Cheap Things to Do in Singapore

By Nomadic Matt | Published January 6th, 2009

Singapore is an expensive place to visit. There’s no way around it. The small city state is priced relative to the United States, which is a lot more expensive than its neighbors! On a small stop-over trip, this isn’t a problem. But on a big trip through the region, a trip into Singapore can elicit sticker shock, and it can turn people away if they’re trying to do the area on the cheap. If you still want to visit this country, though, there are still many ways to travel around Singapore without breaking the bank. Check out these free activities you can do:

Cool Off in the Underground Malls
Singapore underground Mall The best places to cool off in this very hot city are the underground malls where the A/C’s cranking. You’ll be able to move around most of the city and never expose yourself to the heat and humidity. Since it gets cool at night, it can save you from having to pay extra for A/C at your hotel or hostel. Plus, you can spend your afternoon wandering underground Singapore without spending any money.

Eat Cheap Food in Little India

Singapore Little India Singapore has some great food, but many of the restaurants are expensive. However, one of the best places to eat is Little India, where great Indian meals cost as little as $5 SGD. Make sure you find the places where you can eat with your hands! They’re the most authentic and local places. You’ll probably be the only Westerner in there, though, so be prepared for people to stare. Eating at these places was still the most fun I had in Singapore.

Eat Cheap Food in Chinatown
Singapore Chinatown Another great place to eat cheap food is Chinatown. The dim sum here is great, most everything is in Chinese, the hawker food is also good, and there are a few cool temples here too. This is a wonderful place to not only eat, but to also wander around. You’ll be able to cut down a lot of your food budget by sticking to the hawker stalls here and in Little India.

Get Lunch
Singapore ramen food shopIf you’re looking for a nice place to sit down and eat, then the best time to eat at Singapore’s famed restaurants is during lunch when restaurants offer 20% off, making them a great deal. The set lunches will give you dinner food at a discount and allow you a bit more variety in what you’re eating. Make sure to check out the restaurants in the underground mall, where you’ll find even more lunch specials.

Walk Around the Gardens
Singapore botanical garden The Botanic Gardens are free and are a nice place to walk around—especially in the mornings and evenings, when Singapore’s tropical weather cools down a little. Early in the morning, locals practice t’ai chi on the lawn, and there are often free concerts on weekends.

Combine the Singapore Zoo and Night Safari
giraffes at the singapore zoo The Singapore Zoo is a must-see. It’s an open-air zoo, which is great because animals aren’t locked up in tiny cages. It’s actually one of the best zoos I’ve ever been to. They also offer a night tour in a different section of the park where you get to see the nocturnal animals. These activities aren’t very cheap, but if you combine them together, you’ll save a lot of money. It’s worth the price.

Singapore may not be the cheapest city in the world, but there are still some ways to make it less of a burden on your wallet. By eating cheap, walking, and taking advantage of discounts, you can easily do Singapore without busting your wallet!

For more information on Singapore, including costs, activities, and more ways to save money, visit my complete guide to Singapore travel.

comments 41 Comments

Hi Matt
A great round up of activities for very little. I have visited Singapore often as I have a good friend who lives there. She took me to the Changi Point Boardwalk which is on Singapore’s easternmost tip – it’s a great place to walk and take in the sunset.

I loved Singapore Zoo, by far the best in the world! I also spent a lot of time cooling off in air conditioned shops, best way to get around is walk and sweat a bit, before jumping into a bank or shopping centre to cool off :-)

Thanks for the tips, Matt. I have a colleague that visited Singapore last year and loved it. It’s on my list of places to see.

As it rained constantly during our brief visit to Singapore next year, we focused almost entirely on food. We were impressed by the quality and value of food at the food courts/hawker centers – Hainanese chicken rice and Singaporean laksa were some of our favorites.

we just spent 3 days in Singapore and although we walked a lot , stayied in the Geylang district and skip the Singapore zoo opting for a trip to Sentosa we managed to go well over our budget of 50 USD each per day…so I guess you really need to work out in advance the accommodation and what you wish to do

For me Singapore is the most cleanest city on earth. This was a great experience !

For the ladies, there’s a way to check out Singapore’s buzzing nightlife for free. Hit the clubs during their ladies night and you will get to enjoy complimentary entry and drinks!

Here’s an updated list of these ladies nights:
http://e-clubbing.com/Section-3.html

eddie

infact u can find food costing under $5 everywhere in singapore. eat at hawker centres and u might even find a nice plate of chicken rice for less than S$3.

if u’re in chinatown, pop by the hawker centre in Hong Lim Complex or the one near Smith street. Plenty of good food all below $5.

Really great guide to Singapore. I can’t believe just give out free subway passes.

claire adams

i cant wait to visit this fantastic country, will be there august 2009, just itching to get there

Subash

I will be visiting SIngapore with a friend in August, 2009. I find this site interesting. We will be there for 2.5 days (though I will be there for an extra day to wander alone and do the ‘arty’ stuff). Its interestingly difficult to cram in all the wonderful things that Singapore usually has to offer in this short time – but IO guess lets see how it goes.

Tom Heyes

We are stopping over in Singapore for 3 days on our way to Australia, and really looking forward to it. So far in my web research Hort Gardens with the butterfly house, and Chengi Beach have caught my eye. Also as a keen gardener are there gardeners in Singapore who will show you round their gardens. Does Singapore have a system of ‘friends of Singapore’ similar to New York where people who are proud of their city offer to show visitors round in exchange for a lunch, say?

David Goldberg

I have three nights coming up in Singapore and found your suggestions and readers comments useful. I’ll let you know what happens!

Dee

Hi,
i’m planning to visit Singapore soon, to shop :D I was wondering when the shopping festival is? when i could see the city + shop till i drop? good sales and such?
please help?!?!
I found this site to be amazingly helpful!!! many thanks

colleen

First let me say, that (having to live here for 2 years) that yes Singapore is a clean city (in most places, but it isn’t a “green” city yet) You’d think for a city “striving” to be the best in SE Asia, they would incorporate a recycling program into their everyday living! (and stop making those poor garbage collectors pick garbage out of the garbage cans with tongs! ) Yes..food in the hawker centres is cheap, if you can figure out what it is to order..to a foreigner it is mind-boggling to say the least, nor are the hawker centre’s the cleanest places to eat! As for the people of Singapore….I find them to be the most rudist, pushiest people I have ever encountered! Always want to be first..will cut right in front of you…a walk down the sidewalk is like enduring a game of chicken..they feel that as they walk 3 abreast down the sidewalk, that they don’t have to move and would like to force you off (either into the street or onto the grass) And Singapore and Indian men…NO! It is NOT allright to stand in public on a street or on the MRT picking your nose! This is hell on earth!

Docardis

Hi Colleen I do not agree. I have met nice and friendly Singaporeans. I visited Singapore last week and got a local to bring me to all the local food. Very cheap and tasty! For my 2days trip, I only paid $150USD for her services to bring me around. I also paid other expenses, for example, food, wine and entrance fees for her, which was fair. She also brought me to shop at really affordable places and bargained for me! I was told that some hawkers and sellers would charge me much higher prices if they sees whites. My trip was enjoyable and I would visit Singapore again. If you are interested for a realistic guided trip, you can email her at [email protected]. Her name is Eve. Don’t laugh at her email like I did!

Kareef Arzadon

Colleen,

Are you sure you were in Singapore when you experienced that?

I’m not Singaporean but I really admire the people as they are courteous and very hospitable.

They are not afflicted with any racist attitude that’s prevalent in most bigger cities as they simply don’t have an idea that you could be different because of the color of your skin.

They are egalitarian and very considerate. Of course, there are some deviants but that is the exception rather than the rule.

Peace,
Kareef

Amira

Hi, I’m a Singaporean and I find your article spot on! There are definitely more interesting things to do than that though. Now, Singapore has its very own Universal Studios! You all should definitely go there! I have nothing much to say really but I must admit yes, indeed, Singaporeans have their weak points. But, so does every other person in every country. Don’t just focus on us Singaporeans. It isn’t fair. I have met such people, whether good or bad, but overall, Singaporeans are really not bad.

(I’m not praising my own country.)

For e.g, many youngsters give up their seats to the elderly although I can see that some of them are really tired after a long day of work and school. That’s really something to admire. It may just be a simple act but it is a simple act of kindness :)

Lynn

Hi people (:

Here’s some more ideas for more fun things to do in Singapore!

1) Hortpark and the Southern Ridge Walk
I really love to walk along the Southern Ridges and all the way to Hortpark.
Its all about nature for this (:

2) Bukit Timah Nature Reserve
You can see loads of monkeys and peacocks if you go in the morning to breathe in the fresh air.
Cheap and awesome food just round the corner at Bukit Timah Food Centre and the small eateries around the area.

3) Shopping at Bugis Street/Haji Lane
Bugis Street is a large street mall that carries cheap clothes and accessories mostly catered to the youngsters.( Of course you will find ‘aunties’ shopping there too as the area is located near the temples in Waterloo Street)

Haji Lane is stocked with more ‘designer’ wears and unique accessories as the ships there are mainly opened by young designers or young entrepreneurs.

Not forgetting Arab Street is just a stone’s throw away with its ‘Shisha’ culture and Middle Eastern food!

4) East Coast Beach
Fresh airr!!! (If only there’s no guest haze from Indonesia) Exercising venue for cycling and blading enthusiast! i love the pretty Changi Point BoardWalk too and if you cycle far enough you can go to a field around the airport to see the planes take off (:

There’s actually a lot more fun things to do in Singapore for a tourist (Everything gets boring if you stay at a country long enough hah) but most importantly the FOOD will win hands down (:

mel

great info so far….so no boo…;P

i’ll be going to Sg somewhere in march next year…and i js knew that botanic garden is one of the free places to visit, so thanks to ur info Matt..

cheers!!!

Hasyimah

hi. i’d just like to sa y the i nfo’s great, but i live in the east, am a youth and don’t have much money! :) my friends and i have nowhere to go now… bored out of my life, anyone out there, if you got something, tell me !

Kanos

What about trying durians – the local fruit?

little giraffe
Fantastic post you have here. It is very substantial and informative! Great one.

politesingaporean

Hi Colleen,

I do admit that Singaporeans are not perfect, but to overgeneralized that all singaporeans are rude, nasty & dirty seems a little too extreme.

As with all places, isn’t it normal to meet both the nice & not so nice people?

And it’s not like we are not offended by foreigners & Caucasians who are disrespectful & sceptical of our culture & the very things that we hold dear.

It’s a two way thing, perhaps when you start opening up to Singaporeans, they will open up to you too, & you might be surprised at how nice we really can be. :)

Margaret

I’m a regular visitor to Singapore. I think I was there 5 time last year and I’m on my second this year. :)

Having to save and travel there to visit my bf, means we have to be on a budget. (Plane tickets are not dirt cheap).

Here are some things we ended up doing:
1. Botanical Gardens: Free in general but I highly recommend forking over $5 for the entrance to the Orchid Gardens. :) MAJOR photo ops in there. Also, in the main “garden” you can make a game with yourself and hunt down as many statues as you can find. :)

2. MINT Toy Museum (near the Raffles Hotel): Not free but if you loved toys and is partially a geek at heart, you might like this place. I loved spotting Archies, Betty Boops, Rin Tin Tin stuff as well as Popeye and astroboy stuff in there.

3. FOOD> definitely the hawker centers in China town, Gluttons Bay (near Esplanade). The pinoy (philippine) bbq stall has yummy skewers, and black pepper beef in any hawker stall is a lip-smacker. :) I personally loved the nasi lemak rice dishes with fried chicken. Oh! And.. if you ever want to try the BEST FRIED CHICKEN WINGS EVER ON THE PLANET, try going to the basement food court of Ion Mall and look for BON CHON Four Fingers Chicken. It’s to die for. I never go to singapore without hitting that place at least once.

4. Fort Siloso – you can walk around the grounds for free. Up to you if you want to fork over the entrance fee for the Battle Box. :) But it’s worth the money if you do.

5. Sentosa Island – There are a lot of ‘entertainment’ places there where there are entrance fees or ride fees. But in general, it’s free. It’s nice to hang out in that area. Lots of sculptures, displays for pictures. :) You might want to ride up and down the music and lights escalator at the Festive Hotel (near Universal). It’s free and it’s a favorite of mine. The lights and music make you feel like you’re part of a fantasy rainforest.

:)

vincent

There are lots of places for food, and the best food will emerge in the pockets of coffee shops in the heartlands. For example, if you can eat pork, there is an excellent char siew (roasted pork) rice stall in the hawker near Heartland Mall in Kovan (SGD3.50 only!)

You might be tempted to go to famed eating places such as Newton Food Centre (and there is certainly good food here) but beware of unscrupulous stall owners who jack up prices. Other places where shop owners will try to rip off foreigners are the flea market (Sungei Road Thieves Market) and Sim Lim Square.

Some recommendations are:
1. Yong He Soya Bean and Dough Fritters in Geylang (if it out of the way Mr Bean is ok too)
2. Above-mentioned char siew rice (Just watch for the queue during lunchtime!)
3. Seng Bee Hainanese Chicken Rice’s chicken rice/chicken congee that comes with fried dough fritters at Blk 724 Ang Mo Kio Ave 6
4. Roti Prata at Jalan Kayu/ near Aljunied MRT Station

These are just some of my personal favourites and in fact good food are everywhere to be found!

Jill

some great and inexpensive insights

If you would like to get a glimpse of singapore’s heritage (at little or no cost at all) rather than just the attraction of the urban jungle and night lights,
visit the Singapore Food Trail @ Singapore Flyer!

The place takes you back to the 60s. Not only will you get to immerse yourself in an atmosphere similar to the food streets of old singapore, you’ll also get to see knick nacks and charming antiques and posters from the past. I took alot of beautiful pictures the last time i went there!

Not only is the ambience awesome, the food is extremely tasty. You have hawkers who go wayyy back and have been in business for years!

one thing you must try is the ice ball, drizzled with colourful syrup, this treat is especially refreshing in Singapore’s hot weather

http://www.singaporefoodtrail.com.sg/

a definite must go!

Peter Lee

Great This post will help me while visiting Singapore. There are lots of information regarding cheap food and other things.

deepti ahuja

Wonderful write up! I am planning to visit Singapore soon via yatra.com. I absolutely cannot wait ! Singapore has always been at the top of my list of places to visit. I am sure this trip would be great as the place and yatra.com both rocks. :)

Rumaizah Bar

Hi, regarding the people of Singapore. you have to understand that it is in fact a CITY (bustling one at that! HAHA!) and busy people will be rushing everywhere, every time so if you’re looking for a place that’s all bright smiles and laughter, it’s not Singapore, I’m afraid.

We’re not very laidback, not very smiley, not that courteous but you can’t blame us since most of Singapore functions through media and the internet so more or less, we’ve lost that touch of humanity. BUT WORRY NOT, the areas where tourists usually roam are filled with shops and places with super-friendly and trained-to-treat-people-well staff. They’ve even got certificates and licenses for it here. (:
So you’ll be meeting plenty of super-nice people while you’re here if you’re on tour. Just think of it as New York with an Asian flare. Asians are not the most outgoing people in the world so please understand. Nonetheless, most Singaporeans love you tourists. I mean, it’s not everyday we get to see people with blonde hair and blue eyes. Get my drift?

NOTE: Singapore is one of the countries that face a lot of rain. Make sure you’ve got an umbrella AND a raincoat wherever you go. It’s best to travel light (as in slippers and teeshirt-jeans/short attire) since wearing that expensive pair of suede shoes won’t get you anywhere here. I’m serious. Lots of poorly-informed tourists end up cooped up in just an area in Singapore or worst, in their A/C-ed hotel rooms because it’s scorching outside. Singapore’s sunny day is like the most humid and hottest day of summer and when it rains, it may flood for an hour or so. (Our drainage system is a marvel.)

Ado Codes

Thanks a lot everyone for the great info!

My girlfriend and I will be visiting Singapore next week. We’re not the the social type, we’re the adventurous type, the risk takers type. We want to experience High-Quality time in Singapore and as much as possible, we want to do it in a very cheap way.

We travel not as tourist, we want to blend-in with the locals, understand their culture and absorb their lifestyle. We really like street foods and we do like to eat with our hands -the primitive way!

Will post our SG experience afterwards :)

Cheers!
/Ado

RLH

I was in singapore for 22 days in jan 2012 loved it so much I am going again for three months in march I found the food republic in the malls quite reasonable if your planning a trip to singapore even just for a few day invest in a good pair of running shoes I have never walked so much in my life but love the city its one of the most beautiful city’s in the world

geraldine

Vivocity mall is a great place to shop too! It’s very accessible with harbourfront MRT station directly underground. It’s quite a huge mall with a wide variety of mid to high range retail shops and a lot of nice restaurants facing the sea.
The best part is the Sentosa Boardwalk that stretches over the sea, linking vivocity mall and sentosa island. It’s a beautiful bridge to go to, and good for viewing the sunset. There are some bars, an ice cream shop and a giftshop along the way. Entry into sentosa via the boardwalk is $1, slightly cheaper than taking the monorail or bus which would cost $2-3.
There are nice beaches and nature trails to visit in sentosa.
Resorts world in sentosa is worth a walk even if you don’t do anything there in particular. Afterall, it’s an integrated resort! There are many restaurants and a huge candy store called candylicious with towering candy trees at it’s entrance. People with a sweet tooth will love it! There are free-to-watch water/light shows at the crane dance (large mechanical cranes) and the lake of dreams that plays at 9pm and 9.30pm respectively.

singaporean guy

wahahaha, all these locations are not very local at all.
try the heartlands

koolguy

i’ll be travelling to singapore with my kids.so cud any one suggest of any other place apart from the night safari and the zoo.

NomadicMatt

Sentosa Island

Manya Singh

All things are really worth to do, exploring the possibilities of ambience in Singapore. Never forget to enjoy the night safari, where you will see all the gorgeous species exist in the world. You can explore and book holidays packages to Singapore here: http://www.weareholidays.co.in/international-holidays/singapore-tour-packages

Singapore is a very expensive place as it has become the hottest destination of South Asia for international tourists from Asia and other parts of the world. In that case this amazing post can be very helpful to people traveling the city.

Singapore offers a plethora of amazing things to do, but to keep a check on your expenses and yet enjoying to the fullest is the main theme of the above post. I really appreciate your efforts my friend.

I would like to stumble upon on your blog at regular interval to know to know more interesting facts bout other tourists places.

Thanks
Suneet

Food was amazingly cheap in Singapore, if compared to Western Europe’s top attractions (like London, Barcelona etc.)…
Although, finding a good fresh salad wasn’t easy, nor cheap. Hey, they have very thin agriculture…
Transportation and accommodation is generally quite expensive. Getting in to museums and entering the Marina Bay Sands Hotel was also quite expensive.

Singapore didn’t seem terribly expensive – when compared with other major cities – like Tokyo, London, Barcelona.
Hotels and transportation are the ones that are quite high-priced.

I am a local and there are certainly ways to travel in Singapore on a cheap budget.

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