Even if Singapore has achieved the “world’s most expensive city” title, there are still a few places here you can visit which are absolutely free. For budget travellers like me, it’s always the “free” things that entice me.
So here’s my list of 10 tourist attractions you can go to which doesn’t require you to spend a cent.
1. Walk Around Marina Bay
This is a reclaimed land which started in the 1970s to provide room for the long-term expansion of the existing Central Business District in Raffles place. It is a 360ha development area surrounded by water, gardens, office buildings, hotels and a theatre.
I would normally start my walk around 6PM to avoid the scorching heat of the sun. I’d start at the Esplanade theatre then go in a clockwise direction. You’ll pass by the Helix bridge and get a glimpse of the Singapore flyer, stroll inside the Marina Bay Sands shopping mall, step on the Youth Olympic park, until you reach the famous water-spitting Merlion.
When you’re at Marina Bay Sands, you can rest in the Event Plaza and wait for the light and water show. The showtimes are:
Sunday – Thursday: 8:00pm, 9:30pm
Friday & Saturday: 8:00pm, 9:30pm, 11:00pm
This place is connected to many mrt stations: City Hall, Raffles Place, or Bayfront.
2. Listen to the singing trees at the Gardens By the Bay
The Gardens by the Bay is located in another reclaimed land in central Singapore. It is a walk away from Marina Bay Sands. The main attractions here are the Cloud Forest, the Flower Dome, OCBC Skyway and the Supertree Groves. Most of them are not free except for the garden itself and the Supertree Groves.
It is better to go there an hour before sunset to see how it transforms from a plant-filled garden into a light-filled entertainment. You can hear the trees sing and sparkle during these times:
I suggest that you bring a bottle of water and wear light clothes because it is hot and humid most of the time.
3. Trek at Macritchie Trails
If you like to stretch your leg muscles, do a little bit of workout and get closer to nature, head to Macritchie Reservoir. It is the oldest reservoir in Singapore that was completed in 1868.
It features a trail for people who likes to trek. You’ll see turtles, schools of fish and monkeys around the place. There’s also the HSBC suspension bridge that is part of the treetop walk–this may not be for those people who have acrophobia (fear of high places). The bridge closes at 5PM so I suggest that you go there in the morning or around 3PM.
The area is not close to any mrt, but there are a lot of buses going there.
The nearest Bus Stop is 51071. The buses passing by this stop are buses 52, 74, 93, 157,130, 132, 156, 157, 162, 162M, 165, 166, 167, 852 and 855, 980.
4. Chill at Henderson Waves
This is one of the best places to chill out, relax and gaze at the stars. It is part of the Southern Ridges that connects Mount Faber Park, Telok Blangah Hill Park, HortPark, Kent Ridge Park and Labrador Nature Reserve.
It is the highest pedestrian bridge in Singapore standing 36 meters above Henderson road. It is made of a series of undulating curved ribs.
There’s no mrt close to the place but there are a few buses going there. I suggest you visit this during night time. The buses going to this place are bus nos. 124, 131, 145, 176, 273 and 408.
5. Watch the sunset from the Marina Barrage
Marina Barrage was built to control flooding in the city, store water, and provide recreation for families. It is very near to Gardens By the Bay and Marina Bay Sands.
If you are a sunset lover, this is the best place to hang out while watching the sun disappear at the horizon. There are also kids flying kites, families having picnics, and a bunch of teenagers playing around.
6. Read books and visit the libraries
The libraries in Singapore are well-maintained, properly organized and creatively designed that they can become tourist attractions themselves.
My favorite library (before the Orchard library was reopened) is the National Library near Bugis and City Hall mrt station. It is a 14-storey modern building with real trees and plants housed inside. Level 6 (The Pod) is a good place to get a panoramic view of the city.
My newest favorite is the Orchard library. It has a minimalist and contemporary design that can captivate anyone’s attention. It is also located inside the Orchard Gateway shopping mall so if you feel hungry, you can quickly grab a bite from the nearby restaurants.
Most of the libraries are open from 10AM till 9PM.
7. Stroll inside the Botanic Gardens
This is a 74-hectare botanical garden at the heart of Singapore. It is open from 5AM until 12Midnight and is nominated to UNESCO’s World Heritage Site. It is a good place to stroll and organize a picnic or a get-together with your friends.
The place is near the Botanic Gardens mrt station (circle/yellow line).
8. Experience the buzzing road of Orchard
Orchard road is famous for shopping. It’s a long stretch of shopping malls. If you’re not a crowd person, you shouldn’t go here during weekends. The place is packed with people.
I would normally buy a frap (which is not so often), sit in front of Takashimaya and watch the people pass by. There are also performers, musicians and ice cream carts that will keep you entertained.
You can alight at the Dhoby Ghaut station and start walking up to Orchard station.
9. Explore the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum
This temple and museum complex is at the heart of Singapore’s Chinatown. It is built based on principles of the Buddhist mandala and the Tang dynasty architectural style. It was also intended to become one of the tourist attractions in Singapore.
At the basement, they serve vegetarian food for free.
This is open from 7AM till 7PM only. It is walking distance from Chinatown or Outram mrt stations.
10. Study the Chinese mythology, folklores and legends in Haw Par Villa.
Built by a Burmese-Chinese entrepreneur, Aw Boon Haw, for his younger brother as a place to teach traditional Chinese values. It has over 1,000 statues and 150 giant dioramas depicting Chinese mythology and folklores.
The place is open from 9AM-7PM and is near the Haw Par Villa mrt station.