Singapore may have a reputation as one of the most expensive cities in the world but many of the best things to do in Singapore are actually free! Here are our top picks for the best free (and fun) things to do in Singapore:
Gardens by the Bay is a relatively new attraction (opened in 2012) but has quickly become a crowd favorite. The sprawling gardens feature a variety of flora, an impressive waterfront view and an eco-friendly mission. One of the biggest draws for visitors are the iconic tree-shaped vertical gardens known as Supertree Grove. Measuring 25 to 50 meters tall, the Supertrees are rather hard to miss. Make time to visit at night and you won’t be disappointed. Every night, a delightful light and sound show known as Garden Rhapsody brings the trees to life.
Keep in mind that visiting the outdoor gardens, including the Supertree Grove is free. However, there is a fee to enter the OCBC Skyway (an elevated walkway between two Supertrees) and to enter the Cloud Forest and Flower Dome conservatories.
Marina Bay Sands
The Marina Bay Sands is a huge complex housing The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands mall, a casino, hotel, museum, theaters and restaurants. Take in the free Wonder Full Light and Water Spectacle, a water and light show, at the Event Plaza. Grab a spot in front of the Louis Vuitton store for the best place to view the show.
Although exploring the complex and window shopping is free, the view from the top will cost you an entry fee for the observation deck at SkyPark or the price of a drink at Ku De Ta, a bar. A dip at the iconic infinity pool is also out of the question, unless you are a paying guest at the pricey hotel.
The Helix Bridge is a pedestrian bridge located in the Marina Bay area. This bridge is unique for having a ‘double-helix’ structure inspired by DNA structure. Viewing platforms are placed at strategic points to stop and take in the Singapore skyline. The Helix bridge is best experienced at night when it is illuminated. While I would not go out of my way to walk on the bridge, it conveniently connects Marina Bay Sands to the promenade and does make for a pleasant walk.
I am always a fan of a good waterfront promenade. This promenade offers great views plus a very nice walk. Popular with walkers, runner, bikers, etc, choose your mode of transportation and take in the city and harbor views. If walking from the Marina Bay Sands, cross the Helix Bridge and walk along the waterfront to reach the Merlion.
The Merlion is a statue with the head of a lion and the body of a fish. Water spouts from the statue’s mouth so tourists gleefully take creative and campy photos by appropriately positioning themselves. The Merlion is one of Singapore’s most famous icons and although touristy, it does have a great view of the harbor and Marina Bay Sands complex.
Singapore Botanic Gardens
Singapore’s oldest garden is a good choice for anyone interested in escaping the city without really going far. The Singapore Botanic Gardens are not just a regular ol’ garden though. They have the honor of being listed as the first and only tropical garden on the UNESCO World Heritage Site (Singapore’s first listing). Whether stopping by to check out the sprawling grounds or the locals working out, you’ll have plenty of time as the gardens are open from 5 am to 12 midnight daily.
Note that even though the Singapore Botanic Gardens are free, there is a small fee to enter the National Orchid Garden.
Explore Singapore’s ethnic neighborhoods
Singapore has a few well known ethnic neighborhoods that are certainly worth a visit.
Our first visit to Little India was early in the morning during the Thaipusam festival. While that is not an everyday occurrence, Little India is vibrant and full of activity day and night. In addition to the interesting shops, highlights include Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple and the 24 hour Mustafa Center.
Kampong Glam, the traditional Malay-Muslim quarter of Singapore, is now an eclectic and trendy area. Start from the Sultan Mosque and wander the many side streets filled with quirky shops, hip cafes and even traditional wares. Make sure to hit Haji Lane if you enjoy street art.
Singapore’s bustling Chinatown is a nice mix of old and new. A popular area for eating and shopping, it is home to one of the best known hawker centers, Maxwell Food Centre. While obviously not free, this the place to eat if you are on a budget. Chinatown attractions to check out include the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum, Chinatown Heritage Center, Sri Mariamman Temple and Tian Hock Keng. Also, a free walking tour with free food tasting runs weekly.
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