SINGAPORE | Free Attractions Around Singapore, a Day Tour | Lakad Pilipinas

Free Attractions Singapore

It was both our second time in Singapore. During my first visit, I did the usual paid attractions and found the city to be a tad cold; it seemed too artificial. My constant travel mate totally agreed with me. But we were ready to give SG a second chance. Only this time, our wallet really wasn’t as ready as we were.

MRT Station Singapore
THE ONLY COST OF OUR DAY TOUR, TRANSPORTATION FARE & FOOD

So, with budget only for food and transportation, we scoured the Internet for free places to visit in Singapore. And surprisingly, we did find a lot! We started our day early and ended it quite late—we were that busy running around the city.

Marina Bay Sands Singapore
THE MARINA BAY SANDS FROM THE ROOF DECK OF THE SHOPPES

Luckily, since we were staying at the Beary Best! Hostel in Chinatown, most of the free places we visited in SG were within walking distance from our lodging. With this, we were also able to save a bit of SGD, spending it instead on our Singapore Food Trip. For places too far from our hostel, we took the MRT, which surprisingly, isn’t really that expensive.

 

 

CHINATOWN

  ADDRESS: OUTRAM DISTRICT, CENTRAL AREA • OPEN HOURS: EVERY DAY 24 HOURS • ENTRANCE FEE: FREE • GPS MAP: 1.283122, 103.844172


Living right along Chinatown indeed has its perk. Waking up very early, we simply walked to check the old colorful shophouses lining the narrow Mosque, Pagoda, Temple, Smith streets and all the alleys in between. We went before the shops opened; it’s actually more beautiful during the early mornings. Without the noise and bustle of stalls, and the throngs of tourists to muddle your senses, you can easily appreciate the beauty of the tall pre-war shophouses with their elegant verandas, vibrant colors, intricate windows, and detailed trimmings.

Originally called Niu che shui (bullock water-cart) in Hokkien, due to the animal-driven carts that transport water in the area during times past, Chinatown is now a designated National Heritage Site by the government of Singapore. It’s one of the country’s many ethnic enclaves and was originally populated by Hokkiens, Teochews and Cantonese people who migrated from China.

Chinatown Singapore

Chinatown Singapore

Chinatown Singapore

 

 

SRI MARIAMMAN TEMPLE

  ADDRESS: CHINATOWN • OPEN HOURS: 7:00AM - 12:00NN / 6:00PM - 9:00PM • ENTRANCE FEE: FREE • GPS MAP: 1.282662, 103.845231


As we continued our walk, strange but hypnotic music emanated from the nearby Hindu Temple. Quickening our pace and wanting to take a peek at the goings on, we saw that the temple is preparing for a wedding rite. The Sri Mariamman Temple at Chinatown is the oldest Hindu temple in Singapore. And as its name indicate, is dedicated to the South Indian goddess, Mariamman. Surprisingly, it was founded in 1827 by a clerk from Penang who went to Singapore with Raffles, the country’s founder.

Considered a National Monument, the temple’s most striking feature is its gopuram, a six-level pyramid-like plaster structure hovering above its gate. It is filled with excellently rendered sculptures of gods, deities, mythological creatures and unexpectedly, even Indian sepoy soldiers!

We visited during the summer months when everything’s quiet but come October or November, the temple comes alive as it celebrates the Theemithi or the fire walking ceremony.

Sri Mariamman Temple Singapore

Sri Mariamman Temple Singapore

Sri Mariamman Temple Singapore

 

 

BUDDHA TOOTH RELIC TEMPLE & MUSEUM

  ADDRESS: CHINATOWN • OPEN HOURS: 7:00AM TO 7:00PM • ENTRANCE FEE: FREE • GPS COORDINATES MAP: 1.281490, 103.844292


Another interesting site at Singapore’s Chinatown is the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple. We visited the Buddhist temple right after passing by the Sri Mariamman Temple, which was literally just a hop away. It was quite interesting to see temples from three different faiths (they also have a Muslim temple near the area) right in the vicinity of each other—a testament to Singapore’s multi-racial facet.

Built fairly new, like ten years ago, the graceful multi-level pagoda houses artifacts from Buddha—from bone, tongue relics, and of course, one of his teeth, which was found from a ruined stupa in Myanmar, and before that, from his funeral pyre in India.

Buddha Tooth Relic Temple Singapore

Buddha Tooth Relic Temple Singapore

Buddha Tooth Relic Temple Singapore

 

 

SENTOSA

  ADDRESS: SENTOSA ISLAND • OPEN HOURS: 9:00AM TO 10:00PM • ENTRANCE FEE: FREE • GPS COORDINATES MAP: 1.249015, 103.821898


We took a breather at the Maxwell Food Centre (SGD3.00 per meal), a hawker hub near the Tooth Relic Temple before riding the MRT to Harbourfront Station (SGD2.00 per person). We could’ve ridden another train that would take us on the island resort itself, but we opted to walk across the bridge to save a few dollars. From there, the train inside Sentosa is absolutely free of charge.

Sentosa Island houses Fort Siloso (a World War II battery and museum), two golf courses, no less than fourteen hotels, white sandy beaches, and the famous Universal Studios theme park.

We really didn’t have any plans of entering Universal Studios since, one, ticket prices are way above our budget, and two, we don’t really dig theme parks. What we dig though are beaches. And that’s where we headed right after seeing the iconic Universal Studios globe.

The resort has two kilometers worth of beaches divided into three segments, Siloso Beach, Tanjong Beach, and Palawan Beach. You’d know we went to the last one. Don’t expect Coron-level beaches here though. The sand, although white, isn’t really that fine and we were told it’s imported from somewhere else. It’s not that bad though, we saw a few locals and tourists swimming along the waters (even with warnings about stone fishes). Us, we bought cans of beer from a nearby convenience store, found ourselves a spot under a palm tree and boozed the afternoon away.

Sentosa Singapore

Sentosa Universal Studios Singapore

Sentosa Palawan Beach Singapore

 

 

MARINA BAY SANDS

  ADDRESS: BAYFRONT AVENUE • OPEN HOURS: 10:00AM TO 12:00MN • ENTRANCE FEE: FREE • GPS COORDINATES MAP: 1.283972, 103.858782


From Sentosa, we walked back to Harbourfront where we took the bus to the Marina Bay Sands Theatre (Bus 97, 12 stops, SGD1.60 per person). Hunger pangs were starting to bother us but we didn’t have the moolah to eat at the celebrity chef restaurants along the massive complex nor even the busy food court at the lower level of The Shoppes, its shopping mall. We plucked our tummies out of our mind, wanting to reserve that space for a hawker dinner later.

The Marina Bay Sands has a total of 2,561 plush hotel rooms inside its three fifty five-storey buildings. At the ship-like hull that connects the three, 200 meters from the ground, is the world’s longest elevated swimming pool. It’s a gaming complex, complete with museum, convention spaces, and theaters, like no other. And it is expensive.

For broke backpackers like us, there’s always the opportunity to visit this mammoth without spending a single dollar. The mall is, of course, open to the public—so are the public spaces within and without the structure. My favorite is the roof deck area, where you can actually see the three towers on a different perspective. Go down a few levels and a bridge way opens to Gardens by the Bay.

Marina Bay Sands Singapore

Marina Bay Sands Singapore

Marina Bay Sands ArtScience Museum Singapore

 

 

SUPERTREE GROVE

  ADDRESS: MARINA GARDENS DRIVE • OPEN HOURS: 5:00AM TO 2:00AM • ENTRANCE FEE: FREE • GPS MAP: 1.282019, 103.863840


Part of Gardens by the Bay, a hundred-hectare nature park housing three massive outdoor gardens and two conservatory complex—the Flower Dome and the Cloud Forest (think giant greenhouses)—the Supertree Grove completes the set with its out-of-this-world Jetsons-esque gargantuan forest.

The Supertrees, twenty five to fifty-meter steel towers thick with hanging and crawling vines, orchids and ferns aren’t just for show either. They actually mimic real trees, having solar cells that absorb energy to power the gardens, rainwater collectors that actually irrigates, and air intakes and exhausts to let the garden complex breath.

It’s an amazing sight, especially come evening time as each of the twelve towers light up and music waft throughout the grove. I actually had to stop on my tracks, lie down beside one of the massive trunks of the Supertrees, gaze up flat on my back, and simply savored the moment.

Supertree Grove Singapore

Supertree Grove Singapore

Supertree Grove Singapore

 

 

THE HELIX BRIDGE

  ADDRESS: MARINA BAY • OPEN HOURS: 24 HOURS, LIGHTS CLOSE AT 12:00AM • ENTRANCE FEE: FREE • GPS MAP: 1.287879, 103.860618


Going back to the Marina Bay Sands, passing through the lotus-shaped ArtScience Museum, we entered the Helix Bridge. Bridges aren’t usually considered as tourist spots, but Singapore’s DNA-shaped double helical bridge is one of the exceptions.

The 280-meter steel bridge spans the development at the Marina Centre with Marina South, crossing the bay in the process. It is a pedestrian-only bridge complete with four viewing platform or pods which acts as a balcony of sorts for water events at the bay. It looks beautiful during the day but is even more spectacular during the evenings. It actually looks very, err, Star Wars!

Helix Bridge Singapore

Helix Bridge Singapore

Helix Bridge Singapore

 

 

MERLION PARK

  ADDRESS: ONE FULLERTON • OPEN HOURS: 24 HOURS • ENTRANCE FEE: FREE • GPS COORDINATES MAP: 1.286868, 103.854479


And finally, there is Singapore’s icon, the Merlion.

From the Helix Bridge, one can immediately spot the 8.6-meter tall sculpture of a lion with a body of a fish. The sculpture, gleaming white against the electric Singapore night, eternally spouts water from its mouth.

The Merlion isn’t really a mythical creature on some long forgotten Singaporean lore. It’s actually designed as part of the country’s tourism logo in 1964. It has since taken ground as Singapore’s official mascot, if you will.

After a filling mee rebus dinner (SGD3.00 per person) at one of the hawker stalls in Makansutra Gluttons Bay, we headed towards the icon, watching the light show at the Marina Bay as we went. Everyone seemed bent on having their photo taken with the Merlion transferring the water it was sprouting into their own mouth, lol.

We spent a few minutes resting our weary legs at the Merlion Park and as we were preparing to go back at our hostel, we found a Merlion cub, standing two meters tall with nary a person taking a picture with. It was just a few meters away from the original sculpture. We snapped a couple of photos and called it a night. We walked along the city’s wide boulevards, exchanging thoughts about how Singapore seemed much more interesting on this second visit—warmer, less artificial, and with the day’s expense of less than ten Singaporean dollar each (minus the beers, lol)—absolutely cheaper.

Merlion Park Singapore

Merlion Park Cub Singapore

Merlion Park View Singapore






Posted by Christian Sangoyo on Wednesday, June 14, 2017

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