how to entertain a group of 8 in singapore on a strict budget
September 16, 2009 12:03 AM   Subscribe

i need a bunch of cheap, or better yet FREE, activities for a group of 20-something indonesian musicans and dancers during our trip to singapore.

me and my band will be in singapore for 8 days. there's 8 of us (3 girls 5 guys) and we'll be on a super tight budget, but since most of them don't get out of indonesia very often, i want to show them a good time while we're there. so i'm looking for some fun, FREE activities i can do with them - mostly in the afternoon before our shows, but also at night after 10pm. ideas anyone?

it can be anything really, not just classic tourist stuff (though that's cool as well, as long as it's FREE). just as long as it's interesting or fun! so far i've thought of: wandering through the biggest, newest mall. a walk through a cool, attractive area, maybe at night, say by the waterfront or something. eat at a cool hawker center where they can spend their $10/day per diems, maybe like la pasat or something... maybe there's a free rooftop viewing area we can look at the skyline? free museums and concerts are also good. basically anything i can do to fill up our free time around our shows without spending the little money we're making on the gig...

we'll be staying in the gaylong area (but i think we can probably at least afford to take the mrt places). also, we'll be there during f1 if that helps any!
posted by messiahwannabe to Travel & Transportation around Singapore (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: - Spend an afternoon in Little India. You can shop at Singapore's legendary (and cheap!) 24 hour department store, Mohamed Mustafa's, or have an all-you-can-eat South Indian meal at Komala Vilas. It's also a fun place to wander around in general - lots of life on the streets.

- Do the Canopy Walk through the rainforest in the Southern Ridges. There's a series of interconnected bridges that take you through the treetops, and you also get a great view of the city. At night, the bridges are lit up with coloured lights.

- Pretty much every suburban MRT station has a hawker centre, and they're almost universally tasty and cheap. I like the fried carrot cake at Redhill, but every local you meet will have their own favourites. Ask them to take you to lunch! Most meals are well under $3, so you'll be able to eat like kings on $10 a day.

- VivoCity opened a couple of years ago. It's pretty cool for a mall - lots of curves and natural light and a huge garden on the roof. Its food-court is rather outlandishly decorated as a sort of romanticised version of a Chinese village, it's quite impressive. The food isn't as cheap or as plentiful as at a hawker centre, but you can still eat well for under $5.

- There's also Great World City, which is no longer new, but has the distinction of very impressive murals in every toilet. Most tourists to Singapore head straight to Orchard Road for shopping, but I don't think it'll be much fun for you without money to spend. A mall is a mall is a mall, even in Singapore.

- The Singapore Art Museum and the Singapore National Museum are both worth visiting, but unfortunately admission isn't. If you have a night off, they sometimes let people in for free in the evenings.

- Battle Box is an old WWII bunker in Fort Canning Park. It's where the British/Malayan forces staged their last stand against the invading Japanese. The bunker is now a memorial and tourist attraction, complete with animatronic waxworks and sound effects. It's a bit cheesy and over-the-top, but I still found it quite a moving experience - our tour was led by a veteran of the war and he really made the story come alive. It's $8 for adults, which may or may not fit your budget.

- My best suggestion for cheap ways to have fun in Singapore? EAT! Food is cheap, and in a week in Singapore, you can pretty much eat your way around all of South-East Asia and beyond. You can get great Thai and Burmese food at Golden Mile, South Indian food, North Indian food, Muslim Food (the local term for halal Indian) and of course Chinese and Malay food all over the place. Eat, be adventurous, and ask your local contacts to recommend their favourites. Have fun!
posted by embrangled at 3:16 AM on September 16, 2009 [2 favorites]

Correction: The Singapore Art Museum and the Singapore National Museum are both worth visiting, but unfortunately admission isn't free.
posted by embrangled at 3:17 AM on September 16, 2009

What are the exact dates when you will be in Singapore - will you be in town for the Hari Raya Puasa (20 Sept) and the Mid-Autumn Festival (3 Oct) festivities?

The Esplanade often hosts free concerts and art exhibitions, within the building as well as outdoors, along the bay. You can choose to filter the event calendar for free programmes. The Esplanade roof terrace is also a nice place to chill. A short walk away: Gluttons Bay (a hawker centre by the waterfront), the Merlion (free), and the Asian Civilisations Museum ($5).

Admission to the National Museum is $10 but there are also some free exhibitions and programmes. Admission to selected ticketed galleries is free -8pm daily. Not too far off is the Singapore Art Museum - admission costs $8, but it's free 12-2pm daily and 6-9pm on Friday evenings. Walk through the Waterloo Street arts belt and pedestrian mall and you'll hit Bugis Street Village (cheap street fashion).

I'm not keen on malls, but if you must visit some, check out either Vivocity (it's also near Sentosa) or Ion Orchard (along the Orchard Road shopping belt), which are the newest and flashiest malls around.

Food-wise, avoid Newton Food Centre unless you want to get fleeced. Lau Pa Sat's best visited at dinnertime (too many office workers from the nearby commercial district getting their lunches there in the afternoon).

The historical neighbourhoods are worth exploring too - other than the usual Little India, Chinatown and Kampong Glam, there's also Katong (lovely peranakan shophouses and delicious Katong laksa).

To figure out how to get from one place to another, use gothere.
posted by hellopanda at 5:21 AM on September 16, 2009

While you're at the Esplanade, or if you're walking from the City Hall MRT station to the Esplanade, you can also take a quick look at the basement concourse, one of the few public spaces which developed organically (rare in Singapore), where youths hang out to dance, skate and practise stunts. Other youth-oriented places would include the Youth Park (off Orchard/Somerset; regular free concerts), the X-treme SkatePark at East Coast, Far East Plaza (shopping).

While the F1 race is exciting, bear in mind that there will be numerous traffic restrictions during and around race weekend. Here's the official guide, which you may find useful. Unless you're planning to catch the excitement, crowds and gasoline fumes, it would be best to avoid the city centre on race days. The noise is also deafening, so I wouldn't suggest catching a concert or enjoying a quiet dinner near town.

In case you're not aware, do note that Geylang has a particularly colourful reputation, and depending on which lorong you stay at, you will very likely encounter streetwalkers and sleaze. The bright side is, there's great and cheap food available, often late into the night.

Feel free to memail me.
posted by hellopanda at 2:53 AM on September 17, 2009

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