City Guide: Singapore for the Budget Explorer

Believe it or not, you can experience Singapore on a budget.

Planning to go to Singapore but tired of the usual urban jungle scenes? Why not try going to places that are not only cheap, but will bring you closer to nature? These are not your usual destinations for tourists, but they’re all worth seeing and experiencing.

Take note, if you decide to visit these spots, make sure to bring along a pair of running shoes or sneakers and be ready to take long walks.

1. Fort Canning Park

Fort Canning is worth the walk around its hilltop park—right smack at the heart of the liveliest area in Singapore, and walking distance from Dhoby Ghaut & Clarke Quay MRT station. It’s a great place to relax and go for a nature walk while being close to Orchard Road and Clarke Quay. If you have time, sign-up for their free heritage tour and get to know more of Singapore’s history. There are many museums (e.g. National Museum) closely located from this park which you can visit. Watch out for free concerts and events held in the park once in awhile.

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2. Singapore Botanic Garden

You can go here to watch the free Concert in the Park usually held on Saturdays and Sundays. Aside from the free orchestra concert, you get to see a diverse collection of plants and trees in this botanic garden. You may even bring along a picnic basket and enjoy a hearty brunch inside this park or simply stroll or take a snap of the sceneries. They also offer various tours inside the park—and some are free.

To go here, you can take a bus or walk from Orchard MRT station, or you can go off to the Botanic Gardens MRT station, which is much closer to the garden’s gate.

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3. Pulau Ubin & Chek Jawa Wetlands

The thing about Pulau Ubin is that you get ferried, literally, to another island and it’d feel as if you’re not in Singapore anymore. It’s definitely one of the best places where you can escape the fast-paced city life!

The island has a rural feel. You won’t see much infrastructure except for eateries and stores at the port, and the concrete trails and signs. Here, you can rent a bicycle for a day and explore the island freely. Take photos of the various quarries on the island and be mesmerized by the range of biodiversity, or sign-up for their guided tours to know more about the island’s cultural heritage. The nearest MRT is Tanah Merah or Simei station, then you can ride a bus going to Changi Village.

Tip: Do watch out for monkeys that might suddenly grab your food, especially if you keep it in clear plastic. Also, the trail has rugged terrains which can be dangerous on downhill rides for cyclists.

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4. Coney Island Park

This 50-hectare island, open to the public from 7a.m. to 7p.m., is an ecologically sustainable park with many initiatives to protect and preserve the natural ecosystem within the island. The park just recently opened to the public in late 2015. You can rent a bicycle (although it doesn’t have a hilly trail like Pulau Ubin) or simply saunter on the paths. It’s only 500-meters away from mainland Singapore and is connected by two bridges, making it easily accessible. Nearest MRT is Punggol MRT station.

5. Southern Islands of Singapore

Want to go island-hopping? Singapore also has remote islands! You won’t even find stores or eateries here which make them must-visit places.

There are three Southern Islands, two of which are connected by bridge, namely St. John, Lazarus and Kusu (Tortoise in English) islands. Take your time while listening to the sound of the waves and taking in the view. It’s so relaxing that, when siesta time hits, you just want to doze off. The nearest MRT is Marina South Pier station where you can take the ferry going to the island. Check the timetable of ferry departure and arrival times here.

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6. MacRitchie Reservoir and Tree Top Walk

There are many reservoirs in Singapore, and MacRitchie is perhaps the best one. Its mixed terrain lets you stroll on boardwalks, natural trails and concrete trails. The trail on the way here is steep but, after a seemingly endless, long walk (it could take four hours!), you’ll be rewarded with the view as you cross the bridge to another hill while the bottom is filled with high trees and a small river. After crossing the bridge, you can continue the trail where you can exit to the other entry path from where you started. There are two entries going to the Tree Top, one at the Venus Drive and the other at Lornie Road, both accessible by bus from Marymount MRT.

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7. Marina Barrage

Wondering where Singapore gets their drinkable water supply? Visit Marina Barrage, a water-catch area located near Marina Bay and Gardens by the Bay. Easily accessible, this place is probably the closest you can get to know the level of expertise that Singapore has in efficient and usable technology. They offer various activities like kite flying and picnic with friends at their Green Roof; walk around and take a photo from the Central Courtyard, the Water Playground for kids and kids-at-heart and an up-close of dam operation along the Marina Bridge. The nearest MRT terminal is Marina Bay station and Downtown station, then you can take a bus going to Marina Barrage.

Singapore has many parks, reservoirs and wetlands that are well-maintained. They offer a lot of activities to do, aside from being a shopping & casino destination. Watch out for free tours and concerts which can be very memorable travel experience when in Singapore.

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Also read: 6 Hacks for a Budget-Friendly Hong Kong Trip