam at the new Shaw Theatres Balestier
The Dreamers theatre hall at Shaw Theatres Balestier is the newest kid-friendly cinema to catch the kids’ fave flicks! With cosy seating on bean bags, kids’ play areas (including a ball pit!) and toys to play with, going to the cinema has never been more fun!
Shaw Theatres Balestier, 360, Balestier Road, Shaw Plaza, Singapore 329783
WHERE TO EAT IN NOVENA, BALESTIER & TOA PAYOH
10. Go local for lunch
When in Toa Payoh, make the most of this heritage ‘hood and go local for lunch. Check out Blk 93 Lor 4 for a delish plate of nasi lemak (the sambal chilli will have you coming back for more). One of our personal faves? The ban mian (feel free to skip the anchovies) at Blk 75 Lor 5 and the muah chee from Hougang Muah Chee at the HDB Hub Basement. You may want to wash it all down with a nice cup of kopi by Kopifellas at Blk 190 Lor 6. Did we mention its local noodle dishes and toast menu? How about some famed chicken rice? Boon Tong Kee in Balestier must ring a bell! This iconic establishment is the place for the best Chinese fare which includes chicken rice, cereal prawns and fried chicken! A good one for the kids! Or try some traditional Bak Kut Teh, a peppery pork broth, at Balestier Bak Kut Teh.
11. Graze all day at these family cafes
Looking for cafe food? We love the Clueless Goat in Goldhill Plaza Mall for their poached eggs on toast and delish coffee. There’s also a Marmalade Pantry at Oasia Hotel for cafe classics like pasta and caesar salad and also Otto Sourdough Pizza & Espresso Bar at Novena Medical Centre for crab cakes and french toast. If you’re at Square 2, kids love the ice cream at Gelaré and the dimsum at TungLok Teahouse.
12. Treat yo’self to some of the best ice-cream in town!
Believe it or not, you can find some of the best ice-cream in town in Toa Payoh and Novena. Although its moved to a new location in Toa Payoh to Blk 131 Lorong 1 Toa Payoh, Creamier is one of our fave ice-cream shops for kids in Singapore. We love the fact everything is homemade and that the staff take the time to whip up unusual flavours. There’s also Shrove Tuesday at Blk 94 Lorong 4 Toa Payoh with TDF waffles and generous servings. Our top tip? Get the salted caramel! If you’re on the way to United Square Mall from Novena MRT, pop by Udders and get the peanut butter crunch flavour.
See you and the fam soon at Novena, Balestier or Toa Payoh!