Although this fascinating island state can be an expensive place to live, there are plenty of affordable ways to discover and stay in Singapore. Check out these 10 noteworthy attractions, all free for you to explore.
1. Merlion Park
Take a stroll through scenic Merlion Park, at the mouth of Singapore River in the heart of the Central Business District. Here, a huge statue of Singapore’s national icon, half lion and half fish, spouts an impressive stream of water into the Marina Reservoir. It’s a popular selfie spot with great views of the city.
2. Civic District
A gentle walk from Merlion Park, Singapore’s Civic District is commonly referred to as the birthplace of modern Singapore, part of the master plan drawn up by Sir Stamford Raffles when he arrived in the early 19th century.
Here you can admire the colonial buildings that line the Singapore River. The neoclassical Asian Civilisations Museum stands alongside the Italianate Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall and Old Parliament House, originally built as a Victorian mansion. Look out for the elaborate sculpture atop the former Supreme Court and neoclassical City Hall, supported by impressive Corinthian columns.
Nearby Esplanade Park is home to The Cenotaph, a poignant, 60-foot war memorial dedicated to soldiers who sacrificed their lives in World War I and II. Look closely to see their names skillfully inscribed on the bronze tablets.
The octagonal pagoda known as the Lim Bo Seng Memorial has an intricate, three-tiered bronze roof and the four lions at its base pay homage to Singapore’s World War II hero.
Look out too for the towering, four-pillared Civilian War Memorial, and the Tan Kim Seng Fountain, a Victorian monument with three tiers of classical Greek figurines.
4. Marina Barrage
The Marina Reservoir in the heart of the city was created by a dam called the Marina Barrage. Interactive tours can be booked online or by phone at (65) 6514 5959. Gallery and tour operations are closed on Tuesdays. The barrage’s bright green roof is ideal for family picnics and kite flying, and a great place to take pictures of the city skyline.
5. Gardens by the Bay
Gardens by the Bay, close to the Central Business District, spans multi-themed gardens, two surreal, high-tech greenhouses, and the colossal Supertree Grove, connected by an aerial walkway. The best times to visit are 8am–10am and 4pm–6pm, when it’s cooler, or at night when a rainbow of coloured illuminations makes it the perfect place for a romantic stroll.
6. Singapore Botanic Gardens
A UNESCO World Heritage site, the internationally renowned Singapore Botanic Gardens dates back to 1859. Here you can wander through tropical botanical displays and look out for the resident white swans that grace the miniature lake.
Free guided tours are available from the two visitor centres at the Botany Centre and Nassim Gate. Choose between the Healing Garden, Rainforest and Heritage Tours, which leave at 9am on the first, second and fourth Saturdays of every month respectively.
7. Southern Ridges
Nature lovers can follow the linked bridges and walkways of the 10km Southern Ridges park. Start at the Marang Trail, and climb up to the peak at Mount Faber Park for panoramic views of the coast. Look out for the undulating Henderson Waves bridge, a graceful piece of modern architecture that rises above the trees, and is illuminated at night.
8. NEWATER Plant
An impressive 30% of Singapore’s water is recycled. You can get a glimpse into the technology that makes this possible through interactive exhibits at the NEWATER Visitor Centre. It’s open Tuesday to Sunday and tours can be booked online.
9. Esplanade Outdoor Theatre
You can catch free music and dance performances every Friday, Saturday and Sunday at the Esplanade Outdoor Theatre. Shows start around 7.30pm and last 30–45 minutes. The last acts end by 11pm. Seats are available on a first-come, first-served basis, so arrive early if you want to snap one up.
10. National Library
Get a temporary reprieve from the buzz of city life at the 16-story National Library. You can browse through the reference library, which covers science, technology, arts and local history, or discover everything from fiction novels to self-improvement publications in the popular basement section. Best of all, there are excellent views from the building’s elevated sky bridges.
You don’t have to spend a fortune to enjoy the best of Singapore. So what are you waiting for? Get out and start exploring.