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Day 1: Explore neighbourhoods

1 Little India

Take in the country’s most enjoyable experiences on a budget in just three days.

The first thing you might want to do is to find a place to stay (this list should help). Getting around the island is also a breeze, thanks to the interconnected public transport system. Here’s a tip: Buy a three-day Singapore Tourist Pass for S$20 which gives you unlimited travel on all public buses, Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) and Light Rail Transit (LRT).

The first stop is Little India, one of Singapore’s well-known ethnic enclave. Kick off the morning scrumptious meal of chapatti (Indian flatbread eaten with curry). At the Azmi Restaurant (located at the junction of Norris Road in Little India), feast on this unleavened flatbread (going for S$0.90 each) and a selection of chicken, mutton and lamb curries, each costing less than S$5.

2 Armenian Church

Walk off that meal and view one of the oldest churches in Singapore at nearby Bras Basah. Built in 1835, the Armenian Church on Hill Street was gazetted as a national monument in 1973 and restored in 1994. While you are in the area, get to know Singapore’s vibrant Peranakan (Straits-born people of Chinese and Malay/Indonesian heritage) community and history at the Peranakan Museum, filled with fine artefacts and fun exhibits. Various aspects of this hybrid Southeast Asian culture—made up of Chinese, Malay and Indian element—are brought to life here. Highlights include stories of prominent Peranakans in Singapore's history and how today’s Peranakans have evolved with their culture. The museum offers Friday night discounts at S$5 for adults and S$3 for students. 

Also nearby is Fort Canning Park, a small hill in the city that is steeped in history and lush with glorious flora and fauna. The park was originally known as Bukit Larangan, or 'Forbidden Hill' in Malay. Today, the 18-hectare space is full of attractions—from ancient artefacts for history buffs to outdoor lawns for concerts, and of course, greenery for nature lovers.

3 Kampong Glam

In the evening, head to Kampong Glam to check out the sights at one of the oldest yet trendiest areas. Start at Sultan Mosque with its massive golden domes and huge prayer hall. It is a must-see if you’re in the historic Kampong Glam district. While you’re there, look closer at the onion domes. The base of each dome is decorated with glass bottle ends, donated by less fortunate Muslims during its construction so that all Muslims, not just the rich, could contribute. Architecture lovers can rejoice—free guided tours are available. Hungry? You’ll love the culinary delights in the area, from local delicacies such as nasi padang (steamed rice served with various dishes) and Malay kueh (bite-sized snacks or desserts) to Middle Eastern cuisine, many decently priced.

Day 2: Delights aplenty

1 Chinatown

A trip to Chinatown is a must and this heritage rich area has everything you can think of. Try char kway teow (stir-fried noodles) at Chinatown Food Street, a row of hawker stalls, shophouse restaurants and kiosks along Smith Street. Looking for affordable souvenirs? Chinatown is home to numerous shops selling everything from bak kwa (barbecued meat) to postcards.

Chinatown is also where you’ll find architectural attractions like Sri Mariamman Temple and Jamae Mosque on South Bridge Road and the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple. Best of all, entry into all these places are free.

2 Gardens by the Bay

In the evening, visit Gardens by the Bay. Located next to the Marina Reservoir, take in mesmerising waterfront views across three gardens, spanning over 101 hectares of reclaimed land. Unique to Gardens by the Bay is the Cloud Forest. Within the enclosed compound, a 35-metre tall mountain is veiled in mist and covered in lush vegetation amidst the world’s tallest indoor waterfall. Here, you will find plant life from tropical highlands up to 2,000 metres above sea level. However, entry into the Cloud Forest or Flower Dome will cost money. We recommend you walk around the park and take in the sights of the stunning Supertrees—this comes at no cost.

Feeling hungry? Eating area Satay by the Bay is located nearby and serves hearty local food like satay (grilled skewered meat) as well as seafood that pack a spicy punch.

Day 3: Uncover city sights

1 Singapore Botanic Gardens

There are many reasons why you should make the Singapore Botanic Gardens a must-visit in your itinerary. It is Singapore’s oldest garden and the country’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is ideal for a stroll or a lazy picnic with family or friends while its dazzling array of over 10,000 plants makes it a nature lovers’ paradise. Best of all, entry is free.

2 National Museum of Singapore

In the afternoon, go museum hopping. If you have time to visit only one place to learn about the history and culture of Singapore, then the National Museum of Singapore is the place to go. With its history dating back to 1887, the museum is one of the city’s architectural icons. Its permanent offerings, the Singapore History and Living Galleries, also piece together the past and present in a compelling narrative. If you flash a student card, admission is S$10, while the regular adult price is at S$15.

Meanwhile, the nearby Singapore Art Museum focuses on contemporary art practice in Singapore and Southeast Asia. Housed in a restored 19th-century mission school, St Joseph’s Institute, architecture lovers will have a field day exploring the carefully conserved building that was established in 1855.

3 Loof

After a day of art appreciation, relax at Loof at the nearby Odeon Towers. Awarded as Singapore's best rooftop bar, Loof serves up nostalgia and unbridled playfulness in an urban garden atop Odeon Towers. Beers from S$10 a pint during happy hour (5-8pm). After that, wander through Bugis Street for cheap bargains and amazing food.

For information on other things to do on a budget, click here


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