Singapore is known for being an expensive city – but it doesn’t have to be! Here are four fun, free activities to enjoy in Singapore, perfect for a backpacker budget. You can reach all of these destinations with public transportation.
Public transportation is reasonably priced – we recommend buying the minimum amount of money you can load onto a public transportation card (and reload if/as necessary) as opposed to purchasing the unlimited card.
If you’ve budgeted to spend a little extra money, we’ve suggested some additional ways to up-level your experience (but they are by no means necessary to enjoy these free activities).
1) Supertree Grove at Gardens by the Bay
You may have seen the Avatar-esque giant trees on social media before. Little did we know, the Supertree grove is FREE to enter and explore. There are silver and gold sets of trees (each with three supertrees) and a larger supertree grove, which make up 18 supertrees in total. You cannot miss them when in Singapore!
The main supertree forest hosts a nightly light and music show “Garden Rhapsody” at 7:45 p.m. and 8:45 p.m, which is also free. The show changes monthly.
Fun fact: Over 162,900 plants comprising more than 200 species and varieties of bromeliads, orchids, ferns and tropical flowering climbers have been planted on the 18 Supertrees.
For a little cash: OCBC skyway! For $5 Singapore dollars ($3.68 USD) a person, you can experience the supertrees from 22 meters (nearly 75 feet) above ground. We highly recommend the skyway!
We were expecting it to be a lot longer and cover more of the supertree grove in a full circular path, but it only covers a portion of the grove in a semi-circle. Visitors are advised not to spend over 15-minutes on the walkway (it doesn’t take very long anyway). Even so, the view is spectacular. We went around sunset, but would probably recommend going a little later (just as it begins to get dark) to see the forest with the tree lights on.
Splurge: Cloud Forest & Flower Dome! For $28 Singapore dollars (a little over $20 USD) you can visit both conservatories – book online to save 10%. If you are media (bloggers and vloggers can fall into this category), don’t forget to apply for a media pass for free entry to all attractions, including the skywalk!
Our favorite dome was the Cloud Forest, which is home to the largest indoor waterfall in the world. Make sure to stamp for re-entry so after visiting in the day you can also see the Cloud Forest at night (although this is not necessary if you have a media pass).
Ball out: Eat and drink at the top of a supertree – restaurant/bar IndoChine! We didn’t do this so we can’t vouch for it (we’re backpackers, remember?), but it looked cool.
2) Esplanade – Spectra Show at Marina Bay Sands
Singapore is a city that looks just as beautiful at night (if not more beautiful) so take a stroll around the Esplanade in the evening. Here you’ll find the best view of Marina Bay Sands, the Singapore Art & Science Museum, and the Helix Bridge. Visit the Merlion fountain across from Marina Bay Sands.
Every night at 8 p.m. and 9 p.m. (also at 10 p.m. on Fridays & Saturdays), Marina Bay Sands hosts a water, light, and music show in the bay in front of their hotel. Don’t miss this free show!
We watched it first from across the Esplanade, but the best view is from right in front of hotel in the designated seating area. Cross the Helix Bridge to arrive at Marina Bay Sands to view the show.
The property (both inside and outside) is gorgeous, so wander around before or after the show. Window shop the designer stores (and enjoy the AC!).
Splurge: Skybar CÉ LA VI! Get a drink on top of the iconic Marina Bay Sands hotel. It costs $20 Singapore dollars a person to reach the bar but you can use the full amount towards drinks. The cheapest beer is $16S, cocktails start at $22S. Be mindful that 17% is added to your bill (tax & service) – we weren’t thrilled about this surprise when we got our check.
It costs a whopping $200 to reserve a table, but that is not necessary. There are several tables that are first-come, first-serve. Make sure to come early (we recommend a half hour before sunset) to score a table outside against the glass railing.
Ball out: Stay at the Marina Bay Sands resort to swim in the highest pool in the world at 57 floors high. Unfortunately, the world record comes at a cost. The cheapest room in the hotel will put you back a whopping $500 a night. That’s why we opted for the rooftop bar.
3) Sentosa Island – Palawan Beach
Sentosa Island is home to many tourist attractions – theme parks, activities, restaurants, shops and arguably the best beaches in Singapore. It is free to walk across the pedestrian boardwalk to the island* (until December 31, 2017 – it will be $1 Singapore dollar afterward, which is less than 75 cents USD).
Walk over the suspension bridge to the southernmost part of continental Asia at the picturesque Palawan Beach. I’m still confused how this is the most southern part of continental Asia, considering Singapore itself is an island and the southernmost point is on another island, but I guess because they are connected by bridges to the mainland they are considered “continental.” This is also considered Asia’s point closest to the equator.
Palawan Beach is a beautiful slice of paradise and the island blocks out the view of all of the tankers at sea.
For a little cash: Monorail! For just $4 Singapore dollars, you can take a monorail onto the island.
Splurge: Cable car! Take the cable car for a fun and scenic route to the island. Depending on the route you take, it will set you back $13-$33 Singapore dollars a person.
Ball Out: Universal studios! There are a handful of fun activities on the island, from Universal Studios (theme park) to iFly (indoor skydiving), to WaveHouse (surfing in a wave pool). They might not be budget-friendly, but they looked fun!
4) Chinese Gardens
The Chinese Gardens are a perfect place to wander, have a picnic, and enjoy the wildlife around Chinese temples. The gardens and monuments are free to enter!
Watch turtles and fish swim in the lagoon, maybe you’ll even spot a large monitor (a big lizard!). The one we spotted was unfortunately too fast for us to get a picture of, but was awesome to witness swimming across the pond!
For a little cash: Grab food from a grocery store or order food to-go from a hawker (food house/court) to have a picnic in the gardens. We saw plenty of people picnicking while we were there and wish we would have thought of the idea beforehand.
Visit Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple, which is a Little India landmark and one of Singapore’s oldest Hindi temples. We visited (unknowingly) during a ceremony for Deepavali (Hindu festival of lights).
The colorful Tan Teng House is an Instagram favorite.
Stroll through the vibrant streets of Little India!
We didn’t go the Botanic Gardens, so I can’t write about them here. But we’ve heard they are a beautiful, free activity (also full of photo ops!). We actually walked by them on our way to the Chinese embassy (read about that snafu here) but didn’t have time to enter.
See all of these locations and more in our Singapore drone video!