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 public transport. Here’s a tip: Buy a three day Singapore Tourist Pass for SGD 20 which gives you unlimited travel on all public buses, MRT and LRT.

The first stop is Little India, one of Singapore’s well-known ethnic enclave. Kick off the morning scrumptious meal of chapati (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 SGD 0.80 each) and a selection of chicken, mutton and lamb curries, each costing less than SGD 5.

2 Armenian Church of St. Gregory

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 Chinese) 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 elements – 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 SGD 5 for adults and SGD 3 for students. Alternatively, buy a joint ticket to the Asian Civilizations Museum and the Peranakan Museum for SGD 10 any day of the week (they cost SGD 14 separately).

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 available in the area, from local delicacies such as nasi padang (steamed rice served with various dishes) and Malay kueh (cakes) 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 (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 60,000 plants makes it a nature lovers’ paradise. Best of all, entry is free.

2 National Museum of Singapore

We also recommend museum hopping in the afternoon. 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 it. 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 SGD 5, while the regular adult price is at SGD 10.

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 1867. Here’s a tip: Admission to this museum is free every Friday between 6pm to 9pm.

3 Loof

After a day of art appreciation, relax at Loof at 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 go for SGD 10 a pint during happy hour (5-8pm). After that, wander through Bugis Market for cheap bargains and amazing food.

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