Singapore appears minuscule on the map, but don’t let its frail geographic appearance fool you. According to a report by the Economist Intelligence Unit, among all the cities in the world, Singapore is the most expensive to live in.
That’s 2 years in a row of being number 1 (it’s lonely and expensive at the top, apparently). Also, that’s saying a lot. Singapore may be draining on your pockets, but this shouldn’t be reason at all to not set foot in the city. Though expensive, Singapore is packed with places and events you can engage in for free.
Yup, you read that right. Here are 11 pocket-friendly and fun activities you can do in the Lion City.
11 Affordable Things to Do in Singapore
1. Unwind at the Singapore Botanic Gardens
Singapore defines urbanism through and through. Which is why the Singapore Botanic Gardens is a welcome sight and respite.
Founded in 1859 and inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2015, this tropical botanical garden offers a host of activities everyone can enjoy.
Free concerts, a wide array of botanical attractions, unique sculptures—take your pick. You can also enjoy picnics in the garden.
2. Discover Buddhism
Traveling offers a great opportunity to learn something new. Thus, when visiting Singapore, how about taking a day off to learn about Buddhism?
The Singapore Buddhist Lodge and the Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Monastery are the most popular venues for such learning. Everyone is welcome and free to join the events they’ve lined up for the day. These places also offer free vegetarian fare.
Note, though, it pays to be respectful of cultures different from your own. You can also leave a donation, if you wish.
3. Go trekking at Mount Faber
If you’re a nature buff, make sure to spare an entire day to hike up Mount Faber. Be prepared to be greeted by a picturesque trail and soothing scenery.
Where else can you get a lovely view of all the flora, fauna, and a cityscape? In addition, at the peak, you’ll be afforded a bird’s-eye view of the Singapore skyline. Just make sure to prep your legs before taking on this hike.
4. Explore Gardens by the Bay
You can never have too much green around, and Singapore’s Gardens by the Bay is proof of that. Right smack in the heart of the city is 101 hectares of pure plant goodness every visitor will surely love.
One must-not-miss attraction in the gardens is the Supertree Grove. Ranging between 25 and 50 meters in height, these trees offer shade in the daytime and come alive at night with a breathtaking display of light and sound.
5. Unwind at the Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve
A rich and thriving biodiversity takes center stage at Singapore’s first ASEAN Heritage Park. The Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve functions as the perfect venue for nature enthusiasts, both experts and newbies alike.
In the park, prepare to come across rare bird species, wildlife creatures, and mangrove swamps. With luck, you can see crocodiles and otters as well.
6. Undergo Tattoo Removal
Sometimes what was once your prized possession suddenly becomes a thing you’d want to get rid off quickly. Take tattoos, for example. It’s okay, life’s funny that way.
That being said, while you’re having fun in Singapore, why not undergo tattoo removal? Though the city’s famously expensive, the tattoo-removal procedure there costs way cheaper than those in Malaysia, China, or Hong Kong.
Now you’ll really have something to remember your trip by.
7. Indulge in the Arts at the Singapore Art Museum
Help yourself to a generous serving of contemporary art, particularly those from Singapore and Southeast Asia, by trooping over to the Singapore Art Museum (SAM).
The structure itself is full of history, being a 19th Century mission school before it was converted into an art museum in 1996. The SAM is also the first art museum in the country.
Events include film screenings, workshops, and outreach programs. Of course, the museum boasts of a wide collection of contemporary art. Photography enthusiasts frequent this place as well.
8. Chill at Pulau Ubin and Chek Jawa
Make a quick escape from the city life by heading over to Pulau Ubin and Chek Jawa. In this 1,020-hectare island you can find the last of the Singaporean villages, or kampongs.
This trip costs you practically nothing; simply take with you homemade snacks, lots of bottled water, sunscreen, and an adventurous mind-set, and you’re good to go.
For a closer encounter with marine life, schedule your trip during low tides.
9. Catch Free Concerts at the Esplanade
To satisfy the music lover in you when you’re in Singapore, check out the Esplanade. It’s the place to catch free concerts and entertainment, without scrimping on quality.
What makes the Esplanade stand out is how it’s a hub for those passionate about the arts. Performances aren’t exclusive to singing; dancing, theaters, and recitals are regularly done onstage.
The shows vary, so if you want to catch a little of everything, drop by the Esplanade every night.
10. Fly a Kite at the Marina Barrage
The Marina Barrage is proof that function and recreation can mix. While actually a reservoir (Singapore’s 15th), it also doubles as a venue for wholesome family fun.
Unleash the child in you by taking a kite and flying it on the reservoir. Its wide green fields are perfect for such an activity, and with tons of other people around flying their kites as well, you can even make a new friend or two.
Since the water in the reservoir is generally in good spirits all year long, you can participate in water or sports activities.
11. Immerse Yourself in the History at Bukit Brown Cemetery
A trip to another country without at least a trip into a cemetery is incomplete. In Singapore, Bukit Brown Cemetery awaits—not in a creepy manner but to give you history and perspective.
Don’t let the landscape and tombstones get to you. There’s loads to learn at Bukit Brown than meets the eye, so give yourself the chance to know of them.
Visit the cemetery at the peak of day, with the sun shining brightly above you, to lessen the creep factor. When you leave the place, you’ll never be the same (again, in a good way, of course).