Being tagged as one of the most developed and expensive city-state in South East Asia it is really a herculean task to sort out the top 5 things to do in Singapore on a budget.
Growing exponentially in a couple of decades from a small port town to a global hotspot for trade and transit, Singapore is the standing example of a vision personified. A perfectly manicured city created with utmost care and love and maintained with the strictest laws. Strict to the point that you will not find any chewing gums here. Now let’s not debate over the plausibility of such strict laws but simply take it as a reminder that how serious this country is towards maintaining a top level of hygiene and cleanliness. Almost on the brink of OCD 🙂 .
My visit to Singapore was two-pronged. I wanted to explore the city for 2 days and top it up with a mad midnight bash at the Siloso Beach Party, the open air dusk to dawn insane New Year’s Eve revelry in Singapore.
Read our article on Siloso Beach Party – the ultimate New Year revelry in Singapore.
We had tons of fun exploring the city soaking in the tropical sun as we hopped metros, city buses, taxis and rickshaws from the majestic marinas to the packed alleys of China Town, from the uber rich cityscape to the colorful tungsten lit streets of Little India. The city definitely has a world class MRT (Mass Rapid Transit) running its length and breadth, also the cheapest means of communication to get around.
Getting down to the Top 5 things to do in Singapore on a budget
1. Visit the Marina Bay
Although Singapore doesn’t boast of must-see destinations like the Taj Mahal or the Eiffel Tower, I would place “a visit to the Marina Bay” as my first in the list of things to do in Singapore on a budget. Don’t confuse Marina Bay with Marina Bay Sands. Just to clear the air Marina Bay Sands is a super luxury resort (yes! the triplet towers with the yacht at the top) in front of the Marina Bay. That thing is not on budget 🙂 .
Have you ever wondered why travelers to India choose a photo against the backdrop of the Taj Mahal or why travelers to Italy choose the Leaning Tower of Pisa as the background on their profile picture on Facebook? Because these are the iconic landmarks that symbolize a particular country. For that same reason, I place a visit to the Marina Bay as the first thing to do in Singapore.
Surrounded by a stunning skyline dotted with high-rises and some of the architectural ingenuities like the Durian shaped Esplanade theater and overlooking the world famous Marina Bay Sands resort, this area is Singapore at its best.
But my foremost reason is not the skyline itself. It’s the statue of the Singapore’s national icon, the mythical Merlion spouting water from its mouth that stamps your “I have been to Singapore” moment. Located at Merlion Park on the banks of Singapore River, this statue symbolizes Singapore in its truest form. The lion head represents the original name “Singapura” meaning the Lion City and the body of a fish represent the early beginning of civilization here as a fishing community. So in the most literal sense, you have visited Singapore if you have visited the Merlion.
And since it’s a free entry here, visiting the Marina Bay quite easily qualifies as the first among top five things to do in Singapore on a budget.
2. Things to do in Singapore on a budget – Visit Gardens by the Bay
Gardens by the Bay is a unique state-sponsored initiative to maximize the green carpet in Singapore. You have no other option but to appreciate this amazing approach to transform the Garden City to City in a Garden. A nature park spanning 250 acres of reclaimed land, Gardens by the Bay is definitely the future symbol of Singapore.
Gardens by the Bay boasts of many attractions like the flower dome, the cloud forest, the skyway and the Supertree grove. However, it’s not free but easily affordable. A standard adult ticket cost $28. Tickets are differently priced for locals and outside visitors although the difference is minimum.
Singapore has a tropical weather but inside the flower dome, you will feel the cool dry Mediterranean climate. A welcome respite from the insane humidity outside. Claimed to be world’s largest glass greenhouse, the spectacular display of colorful flowers here will drive you to awe.
The cloud forest features a 35-meter tall indoor mountain covered in mist and a verdant vista of tropical vegetation. From the mountain cascades a waterfall claimed to the world’s tallest indoor waterfall. Take the lift to the top of the mountain and stroll down along the walkway admiring the limits of human creativity.
Walking the Supertree Grove amidst the gigantic tree-like vertical gardens felt like exploring the forests of Pandora like Jake Sully did in Avatar. If you are tired of exploring from the ground you can walk shoulder to shoulder with the gigantic trees taking the 28-meter tall OCBC skyway that runs along the Supertree grove. The OCBC skyway is also a good vantage point to watch panoramic views of the Marina bay.
3. Things to do in Singapore on a budget – riding the Singapore Flyer
Standing tall at 165 meters the Singapore Flyer is Asia’s tallest observation wheel. Technically it’s a giant Ferris wheel with 28 air-conditioned pods providing a stunning bird’s eye view of Singapore city.
And at SGD 33 per adult ticket, it is a must visit destination in the city.
4. Things to do in Singapore on a budget – visit Chinatown
Rustic buildings, colorful hoardings, canopied shops, cramped alleys with hundreds of people brushing past each other and you are in Chinatown, the distinctly Chinese precinct at the heart of Singapore.
Right after exiting Chinatown MRT station we were greeted by voracious hawkers selling a myriad range of things from local arts and décor to steaming satays and dumplings. The weather was hot and humid as we started exploring the Chinatown maze.
We were surprised to know that Chinatown houses the first and the oldest Hindu temple in Singapore. Built in 1827, Sri Mariamman Temple with its pyramid shaped tower at the entrance is a classic example of Dravidian architecture, typical of the temples in Southern India.
Another famous monument in Chinatown is the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple & Museum. Built in 2007 this is relatively recent compared to Sri Mariamman Temple. But don’t get caught up in the age. The stunning interiors designed on the architectural patterns of Tang dynasty will definitely leave you awe inspired. It houses the Buddha Tooth Relic in a giant stupa made of 320 kilograms of gold. Definitely worth a visit.
5. Things to do in Singapore on a budget – Clarke Quay
Finally, after a long and tiring day, a good place to relax, unwind and indulge in the Singaporean nightlife is Clark Quay. From rooftop bars and open air restaurants to amazing discs and pubs, this is THE go-to place for a vibrant nightlife in Singapore.
Sip on some cocktails and break the dance floor with your signature moves. Take a stroll along the Singapore River if you crave for some quite moments midway or strap yourself to the G-Max Reverse Bungy to get the adrenaline pumping.
Both Clarke Quay and Boat Quay boasts of the most happening nightlife in Singapore city. We spent almost half the night here pub hopping.
Things to do in Singapore on a budget – bonus destinations.
If you’ve reached here, first a big thanks for reading through the post and second, let me return the favor by pouring in some additional destinations to complete your Singapore experience.
A visit to Little India for a distinct Indian vibe
Little India is a busy and vibrant ethnic district in Singapore. Inhabited mainly by the Singapore’s Indian community, Little India to be very honest did surprise me with Rajnikant posters on tuk-tuks, colorful sarees and fragrant Jasmine garlands hanging outside shops, mouthwatering malabari paranthas, steaming idlis and dosas and the aroma of filter coffee on the streets. This is essentially a mini India or mini Southern India to be very precise.
There’s nothing epic to visit here but the whole place has a different vibe compared to the rest of the city and hence worth a visit. You can visit the City Square Mall, Tekka Centre or the colorful Little India arcade if you have a lot of spare time.
We mostly explored the Serangoon and neighboring streets window shopping most of the time. I booked my accommodation at Little India. A cozy little dorm on a budget.
A visit to Sentosa Island
Home to Asia’s first Hollywood theme park – the Universal Studios, Sentosa is a bustling little island packed with an overdose of entertainment opportunities. From adrenaline filled thrill rides and water parks to simply idling on a 2-kilometer long beach, Sentosa has it all.
The best way to get to Sentosa Island is the Cable car ride. To get to the cable car, take exit B from Harbourfront MRT station and follow direction signs to Singapore Cable car station at Harbourfront Tower II.
Another option is to ride the Sentosa Express monorail service, operating approximately every 10 minutes from the 3rd level of VivoCity shopping mall. The third and healthiest option is to walk the Sentosa Boardwalk from the waterfront promenade at VivoCity shopping mall.
At SGD 76 per adult ticket, Universal studios is not on the super expensive list but would require a full day at minimum to explore including the rides. The precise reason I have mentioned it as the last item in my things to do in Singapore on a budget list. If you have only a day or two in hand I would recommend investing them in the heart of Singapore rather than crossing over to Sentosa.
Do let us know your thoughts through the comments section if the post helped you in any way.
Signing off for now…….