Visit Singapore on a Friendly Budget!
Hands up! Which one of you has heard of friends or family telling you that Singapore is an expensive city?
Well, you’re certainly not alone. But did you know that there are ways to to visit Singapore on a friendly budget?
Tip: if you’re visiting, be sure to check out the best places to stay in Singapore!
If you have been reading about countries with a high cost of living, we’re pretty certain Singapore has appeared before you numerous times.
Indeed, according to a recent Economist report Worldwide Cost of Living Survey, Singapore is, ahem, tied with Hong Kong and Paris at the top.
But don’t despair. We promise you don’t need to burn a huge hole in your pocket.
Let us give you some insider tips on how you can experience the best of Singapore and still have change left for your next adventure.
After reading this, you will be able to travel Singapore on friendly budget!
When we’re planning for our next trips, we like to search around to garner some insights on budgeting, especially the daily costs.
So it’s really nice to find this nifty site that serves as a great jumping board for us.
Which city is more expensive?
By doing a quick search, we’re pleased to announce….. that Singapore (US$117) is less expensive than Paris (US$183) and Hong Kong (US$138)!
Ok, of course it will be unfair to compare with some of the other countries in the area, but we think this is a good start, no?
Try out your own search too.
Besides the summary below, it gives a further breakdown into major categories such as accommodation, transport, eating out and activities.
Let’s break it down, shall we?
Where should you stay to get the best of your holiday here? There are a multitude of options available and certainly can fit into most travellers’ budgets.
As it is super convenient to get around, you need not worry too much about location, about being in the middle of all the action.
City fringe offers some of the best options while being near most attractions.
And bear in mind, many of these attractions are within short MRT or bus rides, or well within walking distance.
If your expectations are not either to find a room for a few dollars or to stay in a backpacking street like Khao San Road in Bangkok, guess what, there are plenty of options that won’t break the back.
Hotel prices are fairly consistent throughout the year, but do expect spikes during major festivals or events such as Chinese New Year (end Jan-early Feb), Christmas, F1 (September), international seminars.
Using an average price of US$134 per couple, here are some recommendations for you:
- 1. Carlton Hotel Singapore. Civic District. City Hall MRT. US$132/night
- 2. Amara Singapore. Chinatown District. Tanjong Pagar MRT. US128/night.
- 3. Grand Copthorne Waterfront Hotel. Singapore River. Tiong Bahru MRT. US$136/night
- 4. Park Avenue Rochester Park. Holland District. US$106/night.
- 5. Yotel Singapore. Orchard. Orchard MRT. US$129/night.
Psst! Want more leftover change in your wallet? Take this:
- 6. The Pod Boutique Capsule Hostel. Kampung Glam. Bugis MRT. US$91/night.
Remember, prices will fluctuate, so make sure you check them to get an accurate pricing for the hotel you like.
You can also check out our post on the best places to stay in Singapore according to your interests!
Or if you don’t fancy any of the hotels here, why not search for one yourself?
Singapore is a city that is really suitable for walking around. You’re almost never too far from shelter of trees or an air-conditioned mall.
It is great for walking as there are well paved roads that makes for easy walking, sights, museums, and restaurants sitting in the same locale.
You can hop on the public transport too as they are well connected and serves most addresses in Singapore.
With a budget of $11, there is excess funds to be saved, since public transport is fairly inexpensive here.
If you think you will be moving around quite a fair amount, I would suggest getting the Singapore Tourist Pass.
You can buy it from the airport when you arrive, at either the TransitLink Office (located at the MRT station), or at the Automated STP Kiosks (near the TransitLink Office).
The other option would be to get a regular EZ-Link card, which costs $12, of which $5 is a non-refundable deposit.
The balance $7 can be spent on bus or MRT rides.
Maybe you like the experience of riding on an open-top bus instead?
Go for the Big Bus Hop-On Hop-Off Tour.
The service will take you past popular areas such as Chinatown, Little India and Marina Bay, and includes audio commentary in 12 different languages.
It gives you the flexibility to get off and explore an area, and hop on again to cover more.
Be warned though, this will definitely eat into your beer fund!Buy your Big Bus tickets here!
Singapore is a foodie’s heaven. From street food to Michelin starred restaurants, we got it covered.
In order to really immerse yourself and partake in the culture, you must make a trip to a hawker centre.
The easy part is finding one, since there are over 100 such centres in Singapore, but which is the best to visit?
1. Chinatown Complex Food Centre
Located in the heart of Chinatown, and combined with a wet market in the lower floors, this is THE best place to start your hawker journey.
More than 260 stalls are situated here, offering some of the tastiest dishes from chili crab to fried kway teow.
Our recommendation: Zhao Ji Clay Pot Rice, #02-53.
2. Old Airport Road Hawker Centre
Though not as large as the one in Chinatown, this hawker centre is revered and highly popular to us locals.
It also counts as one of the oldest hawker centres in Singapore, opening in 1973.
Having been around for so long, it arguably serves some of the best local cuisine.
Our recommendation: Xing Li Cooked Food, $01-28. They cook up one of the best Fried Oysters Omelette around!
There are many other marvellous hawker centres around, such as Chomp Chomp, Tiong Bahru and Maxwell.
Be curious and try them out.
If in doubt, join the longest queue!
Remember to check out our piece on Yummy Cheap Food in Singapore too!
Tip: hawker centres are also a great place to find beer, since everywhere else has astronomical prices.
Best outfit: come in flip-flops and singlets and just let your hair down.
You may think that there will not be lots of activities on offer in such a tiny island like Singapore.
After all, we measure roughly 720 square kilometres only, which in perspective is 2 times smaller than LA, 2.5 times smaller than London, 3 times smaller than Tokyo.
And we are a COUNTRY.
But, while we are tiny, we offer a barrage of activities for the 18 million visitors who arrives on our shores.
And for you the budget traveller, here are some free/cheap activities that will make your stay memorable:
1. Gardens by the Bay
Entry into this massive garden that looks like it was transplanted from Mars is free.
Spanning 101 hectares (we don’t know what that means but we guess it is huge), it is home to over 2000 species of plants, spread across 3 gardens.
Remember to bring along a picnic basket with your favourite snacks and enjoy the beautiful flowers and tranquility.
Access to the Floral Fantasy, Flower Dome and Cloud Forest does require a ticket though, but otherwise you are free to roam the rest of the park. You can get a $5 discount by booking here.
2. Watch free performances at the Durian, aka Esplanade
Do you know what a durian is? And why Esplanade has this nickname?
Opened in 2002, this exotic looking building was the result of a push towards a better arts and cultural scene in Singapore.
Today it is where both international and local acts come together to perform and entertain.
The best thing? There are free performances and exhibits regularly. Check out what’s on here.
3. Explore the streets of Chinatown
They say that every country has a Chinatown.
This statement sounds pretty legitimate to us.
Singapore’s Chinatown is definitely a location on its own, with lots of colourful buildings and characters offering authentic Chinese cuisine to back alleys with amazing street art.
All you need is an appetite and a good pair of shoes.
We recommend this walking food tour if you prefer something organised.
4. Asian Civilisations Museum
Located along the banks of the Singapore River, this museum displays artefacts from centuries past that were found across China, South Asia, Southeast Asia and West Asia, especially daily necessities such as handkerchiefs, coins and even photographs.
The colonial building that houses the exhibits is itself a beautiful piece of history. Entrance to this museum is a mere $6.
5. Pulau Ubin
To most people, their impression of Singapore is one of a modern state, devoid of houses on stilts or built from wood.
But on Ubin, this charming village is still alive and well, and can be accessed from the mainland by a bum boat for only $2.20 and a 15 minute ride.
It is perfect for nature lovers and hiring a bike will make the excursion much more enjoyable.
6. Explore Jewel Changi Airport
One of Singapore’s latest shiny buildings, Jewel is located at Changi Airport. Housing over 280 shops and F&B outlets, some being their first branch in Singapore, this massive plaza will satisfy your retail needs and offers you a unique environment that is unusual of a mall.
Make a trip here before you leave Singapore! You can read more of Jewel here.
7. Singapore Zoo and River Safari
If you have to splurge on an activity, our suggestion would be the Singapore Zoological Gardens, or quite simply, the Singapore Zoo, the Night Safari and the River Safari.
The animals are well taken care of here and given abundant space to roam about.
This rainforest environment is teeming with wildlife, and has been hailed as one of the top global veterinary healthcare and research centres.Discount tickets to the Zoo and Night Safari here! Discount tickets to the River Safari here!
Which one did you like?
Did you manage to try out these tips? What are some of your favourites?
Share with us by leaving a comment below!
If you are planning your trip now, how about popping over to our resources page to see some tips!
You should also consider reading our Red Dot Essentials to get a local understanding of Singapore.
Don’t forget to pin this on Pinterest and your social media accounts too!
Related: One Day in Singapore Itinerary
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Logistics before visiting Singapore
Find cheap flights.
Air tickets are usually the bulk of your expenses. Set up an alert and snag cheap fares with Skyscanner.
Find the best accommodation.
Book a place ahead of time to get good rates. Booking.com has transparent fees and excellent rates.
Handy travel guide.
For the old school kid in you, get a travel guide book and get lost exploring the city.
You don’t need us to teach you to be a responsible adult, do you? Get a quote here.
Planned for you activities in Singapore.
Need a guide to show you and your group around? Lots of operators here to choose from here. You know who they are and how they are reviewed.
More resources to help you.
What other useful travel resources we use when we book our trips.