Singaporeans love to complain about the high cost of living, yet we rarely bother to take advantage of the free stuff that is actually available in the country.
Hey, we may not have free healthcare, but at least we have the following. Make life on the island a tad less expensive by grabbing as many of these freebies as you can.
1. Free vegetarian and Indian food
Several temples in Singapore serve free vegetarian lunches that are open to the general public, such as Thye Hua Kwan Moral Society, Singapore Buddhist Lodge and Central Sikh Temple. These centres are generally designed for people who are less privileged, so enjoy the food but try to leave a donation if you can.
If you’re a fan of Indian vegetarian food, Anna Lakshmi serves up a vegetarian Indian buffet on a Pay-As-You-Wish basis. Call ahead to reserve on the weekends as it may be crowded.
There are also food rescue groups where you can join and get alerted when there is extra food to be given away — for instance, when there are leftovers from large-scale events. It’s a great way to fight food wastage, but you do need to be activated within hours to go collect the food before it turns bad.
2. Free food and accommodation for children
If you are travelling as a family, hotels typically have a “kids stay free” policy of up to 12 years old in Singapore, but check for any restrictions in terms of total number of pax.
Of course, even if you’re not on holiday, you can also take advantage of kids-eat-free policy at many family-centric restaurants. At Swensen’s, kids eat free on weekends and public holidays for breakfast. Each adult breakfast set comes with 1 free kid’s breakfast set.
Thyme @ Aliwal is another family-friendly restaurant where children aged 3 to 9 get to enjoy one free dish from the kid’s menu with every adult main course, like a pizza or a pasta.
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3. Free Wi-Fi
If you actually bothered to disconnect your mobile data and search for free Wi-Fi, you would realise there is a hell lot of free wifi everywhere, provided through the [email protected] network, from Gardens by the Bay to Starbucks outlets. You can get free Wi-Fi at most MRT stations and fast food restaurants.
So, save your YouTube video streaming for when you have free wifi and you can probably downgrade your mobile data plan.
4. Free data SIM card
Once you get a handle of where the free Wi-Fi spots are and learn to rely entirely on free Wi-Fi, you can probably survive well on a free data SIM Card from TPG. Free for the first 12 months, you get 2 GB of data per day and unlimited local calls for new TPG sign-ups and 20 SMSes per month.
5. Free TCM and homeopathy consultations
Constantly in ill health because private clinics cost too much and you don’t want to wait ten years at a polyclinic? Several Chinese temples and organisations offer free TCM sessions—check out the Public Free Clinic Society, which runs several clinics islandwide. The Ramakrishna Mission offers free homeopathic consultations.
6. Free yoga classes
Yoga isn’t only reserved for office ladies who strut around in Lululemon tights in the CBD, constantly holding a Starbucks cup in hand.
It can be totally free to practise, even in expensive Singapore. Nikam Guruji Yoga Kutir is an organisation that offers free yoga classes, though you may be required to pay a small fee at certain venues. There are also several legit yoga studios that participate in the HPB Sunrise in the City programme, which Singaporeans can easily sign up for free.
If you keep your eyes and ears open, you can catch wind of yoga events or Pay-As-You-Wish classes conducted by yoga teachers in training.
7. Free sport classes
The government is so desperate to get Singaporeans to exercise they’ve even started arranging for free exercise classes through the Health Promotion Board’s Sunrise in the City programme. Classes on offer include yoga, pilates, K-pop dancing and Zumba.
8. Use of sport facilities
After sitting down before a desk for 12 hours at the office, too many Singaporeans veg out in front of a Korean drama or spend their evenings posting vitriolic comments on Facebook or their favourite forums like Hardwarezone and Sammyboy.
Switch up that toxic routine for free! If you played a sport back at school, round up your old teammates for a game on the government’s dime.
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Singapore is one of the few places where citizens get to use public pools and sport facilities like tennis courts for free. Okay, they’re actually being paid for by the $100 ActiveSG credit that you’ve been given. You can gain access to public swimming pools, ActiveSG gyms, book tennis or badminton courts, or snag a 30% discount on exercise classes and learn-to-play workshops.
9. Skills upgrading
Whether you’ve always wanted to learn a new language, learn how to use a new software or pick up a new work-related skill, you can do it at $500 off thanks to the SkillsFuture credit the government has bestowed upon you. This might not just be free, but in fact help you to make even more money, or at the very least stay relevant in your current job.
Or, you could do something purely for fun, like go on a photography course at NAFA and LASALLE, learn how to become a DJ, or, take basic Japanese classes at Inlingua School of Languages.
10. Borrow library books and AV materials from NLB
Don’t let the taxes you pay go to waste by maximising the privilege of loaning learning resources from Singapore’s NLB.
The National Library branches in Singapore are located islandwide. Singaporeans and PRs get a free basic membership, which enables them to borrow 16 items, including music scores and AV materials.
The entire network is pretty huge and the reservation system (okay not free, you pay $1.55) lets you get just about any book delivered to the library branch closest to you. The [email protected] even has a large collection of films, music and music scores.
11. National Library Board courses and events
Aside from books, AV materials and music scores on loan, there are also tons of free workshops on subjects like leather craft and hip hop dancing being organised through the GoLibrary system.
Some interesting events going on in the later half of 2019 include Chinese Storytelling for Children at Cheng San Public Library, Introduction to Coding programme at Bishan Public Library and Urban Sketching Programme at Marine Parade Library.
12. Free museums
In many foreign countries, once a month or once every few months, the museums open their doors for free in the evenings and zillions of people clamber to get in, resulting in long queues.
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Not only do our local museums not have queues, they are also free for Singaporeans to visit. So whenever you have a free weekend, go hit up the 8,000 art pieces from Southeast Asia at National Gallery or learn about the 50-year history of Singapore’s Labour Movement at National Museum.
13. Free concerts
If you constantly complain that there’s nothing to do in Singapore, you’re not completely wrong, but before you set your judgement in stone, try some of the free entertainment options in town.
And no, we’re not referring to those annoying as hell roadshows in shopping malls filled with screaming kids, but legit shows like the very popular afternoon concerts at the Botanic Gardens, the SSO Lunchtime Concerts that play periodically at the Asian Civilisations Museum and the musical performances on the bay by the Esplanade (In July 2019, there’s a series of Jazz concerts).
There’s also a very kitsch lightshow in the evenings at the Supertree Grove and the propagandistic light show by the river at Marina Bay Sands. Check out the timings before you go.
14. Free stuff at the Singapore Really Really Free Market
If you thought Singaporeans were too stingy to give stuff away for free, you must not have heard of the Singapore Really Really Free Market, where people gather to offer goods and services for free. Sounds unbelievable but it’s true. You can find books, household cleaners, software, old hand phones, baby clothes… the list is as huge as it is random. Of course, it’d be nice if you give some of your own stuff.
We also have a fairly active Freecycle community, where people give away old furniture, appliances and other items like kids’ clothes and books.
15. Free water saving kits
Water Wally, the raindrop-shaped mascot of PUB’s water saving kits, is probably the world’s most ignored cartoon character.
Even if you don’t give a crap about the environment, installing water-saving thimbles on your taps will result in a lowered utilities bill. PUB’s water saving kits bestow upon you a set of thimbles that will let you regulate the flow rates of your taps and shower heads. Get yours by filling up this form on PUB’s website.
16. Free tuition classes
If you can well afford premium tuition centres like The Learning Lab, you can skip this one.
But say your children are struggling academically and you don’t have the finances to invest in tuition, Loving Heart Multi-Service Centre has a free tuition arm. It is run by volunteers who help less-privileged children from Primary 1 to Secondary 3. This is limited to residents from Jurong GRC, Bukit Batok SMC and Yuhua SMC only, though!
17. Free showers
Ever found yourself desiring a cold shower in the vicinity of City Hall MRT?
Well, with the opening of Capitaland’s hi-tech Funan Mall, you can enjoy a free shower at the Bicycle Hub (L1). It’s not completely no strings attached, however, as you still need to sign up as a member via the CapitaStar app.
18. Free indoor playgrounds
Indoor playgrounds are quite expensive in Singapore, but there are 3 free ones where you can bring your kids.
Two well-known ones are PIP’s PLAYbox at Esplanade and The Artground at Goodman Art’s Centre. These two playgrounds promote art and local literature, and as they are free, tend to be quite crowded on the weekends.
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If your child is between 90 to 120 cm and is toilet trained, you can also deposit your child at Smaland IKEA. Your child can play for free for up to an hour while you shop and eat in the premises.
19. Free charging stations
Certain malls and buildings offer free charging stations for customers who are low on juice. For instance, at City Square Mall, the mobile charging stations can be found near the customer service counter at Level 2. The new Funan Mall also offers wireless charging pads.
At City Hall, Orchard, Tanjong Pagar and Kent Ridge MRT stations, you will be also be able to find free power points.
20. Free parking
How will this list be complete without mentioning the places in Singapore that offer free parking?
Many malls in Singapore offer free lunchtime parking from 12pm to 2pm in a bid to draw in the lunchtime crowd, such as Zhongshan Mall, Jurong Point and the Singapore Flyer. If you are able to hit a token minimal sum, you would be able to get free parking at Alexandra IKEA and Downtown OUE Gallery.
Of course, the more ulu the place is, the easier it is to park for free. The Grandstand, Dempsey Hill, Labrador Nature Reserve and The Rail Mall offer free parking with no conditions. See our complete list of places that have free parking in Singapore.
21. Free NTUC Fairprice/Capitaland vouchers
Last of all, don’t forget that you can get free $200 NTUC Fairprice or Capitaland vouchers when you are a new-to-bank customer signing up for a credit card on promotion.
You’ll need a minimum income of at least $30,000 a year to apply. Terms and conditions for each individual card applies. Collection of vouchers is not instantaneous and you’d have to wait a couple of months before you get the email to redeem at a fulfillment centre. But still, free vouchers. Take la!
Have you enjoyed any of the above yet? Share your experiences in the comments!