It’s no secret that Singapore is the most expensive city in Southeast Asia to be a tourist. But even if you’re down to your last Sing-dollar, it’s possible to sightsee without spending a cent. Here are some suggestions for fun and completely free things to do in Singapore.
A visit to see the Merlion, Singapore’s bizarre half-fish, half-lion mascot, should be on the itinerary of every first-time visitor to Singapore, and admission to Merlion Park is free. The surrounding area is very scenic with harbour views, so remember to bring your camera to pose for cheesy photos!
Although it’s S$5 if you want to see the orchids, admission to all other areas of the Singapore Botanic Gardens is completely free. The gardens are rightfully one of the city’s most-visited attractions and you could easily spend a day enjoying the wide open spaces and tropical plants. If you’ve got little ones in tow, don’t miss the Jacob Ballas Children’s Garden, which is also free — remember to take swimmers as a great splash park is located here.
Museum enthusiasts will appreciate free admission to minor museums like the Singapore Philatelic Museum, URA City Planning Gallery, Changi Chapel Museum and NUS Museum. The Singapore Art Museum also offers free admission every Friday after 18:00 and admission is free to certain exhibits at the National Museum of Singapore, such as their new collection of natural history drawings.
Singapore’s ethnic enclaves, such as Chinatown and Little India, are attractions in themselves. Obviously there’s no admission charge to walk around soaking up the ambiance and striking up conversations with local people. These areas are also home to some of Singapore’s most colourful wet markets and most fascinating religious sites. You can explore the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple in Chinatown on your own, or join a free guided tour of the majestic Sultan Mosque in the historically Muslim neighbourhood known as Kampong Glam.
Out in western Singapore, Haw Par Villa has to be Singapore’s strangest free attraction. This statue park was built in 1937 by the Haw Par Brothers, the creators of Tiger Balm ointment, who used their fortune to bring scenes from Chinese folklore to life. It really needs to be seen to be believed.
If you’re interested in seeing the wilder side of Singapore, admission is free to the city-state’s various nature reserves. The Labrador Nature Reserve offers a mix of World War II relics and seaside walkways, while Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve offers great bird-watching and mangrove creatures like mudskippers. As well as being home the highest point in Singapore, Bukit Timah Nature Reserve has the best hiking trails and monkey sightings are practically guaranteed.
By Tanya Procyshyn
Last updated on 15th November, 2014.