The multicultural city-state of Singapore is a great place to spend a few days on vacation. Singapore brings with it some preconceived notions of an expensive vacation destination, but it doesn’t have to be! Singapore has plenty of free activities for budget travelers, including stunning parks and beautiful temples.
To get the most out of your vacation, follow this list of free things to do in Singapore, authored by a frequent visitor to Singapore.
Free things to do in Singapore
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Gardens by the Bay
Gardens by the Bay is one of the main attractions of Singapore. The park features purple and pink mechanical super trees. Not only is the Supertree forest on display, these creations generate solar energy, collect rainwater, and act as ventilation ducts for the Cloud Forest and Flower Dome conservatories.
Plan your visit in the late afternoon so you can see the Gardens by the Bay light show, which is also free! Alternatively, head to Marina Bay for dinner and return to the show. The playing times are daily at 7.45 p.m. and 8.45 p.m.
If you’re traveling on a budget to Singapore on a short trip, consider a Singapore tourist pass. Public transportation in Singapore is the most efficient way to get around.
Sri Mariamman Temple
Singapore’s oldest Hindu temple is in the heart of Chinatown, right by the outdoor market stalls. After buying souvenirs from the stalls, visit the Sri Mariamman Temple.
The details in the architecture of the temple are exquisite. The exterior of the temple has features with the South Indian temples, including a gopuram, a monumental entrance tower. The inside shows beautiful paintings of various shrines and deities.
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Macritchie TreeTop Walk
The Macritchie TreeTop Walk is a great nature walk with great views of the Singapore jungle.
Funnily enough, I have visited Singapore three times in the past 18 months (and many times before) and only recently discovered the Macritchie TreeTop Walk. I am so glad I found it! It’s just something to be in nature.
The hike from the Venus Drive car park takes around two to three hours or longer from the Macritchie Reservoir. The piece of resistance is the suspension bridge over the 250 meter long canopy.
The hike is sheltered in some places, but Singapore’s humid and hot weather means the hike is not as pleasant during the heat of the day. I would recommend visiting first thing in the morning and you will see the sun peeking over the trees and lighting them up.
Fort Canning Park
Fort Canning Park is a beautiful park and historical landmark in Singapore. The park was the location of the 14th century palaces and also contained the British barracks.
The park has nine historic gardens. So take a few hours to explore these. On our last visit, we were fortunate enough to see the free Bicentennial Experience Show, a multi-sensory experience that explains the history of Singapore from the 14th century to the present day.
Fort Canning Park has a few instagrammable spots, including the Indonesian-style gates and the spiral staircase that looks up into trees.
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Buddha tooth relic temple
The Buddha Tooth Relic Temple is another temple in Chinatown. This temple is very different from the Sri Mariamman Temple. As the name suggests, this temple is a Buddhist temple. It is also a museum complex that houses what is believed to be the Buddha’s left canine tooth, which was recovered from India.
The exterior of the building is a bright red imperial Chinese style with a sloping bamboo roof. The stupa inside is made up of hundreds of kilograms of gold.
Marina Bay light and water show
The Singaporeans love their light shows. They are definitely more spectacular than the ones I’ve seen in my hometown and in other countries.
Visit the Event Plaza right on the water and watch the light show. Watch the jets of water dance to the music and colorful lasers light up the night sky.
Alternatively, watch the light show from a rooftop bar. My first choice is the Smoke & Mirrors Bar which has a full view of Marina Bay Sands in the distance.
The light show takes place daily at 8 p.m. and 9 p.m., on Friday and Saturday at 10 p.m.
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Singapore has some great man-made beaches on Sentosa Island. Sentosa Island is a great place to visit as a tropical escape from Singapore’s cityscapes.
To get to Sentosa you can take a gondola, but you can walk there without any problems! Just take the MRT to Harbourfront and follow the signs in Vivocity Mall which will lead you to the boardwalk. The walk only takes 10 minutes.
The trams on the island are free and will take you to the best sights. There are three beaches on Sentosa; Beaches of Palawan, Siloso and Tanjong. My favorite is Tanjong Beach as it is the furthest away and therefore the least busy.
The Sultan Mosque or Masjid Sultan is a grand structure in Kampong Glam, the Arab quarter of Singapore. The elegant white exterior with characteristic golden domes is what makes this mosque so impressive. The interior features green and gold.
Instead of (or even) taking a photo of the mosque’s entrance, a creative way to photograph the Sultan Mosque is framed by the archway in a nearby street.
Please bring (or wear) appropriate clothing when entering the mosque. Keeping your shoulders and knees covered, take off your shoes by the door.
Singapore Botanic Gardens
Given that it’s such a small island, it’s surprising how many gardens you’ll find in Singapore. The botanical garden is one of them. Stroll through the peaceful gardens and enjoy the variety of flora.
Go a step further and bring a picnic lunch to enjoy down by the lake.
To get there, get off at the Botanical Gardens MRT station (which is very convenient).
Southern Ridges offers a magnificent view of Singapore’s greenery through a network of bridges that is 10 kilometers long. It’s a great place to get exercise and appreciate the great outdoors.
One of the bridges in the Henderson Waves that connects Mount Faber Park and Telok Blangah Hill Park. This undulating bridge is the tallest pedestrian bridge in Singapore at 36 meters above the ground.
A good base for the Southern Ridges from Harbourfront MRT station at the base of Mt Faber.
Haw Par Villa
Haw Par Villa is definitely an interesting experience in Singapore. There are hundreds of statues depicting Chinese mythology and influenced by Buddhism, Confucianism, and Taoism.
Many of the statues show the penalties for all crimes at the main attraction, which is called the Ten Courts of Hell. Once you are a theme park walking around the grounds will leave you feeling eerie but confused.
There is a Haw Par Villa MRT station making it convenient to get to Haw Par Villa.
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