12-Hour Layover in Singapore l Sightseeing with Kids

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 on 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 visas 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 it 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.

Singapore Tourist Pass

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

The Fullerton Hotel Singapore

and the historical Cavenagh Bridge where I took this photo of the sculpture of kids jumping into the river, is 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 tourists. Like in most tourist spots, we waited for our turn to take this family photo beside the famous Merlion statue. Standing next to this Singapore icon made me crave more trips in the future for us four.

Merlion Statue

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 to the nearest mall.

Marina Bay Sands Hotel and Arts Science Museum
 Marina Bay Sands Hotel and Arts Science Museum

Merlion Statue
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.

Toast Junction Singapore

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.

Mica in Singapore

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

With my kids in Singapore

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

Dad at Esplanade Footbridge in Singapore


Our family in Singapore

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

Singapore Art Display

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

Helix Bridge Singapore

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

Prince at Helix Bridge Marker

Mica crossing the Helix Bridge

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.

ArtScience Museum Singapore

Lily Pond at ArtScience Museum

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

Future World-Where Art Meet Science
Ferald and I at Nature

Mica at Future World-Where Art Meet Science

Prince at Future World-Where Art Meet Science

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

Mica and Prince scanning their drawings

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

Prince drawing came alive after scanning

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

Colored Globes

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.

Mica at Crystal Universe
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.

Gardens by the Bay

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, unaware of how much money we had paid for the tickets. 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, their moods got better

Sands Skypark Observation Deck

We even got a family selfie

Sands Skypark Observation Deck

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

Singapore viewed from Sands Skypark Observation Deck

Singapore viewed from Sands Skypark Observation Deck

Singapore viewed from Sands Skypark Observation Deck

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

Gardens by the Bay Singapore

Dad and I at Gardens by the Bay Singapore

Moongate by Cheong Fah Cheong
Moongate by Cheong Fah Cheong 

Marina Bay Sands Hotel

In front of the Supertrees at the Gardens by the Bay

From there, 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 was immediately available that totally didn't disappoint and all cravings were satisfied.

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

Chinatown Seafood Restaurant

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

Laksa at Chinatown Seafood Restaurant Singapore

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!  

Chinatown Singapore

Chinatown Singapore

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

Red House at Chinatown Singapore

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 in 1827. 

Sri Mariamman Temple

Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum is a 5-story temple. The 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.

Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum

Inside Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum

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. 

My Yellow Bells

Carla is a lifestyle blogger based in Dubai who's thankful to call this ever-evolving city her second home. The pages of this blog are filled with stories about her expat life in the sandpit. It features dining and travel adventures in and around the city and beyond. It also features food recipes, parenting tips, and fashion style.

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