Jan 16, 2017

13 Little-known Experiences in Singapore that are Perfect for Families

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A brand new year calls for new experiences with the kiddos! But if you are tired of heading to the same old outdoor or shopping mall playground, or the usual attraction in Singapore, good news - there are actually plenty of lesser-known gems not a lot know about and may even be completely unknown to some of us!

So if you are planning to bring the family out for a day's worth of fun at a fun new place during the weekend, I've put together a list of 13 Singapore's little-known experiences - away from the mainstream attractions - which can be enjoyed together as a family!

1. Touchwood @ Ground-up Initiative

Kids picking up basic carpentry skills? Touchwood is one of the rare places in Singapore to do so! The craft arm of Ground-Up Initiative, Touchwood is a social enterprise with one mission - to find and create useful ways in recycling used and unwanted materials and in the process, increase awareness on the importance of resourcefulness, especially in a small, resource-scarce country that we live in, and encourage greater social interaction.

Workshops are conducted for both kids and adults, and are designed for families to bond and spend quality time while picking up a few handy skills! Kids can start off with something simple, like making a wooden toy car to picking up basic woodworking skills over a 3-day workshop. Head to HERE for its current workshops.

Website: http://touchwoodgui.weebly.com/ 
Address: Kampung Kampus, Ground-Up Initiative, 91 Lorong Chencharu (Yishun) Singapore 769201
Price: Varies according to workshop

2. Sisters Island

A great retreat for a day of snorkelling in blue waters and camping, Sisters Islands is actually made up of two islands – Big Sister’s Island and Little Sister’s Island. The islands are separated by a narrow channel and are popular with picnic-goers because of their shady palm trees and beach shelters. A permit is also needed should you decide to camp overnight on the island.

The main highlight though, is the rich marine life that the island houses. Home to Singapore’s first Marine Park, the entire area will protect Singapore’s coral reefs, which support an ecosystem inhabited by rare and endangered species of seahorses, clams, sponges and other marine life. The intertidal area at Sisters’ Islands Marine Park is most suitable for visiting during low tides of 0.4 metres and below. That is when you will be able to see the area teeming with marine life. 

One has to charter a fast boat as there are no daily ferries to the island. But I highly recommend signing up for the Introductory Guided Walks at Sisters' Islands Marine Park conducted by NParks which are FREE. Visit www.nparks.gov.sg/gardens-parks-and-nature/parks-and-nature-reserves/sisters-islands-marine-park for more details. Do check back regularly as the slots get filled up very fast!

3. The Live Turtle & Tortoise Museum

Found within Chinese Gardens, the Live Turtle and Tortoise Museum is home to more than 200 turtles and tortoises in over 60 different species like the fortune turtle, the gold soft-shell turtle and the ferocious alligator turtle.  Tamer turtles roam the compound, so opportunities to pet and feed the animals will never fail to thrill children and adults alike. The Museum is also a showcase of collectibles such as toys, ornaments, tableware and furniture, inspired by these animals.

Although the area is rather small, the museum provides families the chance to come up close with these fascinating creatures. For $2, you get a bunch of fresh vegetables to feed the hungry reptiles within the garden and that should delight any child.

Website: www.turtle-tortoise.com
Address: 1 Chinese Garden Rd Singapore 619795‎
Opening Hours: 9am – 6pm daily
Price: Adults $5 | Children below 6 $3

4. Water-Venture by People’s Association

People Association’s Water-Venture outlets offer unlimited outdoor fun and fitness as a way to bond families and friends. The outlets offer a range of water sports activities like kayaking, sailing, dragon boating, windsurfing and power boating, with some catering to children as well. There are eight Water-Venture outlets which are run by professional staff and assisted by a dedicated pool of trainers and volunteers.

Keep an eye out for the wildly popular Reservoir Discovery Series – an island-wide kayaking initiation that welcomes everyone (with or without kayaking experience) to pick up the sport, bask in the natural surroundings, and explore the scenic routes and calm reservoirs of Singapore.

Address: Visit HERE for its 8 locations
Opening Hours: The Water-Venture outlets operate from Tuesdays to Sundays, 9.30am to 6.00pm, open on all public holidays (except Chinese New year, Deepavali, Hari Raya Puasa, Christmas & National Day)

5. Kranji Marshes

Spanning 56.8 hectares (half the size of Gardens by the Bay), Kranji Marshes is the largest freshwater marshland in Singapore. It is home to a combination of lush, marsh, woodland and grass habitats with more than 170 species of birds, 54 species of butterflies and 33 species of dragonflies lies in the north-western part of Singapore. And not only is it open to everyone, it is FREE to visit!

There are two main areas – one that is open to public and the core conservation area which can only be accessed via guided walks. For the public walk, the start journey begins at Kranji Gate which is located at the end of Neo Tiew Lane 2 (beside D'Kranji Farm Resort). The walk is a relatively straight-forward linear one, a 1km route which ends at 10-metre tall Raptor Tower which offers a panoramic view of the entire Kranji Marshes. Suffice to say, scaling the tower is the highlight for the kids!

Address: 11 Neo Tiew Lane 2, Singapore 718814
Opening hours: 7am to 7pm daily
Price: FREE

6. Children Little Museum

Hidden away along Bussorah Street, in front of the Sultan Mosque, is one awesome gem offering visitors a precious glimpse into the past. The Children Little Museum houses an impressive collection of memorabilia and old-school toys. From tikam tikam to tin robots to old-style pick-up-stix, there are surprises waiting to be discovered and reminisced especially for us parents. And it will most certainly be an eye-opener for the children too, giving parents the perfect opportunity to share what kind of toys and items they had while growing up last time.

And when you leave, be sure to check out the mamak store outside the museum which sells all the retro toys that we are familiar, as well as tikam tikam! Oh, and did I mention the admission fees are amazingly affordable too? Only $2 per person! Our experience HERE.

Address: 42 Bussorah Street (in front of Sultan Mosque), Singapore 199460
Opening Hours: 10.30am - 10.00 daily
Price: $2

7. Castle Beach

Volunteers from Castle Beach conduct sandcastle-building lessons for the public from 3.30pm to 7pm on weekends. These classes promote family bonding, team work, patience and resilience as everyone work together to create a beautiful creation on the beach. Kids will be able to pick up tips on how to build awesome sandcastles. Do note that while the lessons are free, families need to purchase a sandcastle building set.

Website: www.castlescanfly.com
Address: East Coast Beach, Beside E2 Carpark and East Coast Lagoon Food Village
Opening Hours: 3.30pm – 7pm every Sat & Sun
Price:  Sandcastle Building Set - $42 (Deluxe Set) | $50 (Super deluxe set)

8. Kayak Mandai Mangroves

Explore the Important Bird Area of Mandai Mangroves on kayak. Organised by Nature Society (Singapore), this event is suitable for beginners as the kayaks are stable double-seaters. Kayak through Sungei Mandai Besar and Sungei Mandai Kechil where large stands of mature mangroves exist alongside abandoned kampongs. 

The coastal tract is home to a permanent population of horseshoe crabs and keen-eyed ones may even spot White-bellied Sea Eagles circling overhead, or a migratory Osprey fishing!

The event is held a few times in a year so it is best to visit www.nss.org.sg for available dates and slots. Participants must be at least 8 years old. Those age 12 and below must be accompanied by one parent in the same kayak. Nature Society (Singapore)’s members pay $100 while the public pays $125 for the 4-hour session. Kids 12 years old and below are entitled to a discounted price.

9. Jurong Fishery Port

Take in the sights, sounds and of course smells at the Jurong Fishery Port where it really comes alive after midnight when all the fishing vessels start to unload their day's catch. Just the sight of so many different types of fishes and how the auction of fishes are done should be enough to offset the lack of sleep.

Fishing vessels and fish reefer boats calling at JFP usually unload their catch between 11pm and 2am for wholesale through the fish merchants so do head down at that time to catch the fervent action!

Address: Fishery Port Rd, Singapore 619742

10. PIP’s PLAYbox @ The Esplanade

PIP’s PLAYbox is an activity space tucked away on Level 4 at the Esplanade designed especially for kids - AND it's all FREE! There is a kids craft station where kids will be able to churn out their own handicrafts. The crafts will vary throughout the time of year and depending on the season.

The air-conditioned area also stocks a massive library of children’s books, complete with plenty of personal - and some secret too! - speaces for kids and parents to read together. Need a little fresh air? Head to the mini playground just outside where kids can get active and even crawl inside the brick-red tower to get a kaleidoscopic view of the sky above!

Address: Esplanade Theatres on the Bay, 1 Esplanade Dr, Level 4, Singapore 038981
Opening hours: 11am - 6pm daily
Price: FREE

11. Bukit Brown Cemetery

Look beyond the spookiness of the cemetery, and you will find an area that very much remains a lush, overgrown oasis. Take an early morning stroll through the grounds – the paths are level and relatively easy, so it is perfect for families. If you are lucky, bump into the resident caretaker who may just point out graves of notable locals such as Gan Eng Seng and Chew Joo Chiat. On a practical note, be sure to bring sunscreen and mosquito repellent.

Volunteers run free walking tours of the cemetery periodically so do check out their Facebook page (facebook.com/bukitbrown) and website for dates.

Website: bukitbrown.com
Address: Located between Lornie Road and Mount Pleasant Road

12. Cat Museum

Consisting of three floors, the museum is decked out with paraphernalia and nuggets of information about the history of cats from around the world along with curated cat-related visual artwork and photographs. More importantly, it has a space dedicated to rescued or abandoned cats which can be adopted by the public - the first museum in the world that has real cats available for adoption. The Cat Museum on the second level features touching stories and cats and their humans, as well as the important roles they play in each community while the third level houses the Muses Gallery, which traces the history and origins of the Singaporean cat. The main highlight of the gallery, however, is definitely the cat orphanage, set up in collaboration with the folks at Cat Welfare Society.

Located on the third level, the Mansion is home to the museum’s 9 resident cats. Named after Hollywood superstars, this playground for the felines has many exciting features to keep cats (and humans) entertained.

Address: 8 Purvis Street, #02-02 Singapore 188587
Opening Hours: Thurs & Fri 4pm – 7pm | Sat & Sun 1pm - 3.30pm (1st session) | Sat 4pm - 7pm (2nd session) | Sun 4pm - 6.30pm (2nd session)
Price: 13 yrs & above $12 | 7-12 yrs old $10 | FREE for children below 6 years old

13. Volunteer at Giving.sg

Spread some love to the less fortunate by volunteering together as a family at Giving.sg, which was set up by the National Volunteer and Philanthropy Centre to promote and grow the volunteering culture here in Singapore. At Giving.sg, every youth, every senior, every child, every animal matters. So through its portal - which lists volunteering opportunities for anyone who wants to volunteer – people can volunteer for a cause or organisation they are passionate about.

There is nothing like bonding through volunteering as a family. Not does it foster volunteerism at a young age, the children learn to cherish what they currently have and not take things for granted.

If you have any more to share, I would love to know about them!

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Jan 13, 2017

Dorsett Wanchai Hong Kong: Making Kids Feel Special

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Sponsored Review

What do you look for when you check into a hotel when vacationing overseas? A "home away from home" feeling is always good but if you are travelling with kids in tow, I am sure you will nod in agreement when I say it is always a huge plus when a hotel goes out of its way to cater to the needs of children!

Because happy kids equate to happy parents, no?

During our recent trip to Hong Kong with the buddies, we stayed 2 nights at Dorsett Wanchai and it was delightful! Formerly known as Cosmopolitan Hotel Hong Kong, the hotel has since re-branded and got a bright new look, complete with a top-to-bottom makeover for all its guestrooms, lobby and other facilities.

Located between Causeway Bay and Wan Chai on Hong Kong Island, the hotel is a mere 8-minute walk to the MTR, urban entertainment hub of Times Square and shopping haven of Sogo Department Store.

If you are planning to visit Ocean Park themepark, you will be glad to know that Dorsett Wanchai is only a 15-minute bus ride away. Even other popular attractions like The Peak and Stanley Market are only a 20-minute bus ride away. And even better, the hotel offers FREE shuttle bus services to 16 destinations (including those that I've mentioned above)!

You know how checking into hotels can be really tricky, especially when the kids are getting impatient? At Dorsett Wanchai however, the check-in is when the hospitality begins. Families with kids are instantly gifted a teddy bear and snack box to keep them occupied while parents are checking in. Oh, the delight!

Dorsett Wanchai boasts one of the most unique views in Hong Kong, with some of its rooms overlooking Hong Kong’s iconic Happy Valley Race Course, which is a rare site of lush greenery. The hotel itself takes inspiration from the racecourse and interestingly enough, it was one of the first hotels in town to offer a ‘Family Quad Room’. So there is no need to book two rooms for a family of four as the Quad Room comes with TWO double beds!

The Family Quad room was rather spacious too - for Hong Kong standards! Of course, the litmus test was any hotel rooms has to be the comfy level of its beds and let's just say that the beds at Dorsett Wanchai were the stuff of loveliness that I covet for my own bed at home but can never find.

But the best room feature was definitely the Handy Phone! Each room is equipped with a smart phone that is free to use out and about during your stay.

It provides free unlimited 3G Internet with Wi-Fi hotspot function for date sharing, unlimited local calls, preloaded Hong Kong City guide and unlimited IDD calls to 10 countries (UK, US, Australia, Canada, South Korea, Japan, China, Singapore, Malaysia & Philiippines)! How awesome is that?

Equally awesome is the range of kid-amenities that are tailored exclusively to the little ones.

Besides the teddy bear and snack box, young guests receive a set of kids toiletries including Mustela goodies for babies, a dental pack and even kids slippers.

And because every child is curious in nature (and will begin to start opening every single drawer in a new place), there is a hidden treat tucked away in some corner of the room waiting to be discovered!

Needless to say, the monkies were thrilled with the surprise treat!

But the one kid-friendly service that is quite possibly one of the best things I’ve ever seen in a hotel is this.

A Mobile Library!  All I had to do was to call the hotel's front desk, provide my kids' ages and a basket of story books was wheeled to my room for the monkies' enjoyment! Fantastic if you do not wish to lug around heavy story books on holidays.

Or if you prefer to make your stay at Dorsett Wanchai even more memorable for the kids, how about spending a night (or two) in this colourful family suite?

How cute is the room???

The newly renovated Ocean Park Family Suite is based on Hong Kong’s iconic marine theme park is perfect for families up to 3 kids and features an underwater theme. The room is tailored specifically for families with colourful and vibrant furnishings. Think playful atlas themed wallpaper and brightly coloured carpet filled with gummy bears!

The theme suite features a sitting and dining room designed as a colourful ocean playground, a bedroom and an aquamarine colour scheme for that underwater touch.

It even has a dedicated reading corner for kids!

Everything in the room is just so colourful and cute - from the Alice in Wonderland teacup seats paired with lollipop tables, vibrant lamps to the custom-made dolphin-shaped bedside tables.

Dorsett Wanchai sure has figured out a way to make each kid experience a very warm welcome at the hotel, by including plenty of detailed touches to make kids feel really special.

Very, very special indeed.

In celebration of Dorsett Wanchai’s name change, the hotel is currently offering a “Dorsett Wanchai 3 wishes” Room Package where guests will be able to enjoy a 25% off the Best Available Rate for a Premier Room and choose THREE 'wishes' out of the following 12:

- 1 + 1 Ocean Park Ticket
- 1 + 1 Arrival Transfer
- Airport Lounge Access
- Michelin Dim Sum Meal
- Cha Chaan Teng Meal
- Room Upgrade
- Unlimited laundry
- Pressing service
- Use of Mini-bar
- Breakfast for 2
- In-room premium Wi-Fi for up to 6 devices
- Late Check-out

In addition, guests will be entitled to a 24-hour full stay, which means you enjoy a flexible check-in time with an entire 24-hour stay!

For more details and to book, visit www.wanchai.dorsetthotels.com/.

Useful Information

Dorsett Wanchai Hong Kong Hotel
387-397 Queen's Road East, Wan Chai, Hong Kong
Website: www.wanchai.dorsetthotels.com

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Jan 11, 2017

15 3D2N Getaways with Kids for 2017 Long Weekends

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Did you that there are a total of SEVEN long weekends in Singapore in 2017?


Well, six actually since New Year's Day (1 Jan) has already passed. So that gives us these remaining public holidays which so happen to make the weekend slightly longer:

Chinese New Year (28 & 29 Jan, Sat & Sun)
Good Friday (14 Apr, Fri)
Labour Day (1 May, Mon)
Hari Raya Puasa (25 Jun, Sun)
Hari Raya Haji (1 Sep, Fri)
Christmas Day (25 Dec, Mon)

Additionally, Vesak Day (10 May), National Day (9 Aug) and Deepavali (18 Oct) all fall on a Wednesday this year... which means you just have to take 2 days of leave to enjoy a 5-day break!

Last year, I've listed 8 resorts that do not require too long of a travelling time if you are planning to head out of the country for a short break. This year, I have expanded the list to FIFTEEN getaway options - all of which are good for a 3-days-2-nights stay with the family.

All of them are family-friendly, bursting with activities to keep the kids occupied and most importantly, tried and tested by the monkies!

Once again, it is time to take out those calendars and plan away!

1. Sinar Eco Resort
(Johor, Malaysia)

Who says one needs to fly to Australia for a farm stay? Located in Pekan Nanas in Johor, Sinar Eco Resort is about one hour's drive away from Tuas Checkpoint. Not only can one stay in rooms constructed out of shipping containers, the resort is full of farm animals that kids can pet and feed. There is no better place where kids can come face to face with chickens, geese, horses, rabbits, cats, dogs, cows and goats.

Nestled in the quiet tranquillity of an oil palm estate, the resort newly opened in May 2016 and provides the perfect atmosphere for families to embrace the countryside. There are a total of 8 air-conditioned containers in all, and each consists of a queen-sized bed, safe, TV, refrigerator and private bathroom. For larger groups, book the apartment rooms which come with FOUR bedrooms each.

The resort is split into two main areas which are separated by a gravel road. One area houses the accommodation and cafe while the other larger area is home to all of the farm animals and activities. If your kids adore animals, they will go absolutely bonkers here. Even better if they love FEEDING and CUDDLING animals! Besides the animals, families can go kayaking along a river, as well as taking a dip in its sheltered swimming pool.

Address: Lot 2346 GM2535 kampung sungai molek Mukim jeram batu, Pekan Nanas
Price: From RM250 per night
Tel: +60 19-326 0172
Website: www.facebook.com/SinarEcoResort

2. The Canopi
(Bintan, Indonesia)

Just a one-hour ferry ride from Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal and 5 minutes away from the Bintan jetty lies a cluster of uniquely designed safari tent-suites which offer camping at its glamorous best! Glamping (Glamorous Camping) is offered at Canopi via three types of air-conditioned tents: Safari Tent Suites, Lagoon Tent Suites (with views of the Crystal Lagoon) & Jaccuzi Tent Suites (with Lagoon views AND an outdoor Jacuzzi!).

The two-hectare resort is a wonderland for nature lovers as it is surrounded by bountiful bodies of water including a private mangrove river and an absolutely gorgeous crystal lagoon. The latter is the largest crystal lagoon in South East Asia, and is filled with filtered salt water, with NO waves at all - perfect for kids!

Where do I begin? If the kids get bored with jumping into the crystal clear lagoon, they can relish in the resort's offerings of numerous water activities including cable ski, stand-up paddle, water tricycles and kayak rentals. Or they might fancy scaling an inflatable climbing wall at the Floating Watersport Park!

Land activities include zipping around on a two-wheeler Segway, rough-roading around the forest area in the UTV and ATV or for the kids, there are always the oh-so-cute mini ATVs to ride around the resort.

Address: Treasure Bay Bintan, Jln Raya Haji, Lagoi, Riau, Indonesia 29152 (Right Beside Bintan Resorts Ferry Terminal)
Tel: (62) 77-069-2252
Price: From S$200 per night
Website: www.thecanopi.com

3. Sunway Lagoon
(Selangor, Malaysia)

Sunway Lagoon should be familiar to almost everyone - it is a 5-in-1 theme park which is home to a Theme Park, Water Park, Wildlife Park, Extreme Park and Scream Park. Make that 6-in-1 now because the Nickelodeon Lost Lagoon has newly opened in Sunway Lagoon last year! Being the first Nickelodeon themed attraction in Asia, it is a must-go if your kids are fans of Nickelodeon's SpongeBob SquarePants, Dora the Explorer, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Nickelodeon Lost Lagoon is home to colossal water rides, water playgrounds, canopy walks and meandering pathways. Set amidst 10 acres of lush tropical rainforest and boasting 14 immersive attractions, Nickelodeon Lost Lagoon promises to be an kid explorer’s dream right from the start. Okay, make that an adult's one too!

Climbing “ancient temple” steps, explorers will pass pineapple columns and intricate carvings leading all the way up to a magnificent SpongeBob SquarePants structure. The adventure continues with geysers, sprouting water cannons, walks along cascading falls, and gooey moments with the signature green slime!

With 6 theme parks to cover to cover at Sunway Lagoon, how can one get bored? In fact, I would say one day is hardly enough! Accommodation-wise, choose from three options - Sunway Resort & Spa, Sunway Pyramid Pyramid Hotel and Sunway Clio Hotel. All three are located beside the theme parks, and connected to the humongous Sunway City shopping mall.

Address: 3, Jalan PJS 11/11, Bandar Sunway, 47500 Selangor Darul Ehsan, Malaysia
Tel: +603 5639 0000
Admission: Adult – RM153 | Child (12 & below) & Senior Citizens (60 & above) RM126 | Accommodation: From RM380 per night (Sunway Clio Hotel)
Website: sunwaylagoon.com

4. Telunas Resorts
(Riau Islands, Indonesia)

Combining the sun, sand and sea in an all-inclusive resort with full comfort and no airport time, Telunas Resorts is all about long days at the beach - building sandcastles, fishing, paddling in a kayak, without the distraction of technology. The Telunas Resorts is made up of two parts - Telunas Beach Resort and Telunas Private Island. For a more economical option, head to the family-friendly beach resort. Rooms are built over the sea so that when night falls, guests hear the gentle ripple of waves beneath the room.

Take your pick from the many nature-centric activities. Laze on the stunning beach where low tides are perfect for swimming, even with infants, as the waves are mild. Families can also go on a Jungle-Waterfall Trek, Mangrove River Tour, Low Ropes Obstacle Course, or simply experience the thrill of jumping from the dock into the sea.

Address: Desa Mentangun, Moro Kepulauan Riau (Riau Islands), Indonesia
Tel: +62 811 7710951
Price: From S$100 per night (Telunas Beach Resot & excluding full board meals)
Website: www.telunasresorts.com

5. Montigo Resorts Nongsa
(Batam, Indonesia)

Montigo Resorts Nongsa is THE place to head to with the kids for a luxurious and fun-filled getaway. A 40-min ferry ride from Singapore and a mere 5-min car ride away from Nongsapura Ferry Terminal, the resort is Batam’s first 5-star all-villa resort with villas dotting the coastal shoreline offering unobstructed magnificent views of the South China Sea. The villas come with three floors of living space, each one boasting a private infinity pool—right outside the living room.

The two storey OLO Kids’ Club will be a hit with the kids! The first level houses several cubicles with game consoles like Wii and Xbox Kinect to keep older kids entertained while the entire second level is littered with toys, books, boardgames, three tube slides and a ball pit. The Kids’ Club also has a wading pool for kids. Sign the kids up for the full-day or half-day programmes (chargeable) and staff at the Club will look after them, while parents sneak off to indulge at the Montigo Resorts Spa.

Address: Jl. Hang Lekir Nongsa, Batam, Indonesia
Tel: +65 6505 9381 (Singapore Sales Office)
Price: From S$250++ per night
Website: www.montigoresorts.com/nongsa/

6. Rimba Resort
(Pulau Sibu, Malaysia)

If you are looking to chill by the beach with only the bare necessities, then Rimba Resort is your answer. Located three hours from Singapore - 2.5 hours drive from Singapore to Tanjung Leman jetty and a 30-minute boat ride to Pulau Sibu, Rimba Resort offers the perfect place to relax without the usual resort frills.

That's right: NO aircon, NO hot water, NO TV, and NO WiFi. But what you do get are 21 charming seafront chalets all within a stone’s throw away from the resort's 350m private beach. And the beach will be where the kids will be spending most of their time there, thanks to the gorgeous house reef. Trust me when I say the monkies had never seen so many clown fish in one single snorkel session. In fact, they they begged to snorkel every single morning... and afternoon!

The resort is set up with a central dining room, lounge areas, bar, and sun deck. Meals are full board and are served at designated times. There is only one Family Chalet which comes with two bedrooms and two bathrooms, both with hot water showers while the other beach chalets each consist of one bedroom (1 queen bed, 1 single & 1 bunk bed) and one bathroom.

Besides snorkelling, other activities to keep the kiddos occupied include fishing, kayaking, jungle trekking, board games, beach vollyball and a mini library. For parents, the resort is the perfect place to get away from it all, just by relaxing on the beach with a cocktail and a good book whilst watching the sunset.

Address: Pulau Sibu, Malaysia
Tel: +60 12 710 6855
Price: From RM265 per person per night (Full Board)
Website: www.resortmalaysia.com

7. Kahang Organic Rice Eco Farm (KOREF) Resort
(Johor, Malaysia)

Kahang Organic Rice Eco Farm Resort is a no ordinary resort. A little more than 2hrs by car from Tuas Checkpoint, the Eco Farm spans 260 acres of arable land at the fringe of the tropical Malaysian Rainforest Reserves. It is also the first and only certified organic rice farm in Malaysia that provides free and easy eco farm stays. Stay in its Floating Chalets on the lake for that simple kampong-living experience. Nature lovers will enjoy this rustic getaway.

Keep the kiddos occupied with the many outdoor activities. Kids can row on a bamboo raft, pretend they are participating in Ninja Warrior on the Water Obstacle Course, scurry like little hamsters in a Water Ball and go zipping down a Flying Fox line suspended over the lake. For something calmer, there are rabbits, ducks and fishes to feed.

Address: KM 43, Jalan Kluang – Mersing, 86 700 Kluang, Johor, Malaysia
Tel: +60 0127683149
Price: From RM200 per person (Floating Chalet, based on 5-6 people per room & 4 meals included)
Website: kahangorganic.com/en/

8. UK Agro Farm
(Johor, Malaysia)

Situated in Johor - about an hour’s drive from Singapore - UK Agro Farm Resort is Malaysia’s largest goat and sheep farm, with 100 acres of grazing land for 4,000 sheep. It offers a farmstay experience in the form of the ‘Long House’, a traditional house structure that has its roots in the Iban community in Sarawak. Built on stilts and with long corridors, the rooms overlook vast green meadows and grazing pastures. Rooms come with the usual amenities like air-conditioning and water heater so they are pretty decent, clean and functional.

There are tons of farm activities to do such as touring the Herb Sanctuary and Mushroom and Fruit Farms to learn all about plants. The highlight of the farm tour is probably feeding and cuddling sheep at the Sheep Farm. Kids can try bottle feeding baby goats, or feeding grain to ostriches at the Ostrich Park. For the adventurous, try your hand at the Sheep Challenge where participants are given 3 minutes to catch a sheep in an enclosure, and they stand to win a prize if successful.

Address: Plot 8, Project Pertanian Moden Kluang, KM13 Jalan Batu Pahat,  86000 Kluang, Johor, Malaysia
Tel: +607-759 7555
Price: From RM180 per night
Website: www.ukfarm.com.my

9. Kukup
(Johor, Malaysia)

A small fishing village located in the district of Pontian, Johor, Kukup is famed for its open air seafood restaurants and retro chalet-style accommodations built on stilts over the water. Visitors can take a boat tour to visit fish farms, kelong, and take a closer look at the various species of sea creatures such as ikan selar, crabs and clams being farmed. A short boat ride away is Pulau Kukup, a protected uninhabited nature reserve covered in dense mangrove forest.

Kukup is a wonderful place for parents to share the kampong life with kids. To up the thrill factor, families can set off their own mini fireworks at night too! The fireworks can be purchased from stores in Kukup, and are a real treat for kids (under adult supervision, of course.)

Address: Kukup Village, Pontian, Johor, Malaysia
Price: Accommodation options typically start from $30 per person for full board meals.

10. LEGOLAND Malaysia Hotel
(Johor, Malaysia)

If your kids adore LEGO, they will love LEGOLAND Malaysia Hotel. Even during check-in, kids can dive into towers of LEGO bricks and start building while parents look on in envy as they wait in line. The rooms are the clincher for kids as each floor of the hotel is furnished with a different theme: Adventure, Kingdom and Pirate. In the kids’ room are bunk beds and a trundle bed to accommodate up to three kids, while parents have their own room furnished with a king-sized bed.

Are you kidding? Even within the room, kids can go treasure hunting in their room by looking for clues in the room. Answer the questions to crack the code on the number lock to unlock goodies from the safe! Younger kids will be busy with the box of LEGO Duplo bricks found in every room as well. Of course, there is still the tiny matter of bringing the kids for a full day's worth of fun at the nearby LEGOLAND Malaysia Theme Park and Water Park.

Address: 79100 Iskandar Puteri, 7, Jalan Legoland, Medini, 79100 Nusajaya, Johor, Malaysia
Tel: +607 5978888
Price: From RM770++ per night
Website: www.legoland.com.my/Hotel/Home/

11. KSL Resort
(Johor, Malaysia)

If you are looking for a fuss-free short break away from Singapore, KSL Resort may just be your best bet. Located within the city centre of Johor Bahru and a few minutes' drive away from Woodlands Checkpoint, the hotel is directly connected to KSL City Mall which houses shops, eateries, arcade, cinema and even an indoor playground. Best of all, hotel guests have free entry to its Dinosaur Water Park!

Compared to the usual swimming pools of other hotels, KSL Resort's dinosaur-themed water park will definitely be welcomed by the kiddos. While the swirling slides may not pack the same oomph as those found in water theme parks, they will keep the kids busy all the same. Younger children have the option of going on splashing into a shallower pool via gentler slides - together with dinosaurs that spray water occasionally!

Address: 33 Jalan Seladang 80250 Johor Bahru, Malaysia
Tel: +607 288 2999
Price: From RM200 per night
Website: www.kslresorts.com.my

12. Avillion Port Dickson
(Negeri Sembilan, Malaysia)

There may be other more luxurious resorts in Port Dickson but Avillion Port Dickson edges slightly ahead due to its fine beach. The Water Chalets come highly recommended by the monkies as they are built on stilts over the sea, and they loved it when it was high tide with the sound of the sea splashing just beneath the room. But low tide will bring the most joy out of the kids - if they love to go crab hunting!

A sure-fire hit with the kids will be the resort's Pet Farm, which will be opened every day in the morning for guests to feed animals such as chickens, rabbits and tortoises. Kids can even try bathing them every Wednesday and Sunday! The resort also has a kids' pool with a water slide, spice farm, nature walk and Kids' Club. Oh, and keep a lookout for the resort's roaming peacocks!

Address: 3rd Mile, Jalan Pantai, 71000 Port Dickson, Negeri Sembilan, Malaysia
Tel: +606 647 6688
Price: From RM500++ per night (Water Chalet)
Website: www.avillionportdickson.com

13. Lotus Desaru
(Johor, Malaysia)

Located on the southeastern tip of Johor, the Lotus Desaru Beach Resort offers apartments (1–4 bedrooms) with living and dining areas, as well as a kitchenette (microwave and fridge). In addition to fun at the beach, there are various activities that families can enjoy while at Desaru. Visit the nearby Desaru Fruit Farm and Ostrich Farm for a fun-filled educational day. Or go on an evening Fireflies Cruise where kids will see these fascinating insects light up the trees.

With a massive ‘spash-tacular’ water park situated in the middle of the resort, what do you think? Water park features include numerous water slides, a water playground and a huge tipping coconut - all of which are guaranteed to elicit squeals and screams from delighted kids. Don’t miss the Lazy River - a meandering slide that starts at the top of a slope and brings sliders down four water channels and three whirlpools!

Address: Lot 1854, Jalan Desaru, Bandar Penawar, 81930 Kota Tinggi, Johor Darul Ta'zim, Malaysia
Tel: +607-884 2800
Price: From RM250 per night (2-Bedroom)
Website: lotusdesaru.com

14. Bintan Lagoon Resort
(Bintan Island, Indonesia)

Perched on the magni cent Pasir Panjang Beach, overlooking the majestic South China Sea, Bintan Lagoon Resort is a tropical paradise, home to sun, sea, and two spectacular golf courses. This Indonesian-style 470-room resort is HUGE and comes with a private beach that stretches nearly 1.5km.

But what sets this the resort apart from the rest of the other resorts on the island is its private ferry terminal. One can just take a ferry from Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal and land directly at the resort’s doorstep! Room are huge, and come with a daybed which is adequate for a family of 2 adults and 3 children.

Plenty of land and water activities to choose from and for the younger kids, the resort has a rather reasonable sized indoor playground. It comprises of wave slides, foam ball guns, climbing wall and even a dedicated area for toddlers,

Address: Jalan Indera Segara Site A12, Lagoi, Teluk Sebong, Bintan, Kepri – Indonesia. 29155
Tel: 6223 3223 (Singapore Office)
Price: From S$120++ per night
Website: www.bintanlagoon.com

15. Club Med Bintan
(Bintan Island, Indonesia)

Looking for a holiday where you can just kick back, relax and let the kids do all the planning of the activities? Then Club Med Bintan is the holiday resort you should be booking. The pioneer of an all-inclusive holiday where all meals, drinks and activities are included in the booking price, Club Med Bintan is just a short ferry ride from Singapore.

From treating yourself to a beautiful spa perched on the rocks, or gliding through the air on a flying trapeze overlooking the sea, or honing your land and water sports skills, I would recommend at least a 3-night stay to truly experience what the resort has to offer.

Kiddos can be packed off to the Mini Club Med (4-10 years old) or Junior Club Med (11-17 years old) where they will enjoy a full day's worth of activities while parents can chill the day away by indulging in their own activities as well. Come every evening, there will be a night show and dance segment where everyone will be encouraged to join in the revelry. Kids even have their very own (elevated) mocktail bar counter where they can order their drinks from!

Address: Bintan Island, Indonesia
Tel: +603-2053 1888
Price: From S$650 per person (3-night accommodation with all meals, and return ferry)
Website: www.clubmed.com.sg/r/Bintan-Island/y

Do you have any other recommendations? I would love to know!

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