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MC Travel Special | Six family-friendly experiences in Singapore

The island nation’s appeal as a family-friendly destination gets stronger by the year.

July 30, 2022 / 04:31 PM IST
Singapore's Museum of Ice cream has 14 multi-sensory installations and five tasting stations. (Photo courtesy Singapore Tourism)

Singapore's Museum of Ice cream has 14 multi-sensory installations and five tasting stations. (Photo courtesy Singapore Tourism)

Singapore’s international tourist arrivals almost touched 20 million in 2019 (Source: Statista), the year before the pandemic turned the tourism industry upside down. I was one of those visitors; Singapore was my last pre-pandemic international trip and also my first post-pandemic global trip as the island-nation reopened its doors for vaccinated international travellers in April.

One of the key ingredients in Singapore’s success as a global tourist destination has been its appeal as a safe, family destination. While some countries lean on their intrinsic strengths as a destination, countries like Singapore need to constantly reinvent. This also means there’s a slew of new experiences each time I come back. From becoming a kid all over again at the Museum of Ice Cream to getting lost in a butterfly garden at the Changi airport, there’s an interesting adventure waiting at every turn.

Experience those kid in an ice-cream shop moments

It first started as a pop-up in the Meatpacking district in New York City. Singapore is now home to the first Museum of Ice cream outside the US. This is one place where you’re likely to scream for ice cream. The museum features 14 multi-sensory installations. Some of the museum’s exhibits give you an overview of the evolution of ice cream but it’s not all just installations. There are five tasting stations where you can try ice creams in different shapes and forms, including my favourite, ice cream sandwiches. The walkthrough culminates in a large pool filled with sprinkles.

Become a master perfumer at Scentopia

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In many ways Sentosa island is a microcosm of Singapore’s constantly evolving appeal. Sentosa turned 50 this year, and offers an array of experiences from Universal Studios to Southeast Asia’s first hydro-magnetic coaster but it is Scentopia that has our attention. Create your own signature scent at Scentopia along with your family. You start by taking a personality quiz, then discover your scent preference before you start checking out 200 scent oils to arrive at the scent of your choice.

A floating Apple Store

Singapore’s third Apple Store in Marina Bay is the first Apple Store to sit directly on the water. The Apple Marina Bay Sands store looks like a sphere floating on the iridescent Marina Bay from a distance. Entirely surrounded by water, the store offers 360-degree panoramic views of Singapore and its dramatic skyline. This all-glass dome structure is fully self-supported, comprises 114 pieces of glass with only 10 narrow vertical mullions for structural connection. With multiple mirrors and stunning views, this is the perfect spot for Instagram fiends.

(Photo courtesy Singapore Tourism) (Photo courtesy Singapore Tourism)

Escape to a tropical island without leaving Singapore

To call Lazarus Island one of Singapore’s best kept secrets is not an exaggeration. Also known as Pulau Sekijang Pelepah, Lazarus Island is part of Singapore’s cluster of Southern Islands. There are multiple operators who organise half-day boat trips and yacht cruises that allow you to experience a private beach-type experience without leaving town. This was a prisoner confinement area in the late 19th century. Now it’s a favourite among beach bums and families alike who make the most of the white, sandy beach on the C-shaped lagoon.

Pulau Sekijang Pelepah or Lazarus Island (Photo courtesy Singapore Tourism) Pulau Sekijang Pelepah or Lazarus Island (Photo courtesy Singapore Tourism)

Check in early at Changi

We don’t recommend this just for compulsive shoppers. Singapore’s award-winning airport offers more activities than most other airports in the world.

The Butterfly Garden at Terminal 3 (T3) is home to over 1,000 tropical butterflies from about 40 species. Jewel (Next to T1), is one of Singapore’s newest retail and dining destinations, and boasts of the world’s tallest indoor waterfall. Check out this stunning, 40-metre waterfall at night when the lights take over. Kids love the PEANUTS Snow Hangout that replicates a winter destination experience with real snow and sub-zero temperatures.

Jewel (next to T1), is one of Singapore’s newest retail and dining destinations. (Photo courtesy Singapore Tourism) Jewel at Changi Airport Terminal 1. (Photo courtesy Singapore Tourism)

Get a taste of Singapore and its diverse culture

Singapore’s hawker centres are one of the key pillars of the country’s heritage and culture. The first street hawkers started to ply the streets of Singapore back in the late 19th century. More than a century later, Singapore’s hawker centres are a big draw that offer a food court-style experience where you can choose from a Nasi Lemak to a crispy Dosa (spelt Tosai here). I’ve been to over 15 of Singapore’s 110 hawker centres and it’s always tough to pick a favourite. I’d recommend Maxwell Food Centre for its location and the world famous Tian Tian Chicken Rice counter that grabbed headlines for becoming a Michelin Bib-Gourmand recipient. Lau Pa Sat’s downtown location and unique décor make it a favourite with tourists who usually time their visit after sunset to experience Satay Street located next door to the centre.

Lau Pa Sat’s downtown location and unique décor make it a favourite with tourists who usually time their visit after sunset to experience Satay Street located next door to the centre. (Photo courtesy Singapore Tourism) Lau Pa Sat (Photo courtesy Singapore Tourism)
Ashwin Rajagopalan
first published: Jul 30, 2022 04:27 pm
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