Singapore is a mega-city in every sense of the word. It’s home to the tallest towers, the grandest architecture and, indeed, some of the most expensive things on the planet.
It’s only natural to jump at the opportunity to take in a city like Singapore, but most of us don’t have the budget of a king. A cocktail in one of Singapore’s swankiest bars could end up costing you a week’s wages. But all is not lost. Just like any of the great cities in the world, there’s a ton to do in Singapore for exactly – or next to – nothing. Here’s where to head in Singapore for experiences that are kinder on the wallet.
Just a few years old, the Gardens by the Bay are rapidly becoming a global landmark. While beautiful, luscious forests and gardens cover 250 acres on the land below, the real sight to behold are the many man-made, towering ‘supertrees’. While the conservatories and treetop walkway cost a fee, the gardens themselves are free, as is the spectacular light show which takes place at 7:45pm and 8:45pm each evening. It’s truly an unforgettable sight.
If that whets your appetite, head to the Singapore Botanic Gardens. An oasis of tropical flora, it doesn’t cost a penny and you could easily spend a day getting lost here.
It might be a sprawling urban metropolis, but there are still plenty of natural landscapes to explore when you visit Singapore. The best thing about nature, of course, is that it’s totally free. Head out first along the Southern Ridges Trail. Spanning parks, mountains and forests, it meanders along shrub-lines, pathways and canopy walks. A real highlight is the Henderson Waves, Singapore’s highest pedestrian bridge.
For an alternative brush with the wild, try MacRitchie Treetop Walk, which is famous for its beautifully engineered suspension bridge. We mean it when we say these are hikes though, so don’t forget essentials like sun cream and water.
While many of Singapore’s big museums charge an entrance fee (sometimes a rather sizeable one), the good news is this city’s streets are packed with art everywhere you look. From the deep and meaningful to the surreal, see how many monuments, installations and walls you can get ticked off the list. Highlights include Chubby Bird, a rather plump and adorable black sculpture that produces a humorous whistle when you blow into its mouth piece, and Chong Fah Cheong’s joyous bronze sculpture – which depicts a group of young boys diving into the Singapore river.
If you fancy yourself as a bit of a street artist, head for Somerset Skate Park, where you’re free to spray, tag and doodle on the walls as you please – it’s totally legal.
If you’re visiting on a budget, no doubt you’ll be planning to get your fill from nothing but street stalls. The great thing about Singapore is that street food isn’t just abundant, it’s literally a national institution. Known as Hawker stalls, Singapore’s roadside fare is diverse, delicious and very affordable. Common menu highlights include ‘Bah kut the’; a surprisingly tasty pork rib tea; and for those who are feeling brave – fish head curry is something new and exciting to try.
Singapore is home to a collection of five Merlion statues (that’s half-mermaid, half-lion). Bizarre though it sounds, after being thought up by a tourist board in the 60s, it’s since become a symbol of the city. So, where are the statues, you ask? We’re not telling you! There’s no better way to get yourself out on your feet and exploring the city than hunting the Merlions. Sure, you might not catch them all, but your hunting will take you to corners of the city you’d never otherwise have explored – and you might just be amazed at what you discover.
It’s a little-known secret that Singapore’s festival calendar competes with the best in the world. Covering everything from arts, music and food to local rituals; the packed-out schedule promises plenty of free events in the city’s streets and spaces no matter when you visit. Highlights include the Singapore International Festival of Arts, which sees street performances and public film screenings fill the city; and the Singapore Food Festival, which sees an array of culinary happenings and pop-up eateries cover the island.
A city of extremes, Singapore isn’t only for the rich and famous. A true living, breathing, thriving metropolis – it offers public spaces and free events aplenty. To experience what it has to offer, no matter what your budget, consider flights to Singapore from Manchester Airport.