17 Free or Inexpensive Things to do in Singapore with Children
Singapore is an expensive place to live. According to the Economist Intelligence Unit’s 2011 World Cost of Living Survey, our little slice of paradise is the tenth most costly city in the world, but don’t panic. Despite this alarming news, there are a surprising number of things to do here that won’t break the bank. Here are 17 inexpensive or free things my family and others have discovered and enjoyed in Singapore.
A stroll in the verdant Botanic Garden (www.sbg.org.sg) is one of Singapore’s highlights. The wealth of outdoor sculpture art adds to its appeal, and while bikes are prohibited, scooters are not and provide a fun way for kids to visit the park. If you love music, check the schedule for free concerts. The breathtaking Orchid Garden is also worth a visit and has an admission cost of $5 for adults and $1 for students, children and seniors. Kids under 12 are free.
The park’s Jacob Ballas Children’s Garden provides a wonderful learning environment for youngsters under 12. The Fantastic Forest includes a tree house and logs for climbing, while the small water park makes a great way to cool off in the heat.
Singapore’s wet markets offer a window into how different cultures live. We like the Tekka Market (Block 665, Buffalo Road), located in Little India. Here you’ll find a hawker center and produce market on the first floor and an array of colorful saris n the second.
While you’re in the neighborhood, cross the street and visit the Little India Arcade (48 Serangoon Road). You can have a henna treatment for your hand at Selvie’s starting at $3 or a bundle of bangles at Jayram’s Creation (also from $3).
For a cultural experience of a different kind, visit one of the country’s historic churches, temples or mosques. One of my favorites is the Sultan Mosque (www.sultanmosque.org.sg). Upon entering, you will find a display aimed to educate non-Muslim’s on Islam, Allah and topics related to Muslim women.
The oldest church in town is the Armenian Church of St. Gregory the Illuminator (armeniansinasia.org). Built in 1835, this lovely little church is well situated in a large grassy garden. There’s plenty of open space to explore – including some old tombstones – once you’ve admired the interior of this historic monument.
The Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum (www.btrts.org.sg) in Chinatown dazzles the eye with its festive lights and bright red and gold colors. Come here to catch a glimpse of Buddha’s tooth and if you are lucky, monks chanting the Sarangama Sutra.
If you prefer nature, visit the Sungae Bulloh Wet Land Reserve (www.sbwr.org.sg). Admission is free except on weekends and public and school holidays when there is a $1 entrance fee for adults and $.50 for children. Here you may enjoy walks of various lengths and see monitor lizards, mudskippers, and crab.
On a rainy day in Singapore, I recommend cozying up to a book at Kinokuniya Book Store (www.kinokuniya.com/sg), which occupies 43,000 square feet and has 500,000 titles available in English, Japanese, Chinese, French and German. The store has a wonderful children’s section and welcomes adults and little ones to sit, relax, and read their favorite books.
A favorite weekend activity for many in Singapore is riding bikes at East Coast Park. Rentals are also available for exploring the 12-kilometer bike path that runs along the beach.
Another option is the Tree Top Walk at MacRitchie Reservoir Park. Choose from a variety of hikes, which take you across a 250m-suspension bridge and provide a unique perspective of the forest canopy.
Jeanne Gunsolus, mother of twin girls, says the best deal in town is Jurong East Swimming Complex (www.singaporeswimming.com/pools/), where admission is $2.00 per adult and $1.00 for children on weekends. A tube for use on the water rides costs an additional $2 each.
If you are looking for playgrounds, Kathleen Borsh and her six-year-old daughter, Dana, prefer West Coast Park. They like the wide-open spaces, which provide a welcome respite from Singapore’s urban center. Georgina Bach, mother of 3, says Pasir Ris Park offers the best and biggest playground she has seen in Singapore. She also appreciates the park’s wide array of other activities, which include ponies, mangrove forests, and bike rentals.
Finally, an afternoon stroll along the Singapore River is always nice, and children can bring their bikes and scooters while enjoying the city’s colonial architecture. Merlion Park makes a good destination, and if you need a break, duck into the nearby Coffee Bean for hot chocolate. From the outdoor seating area, you can enjoy the best view in town of the Marina Bay Sands.
All parks mentioned can be found at www.nparks.gov.sg. If you have free or inexpensive activities your family enjoys, I would love to hear from you at firstname.lastname@example.org comment