The glitz and glamor of Singapore may not be synonymous with budget breaks, but there are plenty of free things to see and do to ease pressure on your wallet. The garden city has lots of incredible cultural and wildlife-filled activities that don't cost you a cent. Here's our gather of the best freebies Singapore has to offer.
Admire the Supertrees at Gardens through the Bay
You'll have to spend extra to enter the conservatories and also the OCBC Skyway at showstopping horticultural super park Gardens by the Bay, but it doesn't cost you a cent to wander with the iconic Supertree Grove and also the surrounding outdoor gardens and lakes. Swing just by before 7.45pm or 8.45pm daily to get the best vantage spot to watch Garden Rhapsody, the captivating 15-minute sound and light show.
Savour the lights of Marina Bay at night
Singapore's iconic Marina Bay skyline is better enjoyed when night falls and also the city lights are in full force. Take a stroll around the bay that is the place to find distinctive Singaporean architecture like the spiky domes of the Esplanade, the statuesque Marina Bay Sands complex and also the lotus-inspired ArtScience Museum. Snap a cheesy pose using the water-spouting Merlion, a half-lion, half-fish creature that's become a symbol of Singapore's tourism, or browse the colonial architecture of the historic Collyer Quay district.
Explore Singapore's heritage neighbourhoods: Tiong Bahru and Joo Chiat
Head from the downtown area to Tiong Bahru, the oldest housing estate in Singapore. Art deco-inspired architecture and family-owned shops sit alongside trendy cafes and modern art galleries, wandering around this gentrifying neighbourhood is really a pleasant method to while away a few hours.
Over within the east, Joo Chiat and Katong is a must for those looking to experience all things Peranakan, the initial mixed culture born from the intermarriage of local Malays and new immigrants. Slurp down a bowl of spicy Katong Laksa, get some traditional beaded shoes and admire the rainbow Peranakan-style terrace houses on Koon Seng Road.
Explore Singapore's Free Museums
While most of Singapore's museums have the freedom for citizens/PRs, some extend free admission to everyone. The NUS Museum features the exhaustive Lee Kong Chian collection consisting of historical artefacts, Chinese ceramics and paintings, as well as impressive sculptures in the Ng Eng Teng collection, Singapore's foremost modern artist. For additional of Singapore's history, the Singapore City Gallery has a detailed 11m-by-11m scale model of the central city area that tracks Singapore's amazing transformation from sleepy fishing village towards the futuristic metropolis nowadays.
Go green at Singapore Botanic Gardens and Fort Canning Park
Originally established in Fort Canning Park by Sir Stamford Raffles, Singapore's Botanic Gardens today occupy a swathe of quiet green space at the edge of the Orchard Road district. Singapore's first Unesco World Heritage Site is free to wander the stunning grounds by yourself, though if you're a keen botanist, take a look at its website for free walking tours.
Overlooking central Singapore, Fort Canning Park also remains a lovely destination to stroll; don't miss the spice garden. Free tours are run monthly; go to the National Parks website. (All walking tours are currently suspended due to COVID-19)
Trace the historic Singapore River
You will pay a small fee to ride in the little wooden bumboats that trawl the Singapore River, but it's more enjoyable (and free) to trace the river by walking. The former trade hub still sees a lot of activity along its banks, from nightlife districts Boat Quay and Clarke Quay to historic buildings like the Asian Civilisations Museum and the Victoria Theatre & Concert Hall. Take note of the many bridges that span the forest, some date back to the 19th century like Cavenagh Bridge, Singapore's oldest suspension bridge built in 1869.
Catch free arts performances at the Esplanade
Unusual durian-shaped architecture aside, the Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay is one of Singapore's premier performing arts venues and often hosts free showcases of dance, music and theatre in their public spaces. Performances in the Outdoor Theatre are particularly scenic, set from the backdrop of Marina Bay.
Find peace at Singapore's oldest religious places of worship
Multicultural Singapore has a diverse choice of religious buildings worth looking at. Replete with elaborate carvings, Thian Hock Keng is Singapore's oldest Chinese temple and particularly atmospheric – don't miss the 44m heritage mural around the temple's exterior rear wall hearing aid technology evolution from the early Chinese immigrants in Singapore. Sri Mariamman Temple is one of Singapore's oldest Hindu temples, though paradoxically located in Chinatown, and it is colorful pagoda covered with Hindu deities is a reasonably sight.
In between prayers, you may also pop into the majestic Sultan Mosque using its twin golden onion domes, located in the centre from the Malay heritage neighbourhood Kampong Gelam (previously spelled Kampong Glam). And when churches tend to be more your thing, St Andrew's Cathedral is Singapore's largest church, and the Armenian Church its smallest and oldest (built-in 1836).
Get a look at Singapore from above
Many viewpoints require an entrance fee or some kind of purchase, but there are several lofty spots where one can admire the skyline free of charge. Skyville@Dawson is really a public housing block in Queenstown with a public-access rooftop garden 47-storeys up and a magnificent panoramic view of the area. If you're within the mood for any hike, go for a walk as much as the height of Singapore's next to the highest hill Mount Faber and enjoy the view of Southern Singapore in the Cable Car Station or other viewpoints in a single of Singapore's oldest parks.
Walk the Southern Ridges
The Southern Ridges is one of Singapore's best walking trails, spanning Mt Faber, Telok Blangah, Kent Ridge and Hort parks. It meanders through 9km of lush forest and canopy walks, and crosses the undulating Henderson Waves, Singapore's highest pedestrian bridge. Be sure to take water, sunscreen and a hat; begin to see the Nature website for more information.
Ponder the quirks from the Chinese Culture
In Chinatown, the 5-storey Tang Dynasty-inspired Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum is home to a remarkable quantity of Buddha and Bodhisattva statues and a sacred Buddhist relic believed to be the Buddha's left canine. As well as for something really quirky, visit Haw Par Villa, a theme park built through the brothers who earned a fortune selling Tiger Balm. Walk through more than 150 dioramas depicting scenes from Chinese mythology, including some almost comically graphic scenes from hell.
Follow a public art trail around the Civic District
Skip the galleries and head outdoors for some art appreciation. The Public Art Trust commissions sculptures and murals in spaces around Singapore and their Civic District trail highlights nine works by a number of Singapore's most renowned artists scattered across the mouth from the Singapore River.
Go mural hunting in historic districts
If murals and street art are more your jam, Singapore's heritage ethnic neighbourhoods have a lot to offer. Little India includes a growing assortment of murals depicting Indian culture thanks to the annual ArtWalk Little India, and Chinatown has several nostalgic murals by Singaporean artist Yip Yew Chong that showcase life in Singapore's early days. Kampong Gelam's eclectic Haji Lane is definitely an Instagram-favourite because of its many colorful murals, while Aliwal Art Centre and Sultan Art Village have walls that see everchanging graffiti, a rarity in Singapore.
Stride above the trees at MacRitchie Reservoir's Treetop Walk
One of the numerous swathes of greenery that have arrived at define Singapore because the world's most impressive garden city, MacRitchie Reservoir Park is a great option for an effective hike. It's an 8km round-trip ramble to the TreeTop Walk, where one can cross a 250m-long pedestrian suspension bridge that soars over the rainforest canopy.
Watch for wildlife at Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve
You'll forget that you are in Singapore when you enter Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, with 202 hectares of mangroves, forests and mudflats and no manifestation of buildings in sight. This place is a hotspot for migratory bird watching, and watch your step on the boardwalks as you may also encounter a number of other wildlife, together with a crocodile or two if you're lucky. Located in Kranji around the northwestern coast, you can see Malaysia's Johor Bahru just across the channel.
Visit Sentosa, the area of fun
Better known for Universal Studios and its many hotels, Sentosa is free to visit so long as you're happy to result in the trek across the Sentosa Boardwalk from VivoCity shopping mall. Once there, you should use the monorail, trams and buses to whizz round the island free of charge. Beaches here are perfect for relaxing, and there are several nature treks to explore.
Fort Siloso around the western tip from the island is Singapore's last remaining coastal fort with bunkers and relics of WWII guns, and is linked to a 11-storey high bridge offering spectacular views of the southern coastline.
Go wild for freebies at Changi Airport
Still got a couple of hours to kill before your flight home from Changi Airport? Have no fear, there is a startling quantity of freebies available with what is frequently voted the world's top airport. The centrepiece of the Jewel extension may be the Rain Vortex, a 40m high indoor waterfall this is the tallest in the world and encompassed by a startling quantity of greenery for an indoor space. There is a light and sound show every hour at night from 730pm -1130pm.
Even when you are checked in, you can go for a walk with the butterfly garden, chill at a TV lounge, or plonk into a massage chair. If you have five hours (or more) of transit time, you can even book onto a free city tour, though it has been suspended until further notice due to COVID-19.