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I struggled to come to terms with the idea of spending time in shopping centres and its status as a National pastime when I first came to Singapore, and then I had kids, so well – everything changed. I’m still not a HUGE fan of spending time with the boys in shopping centres – mainly because I’m one of those really weird women who actually hates shopping – but as an option for entertaining kids on a blistering hot day or a stormy day, shopping centres certainly have a place in the itinerary – especially if you get sick to death of indoor kiddie venues – which I do.  There are some very obvious and great shopping centre options for kids – with Vivo City a stand-out – but I also find Ngee Ann City and Paragon as a combined adventure option good potential as well. Let’s face it; the kids are always happy with that many toy shops to explore.

Starting in Paragon, it has an indoor playroom on the top floor (aka the kids floor), below the escalator to Toys ‘R’ Us. This is definitely appealing to the little ones, but with my boys at four and five years old, they are still enjoying this playground. For them it’s the opportunity to climb on top of the apparatus that has the most appeal however. So it is a small playground and it can get intensely busy during peak shopping times, but if you want to let them stretch their limbs, it’s an option. There is also a mini-carousel outside the play area, and some ride on toys as well, with more on the floor below. The other thing I appreciate about Paragon is lots of long, wide, empty corridors for the boys to run, and as there’s a whole floor dedicated to kids, no one gets bothered about how they behave, which is cool.

Most of the kids’ shops in Paragon feature high-end fashion, but there’s a Toys ‘R’ Us as well – if some spoiling is due – and another place is the Early Learning Centre (ELC) which welcomes kids to come in and play with its toys. So another ‘stop to make your kids happy’ option. The department store in Paragon – Metro – has a great kids clothing and toy section as well, which is great if you actually want to shop. The basement of Paragon has a Marketplace – always a lovely place to do some grocery shopping – and lots of speciality eating and drinking options as well. I’ve spent loads of time in Paragon over the years (especially when pregnant with the boys with multiple visits to Mt E scheduled) and the basement always attracted both me and my hubby – just lots of yummy delicacies for everyone.

Once you’ve enjoyed all that can be enjoyed at Paragon, head across the road to Ngee Ann City. But there’s nothing there for kids you say? And you are quite right, apart from the toy store in Takashimaya, but I’ll tell you why I like it and sometimes use it as an adventure option. The first is the big open air section at the front, which usually has an event on, or if not, it’s just a big open space for the boys to run around. They both love getting filthy hanging around the massive fountain as well. So that’s number one. The second – and probably most important reason for me – is the great bookshop, Kinokuniya, where the boys regularly get lost while I stroll the aisles looking for something to read. Please support this bookshop – I don’t know what I’ll do if this one goes, but the staff tell me they’ve never been busier, so the chances are it will remain open – PLEASE! I’m just not ready for an e-reader yet.

As mentioned, if you haven’t already done some toy shopping in Paragon, the toy shop in Takashimaya is one of the better toy stores in Singapore, often featuring slightly different toys to everywhere else around town. Also during sales time, you can get great deals on some pretty funky kids’ clothes. In the middle of Ngee Ann City in the basement is a massive area which always seems to have a Mother and Baby show on – every time I’ve been this year it has been the case. So while I can’t guarantee that this will be happening, it’s a great place to stock up on little kiddie stuff, or if pregnant, go and have a look here as well for a great selection of the things you need for a newborn.

The other feature on the itinerary for us is the basement food court. It is such an interesting collection of food, sights and smells, and every time we go here, the boys are mesmerized by what’s on sale, as well as the crowds. We typically buy a juice and sit back to watch the world go by, but the boys do enjoy the experience down here. The food court is also great – one of the best in Singapore – so it’s a really great option if your family are into eating out this way, with a KFC handy for the fussy children.

So there you go, two shopping centres that will keep your kids entertained physically, visually, orally and ‘olfactorily,’ but also one that Mum and Dad can enjoy if they just can’t do another kids playroom, or aren’t in the mood for a big sweaty outdoor adventure – especially at this, the hottest time of year.

Any kid-friendly recommendations for these two shopping centres to share?