Despite its small size, Singapore, the hypermodern city-state, abounds in world-famous attractions. Singapore does not have ancient monuments. Instead, it impresses the visitors with modern, futuristic architecture and lush vegetation. Benefiting from its perfect location, it has become one of the most developed and at the same time most expensive countries on earth. You may wonder if there are any things you can do for free in this country. But the good news is that even if you are on a tight budget, you can have some memorable experiences.
Popular and free things to do in Singapore now
Gardens by the Bay – the best free thing to do in Singapore
Gardens by the Bay is a relatively new attraction that is part of a comprehensive project to turn Singapore into a “City in a Garden.” It is a vast complex just behind the iconic Marina Bay Sands Hotel consisting of several thematic open-air and indoor gardens, including the largest greenhouse on earth.
The most notable attractions of Gardens by the Bay are the so-called super trees. The 18 tree-like structures are multifunctional. They were constructed with high technology to make them environment-friendly. They harness solar energy for the lighting of the trees. Besides, they can store the rainwater for the irrigation of the garden. More than 200 plants, including orchids, ferns, and tropical creepers cover each tree to provide a natural effect.
The largest Super tree Grove is 50 meters high and has an open rooftop observatory with a 360° view of the park.
The indoor gardens, the observatory, and the sky bridge that links two super trees are chargeable, but you can stroll around the open area and get close to the super trees free of cost.
The 15-minutes long light and sound show in the evening is one of the best free things to do in Singapore. Take a seat under one of these trees and enjoy the show when they come alive and shine in colorful lights with the Marina Bay Sands in the background.
There are two shows every evening, at 7.45 pm and 8.45 pm—the background music changes after certain periods. So even if you return to Singapore more than once, it is worth checking it out again.
Take a photo of the Raffles hotel and visit the museum inside
The Raffles is the iconic hotel of Singapore, founded at the end of the 19th century as one of the first luxury hotels in the East to welcome prominent guests from overseas. It was named after the British statesman Sir Stamford Raffles, the founder of Singapore. His bartender prepared the first pinkish Singapore Sling cocktail in this bar in 1915. It was a big hit right away and has become the national drink of Singapore ever since. The hotel became world-famous thanks to its prominent guests and stories attached. Rudyard Kipling (author of the Jungle Book) praised the food but advised people to go somewhere else to sleep. Elizabeth Taylor celebrated here after the screening of the movie “Around the World in 80 days”. Michael Jackson was also a guest in the hotel, but he could not enter the bar for not being appropriately dressed.
Members of royal families, including Elisabeth II and presidents, were also guests of the famous Raffles hotel. Another well-known story is when they found a tiger under the billiard table in 1902.
Non-staying guests can visit the Raffles museum inside the hotel that displays some items from its earliest history, including letters, china, silver, and old photographs of Singapore and Southeast Asia. It is open daily from 10 am to 7 pm.
Merlion, the landmark of Singapore
The Merlion, the mythical creature with the head of a lion and the body of a fish, symbolizes Singapore. The fish refers to Singapore’s origins as a fishing village, while the lion comes from its original name, Singapura (“Lion City” in Sanskrit). It stands opposite the Marina Bay Sands Hotel on a viewing platform that provides an excellent backdrop for photos.
There are endless souvenirs with the Merlion image in the whole of Singapore.
Stroll around in Little India
Similar to neighboring Malaysia, Singapore also has a mixed ethnicity; just the proportions are different. Chinese make up 76.2%, Malays 15.0%, and Indians 7.4% of the population. The first Indians arrived hoping for a better future, and Raffles made them settle at a designated area. It has become the Indian quarter, called Little India. It is one of the best things about Singapore that you encounter the food and customs of various ethnic groups. Little India has colorful two-story houses with shops on the ground floor. They sell everything that is Indian, from spices to dresses and statues of Hindu Gods.
Visit the Sultan Mosque in Kampong Glam
Kampong Glam is the traditional Malay district of Singapore in the vicinity of Little India. Malays are the original inhabitants of Singapore. Clashes between Chinese and Malay ethnicities were not unheard of in the past. Still, the Singaporean government puts a lot of effort into the equal treatment of all the religions and ethnic groups that live peacefully together now. Out of respect, locals sing the national anthem in the Malay language, and in 2017, Halimah Yacob was elected as the first Malaysian and female president in the country’s history.
The Malay district has street names such as Baghdad, Muscat, Bussorah that recall the earlier presence of Arab and Afghan traders in Singapore.
It is essential to know that all Malays are Muslims, and the picturesque Sultan mosque is their principal place of worship in Singapore. It is more attractive from the outside, but if you are lucky and do not arrive during prayer time, you should definitely visit it. The entrance to the mosque is free of cost. During the festival marking the end of Ramadan, the neighborhood is crowded with local Malays.
Look around at the market of Chinatown, visit the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and the Sri Mariamman Hindu temple
The North Chinese–style temple is dedicated to Maitreya, the future Buddha, with several other golden Boddhisattva statues. The temple was built to house the tooth relic of Buddha found in 1980 in a collapsed stupa in Myanmar. The five-story temple looks more like an imperial palace, with each floor having a different purpose.
You can see monks and nuns praying and chanting mantras in the praying hall of the ground floor. It is worth going up to the gallery on the second floor, from where you have a great view of the tons of golden Buddha and Boddhisattva statues decorating the temple.
On the third floor, there is a small Buddhist Culture Museum with other relics and Buddha statues. But the precious relic is stored inside a giant golden stupa in the Sacred Light Hall on the fourth floor. Unfortunately, only the monks can enter the stupa.
The rooftop, surrounded by orchid flowers, is a perfect place to relax. Monks and other religious people come to turn the praying wheel in the “10,000 Buddha Pavilion”, which has a similar effect as reciting the prayers.
They serve a free vegetarian meal for every visitor in the basement, although donations are always welcome.
The entrance to the temple is free as well as the guided tours on Saturday. To enter, you have to cover your shoulders and legs. If you did not prepare before, they give you a scarf at the entrance.
Opening hours: Every day, 09:00-17:00
Located in Chinatown, another free thing to do in Singapore is to visit the Hindu Mariamman temple, the oldest and most important in the whole of Singapore. It was constructed in a South Indian style with a typical colorful “gopuram” (tower-like structure above the entrance) decorated with countless Hindu gods. During the Thimithi festival, crowds of Hindu devotees honor Goddess Draupadi so that their wishes come true. Locals also call it the fire walking festival because the priest and then other devotees walk over a four-meter pit of burning coal prepared at the temple. They all miraculously come out unharmed.
Do not miss this event if you are here in October or November.
Walk along the Singapore river
The Singapore River is the city’s heart, where the country’s history as a commercial hub started. Chinese workers were carrying the heavy loads when traders from West and East exchanged goods.
Traditional two-story houses line along the river with plenty of bars and restaurants. Groups of statues remind of the earliest life of Singapore. You will also come across the white figure of Raffles, the founder of Singapore.
Sound and light show in front of Marina Bay Sands – a popular free thing to do in Singapore
Watching the 15-minutes water and laser show is one of the best free things to do in Singapore. It takes place twice a day, at 8 pm and 9.30 pm, at the terrace of the Event Plaza, the shopping mall linked to the iconic Marina Bay Sands Hotel. On Friday and Saturday nights, there is another show at 11 pm.
The view of the skyscrapers and a range of some of the world’s best and unique attractions is fantastic. The world’s biggest Louis Vuitton shop was built on the water and is connected to other shops in the mall through a tunnel. The Marina Bay Sands is the most expensive entertainment facility with the longest swimming pool and the largest casino with more than 1500 gambling machines.
After the show, it is worth walking along the promenade or through the shopping mall to Gardens by the Bay, where you can watch the Garden Rapsody light show on the same day.
Relax at the beaches at Sentosa and visit Fort Siloso
Sentosa island served military purposes earlier but was converted into a large-scale entertainment center with fun parks, museums, restaurants, hotels, and beaches.
Enjoy the picturesque surroundings at Siloso, Palawan, or Tanjong beaches. At the weekend you should book your entrance in advance here
The historical monument of Singapore is open for all visitors free of cost. It was built in the 1880s to protect the harbor. During World War II, the British surrendered to the Japanese, whose attack from the sea came as a surprise. During their three-year occupation, the Japanese used the fort to keep prisoners inside. Visitors can see the chamber where the British decided to surrender to the Japanese.
If you stay for the evening, you can watch the extraordinary Sentosa beach light show where the sand is used as a screen. You must book your place for the show on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, eve of Public Holidays. There are two sessions available, the first session is from 7.30 pm to 8.45 pm and the second session is from 9 pm to 10.15 pm. This attraction only started in January 2020.
Book your ticket for the Sentosa show here
Walk along the Orchard road
Orchard Road is the iconic shopping street of Singapore with plenty of malls, like the Ngee Ann City, the Centrepoint, the Wheelock Palace, the Centrepoint, and a wide range of hotels. Strolling around one of the shopping malls on Orchard Road is a favorite pass-time of Singaporeans. The commercial centers are connected underground, and you can walk through most of the Orchard road without coming to the surface. One of the biggest passions of Singaporeans is to eat out and go shopping. There are always street musicians, jugglers, and various activities that create a fantastic atmosphere for the passers-by. It is an experience itself when tons of people start to cross the zebra at the same time.
Enjoy the ambiance on Orchard road!
Visit the Singapore City Gallery
The Gallery houses a fascinating 3D model of Singapore and reveals its unparalleled development from a fishing village to a super modern, bustling city thanks to its efficient governance. Urban planning exhibits occupy three levels, but the central architectural model (10x11m) is the highlight of the museum. Due to the restricted area and high population, the city’s expansion requires strategic and forward-looking thinking with unique solutions. You can learn about all that and even the future urban plans of the city in the Singapore museum.
The entrance is free of cost.
Opening hours: Mon-Sat 9 am-5 pm
Singapore Botanic Gardens
The Botanic gardens in the north of the city are one of the extensive green projects in the country. Raffles, the founder of modern Singapore, also a great nature lover, founded the gardens. They lie in a secondary rainforest inside the city with several thematic parks, including the world-famous orchid garden, the national flower of Singapore.
You can visit the sculpture park, ginger park, and the swan lake in the garden complex free of cost.
The Gardens are the first and only tropical botanic gardens on UNESCO’s World Heritage List.
Opening hours: 5 am to 12 midnight daily
Changi airport the Jewel
Upon arrival or departure at the Changi Airport, one of the best in the world, do not forget to check out one of the latest attractions of Singapore, the Jewel. The diamond-like structure houses the tallest indoor cascade with 40 meters. At night there is a light show projected on the sheets of water.
Open daily: 10 am – 10 pm
Guest Writer Bio Agnes Simigh
Conclusion on villages on Free things to do in Singapore
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