The best things in life are free – and we couldn't agree more, especially when we're looking to save some dough while still having fun. A lot has been said about how expensive it is to live or vacation in Singapore, but that doesn't mean you have to break the bank. From enjoying ticketless performances, art exhibitions and offbeat attractions to exploring Singapore's great outdoors and dining for free, here's how to live it up the city gratuitously.
Keep yourself busy at the latest lifestyle concept in the east, Jewel Changi Airport. This majestic dome is home to over 280 dining and retail outlets, with some open around the clock – think dining at ungodly hours at American fast-food chain A&W or food court Five Spice, or killing a couple of hours with a movie at 24-hour Shaw Theatres. You can also catch the hourly light and sound show at the HSBC Rain Vortex, the mall’s 40m-tall indoor waterfall, from 7.30pm to midnight for free.
Stop and smell the roses as you maneuver around the massive Gardens. 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. Then take a break from the flowers at The Canyon for the largest collection of sculptural rocks.
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. Admire the pop culture-dominated creation by multi-disciplinary artist PrettyFreakyFantasy or take a snap of a bold, terrestrial piece by graphic designer Liyana Farzana before exiting to Baghdad Street.
Surround yourself with the flora and fauna of this national – and natural – treasure in the west. The gardens include Lakeside Garden, Chinese and Japanese Gardens and Garden Promenade – previously known as Jurong Lake Gardens West, Jurong Lake Gardens Central and Garden Promenade respectively. Take a walk on the bridge by the waters, chill out in hammocks overlooking the pagodas, or unleash your inner kid at the obstacle course and playground.
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.
Despite the name, this water park isn't just reserved for pint-sized terrors. Adults can also beat the heat with a cool off here. Surrounded by the lush greens of Gardens by the Bay, this outdoor playground has one mission in mind: to get everybody drenched. There are water tunnels, stepping springs and various jets your pint-sized terrors – or your mischievous side – can use to hose everyone else down.
While the grown-ups will appreciate the history of this modest-sized mound in the heart of the business district, the kids… well, they don’t need any excuse to tumble around in a park as verdant as this, do they? As they explore the many nooks and crannies of Fort Canning Park and its many colonial-era relics, learn more about the paramount roles it played in the defence of the island and even before the British arrived, when it served as the residence of Malay royalty.
For a fresh rotation of modern visuals and art events, stop by Gillman Barracks, the former colonial army base – originally built for the British Army – where 11 art galleries set up camp. Go through the ticket-less doors of Chan + Hori Contemporary, Fost Gallery, Mizuma Gallery, among others, and contemplate over captivating displays. Need a break? Cool down at The Naked Finn or catch a live band at Timbre.
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.
Look past the artificial illumination of the city and be catapulted light years away thanks to the mega-telescope at the Singapore Science Centre. Because this observatory is one of the few in the world located so close to the equator, it offers stargazers views of both the northern and southern hemispheres.
Get your culture fix on the third storey of the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum. It exhibits rare artifacts that detail the history of Buddhism and various Asian traditions. What’s regarded as the brain, blood, muscle and flesh relics of Buddha can be observed at the museum. Another must-see is the 15 foot Maitreya Buddha at the main hall.
More than just a skatepark, this adolescent hotspot also has a rep for honing the chops of rising local musicians and bands under its *Scapemusic programme. Race to the bandstand and discover a fresh batch of talent via its *Scape Confessions music series held every other Saturday – no ticket needed.
Featuring a multitude of arts from performing to visual, The Arts House is where you can catch multidisciplinary programmes featuring envelope-pushing creatives. Mainly championing literary arts, the heritage building invites logophiles to celebrate the works of written and spoken word by local and international artists.
Grab a picnic basket and head to the Singapore Botanic Gardens. The Shaw Foundation Symphony Stage hosts a myriad of free musical performances, including the NParks Concert Series in the Park, Garden Sounds and Music Day Out. The Symphony Lake makes an ace spot for an evening of classical music, acapella shows, intimate acoustics and throwback tunes. Remember to BYOB (bring your own blanket) – because grass stains are a no-no.
Balmy evenings are perfect for alfresco film screenings, and nothing beats a relaxing cinematic experience by the beachfront at Sentosa under a blanket of stars on selected nights. Forget ticket stubs – grab your popcorn and pick a spot for a mix of both local and international cinema.
Not only is it a shopping haven, ION Orchard also houses an art gallery sans entry fees. Peep at some of the city’s most compelling art by international and local artists and designers – their contemporary masterpieces are on showcase for art aficionados to savour. Feast your eyes on a wide range of visual stunners from sculptures and multimedia installations to digital art.
Prefer drive-ins? Say no more. MovieMob kicks it old school by holding roving cinema pop-ups where you can rock up and watch a film in the comfort of your car – depending on the location. Alternatively, screenings are held by landmarks such as the Marina Bay, the Botanic Gardens or the Singapore Art Museum where you can get comfy on a beanbag or a deck chair. Check its Facebook page for the next screening.
There are 365 (sometimes 366) days a year to watch the sunrise. So gather your friends, loved ones or pet and head out to these eight spots in Singapore. Don't forget to pack your camera and tripod as well.
More than just a barbecue joint, Camp Kilo also hosts weekend parties hot off the grill. Check out party series like After Dawn BBQ Block Party and Soul Vibes Sundays complete with mouthwatering bites, DJs spinning feel-good music and a wide range of pop-ups for some eyeballing (shopping is optional).
Who says diners can’t party? Overeasy’s Fullerton and Orchard branches are known to organise throwback party series like Buns ‘N’ Roses and Guilty Pleasure respectively. The former takes place every Fridays, catering to fans of alternative rock while the latter opens its dancefloor on selected nights with pure 90s bangers.
This homegrown party collective gets plenty of brownie points from us for throwing outdoor shindigs with soft serves. And in Singapore’s heat, we can’t complain. Entries are based on a ‘pay-what-you-want’ basis via its online platform or at the door. Sweat alongside the giddy crowd to an eclectic mix of funky, groovy dance tracks.
Just because it’s Sunday it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t leave the couch. Get active and kick out all your pent-up stress at this weekly Health Promotion Board (HPB) initiative before you get back to the grind on Monday. While you’re at it, bring the whole fam out to the nearest park for some bonding time over fun and free instructor-led group workouts.
Start the day right with a session of free yoga or HIIT (thanks to the Health Promotion Board), some of them happening in the best yoga studios and gyms in the city. If you’re disciplined enough to wake up early every day, the free Sunrise In The City programme basically removes the need to purchase a gym membership. Just remember to register early to claim the good spots and enjoy the view.
If you’re a woman in tech trying to find her footing when it comes to opportunities, networking and levelling up skills, be sure to join the Girls in Tech community. Working in partnership with #SheMeansBusiness, a Facebook initiative designed to inspire and empower women entrepreneurs, it holds regular free events and programmes from workshops and classes to bootcamps and pop-up markets to help elevate creativity in the industry.
Inspired by master yogi Nikam Guruji, who propagated yoga selflessly throughout his life, this bunch of volunteers aim to continue the tradition of making yoga accessible to the masses. Don’t expect a bootcamp-style workout here. It focuses on equipping participants with the skills needed to practise yoga on their own and a lot emphasis is placed on proper form.
Mass exercises are fun. There's no awkwardness, no pressure to look perfect and there’s probably someone making the same mistake as you. Supported by the hub’s Experience Sports initiative, free workouts are held daily – there are Zumba classes, bootcamps, yoga sessions and community runs to choose from.
Swapaholic gives environmentally-minded fashion enthusiasts the opportunity to trade their used clothes for credits that can be used when acquiring new stuff. It’s a great way to declutter and at the same time contribute to a bigger cause. Still, better make sure there’s extra space in the closet.
Check your listing for Today at Apple and you might find an interesting workshop or class to sit in. From illustrating while walking down the street to learning how to string some beats, these creative class are ideal for the crafty, artsy and innovative sorts. Find out what’s in store for you today.
Everyone loves pretty beaches but not everyone understands that it takes hard work to keep them pristine and clean. The team and volunteers at International Coastal Cleanup (ICC), head out regularly to our beaches and mangroves around the island to help combat the problem of marine litter.
Singapore’s leading gender equality advocacy group AWARE is always on the lookout for more volunteers to do anything from helming crisis hotlines to dishing out legal aid. For those who need flexibility on volunteering hours, you can choose to work from home or do it on a part-time basis.
From birds and monkeys, to sugar gliders and snakes, ACRES leaves no animal behind. The animal protection organisation tackles the illegal wildlife trade, conducts rescues and rehabilitation, community outreach and also educates and raises awareness about animal welfare. Find out how you can help contribute at acres.org.sg.
A good amount of food wastage is constantly being generated but the Food from the Heart programme aims to reduce this. You can join Food from the Heart’s Bread Programme by collecting bread from various bakeries islandwide and distributing the baked goods to the beneficiaries.
Always wanted a dog but can't have one? At Action for Singapore Dogs (ASD), Saturdays are the best days to take some of its shelter dogs on a walk. It's also a good reason for you to go out into the great outdoors to destress. We can’t guarantee that you won’t fall in love with one of these cute puppers and eventually bring them home. ASD also welcomes volunteers on other days of the week.
Located all the way up north, Kranji is home to over plenty of farms that welcome visitors throughout the day. Pat friendly goats over at Hay Dairies, learn more about fish at Nippon Koi Farm and discover all sorts of delicious greens at Bollywood Veggies. Check out our guide to Singapore's best farms here.
While we aren’t the Maldives or Bali, Singapore has plenty of beaches where you can soak in the sun. Sentosa’s your best bet for variety as well as cleanliness. While Siloso and Tanjong Beach are where the majority of the action happens, check out Palawan for a quieter family-friendly respite.
MacRitchie Reservoir is one of the city’s oldest and most popular nature parks because it offers both easy trails for weekend strollers and ambitious hikes ranging from 3 to 11 kilometres for the intrepid explorers. Head up to the TreeTop Walk for a breathtaking – and not just because you’re winded after the climb – view 25 metres above the forest floor. Check out more of Singapore's best hike's here.
Two roads diverge in the woods – the clearly marked out tracks of Singapore’s pristine parks and the gritty, unpolished trails for the fearless scouts. Check out the Seah Im Bunker, a hidden WWII bunker at the foot of Mount Faber located behind the Seah Im carpark. Just remember to pack your torchlight.
Little India is not just rich in heritage and things to do at every turn, it’s also splashed with colour thanks to the eye catching murals that decorate its buildings. See how many you spot the next time you’re down at this district. The fact that the pieces are totally Instagrammable is an added plus.
The amazing murals of Yip Yew Chong, Luis Lee Jin Min and MessyMsxi can be found all around Singapore, but you'll find a wide 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.
More than 100,000 traditional Chinese graves, including the 600sqm tomb of 19th-century business supremo Ong Sam Leong, are dotted among the trees in a beautiful 233ha rainforest. Bukit Brown Cemetery is the city’s largest and also one of its oldest, with the first grave dating back to 1833. Buried here are many Singaporeans whose names are a distinctive part of the city today – names like Chew Boon Lay, Tan Kheam Hock and Chew Joo Chiat.
The black-and-white colonial houses in the Wessex Estate near Portsdown Road sit amid lush greenery. Head to the picturesque neighbourhood for a quiet stroll and then wander into Colbar – short for ‘colonial bar’ – that was once a canteen for the British Army. With its vintage photographs and décor, the diner is a relic from the past that invites guests to step back through time. The blocks of walk-up apartments and semi-detached houses were built in the ’40s and previously used by non-commissioned British officers and soldiers. Today, the houses are mostly residential, with a small enclave of artists who use them as studio space.
If you have a bike then cycling through the city is a weekend activity that won’t cost an additional dime – and with services like Mobike, renting a bicycle for a couple of hours is pretty cheap, too. Start at East Coast Lagoon Food Centre and ride straight down to Marina Bay for captivating views of the southeastern coast of Singapore and the reflection of the city skyline glistening in the water.
Hidden away up in the northeastern suburbs, off a major road, is the Lorong Buangkok kampong, the last village of its kind away from Pulau Ubin. Built in 1956, the collection of pastel coloured wooden huts is more living history than anything else, as rumours are constantly circulating that it’s due for demolition. If you go, be respectful – residents often complain of people taking photos without their permission.
West Coast Park sits on 50 hectares of land and is equipped with a camping site, barbecue pits, a dog run, a lawn for kite flying and a massive playground with eight sets of play areas and obstacle courses – need we say more?
Back in the good old kampong days, children entertained themselves with homemade kites fashioned from scraps they found littered around the compound. Relive those days by taking your own FOC DIY kite up to Marina Barrage and watch it take flight.
Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Monastery prepares a vegetarian spread for the public every Sunday, as well as on the first, 15th and 27th day of the lunar month. It fits close to 1,000 people in its dining hall and everyone is encouraged to use the time for contemplation.
Xiang Ji's Roasted Delights over at Ghim Moh Road Hawker Centre challenges you to consume three kilograms of chicken rice in under 40 minutes – do so and you won't have to cough up the usual price of $28. Plus, you’ll be so full from the carbs you won’t need dinner.
Plenty of restaurants offer complimentary meals for kids – as long as their parents dine there too. Rise Restaurant at Marina Bay Sands and Seoul Garden, which give children free rein over their buffet spreads.
You might have heard of RVLT, the natural wine bar up on Carpenter Street. But did you know that if you come on Mondays through to Wednesdays from 5.30pm to 7pm, the kitchen pushes out complimentary pintxos? Order any drink and kick back with bites like salmon rillette.
The Sisters’ Island Marine Park is the first of its kind here, with 40 hectares of maritime flora and fauna – and over 250 species of hard corals – that prove the biodiversity found in Singapore is, honestly, pretty staggering. The best way to take in the sights is to hop on the bi-monthly guided tours, organised by the National Parks Board. Register early, too, as only 45 nature lovers tops are allowed on each walk.
You’ll need to travel quite a bit for this one. But if you go on the guided tour, boats from the mainland will be chartered for you at no cost.
What better way to get to know the city than on-foot? Strap on some sturdy walking shoes and uncover Singapore's rich heritage and stories via these heritage trails. Go on an art trail and peep at some colourful murals, street art and sculptures that are spotted around the city. Explore the great outdoors with these nature trails – don't forget to slap on some sunscreen and grab a bottle of water!
Yes, you know the ones at Merlion Park and Sentosa, but did you know that there are seven Singapore Tourism Board-approved Merlions hidden around the island? Tick all the half-lion, half-fish statues off your list by checking out our guide.
While this isn't a daily occurrence, you can head to these free spots in July, August and December on select dates to catch free fireworks. Check out the National Day Parade rehearsal schedule for more details or brave the crowd on August 9 and December 31 for the full spectacle.