Top 5 free things to do in Singapore with kids

Our top picks for free fun for the entire family - from intriguing enclaves amidst the downtown skyscrapers, to green spaces that offer plenty of scope for outdoor adventure.

 People in train at the hanging garden
  • Jetstar
  • November 2017

More than any other destination in Southeast Asia, Singapore excels when it comes to offering free family fun in an environment that’s safe, clean and easily to get around. Visitors will find numerous family things to do in Singapore, from intriguing enclaves and activities amidst the skyscrapers of the island republic’s downtown core, to numerous—often surprisingly wild—green spaces that offer plenty of scope for outdoor adventure.

Enjoy a day at Palawan beach on Sentosa Island

Although visitors don’t tend to think of Singapore as a destination for sun, sea and sand, all of these elements are to the fore on Sentosa—the country’s premier pleasure playground. Things to do in Sentosa Island (located just offshore of Singapore’s south coast) include big-hitting attractions such as Universal Studios which cost a premium. However, it costs nothing to find a spot in the sand at one of the manmade beaches dotted around the shoreline. We recommend Palawan Beach on the tip of Sentosa, which is famous for its suspension bridge linking to a small island. Here you can either walk or swim in a popular hotspot that’s also the southernmost point of continental Asia.

Location: Palawan Beach, Palawan Beach Walk, Sentosa Island

Our favorite link: Sentosa Beach Guide

Get back to nature at MacRitchie Reservoir Park

It may seem difficult to believe, given its sleek, modern veneer, but just a couple of centuries ago, Singapore was a wild place where tigers roamed freely through verdant jungle. These beautiful creatures are long gone, of course, but pockets of breath-taking nature remain. At MacRitchie Reservoir Park, a range of hiking paths spear through the jungle. Especially memorable is the Treetop Walk, an aerial walkway that offers incredible views over the tree canopy with sightings of macaques and langurs a distinct possibility. The total length of the walkway is about 250 metres and its height from the forest floor varies, with the highest point at 25m. (It can be tricky to find out how get to MacRitchie Reservoir Park—see our link below for some handy hints.)

Location: MacRitchie Reservoir Park, Upper Thomson Road

Our favorite link: The Smart Local: MacRitchie Treetop Walk opens in new window

Cool off in a free water park at Gardens by the Bay

Located just north of the equator, Singapore is one steamy place. Thankfully, there’s ample scope to cool off at an array of fun and free water parks around the island. One of our favourites is the Far East Organization Children’s Garden at Gardens by the Bay. Although the name sounds a little formal, there’s nothing stuffy about the facility, which has one overriding purpose: to get everybody as wet as possible. The park offers water tunnels, stepping springs and various jets your kids can utilise to make sure you are as drenched as they are.

Location: 18 Marina Gardens Drive

Our favorite link: Far East Organization Children’s Garden opens in new window

Head out for a picnic at Singapore’s iconic Botanic Gardens

Singaporeans are justly proud of their Botanic Gardens, which were named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2015. In a country that’s one of Asia’s greenest, the 183-acre tropical garden stands out as a refuge near the downtown core. Highlights include the Orchid Garden with the world’s largest collection of orchids, a lake patrolled by Australian black swans, and numerous marked nature walks. The garden also excels as one of the best picnic spots around, with prime places to lay down a rug and a pre-packed hamper. We recommend Palm Valley, which is surrounded by trees on all sides, offering plenty of shade.

Location: 1 Cluny Road

Our favorite link: The Botanic Gardens: Singapore’s Tropical Garden Paradise opens in new window

Get local insight into Singapore’s colourful Chinatown

Modern Singapore is a melting pot of cultures from around the world, but the country’s largest ethnic group—the Chinese—have left perhaps the most profound imprint. Their traditions, culture and religious beliefs are on prominent display in Chinatown, a bustling, charismatic area that makes for fascinating, family-friendly walking excursions, ideally combined with a treasure hunt to find the best food on offer—and there’s plenty to choose from.

You’ll get the best experience when you go with one of the expert guides from Indie Singapore. The company conducts free walking tours of Chinatown that enable visitors to broaden their depth of understanding about the country’s rich, exotic history, while getting off the beaten track. Not to mention the benefit of the guides’ specialised local knowledge and where to eat in Singapore’s Chinatown.

Location: Start at Pagoda Street

Our favorite link: Just Wandering: free Indie Singapore walking tours opens in new window