World on a Budget: Singapore
In Southeast Asia, Singapore is known as one of the most expensive destinations in the region. This melting pot of different cultures prides itself on high-end city living and luxury shopping. Enjoy Singapore without spending a dollar? Sounds impossible, right? But with the right guide, you’ll discover that this city has a couple of hidden secrets and they all are cost-free.
What’s more attention-grabbing than a photo with a half-lion, half-fish creature? Head to the Merlion, the country’s most iconic sculpture, and strike a pose while water cascades from its mouth. After taking an enviable selfie, visit the Fullerton Hotel and the Fullerton Bay Hotel or take a stroll along Marina Bay.
Standing along a line of colorful houses, the Baba House offers a free tour for an hour. Tourists can set an appointment on Mondays at 2 p.m., Tuesdays at 6:30 p.m., Thursdays at 10 a.m., and Saturdays at 11 a.m. This hour-long tour allows visitors a glimpse into the 1920s lifestyle of a wealthy Singaporean family.
Temples in the City
Looking like an explosion of colors, the Sri Mariamman Temple sits in the midst of animated Chinatown. This is the oldest Hindu Temple in Singapore and has gods and goddesses looking down from lofty perches - a perfect spot for photo buffs. Singapore’s oldest Chinese Temple, Thian Hock Keng is also full of intricate carvings. At the Kong Meng San Phor Kark See monastery, not only will guests get a free tour, they’ll get a free vegetarian meal in the dining hall as well. Singapore’s largest mosque, Sultan Mosque, will charm visitors with its exotic, Arabian architecture. Outside prayer times, tourists can tour the mosque for free.
Festivals in Singapore are truly a sight to behold. Festive, eclectic, and unforgettable, these festivals should not be missed if you have the chance! The Mosaic Music Festival, Buskers Festival, and Singapore Arts Festival and the Singapore Night Festival offers free entertainment for all.
Birds and Tombs
A Bukit Brown Cemetery tour is certainly getting off the beaten path. As Singapore’s largest Chinese cemetery built in the early 20th century, Bukit Brown was abandoned and is now a wildlife and birding site. Learn more about the history of the spot and experience the beauty of nature being reclaimed by joining a free walking tour run by activist groups and historians.
Light up the Trees
Gardens by the Bay is a stunning eco-park that brings in thousands of tourists annually. While there is a fee for the treetop walkway and conservatory tours, wandering along the Outdoor Gardens in Bay South is absolutely free. A 15-minute sound and light show happens before 7:45 p.m. or 8:45 p.m. daily, so find the perfect spot before the supertrees are lit up.
Esplanade Night Out
What better way to unwind after splurging on irresistible shopping items in Singapore than to head over to the Esplanade for a night of music and dancing. With the free concerts held at the outdoor theater or in the indoor concourse area, visitors can enjoy all kinds of performances without opening their wallets.
Fort Canning Park not only has relaxing green surroundings, it also offers outstanding views of central Singapore. There are free tours available every month so check out the park’s website to sign up.
After hours of shopping, it’s time for some well-deserved rest and relaxation. The Singapore Botanic Gardens sits at the edge of Orchard Road district. You can explore this green oasis for free or you can sign up for a free walking tour at the garden’s website. The garden also holds the world’s largest collection of tropical orchids as the National Orchid Garden has over 1,000 species and 2,000 hybrids.
Spanning Mt. Faber, Hort, Kent Ridge, and Telok Blangah parks, the Southern Ridges Trail is a must-see for nature enthusiasts. This trail is famous as one of Singapore’s finest walking trails. Visitors can enjoy over 10 km of canopy walks, lush forest foliage, and fresh air while exploring the trail. The country’s highest pedestrian bridge, Henderson Waves, is also within the site.
Orchestras and Picnics
The Singapore Symphony Orchestra offers free concerts at the Singapore Racecourse and Singapore Botanic Gardens for its community outreach program. Make it a wonderful night by finding the perfect spot early on and maybe even bringing a picnic basket.
A Hot Soak
After touring the Garden City, rest your mind and body at the Sembawang Hot Spring. Situated at Sembawang Air Base, the waters of this natural hot spring is said to have healing properties.