When your 'rents are visiting, you'll want to know the best places to send granparents in Singapore!
This Sunday is National Grandparents Day, which got us thinking about the best places to take your folks – aka the kids’ grandparents – when they come a’callin’. Yep, it’s all fun and games when the gramps descend, but then that dreaded question crops up and sends shivers down your spine: “So, what’s the plan for today?” Luckily we know exactly where you can take (or send, if they’re your in-laws, ha!) your more ‘mature’ loved ones to showcase just how fabulous Singapore is (without them wilting at outdoor activities in the intense tropical heat). Ladies and gents, we give you our guide to grandparents in Singapore…
National Museum of Singapore
Got a history buff in the family? The National Museum is a great day out to give them a comprehensive rundown of Singapore. And, if they’re taking the kids off your hands for the day, let the olds know there are plenty of family activities and exhibits happening – check the website for the latest info. Every month, there are also senior-friendly guided tours to take advantage of.
National Museum of Singapore, 93 Stamford Rd, Singapore 178897
Gardens by the Bay
Hands down, this should be top of your visitors’ hitlist. Whether they go solo or with you and the rest of the family in tow, the spectacular botanical feat that is the Gardens by the Bay is a sure-fire winner for places to take grandparents. Make a beeline for the Flower Dome (exhibits change often, so if they stop off for a repeat visit in the future it will likely be a different display!) and the Cloud Forest (taking in the breathtaking Super Trees on route). Not only are both conservatories jam-packed with immaculately maintained flora from around the globe, their ingenious design means that they are blissfully cool. If the ‘rents don’t mind the heat (or getting wet), hotfoot it over to the free FEO Children’s Garden water play area. It’s one of our favourite free water play areas in Singapore!
Gardens by the Bay, 18 Marina Gardens Drive, Singapore 018953
National Gallery Singapore
The National Gallery Singapore is one of our favourite places to take the kids any time of year, especially the excellent Keppel Centre for Art Education. It boasts the title of the world’s first museum dedicated to Southeast Asian modern art, so will hold plenty of appeal to the grandparents. There are also daily tours to sign up for, if they’re interested in first-hand info!
National Gallery Singapore, 1 St. Andrew’s Road, Singapore 178957
Singapore River Cruise
For a tranquil time, send them off to enjoy a Singapore River Cruise for a traditional bumboat guided tour. They’ll be swept past the bustling restaurant district of Clarke Quay, the Singaporean shop houses of Boat Quay, past the Merlion and past the must-snap-photo-opp of Marina Bay Sands. The whole family will have a ball, especially if you go early evening when the temperatures are cooler and the night comes alive.
Singapore River Cruise, various jetties.
Whether the sun is beating down and you need some respite, the rain is pouring and you need a rainy day activity, or you just fancy some under-the-sea adventure, you’ll love the S.E.A. Aquarium. This state-of-the-art facility is home to more than 100,000 aquatic creatures… and it’s in air-conditioned comfort, making it an ideal thing to do with grandparents! Gaze at schools of tropical fish or dancing jellyfish, catch the playful dolphins or get up close to sharp-toothed sharks and giant manta rays.
S.E.A. Aquarium, Resorts World Sentosa, 8 Sentosa Gateway, Sentosa Island, Singapore 098269
Afternoon or high tea
Who doesn’t love a cuppa and yummy morsels of goodness? Book the grandparents in for a decadent afternoon tea session at one of the international hotels – you’ll earn serious brownie points you can exchange for babysitting duties! Check our guide to the best afternoon teas in Singapore and they’ll be putty in your hands.
Send them out for cocktails
Yes, the outlaws can do your nut in at times, so send them out one night so you can have the sofa to yourself again. Point them in the direction of a nice hotel bar (Long Bar at Raffles is a bit of a tourist must) or somewhere they can have a nice drink and mull over their day that was. One of our faves? CÉ LA VI over at Marina Bay Sands once the sun goes down. Not only do the staff there serve top tipples, but there’s an uber-impressive 360-degree view of the Singapore skyline to soak up too. It’s a great vantage point, but make sure you feed them before you chuck them out the house as dinner might make quite the dent on their wallet (unless it’s a special occasion, of course!).
CÉ LA VI, North Sky Park, Marina Bay Sands Skypark Hotel Lobby, Tower 3
Katong Antique Centre
For an authentic glimpse into a traditional turn of the century Peranakan family home, head to Katong Antique House on East Coast Road. Nestled in the heritage neighbourhood of Joo Chiat (it’s full of iconic candy-coloured shophouses), Katong Antique House is a beautifully preserved house packed to the rafters with everyday artefacts including vintage enamelware, wooden kueh molds and kebayas. The grandparents will rave about this intimate private house-turned-gallery bursting with Chinese Peranakan culture. Book a tour with the wonderfully insightful Jennifer Lim (6345 8544).
Katong Antique House, 208 East Coast Road, Singapore 428907. Open 11am–4.30pm but make a booking before you visit.
National Orchid Garden at Singapore Botanic Gardens
It can get pretty hot and sweaty over at the Singapore Botanic Gardens but try not to let that deter the grandparents as it makes for a fab day out. Pack a drink bottle and a hat, slap on some sunscreen and head directly to the National Orchid Garden (past the iconic swan lake and gazebo on the hill, of course). Enjoy the national emblem in all its bloom, and the delightful cool mist and air in the Winter Zone.
Cool Zone, National Orchid Garden, Central Core of the Singapore Botanic Gardens, 1 Cluny Road, Singapore 259569
For history buffs with a keen interest in WWII, Fort Canning is a great day out. While the kids are enjoying Jubilee Park and all its fun, why not suggest the grandparents check out the Battlebox hiding under Fort Canning Hill. Nestled nine metres underground lies an authentic World War II secret underground command centre built in the late 1930s. Entry is by guided tour only. Once you’re done, head over to Clarke Quay for a family-friendly bevvy or bite to eat.
Battle Box, 2 Cox Terrace, Singapore 179622 (Fort Canning Park)
We love, love, love Singapore Zoo! A few tips: it’s a long day and it can get hot and sweaty BUT the kids’ zone is fantastic and has a brilliant water play area to cool off at. And there’s that gorgeous carousel to enjoy an old-school ride on! We also recommend the River Safari as it’s a largely sheltered park, so offers plenty of shade and is often a bit quieter. Another wonderful way to beat the heat but still enjoy all the wildlife wonders is to opt for the nocturnal Night Safari. Buy tickets online to net yourselves a discount off the regular ticket price.
Singapore Zoo, 80 Mandai Lake Road, Singapore 729826
Saunter around Tiong Bahru
Head en masse to Tiong Bahru, one of our fave ‘hoods. Immerse your respected elders in the fresh sights, sounds and scents of the buzzing local market, before stopping in at Tiong Bahru Bakery for an artisan coffee and buttery pastry. Of course, there’s also the famous playground to take the kids to if it’s a shady day – it’s a giant train for them to clamber over and under!
Museums, museums, museums
Singapore is blessed with loads of awesome museums that the whole family will get a kick out of. If you’re looking for things to do with grandparents in Singapore, pick one of the Little Red Dot’s educational offerings and enjoy! The ArtScience Museum is a good pick for the whole family – we’ve lost track of the number of times we’ve raved about the permanent FutureWorld exhibit, and right now you can go check out the art of Disney at Disney: Magic of Animation. For something of a more artefacts nature, there’s the HUGE Asian Civilisations Museum. This culture hub has a number of gallery workshops and trails to break down the learning process. Here, grandparents can take in the fascinating history of vibrant, multi-cultural Singapore, all without raising a sweat. Otherwise, take your pick from our rundown of the best family-friendly museums and exhibits to plan their next adventure.
Asian Civilisations Museum, 1 Empress Place, Singapore 179555
Electric scooter or Segway ride
For the young-at-heart grandparent with good balance, a tour on an electric scooter or Segway around the sights and sounds of Singapore could be just the ticket! Participants will be given a brief training session on operating their motorised, eco-friendly device before you zip off on your own or on a guided tour for 2-2.5 hours (around Sentosa). Your best bet is to arrange a babysitter/helper for the kids at home, and enjoy a cruise, sans kids.
Segway Tours Singapore
Hit an indoor play centre
At the end of the day, we all know the grandparents visit us with the primary purpose of seeing the kids, and spoiling them rotten. A sure-fire way to get into a child’s good books is to treat them to a session at in indoor play centre – preferably with a cafe on site! There are lots of (literally) cool play centres littered about Singapore where the adults can relax for a bit with a cup of tea while the kids burn off energy. You’ll want to read our survival guide to give them some tips on how to nail soft play while they’re at it!
Hit the shops
Singapore is chock full of awesome shopping malls, and in the run-up to Christmas there’s lots going on – not to mention all those pretty lights! There are also some fantastic play areas at loads of shopping centres – take your pick from our guide so the whole family can enjoy their time out. When you’re all shopped out, enjoy a bite to eat, laugh together at an arcade or catch a family movie you can all watch.
Head to Sentosa
An island full of fun? Total bliss when you’re in need of ideas to entertain the grandparents in Singapore! To make your life easy, we’ve compiled the ultimate guide to Sentosa so you’ll have everything you need at your fingertips. You’re welcome.
Visit a hawker centre
At the other end of the scale to a five-star brunch or afternoon tea in terms of price and vibe is a local feast at a hawker centre. Think Singaporean signatures such as chicken rice, oyster omelette and chilli stingray: cross a few essential local eats off your must-try list (check out our top 30 Singapore dishes)! It’s the perfect way to end the grandparent’s visit, and entice them to come again soon…