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Kusu Island
Photograph: Chris Howey/ShutterstockKusu Island

The best cheap things to do in Singapore under $20

From cheap hawker food to free city attractions, we show you how to explore the world's expensive city on a budget

Cam Khalid
Written by
Time Out Singapore editors
&
Cam Khalid
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Singapore is undeniably one of the most expensive cities to live in. And while it doesn't hurt to indulge in the high-flying life of a bourgeoisie once in a while, living like a Crazy Rich Asian can be tiring, especially to your bank account. Pay close attention to your surroundings, and you'll notice that it doesn't cost an arm and leg to get the most of the city. From going on nature trails to eating and drinking for cheap, here are some ways to explore the city without breaking the bank.

RECOMMENDED: The best free things to do in Singapore and the best cheap eats in Singapore

  • Sport and fitness
  • Kallang

If you can’t commit to the pricey fees of a fancy gymActiveSG only sets you back $2.50 per entry. There are over 20 gyms islandwide, each equipped with the usuals suspects – treadmills, exercise bikes, weights, dumbells and more.

Alternatively, you can workout for absolutely free. Singapore Sports Hub hosts free fitness programmes every day to take you from sluggish OL to full-on yogi – if you keep at it, of course. It offers cardio workouts, yoga and even taiji. Make sure to register early, because spots fill up fast.

  • Things to do
  • Sentosa

Live out your ultimate Wipeout dream at Singapore's very first floating aqua park. Both kids and kidults can climb, slide, leap and bounce at the massive inflatable playground and obstacle course – think a giant bouncy castle in the sea, just off Sentosa's Palawan Beach. To maximise the fun for everyone, the water park is split into four zones with varying difficulty levels. The two-hour splash sesh starts from $10 for kids aged five to eight, and from $18 for everyone else aged nine and above.

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  • Things to do
  • Changi 

The newly opened 3.5-kilometre Changi Airport Connector allows you to cycle, skate, run, jog, and walk to Jewel Changi Airport and the terminals from East Coast Park or any of the Park Connector Network (PCN), and vice versa. It’s also home to the city’s largest permanent outdoor display of life-sized dinosaurs Changi Jurassic Mile, as well as pit stop facility Hub & Spoke where you can rent bicycles from GoCycling (from $8 per hour), and cool off with a pay-per-use shower (from $3 per entry) after the sweat sesh.

  • Bars and pubs
  • Pasir Ris

Pasir Ris Park is known (and notorious) for many things, but it's an undeniably peaceful stretch of coast in the East of Singapore with thriving flora and fauna. Bike along the designated pathways or rent kayaks from Ohana Beach House. Rates start from $12 per hour for a sit-on-top-kayak and $14 per hour for a sea kayak. And if you prefer to stand and flex your balancing skills, stand-up paddleboards are available to rent from $15.

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  • Things to do
  • Pulau Ubin

Hop on a boat to offshore islands such as Pulau Ubin, St John's Island, and Kusu Island for a breath of fresh air – and a change of scenery. Boat rides cost about $4 to Pulau Ubin, $15 to St John's Island and Kusu Island, $16 to Sisters' Island, and $18 to Lazarus Island. Be one with nature with a hike or waterside trail, and relive those kampong days at these uninhabited islands that are ripe for exploration. Just don't forget to slather on the mozzie repellant and sunscreen.

  • Sport and fitness
  • Gyms and fitness centres
  • Jurong East

A perennial favourite among the Westies, Jurong East Swimming Complex was the first public pool in Singapore to offer a lazy river (complete with a float, no less), wave pool and fun slides to the masses. For less than $2, there's no denying you'll get soaked at this water playground by the end of the day. But if you're there to do some real swimming, there's also a competition pool in the complex.

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  • Sport and fitness
  • Jurong East

Cool off from the sweltering heat by skating around Singapore's first and only Olympic-sized ice skating rink. Besides opening the floor for the public to show their best figure-8s, The Rink also hosts international tournaments in ice hockey, figure skating, and ice curling, as well as cool (see what we did there?) events like disco skating which takes place on alternate Saturdays. New to the gig? Skating aids are also available to save you from slipping around like Bambi. Plus, skating admission with skate boots rental only sets you back $18 for two hours.

  • Things to do
  • Pasir Ris

Whether you're jumping on the Tik Tok trend-wagon, or revisiting a popular pastime, HiRoller Indoor Skating Rink in Pasir Ris offers state-of-the-art experiences on both inline and roller skates – think disco lighting and thumping music. It's also a great spot to introduce the kids to both inline and roller skates. You won't even have to worry about your kids falling flat on their faces – there are inline skating athletes and certified instructors to guide them through the glide. A two-hour session starts from $17.

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  • Things to do
  • Tanjong Pagar

Towering skyscrapers are aplenty in the city, but there's none quite like The Pinnacle@Duxton. After all, it's the first condominium-inspired public housing of its kind. Its main attractions are the two sky gardens that connect all seven towers on the 26th and 50th stories; the former has a jogging track and is exclusive to residents, while the latter is open to the public for a $6 entrance fee. As with Kuala Lumpur's Petronas Towers, only 200 outsiders a day are allowed to enter.

  • Things to do
  • Marina Bay

Stop and smell the roses as you maneuver around the massive Gardens by the Bay. The Supertrees may be the star of the show here (and you can catch the light show for free at 7.45pm and 8.45pm), but don't leave without checking out the various themed gardens including the Heritage Gardens where the country's rich history is brought to life through plants. It'll cost you less than $20 to check out the stunning Floral Fantasy, Flower Dome, and Cloud Forest respectively.

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  • Restaurants
  • Cafés
  • River Valley

An alternative cafe that entails more than just obligatory café food, The Mind Café is home to over 700 variations of board games to keep you and your pals entertained through the day. For $6 per hour (excluding food and drinks), ditch your handphones and forge real connections through a friendly game of Pictionary, Scrabble or Jenga. However, we can't promise if you'll still be best buds by the end of a game of Monopoly.

  • Art
  • Rochor

Scooch on down to the back alleys of Muscat Street for a rad hidden gem, an outdoor art gallery. Two parallel walls burst with a kaleidoscope of colour thanks to over 30 Instagram-worthy works by artists from the region and beyond.

Right around the corner (check out Aliwal Arts Centre and 51 Waterloo Street) are more street art for the 'gram. While the amazing murals of Yip Yew Chong, Luis Lee Jin Min and MessyMsxi can be found in the CBD, there's also a variety of sculptures – abstract and concrete – lurking at Tanjong Pagar and Raffles Place. Go on an urban art trail or a sculpture trail and see how many pieces you can spot.

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  • Cinemas
  • Independent
  • Kallang

Cinemas around the city cost less than $20 for you to catch the latest blockbuster. But if you're in need of an indie or arthouse fix, cosy up at The Projector. Occupying the former site of the historic Golden Theatre, the refurbished cinema is home to an eclectic selection of films, as well as Intermission Bar which dishes out tasty bites. Settle yourself into a seat – or bean bag – and immerse yourself in the movie. Tickets here are no more than $13.

  • Music
  • City Hall

When it comes to catching a live performance – whether it’s dance, music or theatre – The Esplanade is a no-brainer. Make a beeline for its series of free events including music performances by local artists at its various venues. Soak up the stunning view of the bay at the spacious outdoor theatre or chill at the air-conditioned indoor concourse, either way, you’re in for a riveting evening.

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  • Things to do
  • Kent Ridge

This little theme park of horrors is both terrifying and impressive at the same time. Multi-coloured statues and tableaux depict scenes from Chinese history and mythology in bright, gaudy colours, making it look more menacing than they should. Still, it's fun to explore this sloping park in the West with the little rugrats. New to the park? Read our guide for the best bits to look out for.

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  • Things to do
  • Lim Chu Kang

Hay Dairies keeps about 800 goats of mixed breeds, and all of them get to live like bleating royalty. That’s because every goat here chews on hay shipped straight from the US, as well as special feed flown in from Australia. Perhaps that’s why Hay Dairies’ goat milk tastes so much better than off-the-shelf brands in your supermarket fridge – we kid you not. Drop by in the morning to catch the goats being milked (from 9am to 10.30am), then bring a few bottles home at the end of the day. While you're there, don't forget to check out other farms around the area including Bollywood Veggies.

  • Restaurants
  • Hawker
  • Raffles Place

Home to a plethora of food stalls that champions different local fare – from flavourful Hainanese chicken rice and nasi lemak to wholesome porridge and mee pok – Maxwell Food Centre stands amongst the favourites for lunchtime nosh in the CBD. The chicken rice hype is real here: you can’t leave this hawker centre without ordering from Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice where Michelin-starred heavyweight Gordon Ramsay and celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain were impressed with its take on the national dish. Fill your stomach to the fullest – most dishes here cost less than $5 a pop.

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  • Clubs
  • Chinatown

Make like a Singapore uncle but instead of knocking back a large bottle of Carlsberg in a hawker centre setting, have a fresh draught at Smith Street Taps where they’ve got a daily rotation of premium local and international beers starting from $9 a glass. And they’re not just random brews, cult brands offered include Brewlander (Singapore), Sailors Grave Brewing (Australia), Deeds Brewing (Australia), and Moon Dog Brewery (Australia).

  • Shopping
  • Geylang

Give some lovin' to pre-loved items at Singapore's thrift shops. Second-hand and pre-loved tops, bottoms, outerwear, shoes (some with tags still attached) from high street stores and local labels such as Topshop, ZARA and Love, Bonito are sold at a fraction of their retail prices, starting from $5 at Refash. For luxury threads, look no further than Style Tribute.

Cheap and cheerful

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