Singapore is definitely not undeserving of its reputation as one of the most expensive cities in the world. Backpackers often avoid the city-state due to this reputation and living here, it can sometimes be frustrating when you see the ticket prices for events. The Haunted House currently going on at Universal Studios is S$78 ($CDN73/$USD 57)!

I’m here to tell you, don’t skip Singapore on your SE Asia trip!

A cursory glance through a Singapore tour guide offers suggestions for a few low cost/free activities including Gardens by the Bay, East Coast Park and the MacRitchie Tree Top Walk.

Once you’ve exhausted those, here are my top 5 cheap or free awesome things to do in the Lion City.

1) Pinnacle @ Duxton or ION SKY
Get high (not like that!) for a view.

Skip the pricey, overcrowded Marina Bay Sands and head over to the Pinnacle@Duxton or ION Orchard and get your bird’s eye view for less than a Starbucks latté.

The Pinnacle @ Duxton is the world’s tallest public housing complex and home to the world’s longest sky garden.

Chinatown Pinnacle@Duxton

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It costs S$5 to get up to the 50th storey sky bridge, only payable on by contactless MRT or CEPAS card (Pay wave is not accepted).
Closest MRT stations:
– Tanjong Pagar (Green Line)
– Outram Park (Green, Purple, Blue Lines)

Hours: 9am – 9pm except during special events.

For more information, check out their website here.

And if S$5 is too rich for your budget? Check out the ION Sky Observatory for FREE! The only cost; braving Orchard Rd and getting lost in the mall madness.

Closest MRT: Orchard (Red Line)

Hours: 3-6pm Daily

2) River Explorer Cruise

I’m sure you see the word “cruise” and figure I’ve been staying in Singapore for so long that I’ve forgotten what “cheap” means.

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The River Explorer Cruises offers two services; audio tours and a commuter line. Although the audio tours cost S$25-30, the commuter line is designed to be part of the public transportation services for residents and tourists and costs S$3-

But unlike other methods of public transportation, for this price you can use the boats as a hop on, hop off service and design your own tour.

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For more information, especially on details of the precise locations of embarkation points go here.

3) Haw Par Villa

An absurd theme/art park, Haw Par Villa was dreamt up and built by the makers of Tiger Balm. It has over 1000 statues and dioramas, including the 10 Circles of Hell and its purpose was to teach visitors about Chinese mythology.

It is seriously one of the weirdest and most surreal places I have ever visited. The best part for this list, it’s FREE!

Nearest MRT: Haw Par Villa (Circle Line)

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4) Pulau Ubin

Time to get out of the city and go island hopping! Commonly known as Bike Island, Pulau Ubin is a great place to explore by bike. It is one of few remaining kampong villages and if you go at the right time of year, the mangroves are supposed to be very impressive.

 

It costs $2.50 for the ferry and between $5-8 to rent a bike for the day. I recommend going for the newer, albeit pricier bikes. Nothing is worse than having your bike crap out on you when you are on the other side of the island.

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Ferries will only depart once there are a dozen or so passengers. On weekends I am sure this is a not an issue, but when I went on a Monday, we waited about 30 minutes for a ferry to take us back.
To get there, take the MRT to Tanah Merah (Green Line) and then a bus or taxi to the Changi Point Ferry Terminal. At the terminal, make sure you follow the signs to Pulau Ubin and pay the boat operator directly. Bringing your own bike is a great idea, but it will cost a few extra dollars.
5) St Johns + Lazarus

A beach escape 20 minutes from the city.

I saved this one for last, because although it is cheap by Singapore standards, it’s not exactly budget friendly if you are on the typical SEA backpacker $15-$20/day budget. In fact, if you are traveling SE Asia, this one doesn’t make much sense since there are more impressive beaches in many of the surrounding countries.

But for those who are in Singapore for a while and dying for a beautiful, calm beach; the answer is St John’s and Lazarus.

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To get to Lazarus, take the MRT to Marina South Pier (Red Line) and then take the ferry and get off at St. Johns ($18). Although they do have bathroom facilities near the beach, there aren’t any other stores so be sure to pack provisions accordingly!

Get details on ferry times here

Bonus:

6) Chinatown Craft Beer

In Singapore, the two most expensive things that you will notice as a traveler are the cost of alcohol and lodging. Head to the second floor of the Chinatown Complex, and you will find a craft beer stall that sells pints for $7-8 and pitchers for $16-18. Of craft beer. It’s pretty awesome.

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Do you have any suggestions for other cheap or free things to do in Singapore? Let me know in the comments!

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