From museum-hopping to thrift shopping to nature hikes, here’s our list of affordable things to do in Singapore.
Singapore may be the land of Crazy Rich Asians, but we aren’t all big spenders. So if you’re looking for ways to spend a fun weekend without blowing your budget, you’ve come to the right place. No matter if you’re into arts and nature or a little retail therapy and gourmet goodness – there’s something for everyone on our line-up of affordable things to do in Singapore. Read on and be kind to your wallet!
Affordable things to do in Singapore
1. Grab your picnic basket
Take your picnic to the next level by romancing your partner at sunrise spots like Marina Barrage, Changi Boardwalk, East Coast Park, Mount Faber Park and Kranji Reservoir. Sure, you may have to sacrifice several hours of sleep to immerse yourself in sleepy morning light, but it’ll be worth it when you’re enjoying strawberries and sandwiches, clinking glasses to the glorious sight in front of you. Alternatively, admiring the sunset is just as romantic!
2. Make a break for it
Unleash your inner Houdini and solve puzzles or break challenging codes at enigmatic escape rooms. Most places offer affordable themed games that you can tackle with your pals for a fun indoor activity.
3. Try your hand at fishing
If you’re looking for a peaceful day in nature, you’ll be hooked on this activity. All you need is the proper gear, a ton of sunscreen and a buddy to laze the day away with you. Fishing and prawning spots in Singapore include Punggol Point Jetty and Labrador Nature Reserve.
4. Cruise around the river
Prefer to drift down the Singapore River in style, shaded from the scorching rays of the sun? Hop on board a bumboat with Singapore River Cruise to sail from Clarke Quay to Boat Quay to Marina Bay ($20/adult). You’ll sit back, relax and feast your eyes on landmarks like Marina Bay Sands.
5. Beat the heat
This one’s fun for the entire fam. Grab your swimming suits and cool down at public swimming pools that feature everything from slides to lazy rivers to jacuzzis. There’s really nothing better than a day at the pool when you live in eternal summer.
6. Go thrift shopping
No money? No problem. Rummage through the treasure troves at thrift stores and antique shops for pre-loved apparel, accessories and furniture. Who knows, you just may end up going home with a lovely vintage find to add to your retro stash.
7. Explore the country’s first Unesco World Heritage site
The original park to rule all parks, our Singapore Botanic Gardens is a landmark in itself. And its constant flow of visitors speaks to its popularity. Besides admiring the green spaces blooming with a wide array of plants, trees and flowers, you can go on a walking trail or sit by the stage to enjoy the occasional performance.
8. Get your fill of art
The art scene in Singapore has loads to offer, from historical artefacts to cultural relics to rare works. Keen to check out the best museums and art galleries in the country? Bigwigs like National Gallery Singapore, National Museum of Singapore and the Asian Civilisations Museum welcome Singaporeans and PRs for free (just bring your identity card), while visitor passes start from about $15. Alternatively, head to exhibitions at Gillman Barracks or Goodman Arts Centre for your dose of independent art.
9. Feast on hearty hawker fare
Eating out can be expensive, but hawker food never fails to satisfy both our stomachs and our wallets. It’s the quintessential Singaporean experience, digging into local dishes such as chicken rice, nasi lemak, roti prata, biryani, satay, fried carrot cake and more. Our recommendation? Pop by hawker centres like Maxwell Food Centre, Old Airport Road Food Centre, Tiong Bahu Market & Food Centre and Amoy Street Food Centre to nibble your way through everything.
10. Spend time with Mother Nature
We may be known for our sleek skyscrapers and cosmopolitan vibes, but there’s a good reason we’re called the Garden City. Singapore’s full of green spaces like parks, reservoirs and nature trails – best of all, they’re free to explore! Just bring along your trusty hiking gear, a spritz of natural mosquito repellent (for good measure) and an adventurous spirit.
11. Hit the ice
12. Wander around cultural enclaves
The vibrant heritage ‘hoods of Chinatown, Little India and Kampong Glam are home to streets full of Insta-worthy alleyway art, hip cafes, great local grub and quirky treasures. We love how you can always find gems that won’t burn a hole in your wallet amidst all the shops selling spices, jewellery, fabric, homeware and even kitschy tourist trinkets.
13. Watch indie flicks at alternative cinemas
We enjoy a good blockbuster hit or laugh-out-loud comedy as much as the next person, but sometimes you just want to do things a little differently. Like catch a cool drama at an outdoor screening or go the non-mainstream route at indie cinemas. So forget about Gold Class or premium seats and head to places like The Projector (from $9.50/ticket) for your film fix.
14. Make a splash
Enjoy a little fun in the sun with water sports like kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding and sailing. You’ll be working up a sweat without breaking the bank.
15. Set sail to surrounding islands
We’re not just talking about Sentosa. It’s great fun and all, but the quiet offshore islands beyond our waters offer a rustic experience for adventure seekers, beach enthusiasts, history buffs and everyone in between. Immerse yourself in nature at Pulau Ubin or St. John’s, Lazarus, Kusu and Sisters’ Islands for a day. All you have to do is pay for the boat rides (or any outdoor activities you’re keen to try).
16. Hop on a bike
To give your feet a break from walking, grab a two-wheeler and cycle your way across the city. We’ve got the lowdown on the best bicycle routes through parks, heartland areas, landmarks and farms. Just rent a bike and gear up!
17. Toast to happy hour deals
Cocktails are best enjoyed when they’re cheap and cheery, we say. And since we’ve already done the legwork for you by rounding up the top happy hour spots in town, here’s to evenings of boozy highs without your purse feeling the pinch.
18. Tour quirky museums
If you’ve hit your mainstream museum quota for the year, perhaps it’s time to take a look at secret museums in Singapore. These niche spots cover everything from music to history, and most of ’em just ask for a small entry fee.
19. Hunt down architectural landmarks
With quaint shophouses residing next to slick towers and futuristic structures, we’ve got loads of architectural wonders to appreciate. So make the most of your trek across the city and swing by icons like Golden Mile Complex, The Interlace, Hill Street Building and Parkview Square. Don’t forget to strap on your comfiest walking shoes before you head out!
20. Admire the city skyline from up top
Rooftop bars are perfect for drinks with a view, but if you’re avoiding booze at the moment, make a pitstop at the Sands Skypark ($26/adult) for a breathtaking panorama of the city. From your sky-high vantage point, you’ll easily spot landmarks like Gardens by the Bay, the Singapore Flyer, Esplanade and the Merlion.
21. Pamper yourself
Spa time may be more of an occasional splurge than a regular relaxing session, but indulgent treatments can actually be easier on your bank account than you think. For an afternoon of bliss, choose from divine massages, soothing facials and amazing mani-pedis on our list of spas for every budget.
22. Take out your cameras for a street art trail
The city’s teeming with nostalgic murals, funky graffiti and gorgeous paintings, and they’re all free to see. So pick a day with good weather and rock up to the coolest street art spots with your camera to get some great snaps. To continue exploring, lose yourself in the streets of Tiong Bahru, Haji Lane, Telok Ayer and Joo Chiat.
23. Bask in the beauty of blooms
Continue your love affair with Mother Nature at Gardens by the Bay, where you’re free to roam around the leafy pockets of plants and flowers dotting the landscape. Attractions like Floral Fantasy, Flower Dome and Cloud Forest are ticketed (from $12/adult), but they’re worth it. Especially if you haven’t been to the Supertree Observatory (from $10/adult), which boasts panoramic views of the gardens.
24. Enjoy free melodies by the bay
For a prime waterfront spot, Esplanade’s Theatres by the Bay is where you can usually sit and chill to the tune of concerts, cultural performances and visual arts installations (when the pandemic calms down). There’s your weekend entertainment, sorted.
25. Luxuriate in a staycation
Forget five-star brands. Boutique hotels are all the rage these days, and the ones on our island run the range from modern minimalist to luxury chic. Check in to staycay spots like The Great Madras or Lloyd’s Inn for a cosy overnighter away from the crowds.
26. Walk the city
There’s always something new to discover in the nooks and crannies of our island. We reckon the best way to see the city with a fresh perspective is to stroll through its various districts on a walking trail. That way, you get to tick things off your bucket list with a tour guide on hand to answer your questions. Alternatively, set off on one of the National Heritage Board’s self-guided walks to better suit your own schedule.
27. Put on your bargain-hunting game face
A 24/7 shopping paradise for night owls, Mustafa Centre in Little India is everyone’s go-to for a hit of retail therapy… at midnight. The massive building may be a bit of a maze, but it’s the best kind of feeling when you’re lost amidst the rows of electronic gadgets, snacks, skincare, apparel and homeware.
The next time you’re on the hunt for affordable things to do in Singapore, you know where to go!