Singapore and free, two words that you most probably thought are incompatible. Though Singapore was ranked as the most expensive city in the world (research published by The Economist Intelligence Unit) there are still plenty of things that you can do for free. And I am not talking about sitting on a bench in the park all day or working out that sun-tan of yours!
Advanced Crash Course To Stargazing
Singapore Science Center Observatory
Now, this is one of my favorite activities on the list. Every Friday the Singapore Science Center Observatory has FREE stargazing sessions (yes, you don’t have problems with your sight, it does say FREE).
The professional staff at the observatory will let you explore the planets through the main telescope, which has a combined focal length of 520cm. They will also give you a map of the sky with information about the planets and the stars.
At the time of my visit I was able to see Jupiter and I loved my experience! The staff took their time to share interesting facts about some of the planets with all of the visitors and they provided everyone with enough time at the telescope. Afterwards we were invited to join the observatory volunteers in the garden, where we looked at the sky through smaller telescopes.
Flowers, trees and monitor lizards
Singapore Botanical Gardens
Singapore Botanical Gardens is the best botanical garden I have been too so far, plus is the only place where you can eat your sandwich while being stared at by a monitor lizard. Now, you may be used to feeding the pigeons at Trafalgar Square or the swans at Hide Park, but put the loaf back in the cabinet.
The garden is quite big and you will not only encounter monitor lizards, but black swans, turtles, gigantic catfishes (they are so big that I wonder if somebody accidentally dropped radioactive elements in their lake) and squirrels.
Sometimes it may get nuclear hot in the gardens, so unless you want to buy refreshments in the fancy restaurant there, bring your own food and drinks.
At the top of Marina Bay Sands
Marina Bay Sands
There is a way to visit the viewing platform at Marina Bay Sands without having to pay the $20 entrance fee and all you have to do is to get thirsty.
Get to the KU DE TA counter inside Marina Bay Sands Hotel and let them know you would like to visit the sky. They will guide you to the top where you will be able to buy a drink and to take in the 360 degree panoramic view of Singapore. The prices are reasonable, but if you really don’t want to buy anything it won’t be a problem. (Let’s pretend I didn’t tell you that)
Since KU DE TA is set one level above the viewing platform, you will have to go down one level with the elevator or to use the stairs next to the bar. Sometimes the staff on duty may not allow you to go to the viewing platform, using the stairs from the sky bar, and they will ask you to buy tickets.
Make sure to put something fancy if you are visiting KU DE TA after 6 pm, as they have a stylish chic dress code (no shorts, slipper, singlets and tank tops). Also make sure you are not scared of heights or glass platforms.
After those refreshing drinks at the top, take the elevator down and head to the Shoppes at Marina Bay where you can enjoy the interactive display of light, sound, water, fire and soap bubbles (SOAP BUBBLES!)
If you would like to take pictures, try to sit somewhere at the back, as you may be sprinkled with water drops during the show.
Free Traditional Sweets
The only thing that is better than free food is free sweets. I am sure that you won’t find information in your guide, about the free sweets and nuts you can get in Chinatown.
Start your journey from Pagoda street and soon you will find yourself surrounded by various stalls selling traditional sweets and nuts. You can approach the seller asking to try out the goodies, but in most cases there will be a person who will directly give you to try without the need for you to ask. You will get to try traditional fruit jellies, mochi sweets and lotus nuts. There are so many stalls,that you will most probably skip lunch.
This will bring a whole new experience to the word shopping to you. Forget all about Marks and Spenser and your local department store. Although I am always trying to avoid spending time in shopping malls and supermarkets when traveling, Mustafa Center is a must when you are in Singapore.
If you are not planning to visit Mumbai any time soon, head to Mustafa over the weekend. Most of the Indian workers spend their free time hanging around the center and it can get quite overcrowded.
Mustafa Center is eight levels high and sells everything from food and clothes to cheap electronics. You will need at least half a day to be able to walk around the whole place. With prices cheaper than the Duty Free shops, this is the place to buy your cosmetics and perfumes.