One of our favourite tourist destinations — since it’s just across the border — Singapore is full of glitz and glamour. The Lion City has no shortage of luxuries, be it upscale hotels, supercars or speedboats, Michelin-starred restaurants, opulent casinos, and even the upcoming Formula One from September 30 to October 2. However, don’t be blindsided by the pomp and splendour as there are many things to do in Singapore for free as well.
Singapore may be a playground for the rich with its sheen of wealth, but the place is so much more than just lavish hotels, fine dining and expensive fashion. There are also various cultures and histories to explore, wildlife-related activities, Southeast Asian art exhibitions and other offbeat attractions that will help you explore the city-state’s great outdoors.
Try these amazing free things the next time you visit Singapore
Admire nature at Gardens by the Bay
The world-class garden design at Gardens by the Bay is not something you would want to skip, considering how admission is mostly gratuitous. Follow its specific schedule and visit it between 5 am and 2 am to enjoy most parts of the spectacular view of the garden cost-free.
Walking alongside Dragonfly and Kingfisher Lake, learning the fascinating history of Singapore through Heritage Gardens and praising the landscapes of the Sun Pavillion are some of the many things you can do there without spending a cent.
However, to visit the flower dome, cloud forest and the supertree observatory, you will have to pay a token charge for admission.
Additionally, don’t forget to catch the free supertrees ‘dance’ at the spectacular Garden Rhapsody Light Show.
Catch ‘Spectra’, the Marina Bay Sands light and water show
No, you can’t stay or dine at this ultra-luxurious skyline without emptying your pockets, but you can catch the amazing water and light show, a nightly extravaganza displayed over the water at the event plaza of Marina Bay Sands. The 15-minute show with a beautiful symphony of an orchestral soundtrack, colourful visuals, an advanced laser show and dancing fountain jets will make your jaw drop.
The daily show happens at 8 pm and 9 pm every night and on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, there is an additional show at 10 pm to enjoy with your whole family.
Spend a day with family and friends at East Coast Park
Spending a day at a recreational park with the whole family is one of the best things to do on a vacation. The 15-km-long site at the former Big Splash area is now filled with fun activities.
Singapore’s tallest outdoor play feature, the Coastal PlayGrove’s play tower is a four-storey structure with some of the tallest slides. Your kids can beat the heat at the water play area and splash around in the wading pools with water jets that light up at night. That’s not all, you can reconnect with nature at the Nature Playgarden and walk around the heritage trees.
You can also relish the food and drinks with a few bucks inside the garden.
Movies by the beach
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Want to catch a movie on the big screen while the light sea breeze ruffles your hair? At Sentosa island, you can catch a blockbuster movie on Fridays, weekends and public holidays for free.
While you can bring your mats or folding chairs, outside food and drinks aren’t allowed. Be early as there are 400 seats and entry is first-come-first-serve basis. You can check their official website for screening dates and timings and even recommend a movie.
Visit Sentosa Island
Though Sentosa is famous for Universal Studios Singapore, there are many relaxing things you can do there that won’t cost you anything.
Explore Fort Siloso, the well-preserved coastal fort that was a part of the defence of the country will tell you many stories about Singapore’s history. There’s a skywalk that will let you see some scenic views of nature on your way to the fort.
The three beaches on Sentosa Island named Siloso Beach, Tanjong Beach and Tanjong Beach are unique in their own way. Enjoy beach court activities and don’t miss out on the light and sound show ‘Magical Shores’ on Siloso beach, along with the tranquillity at Sentosa nature discovery.
Take a stroll along the Singapore River
From a fishing village to one of the busiest financial hubs of Southeast Asia, the history of the place is inseparable from the Singapore River. Discovering the riverside on foot is one of the best things you can do in Lion City.
It will take you to landmarks like Robertson Quay, Boat Quay, Clarke Quay, the Asian Civilisations Museum, Fullerton Hotel, and the Victoria Theatre & Concert Hall. The Marina Bay Sands light and laser show is visible from here.
Walk down the Southern Ridges
The 10-km-long Southern Ridges comprises vibrant greenery as it connects Mount Faber Park, Telok Blangah Hill Park, HortPark, Kent Ridge Park, Labrador Nature Reserve and the National University of Singapore (NUS).
The highest pedestrian bridge in Singapore is known for its artistic Henderson Waves structure, The Southern Ridges comprises a forest and a canopy walk. It will take you to witness colourful flora and birds in their natural habitat.
The serenity and tranquillity of the walk are an escape from bustling city life. Moreover, the breathtaking panoramic view from the bridge is not something you would want to miss.
Visit the Singapore Botanic Gardens
Singapore Botanic Gardens is another wonderful spot for nature lovers. It was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2015. It is the first and only tropical botanic garden on UNESCO’s World Heritage List.
The captivating lush greenery is one of the best-preserved instances of nature in the concrete jungle. Except for the National Orchid Garden, the Singapore Botanic Gardens have free entry.
Catch free concerts at Esplanade
Esplanade is a place for art lovers and kindred souls. Besides admiring the durian-shaped architecture, you can catch live concerts, theatres and other world-class art performances.
Though there are paid concerts by high-profile artists, there are also plenty of options for music lovers that are free. Loud music, happy chatter and recitals — you won’t have a dull moment in Esplanade – Theatres at the Bay.
Explore Buddha Tooth Relic Temple & Museum
In the historic district of Chinatown, the beautiful architecture of the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple & Museum is one of the most eye-catching things.
The majestic charm of the Tang Dynasty architecture of its exteriors will blow your mind. The Buddhist art-inspired interior design will help you learn about the 1,000-year-old culture.
Although discovered in India, the left canine tooth of Lord Buddha is displayed on the temple grounds. Hence, the name. Various sacred relics and the giant stupa are in the museum for public viewing. The museum theatre also holds cultural performances.
In addition to the free entry every day, the Saturday-guided tour is totally free of charge as well.
Shop at Singapore Really Really Free Market
Free activities are still believable but ever heard of shopping without money? Sounds like a dream, isn’t it? It is true in this free market. Every Sunday, you can go to Rowell Road to shop and leave your wallet at home.
If you like anything you see, you can grab it. Pay for your items with kindness and anything you would want to sell. You don’t have to spend any cash to shop here. Check out their Facebook page for more information.
Look around Changi Airport
Whether it is after your arrival or before your departure, don’t forget to check out one of the top and busiest airports in Asia. The world-class aviation hub has become a famous tourist destination, and rightfully so.
The greenery at the airport creates the perfect ambience where you can relax and stretch your legs after a long flight. You can enjoy the free attractions like the lavish Jewel Changi Airport (pictured), HSBC Rain Vortex and watch a marvellous 40-metre-high indoor waterfall with more than 2,000 trees in the surroundings. If you are willing to spend a few bucks, you can enjoy the local food here, too.
Listen to Singapore Symphony Orchestra
If the orchestra is something that moves you, you can listen to the Singapore Symphony Orchestra at their free concerts. The flagship orchestra of Singapore holds free concerts once in a while as a part of the community outreach programme in different halls, institutions and other locations.
Try to arrive early for the show and you can bring a picnic basket with you too. To know their free concert date and timings check their official website.
Worship at Sri Mariamman Temple
Chinatown is one of the most happening places and the central business district in Singapore is home to the oldest Hindu temple. The magnificent and colourful Sri Mariamman Temple has elaborate and detailed carvings for you to admire.
Entry to the temple is free and open to all. Look at the sculptures of the deities and mythological figures at the six tiers of the temple.
Go art hunting on Singapore Streets
Want to cherish the artist inside you? The museums, art galleries and exhibitions can help, but nothing compensates for the beauty of street art. Many Singapore streets are rich in the ethnic heritage of art and culture that you must witness during your visit.
Little India has an outstanding collection of murals inspired by Indian cultures because of the Artwalk festival. Chinatown has artist Belinda Low’s influences, including some of Van Gogh’s revolutionary style impressions. Tiong Bahru, MacPherson, Haji Lane and Everton also have some of the most interesting, artistic and colourful murals that Instagrammers feed on every day.
Some other free attractions of Singapore include visiting Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve, stargazing at Seletar Rocket Tower, Sister Islands Marine Parks, going to the Chinese and Japanese gardens and Changi Point Boardwalk.
(Main and featured image: Guo Xin Goh/ Unsplash)
This story first appeared on Travel + Leisure India & South Asia