It is expensive to travel to Singapore. Be it accommodations, or food, or even the entrance fees to the attractions around town– everything has a pretty steep price. It is no surprise that the city is ranked one of the most expensive places to live in the world.
However, it is possible to see Singapore with a low budget, or almost none at all. On one of the days during my visit, I thought I’d wander around the city with only a transport card in hand, without paying for anything (except for food). Sometimes, the most beautiful and best things are free– and after walking around the city for a day, I have to agree. Singapore does offer wonderful sights and sounds for the budget conscious traveler. Here’s my day’s itinerary and the lovely places I visited… for free!
The public transport system in Singapore is really efficient, so getting around the island was relatively easy for me. The MRT train runs to almost everywhere in Singapore, and all the places I wanted to go to. Upon arriving in Singapore, I got myself an EZ-Link card for SG$12=US$9 (with a S$7 value), and used it for the entire length of my trip, topping up when necessary.
Singapore Botanical Gardens
The first stop of the day was the Singapore Botanical Gardens, as I figured that a morning stroll in the gardens would be a great way to start the day. I was pleasantly surprise when I arrived– there were people jogging along the pathways and families picnicking on the grass. Honestly, with the hot and humid Southeast Asian weather, it was not a sight I am used to!
With beautiful lakes and lots of greenery, the garden is a lovely respite from the bustle of the city; and if you’re interested in viewing Singapore’s national flower, the National Orchid Garden is located here. There’s an entrance fees for this– SG$5=US$3.5.
Joo Chiat Peranakan Houses
After visiting the Botanical Gardens, I ventured towards the eastern part of Singapore– to Joo Chiat. It is here that the Peranakan heritage is still strong; and just like Malaysia, it is a big part of Singaporean history. There are many beautiful colorful Peranakan houses and shops that line the roads in Joo Chiat, and I took some time looking around and admiring its intricate architecture. Certain sections might be harder to find than others– so look carefully, you might find a gorgeous hidden building somewhere!
While visiting the area, I dropped by for lunch at one of the Peranakan restaurants in the area. Read more about the food here:- Mynn’s Top 10: A Food Tour in Singapore.
After lunch, I decided to head on over to the waterfront to view the most photographed attraction in Singapore, the Merlion. I couldn’t make a trip to Singapore and not see the statue! It is, after all, Singapore’s mascot.
The Merlion Park was packed with visitors– but walking a little further across the bridge towards the Esplanade took me away from the crowds; and I was greeted by an amazing view of the Marina Bay Sands in the distance, the Merlion on the right, and the durian-shaped Esplanade on the left.
You don’t need deep pockets to explore Orchard Road– of course it does help if you happen to spot a handbag or a dress you definitely need to own! But shopping was not in the itinerary for me, so I just took the opportunity to soak in the atmosphere and window shop– peeking into the many luxury boutiques, browsing through the department stores and watching different types of people walking around.
While strolling along the street I spotted an ice-cream vendor, so I sat by one of the benches and enjoyed an ice-cream potong (ice-cream sandwiched by two wafers)– a definite must-try while in Singapore!
Towards the late afternoon, I made my way to Chinatown; and despite the crowd, I loved how vibrant and colorful it is! Pretty heritage houses line the many lanes– with small shops set up in front, and Chinese lanterns hung above. If you’re looking for souvenirs and interesting cultural trinkets, this is the place to get them.
Chinatown is also a great place to eat– after walking pass many restaurants and eateries showcasing their wonderful array of dishes, I couldn’t resist stopping here for an early dinner. With all kinds of Chinese food to choose from, I was spoiled for choice!
Gardens by the Bay
I arrived at the Gardens by the Bay just before sunset. The gardens is large and some of the attractions here require an entrance fee– but walking around and admiring the view is free! I found a strategic spot and watched the Marina Bay Sands and Supertrees light up as the sun went down and the skies turned dark. It was great for photos!
After sunset, I walked over to the Supertrees for the light and sound show that happens at 7.45pm and 8.45pm daily. The blinking colorful lights from the trees illuminated the night and danced to the music. The show is actually pretty awesome, and a great way to end the day of exploring the streets of Singapore.