Singapore is one of the most expensive cities in the world, but that doesn’t mean you have to compromise your trip. Singapore has so many free attractions and places to explore. If your on a tight budget or just can’t justify making big splurges, then read this blog for lots of Singapores top free attractions and places to go sightseeing in the city.
Arab Street & Haji Lane
Arab Street (also known as Bussorah Street) and Haji Lane are neighbouring streets and located in the Kampong Glam neighbourhood. Arab Street has the famous Masjid Sultan Mosque one of Singapore’s most popular attractions, which stands proudly overlooking the palm lined Arab Street. There are plenty of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern restaurants along Arab street, as well as shops. It’s a lovely street to wander and there are plenty of photo opportunities.
Step across to the parallel bright and colourful street of Haji Lane which is filled with artsy wall murals, hipster cafes and independent boutiques. There are some gorgeous shops to browse, but if retail therapy isnt your thing, there is plenty of street art to admire along Haji Lane.
I would recommend visiting both streets in the morning to avoid the crowds especially if you want to take some good photos. Check out Selfie Coffee on Haji Lane where you can not only get your morning coffee fix, but can get your selfie photo printed on top it! It’s a great spot for people watching outside, and something a little different for your coffee break.
There is lots to see on both of these streets, and it’s easy to spend a morning or afternoon in this area. Just a stones throw away is the Malay Heritage Centre too, which has lots of information on the history and heritage of the Malay community in Singapore. The centre isn’t a free attraction, however it’s only a few Singaporean dollars to enter if you did want to visit.
Singapore’s Botanical Gardens are world famous and are the first and only tropical gardens to be placed on the UNESCO world heritage site list. The gardens have over 150 years of history and are set across 82 hectares, the gardens are popular with both Singaporeans and visitors. There is a huge array of plant life on display and a variety of gardens to explore such as the Ginger Garden, Rain Forest Garden, Trellis Garden, Healing Garden and many more, but the main draw of the Botanical Gardens is the National Orchid Garden.
All the gardens are free to roam around, the only exception is the National Orchid Garden which does charge a small admission of only $5 SGD, which is definitely worth it! The orchard garden was by far my favourite in the botanical gardens, along with the ginger and rainforest gardens. You could easily spend a full day in the gardens as there is so much to see. If your limited on time I would suggest maybe selecting a few gardens that you think you would enjoy, or at least go to the Orchid Garden you won’t be disappointed at the vivid colours of the orchid flowers, they are simply stunning!
Chijmes is a great place to pop your head into especially at night when the area is lit up beautifully with twinkly lights. It was once a convent back in the 1800s but has been converted into a beautiful area for restaurants, bars and cafes. It’s also located just by Raffles Hotel, so if you don’t want to spend money on food and drinks come to the area for just for a wander around these colonial heritage sites. You can also shop until you drop at Bugis Junction and Bugis Street, or if your on a budget why not window shop at Bugis Junction and browse the stalls at Bugis Street?!
Chinatown in Singapore is a great place to explore at any time of day or night, the colonial buildings and shop houses are beautiful to look at. During Chinese New Year there are lots of displays and decorations that line the streets too. There are lots of temples and shrines to go and visit for free in Chinatown such as;
The two most popular temples are the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Sri Mariamman Temple which are both grand and with lots of intricate detailing. There is also lots of market stalls, shops, restaurants, hawker centres and Chinatown Street Market.
Emerald Hill Road
If your doing a bit of sightseeing around Orchard Road take a break from the restaurants and shopping, and wander down Emerald Hill Road the terraced houses are some of the most sought over in the city and are prime real estate. These beautiful ornate terraces take you back to days gone by, its a nice sight to tick off and won’t cost anything. You only need 20 minutes or so to wander this pretty street, just be mindful that people do live in these properties.
Fort Canning Park
Fort Canning Park is a a must for any history fanatics, the 18 hectare park sits on a hilltop and is steeped in historical landmarks and artefacts. Some of the main sites are the fort gate, remnants of a fortress, maritime corner and a military complex from WWII. The park grounds are lovely to walk around even if your not a history buff and there’s also a spice garden and some sculptures to look out for too.
Gardens By The Bay & Garden Rhapsody Light Show
Gardens By The Bay is one of Singapores top attractions and most recognised landmarks, the main feature is the Supertree Grove which is in the centre of the gardens. The gigantic trees are really impressive and are great to walk around, they are surrounded by lots of other gardens, sculptures, plants, play areas and ponds which are all completely free to look around! The only attractions that charge admission in the gardens are the Cloud Forest Conservatory, Flower Dome Conservatory and the OCBC Skyway.
Depending on your budget I would recommend paying to go up the OCBC Skyway as it’s only $8 SGD, and you get the most incredible views over the gardens and Marina Bay Sands Hotel. Keep an eye out for the local resident otters that live close by in the Marina by the gardens, they can be spotted frequently swimming and playing in the water.
Make sure not to miss the Garden Rhapsody Light Show which is on twice every night at the Super Tree Grove at 19.45 and 20.45. It’s a stunning music and light show which is free for all to sit and watch. The light show is magical and a must in Singapore!
Geylang & Joo Chiat (Katong)
Geylang is one of Singapore’s more seedier areas and known as the red light district in the city, however the area is pretty untouched and unmodernised and still has a certain charm to the district. It’s a melting pot of ethnicities and full with traditional eateries, bars, shops, temples, mosques and more. Visit the Sri Sivan Temple which is a stunning Hindu temple. When in the area visit Geylang Serai Market which is one of Singapore’s oldest Malay settlements and is one of the biggest and busiest wet markets in Singapore. The market is a social hub for the community and provides a unique Malay culinary experience, try the Piseng Goreng (banana fritters) they are a real sweet treat!
Joo Chiat is also known as Katong, this neighbourhood is the heart of Singapore’s Peranakan community. The community are descendants of Chinese settlers who married locals and have created a blend of cultures between Chinese and Malay traditions. This area of the city has lots of colourful shop houses, hidden temples, workshops and local eateries. Seek out the beautiful multicoloured houses on East Coast Road and Koon Seng Road. There are also some small temples to visit called Kuan Im Tng Temple and Sri Senpaga Vinayagar Temple which if your in the area are great places to go and see.
While in the area pay a visit to Kim Choo Kueh Chang which is a traditional Peranakan shop serving up rice dumplings and other traditional rainbow sweet treats preserving the communities traditions since 1945.
Little India is one of the most colourful neighbourhoods in the city, the small narrow streets are filled with spicy aromas. This area is a complete contrast to other more sanitised areas of the city. There is plenty to see, do and eat in this vibrant district. The good thing about Little India is it is one of the smallest neighbourhoods in Singapore so everything is easy to find and most attractions are within walking distance of each other.
Little India is great for delicious eats, make sure to visit in time for lunch or dinner as there’s some amazing food around. If your wanting street food check out the Tekka Centre. Theres lots of sightseeing to be done in the area, I would recommend walking along the Buffalo Road which is a busy street full of bright buildings, Indian produce shops and stalls selling flower garlands. Stroll into the Little India Arcade to pick up some keepsakes from your trip and to browse the beautifully made Indian wares. One of the most popular sights in Little India is Tan House which is a rainbow coloured building. Little India is bursting with temples, which are so bright and colourful with beautiful designs, such as;
- Abdul Gafoor Mosque
- Leong San See Temple
- Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple
- Sri Vadapathira Kaliamman Temple
- Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple
Marina Bay, Spectra Light Show & Merlion
Marina Bay is a popular landmark in the city and world famous for its stunning and futuristic architecture surrounding the waterfront. Go down to the waterfront in the evening and splurge on a cocktail in the Marina Bay Sands hotel for spectacular views, or grab a cheap drink from Gluttons Bay Streetfood market and wander around the waterfront to see the skyline lit up at night. Make sure not to miss the Spectra light and water show which is on every night at 8pm and 9pm. There are plenty of places to sit around the water edge and watch the 15 minute light and water display. While your down at the waters edge take a walk along to see Singapore’s mascot the Merlion, this large statue and fountain is a must see when down at the waterfront.
MacRitchie Reservoir Park & Treetop Walk
Singapore is a green city and there are so many hiking trails and parks to explore. The MacRitchie Reservoir Park is popular with Singaporeans and nature lovers, it’s a great day out and offers lots of recreational activities such as hiking, kayaking and canoeing. It’s a huge nature reserve with pristine forest and has lots of native wildlife, and it sits on Singapore’s first reservoir. There is a choice of hiking routes so plan your route before you go as it’s bigger than what you would expect.
There are lots of long hiking routes in the nature reserve but if your short on time and still want to experience the park then spend a morning hiking the Treetop Walk which is a suspension bridge which sits up above the canopy providing views over the forest, be cautious with the macaques and try and stay away from them as they weren’t very friendly. The hiking loop to the Treetop walk and back takes about 3 to 4 hours and is an easy walk, just go prepared with plenty of water and allow time.
The world famous and one of the most iconic places to visit in Singapore is the Raffles Hotel, this is a must on any visit in the city as it’s steeped in colonial history. Most people come from all over to visit the Long Bar for a Singapore Sling which is Singapore’s signature drink and was invented there. However if you want to visit but don’t like the cocktails price tag (approx £15 per drink), then you can still visit the front and walk around the building to take photos and admire the colonial decadence, also visit Chijmes across the road to discover more of Singapore’s colonial heritage.
Sentosa Island is located to the south of Singapore and can be easily reached by cable car, MRT, driving, walking, Sentosa Express and cycling. The island is linked to the mainland and is a resort island full of hotels, theme parks, beaches, trails, museums and more. Once on the island there is a whole range of free activities to do, my personal favourite on Sentosa are the three beaches which are Siloso Beach, Palawan Beach and Tanjong Beach.
Personally I love Palawan Beach as it has a suspension bridge across the water to the southern most point of continental Asia, and feels like a lagoon rather than the sea. Siloso beach is great for grabbing a spot of lunch, Coastes is my favourite as it’s a lovely beach bar and restaurant and not too badly priced for a salad. Tanjong Beach is good for beach bars and clubs, I would recommend walking along all three and seeing which one takes your fancy, you can also get the free beach shuttle bus which runs between all of the Sentosa beaches.
It’s a great place to come just for a bit of beach time as it has lots of facilities and amenities and the beaches are really clean, however if beaches aren’t your thing then check out some of Sentosas other free attractions;
Southern Ridges is one of Singapore’s top attractions and connects the jungle to the city. The wave like walkway provides gorgeous panoramic views over the jungle, skyline, southern islands and out to the South China Sea. The whole trail can take between 3 to 5 hours depending on your pace and how often you stop there is also a canopy walk and forest walk.
Tiong Bahru is the oldest housing estate in Singapore and is a mix of new and old buildings. The neighbourhood is steeped in history and over the years has been regenerated, and is now one of the hippest neighbourhoods in the city. It’s a great place to come for a coffee and quick bite in one of its hipster cafes, and do a spot of retail therapy in one of its niche shops. It’s a great place to spend a lazy morning wandering around.
Thanks for reading, I hope you found this blog helpful, if so give it a share or pin it for later. Tula ♡ xx