Fun, Free, and Cheap Things to do in Singapore | Lady & her Sweet Escapes

Jul 15, 2019

Fun, Free, and Cheap Things to do in Singapore

Singapore is one of my favorite cities in the world. Other than the fact that it has the bestest airport, coolest attractions, and super organized transportation system, Singapore was my very first out of the country destination, that is why it holds a place in my heart.

Whether a quick layover or a proper holiday, I wouldn't mind visiting Singapore over and over.  However, it can be costly!

It was named as the world's most expensive city to live in for several years, and probably one of the priciest holiday destinations. Hence, spending a few days in Singapore has always been a challenge for budget travelers like me.

Free things to do in Singapore

But the good thing about Singapore is, once you drift away from the costly Crazy Rich Asians stuff, you'll realize that there are so many free and cheap things to do. Not to mention, they are also fun and totally worth your vacation time!

Here's how my family and I enjoyed Singapore on a budget:    

Feel small under the Supertrees of Gardens by the Bay
Gardens by the Bay is a lush oasis in the middle of the city. It can be recognized from afar by the towering Supertrees spouting out from the greenery. Supertrees are tree-like mega-structures measuring between 25 and 50 meters tall! I felt like a little ant while walking beneath them!

Wrapped in exotic and tropical plants, Supertrees are vertical gardens that look magnificent during the day and even more fascinating at night. The grove turns into an enchanted forest at sundown as the Supertrees are lighted up with colorful fairy lights. 

Not to be missed is the Garden Rhapsody Light and Sound show which happens every night at 7:45 and 8:45 PM. This creative coordinated display of twinkling lights and music was the highlight of our family trip! Amazing and admission is free!  

Supertrees in Singapore
Supertrees at Gardens by the Bay in broad daylight

Lady in Singapore
They are huuuuge!

Supertrees at night
And this is what they look at night! So enchanting!

Singapore Supertrees light and sound show
Garden Rhapsody show is a crowd-puller. Make sure to be there early to secure a good spot!

Take a stroll from Marina Bay Sands to The Merlion Park
Singapore is known for its bizarre awe-inspiring buildings, and you can spot plenty of them while taking a stroll along Marina Bay. There is a nice walking trail that you can take during good weather conditions.

Ed and I started walking from Marina Bay Sands; an architectural marvel of three skyscrapers joined by a ship-like structure on top. Then, we passed through the Helix Bridge; a cool pedestrian bridge linking Marina Center with Marina South. From there, we spotted the Singapore Flyer on the right and a concrete jungle on the left. Then, we reached the Esplanade; a durian-shaped theatre and events venue. And off we crossed the Esplanade Bridge to reach our final destination - the Merlion Park; where Singapore's iconic landmark is being swarmed by tourists!

Depending on your speed and how many times you stop for photos, this is a good area to spend hours in Singapore without spending a dollar!    

Marina Bay Sands and Helix Bridge
Marina Bay Sands and Helix Bridge

Esplanade in Singapore
The durian-shaped Esplanade

High-rise buildings in Singapore's Central Business District
High-rise buildings in Singapore's Central Business District

Merlion and Marina Bay Sands
Two of the island nation's iconic landmarks: Merlion and Marina Bay Sands

Watch the Light and Water show at Marina Bay Sands at night
Singapore comes alive at night! Aside from the nightly shows at Gardens by the Bay, Marina Bay Sands also has equally amazing light and water show called Spectra!  It is a free outdoor show at the Events Plaza featuring choreographed water fountains and laser lights.

There are two spots to watch Spectra. The first option is at the Marina Bay Sands promenade, to see the water show up close. The second is across the bay, to fully appreciate the laser lights coming from the rooftop of Marina Bay Sands. We chose the latter. Although we couldn't hear the music from our spot, it was still a mesmerizing show to cap off a good day! 

Showtimes are 8:00 PM and 9:00 PM from Sunday to Thursday, and 8:00 PM, 9:00 PM, and 10:00 PM every Friday and Saturday.

Marina Bay Sands at night
Marina Bay Sands at night

night show at Marina Bay Sands
It changes colors...

Dazzling laser lights coming from MBS rooftop
and has dazzling laser lights!

Explore Chinatown
Despite being a fast-developing cosmopolitan country, Singapore has not lost touch with its history. Sound cliche, but I felt the harmony of its past and present; most especially in Chinatown.

Arriving in Chinatown, we were immediately wowed by a stunning red 5-storey temple known as the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple. Then, we spotted a rickshaw traversing the narrow street. The vibe is definitely a world's away from Singapore's modern metropolis. We wandered around the area, admired the traditional shophouses and galleries, and feasted on some cheap eats at Maxwell Food Centre!

Buddha Tooth Relic Temple
Buddha Tooth Relic Temple

temple and a museum complex in Singapore Chinatown
This distinctively Chinese 5-storey structure is a temple and a museum complex. 

shophouses in Chinatown
Shophouses in Chinatown

Indulge in delicious Singaporean cuisine in Hawker Centers
Dining on a budget is possible in Singapore. Thanks to Hawker Centers! They are open-air complex with food stalls selling a variety of cheap traditional meals! Here, you can eat to your heart's content as dishes are less than 5 SGD. The famous Hawker Centers are Lau Pa Sat (featured in the movie Crazy Rich Asians), Newton Food Center, and Maxwell Food Center. 

And as a true-blue foodie, having a good meal without spending a fortune is what I love most about Singapore! How good? Hearty, filling, and Michelin-worthy good! We only spent 13 SGD (That's only 35 AED!) for a plate of Michelin-rated chicken rice at Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice stall at Maxwell Food Center. It was worth the 15-minute queue. :) 

Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice with Milo Dinosaur
Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice with Milo Dinosaur

chicken rice and chicken noodles Singapore
Another day, another chicken rice and chicken noodles!

Have some island fun in Sentosa 
Tired of the urban jungle? Sentosa Island is a prime destination if you're longing for a relaxed island vibe! It is located only a few minutes away from the city center; hence getting to the island is affordable and convenient by train or by bus. The 4 SGD Sentosa Express Monorail Express ticket already includes one-time admission into the island.

Sentosa is home to Universal Studios where you have to spend some moolah to get in, but there are plenty of free attractions scattered around the island as well. A bigger Merlion welcomes guests arriving at Imbiah Station, and a shuttle away is Siloso Beach - a white sand beach where you can enjoy the sun, sand, and sea the whole day with no extra fee!  

Merlion in Sentosa Island
Merlion in Sentosa Island

Family time in Siloso Beach
Family time in Siloso Beach

Ed and Lady in Sentosa
Always lovin' the island life!

Appreciate the vibrant colors of Peranakan Culture
Singapore is such a colorful country, literally and figuratively. I love the splashes of colors in the streets, most especially in residential areas with traditional Peranakan homes. During our recent trip, we wandered around Katong to search for the pastel-colored abodes and shophouses that have graced thousands of Instagram photos. 

These old homes are not just picturesque, they also serve as a window to Singapore's rich heritage. Peranakans are Straits-born Chinese; Chinese-descendants who came to Singapore between the 15th and 17th century. Their culture has an eclectic blend of Southeast Asian, Dutch, and Portuguese. Must be the reason why all things Peranakan are dynamic and uniquely vibrant. 

Colorful Peranakan homes in Katong
Colorful Peranakan homes in Katong

Peranakan homes in Katong
Pastel and pretty!

quaint Peranakan shophouse dated back to 1928
quaint Peranakan shophouse dated back to 1928

See the other side of Singapore in Kampong Glam
Another neighborhood worth-visiting is Kampong Glam - Singapore's Muslim Quarters. The focal point of this district is the Masjid Sultan which we quickly identified from afar because of its golden onion-shaped domes. Surrounding the mosque are Middle Eastern restaurants, textile and carpet shops, and souvenir stalls.

Ironically, a short walk from the gates of Masjid Sultan is a lively locale with graffiti walls, cool bars, and trendy hole-in-the-wall cafes. Walking amidst the very hip scenery, I realized how eclectic Singapore is.

The island nation is multifaceted, all-embracing, and absolutely amazing. So, you can't really blame me if I keep coming back. :)  

Kampong Glam in Singapore
This way to Kampong Glam!

Hip scene in Haji Lane and Arab Street
Hip scene in Haji Lane and Arab Street

Masjid Sultan up close

Have you been to Singapore?
What is your favorite budget-friendly thing to do in the city?
Share it in the comment section below.

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