We’ve previously written about how much we love Singapore as a layover destination. But one thing that we didn’t really acknowledge, is that it is one of the most expensive cities in the world. If you’re visiting for a layover or otherwise, what are the best cheap and free things to do in Singapore? Read on to find out here.
- 1 / Visit the Bay area and Marina Bay Gardens
- 2 / Seek out some Chinese food and beer in Chinatown
- 3 / Bask in the sun at Fort Canning Park
- 4 / Take a river stroll with some icecream
- 5 / Find some cultural spots
- Want to read more about Asia?
1 / Visit the Bay area and Marina Bay Gardens
A visit to the Marina Bay Gardens has to be top of the list of cheap things to do in Singapore, because it’s totally free! This is a popular spot to explore and for good reason. These beautiful gardens are free to enter and enjoy. With tropical plants on show and an all round beautiful environment.
There’s a free light show twice a day in the gardens. Look out for show timings here, if you plan to visit.
The Bay area is also worth a potter. Or, a full blown walk or run if you’re up for it. In fact, there’s a super popular walking trail which takes in much of the Bay Area. But, attempt it early or late in the day to avoid the midday sun.
2 / Seek out some Chinese food and beer in Chinatown
Many people don’t believe this, but Chinatown is actually pretty cheap by Singapore standards. A beer will cost you 6 dollars (Singapore dollars) which is approx $4 US at time of writing. That’s not so bad for a large beer.
You can eat in most of the restaurants with one drink for $20. Avoid the main tourist streets and pick a restaurant on Mosque Street or New Bridge Road if you’re looking for great food at low cost. My bill was $17 (Singapore) for a large beer with two dishes of food. That’s under $13 US.
If you stick to soft drinks and eat in the Hawker Centres like the China Complex (coords here), then you’re talking even less money. Plus, the food in the Hawker Centre is the best in the area (in my view) and whilst there are many tourists, it remains a local haunt with local prices intact.
3 / Bask in the sun at Fort Canning Park
Marina Bay Gardens and of course the stunning Botanical Gardens get a lot of airtime. However, Fort Canning Park less so. I’m not quite sure why, because it is a stunning and sumptuous park yet weirdly completely uncrowded.
Why visit Fort Canning Park? Well, first of all it is one of the best free or cheap things you can do in Singapore. Because it’s totally free.
You can spend a couple of hours here walking around, even sunbathing or meditating if the mood takes you. There are some historical artifacts, like Raffles House and an ancient dig site, plus two canons. But mainly, its just a beautiful meandering garden.
The thing I love most about this spot is the view back over the city. Anyone familiar with South East London parks will draw a similarity between the views from Fort Cannon Park and the views over London city from places like Forest Hill.
To get here, it’s a 15 minute walk from Chinatown or you can jump on the MTR to the conveniently located Fort Canning Park station.
4 / Take a river stroll with some icecream
Just down from Fort Canning Park, you’ll find the colourful river side area of Clarke Quay. This is a quaint, English feeling, area of Singapore.
When the sun is shining (which it often is in Singapore) take your time walking down one side of the river, crossing the bridge and coming back. The river side is surrounded by colourful bars and restaurants. But there’s no pressure to go in and spend money.
In fact, there’s a conveniently located and inexpensive icecream store, you can takeaway a pot and content yourself sitting on the river bank. Delightful.
5 / Find some cultural spots
There are a number of totally free cultural spots to visit in Singapore. First, there’s the Buddah Tooth Relic temple in Chinatown. Well worth a visit.
Then you can visit Little India, a buzzing area with colourful streets, Mosques and Temples.
My other favourite cultural thing to do for free in Singapore is look at all the Street Art around Chinatown. This blog here provides and excellent overview.
If religious sites aren’t your thing, then there’s the shopping epicenter of Orchard Road. Who says you have to buy anything?