It’s no secret that swanky Singapore can easily blow the budget but there are plenty of free ways to entertain yourself during an extended stopover on your way to Sydney from London – or vice versa. The trick is knowing where to look.
Take in a light and water show
Every evening the Marina Bay Sands Hotel comes alive in a symphony of music and a kaleidoscope of colour known as Spectra. Fountain jets and high-tech lasers combine with an orchestral soundtrack to create a mesmerising 15-minute show.
Hang with macaques in the treetops
Swap the city for the verdant tracks of MacRitchie Treetop Walk. Highlights include a 250-metre-long suspension bridge between the two highest points in MacRitchie – Bukit Peirce and Bukit Kalang – and a seven-deck observation tower offering spectacular views of the forest. Look out for the cheeky long-tailed macaques and adorable squirrels.
Ride a travelator to a tropical island
It’s a leisurely stroll on shaded travelators from VivoCity mall to Sentosa. Enjoy a host of free beach activities, nature and heritage walks, movies and light shows and day tours of Fort Siloso – Singapore’s only preserved coastal military fort showcasing WWII memorabilia, tunnels and an interactive exhibition of the country’s military history.
Discover Buddhist history
Immerse yourself in Buddhist history at the Buddhist Tooth Relic Temple and Museum, a Tang-style five-storey structure in Chinatown. The temple gets its name from what Buddhists believe is the left canine tooth of Buddha, which was recovered from his funeral pyre in Kushinagar, India.
Go to a show at Esplanade
Affectionately referred to by locals as “the durian” due to its resemblance to the stinky fruit, Esplanade Theatres on the Bay is Singapore’s home of the arts, offering a diverse roster of dance, music and theatre performances (check the website for dates of free shows), as well as visual art exhibitions.
Hide out in a city oasis
You don’t need to be into gardening to appreciate Gardens by the Bay in Marina Bay. Take a scenic stroll along the 22-metre-high aerial walkway among the giant futuristic “supertrees” and see some of best views of the city skyline. The dedicated children’s gardens are a fun-filled, interactive wonderland and the water gardens are a great way to cool off in the heat.
Push pause on shopping for some contemporary art
There’s much more to Orchard Road than high-end shopping. On level four of ION Orchard Mall you’ll find a 370-square-metre gallery showcasing some of the best modern and contemporary art, design and new media from local and international artists. Take the lift to the top floor to experience 360-degree views from the observatory 56 levels above Orchard Road.
Stroll around Singapore hipster-central Tiong Bahru
Lined with rows of quaint Art Deco shop houses and apartments, this leisurely, low-rise enclave is the new home of the hip. Worth a visit for the architecture and street art alone, there are also many cool stores to explore, including artisan bakeries, vintage stores and independent bookshops.
Be awed by Singapore Botanic Gardens
As the only tropical botanic garden on UNESCO’s World Heritage list, this is a must for green thumbs. This 150-year-old garden also offers history buffs a unique and rich record of Singapore’s past, from its years under English rule, the Japanese occupation and the road to independence in the 1960s. Art-lovers will appreciate the extensive collection of sculptures dotted throughout the grounds.
Breathe deeply at Singapore’s wetlands
For a breath of fresh air, head to the 202-hectare Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve to observe migratory birds, otters, monitor lizards and crabs in their natural habitats. The easy two-kilometre walking circuit takes in tidal ponds and boardwalks surrounded by mangroves.
SEE ALSO: How To Experience Singapore By Night