From museum-hopping to cheap happy hour deals to nature hikes in Singapore, here’s our list of affordable things to do for budget-friendly fun.
Singapore may be the land of Crazy Rich Asians, but we aren’t all big spenders – unless you count the occasional, desperate splurge on ride-hailing apps during a surge. So if you’re looking for ways to spend a fun weekend without blowing your budget (thanks, inflation), you’ve come to the right place. No matter if you’re into the arts, nature or a little shopping and gourmet goodness – there’s something for everyone (including cheapskates) on our line-up of affordable things to do. Here’s how to explore Singapore on a budget and be kind to your wallet!
Exploring Singapore on a budget: Fun and affordable things to do
1. Go on a hunt for cool clock towers
Did you know Singapore is home to at least 13 clock towers? If that’s what makes you tick, go on a hunt across the island to spot these unique structures. We set off on an adventure and spotted some really quirky ones, including a beautiful clock tower at the Singapore Botanic Gardens. Best of all, they’re free to see.
2. Unleash the fun at awesome playgrounds
Whether you’ve got tiny tots or you just love letting loose the little kid in you, playgrounds offer fun times ahead. And these aren’t your ordinary spaces either. We spotted amazing playgrounds in Singapore that feature zipline circuits, thrilling slides, obstacle courses, crazy mirrors and more. No entry fee here!
3. Round up the fam for a camping adventure
If you love the great outdoors, this is one budget-friendly activity you can plan with friends and family. Get your camping permit and pick a spot at East Coast Park, Pasir Ris Park or West Coast Park. Prep all the gear you need, stock up on food and drinks, and off you go!
4. Sing your heart out
Wanna unleash your best Ariana Grande or Ed Sheeran impersonation in front of your fans (or friends)? Hit up the karaoke bar of your choice and belt out your favourite tunes – some of ’em can be as cheap as $18 per session.
5. Take a trip to hell
The quirkiest theme park in Singapore, Haw Par Villa is a beautiful and bizarre sight to behold. It’s free to enter and explore the sprawling grounds featuring statues and dioramas depicting scenes from the legends and myths of Buddhism, Taoism and Chinese mythology, so plan to spend an hour or two wandering around. However, the air-conditioned Hell’s Museum is ticketed, so if you’d like to see the infamous Ten Courts of Hell, tickets are $18 per adult.
6. Pack a picnic and watch the golden hour
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 the sleepy morning light, but it’ll be worth it when you’re enjoying homemade sandwiches and clinking glasses to the glorious sight in front of you. Alternatively, admiring the sunset is just as romantic!
7. Explore street art
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.
8. Crack the code and escape
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. Or, explore a different dimension with virtual reality games (prices can go as low as $8 per hour).
9. Spend the day 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, Bedok Jetty and Labrador Nature Reserve.
10. Hop on board a river cruise
Prefer to drift down the Singapore River in style and enjoy the view of city lights and twinkling night stars? Hop on board a bumboat with Singapore River Cruise to sail from Clarke Quay to Boat Quay to Marina Bay ($28/adult). You’ll sit back, relax and feast your eyes on landmarks like Marina Bay Sands.
11. Make a splash
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.
12. Hunt for bargains while 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! We’ve got all the thrifting tips you need to make the most of your sustainable shopping haul.
13. 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 (free) performance.
14. Go museum-hopping
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 range from $10 to $20. Alternatively, head to exhibitions at Gillman Barracks or Goodman Arts Centre for your dose of independent art.
15. 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.
16. 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 and desserts such as chicken rice, nasi lemak, roti prata, biryani, satay, ice kachang and more. Our recommendation? Pop by famous 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.
17. 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 for affordable things to do. These niche spots cover everything from music to history, and most of ’em just ask for a small entry fee.
18. 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.
19. Hit the ice
Escape from the blistering heat and strap on your skates for an afternoon spent gliding gracefully on the ice. Just head to the coolest ice skating rink in Singapore, Kallang Ice World, for fun times that won’t set you back more than $20.
20. Set sail to offshore 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, which cost less than $10 (or any outdoor activities you’re keen to try).
21. 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 ($10.50/ticket) for your film fix.
22. Cycle across the city
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!
23. Clink glasses 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.
24. Admire 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 The Interlace, Hill Street Building and Parkview Square. Don’t forget to strap on your comfiest walking shoes before you head out!
25. View the city skyline from up top
Rooftop bars and restaurants are perfect for food and drinks with a view, but if you’re avoiding booze at the moment, make a pit stop at the Sands Skypark ($32 per 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.
26. Indulge in a spa day
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.
27. 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 ($10/adult), which boasts panoramic views of the gardens.
28. 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.
29. Listen to melodies by the bay
For a prime waterfront spot, Esplanade’s Theatres by the Bay is where you can sit and chill to the tune of free concerts, cultural performances and visual arts installations. There’s your weekend entertainment, sorted.
30. 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.
31. Cool off in the water
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.
The next time you’re wondering how to spend your weekend in Singapore on a budget, you know where to go!