THEY are the crown jewels of Singapore attractions, drawing thousands of visitors each day.
Yet parents say that high admission fees and miscellaneous charges at spots like the Night Safari or Singapore Flyer are pricing them beyond a regular family's reach.
Mr Lim Chow Siong, a father of two boys aged 16 and nine, said none of Singapore's star attractions will be on the family's to-do list during the school holidays this month.
'You've got to be kidding,' said the SMRT station manager, when asked if he planned to take his family to any of them.
'It is just too expensive to spend a day at any one of these places.'
Eighteen out of 20 parents contacted echoed this view.
The high cost of attractions was also a sore point with writers to The Straits Times' Forum page recently.
A check of 10 main attractions here found that a day out would set a family of four back by $125 on average.
For example, an outing to the Underwater World or the Singapore Flyer, or taking a Duck Tour will cost a typical family between $127 and $164 (See facing page).
Topping the list is the Singapore Night Safari.
Taking into account a meal and souvenirs, a trip there could burn a $230-hole in the pocket.
Spokesmen for the attractions said that the quality of the experience and cost of upkeep justify the pricing.
Ms Isabel Cheng, a spokesman for the Singapore Zoo, Jurong BirdPark and Night Safari, said that admission rates are 'relatively low' compared to similar attractions in Australia and the United States, and that the experience one gets is worth the money.
To encourage more families to visit during the June holidays, some attractions are offering school-break discounts.
Singapore Underwater World, for example, said it will be offering tickets to its Underwater World and Dolphin Lagoon at a 30 per cent discount until June 22.
The Singapore Discovery Centre and Escape Theme Park are also offering discounted packages for families.
Most families interviewed, however, say the discounts do not do enough to offset the high prices.
They have developed some creative ways of having fun for close to nothing instead.
Popular haunts include shopping malls and the airport for some cool comfort, or beaches and nature walks for the more adventurous.
Madam Judy Lim, 47, a mother of three, said a popular outing is a picnic at Changi Beach with her 13-year-old son, and daughters, aged 16 and 10.
'My son and husband take the opportunity to indulge in a spot of fishing, while my daughters love picking sea shells,' said the proprietor.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY EISEN TEO, HE ZONGYING, LIM HENG LIANG