Singapore is one of the most unique cities you can visit and is considered one of the cleanest and safest Countries, with so many culturally rich activities on offer. However, it's not the most friendliest on the purse strings! We will share our tips on how to see see this beautiful city on a budget by making a few plans ahead and researching where it is possible to save some cash!
As a general rule, for a budget to mid range expect to spend on average $70 - 100 USD per day based on two people. If you're travelling alone, this will look more like $50-80 USD per day based on a similar situation. This would be based on staying at a hostel, eating at some of the Hawker style markets and food centres, enjoying the free and cheap activities, using local transportation or short Grab journeys and being smart on enjoying a beer during happy hours!
For reference, $1 Singapore dollar is equivalent to $0.70 USD // $1.04 AUD // £0.60 GBP
Accommodation and alcohol top trumps as the most expensive components to consider, if you can save some money here then you can easily live within this budget per day.
Let's tackle the big costs first...
Circular House - Pod Hotel (CLICK HERE)
Location: Boat Quay
Circular House offers both mixed dorms, female dorms and private rooms. We were really impressed with this hostel, Wifi was good, the reception was always manned, it was central with lots of cafes, bars and restaurants within close walking distance and the hostel was very clean and comfortable. It also offered unlimited tea, coffee and cold water which was a nice touch. Shared bathrooms were very clean, we saw them getting cleaned very frequently.
Price: Dorms $35 USD, private rooms from $50 USD (Shared bathroom)
Includes breakfast? YES, this price includes breakfast, options were toast, cereal, tea, coffee. There is also a restaurant just below that offered amazing noodles that we had for breakfast one day for $5 USD.
Wink Capsule hostel @ Downtown (CLICK HERE)
Really well located in Chinatown, walkable to lots of eateries, a cool and unique pod hotel that are very popular in Singapore.
Price: Singles $20 in 6 pod dorm, 1 double pod for 2 people $35
Includes breakfast? YES, this price includes an Asian or Continental style brekky.
Location: Boat Quay
Another great hostel option! The decor is awesome, and also in a really great location. The hostel offers shared dorms only, from single bed, small double, double loft and triple bed.
Price: Single in dorm from $29 USD, and a double from $35 USD.
Includes breakfast? YES, this price includes an American breakfast
Location: Lavender Street
Rucksack in a favourite amongst budget travellers, they have dorm rooms, private rooms and also offer the pod-style beds. Wifi is good and there is also a cool rooftop area for guests. Also a really great location in Lavender street, 10 mins walk from Little India.
Price: Single from $25 USD, and a private double from $55 USD (shared bathroom)
Ways to save on Transport
There are endless ways to enjoy Singapore by foot. The waterfront is a great place to start with fantastic views of the skyline, Gardens by the Bay and the Helix bridge are both particularly spectacular to walk around, especially at night time when there are light shows and the skyline is lit up.
MRT (Mass Rapid Transit) system and Bus
Singapore has an MRT system (Mass Rapid Transit) that is definitely the quickest way to get around the city. Most attractions are usually not too far from an MRT station and so pretty convenient if you only have a few days in the City. There are a couple of options depending on how much travel you will be doing in Singapore.
Purchasing a Multi-day Singapore Tourist Pass (STP) pass that allows unlimited travel for 1 day (S$10) 2 days (S$16) or 3 days (S$20). This pass can be purchased from transitlink office at these MRT stations here. You would need to take a few train trips per day for this to be worth the cost.
Possibly a better option that we used is to purchase an EZ-Link card that costs S$12 and also includes $7 credit. It is also possible to purchase top ups at the 7-eleven marts and can save time waiting in queues in MRT stations which can get pretty busy. The EZ-link card can be used on the LRT, MRT and the bus system, and you only pay for the distance traveled, rather than a flat fare.
The Singapore bus system uses an exit system, so don't forget to both tap on and tap off for both trains and buses!
If you would prefer, you can also use a mastercard and visa contactless cards to pay for transport, but bear in mind it's likely there will be foreign charges with these payments.
It is a great city for cycling as it has a well-connected network of cycling paths and is possible to rent bikes from operators.
Very similar to Uber, you can download the Grab app onto your phone and order a taxi the same you would Uber. Sometimes this can be very cheap, depending on what time of day you are travelling. It is most likely to still be more expensive than using local transportation such as the MRT.
Food & Drink - Where to go to
Unlike some of it's neighbours where the tap water is not drinkable, it is safe to drink the tap water in Singapore. This can safe a chunk when water costs S$2 per bottle at a mini mart. We would recommend taking a reusable water bottle with you and refill as you go.
Eat like a local
Eating like a local can save on food, buying Western food is known to be more expensive than the local cuisine. For example, eating at Hawker style food stalls are as little as $3 per dish, however eating at a Western style restaurant can set you back S$20-40 for an average meal at a restaurant - a significant difference.
Shopping Malls and Food Courts
Another way to save some cash is by eating at the food courts in the shopping malls. The main difference between Hawker Food markets and food courts is that Hawker centres tend to be found out in the open but under a sheltered roof, whereas food courts tend to be found on the lower ground floors of a shopping mall.
The best thing about Singaporean food is that it has so many other influences such as Malyasian,Chinese and other expat communities that it creates this beautiful fusion of food traditions and tastes!
Food halls and Hawker style stalls
Singapore is blessed with World-renowned hawker style food stalls, they are totally safe to eat and the quality is so good. This is where you will find delicious meals such as fried Kway Teow, Laksa, Chicken rice, noodles soups. Some stalls have even been rewarded with a Michelin star including Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice, the most popular food stall in Maxwell Hawker Centre in Chinatown. The Michelin guide gave Tian Tian stall a Michelin Star which was the first to ever be given to a street stall in the entire world. Pretty cool!
A really delicious meal can be found easily between S$2 - 6 in food halls, and if you are happy with a noodle soup type delicious you can find them as cheap as S$3 per bowl.
Food stalls and hawker Centres we recommend:
Maxwell Road Hawker Centre - we ate here a couple of times at the well-known Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice stall and it is so good! It can be found opposite the Buddha tooth-relic temple in Chinatown.
Lau Pa Sat Food Centre - Originally a wet market it is now a covered hawker centre with local and Asian dishes. Very popular with office workers across lunchtime, and in the evening people flock for satay which is quickly set up from 7pm every night, where more than 10 Satay stalls are, you can get skewers of everything satay style! (Location: Raffles)
Chinatown Complex Food Centre - the largest Hawker centre in Singapore with 260 stalls to choose from! (S$3-4 per dish
Avoid touristic areas for food
Whilst it may feel natural to gravitate towards the touristic areas to eat out at, we enjoy going off the beaten track to find places to eat, ask the hotel or hostel you're staying at for some great local recommendations, or check out Lonely planet for a run down of the local hot spots for great tasting food but that still gives value for money. We usually found ourselves often ending up at the Hawker style markets as the food is so delicious and so cheap!
Buy from mini marts
The cheapest way to enjoy a beer is to buy from the local supermarket, or mini mart such as 7-Eleven where you can get a bottle of beer for around S$
A night out in Singapore can be very expensive! A pint of beer at normal prices can easily set you back around S$12-15. If you still would like to enjoy a cold beer in a bar, wait until happy hour which usually happens every day from around 5pm where you can pick up a beer for around S$7-8 and a glass of wine for S$9-10
Activities - Cheap or entirely FREE!
If you aren't already staying on Sentosa Island, we would recommend a day trip to Sentosa. Especially after walking around the city and seeing the sights, Sentosa is a perfect place for some downtime. There are also a lot of attractions on Sentosa Island such as Universal Studios, water park, aquarium etc however the cheapest activity is to head to the beach!. The beaches are free to use and enjoy, the sand is awesome and the ocean is very clear. A beautiful spot on a hot day in Singapore, which is most days!
The gardens can be found in the Orchard District (Open 5am - midnight everyday)
You are likely see locals practicing their Tai Chi, dog walkers and a few people exercising, it is a really beautiful spot to enjoy in the middle of the city. The main boardwalk is located on Upper Palm Valley road, take a walk and check out the different colourful flowers!
Thian Hock Keng Temple
One of the most photogenic buildings in the city. This building is devoted to Mazu the Goddess of the Sea, dating back to the 1800's it is is the oldest and one of the most important temples of the Hokkien people in Singapore. It is open from 7.30am until 5.30pm and is FREE to enjoy.
Gardens by the Bay
The Gardens by the bay is a nature park in the centre of the city, it is a total of 101 hectares and is located just behind the Marina Bay Sands hotel. It is an amazing way to explore the plant life and see the towering vertical gardens, they are extremely impressive!
If you are short on time, we would recommend to prioritize the Supertree Grove and OCBC Skyway. They are the towering trees that are made up of over 200 different types of plants. The Skyway is the bridge that connects between the trees which does have a small admission fee. We saw this part of the gardens in both the day and night, if you go at night don't miss out on the light show that takes place at 7:45pm and 8:45pm and it is completely free.
Tip: Arrive a little early to grab a spot
Supergrove admission: FREE
Skyway: $8 per adult
Opening hours: Supertree Grove (5:00am – 2:00am daily) / OCBS Skyway (9:00am – 9:00pm daily)
Chinatown is a great area to wander around, it is full of craft stalls, temples and hawker food centres.
Check out Chinatown's Maxwell Food Centre, one of the best places to taste authentic food like the locals. Many delicious, and super cheap food stalls to explore here!
Buddha Tooth Relic temple
A very unique temple that is located in Chinatown, you can't really miss it due to its bright red appearance! It can be quite overwhelming, beautiful and rich with so much gold incorporated in to the building and a strong smell of burning incense. They offer a free English language tour on a Tuesday and a Thursday (book ahead) The main draw is the 4th floor where the sacred relic is kept.
Little India is fun to walk around, this is where you can find the beautiful and brightly coloured houses. There are many cheap restaurants and market stalls to pick up a bargain. Try the Little India Arcade that dates back to the 1920's to find souvenirs, clothing and cheap eateries, and don't be afraid to eat with your hands!
Honestly, if there is a 'do not miss' it's this! The ArtScience museum is nothing short of mind blowing.
A combination of Art and Science turned into an incredible visual experience for adults and kids. It is also an air-con dream for super hot days, and good cover for rainy days. The FutureWorld exhibition was our favourite!
Opening hours: 10am - 7pm
Admission: S$19 per adult
Location: Marina Bay
Watch Spectra Light and water show
If there is one thing Singapore know how to do well, it is a lightshow! The Gardens by the Bay is beautiful, but if you have chance to watch the Spectra light and water show that is located at Marina Bay. A 15 minute outdoor show that takes place over the water at the Event Plaza, an amazing dancing fountain with colour and lasers, mist and an orchestra music. It is amazing, and it is totally FREE!
This impressive mosque is on of the most impressive religious buildings in the city and is free to enter.
Are there any places we missed that was a favourite of yours?
As always, all opinions are our own by TwosomeTravellers
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