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…
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... [continues]
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