10 Free Things to Do In Singapore

Though it’s one of the richest countries in the world and ranked Fourth Most Luxurious Vacation Spot in Asia, there are still ways to enjoy this cosmopolitan city-state —for free.

There’s no doubt Singapore is one of the most expensive cities to visit in Southeast Asia, but that doesn’t mean you have to spend a fortune to enjoy your stay there.

While shopping at Orchard Road or dining at the hip Marina Bay Sands could set you back significantly, the following won’t cost you a single cent.

Whether or not you have plenty of dollars left to splurge, you’ll certainly appreciate a few of these fascinating freebies.

#1 Explore Changi Airport

Changi Airport

As your plane starts to descend to Singaporean soil, just seeing the skyscrapers from your window will probably get you wondering how this tiny island nation could also be one of the most modern and sophisticated in Asia. And once you set foot on Changi Airport, it won’t take much to convince you further.

Changi is a sight to behold. As the most awarded airport in the world, it boasts the best traveller-friendly facilities:  free WiFi, free cell phone charging, massage chairs, a TV lounge, a film theatre, a 24-hour food court, a convenience store with the widest array of refreshments, a play area for kids and a giant slide for adults, a koi pond, a butterfly garden and a rooftop swimming pool!

How’s that for avant-garde airport amenities?

#2 Delight in the Light and Water Show at Super Tree Grove, Marina Bay

Marina Bay is already an attraction in itself, with the Merlion Park, the Singapore Flyer, the ArtScience Museum, The Float Stadium, the waterfront promenade, and the Marina Bay Sands Resort all in the same area.

You can spend an afternoon just enjoying the sights there. But hang around `til evening, 7:45 to-9pm (also 11pm Fridays and Saturdays), to catch an electrifying light, sound and water show at the Super Trees of Gardens by the Bay. The giant artificial trees use solar energy to light themselves at night, and collect rainwater to irrigate the surrounding foliage.

The 13-minute spectacle has become iconic of the Singaporean skyline, lighting up the night with a fascinating display of laser lights dancing to the music.

#3 Go Hotel-hopping for Some Rich History

raffles hotel singapore

Go back in time at the Raffles Hotel which has a distinct 1920s-inspired motif, a throwback to Singapore’s heritage as a former British colony. It has a museum showcasing the hotel’s colourful past as well as the nation itself.

For a more colonial period architecture and feel, hop over to the Fullerton and the Fullerton Bay hotels – the Fullerton used to be Singapore’s General Post Office and the Fullerton Bay is the former Collyer Quay.

The Ritz Carlton, meanwhile, boasts the latest exhibits in contemporary art featuring the works of Andy Warhol, David Hockney and Rainer Gross among others.

#4 Visit the Ethnic Enclaves of Chinatown, Little India, Arab Street

Of the three cultural communities in Singapore, Chinatown is the biggest.  It’s also the cleanest in the world, next to Japan’s own Chinese district. See Keong Saik Road and its charming array of restaurants, gift shops and boutique hotels.

For a delightful encounter of exotic sights, sounds and smells, pass by Little India where streets and alleyways sell everything from Indian food to aromatic oils, incense and rare spices. It’s an excellent place to hunt for unique souvenirs.

If it’s flowers and crafts that interest you, you can window-shop along Arab Street where bazaars sell beautiful home-grown flowers, basketry, antiques, textiles of all kinds, and carpets galore. It also has neat little dining areas that extend out into the streets.

#5 Go on a Nature Walk at the Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve


Stroll through mangrove forests filled with various species of birds, monitor lizards, crabs and fish.

Admission to the park on weekdays is free but costs $1 SGD (around $0.80 USD) on weekends.

Another nature reserve you can visit is the Bukit Timah, a perfectly protected tropical rainforest that’s on the list of the ASEAN Heritage Sites. It will give you a peak into what Singapore used to be before it transformed into the ultra modern urban jungle that it is now.

#6 Sunbathe

Get a tan on one of the island’s many beaches. Though a number of the more popular ones are at the famed Sentosa Island, which charges an entrance fee, you can still enjoy the sun, sand and sea for free if you go to East Coast Park, which is where locals go for kayaking, surfing and camping.

You’re sure to find a perfect tanning spot on its 15km of sand. If you want more privacy and isolation, opt for Changi Beach or Pungool/Sembawang, which are more remote and less visited but just as beautiful.

#7 Get Cultured

There are enough museums in Singapore that can keep even the most fervent art-lovers busy and happy. Gillman Barracks, a former army camp-turned-colonial-era-building, is the newest and biggest contemporary art district. It boasts 15 galleries featuring the latest works of noted artists from different parts of the world.

The Singapore Art Museum also houses the world’s biggest collection of Southeast Asian modern art. Visit Fridays between 6 and 9pm to get in for free.

The five museums run by the National Heritage Board – namely the National Museum of Singapore, the Asian Civilisation Museum, the Singapore Philatelic Museum, Peranakan Museum and the Reflections at Bukit Chandu – charge a reasonable donation from foreign visitors during most of the year but are known to waive entrance fees on special holidays.

Check in advance.

#8 Chill Out at the Esplanade

Esplanade Singapore

Live concerts happen nightly at the Esplanade, the iconic durian-shaped, open-air performance venue of Singapore. Art exhibitions, films and even theatrical  shows are staged there from time to time, too – all for free.

#9 Hike the Trail

Can you hike 8kms? Then try the round-trip hike to Treetop Walk at MacRitchie Reservoir Park where you can clamber up a 250-meter suspension bridge that rises above a rainforest canopy.

Too extreme? Then opt for the easier Southern Ridges, a popular 10-km trail consisting of four parks, with impressive bridges and canopy walks stretching high above mini-forests. It offers a spectacular panorama of the city, the harbor and the southern islands.

Much of the walk is paved, and there are shelters, toilets, vending machines and even cafes scattered throughout making for a relaxed, comfortable walk.

#10 Unwind at the Singapore Botanic Garden

This is a must-do not just for first-timers but also regular visitors to Singapore.  With its 74 hectares of diverse vegetation, lakes and specialized gardens, the Botanic Garden is a refreshing respite from the hustle and bustle of the concrete jungle.

It is the only one of its kind in the world that’s open from 5am to midnight daily and doesn’t charge an entrance fee. (Its special attraction though, the National Orchid Garden, charges a minimal admission fee.) Its famous Library of Botany and Horticulture attracts casual nature-lovers and serious botanists alike.

Don’t miss the Evolution Garden, which tells the story of plant life on earth throughout the ages, and the Ginger Garden which showcases 250 different species in the ginger family!

There truly are hidden gems everywhere in Singapore.  And you can appreciate them all – at no cost — if you just know where to look!


About the author

JD Lara

JD is a former travel writer-producer for TV. Now a work-from-home mom, she lives in a homestead with animals, fruit trees and a vegetable garden. She’d still love to travel but since family and farming have become priorities, she’s content with just armchair traveling via the internet.

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