The best of Singapore on a budget: top 5 things to do
Enjoy the city like a local and save a bundle with some insider knowledge
- November 2017
- Updated November 2021
Singapore can be a pricey destination for the unprepared. But armed with some insider knowledge, you can enjoy the city like a local and save a bundle. In fact, some of the most authentic and fun experiences on the island are free of charge, or cost very little. Here are our best budget travel tips for Singapore.
Hike through lush tropical jungle at MacRitchie Reservoir
If you love it when things get a little hot and steamy, the Treetop Walk at MacRitchie Reservoir is for you. This two- to three-hour hike will take you across a 250m-long suspension bridge, where you can survey the jungle canopy from above—at its highest point, you’ll be 25m above the ground. Enjoy a stroll amongst some of the most dense vegetation on the island, spotting monkeys, monitor lizards and stunning birdlife. You can continue on the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve and walk to the highest point in Singapore, where the last of the nation’s tigers once roamed. Make sure you pack your biggest water bottle.
Location: Lornie Road
Our favourite link: The Treetop Walk Guide opens in new window
Catch the sunset at Ce La Vie
The rooftop at Marina Bay Sands is the best and most romantic spot to take in the magnificent skyline of downtown Singapore. However, only guests of the hotel can access the infinity pool area, and there’s an entrance fee for the Skypark viewing platform. This is where some insider knowledge comes in handy: develop a sudden thirst, and head to the elevator reception to pay a small fee for a Ce La Vie drink voucher. This gives you access to the 57th floor, where you can sip champagne as the sun goes down. Afterwards, take a stroll over to Gardens by the Bay, where you can see the spectacular light show at Supertree Grove, every night at 7:45pm and 8:45pm.
Location: 10 Bayfront Avenue, Marina Bay Sands
Our favourite link: Ce La Vie Singapore opens in new window
Take a picnic to Tanjong Beach
Looking for a lazy day in the shade? Swaying palms, soft sand and gently crashing waves—Sentosa Island has the best beaches in Singapore. On the weekend, pack a picnic and head to Tanjong Beach where a DJ at the Tanjong Beach Club pumps out tunes. If your feet get itchy, explore the island by jump on the free Beach Tram. Visit Fort Siloso at the island’s western tip, a gun battery during WWII with relics including cannons and underground tunnels. Access is via the 11-storey high Skywalk, which takes you through tree canopies with spectacular views. Entry is free and volunteers offer guided tours on Fridays, weekends and public holidays.
To get to Sentosa, simply board the monorail at Harbourfront MRT station and tap your EZ-Link card (Singapore’s public transport card) to pay the small entry fee to the island.
Location: 120 Tanjong Beach Walk, Sentosa Island
Our favourite link: Tanjong Beach opens in new window
Go back in time at Pulau Ubin
Singapore was once a network of rustic fishing villages, known by the Malay word kampong. Nearly all these villages disappeared in the 1960s, when residents moved into apartment developments. One of the last authentic kampong can be found on Pulau Ubin, a small island just off the mainland. You can cruise over on a bumboat for a small fee. Simply head to the Changi Point Ferry Terminal and sit in the waiting area; the captain will usher you on board once he has 12 passengers. On arrival, head off on the trails by foot or by bike. If there are two of you, grab a tandem for some added adventure.
Location: Pulau Ubin
Our favourite link: Pulau Ubin’s iconic island walk opens in new window
Hang with the hipsters of Haji Lane
Not many people know that Singapore has its very own corner of hipster culture. Hunt it out in the vibrant Haji Lane, a charming pedestrian street lined with historic shophouses that have been transformed into quirky cafés, bustling bars and charming boutiques. Find your favourite street art to serve as the backdrop for some uber-urban holiday Instagramming, and if time allows, stroll over to Baghdad Street, where you’ll be transported into the heart of Middle Eastern culture as you admire the golden domes of the Masjid Sultan.
Location: Haji Lane, Kampong Glam
Our favourite link: Expat living—Haji Lane opens in new window