Want to enjoy a day out in the sun without paying admission fees to some of our most popular outdoor attractions in Singapore?
Although frequently listed and singled to be the most expensive city in the world, a day (or two, or three!) on a shoestring budget is completely possible. Many of these attractions are conveniently located in close proximities to MRT stations, with some right smack in the heart of the city.
There are also, in fact, many overlooked and forgotten (and hidden) gems in our Garden City. Here are 11 free outdoor activities in Singapore to consider that will not cost you a single cent (well, maybe just transportation, food and drinks)!
#1 SINGAPORE BOTANICAL GARDENS
Whip up your favourite dishes and pack your picnic baskets, because a picnic in the Singapore Botanical Gardens is a treat for all your senses! Delicious food for your tastebuds, fragrance from the flowers, a wide spectrum of colours from your surroundings and beautiful music, all combined for an immersive experience.
A place rich in history and of monument significance in the history of Singapore, the Singapore Botanic Gardens has also won over the hearts of its visitors, many of whom have special memories of time spent wandering around the Gardens. Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Singapore Botanic Gardens has a lot more to offer, from the various trails such as the Evolution Garden or the Rain Forest Trail, to outdoor recitals at Symphony Lake.
Daily: 5am – 12am
#2 TREETOP WALK
Rising above the forest canopy of MacRitchie Reservoir Park is a bridge like no other. Step onto the bridge and be awestruck by the 50 shades of green right right before your eyes (and blue in the distance)!
The TreeTop Walk is definitely a highlight for many visitors to MacRitchie, but getting to it can be challenging for the uninitiated. The shortest route possible would be to enter from the Venus Drive entrance of the park, but even so, it is a 3.5km trek to the TreeTop Walk and a similar distance back to the same entrance.
Tue to Fri: 9am – 5pm
Sat, Sun & PH: 8.30am – 5pm
#3 HAW PAR VILLA
Step into the mythical world of Chinese folklore and learn more about stories such as Journey to the West and Romance of the Three Kingdoms through the many sculptures and dioramas in Haw Par Villa.
Built by the elder brother of the Haw Par brothers (creators of Tiger Balm), Haw Par Villa, as it is known today, is a brother’s display of love to his Western-educated younger brother, and also as a reminder to stay true to his roots.
The history of Haw Par Villa goes way back to the 1930s, and the park has seen many incarnations – from a residential compound to a lookout for the Japanese soldiers during the war, and even a theme park in the 1980s and 1990s. Although the park has seen better days, many sculptures and dioramas of the Chinese mythological folklores have been retained, including the famous and somewhat gruesome depiction of the 10 Courts of Hell (visitor discretion advised).
Daily: 9.00am – 7.00pm (Last entry at 6.00pm)
#4 GREEN CORRIDOR
Go back in time into the eyes of travellers of yesteryears and experience how it was like travelling on the railroad en route to Malaysia. The Green Corridor is a proposed nature area that spans the length of the former KTM railway tracks from Kranji in the north, to Tanjong Pagar in the city centre.
Years of non-existent development along the railway tracks has encouraged the many different species of trees and plants to colonise the areas surrounding it, providing a lush buffer and a fitting introduction to the garden city.
Spanning over 26km, you can choose to access various parts of the corridor by either taking a walk down the iconic bridge near King Albert Park, visiting the old Bukit Timah railway station, or simply taking in the sights and sounds of the surrounding greenery at any point along the corridor.
#5 NATURE AND HISTORY-THEMED GUIDED WALKS
Always amazed by the critters and desolated relics that are photographed right here in Singapore but unsure of where and how to find them? Or wondered about the history and story behind some of Singapore’s most well-known landmarks and districts? Put on your walking shoes/trekking boots and get ready for an adventure!
Volunteers from various interest groups and organisations frequently plan free guided walks, and some of them are Toddycats’ Love MacRitchie Walks, a.t.Bukit Brown, Naked Hermit Crabs and NParks. Stemming from their love towards conservation and the environment, these volunteers would be more than happy to share their encounters and even let you in on interesting snippets of their personal experience!
X marks the spot!
Fancy going on a treasure hunt where you bash through jungles, explore hidden corners and travel to unfamiliar territories for its hidden “treasures”?
Geocaching is a fantastic way to explore and discover new and interesting places around the world. Simply download the app, select the geocache you would like to find and GPS your way to “X”. Remember to be a responsible “geocacher” by filling in the log book and returning the geocache to the exact spot where you found it.
PS. An abandoned Shinto shrine can be found somewhere in Singapore where a geocache is hidden.
#7 FARM-HOPPING AT KRANJI COUNTRYSIDE
Hidden in the Northern corner of Singapore is a lifestyle that is now considered a rarity in Singapore. Disconnect from urban Singapore and take in the sight, sound, smell and taste of rural Singapore.
Watch as goats are milked at Hay Dairies, be entranced by the myriad of ornamental fishes at Qian Hu Fish Farm, or see how vegetables and fruits such as aloe vera and wheatgrass are grown at Kin Yan Agrotech.
There are numerous farms spread out across the Kranji countryside, and you can find a wide range of produce and goods at each farm. If time only permits for one farm visit, head on to Farmart Centre, where kids can learn about, and have the opportunity to interact with various pet and farm animals.
#8 MARINA BAY – HELIX BRIDGE, JUBILEE BRIDGE, ESPLANADE, AND MERLION
Reclaimed from the sea during the 1970s, Marina Bay has seen amazing developments over the past two decades with the marquee developments such as the Marina Bay Financial Centre, The Sail Condominium, Marina Bay Sands and the Esplanade–Theatres by the Bay. As one of the hottest place in Asia to see and be seen, it has built a reputation of glitz and glamour with its snazzy architecture and world renowned events.
However, Marina Bay is not just a playground for the rich and famous. There are many things which visitors can do around the Bay – yes, absolutely free!
The construction of the Helix Bridge and, more recently, the Jubilee Bridge has made travelling around the bay a seamless loop. One can hop into the Marina Bay City Gallery to learn about the conceptualisation and development of Marina Bay, chill out at the roof terrace of the Esplanade with its fantastic view of the Bay, catch free performances that frequently take place at the Esplanade’s outdoor theatre or take a quirky selfie with the Merlion. There is always something for everyone in the family at Marina Bay.
#9 WONDER FULL AT MARINA BAY SANDS
Find yourself a comfortable spot at the platform outside Marina Bay Sands, bring along some snacks and drinks, and be prepared to be enthralled by a lights and sound extravaganza.
Presented in a unique setting where water fountains are magically transformed into cinematic screens, Wonder Full tells the tale of the journey of life, from the beginning of life on earth to the journey of a child into adulthood. Laser projections, fire displays and beautifully choreographed water fountains, adds an additional dimension to the already stunning display.
PS. Avoid being too close to the front on windy days, unless you do not mind the water splashing on you!
Sun to Thu: 8pm, 9.30pm
Friday & Saturday: 8.00pm, 9.30pm, 11.00pm
#10 MARINA BARRAGE
We all get flashbacks from the past and often reminisce about the good old days of being young and innocent. Most of us would definitely have fond memories of Marina South where, as a child, we would watch the kites soar high up into the sky, or even attempt to (successfully or unsuccessfully) fly one on our own.
Although the Marina South area has since gave way to the futuristic Gardens by the Bay, with its SuperTrees and temperature controlled Conservatories, a new spot has now established itself as the go-to place for kite flying; well, even Drone flying!
The Marina Barrage was purpose-built to increase Singapore’s water supply and created the Marina Reservoir, which is not only the newest, but also the largest reservoir in Singapore.
It is also masterfully designed — the green roof of the building not only keeps the building cool, it is also a big, open-space picnic spot favoured by families and couples. Whether planned, or by sheer coincidence, Marina Barrage has successfully revived the Marina South of the 90s and a space for kite flying enthusiasts to call their own.
#11 GARDEN RHAPSODY AT GARDENS BY THE BAY
Grab a space underneath the SuperTrees and wait for the magic to unfold! Immerse yourselves in a spectacular display of lights and sounds that make everything around you come alive!
The Garden Rhapsody celebrates the harmonious co-existence of Man and the Garden. The stars of the show, the SuperTrees, are also an architecture marvel that complements and creates a balance to the architecturally impressive skyscrapers at Marina Bay. Not only are they a sight to behold, they are also equipped with green technology, harvesting solar energy to power the SuperTrees and collecting rainwater for irrigation.
Daily: 7.45pm, 8.45pm (Showtimes varies seasonally)
About the writer:
A nature lover, biologist and an avid photographer, Jeremy enjoys exploring the various trails and natural areas around Singapore, photographing interesting critters and documenting unique behaviours along his treks. Never one to shy away from an adventure, Jeremy is always keen to explore new natural areas in Singapore and to discover what hidden gems our nature areas have to offer.