Is Singapore an expensive destination? The answer might be ‘Yes’, if you do all the touristy things or follow a travel guide that will tell you to go to Universal Studios, the Zoo, the Night Safari, etc.
Nonetheless, there are many things to do around Singapore that do not involve spending lots of money. The main expenses here would be accommodation and food. Public transportation is not that expensive and walking is always a good option.
I have been to Singapore two times already, with an average budget of USD20-25 per day including paid accommodation, meals and transportation.
There are ways to make this even cheaper. For example, try couchsurfing, or staying at a friend’s house. Cook your own meals. Walk instead of paying for buses, trains, Uber or taxis.
Here are a few tips that you can use to make your stay cheaper in Singapore.
I hope you find them useful:
Average hostel rates start from USD 9 upwards for a dorm room. Some of these rates include breakfast and laundry services, but other don’t. Make sure to read the reviews of the hostels before you book, there can be very “dodgy” hostels in Singapore for expensive prices.
Check on www.hostelworld.com, www.booking.com and www.agoda.com for special rates and discounts. Last time that I stayed in Singapore I managed to book a dorm at 60’s Hostel for USD 12 the night, with breakfast included, AC, good WiFi, free computers to use and good location. The dorms are great because the beds have curtains, so you feel like you are inside your own room (its good to have your own space after a while of traveling). Normally this hostel costs USD 17 the night. I think it was a good deal.
Try couchsurfing in case that you want to stay with locals. This platform allows you to stay at the house of the locals or residents for free. This will allow you to learn more about the culture of the place and save some money at the same time.
If your hostel provides breakfast, you can save some money there. If that is not your case, there are two “cheap” alternatives of supermarkets where you can buy food to cook: Fair Price and Shen Siong.
There is a place called the Buddhist Lodge located at Kim Yam Rd where you can eat a vegetarian buffet for free every day during lunchtime.
Another cheap alternative is eating at the Hawkers, where you can try the “street food”. Meals here are delicious and many times filling. Average prices go between USD2-4.
You can find cheap options at Lavender, Geylang, Chinatown and Little India. Expect to pay USD2-3 per meal (at least I was paying that). I loved the food in Singapore. There is such a big variety of options. There is food from India, Indonesia, China, Korea, etc. Its delicious.
The Arab Street can be a little more expensive because it became a touristy spot. Nonetheless, some blocks away from the main street you can find small shops with affordable prices.
Walk!!!! Even though its hot and humid, Singapore is an easy place to walk around. Distances are not that long and usually there are many things to see on your way.
The MRT and buses in Singapore are also a good option. Usual MRT tickets cost less than SGD 2 per destination. Bus rides usually cost just SGD 1.40. Make sure that you have small change or buy the MRT card depending on the number of days you are staying. At the end they will refund what you have in balance (except the SGD5 that the card costs).
MRT is free during Jubilee Weekend (usually between 7-10 August).
Things to do
There are plenty of options for you to be entertained while you travel around Singapore. These options do not involve much money to spend.
Here are my favorites:
MacRitchie Natural Reserve and TreeTop Walk (all together, all for free)
This 40 minute walk through the nature starts at the bottom of the MacRitchie Natural Reserve. You will be surrounded by trees everywhere until you reach the bridge that constitutes the “Tree Top” walk. Enjoy the views and take many pictures! The only price that you will have to pay is the public bus ticket from your hostel to the bottom of the reserve.
From Tanah Merah MRT St. take the bus no. 2 to the bus terminal at Changi Village.
This island is less crowded than Sentosa Island and more authentic. You can take a ferry from Changi Village for SGD 2.50 one way and get to this magical island still not spoiled by the massive amount of tourists that come to Singapore. Some people rent bicycles for SGD 4 onwards. I decided to walk while I was there. I spent 5 hours at least in the island and saw amazing trees and animals, including monitor lizards.
National Botanic Gardens
This beautiful place is full of trees, flowers and nature. The entrance is usually for free unless you go to the National Orchid Garden. Walk around and enjoy the scenery. Every now and then there are live music performances.
Merlion, Marina Bay Sands and Gardens By the Bay
Looking is for free and so are these places. Go during sunset, its beautiful. The view from Marina Bay towards the skyline is amazing with a good sunset.
You can walk around Gardens by the Bay for free unless you want to visit the Conservatories and/or the Skyway. During the evening, there is a music show next to the giant trees, its worth visiting.
You can walk through the ground floors of Marina Bay Sands for free in case you are interested. The ticket to the infinite view is SGD 23 but it usually does not allow you to swim in the pool, although many people ignore it.
This is one of the most touristy places in Singapore. Sentosa is an island that has become an amusement park with time. You can find Universal Studios, Madame Tussaud, roller-coasters, etc. However, Sentosa also has some beaches once you walk past the amusement park. They are nice places to hangout and relax from the city vibe.
The train ticket to Harbor Front Station from Farrer Park St. was SGD 1.90 one way. After you go down from the station, you can walk towards Sentosa, its just 600 mts away.
Colonial Sightseeing and Street Art
Singapore is not just about tall buildings and expensive shopping centers. There is a beautiful colonial architecture all around the city. If you walk along Clarke Quay you will find colorful houses, the riverfront and the MICA Building. The MICA building used to be a police station until they shut it down. Now its open again and is used by ministries and councils of Singapore. The building has 927 coloured windows that will take your breath away.
Haji Lane is one of the most famous streets in Singapore. They display of street art is amazing. Additionally, there are many coffee shops and restaurants around where you can hang out.
Next to Haji Lane you will find Arab Street. This narrow street full of Arab restaurants and shops lead to the impressive Masjid Sultan, one of the most famous mosques in Singapore and Asia.
Chinatown and Little India are places worth walking and visiting. There is a lot of life going on in these places. Usually crowded and full of shops and temples. See how locals interact while you enjoy a cheap bubble tea or coffee.
ION Sky View
ION Sky in Orchard Rd has an amazing view of Singapore. Its free and open from 3PM-6PM.
Those are some tips to enjoy Singapore on a shoestring and don’t feel like you are missing out on something.
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