31st August 2011
Compared to budget-friendly South-East Asia, priced-up Singapore can be a shock to the system. But there’s bargains to be had if you know where to look… Wanderlust team
1. Lose yourself in little India
Singapore’s Indian community is richly served in Tekka Market, where goats’ heads parade past on carts, halal butchers do their magic and claw-bound crabs shuffle in buckets. Nearby is Sri Veeramakaliamman: an elaborate Hindu shrine dedicated to Kali. 2. Hear a birdsong medley
Every Sunday morning in Chinatown, at the Wah Heng coffee shop, a flock of songbird owners gather to show off their pets. The decorative cages are grouped according to breed, so the birds don’t pick up the distinctive songs of others. 3. Hit the Esplanade
Occupying six hectares of prime waterfront, the Esplanade is Singapore’s biggest arts centre. Its distinctive bug’s-eye buildings are free to enter and hosts lots of free events, from Asian dance to pipe organ recitals. 4. Gaze at dragons
The Thian Hock Keng Temple is an impressive Hokkien (Chinese) building housing a statue of Ma Chu Por (the Queen of Heaven). Head through the stone-lion guarded doors to find dragons stalking the roof and ever-burning ovens where offerings are made. 5. Stroll the Botanic Gardens
This wide, green space hosts more than 600,000 plants. The ‘original Singaporean jungle’ is a small slice of the rainforest that once blanketed the island. The gardens host a free open-air music concert one Sunday each month at the Shaw Foundation Symphony Stage. 6. Marvel at a mosque
Heading through Little Arabia, it’s hard to miss the Aladdin-esque domes of the Sultan Mosque – the heart of Singapore’s Muslim community, with space for 5,000 worshippers. The glittering bases of these domes are made from thousands of glass bottles donated by the poor. Closed Fridays. 7. Free beer!
OK, so you have to pay S$16 (£8) for a tour of the Tiger Beer Brewery, but at the end you do get to sample the wares for ‘free’. The tour consists of a historic film, a walk through the brewing and bottling halls, and an hour or two (or three, or four…) in the company’s own bar. Six tours a day, Monday to Friday; book in advance. 8. Walk with monkeys
The HSBC TreeTop Walk at the MacRitchie Reservoir Park carries you along a 25m-high, 250m-long bridge through the forest canopy. Catch sight of a multitude of birds and insects (as long as there are no screaming children around). Remember to take plenty of water: this well-signed hike takes 3-5 hours. 9. Get back to nature
To the north of the city, there are well-established walking trails in the Bukit Timah Nature Reserve, plus the chance of spotting macaques, snakes and sea eagles. Don’t feed the monkeys! 10. Enjoy art for art’s sake
Opened in 1996, the Singapore Art Museum aims to preserve the art history and practices of the region. Normally $10, but free on Friday evenings, 6-9pm. And one to break the bank
Grab yourself a Singapore Sling in the place where it was invented: the Raffles Hotel. The cocktail is best enjoyed in the old-school Bar & Billiard Room. And if you’re really feeling plush, treat yourself to a room too. 10 Free Things to Do in Singapore
1) Singapore Botanic GardensWhen the weather is nice you’ll want to enjoy the outdoors so the Botanic Gardens is a great option with free entry. Open from 5am to midnight daily, the 73 hectare (183 acre) garden is the earliest and latest open public garden in the world. Being so grandiose in size it is easy to get lost so a map is needed. The ginger garden, which homes 250 species of ginger and the evolution garden, which details the evolution of plants on earth, are too interesting to be missed among many others. The main attraction of the park is the National Orchid Garden, but unfortunately, there is a small entrance fee. 2) 2) Raffles Hotel It might be way out of your budget to stay at Raffles Hotel with rooms starting at...