Visiting Singapore on a budget? 5 free or cheap things in Singapore to take advantage of
For those who've been travelling in other Southeast Asian countries, prices in Singapore, especially of accommodation and attractions, can be enough to send them running across the Causeway to Malaysia.
Despite the fact that Singapore isn't exactly the cheapest tourist destination ever, there are some things you can get free or cheap that you might not necessarily enjoy in neighbouring countries, such as the following:
GET FREE WIFI ALL OVER THE ISLAND WITH THE WIRELESS@SG NETWORK
If you're the kind of person who's willing to spend money on coffee just to get wifi, don't bother doing so in Singapore.
Not only is coffee a lot more expensive here than in other Southeast Asian destinations (at least, coffee at places that give out free wifi), it's also so easy to find free wifi that you don't need to spend money just to check your Facebook newsfeed.
The Wireless@SG network has hotspots all over the island and is free to use. Travellers can learn how to log in to the network here.
You'll find hotspots all over the place, including MRT station platforms, hawker centres like Chinatown Complex and Geylang Serai Market, McDonald's restaurants (you don't have to enter the outlet to use the wifi) and shopping malls. For the full (staggering) list of Wireless@SG hotspots, click here.
REFILL YOUR WATER BOTTLE WITH TAP WATER INSTEAD OF BUYING BOTTLED WATER
If you were recently in Thailand, Cambodia or Vietnam, you probably survived by buying huge amounts of bottled water.
In Singapore, you absolutely need to have a reusable water bottle on your person at all times.
Not only is the heat and humidity perhaps a cut above what you might have experienced elsewhere in the region and bottled water more expensive, tap water is also perfectly safe to drink.
Many eateries will be happy to fill up your bottle for you when you leave, and if all else fails, you can always nip into a shopping mall toilet to fill up your bottle.
There are also public drinking fountains where you can fill up your bottle in major tourist areas like the Singapore Zoo, Botanic Gardens and Changi Airport.
AVOID THE ZOO AND SENTOSA IN FAVOUR OF FREE ATTRACTIONS
The Singapore Zoo, Universal Studios and ArtScience Museum tend to be must-visit attractions for many tourists, but are also some of the most expensive. Adult tickets to the zoo cost $33, while admission to USS costs $76 per adult. To visit the ArtScience Museum at Marina Bay Sands, be prepared to fork out $38 for an all access ticket.
If those prices are giving you a stroke, don't feel obliged to visit those attractions. Unless you're travelling with kids in tow, kids who absolutely insist on the complete zoo and theme park experience, here are more than enough free sights to visit instead.
For starters, all of Singapore's religious buildings, including the eye-popping multi-storey Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and the psychedelic Sri Mariamman temple, located just a stone's throw from each other in Chinatown, are free to visit.
For those who want a more outdoorsy experience, you can visit the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Botanic Gardens, the futuristic Gardens by the Bay and the tropical island Pulau Ubin, which are all free to visit, although you do have to pay $2 for a return boat ride to that last one.
Other unforgettable and free experiences include the HSBC Tree Top Walk that will see you suspended over the rainforest canopy, and Henderson Waves, an iconic undulating bridge that offers killer views.
You can even enjoy amazing views atop Marina Bay Sands without paying to enter the Skypark. Simply take the lift up to rooftop bar Ce La Vi on a night where there's no cover charge, and you'll be able to enjoy sweeping views without even entering the bar.
PAY HALF PRICE TO VISIT MUSEUMS ON FRIDAY EVENINGS
In between your first durian experience and partying at Clarke Quay, you might want to visit some museums.
Well, you're in luck, because entry to most of the National Heritage Board Museums (including the National Museum, Singapore Art Museum, Asian Civilisations Museum and Peranakan Museum) is half price for tourists between 7 and 9pm on Friday evenings. If you're a student or a senior, don't forget to tell the museum staff, as you'll get a further 50 per cent off.
A student visiting the Asian Civilisations Museum on Friday after 7pm would pay only $2, which is reasonable even by general Southeast Asian standards.
DRINK AT HAWKER CENTRES TO SAVE MONEY ON ALCOHOL
Thanks to the stifling heat, you'll be begging for an ice cold beer the minute you step out of the airport. But the prices of alcohol in Singapore are so shockingly high they're enough to knock you out cold.
Well, hawker centres aren't just great places to have a budget meal, they're also some of the cheapest places to drink in Singapore. The only option that's cheaper is to buy your own beer at a local supermarket.
Virtually every hawker centre will have a drink stall or two selling big bottles of Tiger Beer and Heineken, which will be served to you with a bucket of ice. As an added bonus, nobody is going to look down their nose at you for not respecting their establishment's dress code, so feel free to break out the flip flops.
This article was first published in MoneySmart.