The number of free things to do in Singapore actually makes this a perfect destination for budget travellers, even though the city has a reputation for being one of the world’s expensive places to visit – and it can be. But by using this list of free things to do in Singapore, it’s easy to make that holiday budget go much further, and still get to see some of the best attractions that the city has to offer.
From giant man-made Super Trees that you’ve probably seen on the postcards, to out-of-the-way ethnic enclaves waiting to be explored, these free activities in Singapore will make those $20 post-sightseeing drinks seem a little more affordable.
Wander through Gardens By The Bay
Gardens by the Bay is proof that even some of the best attractions in Singapore don’t have to cost you a cent. Entrance into this huge man-made park is completely free all day, every day, and a getting a glimpse of the giant SuperTree Grove is simply a Singapore-must. Come at night to see the 50-metre-high trees spectacularly lit up during the entertaining light show at 7.45pm and 8.45pm.
Although entry is free, other attractions inside the park are not. The impressive Flower Dome and Cloud Forest are S$16 each (or both for S$25), whilst the SkyWalk, allowing you to get up close to those trees, costs $S5.
Location: 18 Marina Gardens Drive Singapore
Open: Daily from 5am to 2am
Phone: +65 6420 6848
Explore Singapore’s ethnic enclaves on foot
Singapore is said to be one of the most culturally diverse countries in the whole of Asia, and there is no better way to discover why this is true by putting on a good pair of walking shoes and hitting the streets.
Whether it’s the spiritual temples and old-age medicine shops of Chinatown, vibrant sights and sounds of Little India, or the bustling shops and lively corner side cafe’s of Kampong Glam (Arab Quarter), all you need is a good map, some water (and maybe a bit of spending money for a souvenir or two) to make the most of this a great free activity in Singapore. Each area has its own MRT station, although all of these ethnic enclaves are within the city centre, meaning you can just walk if you’re feeling particularly energetic.
Climb the hill at Fort Canning Park
The historically significant Fort Canning Park can be found right in the centre of Singapore; easily reachable after a day’s shopping at the nearby Orchard Road, or before drinks at Clarke Quay, this lush green space is about as central as it gets – and it’s totally free!
Popular with joggers, dog-walkers, history buffs or just anybody wanting an instant escape from the city life, the park is home to hundreds or different types of plants, trees flowers as well as a few worthwhile attractions. Make it to the top to find Stamford Raffles’ old home (now called Government House) as well as the remains of the old fort used in World War II, an old bunker and a visitors’ centre.
Location: 70 River Valley Road, Singapore 179037
Walk though the trees at MacRitchie Reservoir
The Treetop Walk at MacRitchie Reservoir, northwest of the city centre, is free for anyone who wants to be surrounded by nature. Stretching 250 metres through the dense canopy and 50 metres above the jungle floor, you can’t help but feel like you’re hundreds of miles from the nearest city as you make your way along the one-way suspension bridge without a skyscraper in sight. Starting MacRitchie Reservoir’s Ranger Station via Peirce track (about 4.5 km from the bridge) before making your way through the mature secondary forest. You can also use the short cut to the Treetop walk from Venus Drive off Upper Thomson Road.
Location: MacRitchie Reservoir Park, Singapore
Open: Daily from 9am to 5pm
Phone: 1800 4717300
Fly a kite at Marina Barrage
One of the best free places in Singapore to see the city skyline in all its glory is Marina Barrage, which is also well-known for being one of the windiest spots on the island, perfect for kite flying. Make your way up to the elevated park via the lift or long ramp to reach the top, where an incredible panorama of Singapore awaits, together with dozens of kites filling the sky making for the perfect photo-op.
The best time to come is at dusk when the temperatures drop and the city’s lights being to turn on. The SuperTree Grove, Singapore Flyer, Marina Bay Sands, Esplanade and the CBD skyline can all be seen from the park. You can access Marina Barrage through Gardens by the Bay which is totally free all day long.
Location: 8 Marina Gardens Drive, Singapore 018951
Open: Daily from 9am to 9pm
Phone: +65 6514 5959
Grab a photo next to The Merlion
Head to Marina Bay Signorina to snap a photo next to the city’s iconic Merlion statue. Although now considered a bit of a joke among locals as being overly touristy and gimmicky, the world-famous half-mermaid half-lion is completely free to see, does present some great views across the bay and will get you a handful of ‘likes’ on Facebook after you upload your all-important snap. Bonus points if you can position yourself so it looks like the fountain of water is being poured into your mouth.
Location: 1 Fullerton, Singapore
Get your culture fix at Esplanade
As well as ticket-only events most nights, Esplanade has plenty of free shows and performances too, satisfying the budget travellers hungry for a taste of culture.
One Singapore’s most unusual buildings (nicknamed ‘the durian’ during to its resemblance to the stinky fruit), visitors can catch everything from dance shows to acoustic sets, as well as theatre performances and live bands at the central ‘concourse’ area every evening of the week. This premier arts centre also runs special free events throughout its numerous performance spaces, although it’s best to check the official website for the latest line-up.
Location: 1 Esplanade Drive, Singapore
Open: Daily from 10am to 10pm
Phone: +65 6828 8377
Go green at the Singapore Botanic Gardens
The Singapore Botanic Gardens is home to the National Orchid Garden where you can find around 1,000 species and 2,000 hybrids – the world’s biggest display of the tropical orchids. This vast area of lush green lawns, picturesque ponds and delightfully pruned garden trails is the ultimate Singapore escape – yet you barely have to leave the city centre to get there.
Wildlife is also in abundance here too, with pied hornbills, spotted wood owls, crimson sunbirds, stork billed kingfishers, as well as geese, ducks and black swans all frequently spotted within the gardens. Entrance is completely free and doors are open from 5am until midnight. There’s also a not-so-free food court and posh restaurant both inside the garden gates.
Location: 1 Cluny Road, Singapore
Open: Daily from 5am to midnight
Phone: +65 6471 7361
Watch the light show at Marina Bay
As a rule of thumb, doing anything at Marina Bay Sands is usually going to make a dent in that holiday budget. Entrance in their SkyPark is over $30, a beer at CE LA VI is $25 and a room here will set you back around $400. However, one way you can enjoy this iconic complex that towers over the bay is by catching their spectacular light show.
Spectra – A Light And Water Show impresses all, with multicoloured lasers beamed from the top of the three towers, as well as some water fountains which are lit up, making it one of Asia’s largest light and water shows. The best place to catch the 15-minute show is at Event Plaza at Promenade and it runs every day at 8pm, 9pm and an extra one at 11pm on Fridays and Saturdays.
Location: Event Plaza at Promenade/Marina Bay Sands, Singapore
Open: Daily at 8pm and 9pm (additional show at 11pm on weekends)
Have a day at the beach
Although Sentosa’s shores are lined with swanky beach bars serving pricey cocktails and pumping out Ibiza lounge music, there’s no stopping you from being a cheapskate and finding a spot on the sand nearby to enjoy the good vibes totally for free.
Weekend evenings see large gatherings of frugal beach drinkers, who usually opt for a bottle of wine or two whilst watching the sun set over the beach. There is also beach volleyball, swimming opportunities (though the water is not so great), and you can walk across the bridge to Sentosa for free on Saturdays and Sundays (S$1 on weekdays).