We’ve come to the conclusion that the easiest and most effective way to sightsee with the kids are tour buses. Sure, they are a bit more expensive than riding public transportation (where available), but they are the easiest and most-tourist friendly modes of transportation we’ve found. We certainly appreciate the fact that the drivers are paid to be nice and answer our dumb tourist questions and I am so glad these buses have big doors and carrying a stroller with us has never become a hindrance.
In Singapore we rode the Hippo and Duck Tours. They had a bus stop right across the street from our hotel and we were able to pay for the tour right on the bus. We got the Singapore Sight Seeing pass and paid $33 per adult for unlimited bus and boat rides on the Hippo River Cruise for a day. Kids less than 3 years old ride for free, yay!
The Sightseeing Bus has three routes that take you all over mainland Singapore. You are welcome to hop on and hop off at any time and the buses are usually there within 20 minutes. We enjoyed riding on the bus even when it was raining. We just sat downstairs and enjoyed looking out the huge windows. We drove by Little India, Arab Street, the Embassies, China Town, the Botanical Garden, Marina Bay, Clarke Quay, etc. After completing a tour on the bus, which lasted about an hour, we knew where we wanted to stop.
We first “hopped-off” in China Town where we drank bubble tea, looked at temples, shopped for souvenirs and ate at a hawker stand. I must confess I haven’t enjoyed street food this much since I was last in Mexico where eating street tacos rocks. I found it funny (and reassuring) how each of the food stands has a grade according to the quality and cleanliness of the place. I was super daring and ate at delicious Thai food at a grade “B” stand. The hubby went for a Chinese noodle soup and of course Evan ended up devouring it. We later shared a shaved ice dessert that had some kind of pickled coconut that I loved and my DH hated, though he did eat all the mango on the plate.
After our delectable meal, we “hopped on” again and headed towards the water. We decided to hop off for a second time in the Marina Bay Sands Hotel. My goodness what a gorgeous place! We didn’t even go in the hotel but I can imagine what it’s like. The shopping area and convention center were just spotless and a vision of architectural perfection. When the boys were in desperate need of a pit stop we went to the family room where they had a tiny toilet for toddlers. My husband wouldn’t allow me to take pictures of Evan using it, but trust me, it was tiny, functional and super cute. After drinking yet another bubble tea, staring at the Ferraris at the Ferrari store and contemplating on the next apple product on the wish list, we headed out to the waterfront area and walked around for a bit.
The waterfront provides impressive views of the city landscape. Hotels, office buildings and man-made wonders impress the passersby, or at least this passerby. The Louis Vuitton Store is right by the water and although we didn’t go inside, I’m sure the water scenery provides an atmosphere fostering peaceful and abundant shopping, maybe next time, right husband?
After walking on the gorgeous wood deck we arrived in the Hippo Boat River Tours dock. After waiting about 15 minutes the boat arrived and we hopped on and started our sailing adventure. The first half hour of the tour takes place within the Marina Bay area. They explain each of the landmarks, including the hotels, the Merlion and the Art and Science Center, which is shaped like a flower. It kind of reminded me of Buenos Aires, but that’s another story.
We then headed over to the different Quays and passed under several bridges. Three stops later we arrived in Clarke Quay and although the tour was not over, we decided to hop off and explore the area a bit. Clarke Quay consists primordially of bars and restaurants. We were obviously too early and had too much baby spit up on our shirts to really enjoy the ambiance and true nature of the area. We did sit down for a bit at a Mexican Restaurant and had a beer and guacamole and chips. I’m sorry to say that the place was overpriced and under-whelming. Lesson learned, again, cook Mexican at home, or even better, get your truly Mexican friends to invite you over for dinner. Back to Clarke Quay, we made an oath to ourselves to go back at some point and actually go out and have another overpriced beer and stay there longer than 45 minutes while not having any diaper emergency constrains.
We hopped on the bus for the last time as the bus tour finishes at 6:00 PM. We did another route and looked at the Singapore Flyer, went by Marina Bay Sands again and ended the tour riding by the Embassies and the older houses in the botanical garden area. We enjoyed sitting down on the upper deck and looking at Singapore one last time. For the first time during the day, we actually listened to the explanation of the landmarks since the boys were too tired to try to jump out the bus (Evan) or throw up all over the place (Josh). We found it quite amusing how most of the explanations had a monetary reference. From the cost of apartments or the fact that it’s cheaper to buy a new car rather than keep an old one and the wages of the workers we left the tour with a vast knowledge of the cost of living in Singapore.
Overall we would do it all over again. If we go back to Singapore we will probably take the tour bus again and if we had been there a bit longer, we would have definitely paid the extra $6 per person to extend the pass to 48 hours.Duck and Hippo Tours Website