Monthly Archives: October 2015

Phuket FantaSea Entrance

Phuket FantaSea

Phuket FantaSea Review

Phuket FantaSea is advertised as one of Phuket’s most popular tourist attractions, so we decided to try it out on our recent trip there. Located at the north end of Kamala Beach which is about a 20 minute drive from Patong, this proved to be a fun evening out with the kids.

While on the brochures it is called a Cultural Theme Park, do not expect any theme park thrill rides. We would describe it as more of a Cultural Fun Park, set out on 140 acres providing plenty of entertainment for the kids. We had booked tickets that included the buffet dinner (this is an optional extra) and arrived about 6.00pm (park is open daily except Thursdays from 5.30pm until 11.30pm).

Once inside you wander through the Festival Village where there are handicraft stalls, retail stores, souvenirs and street performers.

There is also the Tiger Jungle mini zoo with animal exhibits (operating from 5.30pm-9.00pm) with the highlight being the white tiger enclosure.

Another part of the Phuket FantaSea village that our kids really loved was the Similan Entertainment Centre which features quite a lot of carnival type games where you can win prizes (you do need to purchase tokens for these though). This kept the kids entertained for quite a while!

While we wouldn’t usually take photos in the toilets, the ones here in the Festival Village at Phuket FantaSea are something else so don’t miss them!

From here we walked along and down to the Palace of the Elephants where before the show begins, the elephants are available for feeding or riding (additional costs apply). Our kids opted to just do the feeding and loved it!

After all that fun it was time to check out the buffet dinner at the Golden Kinnaree restaurant. When you book the buffet with your ticket there is no set time, you can just turn up whenever you feel like between the hours of 6.00pm and 9.00pm. This restaurant is huge so you will never have the problem there not being enough room. We quite enjoyed our meals there, with a good selection of both Thai and International foods. Drinks are available at additional costs.

The Golden Kinnaree is located just across from the Palace of the Elephants so after our meal we headed past the floating markets and made our way over for the Legends of Kamala theatre show that was starting at 9.00pm.

The theatre show is the main feature of Phuket FantaSea and not to be missed. Set in a 3000 seat theatre this cultural show features dancers, acrobatics, magical illusions, pyrotechnics, special effects, stunts and animal performances. Please note however that photos or videos are strictly prohibited and upon entry of the theatre you have to hand in all cameras and phones to be held in storage until after the show.

While walking to your seats there are photo opportunities with baby tigers which you can purchase for an additional cost.

The actual show goes for just over an hour and our kids found it truly magical – full of colour, music, dancing and a good chance to witness a part of Thailand’s cultural past. They especially loved the animal performances (chickens, goats, bulls, elephants) and although us adults would probably prefer not to see the elephants do their little trick performance at the end, the kids did love it.

There were queues after the show to retrieve cameras from storage and it was quite time consuming. If you want to save time and avoid frustration after the show, we would suggest to just leave the cameras at home.

Phuket FantaSea is a great night out with kids, just wish we could have taken some photos of the show though!

For more information on Phuket FantaSea go to www.phuket-fantasea.com

Universal Studios, Singapore

Universal Studios Singapore

Universal Studios Singapore

While it is not as big as its United States counterparts, the Universal Studios in Singapore still makes for a fun day out with kids. It is located on Sentosa Island which for us was about a $10 SGD taxi fare from the Marina Bay area.  If you want to avoid the ticket queues, buying tickets beforehand online is preferable (and cheaper). Gates open at 10.00am and we would recommend arriving around 10 minutes beforehand (allow a bit more extra time if buying tickets on site).

There are seven zones at Universal Studios Singapore:

  • Hollywood
  • New York
  • Sci Fi City
  • Ancient Egypt
  • Lost World
  • Far Far Away
  • Madagascar

If you love adrenalin rides, we would suggest that once you enter the park go straight to Sci-Fi City  Here you can experience the Transformers and Battlestar Galactica rides before the queues begin. The Transformers is a 3D thrill ride and is definitely our favourite experience of Universal Studios Singapore so do not miss it! The Battlestar Galactica is a Human (red track) v’s Cylon (blue track) dual high speed rollercoaster ride where both depart simultaneously (the blue one is for the more adventurous riders).

You can then move onto the nearby Ancient Egypt zone which has the very popular Revenge of the Mummy ride which is an indoor rollercoaster and not for the faint hearted.

Another popular zone is the Lost World which has two very popular rides which can get long queues – the Canopy Flyer and the Jurassic Park Rapid Adventure (just be prepared to get wet on this one!). There are free lockers available around the park to store bags and valuables for the rides that you cannot take them on.

In the Far Far Away zone you will find the newly built Puss In Boots’ Giant Journey suspended rollercoaster ride which the kids really loved. They also enjoyed the Enchanted Airways and the 4D Shrek Adventure show here.

The kids will also love the the Madagascar Crate Adventure boat journey in the Madagascar zone. If you have been to Disneyland before this is a fun Madagascar version of the It’s A Small World ride.

In the New York zone, the highlights are the Sesame Street Spaghetti Chase ride as well as the Lights, Camera, Action special effects show hosted by Steven Spielberg.

As well as all the rides here, there is a Waterworld show very similar to those at the U.S. Universal Studios. If you have been to one of the U.S. shows I would bypass it here and keep going on the rides.  Please note there is no studio backlot here which is a big feature of the LA Universal Studios.

There are plenty of photo opportunities throughout the day with various characters from Sesame Street, Transformers etc. If you there on a weekend there is also a Hollywood Dreams Parade and fireworks on a Saturday night. A weekday visit is recommended though if you want to avoid the major ride queues. If you are going there on a busy day, an express pass may be worth purchasing. You can buy these from outside the entrance but the good thing is you can also buy them once inside if the queues look like they are going to be too long.

Our boys were 8 & 10 when we last visited Universal Studios Singapore and this park is perfect for kids their ages. Due to its smaller size, it is easy to walk around the entire park and there is plenty of entertainment to keep them occupied for the whole day. This Universal studios is mostly aimed at younger children and there are plenty of rides that they can go on by themselves so the adults can relax a little bit.

One more tip would be to make sure you take plenty of water with you. It gets quite hot standing in queues in the Singapore heat!

To find out more information go to www.rwsentosa.com

Also on Sentosa Island is the S.E.A. Aquarium (see review here).

For more family fun ideas see our Exploring Singapore with Kids blog here.

Open Ocean Tank at S.E.A. Aquarium

S.E.A. Aquarium Singapore

S.E.A. Aquarium Singapore

If you are staying in Singapore and looking for somewhere to take the kids out for a few hours, then the S.E.A. Aquarium on Sentosa Island is the perfect choice. As well as a great way to beat the Singapore heat and humidity, this aquatic journey will mesmerise the kids with its sheer size, vibrant colours and fascinating creatures of the deep.

We were lucky enough to go there when it was not too busy so we didn’t have to queue long for tickets. Upon entry you have to pass through the Maritime Experimental Museum which showcases Asia’s rich maritime history and Singapore’s past as a trading port.

Once you have wandered through the museum, it’s time to enter and explore the S.E.A. Aquarium which is home to more than 100,000 marine animals. The aquarium has 49 different habitats with viewing areas of all different shapes and sizes. Our main highlights of the aquarium were;

  • Open Ocean tank which houses the worlds largest ocean viewing window and is home to many gentle giants of the sea including Leopard Sharks, Groupers and Mantra Rays.
  • Shipwreck Habitat where you can observe a life sized ship wreck
  • Discovery Touch Pool which lets the kids (and adults too!) touch and feel friendly sea creatures like starfish and sea urchins.
  • Shark Seas which is a walk through tank where you are surrounded by a variety of shark species including hammerheads, silvertips and sandbar sharks.
  • Fish Feeding at the big cylinder tank was amazing to watch the fish go crazy when the diver went in to feed them – we saw the 11.00am feeding session.
  • Ocean Journey habitats which gives you the chance to experience the amazing kinds of sea creatures living deep in the ocean.

We really enjoyed our experience at S.E.A. Aquarium and loved that they had so many different viewing platforms and that each exhibit had informative fact and trivia placards about the different marine life inside. We would suggest allowing between 2-3 hours to walk around and really look at each exhibit to learn little bit more about what lies beneath us on the ocean floor.

For more information on S.E.A. Aquarium go to www.rwsentosa.com

Also on Sentosa Island is Universal Studios (see review here).

For more family fun ideas in Singapore check out our Exploring Singapore with Kids blog here.

Rooftop Sky Bar at the Hilton Singapore

Hilton Singapore Hotel Review

Hilton Singapore Hotel Review

Situated on the famous Singapore shopping strip of Orchard Road, the Hilton Singapore proved to be great little hotel to stay at with our two boys aged 8 and 10. We had booked two standard rooms and upon check-in were upgraded to two interconnecting executive rooms (note: we are HHonors Diamond). The rooms were a good size but with quite a small bathroom. Our bathroom also had the all in one bath/shower, which we really don’t like as it’s not too comfortable for taller people. There was a nice comfy couch in the room as well as a good sized desk with universal power outlets.  We also had a box of chocolates waiting for us when we arrived.

There is a Nespresso pod machine in the room and mini bar, but be aware mini bar prices are pretty high. Housekeeping here were fantastic, especially with the kids. Everyday the boys left them little notes and the housekeeper always replied and left them little surprises. They also left us plenty of bottles of water which was very much appreciated.

One of the main features of this hotel is its rooftop swimming pool on level 24. This is a great place to relax and cool down after a day out in the Singapore heat and humidity. If travelling with kids, be aware that this is a pretty deep pool with its deepest point being 3 metres. Meals and drinks are available poolside as well. The pool is open from 7.00am until 8.00pm. From 4.00pm the pretty impressive poolside rooftop Sky Bar opens until 12.00am.

Also up on the rooftop is one of the Hilton Singapore restaurants, Il Cielo Bar & Restaurant which is an award winning Italian restaurant. Next to the reception and lobby area is the Opus Bar & Grill as well as the Opus breakfast and lunch buffet restaurants. For more casual dining there is the Glow Juice Bar upstairs from the lobby. If you have a sweet tooth, the D9 Bakery in the lobby is filled with homemade cakes, pastries, macaroons, pralines and chocolates.

We didn’t try the buffet breakfast at Opus as we had access to the executive lounge instead. Although not as extensive as the buffet, we found the lounge continental breakfast adequate enough for us. There were scrambled eggs, bacon and a few other hot dishes which varied on different days. Cereals and bread, toast, fruit, cold cuts, salad as well as a good selection of pastries were also available. Breakfast in the executive lounge is available from 6.00am – 10.30am.

 

The executive lounge here at the Hilton Singapore really is excellent, especially the attentive staff who will do anything to assist you. It is a good size lounge and it was never very busy while we were there. The Evening Canapés and Drinks were available from 5.30pm – 7.30pm and included self pour beer, wine and spirits – although most of the time staff were on hand to keep topping up our drinks. There was a good selection of hot and cold canapés which varied each night that we were there. There is a great selection of cheeses, breads, Doritos, fruits and desserts available every night as well. We did try the afternoon tea one day (available from 3.00pm-4.30pm) but it was very limited so we didn’t bother going back again.

Hilton Singapore is located on Orchard Road in the heart of Singapore’s shopping and entertainment district. There is a nearby MRT station within walking distance and if you are like us and want to use the Hop On Hop Off Bus, there is a stop just across the road from the hotel. Taxis were always easy to get – cost from the airport is about $30 SGD and to get to Sentosa Island is around $12 SGD.

We really enjoyed our stay here at the Hilton Singapore and wouldn’t hesitate to return.

You can access the Hilton Singapore website here for more information.

Read our recommendations on Family Fun Things to do in Singapore here.