Singapore Zoo is world renowned for its spacious, open air enclosures and I have to admit its by far the best zoo I have visited. Depending on what list your reading, you will always find Singapore Zoo somewhere in the top 10 zoo’s in the world. A zoo’s a zoo you might be thinking but it really isn’t.
Singapore is often overlooked as a family friendly destination to visit. We love Singapore as there is so much for the kids to do. Some of our top things to do in Singapore with kids are:
Universal Studios Singapore – located on Sentosa Island, easily accessible on public transport from the mainland. The kids will love it and will be have a chance to meet some of their favour its characters including Gru and the crew from Despicable Me, Sesame Street and Shrek.
Kidzania Singapore – a great way for kids to role play in some great career roles including airline pilot, cabin crew, doctors, dentists, couriers, radio DJ, shop assistant and ice cream maker.
Singapore Zoo is situated on 64 acres in the Mandai Rainforest approximately 30 minutes by taxi from Orchard Rd. There’s believed to be 2800 animals from 300 species, I can’t think of an animal that wasn’t there! Unfortunately, of those animals a staggering 26% are on the threatened or endangered list. The first thing you will notice about Singapore Zoo is that there are no cages, there are lots of windows where you can get really close to the animals if they happen to be walking past. Visiting the Singapore Zoo should be on everyone’s Singapore itinerary even if only staying a few days.
Also located within walking distance is the Night Safari and the River Safari. We attempted to visit all 3 in one day and I strongly advise that you only visit 2 a day as there’s quite a bit to see at Singapore Zoo. Personally I would suggest you do Singapore Zoo and the Night Safari on one day and the River Safari another day.
We arrived at 9am and headed straight to the Ah Meng Restaurant to have Breakfast with the Orangutans. The experience allows visitors to enjoy an extensive buffet breakfast in the company of my favourite animal, the orangutan. We were lucky enough to have the best seat in the house that morning and it was an amazing experience to be so close to them. On this morning we had 7 orangutans to have breakfast with and there was a mummy orangutan with her 5 month old baby. It was wonderful to see her breastfeeding her baby and at one stage she was kissing it and showing it a lot of affection, just like we do our babies. It was lovely, a real highlight for me.
Once you have enjoyed your breakfast, there’s an opportunity for each person to have a photo with the orangutans. You stand in front of their feeding area and the professional photographers take photos. I was happy that they will also take a photo for you with your personal camera, I had to buy the professional one though. I will let the photos talk for themselves:
Tip: Get there early, we arrived right on time and we were so busy looking at the orangutans that I hardly got a chance to eat. I got in line for the photo while the kids kept eating and then I got to the front the kids and Craig jumped in with me. Many people were doing the same thing.
Straight after breakfast we jumped on the tram, we did one lap of the whole zoo so that we could get our bearings and make sure we knew where everything was to ensure we didn’t miss anything. The tram is SGD$5 for adults and SGD$3 for kids 3-12 yrs old for unlimited rides over the day. It’s a good way to see the size of the park and visualise your plan of attack to fit it all in. We only had one day to see all 3 parks so we were planning to get around at a cracking pace. It’s also a great way to give little kids a bit of a rest at times. Especially if they have been walking a lot, they only have little legs!
Over 1.7 million people visit this zoo each year so they must be doing something right! Apart from having breakfast with the orangutans, I also loved the orangutan enclosures, they have a free range area where they can swing from one side of the path to the other. It’s funny to see an orangutan swinging upside down right above your head! There’s also a raised boardwalk where you are able to view them better. I could have stayed there for hours watching them but as I said, we were setting a cracking pace! I would love to see this type of enclosure for them in every zoo.
There are a number of animal feeding sessions per day from giraffes (which we did), elephants, goats, white rhinos, meerkats, pygmy hippos, proboscis monkeys, mandrill, chimpanzee, giant tortoise and on Sundays you can include the crocodile and king cobra as well. You could spend all day going from one to the other. There is an animal feeding programme on the map that you can get when you enter. Some of them cost a small amount others are free, its on a first come, first served basis so try and get there early to secure your spot.
The reptile enclosure is never my favourite, the kids love it though. So like a good mum I still drag myself in and walk as far away from the window as possible while the kids laugh at me. What did I learn this time, Singapore and South East Asia have some pretty nasty snakes too, I always think once I’m away from Australia and our 7 out of the top 10 deadly snakes that I can relax a bit, well not the case, I need to be wary in Asia as well. I knew there was something I loved about New Zealand!! Singapore Zoo has snakes from all over the world and some pretty big suckers too! I was very thankful to get out of there once the kids had their fix!
Wild Africa & Cat Country
Alannah loves big cats, in particular cheetahs so we spent a bit of time around Wild Africa. The cheetah was right up at the window when we arrived and Alannah was over the moon to have her favourite animal right at the window. You could see every muscle in its body move as it walked, it really is an impressive animal. The leopard was right up at the window too, we were very lucky to get such a good look at them. We stumbled upon the giraffe feeding while we were there and the kids had a carrot each to feed them. Be careful of their long sandpaper-like tongues, they love a spread a bit of slobber around too! Yuk!
Ah Meng Memorial
There are so many monkeys and apes at this zoo, I found the proboscis monkeys and the chimpanzees particularly amusing. I love their enclosure, up nice and high not far from Ah Meng’s resting place and memorial. Ah Meng was a famous Singapore Zoo icon and featured in many promotional campaigns. She was illegally imported and after being discovered she was handed over to the zoo. She ended up a mother of 5 and even a grandmother. Due to her docile nature, the breakfast with the orangutans was born and its a tradition that still stands today (discussed above).
The Primate Kingdom is great, this area allows the crested macaque, colobus monkey, capuchin monkey, patas monkey and the douc langur share three different islands and you can view them from across cross the lake. There is also the Treetop Trails, home of the Siamang who you are able to view from a raised boardwalk. They maximise the space they have with great boardwalks for better viewing.
The Tiger Trek is home to the majestic white tiger, the pink flamingo’s, gibbons and the red-ruffed lemur. They have their own area behind the Ah Meng Restaurant purpose built for them that simulates their home environment as closely as possible. Their enclosure is close to the otters, malayan tapir and a babirusa, the kids were excited about the malayan tapir as they hadn’t seen one before, I was surprised when they knew what it was.
They have a large section for the Australia Zone, we gave this a miss because we were pushed for time and we see plenty of Aussie animals at home. They are currently doing some upgrading to this area and it would be nice to see some koalas there as they are well covered with wallabies, kangaroos, tree kangaroos and a cassowary. I’m sure they will do something wonderful with this area just like the rest of the zoo.
Great Rift Valley of Ethiopia
This appears to be a fairly new addition to the park it includes a pretty impressive enclosure for the hamadryas baboons. Something must be going very right there because there is loads of them and lots of new little baby baboons. They have included a display village that resembles life for Ethiopians at home.
Elephants of Asia
The elephants have an impressive area to call home with tiered seating to view the Elephants at Work and Play show. After the show there’s an opportunity to feed the elephants so make sure you sit closest to the middle as that’s where you are required to line up if you want to feed them. The enclosure is set up so that the elephants can walk around and get in the water, there is a small fence between the water and where people sit that their trunks can stretch across to grab the food from your hand.
Singapore Zoo Educational Shows
Singapore Zoo has a couple of auditoriums where the staff conduct educational animal presentations. The programme is also listed on the map provided and there are announcements inside the park to remind you when they are coming up. We did the Rainforest Fights Back and Elephants at Work and Play. The shows are aimed at kids and the general message for the kids is reduce, reuse and recycle and to look after the environment for all the animals and for generations to come. Other shows we didn’t make it to include Splash Safari and the Animal Friends Show. We would have gone but we were not near by at the time shows.
Right at the back of the park is the Rainforest Kidzworld, the first thing the kids noticed in the water splash park was the giant tipping bucket. It’s a great place for kids to cool down on those hot days and for the little kids there is a carousel and animals such as goats and giant rabbits. The kids have the opportunity to have a pony ride for a small price although kids need to be under 120 cms in height (for the first time ever my kids were too big!!!).
There is a huge range of food to choose from at Singapore Zoo, located at different areas so that you never have to go far to get something to eat. There is Asian and Western food and even KFC. There is plenty to choose from and something there for everyone. There are also little kiosks around where you can purchase small snacks or drinks including ice creams and frozen drinks. We stopped at one near Ah Meng’s Memorial and had a frozen drink (these drinks are not refillable).
Some of the choices are listed below:
Ah Meng Kitchen – serves local meals including rice & singapore favourites nasi lemak, fried bee hoon & laksa,
Ah Meng Restaurant – serves local meals including chicken rice, fish & chips & biryani,
Ah Meng Bistro – serves a variety of gourmet snadwiches and pasta including lasagna, pastries and desserts,
Chawang Bistro – serves gourmet hot dogs, pastas & soups & yummy cakes & tarts,
The Wild Deli – serves gourmet sandwiches, pizza, meat pies, savoury breads & croissants.
First up, a taxi from the Orchard Rd area to the Zoo will cost around SGD$25, this was a reasonable option for us as 5 bus tickets would have been close to this anyway. There’s a number of different ways to get there so click on this link to get the up-to-date information from the Singapore Zoo website.
Prices for the parks are best viewed by clicking on this link, depending on what else you might be doing there are various price options from single park entry to 4 park passes that includes the River Safari, Night Safari and Jurong Bird Park. You can also purchase a 2 park pass but it really depends what you want to do and have time for. If you are planning on visiting at least 2 parks, you are best to buy a combo ticket of some sort as they are much cheaper than purchasing individual tickets.
I highly recommend doing the Breakfast with the Orangutans, click on the link here for current prices. You will be required to make a booking online, the earlier you book the closer to the front you will be. The kids really enjoyed this experience and one that will stay with them for a very long time.
We loved the Singapore Zoo and we could have easily spent the whole day there. If I were to visit again I would allow 1 full day from open to close, this would be enough for little kids. Then I would visit the River Safari and the Night Safari on a separate day. This would be a much easier option than doing all 3 in one day like we did.
The River Safari and Night Safari could be done together on 1 day, even have a sleep in and spend the afternoon at the River Safari then on to the Night Safari for the evening. Unfortunately our itinerary didn’t allow us to have 2 days visiting the parks.
The kids loved Singapore Zoo, the Breakfast with the Orangutans was a highlight for us all. It really is worth doing and the kids will love it. Also ensures they get a good breakfast in before a big day of walking around.
We have been lucky enough to visit Singapore a few times and we love it as it is so family friendly, here are some suggestions for accommodation:
Shangri La Singapore – one of the best hotels in Singapore, the Shangri La Singapore is located just off Orchard Rd. Having been there for 46 years, the grounds are large as with the amazing breakfast buffet!
Holiday Inn Singapore City Central Hotel – located close to the MRT this hotel is well priced and manages to accommodate both families and the business clients well.
Marina Bay Sands Hotel – who doesn’t want to swim in the worlds most famous infinity pool? Need I say more!
If you have any questions, please leave me a comment in the section below, I will get back to you with answers as best I can.
Sal & Co!
Disclaimer: We had a mutually beneficial arrangement with the Singapore Zoo, but as always my opinion is my own.