This is a guest post by Neha Singh. She is a full-time blogger and has contributed to a lot of blogs! Check this one out on Backpacking in Singapore!
Even though Singapore is the second-most-densely populated country, you’ll find it clean, and orderly. There’s no never-ending hustle and bustle on the streets as you’d find in Bangkok or in other busy towns. The city of Singapore has class and has definitely more than a little European charm mixed in with the Asian aspects. Everything great so far except that Singapore is definitely expensive – definitely not a backpacker-friendly country. Still, we’d like to show you how you can enjoy this expensive city on a backpacker’s budget.
- Check out Chinatown
In the long list of the ubiquitous Chinatowns in the world, Singapore’s Chinatown is the oldest and the largest. There are numerous temples to admire here, apart from traditional road-side Chinese stalls selling herbs, Chinese tea, medicines and silk. During Chinese New Year in January or February, the whole of Chinatown turns into a magical world. Chinatown has several reasonable budget accommodations and plenty of hawker food stalls selling Chinese food cheap.
2. Browse Through Little India’s Shops
You’ll find most of the city’s cheap accommodation at Little India. You can stay here and explore the temples, the shops and the eateries offering fish head curry to your heart’s content. Time stands still in Little India – olden-day stores sit right next to newer businesses. There are flower-garland vendors, stalls selling silk sarees and gold jewellery and modern hotels and shopping complexes, all in Little India. The best shopping is to be had at the 24-hour shopping mall Mustafa Centre and the open-air Tekka Centre.
3. Explore Arab Street
Explore the value for money eateries and the wonderful stalls that sell Arab clothing, carpets and shisha pipes. This street is a backpacker’s dream, with many decent backpacker hostels with clean, comfortable dorms. You might even get free Wi-Fi at some! Arab Street’s pubs are lively and fun at night and the street is bustling with activity during the day.
4. Bike through Bukit Timah Nature Reserve
The Bukit Timah Nature Reserve is a welcome escape from the city’s heat. It’s one of the only two primary rainforests in the world that’s located this close to a city. Trek or bicycle the more than 6 kilometres of trekking routes and spot some of the fabulous wildlife for which the forest is famed. The forest has waterfalls, lovely landscapes and over 3,000 Macaque -Japanese monkeys who’ll keep pace with you as you trek. Exploring this reserve is one of the best things to do in Singapore for the budget.
5. Check out the World’s Largest Fountain!
The World’s largest fountain is located at Suntec City, made of cast bronze. It cost the city an astounding US $6 million to build but it is a major tourist attraction in Singapore now. Suntec city is a ‘city within a city’ with 888,000 feet of shops and only shops. Go window shopping to your heart’s content and be sure to take a selfie against that fountain!
6. Trek the Southern Ridges
The Southern Ridges are actually about 9 kms of trails that connect all the parks of Southern Singapore. These trails feature a number of architecturally fabulous bridges that are Instagram worthy. There are also tree top routes that you can take across the ridges. Enjoy the best panoramic views of the surrounding landscapes from various points.
7. Visit The Chinese And Japanese Gardens
Situated on two artificial islands on Jurong Lake, the Chinese Gardens and the Japanese Gardens are connected by a bridge. These two tranquil gardens offer a number of lovely sights and plenty of peaceful silence. In the Chinese Garden you’ll find arched bridges, pagodas, and decorative stones attributed to the architectural style of the Imperial Sung dynasty – 969 AD to 1126 AD. The Japanese Garden is a rhapsody in lanterns, rocks, sand and water so delicately executed you’ll be hard pressed to step on any of them.
8. Check out the Singapore Zoo
Both the Singapore Zoo and the Night Safari in a nearby rainforest are simply the best ways to squeeze some wildlife appreciation into your backpacking tour. Get up close to nocturnal creatures and enjoy the open zoo concept to the full. The Singapore Zoo houses animals from every corner of the world while the Night Safari has installed nocturnal creatures like elephants and leopards into seven geographical zones that range from the African Savannah to the Himalayas. You’ll be set back by SD33 Singapore Dollars, but you can enjoy a day and a night to the full at this attraction so it’s worth it.
9. Maxwell Road Food Hawker at Tanjong Pagar
Singapore is a nation of many gastronomic delights; street foods occupy a sort of cult status in Singapore. If you want to experience authentic Singaporean cuisine at really reasonable prices, try the city’s famous hawker centre, the Maxwell Road Hawker Center, which has more than 100 food stalls. Choose any stall you want and try the cuisine you choose – Malay, Indian, Chinese, and that delightful mix of cuisines that’s distinctly Singaporean.
10. Admire The Supertrees At Gardens By The Bay
Most parts of the Gardens by the Bay Singapore are free to browse, except the conservatories and the treetop walkway. Otherwise, you can enjoy this magnificent half natural and half manmade gardens for absolutely nothing. Wander through the Outdoor Gardens in Bay South, admiring the orchid garden and the incredible range of flowering plants. The Supertrees are simply enormous and are made of iron and branches of natural trees. They are draped with lights during the evening; don’t miss the incredible light and sound shows at 7.45pm or 8.45pm daily.
11. Explore the Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve
The Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve is an ecological delight, laden with freshwater flora and fauna. If you are into wildlife, spend some quality time exploring this reserve. You might catch a sight of the rare smooth otters and the numerous rainforest birds that come there to dip their beaks. There are any number of marquees, in the reserve and they’ll keep you company while you keep your eyes peeled for rare birds.
12. Take A Free Art Tour
If you’re an art lover, head to the many hotels in Singapore which have opened up their art collections to non-guests. Check out the Pan Pacific hotel’s Public Art Space for rotating exhibitions; Marina Bay Sands has several artworks in its lobby area, such as Sol LeWitt’s Arcs, Circle and Irregular Bands. Take the 30 minute tour at the Ritz-Carlton Millennia to check out the Frank Stella installations, Dale Chihuly glass blowings and the Andy Warhols near the ballroom.
13. Visit the Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Monastery
As with any Buddhist temple, entry is totally free here. Visit this Buddhist monastery in the Bishan district for its huge size (it’s the largest Buddhist temple in Singapore). There are many Halls here – the Hall of Great Strength, the Hall of Universal Brightness and so on, all impeccably designed with patterned mosaics and clean and totally serene. It’s just the refreshing environment you need after a hard day in the city.
14. Visit The Singapore Botanic Gardens
Singapore’s Botanic Gardens occupies a huge green space at the very edge of the Orchard Road district. The stunning grounds are free to wander. If you’re keen on botany, take one of the free walking tours advertised at the Botanic Gardens. The Botanic Gardens used to be a part of the Fort Canning Park which overlooks Singapore Central Business District. It’s a lovely place for a stroll, especially amidst the sweet smelling spice gardens.
15. Visit Singapore’s Offshore Islands
Singapore has more than 60 small offshore islands that are well worth exploring. Check out Pulau Ubin for its beauty, and Lazarus Island for its beaches. Kusu Island is for tortoise lovers, and Sisters’ Island is actually two separate islands separated by a narrow channel. Pay a boatman a few dollars to take you over to the island of your choice (check for need of permits first) and enjoy a day of bliss, for free.
Even though it’s not a backpacker friendly country, Singapore has so many free attractions and activities (much more than we’re able to post here) that you’ll be really surprised. Look for more of them and make a list of activities you want to attempt while in Singapore.