Think a visit to Singapore is going to blow your budget? Think again! I’m here to show you that it’s super easy to stick to your budget when you visit Singapore. Keep reading for practical tips, a list of free things to do in Singapore and my recommendation for a cheap place to stay.
It’s not news that Singapore is an expensive city. I was sceptical before I visited, as I thought it was going to completely break the bank. But I was pleasantly surprised to find so many cheap food options and free things to do. So here’s my guide on how to easily visit Singapore on a budget. You’re guaranteed to want to return. I may have paid the city a re-visit less than a year after my first visit, it’s that good.
Currently, $1 SGD is basically equivalent to $1 AUD.
SINGAPORE BUDGET TRAVEL TIPS
FIND A CHEAP FLIGHT TO SINGAPORE
To get to Singapore the first time, I flew from London with Norwegian Air. A low-cost airline, I would definitely fly with Norwegian Air again. The service was great and you get all the benefits of a normal airline, like food and entertainment. I recommend getting a seat with extra legroom though. That small extra cost made a huge difference to me.
The second time I visited Singapore, I flew with AirAsia from Bali. I then flew home to Australia both times with Scoot, which is the definition of a budget airline. But both of these airlines will get you from A to B with no frills. AT ALL.
FEAST AT THE HAWKER CENTRES
I’m not kidding. If you want to visit Singapore on a budget, then eat at hawker centres. The food courts are found across Singapore and come in all shapes and sizes. Some of the most popular hawker centres in Singapore include Maxwell Food Centre, Lau Pa Sat, Golden Mile Food Centre and the Chinatown Complex Food Centre. Google hawker centres in Singapore and you will find a bucketload to choose from. The best part is, there are endless cheap local dishes available at hawker centres. Chicken rice is basically the national dish.
DO A FREE WALKING TOUR
If you’re a regular around here, you know I have an undying love for free walking tours around the world. I’ve done plenty of walking tours across North America and Europe, so I was so happy to see a Singapore alternative. Monster Day Tours runs free walking tours around Kampong Glam, Little India and Chinatown. On my second trip, I did the Chinatown tour and it was fantastic. I learned a lot from the local guide and we even got a free sample at the hawker centre. I think I’d do the Little India walking tour the next time I visit Singapore. Like all free walking tours, a tip at the end is always appreciated.
CHECK OUT ALL THE FREE SINGAPORE ATTRACTIONS
I previously wrote about all the awesome things to do in Singapore. But here’s a recap of the best free Singapore attractions.
• Gardens by the Bay. Yes, there are attractions within Gardens by the Bay that cost money, but Supertree Grove is free! It’s also home to the Garden Rhapsody light and sound show every evening, which I highly recommend checking out. I loved wandering around the Gardens for free and seeing it from several different angles.
To get to Gardens by the Bay, I walked from Theatres on the Bay. From here you can take photos of the Merlion, Marina Bay Sands and the cool Helix Bridge. I then caught the train back to my hostel after the light show.
• Marina Bay Sands. To get an iconic photo from the top of this hotel you have to be a guest. But to visit the shopping centre downstairs is free. Plus, it has a canal running through it. It basically needs to be seen to be believed.
• Clarke Quay. For pastel perfection, head over to Clarke Quay for a wander. It’s where you’ll find the very Instagrammable Old Hill Street Police Station as well.
• Singapore Botanic Garden. On my list for my next visit is the Singapore Botanic Garden, which is massive. It’s located close to Orchard Road and there are plenty of attractions within the Garden. Only a few have an entrance fee as well. Another green oasis in the middle of Singapore is Fort Canning Park.
• Sentosa Island. You can walk onto and around Sentosa Island for free. Known as Singapore’s top tourist attraction, there are plenty of things to do on Sentosa Island. This includes waterparks, Dolphin Island, Madame Tussauds and Universal Studios Singapore. However, it doesn’t cost anything to see the Merlion statue or visit the beaches.
• Orchard Road. Now, Orchard Road is where you will find hundreds of shops. But even when you visit Singapore on a budget, I still think you need to pay Orchard Road a visit. Check out all the different malls and enjoy a $1.20 ice cream from one of the many outdoor sellers.
• Chinatown. Chinatown is another great place to visit in Singapore. Top attractions within Chinatown include the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple, Sri Mariamman Temple, Thian Hock Keng Temple and the street market. Singapore’s Chinatown is a feast for the senses, with its hawker centres and colourful buildings. Make sure you check out Chinatown when you visit Singapore.
• Little India. This is another area you should definitely visit in Singapore. Don’t miss Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple, the House of Tan Teng Niah and the 24-hour Mustafa Centre, which is known as a shopping institution. I also recommend having a meal at Komala Vilas, which set me back $4 SGD.
• Kampong Glam. I did a Bitemojo food tour of this area in Singapore. I think it might be my favourite place in Singapore, with its cute shops, cheap and diverse food options, street art and colourful buildings. Take your time meandering down the many different streets and laneways in Kampong Glam. If you’re peckish, Minang was one of the stops on my food tour and it was very busy at lunchtime.
USE PUBLIC TRANSPORT
Singapore’s public transport train system, known as MRT (Mass Rapid Transit) is extremely efficient. They run frequently, take you all over the city and even direct you where to stand. I usually took the train once or twice a day in Singapore. I just bought a standard ticket, which you can reuse every time you buy a new fare at the machines available inside every train station.
This worked for me, but alternative options include purchasing an EZ-Link Card or buying a Singapore Tourist Pass. Available as a one, two or three-day pass, this gives you unlimited travel on buses and the MRT from $10. I ended up doing a lot of walking (and sweating), but whichever ticket you choose, it’s not going to cut into your budget too much.
You can get the MRT from the airport (of course), but I ended up getting the City Shuttle service for $9 SGD. It was easy to organise at the airport and it dropped me directly outside my hostel. To return to the airport, I got a Grab, which is Singapore’s version of Uber. As I had a very late/early flight (we’re talking 1am), I thought this was the best option. It set me back $20, which I could pay in cash. Obviously, public transport is the cheapest option, but I recommend downloading Grab just in case.
DON’T DRINK (OR CUT BACK) ON ALCOHOL
If you want to save money when you visit Singapore, it’s (unfortunately) best to avoid alcohol. It’s highly taxed in Singapore, so cheap bottles of wine are basically non-existent. Cocktails are also on par with Australian prices (a.k.a ridiculous). Your best bet is enjoying a beer with your meal at a hawker centre, which will usually set you back $8. Alternatively, check out this post on the best Singapore happy hours.
BUT DO DRINK THE TAP WATER
My hostel had a filtered tap, so I filled up my water bottle every evening and placed it in the fridge. But tap water is completely fine to drink in Singapore, so save some money and opt out of buying plastic water bottles. Because believe me, you’ll be drinking a lot of water when you visit Singapore. It’s hot and humid year-round.
STAY AT A HOSTEL IN SINGAPORE
Cheap accommodation in Singapore might seem like a foreign concept. But I’ve stayed in the same great hostel during both my visits to Singapore. I highly recommend Dream Lodge. It’s a clean and friendly hostel with free breakfast and beautifully air-conditioned pod dorm rooms. Dream Lodge is walking distance to two separate MRT stations, which makes getting around Singapore super easy and affordable.
It’s also close to a mall and there’s a hawker centre across the road, where I had cheap and delicious dinners on numerous occasions. I went to the same stall and the owner gave me my $5 noodle dish in a takeaway container, so I could eat it in the air-conditioning back at Dream Lodge 😉 If you’re searching for a cheap place to stay in Singapore, look no further.
I hope these budget travel tips help you when you visit Singapore. I truly believe it’s very easy to have a budget-friendly vacation in Singapore. Like I said, I’ve already been to Singapore twice in less than a year and I can’t wait to return. I’m addicted (even if it’s ridiculously hot).
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