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26 Best Things to do in Singapore on a Budget in 2020

Singapore’s popularity as a destination for the ultra-rich overshadows the brilliance of it as a low-cost destination.  We’ve put together a list of the best things to do in Singapore on a budget – and we easily found 26.

You can mention your Singapore holiday to anyone and they will tell you it’s super expensive.  They’ll ask you “how can you afford it?”

Well, we believe Singapore is the perfect place to visit for budget-conscious travellers.  We want to break the ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ stereotype that implies you have to be rich to visit Singapore.

Most of our suggestions are actually free things you can do in Singapore.  All of them can be done for less than a few dollars, but don’t forget to treat yourself!

Also, be sure to check out our guide to the best time to visit Singapore to find out all the best festivals, public holidays and weather by month.

1. Watch the Light Show at Gardens by the Bay

This is one of our favourite things to do regardless of cost.  Catch the MRT down to Bayfront and follow the signs to Gardens by the Bay. You’ll want to make sure you have either the Singapore Tourist Pass or EZ Link Card.

You won’t miss the majestic Supertrees standing high in the sky.  You can easily while away a few hours exploring here and snapping pics.  

If you have some cash to spare, we highly recommend checking out the Cloud Forest – especially if you’re into environmental sustainability.  This place is seriously cool and houses an indoor rainforest and the largest indoor waterfall in the world.

As the sun sets, make sure you are back in the main area of the Supertree Grove so you can catch the light show.  It’s a free show put on by the Singapore government where twelve massive tree-like structures light up to a coordinated soundtrack.

You won’t find anything like this anywhere else in the world, so it really is a must-do in Singapore.  Plus, it’s entirely free.

Cost: Free ($15-20 if you go to the Cloud Forest)

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2. Visit Singapore Botanic Gardens

A very different kind of gardens makes our list here.  The Singapore Botanical Gardens have their own MRT station which is the perfect place to get off.

This is a huge park with a massive range of amazing plants and a variety of different gardens.  The gardens are themed to portray different ideas. One of our favourite gardens here showed plants that were eaten and grown traditionally.

You can also visit the National Orchid Garden here, which houses over 1,000 species of orchid.  This is the most impressive orchid garden in the world. For plant enthusiasts, this is the best thing to do in Singapore.

Cost: Free ($5 to visit the Orchid Garden)

Singapore Botanical Gardens.

3. Do the Changi Point Coastal Walk

This is a tranquil walkway along the coast of Singapore.  It allows you the opportunity to relax and take in the views, whilst watching planes take off from the nearby airport.

There’s plenty of bars and restaurants nearby, and a beach you can walk along.  We love hawker food, so stop off at Changi Hawker Centre for something to eat after your walk.

If you’re lazy like us, you can rent a scooter or Mobike and make your way along the ‘walk’ much faster.

If you’re staying near the airport, definitely check out this walk.

4. Shop at Mustafa Centre

Another huge shopping mall?  In Singapore? Not exactly. Mustafa Centre is crowded and chaotic, filled with everything you could want at incredibly low prices.  

Give yourself plenty of time (luckily you have 24 hours a day) to explore the entire mall.  You will definitely have to hunt for bargains on good quality items and be wary of fake products, especially electronics.

For those of you on a budget, this is one of the best spots to shop in Singapore – so make sure you check it out before you spend all your money on Orchard Road.

Cost: Free

5. Lie on a Beach at Sentosa

Sentosa is a man-made attempt at creating a sandy tropical island in Singapore.  Singapore doesn’t have beautiful white sand beaches, so if you want that island life, Sentosa is the perfect place for you.

Catch the MRT to Harbourfront’s Vivocity Mall, then walk along the boardwalk to Sentosa.  It’s a short 10-minute walk and even has travelators to make it easier. You definitely don’t need to pay for the Gondola.

Once on the island, you will want to decide where to go.  There are shops for food and tourist attractions. Universal Studios is the best amusement park in Singapore, so if you can stretch the budget you can walk here.

Otherwise, skip the theme park and get onto the free tram to the beaches.  There’s then a free bus that takes you between the three beaches. Our favourite and the quietest beach is the third one along, Tanjong Beach.  

Sentosa isn’t the best island in the world by any means, but it’s the best beaches Singapore has on offer.  Besides, it’s a nice change of scenery from the busy city without spending any money at all.

Cost: Free

Skyline Sentosa Gondola over the harbour.

6. Learn About Chinese Mythology at Haw Par Villa

Haw Par Villa is an amazing place to visit to learn about Chinese folk tales and mystical mythology.

It’s a wonderful and unusual place to visit, with thousands of statues, dioramas and murals.  It was launched years ago as a theme park, however, this business model failed. As they removed it, Haw Par VIlla is now an attraction without an entrance fee in Singapore.

It’s worth visiting for an hour or two to explore the statues, you will definitely leave with your moral compass back in alignment.  And make sure to take a few pictures, especially a selfie with the laughing Buddha and the impressive ‘Ten Courts of Hell’.

Cost: Free

7. Eat Ravenously at a Hawker Centre

To be fair, we don’t recommend you do this just once in Singapore.  This is how and where you should eat every meal.

Make a conscious effort to try as many different dishes, you’ll have the opportunity to eat cuisines from a number of different cultures – all of which equally as good as the last.

In particular, make sure you try roti canai, mee goreng, hokkien mee, chilli crab, laksa, char kway teow… actually just go and try them all.  I could keep going all day.

Hawker centres are in our minds the best places in Singapore, making them something you absolutely must experience.

If you’re unsure where to start, head down to Chomp Chomp, Chinatown or Maxwell Hawker Centres.  Otherwise, it’s likely you have one within walking distance of your accommodation that’s worth checking out.

Cost: $2-10 (depending on how much you eat, $10 is a feast)

8. Ikea

Most other lists wouldn’t put Ikea on a list of tourist attractions.  But this isn’t most other lists. This shop is amazing.

Take a few hours to grab a meal at the food court here (the fried chicken wings are delicious), then make your way around the shop.  You can find everything for your home and more, but our favourite thing to do is explore the mini showrooms.

Bear in mind that there are two Ikeas in Singapore.  You will need to take a trip out to Tampines for the bigger one – it’s well worth it.

Cost: Free (+$5-10 for lunch)

9. National Gallery Singapore

If you’re on a budget, visiting the National Gallery Singapore in downtown Singapore should be on your list.  It contains the world’s largest public collection of Singaporean and Southeast Asian art.

With impressive architecture and a vast display of over 8,000 works of art, this is certainly one of the best affordable things to do in Singapore.

An added bonus is that this museum helps to showcase and further the development of art and artists in the region.  Something that is certainly worth supporting.

At $20, it is one of the pricier options on this list.  If you are the kind of person who gets bored easily in art museums, you may want to skip this and spend your money elsewhere.

Cost: $20

10. Shop on Orchard Road

Orchard Road is a street packed with high-end shopping malls.  It’s a luxury wonderland for the richest travellers who visit Singapore for the shopping.

But for the budget traveller, you shouldn’t give this place a miss.  Make your way here to explore the malls, window shop and experience the life of the super wealthy.  

As an added bonus, the toilets are super flash and the aircon works perfectly – both are things you will learn to appreciate after a month in Southeast Asia.

Despite this street being home to numerous Louis Vuitton and Gucci stores, there is one place that won’t financially cripple you: Lucky Plaza.

Lucky Plaza is a chaotic market with narrow corridors lined with shopkeepers’ wares.  Prices are cheap so spend your money here, after window shopping further up the road.

To get to Orchard Road, take the MRT to Dhoby Ghaut.

Cost: Free

11. Walk around Marina Bay

Marina Bay is a great place to explore.  There are statues all around, not to mention the impressive Marina Bay Sands hotel and shopping mall.  Both of which are worth taking a look.

If you have money to spend, go to the top of Marina Bay Sands for spectacular views and a rooftop bar.  The infinity pool is unfortunately not open to the public.

You can also try the Singapore Flyer – a massive Ferris wheel offering views of the city.

But these are both optional, and just taking a walk around is a nice way to spend an evening here.

Cost: Free ($20 to go to the top of Marina Bay Sands)

Marina Bay Sands hotel in central Singapore.

12. Have a Picnic in a Park

Singapore is filled with delicious, cheap food and beautiful, green parks.  You could prep a picnic yourself – like making sandwiches and snacks – but we prefer to do it Singapore style.

Head on down to your nearest Hawker Centre and order your favourite foods to go.  If you’re unsure, just order a random mixture of dishes. Don’t forget drinks – sugar cane, iced Milo or lime juice are the best.

Once you have your food, make your way to the closest park and set up a picnic.  If you’re staying downtown, Marina Bay is nice, but Singapore has parks dotted all around the city.  One of our favourites is Ang Mo Kio Town Garden West – which also happens to be a great spot for taking photos.

Cost: $10 (for food)

13. Explore Chinatown

Chinatown is a cultural hub for Chinese Singaporeans.  It’s beautiful and busy, with Chinese culture infused into the artworks and the architecture.

If you are visiting around Chinese New Year, then making a stop in Chinatown is absolutely essential. Lots will be going on with events and festivals, as well as thousands of lanterns decorating the streets.

The hawker centre here is great for trying some of the best Chinese meals in Singapore – we found the best dumplings here.  You will also find shopping centres and markets where you can shop to your heart’s delight.

Cost: Free

Chinese New Year Lanterns in Singapore's China Town.

14. Sri Mariamman Temple

Sri Mariamman is Singapore’s oldest Hindu temple, located on the edge of Chinatown.  It’s an impressive temple that we recommend stopping by as part of a walk around Chinatown.

Admission here is free, just remember to dress respectfully and remove your shoes before entering.  

Cost: Free

15. Marina Barrage

Marina Barrage is a huge dam built in downtown Singapore.  It was built to provide a water supply to the country, as well as controlling floods in the low lying areas of the city.

Beyond this, it features some impressive architecture and a lot of sculptures and statues to explore.  

The catchment area is also unaffected by tides, making it perfect for water activities – so here you’ll be able to participate in boating or kayaking if that’s what you’re into.

Cost: Free

16. Visit Sultan Mosque

We highly recommend taking some time to explore the Sultan Mosque on Arab Street.  Singapore is a multicultural country, and part of experiencing Singapore should involve learning about the culture.

Architecturally, this mosque is impressive.  You will need to take off your shoes and wear appropriate clothing – this will be provided if you’re not dressed correctly.  This means covering your shoulders and knees.

Make sure you check their website and avoid visiting during prayer or times that they are closed.

Cost: Free

17. Stroll Down Haji Lane & Little India

Haji Lane is an eclectic and colourful street located in Little India. It’s a beautiful location for photography and definitely worth seeing when you’re in Singapore.

As it’s a public street, Haji Lane is an entirely free place to visit in Singapore.  We recommend checking out Moosh Softserve, their flavours are out of this world. We enjoyed the Apple Crumble and Nutella Brownies Cheesecake soft serve ice creams.

Cost: Free ($6 for a large soft serve ice cream)

Walking down Haji Lane in Singapore.

18. Southern Ridges

The Southern Ridges is the perfect escape from the busy city.  This is a network of bridges connecting hilltops in a number of parks in Southern Singapore.

Here you will find the Marang walking trail starting from Harbourfront MRT Station and ending at the top of Mount Faber.  

The Henderson Waves are a spectacular feat of architecture, as the bridge spans 274 metres connecting Mount Faber Park and Telok Blangah Hill Park.

You will also find the Forest Walk, which is hilltop walkway that extends along the forest’s canopy.  This is perfect for bird watching and seeing the wildlife in Singapore.

This is the best nature activity to do in Singapore, especially for budget-minded travellers.  Spend a day here for free and become one with the forests and hills of Singapore.

Cost: Free

19. Find a Free Concert or Event

Singapore has thousands of concerts, events and festivals to go to throughout the year.  Many of these are free, or at least extremely affordable. Some include the Great Singapore Sale, Chinese New Year and Thaipusam.  

Check out our guide on the best time to visit Singapore for a comprehensive list of festivals and events.

Cost: Free

20. Go to the Airport

Usually we recommend avoiding airports where possible.  They are busy, confined, overpriced and overall not that interesting.

Singapore’s Changi International Airport is the exception.  It is, in our opinion, the best airport in the world. There are heaps of affordable things to do here including multiple hawker centres and food courts, shopping malls, gardens and pools.

Now, if you are travelling for a short time you probably shouldn’t go here outside of your planned departure and arrival.  

But you can consider arriving a bit early for your departing flight to allow you some time to check out the shops, grab a bite to eat and maybe take a look around at the exhibitions.

Cost: Free

21. Bike or Scooter Around the City

Singapore is a largely flat city when you stay within the main areas.  Bike-sharing apps exist now that allow you to easily and cheaply rent an electric scooter or push bike.

This is an awesome and affordable way to explore the city.  For a couple of dollars, you can jump on the MRT to get between suburbs, then rent a bike or scooter to thoroughly explore each suburb.

There’s plenty of areas to explore, so we recommend just getting started with the neighbourhood you’re staying in.

Cost: $1 per 20min, or $8 for a 30-day pass

Merlion statue in central Singapore.

22. TreeTop Walk

Afraid of heights?  Think twice about this, as it is suspended 25 metres above the ground.  

This walkway is a wire bridge extending 250 metres through the forest offering eye-level views of the trees and the wildlife in them.

Bear in mind, this is part of a reasonably long 3-5 hour hike to and from the carpark.

Cost: free

23. Explore Clarke Quay and Boat Quay

Clarke Quay and Boat Quay will be found on any list of the best free things to do in Singapore.  Both are located right next to each other, so get off the MRT in Clarke Quay and take a look around.  

If you time it at Happy Hour you can get cheap drinks in the otherwise overpriced bar area of Clarke Quay.

After looking around Clarke Quay, walk along the river to Boat Quay where you will find a giant chicken statue.  Make sure to take a photo of you being laid by the giant chicken.

You can keep walking around until you get to the Merlion.  This statue is the symbol of Singapore. It’s actually super cool.  A half lion, half mermaid statue spewing water out of its mouth.

Remember to get a photo angled so it looks like it’s spitting water into your mouth.  Then maybe take a nice photo of the statue when the sun’s setting. It really is a beautiful location.

Cost: Free

Taking a stroll through Clarke Quay.

24. Get a Milo Tower

Milo is infamous in Singapore.  Nowhere else in the world that we’ve ever visited is so obsessed with this malt drink.  Everywhere you go you will find Milo on the menu, and to be honest, the Milo in Singapore is better than the Milo back home.

On top of this, Singapore has upped its Milo game.  Why would you buy a tower of beer, when you can get a tower of delicious Milo instead?

Grab a friend (or 4) and challenge yourselves to finish the entire thing.

We ordered ours from RK Eating House across the road from Chomp Chomp Hawker Centre.  By the way, go to Chomp Chomp too, it’s our favourite Hawker Centre in Singapore.

In fact, Singaporeans are quite creative with these towers.  Make sure you ask around when ordering a drink, as you can usually get anything you want in one.  One day we hope to get a sugarcane juice tower.

Cost: $12

25. Have a Free Workout at an HDB Flat

You’ll quickly notice the HDB buildings in Singapore.  They all look practically the same. This is the government’s solution to the lack of housing in Singapore.  It worked exceptionally well, allowing 4.5 million people to live in a geographically small city with a low rate of homelessness.

We like to work out.  We travel all the time, so we look for any way to stay fit and healthy without paying for expensive gym memberships.  

In Singapore, you will find outdoor gyms all around the place.  They are commonly beneath or next to the HDB buildings and include a few different pieces of equipment and instructions for using them.

Typically older folks use them, perhaps this is why Singaporeans live for so long on average.  You can too, so give it a shot when you’re in Singapore!

Cost: Free

26. See Monkeys at Macritchie Reservoir or Upper Thomson

Singapore has a number of native monkeys that can be found in parks around the country.  Two of the best spots to see them are Macritchie Reservoir and Upper Thomson.

We definitely recommend this as one of the best cheap activities in Singapore, and it’s free as well.  But we do want to warn you in advance.

These monkeys are wild animals.  They will steal your food or items, and they can be aggressive towards humans.  

Avoid carrying food or plastic bags as the monkeys will stalk you if you do.  Avoid baring your teeth (including smiling) as monkeys consider this aggressive behaviour.  If possible bring a car and stay inside.

If a monkey scratches or bites you, go straight to the hospital as you will require shots.

Cost: Free (unless you get bitten, make sure you have travel insurance)

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