Singapore is often overlooked by budget travelers venturing to this part of the globe, as compared to its neighbors it is a little more pricey. But, I encourage you to visit Singapore as a stand-alone destination or on a layover before jetting off to nearby Malaysia, Indonesia, Borneo and beyond. Read on for free and cheap sights and budget tips for visiting the Garden City.
By Tula O’Connor
Get Out In Nature
The world-famous gardens are the first and only tropical gardens to be placed on the UNESCO world heritage site list. It’s completely free to visit apart from the National Orchid Garden which is only a few Singaporean dollars to enter.
Gardens By The Bay
Head to Gardens By The Bay which is free to walk around and attend the nightly Garden Rhapsody Light and Sound Show. There is an entrance fee for the Cloud Forest and The Flower Dome but it’s not too much and you can buy a single ticket or a ticket for entrance to both.
MacRitchie Reservoir Park
This huge nature reserve has pristine forests and lots of native wildlife. There is a choice of hiking routes to choose from, but if you’re short on time and still want to experience the park spend a morning hiking the Treetop Walk which is a suspension bridge sitting above the canopy with views over the forest.
The Southern Ridges connects the jungle to the city with a wave-like walkway which provides gorgeous panoramic views over the jungle, skyline, southern islands and the South China Sea.
Wander The Vibrant Neighborhoods
Haji Lane & Arab Street
Both these streets are next to each other and are in the Kampong Glam neighborhood of Singapore. Haji Lane is a narrow back alley street lined with 19th-century shophouses and is home to cool cafes, bars, indie boutiques and street art. Arab Street is overlooked by the Sultan Mosque and lined with palm trees and 19th-century shophouses which are now home to Middle Eastern restaurants, shisha cafes and shops.
Chinatown is a great place to visit at any time of day or night. It's full of colorful shophouses, stalls, temples, street art and restaurants. Try and visit during Chinese New Year to see all the displays and celebrations in their full vibrancy.
Little India is one of the most vibrant neighborhoods in Singapore, the narrow streets are filled with spicy aromas, shophouses, colorful temples and flower stalls. There is plenty to see, do and eat in this district and the good thing about Little India is that it is one of the smallest neighborhoods in the city, so everything is easy to find and within walking distance.
Joo Chiat also known as Katong is a diverse neighborhood in Singapore and home to many of the city's Peranakan and Malay communities and the insta famous pastel houses (Koon Seng Road Terraces and East Coast Road) plus lots of traditional shop houses and temples.
Enjoy Some Island Time
St Johns & Kusu Island
Fancy getting away from the mainstream tourist attractions?! Then head on down to some of Singapore’s southern islands. Hop on a public ferry from Marina South Pier (15 SGD return). The ferry stops at St John's Island first before continuing onto Kusu Island and both are included in the ferry ticket. Explore St Johns beaches and you can walk to Seringat Island and Lazarus. Then head over to the tiny island of Kusu and visit its temples and enjoy its small beaches, remember to take a packed lunch and plenty of water with you.
This tranquil island is a cheap day out and just a 15-minute bumboat ride away (6 SGD return). Once on the island hire a bike (10-20 SGD) and cycle around the island exploring its coastal forests, mangroves and rocky coves and beaches.
Sentosa is a purpose-built resort just off Singapore's south coast. It is well connected to the city and the island is home to lots of popular attractions such as Universal Studios, a waterpark and more. There's a mix of free attractions and paid-for attractions. For a free day out check out Sentosa's 3 beaches Siloso, Palawan and Tanjong, make sure to stop for a photo at the Southernmost Point of Continental Asia sign at Palawan.
Step Back In Time
Singapore’s Colonial Past
Singapore is a hybrid mix of new and old where modern buildings meet old colonial architecture. If you want to see and experience a Singapore of times gone by, pin these places to your map to check out: Central Fire Station, Chijmes, City Hall, Clarke Quay, Fort Canning Park, National Museum Of Singapore, Padang, Old Hill Street Police Station, Raffles Hotel, Singapore Art Museum, St Andrews Cathedral and Victoria Theatre to name a few.
Budget Tips For Singapore
Singapore is bursting with cheap eats at its street food markets and hawker centers you can find them all over the city. For a cheap and traditional Singaporean breakfast check out Ya Kun Kaya Toast or Toast Box for kaya toast (coconut jam and butter on toast), soft-boiled eggs and kopi (Singaporean/SE Asian coffee).
Get around the city by using the MRT it's so cheap, quick and clean. If you need to take a taxi download the Grab app (Singapore's Uber). Taxis are pretty cheap to get around the city, especially if there are a few of you to split the cost.
There is a variety of budget accommodation options in Singapore, look for hostels, guesthouses and basic hotels. Cheap areas to base yourself in are Geylang, Little India and Chinatown.
Have A Splurge
If your budget allows why not try Singapore's famous cocktail - the Singapore Sling at Raffles (37 SGD + service charge), or check in for a night at the Marina Bay Sands Hotel to gain access to that insta famous infinity rooftop pool?!
Top 10 Free Sights In Singapore:
Gardens By The Bay
About Tula O’Connor
Follow Pretty Planet on Instagram @prettyplanet.travel
I’m Tula and created Pretty Planet as an outlet for my travel passion! Pretty Planet is a down-to-earth travel website providing helpful, realistic and budget travel info and tips. I've studied and worked in the travel industry for the past 18 years since I left school. Currently I am cabin crew for a large airline and get to travel all over the world with my job and travel as much as I possibly can in my free time.