Singapore is famous for being one of the most expensive cities in the world and budget travellers almost always shun the city on their Southeast Asia tour. While we agree the cost of living in the city is as high as the skyscrapers in the city, you can easily do a vacation in Singapore on a budget. There are loads of free activities, concerts, walks and trails you can engage in for a wholesome Singaporean experience and not break your bank by the end of it! Don't believe us? Here's our curation of the Top 10 offbeat things to do in Singapore on a budget. You can thank us later!
10 Things To Do In Singapore On A Budget
If you're on a shoestring budget, here's all you can do in Singapore city without shelling out much or sometimes nothing!
Wander through Gardens By The Bay
One of the most popular attractions in Singapore does not cost a cent to experience! Already love Singapore, don't you? Entry to the Gardens by the Bay is free all day, so walk into this man-made green landscape and breathe in some fresh air at this green lung nestled in the heart of Singapore's concrete jungle. The star attraction here is the giant SuperTree Grove, a vertical garden that is home to more than 300 species of plants. While the Gardens By The Bay is open nearly 24 hours (5:00AM - 2:00 AM), we'd suggest visiting it during the Garden Rhapsody light show that runs daily at 19:45 and 20:45. You can catch a spectacular glimpse of the Supertrees lit up, a truly surreal sight.
If you're truly blown by the concept and wouldn't mind paying a few bucks to see the impressive Flower Dome and Cloud Forest inside Gardens by the Bay, you can grab a combo ticket for S$25 and get up close to the trees and even take a walk on the OCBC Skyway!
Saunter by the Singapore Botanic Gardens
The Singapore Botanic Gardens is an 82-hectare area of lush green lawns, picturesque ponds and delightfully pruned garden trails , founded over 150 years ago! It is home to the National Orchid Garden which houses over 1,000 species and 2,000 hybrids of flora – the world’s biggest display of the tropical orchids. Not just flora, but fauna is in abundance here, with pied hornbills, spotted wood owls, crimson sunbirds, stork billed kingfishers, all frequently spotted within the gardens. Don't forget to keep an eye out for the three-foot monitor lizards that sometimes bolt across the paths.
Entrance is completely free and gates are open from 5:00 AM until midnight. Have a picnic out here or enjoy a free concert which you're in this UNESCO World Heritage Site and watch out for the Tembusu tree printed on the SGD$5 note while you're here.
Some Beachy Fun at Sentosa Island
While Sentosa is an swanky legion of entertainment, some expensive and some not-so-expensive, the ultimate cheapskate thing to do here is lounge by one of its 3 beaches - Palawan Beach , Siloso Beach & Tanjong Beach . Walk along the Sentosa Boardwalk (if you're not into walking, take the travelators to whisk along the boardwalk) and find a cozy nook to pitch your beach umbrella and lay down your beach mat. Maybe even bring a bottle of wine and watch the sunset!
While Palawan beach is instagram gold, Siloso is for the adventure seekers and Tanjong Beach is ideal for some quiet beachside reading.
Discover Chinese Mythology at Haw Par Villa
One of the lesser know, off-beat things to do in Singapore, the Haw Par Villa is a park built during the 1930, housing over 1,000 statues and 150 dioramas that dramatise Chinese legends and folklore. Built by the Haw Par brothers of Tiger Balm fame, the park is an attempt to teach the public about the moral values of Chinese mythology with a humorous twist. You can have a good laugh as you witness characters like Fu Lu Shou, Confucius and the Laughing Buddha doing some highly odd things. The highlight here is the depiction of the “Ten Courts of Hell” which alone is worthy of a visit. The park is open from daily from 9:00 AM to 7:00 PM and costs nothing to enter!.
The Haw Par Villa is temporarily closed from Dec 1 2018 to Feb 28 2019.
Brave the MacRitchie Treetop Walk
The MacRitchie Reservoir situated to the northwest of the city centre has about five scenic hiking trails through dense canopy , each path giving terrific views of the reservoir and its surrounding lush and chances to spot diverse wildlife - from long-tailed macaque monkeys to snakes and monitor lizards. Apart from the hikes, crossing the 250 m long one-way free standing suspension bridge is a rather fun and free activity! Called the TreeTop Walk, prep yourself to walk 50 metres above the jungle floor from Bukit Peirce to Bukit Kalan, the two highest points in MacRitchie Park.
Note that the Tree Top Walk is only accessible from MacRitchie Reservoir Park via MacRitchie Nature Trail or from Venus Drive.
Visit the National Museum of Singapore
Dating back to 1887, the National Museum of Singapore is the country’s oldest museum and currently holds more 1,700 cultural and historical artefacts. The building itself is an architectural marvel, and now the galleries have adopted the latest technologies in their displays and exhibitions. With an entry fee that costs just SGD10 you can learn all about the quaint beginnings of Singapore to its status of a global metropolis today. Walk into any of the frequent exhibitions, talks, festivals, etc that the museum hosts all year round. Keep a tab on their website for their latest interactive workshops and outdoor movie screenings.
With a Tripadvisor rating of 4.5, if there's one museum in Singapore you'd like to visit on a budget, go for this one with no second thoughts.
Hike the Southern Ridges
Great for nature lovers (and for those who have a hankering for hikes and fresh air), The Southern Ridges trail weaves through the treetops of Mount Faber, past the Henderson Waves all the way to Labrador Nature Reserve and ends at Kent Ridge Park. This free, easy 10KM hike starts just a few minutes away from the Harbourfront MRT station and offers a wondrous views of both the natural and urban parts of Singapore. As you clomp along the lush greenery, don’t miss a visit to Henderson Waves, a unique undulating bridge situated 36 meters which also happens to be Singapore’s highest pedestrian bridge.
Tour the Marina Barrage
The Marina Barrage is a part dam, part tourist attraction, built at the confluence of five rivers, across the Marina Channel between Marina East and Marina South . Just a short walk away from Gardens By The Bay, this spot is especially popular amongst locals and tourists for kite flying and the witnessing the sunset behind the hustle of the city. The Marina Barrage free tour is also extremely popular and often sells out weeks in advance. The tour takes place Wednesday to Monday from 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM and last for about an hour.
Each guided tour takes a maximum of 80 visitors and starts from the upper level of the reservoir, takes you through the Sustainable Singapore Gallery and end at the grassed rooftop with an amazing view of Singapore. If you're not into a tour per se, spend some time flying kites, ride a bike up here, have a sunset picnic or catch a glimpse of illuminated Singapore after dusk here.
Catch a Free Concert at The Esplanade
Get your dose of cultural fix at Singapore's premier arts center - The Esplanade (or Esplanade – Theatres On The Bay) which showcases a myriad of free performances spanning dance, theatre, vocals, recitals and music. While they have ticketed events too, 70% of their performances are free and cater to the budget travellers hungry for a taste of culture. This iconic landmark is designed in the shape of a durian, a notoriously stinky local fruit in Singapore. Make sure to click away your #instashots here because the architecture is definitely noteworthy (and Instagram-worthy)
Watch the Sunset & Lights show at Marina Bay
Singapore is famous for its stunning skyline and you shouldn’t miss that just because you’re on a strict budget. So what if you can't get all the way to the Marina Bay Observation Deck? Witnessing the city from the Marina Bay Sands Boardwalk is perfectly beautiful and free too! Make your way here around sunset and watch the sun sink behind the skyline. Stay a while longer and sometime between 8:00 PM and 9:00 PM, you can experience 'Spectra', the free outdoor light and water show set to an orchestral soundtrack put on by Marina Bay Sands.
Step into the Forgotten Past at Kampong Buangkok
If not anywhere else, Singapore sure does have a lot of free lunches! Great ones too right? There's more , and this one's our favourite. Singapore's last surviving kampong (traditional village), Kampong Lorong Buangkok is home to less than 30 families who live in a clustic of rustic zinc-roofed houses, a Mosque and Chinese Temple standing sturdy since 1956! If you want a portal to Singapore's past, there's no better place than the Kampong Lorong Buangkok.
You probably won't get wifi here like the rest of Singapore, you may see cats, chickens and dogs freely roaming around the streets and you might at some point wonder how they live in such a primitive state, but the smiles of the villagers here are a proof of their perfectly content life. You can reach Kampong Lorong Buangkok by taking the LRT to Tongkang. Word has it that Kampong Buangkok is slated to be redeveloped by the government, so make a trip before the authenticity perishes.
Become One with Nature at Pulau Ubin
From Changi Village , hop onto the bum-boat and embark on a 10 minute serene ride to reach one of Singapore's most pristine offshore islands - the Pulau Ubin . Step out of the boat and you'll have long forgotten the concrete jungle you came from. If time permits, spend half a day here because there's so much to do! Hire a bike for SGD 10 and ride around the rural island for as long as you please, go on a bike trail, head to the Chek Jawa , a beautiful wetlands preserve and finally go animal spotting. You never know what all you'll chance upon on this Island. Leave nothing but your footprints and take nothing but memories when you leave!
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Hacks For Exploring Singapore On A Budget
Now that sightseeing Singapore on a budget is taken care of, here are a few more ways to save money and do your Singapore vacation on a budget. Make these your holy grail and you won't be lamenting by the end of your trip!
- Eat your fill at affordable hawker centres
- Skip the taxi and hop onto a MRT
- Get hold of a Singapore City Pass
- Ditch bottled water and go for tap water
- Skip the tip
- Know the law or pay a fine
- Be warned, partying and smoking is expensive
- Tax-free shopping
What we commonly know as food courts in what hawker centres are in Singapore. Feast to your heart's fill in these hawker centres' and you won't drill a hole in your wallet by the end of it. Don't worry, the quality of food here is top notch despite the cheap prices (from S$2.50 to S$5.00). Check out the 5 best Hawker Centres in Singapore here.
This is something that's natural for every budget traveler - using public modes of transport. More so, Singapore's public transport network is one of the world's best in terms of timeliness, cleanliness and of course connectivity. Buy an EZ Link Card and make your way around the city without any hassle.
The Singapore City Pass is an absolute boon for anyone looking to explore the city on a budget. You can enjoy a hassle-free sightseeing experience with 2 days unlimited Hopper Pass and visit a number of tours and attractions in Singapore over a course of 2, 3 or 5 days. Grab your Singapore City Pass on 7% Discount with additional 10% cashback only on Headout!
In Singapore, the tap water is completely safe for consumption. Carry a bottle with you and refill wherever possible.
Service charge is included in the final bill for most places and it is not customary to give a tip in Singapore. However, there's no stopping you if you've had an exemplerary service!
Lawa are quite stringent in this part of the world and you are levied a hefty fine if you do not follow them. For eg: Chewing gum is banned in Singapore so leave it at home when packing your bags. Similarly there are many rules on Jaywalking, littering, smoking in public etc. Know the laws before you step foot in the country.
While you can get a decent meal for cheap here, drinks and cigarettes are heavily priced in Singapore. If you're on a budget, make sure you avoid these on the whole.
Like in every other part of the world, couchsurfing is a great idea and an even better way to get to know and live with the locals. Moreover, it's mostly free! Singapore has a great couchsurfing community, so take advantage of it and enjoy the city like a local, with a local.
In Singapore, a 7% tax is added on all good and services ( GST). However, you can avoid paying that if you buy from shops that "Tax-Free Shopping" or "Premier Tax-Free" sticker up front. If you do by from elsewhere and pay a tax, you can get a refund for all the tax paid at the Changi Airport. Here's a quick guide on how to go about refunding the GST paid. If you're looking for other budget shopping options, ditch the malls and explore Chinatown Street Market, Bugis Market, So Galem Market and Little Indian arcade to pick the best of stuff at most reasonable prices.
Budget Your Singapore Trip
While there are many ways to budget your trip, we find this online tool reliable and easy to use. As per BudgetYourTrip, here's what a budget trip in Singapore would look like :
- The average daily price for traveling in Singapore is SG$56 ($41)
- The average price of food for one day is SG$12 ($8.52)
- The average price of a hotel for a couple is SG$67 ($49)
Use this tool to plan and estimate the budget for your Singapore trip before you go!
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