Must do! 4 Singapore Heritage Trails to bring your children 4-8 years old

One more week before the June school holiday ends. So are you running out of ideas where to bring your children?

I love authentic experiences. Not that I don’t bring K to theme parks, museums or fun kid places. But I love fresh ideas for experiences that are enriching and engaging for children.

There is so much about Singapore that K still don’t know about and I realized that we don’t need to travel out of the country, for him to experience something new and educational. In fact, I learn so much about my country each time I develop these heritage trails itineraries for K and his friends.

I have put together a series of posts and activity sheets that I have previously created (tried and tested with 6-7 year olds!), that will be useful guides for you to bring your children on a cultural and heritage walkabouts around Singapore.

Singapore Heritage Trails for Children

The four key cultures that will be introduced through these trails will be the Chinese, Arabs/Malays, Indians and the Peranakans. The Arab Street and Little India walkabout take about 4 hours, while the Peranakan and Chinatown trails are a little more extensive, as there are separate areas to go to.

The cost of each walkabout is kept at a minimal, to only meals taken at these locations, admission fees to the museums and small souvenirs that your child might be keen to bring home with him/her.


1. Arab Street 

The Malay historic district is on Arab street, right off Beach Road in an area known as Kampong Glam.

The key landmarks for this Arab Street walkabout will include Sultan Mosque, and the Malay Heritage Centre. But do spend more time browsing through the textile, handicrafts and rattan shops along the streets. And keep a lookout for the shops with Muslim and Arab influences, selling the Islamic prayer rugs and skull caps, sarongs, batiks, all which have been in Arab Street to 3-4 generations.

Do make sure to pop by one of the coffee shops to relish in a plate of Nasi Lemak or Goreng for lunch.

Arab Street Trail for Children 1

Here’s a post of my previous Arab Street Heritage Trail experience for a more visual breakdown of the things that children can do, and download a copy of the Arab Street Trail for Children Activity Guide.


2.  Little India

The Little India trail starts at Serangoon Road at Tekka Centre, where you can have some South or North Indian cuisine, coupled with Teh Tarik for breakfast, then shop for an traditional Indian costume for your children.   As you take the walk down Serangoon Road, you will see many Goldsmiths shops and you can buy a flower garlands made out of jasmine, lilies or chrysanthemum flowers, from the little carts that line the street leading up to the Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple.

Little India Heritage Trail for Children 1

Here’s the post on the Little India Walkabout and your can download a copy of the Little India Trail for Children Activity Guide here. 


3.  Peranakans – East Coast and Koon Seng Road

I guest-blogged on The Gingerbread Mum about my Peranakan Heritage Trail, and you can download a copy of the Peranakan Heritage Trail Activity Guide here.

Peranakan Heritage Trail for Children 1


4. Chinatown – Telok Ayer and Pagoda Street

The trail for Chinatown starts at Telok Ayer Street for a visit to one of the oldest  Chinese Temple in Singapore, Thian Hock Keng. Before moving on to Pagoda Street (which is not a short distance to walk to btw!), stop by for brunch at Maxwell Road where you can savor authentic Hainanese Chicken Rice or Hum Chim Pang.

Once you reach Pagoda Street, there will be plenty of handicrafts and souvenir shops along the way, and the vast variaties of knick knacks sold in these shops might distract the children off the purpose of the visit for a while. However, don’t miss seeing the traditional Chinese Medicine shop with their tonics, and strong smelling exotic herbs left outside their shops in rattan trays to dry in the sun.

Chinatown Heritage Trail for Children 1

Then make your way to the Chinatown Heritage Center on Pagoda Street to view dioramas of the dark living quarters of the Chinatown immigrants. Read this post to see what to expect at Chinatown Heritage Centre and my experience visiting Chinatown.

Here’s the link to download the Chinatown Trail for Children Activity Guide.


These Heritage Trails are must do for children 4-8 years old as they will be sure to learn something unique to the rich heritage of Singapore. And I am certain that you will find yourself learning something new about these cultures too!


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Art At Village Hotel Katong

After spending some time exploring Katong in mid 2013, an incidental opportunity came up a few months after to contribute to Peranakan art in the same vicinity of Singapore.

A hotel in Katong worked with Heart Studio to commission Peranakan-style art pieces for their hotel rooms, so K was able to work on a piece for the hotel, together with a group of 4-7 year old children who have been taking art classes from Heart.

PeranakanartKyle’s piece for Village Hotel Katong

Village Hotel took over the former site of Paramount Hotel at Katong and it opened in Nov 6 2013 after a renovation that cost SGD$30 million. The hotel has a small mall on its first 3 floors, known as Katong V, consisting of children enrichment centers, an Italian eatery, Modestos and a supermarket, Fairprice Finest.

Village hotel comb 4

In line with the heritage of the Katong neighborhood, the rooms are tastefully furnished with Peranakan accents.

Village hotel comb 3

There are spacious, comfortable-looking rooms to provide a home away from home for visitors to Singapore, and for local families staying over the weekend for a stay-cation. Village Hotel will be a good option if you are planning to explore the Peranakan heritage and culture in Katong, or want to go on a gastronomic tour visiting the local eateries in Katong/Joo Chiat area.

Village hotel comb 2 Village hotel comb 1

Village hotel Katong 9

It was too bad that we didn’t managed to get to see K’s actual piece displayed in Room 512, since the room was occupied by a guest during our visit.

Nonetheless, the idea of having his art work displayed as part of the accents to a Peranakan-inspired concept to the room, has been a great encouragement to him to continue putting in his best effort for all his art creations.

So if you ever plan to visit Village Hotel Katong and stay at Room 512, look out for his artwork, the one with the rooster inscribed on the teapots.

Kyle Peranakan art 2


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Katong’s Peranakan Culture

To learn more about this neighborhood I call my home since Feb this year, I  spent some time exploring Katong the last few weeks.

Katong, being the area associated with the first Peranakan community in Singapore, has retained some of its Peranakan heritage. Located on the stretch of Katong Road, are three shophouses with distinct Peranakan architecture; Rumah Bebe, Katong Antique House and Peranakan Inn.

Rumah Bebe Peranankan 1 Peranankan 11

Ornate and intricate patterns lined the walls and floors at the shop. The beautiful architecture of the shop house intrigued me…

Peranankan 3

Until I stepped into the shop.

I was greeted by a scowling-face middle aged lady, whose first words were,”No photography allowed!”, when she saw that I was holding a camera. It wasn’t a pleasant experience for the rest of the time K and I were in the shop. She hovered around us as we browse through her merchandise, her ‘menacing’ presence made me almost afraid to ask her any questions about the $500 Kebaya-s and $300 beaded slippers on display.

I felt pressured enough by the lady in the shop to eventually buy something before leaving; a slice of Kueh Lapis. Which incidentally gave me very bad diarrhoea for the next 4 days. This was one of the worse experience I ever encountered from any retail shop in Singapore. So enter Rumah Bebe at your own risk!

It seems I am not the only one that experienced this from the shop assistant, found these bad reviews about Rumah Bebe from Trip Advisor.

I have learnt never to trust the write-ups from Singapore Tourism Board.

I can’t help but peek into the shop as I walk pass Rumah Bebe almost daily in the early evenings, and I am really not surprised to see the shop without customers every time.

Katong Antique House Peranankan 12

Now, I had a totally different experience from this other location. Which made me wonder if Katong Antique House is ever opened for business, for those times I visited. Maybe I should have called to make an appointment?

Interesting facade and exterior, but my experience ended there. I visited the place thrice but never had an opportunity to venture beyond the hall of the place. So no photo opportunities either. If Peranakan antiques and artifacts interest you, Peranakan Museum will be a better place to view these things.

Just look at these lovely Peranakan tiles then,

Peranankan 13

I wonder though will I be warmly welcomed into these places, if I was of  a native of another country, other than a local Singaporean. Or are these just examples of bad customer service?

Peranankan 14

For a friendly and tastier Peranakan experience, venture next door to Peranakan Inn.

Peranankan 15

So will there be more to discover from the Katong neighborhood? Likely so. But not till this’accidental tourist’ sets aside some time the next few weeks to find out more about this neighbourhood.


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