Guide to visiting Singapore on a budget

If you’re traveling to Singapore right after visiting Indonesia or Thailand, you might be shocked by how expensive it is, that is, if you merely look on the surface. But if you plan carefully enough while keeping an eye on your budget, you can definitely visit Singapore without digging deep into your pocket. Keep reading for the best money saving tips to help you travel Singapore on a budget.

How to get to Singapore?

Singapore is one of the main stopover hubs in Southeast Asia, so getting there is easy and affordable. Below are some of the most popular routes:

RouteTransportation methodsStarting price
Kuala Lumpur to Singapore Flight, bus, private carUS $37
Melaka to SingaporeBus, private carUS $13
Penang to SingaporeFlight, bus, private carUS $40
Batam Island to SingaporeFerryUS $22

Make use of public transportation in Singapore

Singapore’s public transportation system is like no other. Cheap and efficient, the buses and MRTs can get you literally everywhere. A single ride costs on average 1-2 SGD ( 0.74-1.48 USD) only. For more convenience, you can purchase an EZ-link card for 12 SGD (8.88 USD) which includes a store value of 7 SGD (5.18 USD). 

While you’re technically losing 5 SGD (3.70 USD) worth of credit, the convenience of the tap-and-go feature makes it worth it. You also don’t have to worry about having the exact change (which is a big time-saver) and once you run out of credit, you can easily top-up at any MRT station or convenience store.

Alternatively, if you’re visiting Singapore for a few days only but plan to do a lot of sightseeing, you can buy a Singapore Tourist Pass. The pass provides unlimited rides on all public buses and MRTs and is available for 1, 2 or 3 days and costs 20 SGD (14.79 USD), 26 SGD (19.23 USD) and 30 SGD (22.19 USD) respectively, including a 10 SGD (7.40 USD) refundable deposit. 

Seek out free attractions

For a city that’s supposed to be the most expensive in the world, it has quite a lot of free things to do. Gardens by the Bay is the most popular attraction in Singapore and although you need to fork out some cash to enter the Cloud Forest and Flower Dome, strolling around the Supertree Grove doesn’t cost a cent! 

All the light shows are completely free to watch, whether it’s at Gardens by the Bay, Marina Bay or Jewel at Changi Airport.

You can also enjoy Singapore’s landmarks for free. Take a stroll around the marina to see the Merlion statue, Helix Bridge, Marina Bay Sands Hotel and you can even watch free live performances at the Esplanade Theatres. 

Make sure to put aside some time to explore the different neighborhoods such as Chinatown, Tiong Bahru or Little India. Kampong Glam is another trendy neighborhood worth checking out. This is also where the Sultan Mosque is located which you can visit for free outside of prayer times. 

Experience more of Singapore’s multicultural heritage for free by visiting the Buddha Tooth Relic and Thian Hock Keng temples as well as the Sri Mariamman temple. 

If you need a colorful backdrop for your Instagram photos, check out Old Hill Street Police Station, Joo Chiat Road or Haji Lane. 

Don’t miss a visit to Sentosa Island. It can feel a bit touristy for some but you can enjoy all of the beaches for free. Instead of taking the cable car or monorail to the island, simply walk along the boardwalk from VivoCity mall and once you’re on the island, enjoy unlimited rides on the bus and monorail for free.

For something more off the beaten path, I recommend Jurong Lake Gardens, Chinese and Japanese Gardens or Haw Paw Villa.

Eat at Hawker Centers

The best and cheapest place to experience Singapore’s local food scene is without a doubt the hawker centers. These food courts can be found all over Singapore and serve cheap and delicious dishes ranging from 3 to 6 SGD (2.22 to 4.44 USD). 

Some of the most popular ones include Telok Ayer (Lau Pa Sat), Tekka Center, People’s Park, Amoy Street Food Center and Maxwell Food Center. The latter houses the Michelin star Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice stall where you can indulge in the oh-so-delicious chicken rice. It costs only between 3.50 SGD (2.59 USD) and 5 SGD (3.70 USD) depending on the portion size. 

Get around on foot

Getting around on foot can definitely save you some cash as most of the tourist attractions are located within walking distance. For example, walking from Clarke Quay to Chinatown takes roughly 15 minutes while Haji Lane to the Sultan Mosque requires less than a 2 minutes walk. So put on some comfy shoes and start exploring!

Book your accommodation outside of the downtown area

If there’s one thing that’s not easy on the wallet, it’s definitely accommodation. It can be hard to find a decent place to stay in Singapore on a budget but if you avoid the downtown/Marina Bay area, you can save quite a lot.

Budget neighborhoods like Chinatown, Little India and Bugis offer a whole range of affordable hotels and hostels. Dorm beds start around 15 USD to 20 USD per night and 50 USD to 100 USD for a private room with bathroom. If you don’t feel comfortable staying in a hostel, capsule hotels are just as cheap and provide more privacy.

Some budget to mid-range options include Backpacker’s Inn Chinatown, Atlantis Pod in Little India and Chinatown, Champion Hotel City, Hotel 81 and The Southbridge Hotel.

Take advantage of happy hour

Alcohol is very expensive in Singapore but if you still intend on hitting the bars, make sure to take advantage of the happy hours. If you’d like to party with your girlfriends, look out for the ladies’ night which happens mainly on Wednesdays for even more discounts and at times, free drinks!

Buy a local sim card

Another great way to save money is to buy a local sim card. There are three main mobile operators that offer tourist sim cards at very competitive prices, namely Singtel, Starhub and M1. I’ve personally used Singtel and Starhub and the coverage was excellent. Both of their cheapest options start at 12 SGD (8.88 USD) with a validity of 7 days and provide 100 GB data, 100 local SMS and 500 mins local calls. They can be purchased directly at Changi airport or any 7-Eleven stores.

Avoid Taxis

If you’re wondering how to travel Singapore on a budget, avoid taxis at all costs! If you need a private transfer, I highly recommend downloading the Grab App (similar to Uber) to save up to 40% of the normal taxi fare.

If you don’t mind carpooling, GrabHitch is also another affordable option. 

Drink tap water

It’s totally safe to drink tap water in Singapore but if you absolutely need to buy bottled water, make sure to do so from Fairprice supermarkets instead of 7-Eleven. You can get a 1.5L water bottle for only 0.70 SGD (0.52 USD). Free drinking water fountains are also available at Changi Airport, Botanic Gardens and Sentosa Island. 

Singapore might have gotten a bad rap as one of the most expensive countries in the world but that doesn’t mean you should scratch it off your bucket list. I hope this guide has given you some ideas on how to save money in Singapore and convinced you to book your next trip there!

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