40 free (and fun!) things to do in Singapore
There’s no need to be a crazy rich Asian to enjoy Singapore. This is your ultimate list to all the free ways to experience the many sides of this city.
- September 2019
Singapore opens in new window might have a reputation for being an expensive city but there are many free ways to experience the best of what the city has to offer. From beautiful gardens to unique architecture, local culture and heritage, and every Singaporean’s great love, food ... this list has it all. Happy sightseeing!
1. Be wowed by the architecture at the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple
A hallmark figure of the Chinatown precinct is the monumental Buddha Tooth Relic Temple opens in new window. Wander inside its majestic Tang Dynasty-inspired exterior and observe monks and devotees in the midst of religious processions.
Address: 288 South Bridge Road
2. Explore the Southern Ridges of Singapore
Stretch those legs while taking in the luscious flora and fauna of Singapore’s Southern Ridges opens in new window. Start from the advantageous heights of Mount Faber graced with stellar views of the city from Henderson Waves, and work your way down towards the Hort Park. Seeking more intense leg work? Extend your trek to Kent Ridge Park.
3. Go on a heritage tour of Little India
Wander down narrow lanes, explore the various temples strewed across the precinct, visit the bustling Tekka market and build an appetite for delicious dosai or fish head curry. Indie Singapore opens in new window holds free walking tours that will take you through the back alleys and side streets that uncover hidden gems and dying trades.
4. Check out a 24-hour shopping centre with EVERYTHING
Even if you’re not looking to buy anything, a trip to Mustafa Centre opens in new window is an interesting experience. The gargantuan maze-like grounds are stocked with everything from drones to gold jewellery, baby nappies and fresh fruit. If you can think of something to buy, chances are, Mustafa Centre has it.
Address: 145 Syed Alwi Rd
5. Stroll through Singapore Botanic Garden
In 2016, Singapore’s oldest garden opens in new window became the country’s first UNESCO World Heritage site. Explore the sprawling lush grounds in the heart of the city and enjoy the myriad of activities from invigorating jogs to relaxing picnics with family, dog-walking and even bird watching.
Address: 1 Cluny Road
6. Enjoy the light display at Gardens by the Bay
You’ll have to pay to enter the conservatories at Gardens by the Bay opens in new window but it doesn’t cost you anything to check out one of the most iconic attractions in Singapore — the Supertree Grove. There’s a sound and light show daily at 7.45pm.
Address: 18 Marina Gardens Drive
7. Watch a drive-in movie for free
Movies under the stars? Free popcorn? Movie drive-ins? Yes, we’re dead serious. Movie Mob opens in new window screens a free movie fortnightly at different locations, from the open fields of Tanjong Rhu to the green lawns of Botanic Garden. Visit the FB page for the latest updates.
8. Go farm hopping in the Kranji countryside
Experience a slower side of Singapore at one of its few farms left. Take a walk through Bollywood Veggies opens in new window and reconnect with nature or take the kids to visit the goats at Hay Dairies opens in new window.
9. Visit an urban farm right in the heart of the city
Pioneering urban farming, ComCrop is Singapore’s first commercial rooftop farming company. Once a month, ComCrop opens in new window hosts a free farm tour that allows you an inside look into the environmentally sustainable climate-controlled realms of hydroponic technology. Each tour group is kept to 25 pax so be sure to book your spot beforehand.
Address: #04-01 *Scape, 2 Orchard Link
10. Admire the Neo-Gothic architecture of St Andrew’s Cathedral
Singapore’s largest cathedral opens in new window located near City Hall MRT is definitely a landmark worth visiting. Step back in time and admire the architectural beauty of the Anglican church, which was used an emergency hospital during WWII.
Address: 11 St Andrew's Road
11. Tour the official residence of the President of Singapore
Plan a visit to the Istana at one of its Open Houses during major public holidays throughout the year. Celebrate these momentous occasions with free performances on Istana grounds and learn about life in the presidential palace via guided tours opens in new window.
Address: 35 Orchard Road
12. Tour a real fire station
Perfect for those with young ones that are up and running early on Saturday mornings. Some SCDF fire stations offer open houses opens in new window every Saturday from 9 am to 11am. Learn about the life of a fire fighter and watch them descend down the sliding poles.
13. Get your fortune read
Built in 1884, Kwan Im Thong Hood Cho Temple draws massive crowds of locals to this day. If you’re headed there, try the divining sticks, a form of fortune telling that devotees claim is particularly accurate in this temple. Kneel in front of the Goddess of Mercy while holding the cylinder of sticks between your palms. Whisper the question you have, and shake the cylinder till one stick falls onto the floor. Take that stick to the person in charge and you will get a divination slip, which offers a concise (and cryptic) answer to your question.
Address: 178 Waterloo Street
14. Get up close with wildlife in Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve
Far from the city centre lies this treasured find of a wetland reserve opens in new window. Home to many species of animals and birds that thrive off the land, be sure to keep your eyes peeled for otters, monitor lizards, mud lobsters, tree climbing crabs. Ascend the 18-meter tall Aerial Tower and you might be lucky enough to observe migratory birds such as the Pacific Golden Plover and Common Greenshank.
Address: 301 Neo Tiew Crescent
15. Take a romantic sunset stroll
Stretching out for about 2.2km along the coastline, Changi Point Coastal Walk is an easy waterfront jaunt. The boardwalk takes you out to the water where you might be lucky enough to spot anglers casting their lines.
Address: 7A Gosport Road
16. Read to underprivileged children
At kidsREAD opens in new window, a National Library Board initiative, volunteers come from all walks of life for an hour each week to read to young underprivileged kids. If you share the same ideals in wanting to promote the love of reading and have a strong command of the language, the programme is always in need of volunteers.
Address: 100 Victoria Street
17. Volunteer at the SPCA
Love pets? Lend a hand at the animal shelter — SPCA opens in new window always requires volunteers to clean and care for the animals. Take note that this is not a frivolous matter, and passion and commitment is valued as a volunteer.
Address: 50 Sungei Tengah Road
18. Admire the preserved shophouses along the Singapore River
From fishing village to trading port in Southeast Asia, Singapore River has seen rapid changes in appearance and significance. Follow Indie Singapore’s three hour free tour opens in new window and be entertained by the stories of the bay area’s journey through time.
19.Take on a burger challenge
It may seem blasphemous that a “free meal” can stem from the sport of overindulgence. But here at The Beast opens in new window, the folks bestow deliciousness onto their subject — a holy triumvirate of meat, buttermilk fried chicken, pulled pork and jumbo beef patty between buns. Conquer it and walk away with no tab and an exploding belly.
Address: 17 Jalan Klapa
20. Drink for free at Changi Airport
Some of the best things in life come free and in the form of free samples and tasters for the curious at Changi Airport’s opens in new window DFS Wines and Spirits booths. Taste some of the best and most exclusive liquors in the world.
21. Immerse yourself in Peranakan culture at the Katong Antique House
The Katong Antique House opens in new window located in the east of Singapore’s where owner and fourth generation Peranakan, Mr Peter Wee shares his knowledge of the precious creole culture. Scout through collections of intricate ornaments, costumes and furniture and learn about this fascinating culture.
Address: 208 East Coast Road
22. Get cultured with free concerts in the park
Singapore Symphony Orchestra opens in new window frequently holds free concerts at the gardens with aims to make classical music more accessible to all. Gather your family and friends, bring a mat, throw together a picnic and enjoy the round-up of music programs in lush green nature.
23. Learn how cemeteries are an important form of heritage at Bukit Brown
Most travellers do not know that much of Singapore including Orchard Road is built on old graveyards. Bukit Brown is one of the last remaining ones, even though it is scheduled to make way for economic development. While it’s still around, it’s worth taking a self-guided walk opens in new window that was created by the Singapore Heritage Society.
Established in 1922 as a burial ground for the Chinese, Bukit Brown offers an intimate glimpse into Singapore’s history. The walk will provide directions to the tombstones of people who made significant contributions to the city’s development. Along the way, you’ll learn more about the ornate tomb designs and the details that give you clues of where the person buried came from.
Address: 36C Lorong Halwa
24. Visit the world’s only Louis Vuitton boutique on water
There are three ways to enter Louis Vuitton Island Maison opens in new window — by an underwater tunnel that’s connected to the main shopping area at Marina Bay Sands, via an outdoor bridge or for dramatic effect, by boat. However you get there, take the time to explore the nautical-inspired space.
25. Visit Singapore’s oldest Chinese temple, Thian Hock Keng temple
It can be hard to imagine but Telok Ayer Street is the original shoreline of Singapore — the sea came right up to where the temple sits. That’s one of the reasons Thian Hock Keng opens in new window is the oldest temple in Singapore — it served the earliest Chinese migrants who wanted to offer thanks to the temple’s main deity Mazu (Goddess of the Seas) for their safe arrival.
Address: 158 Telok Ayer Street
26. Get your shot for the ‘gram at Fort Canning
To get there, take Exit A via Dhoby Ghaut MRT station and walk towards Park Mall. Take the underpass connecting Fort Canning Road and Penang Road and join the queue of people who are waiting to get their shot on the spiral staircase.
27. Take a wild ride down any of the 26 slides at Admiralty Park
The largest park in the northern part of Singapore opens in new window is home to the most number of slides in any park in the city. There are three play areas that target children of different ages. Grownups can also join in on the fun — take on the 23-metre tall tube slide or The Curved Roller Slide, a 34-metre long outdoor slide.
Address: 6A Admiralty Road
28. Conquer a whopping 3.2kg of chicken rice
If you’re intrigued by the sport of competitive eating, here’s one challenge you can consider taking on with the granted bonus of stumbling off with a free meal. The goal is to conquer 3.2kg of chicken rice at 289 Xiang Ji Roasted Delight opens in new window under 40 minutes. We hope you came hungry.
Address: #01-60, Blk 20 Ghim Moh Road
29. Take a picture at the other Merlions in Singapore
Forget jostling with the throngs of tourists at Merlion Park. There are other parts of Singapore where you can get a picture with the famous merlion. There’s one at the highest point of Mount Faber but the one that is completely free of tourists can be found at the car park entrance of Blk 216 to Blk 220 of Ang Mo Kio Avenue 1.
30. Unwind at Singapore’s prettiest library
The curved white bookshelves, bamboo floors and a distinctly sleek and clean aesthetic make Library@Orchard opens in new window look more like a design lifestyle store than a public library. Take a seat at the single-seated reading cocoons tucked away on the second floor, and marvel at the idea that such quiet exists right in the heart of bustling Orchard Road.
Address: #03-12/#04-11, 277 Orchard Road, Orchard Gateway
31. Go to hell at Haw Par Villa
Definitely one of the most offbeat things you could do in Singapore, Haw Par Villa opens in new window is a theme park best known for its exhibit of the 10 courts of hell based on Chinese beliefs. Walk through kitschy dioramas and sculptures depicting punishments like getting your tongue slit for lying or being thrown into a volcanic pit. It might not be Disneyland but a visit will be just as unforgettable.
Address: 262 Pasir Panjang Road
32. Take a tour of SAFTI Military Institute
Departing from the Singapore Discovery Centre from Tuesday to Sunday, hop on the bus opens in new window and explore the 88-hectare training grounds for officers from the tri-service of the Singapore Armed Forces; Army, Navy and Airforce.
33. Check out Little Guilin in Bukit Batok Town Park
Previously a decommissioned granite quarry, the nature park opens in new window is now prized for its jagged granite outcrops which against the contrasting backdrop of green hills causes it to bear a resemblance to the rocky formations in Guilin, China.
Address: Bukit Batok East Avenue 5
34. Walk in the footsteps of British Governors at Fort Canning Park
History buffs will appreciate a trip to Fort Canning Park opens in new window where landmarks such as the 19th century cannon and Fort Gate will transport you back to the days when the hills were made the first residence for British governors put in charge of the newly discovered territory.
35. Enjoy free concerts at the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music
One of the most exciting international conservatories in Asia opens in new window, Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music in NUS is quickly gaining a reputation for its impressive outreach efforts to promote music-making. The conservatory hosts occasional visiting international artists who perform classical music at the 573-seated concert hall.
Address: 3 Conservatory Drive
36. Conquer Singapore’s highest Hill
Part of the Central Catchment Nature Reserve, Bukit Timah Nature Reserve opens in new window is located on the slopes of Bukit Timah Hill, which stands at 163.63 metres tall. Feel free to chat with the other walkers — you’re likely to meet people training for a mountain climb overseas.
Address: Hindhede Drive
37. Have a picnic at Marina Barrage
Head to the rooftop of Marina Barrage opens in new window — it’s a wide-open space the size of four football fields with panoramic views of Singapore’s city skyline. If you’re interested, you can also check out the Sustainable Singapore Gallery where you can learn about the country’s ongoing efforts to tackle environmental and water issues.
Address: 8 Marina Gardens Drive
38. Catch an outdoor movie
Be My Movie Kaki aims to foster the kampung spirit by bringing back the ol’ days of outdoor movie screenings. A 7.2-metre long lorry makes stops in neighbourhood parks, town centres and common spaces and the side of the lorry opens up to a huge LED screen that screens movies. Check its Facebook page opens in new window for its screening schedules.
39. Walk along Ann Siang Road
You might recognise Ann Siang Road from the movie Crazy Rich Asians, but this charming street is more than a stretch of pretty shophouses, bars and restaurants. Look out for some of the last remaining active house clan associations — they were set up to help early migrants who were new to a foreign land to connect with other people.
40. Visit one of the city’s most iconic Brutalist beauties before it’s gone
Singapore has its fair share of glitzy buildings such as Marina Bay Sands opens in new window and Esplanade opens in new window but amidst all these impressive structures are Brutalist buildings from the ’70s — a style of buildings known for its stark simplicity, and concrete-heavy and rigid structure. Many of these buildings have been torn down to make way for new buildings so be sure to admire one of the most iconic buildings from that era while it still exists — People’s Park Complex opens in new window.
Address: 1 Park Road