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12-Hour Layover in Singapore l Sightseeing with Kids


Our Singapore trip in December last year was only a 12-hour layover. A connecting flight to Manila. Although short, it was exciting as well as memorable because it was the first country outside of the Philippines and UAE we visited together as a family. The kids were excited to get home but they also looked forward to the fun we had in the Lion City.

We usually fly straight to the Philippines but since Singapore is in the same route to our country, we took advantage of the long layover to see a new place. What's great about it is that Filipinos are given visa on arrival in Singapore so we didn't have to bother applying for visas before the trip.

Our ETA was supposed to be at 7:15 am but we reached at 8:43 am. Our connecting flight to Manila was at 7:10 pm on the same day so instead of 12 hours, we were left with 10. It was good that we slept during the flight, we had enough energy for the itinerary I prepared for us. What we were not really prepared to tackle were the heat and humidity. We didn't expect it to be so humid in December. Except for the weather, Singapore was the perfect choice for a layover. It was a small country yet so many things to see and places to visit.


To navigate the city, we used the Singapore Tourist Pass. It has unlimited travel on Singapore’s basic bus services, MRT and LRT trains for the duration that it is valid. For 20 SGD each, inclusive of a refundable deposit of 10 SGD, we reached different parts of Singapore comfortably. We then refunded the card's deposit before we left Singapore in the evening.


From Changi Airport (GG2), we took the metro to reach downtown. We alight at Raffles Place (EW14). Walked our way to Merlion park passing by The Fullerton Hotel


and the historical Cavenagh Bridge where I took this photo of the sculpture of kids jumping into the river, quite famous on Instagram.


From there, we walk for another 5 minutes to Merlion Park. Although it was still early, the place was already packed with tourist. Like in most touristic spots, we waited for our turn to take this family photo beside the famous Merlion statue. Standing next to this Singapore's icon made me crave for more trips in the future for us four.



We were grateful it didn't rain on the day we were in Singapore although it was already very cloudy. Having lived in Dubai for a long time, we shouldn't be complaining about the humidity but if not for this view and more of it, we would have run back inside the nearest mall.

 Marina Bay Sands Hotel and Arts Science Museum

Merlion Statue

It was around 11 am and the kids began complaining about the heat. Also, our bellies started to grumble. Food and refreshments were just under the Esplanade Bridge, at Toast Junction.


Had I known that Makansutra Gluttons Bay was only after Esplanade Theatres, we could've eaten lunch there. Nonetheless, we are happy having our bellies filled and feet rested.


After the much-needed interruptions, we crossed the Esplanade Footbridge.


The view from that side of the marina was also amazing.




Like Dubai, Singapore is like an open museum so keep your eyes peeled for artworks scattered in the city.


We walked past Esplanade Theatres and the Floating Marina Bay Grandstand on to the Helix Bridge. 


Did you know that this 280 m famous and unique bridge is inspired by the form of the curved DNA structure? Facts that fascinates little travelers and adults too.



Other than sightseeing, I prebooked and prepaid entrance tickets with discounts, to the ArtScience Museum and Sands Skypark-Singapore's observation deck at the top of Marina Bays Sands Hotel with Weekend Go Where Singapore.

We were at the ArtScience Museum at around 12:20 pm. It is indoor and airconditioned so it was a welcome respite from the heat.




Our pass allowed us to access Future World-Where Art Meet Science. It is a futuristic world of high-tech interactive artworks that include Nature, Town, Sanctuary, Park, and Space.

Ferald and I at Nature



In Town-Graffiti Nature, visitors can color flora and fauna, scan it for it to come alive.


We saw Prince's crocodile crawling on the floor while Mica's frog was hopping everywhere.


Then there's Park where you will find these dazzling colored globes that change color when touched and create sound when moved or bounced.


Our favorite and I think everyone's favorite was Space where you'll find the Crystal Universe. It is an interactive installation of Light Sculpture, Endless Artwork & Sound by teamLab using 4D vision technology.

Future World-Space Crystal Universe

That was the last and final part of the exhibit. We spent more than an hour inside before deciding to leave.

Moving on, we went to find the entrance to Sands Skypark Observation Deck.

Sands Skypark is located on the 56th floor of Marina Bay Sands Tower 3. It offers a birds-eye view of Marina Bay, Gardens by the Bay with its impressive Supertrees Grove, and the breathtaking sea view of Marina South Pier to Singapore Straight.


I wish I could tell you that we had so much fun at the observation deck upon seeing the panoramic views of Singapore from high above but in reality, my son was already throwing a feat and it's annoying his sister. We know, the kids are tired and hungry, again. They just wanted to leave not aware of how much money we paid for the tickets. Ferald and I were the enemies. At that moment, I swear not to do a layover packed full of activities again.

Having said that, with a few promises, a candy cane and loads of patience and love, moods got better


We even got a family selfie


and a few more photos of the scenic views from the observation deck




before descending to get a closer look of the supertrees. Due to time constraint, we only reached these parts of the Gardens by the Bay



Moongate by Cheong Fah Cheong 




From here, we walked to Bayfront Metro Station (DT16) and went to eat at Chinatown (DT19) because we promised the kids we will take them to a nice place for lunch. Chinatown Seafood Restaurant was the first restaurant you'll find upon emerging from the subway. The plan was to go to Maxwell Road Hawker Center but we were all out of energy to walk and find the place. With irritated and hungry kids in tow, we settled for what's immediately available that totally didn't disappoint and all cravings were satisfied.

Prince and Mica ordered their favorite, Sweet & Sour Pork and Fried Rice


Bowls of Seafood Laksa for me and Ferald with heaping noodles buried under piles of butterflied tiger prawns, egg, slices of tofu and herbs submerged in the most flavorful laksa soup.



After food, we were back on the streets of Chinatown. 

It is a beautiful mess. Organized chaos. It is vibrant, bustling, loud & colorful. It is alive. It was amazing!  



Traveler tip: If it is your first time, it is easy to get lost in the maze of shops, stalls, and restaurant so study the route before arriving, especially if you have limited time.


Lastly, we went to see the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum and on our way, we passed by Sri Mariamman Temple, the oldest Hindu Temple in Singapore built since 1827. 


Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum is a 5-story temple. Entrance is free. People are allowed to enter and take photos even during services. Visitors are expected to wear respectful attire as it is a place of worship for Buddhist brothers.



That was the last place we visited before we head back to the airport for our flight to Manila. From Chinatown (D19) to Changi Airport (GG2), it took us about an hour, we reached at 5:53 pm, just in time for our 7:10 pm departure. 

It was a day well-spent sightseeing in Singapore with the kids. We love the experience and the lessons we've learned as parents traveling with kids. As the saying goes, "you will never know until you go". So just do it. Singapore, thank you for the wonderful memories. We hope this wouldn't be the last. 

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Cheers
Carla