Singapore, the tiny little city-state sitting at the southern tip of the Malaysian Peninsula, is not a cheap city! Compared to its neighboring countries Malaysia, Thailand, and Indonesia, the cost of living, and therefore your traveling expenses in Singapore, are much higher.
That's not to say you have to spend a fortune to visit this cool and fun country! There are plenty of free things to do around Singapore.
1. Buddha Tooth Temple
One of the coolest sites in the city is the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum.
If you are interested in Buddhism, or are interested in culture and art, don't miss this big, beautiful red temple complex located in Chinatown.
This multi-story temple contains several important Buddhist relics and lots of beautiful art. In the basement, a charitable group serves FREE daily vegetarian meals to any visitor, although donations are accepted and appreciated.
2. Haw Par Villa
Originally called "Tiger Balm Garden", Haw Par Villa is probably one of the weirdest attractions in Singapore. It's... odd.
Haw Par Villa is a sort of theme park, I suppose, but there aren't any rides. There's just a bunch of bizarre and kind of spooky old statues depicting scenes from Chinese mythology.
Originally meant to teach Chinese values, the park depicts scenes from classic Buddhist and Confucian works, as well as famous Chinese literature. The most famous attraction is the "Ten Courts of Hell", a spooky cave-like feature depicting the Confucian afterlife theology of punishment and rebirth.
It's weird for sure, but it's free and definitely worth spending a few hours exploring.
Haw Par Villa MRT
3. Watch the Nightly Light Shows
Singapore lights up with flashing lights and lasers during its three nightly light shows! You can catch them all in one night with a little planning:
Start out at MRT Harbourfront for the 8:00pm Crane Dance Show at Sentosa Resort.
Next, hurry to the Gardens By The Bay for the 8:45 Garden Rhapsody, where the big metallic trees and fountains light up in crazy colors.
Finally, head to Marina Bay (MRT Marina Bay) to watch the Wonder Full Light Show over the world-famous Marina Bay Sands Hotel at 9:30pm. This is the biggest and most impressive of the light shows, and if you can only make one, don't miss spending a night out at Marina Bay.
MRT Bayfront, MRT Harbourfront
4. Gardens by the Bay
After seeing the Garden Rhapsody, you might want to see the beautiful Gardens by the Bay in the daylight.
While going into the big butterfly garden or the giant indoor botanical gardens does cost money, visiting the beautiful outdoor gardens are free. If you have some money to spend however, admission to the indoor gardens are completely worth the price.
5. Changi Prison Museum
If you are interested in history, you won't want to miss the well-preserved and moving Changi Prison Museum. During the Fall of Singapore in the Second World War, 50,000 Allied soldiers, mostly British and Australian, were captured by the Imperial Japanese Army and held at Changi.
Today, it's a museum. It's worth it to check out an audio guide, and listen to the surviving POW's telling the stories of the prison in their own voices.
Bus to Changi, Eastern Singapore
6. Visit the Beach at Sentosa Island
Just off of Singapore lies Sentosa, a small resort island dedicated to relaxation, entertainment, and fun. Here, you'll find lots of cool museums, Universal Studios amusement park, and some beautiful sandy beaches that you can visit for free.
It's not actually free to get to Sentosa Island, but walking on foot across the short bridge to the island costs only S$1. You can spend a day at the tropical sandy beaches with a cold drink and beautiful views.
7. See the Art along Haji Lane
Do you like street art? Singapore has a reputation as a straight-laced and serious city, but there are plenty of places in the city that buck this trend. Singapore is a vibrant, fun, and cool place to be, you just need to know where to look.
Haji Lane is a trendy road in the old Muslim district, Kampang Glam. Now popular with students, the area boasts dozens of independent shops and cafes.
Of course, the biggest draw is the cool street art that covers the walls of the shops along the lane.
8. Explore Chinatown
One of the city's most atmospheric and interesting neighborhoods is "Niu Che Shui", Chinatown.
Besides being full of amazing food on "Food Street", Chinatown has a number of beautiful and fascinating temples and charming shop houses to explore.
You can spend hours just wandering around these streets, stopping in at temples, and taking in all the sights and sounds of the neighborhood. It's worth spending a few hours exploring.
9. Go Hunting for Merlions
The "Merlion" - half fish, half lion, is the tongue-in-cheek, yet official symbol of Singapore. There are three Merlion statues throughout the city. Can you find them all?