While we’re afraid there's no foolproof way to eradicate the cringe factor of – ugh! – going on vacation with mum and dad, Singapore is one of those places that has the rare ability to wow chronically unimpressed teenagers, thanks to its heady mix of futuristic architecture, adrenaline-fueled thrill rides and flamboyant fusion food. Keep your progeny’s dramatic eye-rolling and theatrical yawns at bay (and show off your own cool credentials) with our list of the best activities and attractions for teens in Singapore, including…
- Selfies at the Gardens by the Bay
- Universal Studios
- Singapore cycling tours
- Foodie fave hawker centers
- Adventure Cove Water Park
- Nighttime safaris
- Thrill rides on Sentosa island
Scratch Their Selfie Itch
Does getting your teen to look up from their smartphone for even a nanosecond occasionally feel like a Sisyphean task? Help is at hand! Simply bill your first day in Singapore as a ‘selfie tour’ and let the city’s soaring skyscrapers, futuristic attractions and vertiginous views do the rest. The Gardens by the Bay are a fine place to start. And, you never know, the distinctive treetop structures of the Supertree Grove and towering waterfall in the Cloud Forest may even put a (genuine) smile on their faces. Colorful Peranakan houses in cactus greens, flamingo pinks and baby blues are equally photogenic, and panoramic views from the SkyPark observation deck atop the gleaming Marina Bay Sands resort are near-guaranteed to please even the fussiest Instagram addict.
Get High on Sentosa Island
The cable car ride to Sentosa alone should be enough to delight kids from toddlers to teens. But, if not, there are plenty more thrilling sky-high activities to enjoy on arrival. Try the giant swing that – at over 100 feet above palm-strewn Siloso Beach – is sure to get the adrenaline pumping. Not fast enough for ya? Hurtle through the rainforest, into tunnels and around hairpin bends in a tiny luge cart with the Skyline Luge instead. For something slightly more sedate (but no less dizzying), the SkyHelix ascends to 260 feet above sea level from Imbiah Lookout. Book a sunset slot to experience the most beautiful pink-and-orange skies as the sun sets over the Western Islands and Indonesia beyond.
Universal Studios Singapore
Kids of all ages will find much to enjoy at Universal Studios Singapore, also on Sentosa island. There’s stacks for the whole family to enjoy here, from kiddie-friendly movie-themed rides and meet and greets with the Minions, SpongeBob, Dora the Explorer and Sesame Street pals to white-knuckle rollercoasters like Accelerator and Revenge of the Mummy for the teenagers. Jump aboard the Jurassic Park Rapids Adventure for a white-water escape from hungry dinosaurs on the loose.
Get on Your Bike
Singapore’s cycling infrastructure is world class, with dedicated bike lanes and excellent routes for getting out of the city and exploring this verdant tropical paradise. It’s also pretty flat, so most routes are manageable for novices. Rent some bikes and go it alone: hit the Central Urban Loop for a 36-kilometer round-trip around leafy suburban neighborhoods, taking in parks, gardens, woodlands and tranquil waterways. Or join a guided cycling tour of some of Singapore’s most historic locations, including Chinatown, the Museum District and Kampong Glam, the city’s old Muslim quarter with its grand, gold-domed mosque and 19th-century shophouses, now home to textile stores, restaurants and cafes.
Adventure Cove Water Park
Back on Sentosa, the Adventure Cove Water Park has plenty to keep teens entertained, whether they’re the highly active type, or just want to while away an hour or two meandering along the lazy river in a donut, passing grottoes, jungle and drifting through an underwater tunnel surrounded by sea life. Other highlights in this watery wonderland include high-octane water slides with suitably thrilling names like Riptide Rocket and Spiral Washout, and the opportunity to snorkel with over 20,000 colorful fishes in the Rainbow Reef.
Mess With Their Minds
What kid doesn’t love an optical illusion? Scentopia gives your gadget-addicted teen a legitimate excuse to get their phone out, with an augmented-reality gallery that relies on your device to produce its eye-popping special effects, bringing dinosaurs, spectacular blooms and more leaping out of the exhibits. Meanwhile over at Trickeye further mind-bending illusions await: dance with mermaids, swim with sharks and slay dragons. Kids will love the fantastic photo opportunities here, sure to rack up the likes on their Instagram feeds.
Go on a Nighttime Safari
The Night Safari is the first animal park in the world to dedicate itself solely to the creatures of the night. No, not vampires (at least we don’t think so), but exotic beasts that become more active after dusk. There are over 2,500 animals in this whopping 86-acre reserve and you can choose to explore on foot or on board the complimentary tram. Meander through zones including the East Lodge Trail, where animals of the African savannah meet those from the Asian tropics, and the Fishing Cat Trail where the titular fishing cat is joined by other oddball beasts including giant anteaters, flying foxes, slow lorises and barking deer.
Take to the Water
Leave the sedate river cruise to the grown-ups and splash into Marina Bay aboard an amphibious DUCKtours vehicle. Part bus, part boat and all duck, this crazy hybrid adventure takes in views of the downtown skyline from the harbor before cruising back onto dry land for a whistle-stop tour of the Civic District, home of the iconic Raffles Hotel, the National Gallery and gothic St Andrews Cathedral. Hop-on hop-off bus tours are also available for the aquatically disinclined.
Bright Lights, Big City
Every evening, the Gardens by the Bay puts on a light and music show par excellence that’s sure to wow even the most easily unimpressed teenager. The Garden Rhapsody is a quite dazzling spectacle, as the supertree structures burst into colorful life in time with musical themes that change with the seasons. And, best of all, this event is absolutely free. Ramp up the excitement by viewing from the dizzy heights of the Marina Bay Resort’s SkyPark observation deck. Shows commence at 7:45PM and 8:45PM, though times may vary by season and during celebrations like Chinese New year.
Inevitably your teen will want a McDonalds, Burger King or KFC at some point during their vacation and, worry not, there are plenty of those around. But if you really want to give them a treat, hit the city’s legendary hawker centers, where the smell of sizzling BBQ pork, zingy fried noodles and lime-drenched chili crab is guaranteed to grab their attention. Not to mention that these bustling food markets with their steaming hot plates and Instagrammable takeaway dishes are a budding photographer’s dream come true. Check out the Old Airport Road Food Centre and Ghim Moh Market for some of the most mouthwatering snacks on the planet.