Top 10 free things to do in Singapore

By |2018-07-21T22:46:35+00:00December 7th, 2014|Asia, Budget, Destination, Most popular, Singapore, Tips, UNESCO sites|37 Comments

Many people moan that Singapore is boring and there’s nothing to do. Ignore them. I just went there and the list of things to do in Singapore is absorbingly long. Sure, I only went there for a stopover and sure it ended up costing me extra $ thanks to unexpected luggage fees (not cool, Jetstar!). But at the end of the day it was TOTALLY worth it.

I had little over 6 hours so before I arrived I made an ambitious itinerary of free things to do in Singapore:

  • Chinatown: Check
  • Little India: Check
  • Gardens by the Bay: Check
  • Marina promenade and night skyline: Double check

GETTING AROUND SINGAPORE

Singapore is by far one of the most organized and structured countries I’ve visited. There are several ways to get around town, but I found that the metro (MRT – Mass Rail Transport) was the easiest, fastest and cheapest.

It only took me 5-10 minutes to get into town from Changi airport, and I bought one-way tickets at the General Ticketing Machines (GTMs) which can be found at every station. The price varies from $1 – 3 depending on the destination.

Tip: Remember to have local coins for the GTMs. 

Metro map in Singapore

Metro in Singapore
Metro in Singapore

A COUNTRY OF MANY CULTURES

The culture of Singapore is a melting pot of Chinese, Malay, Indian, Arab and British culture. This is clearly seen in the various religions and temples around town, but also in the local cuisine which is influenced by all of these traditions. In Singapore, there are several ethnic neighborhoods, including Chinatown, Arab street and Little India.

First stop of the day for me was Chinatown.

Chinatown

Chinatown
Singapore food

Chinatown

1. BUDDHA TOOTH RELIC TEMPLE

I headed straight to the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple; a place I’ve wanted to visit ever since I first saw pictures of it. To my excitement, the Buddhist temple and museum was as beautiful as I had imagined. Symmetrically built and rich in culture and art.

There was a ceremony going on with Buddhists reading and chanting in the temple on the ground floor. Normally, the dining hall in the basement, which is run by volunteers, is serving vegetarian meals. But today, everything had been moved outside, and there was a long table with food in front of the temple.

Buddha Tooth Relic Temple

Buddha Tooth Relic Temple

Buddha Tooth Relic Temple

Buddha Tooth Relic Temple
Buddha Tooth Relic Temple

Buddha Tooth Relic Temple

Buddha Tooth Relic Temple

Buddha Tooth Relic Temple

Inside the temple

2. SRI MARIAMMAN TEMPLE

Just down the street from The Buddha Tooth Relic temple, I came across the Sri Mariamman temple. As I learned, this temple is the oldest in Singapore and one of the most prominent places for Tamil Hindus. It was built to honor Goddess Mariamman – the deity of disease and protection.

It only took me a few minutes to walk around the temple, but I was instantly impressed by the colorful ornaments and beautiful interiors. The art on the walls and ceilings was simply amazing.

Note: Free entry, but it costs $3 to take pictures.

Sri Mariamman Temple

Sri Mariamman Temple

Sri Mariamman temple, Singapore

3. FREE CONCERTS AT THE ESPLANADE

If you like free concerts, the Esplanade is the place to go. Here, you’ll find performances like dance, recitals, music, theatre and much more. Check out their schedule here.

4. LITTLE INDIA

A few weeks before I visited, I saw some colorful photos of Little India which made me put it straight on my list of things to do in Singapore! And I’m so glad I did, because it is without doubt one of the most vibrant and culturally authentic districts of Singapore. My only regret is that I didn’t have more time to experience the atmosphere and try the Indian food.

Little India, Singapore

Little India, Singapore

5. SINGAPORE’S LARGEST MOSQUE

Haji Lane in Singapore’s Arab district is popular for shopping and eating, but it also houses Singapore’s largest mosque; the Arabian Nights-esque Sultan Mosque. It’s free to enter and definitely worth a visit.

6. SINGAPORE FROM THE 56TH FLOOR

A true hidden gem in Singapore is the top floor of the ION Orchard. From here you have an excellent view of Singapore, plus you can get that famous, cool roof topper picture where your feet are hanging over the edge.

7. SINGAPORE BOTANIC GARDENS

Singapore is super green and its botanic gardens are the perfect spot to catch free concerts or have a picnic. The Singapore Symphony Orchestra often holds free concerts here.

Gardens by the bay, Singapore

8. FREE MEAL AND LEARN ABOUT BUDDHISM

Giving is one of the key elements in Buddhism so many temples offer food to visitors. Anyone can visit and enjoy a free vegetarian meal at The Singapore Buddhist Lodge and Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Monastery, you don’t need to be a buddhist. If you can though, leave a donation.

Buddha Tooth Relic Temple

9. GARDENS BY THE BAY

So far everything had been fun and exciting, but the highlight of the entire day was a garden.

I know, that sounds strange. But hear me out.

Singapore is a green city with lots of well-kept gardens and parks. One of its prides is called Gardens by the bay.

This isn’t just any garden, folks. This one has super trees with hanging bridges and magical lights that turns into a vibrant and tranquilizing light show at night. The garden has an abundance of colorful orchids, artwork and more than 700,000 tropical flowers from around the world, not to mention a cloud forest and a flower dome.

See, I told you it was special.

Gardens by the bay, Singapore

Gardens by the bay, Singapore

The Singapore Flyer

The Singapore Flyer

Gardens by the bay, Singapore
Gardens by the bay, Singapore

Gardens by the bay, Singapore

Gardens by the bay, Singapore

Yay, selfie time

Entering the 54-hectare Gardens of the Bay is like stepping into Pandora, the lush wonderland depicted in the movie Avatar.

I had an ambition of getting to the Marina promenade, but I simply couldn’t drag myself away from the massive Super-trees that illuminated with spotlights and neon lights. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like it.

Gardens by the bay, Singapore

Gardens by the bay, Singapore

Gardens by the bay, Singapore

Gardens by the bay, Singapore
Gardens by the bay, Singapore

Gardens by the bay, Singapore
Gardens by the bay, Singapore
Singapore's answer to Avatar

Singapore’s answer to Avatar

Gardens by the bay, Singapore

10. EXPERIENCE SINGAPORE AT NIGHT

Singapore is absolutely exciting at day, but when the sun sets… You guys, it becomes a completely different place. Everything glows.. Ferris wheels, the skyline, skyscrapers, magical trees.. All in different colors and futuristic shapes, with the Bay south area being the most magnificent of all.

If you ask me, Singapore is the most beautiful city by night that I’ve ever been to. Take a stroll down the marina and make sure to visit Gardens by the bay. You won’t be disappointed.

Gardens by the bay, Singapore

THINGS TO DO IN SINGAPORE – WHY YOU SHOULD GO

All in all, my day in Singapore had been absolutely perfect and I could easily have stayed for several more days. If you get the chance to visit Singapore, even just for a few hours, I highly recommend you go. There are so many things to do in Singapore and it’s quite different from other Asian countries, which makes it unique.

I for one am definitely going back.

Gardens by the bay, Singapore

So, adventurers… Have you ever been to Singapore? Would you go?

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Many people moan that Singapore is boring and there’s nothing to do. Ignore them. I just went there and the list of things to do in Singapore is absorbingly long. Here are some ideas for free activities in Singapore.
Many people moan that Singapore is boring and there’s nothing to do. Ignore them. I just went there and the list of things to do in Singapore is absorbingly long. Here are some ideas for free activities in Singapore.

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37 Comments

  1. Darren December 8, 2014 at 11:07 am - Reply

    I cannot tell you how excited reading this post has made me. I’m visiting Singapore while travelling round the world for six to twelve months. Singapore looks fantastic, thank you for sharing this.

    • Miriam December 8, 2014 at 1:29 pm - Reply

      I’m so glad to hear that, Darren, let me know if you have any questions. Have a great trip!

  2. Emiko December 8, 2014 at 3:28 pm - Reply

    Your photos alone make me want to travel to Singapore now! In line with the budget theme, how did you find food prices in the city? I know I’d want to eat everything, but I’m worried that alone would destroy my wallet:)

    • Miriam December 9, 2014 at 8:03 pm - Reply

      Thanks, Emiko! I found that Chinatown had cheap food prices, but my little time in Singapore didn’t allow me to explore more. In general you should expect everything touristy to be more expensive than the rest of SE Asia, except the free sights above of course. Visiting Singapore doesn’t have to break your bank 🙂

  3. Becky Padmore December 8, 2014 at 7:45 pm - Reply

    I’ve been to South East Asia but didn’t manage to get to Singapore, from the look of your photos it looks like I missed out!

    • Miriam December 9, 2014 at 8:25 pm - Reply

      I hope you get to visit in the future, Becky. If you ever have a stopover in Singapore, it’s definitely worth checking it out.

  4. Amy December 9, 2014 at 2:19 pm - Reply

    From your pictures Singapore looks a bit like Taiwan, very clean, orderly and colourful. I’m super-impressed by how much you packed into your layover!

    • Miriam December 9, 2014 at 8:26 pm - Reply

      To be honest, I am too, Amy 🙂 I haven’t been to Taiwan yet, but by the sound of it, I need to put it on my bucketlist!

  5. Manouk December 10, 2014 at 2:15 pm - Reply

    Still haven’t made it to Singapore, but hope to go there next year 🙂 Love the colors in your photo’s and can’t wait to visit the gardens of bay place. Pure epicness!

    • Miriam December 11, 2014 at 12:34 am - Reply

      Thanks, Manouk! Gardens of the Bay in the evening was the absolute highlight. I hope you get to visit 🙂

  6. Beth December 10, 2014 at 4:06 pm - Reply

    Lovely photos! I went to Singapore a couple years ago, but it ended up raining the whole time. I’m hoping to re-visit this next year though! 🙂

    • Miriam December 11, 2014 at 12:37 am - Reply

      Aw, what a shame, Beth! It rained when I landed as well, but it had stopped when I got out of the airport. I felt so lucky. I hope you get to visit in the future – it’s really something special.

  7. Wayne Seto May 18, 2015 at 12:09 pm - Reply

    I’m impressed you squeezed all that into 6 hours! Good job. To be honest, I wasn’t a big fan of Singapore. Yes it was clean, perhaps too clean if that makes any sense. The city felt a bit sterile. But I did really like Chinatown. The food was much better down there in the hawker centers than most of the overpriced restaurants.

    • Miriam May 18, 2015 at 7:19 pm - Reply

      I’ll admit it was a bit stressful, but worth it nonetheless! Unfortunately, I didn’t get the chance to visit the hawker centers, but I’ve heard really good things about the food. Next time, perhaps 🙂

  8. Lauren June 14, 2015 at 4:51 am - Reply

    I really like your pictures of the neon trees! I’m going to Singapore in a few weeks and this post just got me so much more excited…thanks for sharing about your jam-packed layover 🙂

    • Miriam June 15, 2015 at 6:54 pm - Reply

      Ha, my layovers are always like that 🙂 Have fun in Singapore, and be sure to visit the Gardens of the bay in the evening.

  9. Ani June 26, 2015 at 6:55 am - Reply

    this article very helpful 🙂 i never been in singapore before and before i read this article, i really dont know what to do, where to got etc… Read lot article but this article absolutely helped me…
    I will visit singapore in November and wish me luck…

    Thankk you so much

    • Miriam June 27, 2015 at 1:18 am - Reply

      I’m glad to hear that, Ani. I hope you’ll have a fabulous trip to Singapore 🙂

  10. Kaylin August 20, 2015 at 10:25 am - Reply

    Just arrived in Singapore, and I’m using your “experience” as my tour guide! Thanks so much for the post!

    • Miriam August 21, 2015 at 8:14 am - Reply

      I’m so glad to hear that, Kaylin. Let me know if you need any further advice or recommendations. Have fun in Singapore!

  11. Gina September 3, 2015 at 8:25 am - Reply

    I have a seven hour layover in Singapore next week. Everything you mentioned sounds awesome! Unfortunately my layover starts at midnight till 7am. Do you know if sights like the garden at night will still be lit up and if the metro runs 24hrs. You did everything I would love to do until I realized my layover is overnight
    🙁

    • Miriam September 3, 2015 at 1:15 pm - Reply

      Aw, that is such a shame :/ I’m not sure if Gardens by the Bay is open during the night, but if it is you should definitely go there. It’s magical!

      In general, Singapore becomes a whole different place during the evening with so many beautiful colors. You should go around town and see the things I’ve mentioned – I bet many of them are just as pretty when they’re lit up by colorful light.

  12. Rajiv March 21, 2016 at 2:46 pm - Reply

    I just was booking my hotel for my stay in Singapore when I bumped upon this post. Guess how am I feeling ! 😉

    Thanks for the wonderful post.

    Cheers,
    Rajiv

    • Miriam March 21, 2016 at 2:53 pm - Reply

      That’s great, Rajiv, I’m glad you found it helpful 🙂 Come back any time!

  13. Paulo@Travel Bugs April 10, 2016 at 11:27 am - Reply

    Great tips for visiting my motherland.

  14. Csilla June 7, 2016 at 1:31 pm - Reply

    Singapore is a fantastic place to visit, we stay there for 3 days. and yes, the gardens of the bay are simly stunning yeeeee
    great post Miriam

    • Miriam June 7, 2016 at 6:18 pm - Reply

      Thanks! Gardens by the Bay is definitely the highlight!

  15. Ailz December 6, 2016 at 11:41 pm - Reply

    Hi! Miriam! All the photos was great! Anyway do you have an Idea how much it will cost for the Universal Studios and is it safe to by ticket in Metro deal? My sister and I are planning to celebrate Christmas in Singapore this year! <3

    • Miriam December 7, 2016 at 10:02 am - Reply

      Hi Ailz, I’m afraid not. I haven’t been to the Universal Studios or heard about the Metro deal, but from my experience Singapore is very safe so I wouldn’t worry too much about where I buy the ticket. It’s a very neat and orderly country!

      I’m sure you’ll have a great Christmas 🙂

  16. Claire March 19, 2017 at 12:58 am - Reply

    This article is fantastic! It gets right to the point but also has an abundance of fantastic information! I have a long layover there and this itinerary is perfect! Thank you so much, my stress level has been significantly lowered haha. Any recommendation on the best place to spend a night that is central to everything?

    Again, you’re awesome!!!

    • Miriam March 23, 2017 at 10:04 pm - Reply

      Aw, thank you, Claire. You really know how to brighten up my day 😀

      I didn’t stay in Singapore for the night so I don’t have any accommodation tips. But everything in Singapore is quite central so if you find a hotel/hostel close to any of the above mentioned sites, you’ll be in the center. Plus, the metro is very easy and convenient so it’s easy to get from A to B.

      Have a great trip to Singapore!

  17. Kutin March 24, 2017 at 4:31 am - Reply

    Big help for our itinerary. Were planning to visit Singapore his June 2017. Thanks.

    • Miriam March 25, 2017 at 1:13 pm - Reply

      I’m so glad to hear that. Have a lovely trip to Singapore!

  18. Roeland de Groot June 13, 2018 at 1:50 pm - Reply

    Hey Miriam!
    How many days would you recommend staying in Singapore?

    • Miriam June 22, 2018 at 1:23 pm - Reply

      A few days would be optimal, Roeland. I saw all of this (except the free concerts) in 6 hours during a stopover from Indonesia, so if you only have limited time, one day would be fine, too.

  19. Bernadette October 14, 2018 at 5:15 pm - Reply

    You’re article is amazing 🙂 I enjoyed also the places in Singapore when we went there last year.

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