Singapore is regarded one of the most expensive countries in South East Asia, but it’s still a great place to visit for budget travelers. There are lots of free things to do in Singapore so keep on reading to find out what they are!
Marina Bay is the core of Singapore’s city center. The area is beautiful and a walk along the 3.5 km-long Marina Bay Promenade offers you some amazing views of the Singapore skyline. The Marina Bay Sands resort can be seen from all around the Bay, which is great for photos. The skyscrapers in the financial district on the south side of the Bay are also great for some breathtaking shots. In the evening, all the buildings around the Bay light up resulting in some beautiful reflections in the water of Marina Bay.
The Shoppes at Marina Bay
The Shoppes at Marina Bay is a mall located on the west side of Marina Bay, just in front of the Marina Bay Sands resort. Walking along the Marina Bay Promenade can be very hot and exhaustive. The air-conditioned Shoppes offer some refreshment from the hot and humid Singaporean weather. The mall itself is very beautiful so the eye won’t miss a thing. As the Shoppes offer a wide variety of luxury brands, walking through the mall will only allow window shopping if you’re doing Singapore on a budget.
The fountain show Spectra is played multiple times an evening along the Marina Bay Promenade, just in front of the Shoppes. It is a show of water and light and lasts 15 minutes. It’s completely free to watch the show and it’s a must see if you’re visiting Singapore!
Gardens by the Bay
The Gardens by the Bay are located at the other side of the Marina Bay Sands resort and is Singapore’s most famous tourist attraction. A large part of the garden is freely accessible without any charges. Watch the impressive supertrees and take some beautiful shots along the way. In the evening, the supertrees are lit up and even more impressive than during daytime. We would definitely recommend going there both during the day and at night.
The Singapore River is located on the west side of Marina Bay. Walking along the river will lead you to some beautiful places. Along the Queen Elizabeth Walk you will find beautiful Victorian architectural styled buildings, including the Asian Civilsations Museum, the Victorian Theatre and the National Gallery Singapore. It’s a very pleasant walk with lots to see and completely free to do!
While walking along the Singapore River, make sure to check out the Fullerton Building. This building used to be the General Post Office, but currently houses a five-star hotel. It is one of the oldest buildings in this part Singapore and it’s a very unique sight in between the modern skyscrapers.
Walking further along the river will get you to Clarke Quay where you can find various restaurants and nightclubs. It’s a lovely area to walk around and of course the perfect spot for lunch and dinner. Don’t forget to take a photo of the authentic colorful warehouses!
A 15-minute walk from Clarke Quay will bring you to Singaporean Chinatown. Chinatown offers some cute houses and lovely streets, which are all – of course – in Chinese style. You will find shops and stalls and even some pagodas. Pagoda Street is one of the most photogenic streets of Chinatown: a Chinese looking street with colorful lanterns and – as a finishing touch – that beautiful Singapore skyline in the background.
While there are many places to visit in Singapore’s city center, there’s also lots to see and do outside of it. If you’re staying in the city center, getting to these places requires a subway (MRT) ticket, but the attractions itself are all free of charge.
Singapore Botanic Gardens
The Singapore Botanic Gardens are easily accessible from the Botanic Gardens MRT Station. Just follow the station’s exit to the Botanic Gardens and you will find yourself at the entrance. The Gardens contain a lot of tropical flora. This is not only worth a visit if you’re psyched about nature, but it also offers a very calm and relaxing atmosphere to escape the bustling city center and be amazed by some very beautiful plants. We couldn’t believe this huge botanic garden was completely free!
Opening hours: daily from 05.00-00.00
Mt. Faber Park
Mt. Faber is mostly a hill and the peak offers great views of Singapore, its harbor and the sea. The Park is accessible from the HarbourFront MRT Station, which is located under the largest shopping mall of Singapore: VivoCity. Take exit D from the MRT Station and the shopping mall, cross the street and you’ll find yourself at the beginning of the Merang Trail. Right from the beginning, it really feels like you’re in a rainforest and if you’re lucky you can even spot some monkeys! There are a lot of mosquitos though, so don’t forget to bring mosquito spray. Singapore’s cable car system has a station at the Mt. Faber peak, which can take you to Sentosa, but it’s relatively expensive. The other parks Telok Blangah Hill and Kent Ridge are accessible from Mt. Faber Park through the Southern Ridges Park Connector.
Sentosa Island is a man-made island filled with tourist attractions. One of the attractions located on Sentosa Island is the Southernmost Point of Continental Asia. You can get to the island by using the aforementioned cable car from Mt. Faber (and VivoCity), or by taking the MRT to HarbourFront Station, from where you can either take the Sentosa Boardwalk or the Sentosa Express (a monorail train). Taking the Sentosa Express costs SGD 4, which grants you unlimited use of the monorail services. When we were there (November 2017), the Boardwalk was free of charge. The usual entrance fee is SGD 1, but the entrance is free (at least) until 31 December 2020.
If you’re taking the Sentosa Express, exit the train at the Beach Station and follow the signs to Palawan Beach. If you’re walking, you can immediately follow the signs to Palawan Beach. At Palawan Beach, take the narrow bridge to Palawan Island where you can enjoy an impressive view of the Strait of Singapore while standing at the Southernmost Point of Continental Asia. Visiting Sentosa can be fun, but try to avoid the weekends as it can be very crowded. Sentosa is one big attraction park so if you’re not into that, it’s not worth visiting.
Singapore has a stunning Chinese Garden, which is absolutely worth going to even though the ride by MRT is not necessarily short. The Chinese Garden was our favorite tourist place in Singapore and we enjoyed walking around the Garden. Already from inside the MRT train (which is above ground here) you will be able to see an iconic large red pagoda against the sky. From the Chinese Garden MRT Station, it’s a short walk to the park. It’s a tranquil place and not touristic at all. The park has some beautiful architecture and there are a lot of animals too. You will see eagles, hear chirping birds from the trees and dragons. Yes, Komodo dragons can be seen chilling in the grass, just as us humans like to do. Remember to keep your distance though, as they don’t like chilling with company.
Opening hours: 06.00-23.00
Using the MRT in Singapore
Getting around Singapore by MRT is very easy. The MRT system is well-connected with all parts of the country and you can get everywhere. You can buy tickets at the machines at the MRT stations. The MRT offers unlimited ride passes for one (SGD 10), two (SGD 16) or three days (SGD 20). It’s also possible to buy an EZ-Link stored-value card, which we did. You can top up the EZ-Link card at the ticket machines with cash or by (credit) card. We felt it was very easy to travel with the EZ-Link card. You just have to tap the card when entering and exiting the MRT stations. We used Google Maps for directions and MRT routes and it was always accurate.
Have you ever been to Singapore and did you enjoy the city? Let us know in the comments below!
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