An itinerary for when Parents/grandparents come to visit.
Usually when people have their parents over to visit it is for a longer period of time – so there’s no need for a set one or two-week itinerary. Instead I’ve listed the places I’ve tried and tested with my parents and other guests we’ve had that I think all ages would enjoy.
There’s a few things to bear in mind if you’re planning days out with older guests:
- The heat can be really hard work so take things slow, make sure they carry water bottles, wear a hat and you stop for plenty of comfort breaks. Bear this in mind when deciding where to go; there’s always a toilet in a shopping centre, MRT station and at attractions and usually a cafe and food centre too.
- If walking is difficult make the most of any free shuttle buses, trams and mobility scooters that places like Gardens By The Bay offer.
- I hired an electric scooter for my dad as he cannot walk very far due to “dodgy knees”. I got it from Delcon who were extremely helpful. You could also hire a wheelchair if you are confident someone is able to do the pushing. Remember, Singapore’s pavements are not always the best place for those less able though so take this into consideration too.
- Don’t assume older guests are not interested in the more adventurous days out. My mum loved Universal Studios and was on and off the rides as much as the rest of us. Dad couldn’t go on much but still enjoyed pottering around after us.
- Taking the kids with you is great, but some of the days out may not work. For example, not many children would enjoy the orchid garden at Botanics, but most older adults would. Let them have some space away from the kids if necessary.
Jurong Bird Park
A fascinating place with more birds than you can ever imagine. We had lunch with the parrots as my sister had bought it as a birthday pressie for my dad – and it was great fun. There’s a splash park there too so great if you get too hot. A lovely wander round can take all day with shows and feedings to take in and there are plenty of benches and cool spots to rest in when you need to. All info on their website.
Gardens by The Bay
You could visit the gardens over two days as they are huge and there’s a fair bit of walking involved. If your guests are at all interested in flowers you should definitely take them to the flower dome. There’s often special themed exhibitions on like Chinese New Year, Christmas, Tulips and so on, and these are always stunning to see. There’s a nice little cafe inside to grab a cuppa when you need to. The Cloud Dome is also really interesting but do take jumpers as it’s freezing in there.
If they’ve got a head for heights take them to Supertree Grove and the OCBC Skyway. Lovely views of the gardens from up there.
If you have done it over two days leave later one day and have an early dinner at Sate By The Bay before watching the Singing Trees do their thing. Everyone loves this part of the holiday and it’s not to be missed.
Probably the place most parents seem to know about are the Botanic Gardens as they are world famous. Take a picnic or plan to have lunch at one of the many cafes. Take your time and again make sure you’ve got plenty of water with you. There are toilets inside the gardens and places to refill your water bottles. Things to look out for are include Symphony Lake, Ginger garden and Orchid Garden. However, some of the Orchid Garden is closed due to enhancement work. If you are visiting with kids don’t miss the Jacob Ballas Children’s Garden.
Take your parents for look around Raffles if it’s open. Don’t just head for a drink though as you can wander around the courtyard and grounds and visit the gift shop which has some lovely gifts to take home. It is essential to stop at the Long Bar for a Singapore Sling thought and take in the old colonial atmosphere of the place. However, please note the hotel is undergoing extensive renovation work at the moment (October 2017) so do check before you go. The Bar and Billiard Room is still open serving the famous Singapore Sling.
Book them in to one of the many afternoon or high tea’s that most of the hotels offer. I took my parents to the one at the Fullerton Bay at Clifford Pier and it really is a spectacular venue. This is not a traditional afternoon tea though so bear in mind that you won’t get finger sandwiches and traditional scones. However, it is delicious. The Shangri La on Orange Grove Road does a great high tea in the Rose Verandah and there are plenty of other places to try too. In fact, if you get bored of it, ask me and I’ll take them – I love an afternoon tea!
Bumboat along the river
This is a great way to while away the morning or afternoon and you can choose where to get off. I’d suggest getting on at Clarke Quay and then make your first stop at Clifford Pier to see the original Merlion at Merlion park. Plenty of photo opportunities here. Then walk down to the Fullerton Bay Hotel and go in to reception. Not only will this give them a respite from the heat it offers a spot for a loo break! They can also take in the stunning hotel lobby.
Once you’ve taken in the sights around there, jump back on a boat and see the rest of the river. Just make sure you buy a ticket that allows you to hop on and off.
Any of the museums are well worth a visit. I particularly like the Peranakan Museum as it’s not too big and has a lot of fascinating information about Singapore’s heritage. Changi War Museum is also popular and also well worth a visit. Then of course there’s the National Museum, Asian Civilisations Museum, Malay Heritage Centre and so on.
Smaller, but worth checking out especially if you have kids to entertain too is the Mint Toy Museum; a small museum which is packed to rafters with toys and memorabilia from all the century’s. Everyone can find their favourite childhood heros from Noddy to the Avengers. It’s good fun for an hour or so and is right by Raffles so you could do both in the same day. If you do visit Mint, be sure to go right to the bar at the top – which may or may not be open – as it has some lovely views and some old school tin signs that will have you reminiscing.
I had a great day out here with my parents and the kids. Set way out (north) west in Kranji, Bollywood Veggies is a fantastic spot that many people don’t know about. Essentially a farm and a bistro/cafe, this is a unique day out that you will all find interesting. The self-named ‘Warriors’ who own and run it have a great sense of humour and this is apparent throughout the farm – quirky signs telling you to help with the leaf clearance in return for a drink in the cafe and warnings about torture trees all make for a different kind of day out. Lunch at the bistro is amazing, and although you may need to encourage a little adventurous tasting as it’s local food, you will not be disappointed. Try one of the platters – they are delicious!
Kranji War Memorial
You can stop here on the way to or from Bollywood Veggies. A tribute to all the fallen from the UK, Australia, Canada, Sri Lanka, New Zealand, India, Malaya and the Netherlands who died defending Singapore and Malaya against invading Japanese forces during World War 11. The memorial consists of war graves, the Memorial Walls, the State Cemetery and the Military Graves.
East Coast Park
Great for a relaxing stroll when you want an easy day. Wide open paths and cycle paths mean everyone can choose their way to travel. You can hire bikes here too. Pack a picnic, lots of water and have an easy stroll.
The Merlion on Sentosa
Situated in Sentosa, take them for a lovely stroll along the Merlion walk and then in to the Merlion itself to hear about the myth, make a wish and ring the bell. You can use the lift to get to the mouth of the lion for a great shot over Singapore. Those more able can go right to the top of the head although there are still a few steps to climb. But there are benches for those that can’t manage them so you can go up whilst they wait in the cool.
A wander around Little India is often something older guests enjoy. If you can get a guide like those run by Road to India even better, as Poojah, the well-informed guide will explain the etiquette of the temples and some of the meaning behind what you are seeing. Stop for lunch at the hawker or one of the many restaurants if you want to try some of the best Indian food in Singapore. Wander around the markets and marvel at the dresses and saris on display. You might even want to try some on.
If, like most mums, your mum loves a bargain take her to Mustafa’s. Many claim you can buy ANYTHING you want there. From toys to suits, flour to fresh fish, they will be amazed. It’s huge though so don’t get lost!
This day out will involve a LOT of walking so I would only suggest this if you hire a wheelchair or scooter for less able guests. Check the website for more info as the zoo does have some to rent. It’s a great day out though and you can take it as slowly as need be. Lots of benches, shaded areas and cafes to stop when necessary as well as a tram that can take you around too. Watching the many animal shows and feedings also offers a sit down when needed.
Theatre in Singapore
A night at the theatre or a live performance is always a safe bet as far as I’m concerned. More often than not you’ll find something of interest on here – whether it’s a free music concert at the esplanade or a west end musical on tour at MBS. Have a look online for what’s around. These websites are helpful. http://www.baseentertainmentasia.com/ https://www.esplanade.com/ http://www.srt.com.sg/ http://pangdemonium.com/
If your parents/guests are good walkers they’ll love a wander around McRitchie. For the more fit and adventurous there’s the treetop walk. Not something I’d suggest unless very good walkers though! But a stroll around the reservoir is pretty easy-going and you’ll still get to see the resident monkeys if you’re lucky. Whatever you do thought, DON’T feed them or offer them anything. They can be quite cheeky and have been known to swipe bags from tables!
Marina Bay Sands
If everyone is really tired of the heat then head to one of the shopping centres. They are all air-conditioned and if you choose MBS, you’ll find a few added attractions as well. Think Venetian style canal and traditional Sampan rides. If you time it well you’ll see the Rain Oculus too – this is a large whirlpool that forms inside a 70-foot diameter acrylic bowl and falls two stories to a pool below. The artwork, a collaboration with architect Moshe Safdie, functions as both a skylight and a rain collector. The rain water is recycled back to the whirlpool and also fills the canal that runs through the atrium.
Stop for lunch somewhere – you could go something more local like the every popular Din Tai Fung or go elegant at TWG. There’s also every kind of option from Gordon Ramsey to Wolfgang Puck as well as a food hall. For more information on where to eat look at the MBS website.
These are just some suggestions. Don’t forget if your parents are visiting all they really want to do is see you and your family. If you have to work or have other commitments, leave them with instructions on how to get a cab, who to contact if there’s a problem and some ideas of things to do during the day. If you are a member of a club get them a temporary pass (most offer them for family visitors) and they can go there as often as they like. Also don’t forget to explain how to use the air con, open the door/gate and get out of the condo if you’re in one. It might be obvious to you, but to guests it’s all new.
Invite some of your Singapore friends over to meet your family. Have a barbecue or a casual dinner. Your parents will really appreciate seeing who you spend your time with and it will make things easier when talking on the phone next. It may also help to reassure them that you are doing okay here and that you have a nice life here.