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Instead of an Expensive Overseas Vacation, Here are 4 Cheap Trips Parents can Take With Their Kids Over the December Holidays

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Joanne Poh

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Your kids have been slaving away day and night over the last school term, dutifully attending tuition classes, completing all their homework and scoring the requisite As. Or not.

But now the school holidays are about to start, and unlike those other kiasu parents who’ve already signed their kids up for extra enrichment classes and tuition to prepare them for the next academic year, you want your child to enjoy his or her childhood.

If you had your way, you’d be going on a family holiday to London, Sydney or Tokyo, where Junior would be able to see more of the world. But that’s going to cost a ton of money, which will also mean that you and your spouse will be eating Indomee until next year’s June holidays.

Here are five affordable ways to keep your kids entertained over the school holidays—if you lie hard enough, they may even think you’ve left Singapore.

 

1. Visit the farms in Kranji

As a kid, I remember being taken on a tour of the cow, chicken and vegetable farms in the Kranji area and absolutely loving it. Primary school or kindergarten age kids really don’t need a lot to make them happy other than wide open spaces and animals. Although if they’re already addicted to smart devices, you’ll first have to find a way to wean them off them.

You can enjoy a staycation in the Kranji countryside at D’Kranji Farm Resort, which costs about $160 for a standard villa. Make reservations on Agoda for a little discount.

Families who are really on a budget can skip the staycation and go on a guided tour of the farms instead. There are all types of farms which you can mix and match according to your kids’ interests—there are frogs, goats, cows, chickens, fish, hydroponic vegetables and so on. Tours cost $6 to $23 per farm.

 

2. Malaysian road trip

The great thing about living in Singapore is that it can be even faster to drive out of the country than to head to Changi Airport.

If you’re not looking forward to footing the cost of costly air tickets for the entire family, consider going on a road trip to Malaysia instead. Those who don’t have a car can easily rent one in Malaysia. Just make sure you know what to do should you get into a road incident or something worse while you’re there.

The great thing about holidaying in Malaysia is that accommodation can be quite cheap, especially if you’re travelling as a family. You can travel all the way up to Penang if you’re looking for a long-distance journey, or just hop over to Kukup, Desaru or Malacca if you’re lazy to drive too much or don’t have much time.

 

3. Visit one of Singapore’s islands

Okay, we know that Singapore is an island. But Singaporean territory includes some islands off the mainland that are worth visiting, or even enjoying an overnight stay on. If the only beaches your kids have visited are at East Coast Park and Sentosa, don’t be surprised if they’re thrilled by the real thing.

St John’s and Lazarus Islands can be visited as a pair and the latter especially offers fairly untouristed, clean beaches. Kusu Island offers more evidence of civilised life, with a tortoise sanctuary that will interest kids, while the adults are more likely to be fascinated by the temple and Malay shrines.

If you can get your hands at spots on a Sisters’ Island guided walk, you can rest assured that the kids won’t be badgering you for the iPad, since it’s pretty much guaranteed that they’ll be fascinated by the wildlife in Singapore’s first marine park.

Finally, if you can’t be bothered to wrestle with ferry schedules, the easiest solution is to head to Pulau Ubin. Bumboats are constantly departing and cost only $2, and cycling around the island on a rented bicycle will do the young ones good after all that studying.

 

4. Go camping

If you constantly complain there’s not enough nature in Singapore, and that kids grow up facing the four walls of the classroom and their HDB bedrooms, then you owe it yourself to give your kids a breather. Thankfully, this costs almost nothing if your solution is to go camping locally.

Camping is legal in many of Singapore’s public parks, including East Coast Park, West Coast Park and Pasir Ris Park. You’ll have to apply online for a camping permit. You can also book barbecue pits at certain parks like Pasir Ris.

The great thing about camping in Singapore, at least to Singaporeans who want their luxuries and conveniences,  is that you can scoot home for a shower and a change of clothes anytime you like. Sure, that’s not exactly roughing it, but hey, if it lets you squeeze in an episode of Game of Thrones, nobody’s complaining.

What was your favourite way to spend the school holidays when you were a kid? Tell us in the comments!

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Joanne Poh

In my previous life, I was a property lawyer who spent most of my time struggling to get out of bed or stuck in peak hour traffic. These days, as a freelance commercial writer, I work in bed, on the beach, in parks and at cafes, all while being really frugal. I like helping other people save money so they can stop living lives they don't like.