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How To Explore Singapore On A Budget!

So you want to explore Singapore on a budget? But what words come to mind when you think of Singapore?

Futuristic architecture, clean, safe, modern, pricey alcohol, world’s best airport, but above all, you probably think it is expensive.

Whilst Singapore IS a lot more expensive than the rest of south-east Asia, don’t let it put you off – it is certainly not somewhere to be missed!

singapore gardens by the bay supertrees

Whether you are backpacking in Singapore for a couple of days or you are here to splash your cash and stay at one of the most expensive hotels in the world, Singapore has something for everyone!

Read on to see how you can discover Singapore on a budget! 

singapore joo chiat peranakan houses

Singapore is one of the world’s most prosperous and modern countries. Despite its small size, Singapore is a melting pot of cultures, with a mix of Malay, Chinese and Indian influences, and prides itself in being a multi-racial country.

It is a very popular travel destination for holidays and stopovers and many ex-pats from around the world call this their home.

Singapore is blessed with a tropical climate and is sunny year-round, averaging 30 degrees Celsius most days.

Even though Singapore is a small and crowded island, it is very green with over 50% covered in greenery and park and nature reserves, hence why it is often called The Garden City.

Whilst Singapore is an extremely pleasant place, make sure you are aware of the strict laws here before visiting. Chewing gum is prohibited, and eating and drinking on public transport is not allowed and you will be fined heavily if caught.

There are also very strict drug laws in Singapore, with a mandatory death penalty if you are caught with drugs.

singapore gardens by the bay supertrees

How to explore Singapore on a budget:

Gardens By The Bay: FREE!

Go to Gardens by the Bay – one of the best photo spots in Singapore! It’s free to enter and is really impressive –  it’s the highlight of most people’s trip to Singapore!

Make sure to visit both during the day and at the night and walk amongst the giant supertrees.

This is an amazing experience in itself, and it’s so incredible that it is free!

singapore gardens by the bay

singapore gardens by the bay

In addition you can also pay to visit the Cloud Forest and Flower Dome for $28SGD (£15) if you wish. If you book online beforehand you can get them for a little cheaper.

gardens by the bay singapore

The Cloud Forest and Flower Dome open at 9am (even though the gardens open at 5am!) and get pretty busy so try to get here early to beat the crowds.

The cloud forest holds the world’s tallest indoor waterfall and the flower dome is the world’s largest glass greenhouse. Both are absolutely amazing.

You can also pay to go on the upper walkway amongst the top of the super trees for $8 SGD (£5), again which is a really nice experience. You’ll need a good few hours here to take it all in. 

singapore gardens by the bay

You can also get stunning views of the iconic Marina Bay Sands Hotel from Gardens By The Bay.

singapore marina bay sands instagrammable places

singapore marina bay sands instagrammable places

Be sure to come back in the evening and watch the fascinating Gardens By The Bay light and sound show at every night at 7.45 and 8.45pm at the Supertrees, again at no cost!

The best way to experience it is to lie under one of the towering supertrees and relax as you experience the show, which lasts for about 15 minutes.

light show gardens by the bay singapore

light show gardens by the bay singapore

Stay until after the second light show, when everyone starts to disappear and you get the place to yourself. It is a really peaceful place and it even stays open as late as 2am! You’ll be able to get some nice pictures of Marina Bay Sands lit up at night too.

gardens by the bay night time singapore light show gardens by the bay singapore


Transport: CHEAP!

Transport is reasonably priced in Singapore! The MRT subway system is efficient, economic and easy to use, and it takes you pretty much everywhere in Singapore!

You can purchase a one-day Singapore Tourist Pass for $10 SGD (£5) for unlimited rides, as single tickets of roughly $4 SGD quickly add up.

Taxis are also a decent price (seeing as Singapore is small, your taxi is never going to be too expensive or out of your budget!). 

Use the ‘Grab’ app (SE Asia’s answer to Uber) or normal street taxis – they usually charge similar prices.

Eat at Hawker Centres: CHEAP!

Eat at a hawker centre! Hawker centres are basically a bunch of inexpensive street food stalls located outside serving up delicious local food.

Especially if you’ll be staying in Singapore for 4 days or more you’ll want to eat at these places to save money!

The locals eat here, and well, you know the food is good if the locals are eating there!

There are some really good ones near Marina Bay and also in Chinatown, where you can get meals for as low as $5SGD (£3)! For Singapore this is super cheap!

marina bay instagrammable places in singapore

chinatown explore singapore on a budget

After filling up in Chinatown, head to the beautifully colourful and decorative Buddha Tooth Relic Temple (which houses the Buddha tooth relic in a gold stupa). Admission is free, but a donation is greatly received.

The temple is open for visitors from 9-12 and then from 3-6pm, but please respect no photos are to be taken inside.

chinatown tooth relic temple explore singapore on a budget

chinatown explore singapore on a budget

Chinatown is also beautiful to walk around, absorb the atmosphere or buy some cute souvenirs.

chinatown explore singapore on a budget


Need A Cocktail? Take Advantage of Happy Hour!

Are you even in Singapore if you don’t sample the famous Singapore Sling cocktail, invented at Raffles Bar?

Yes alcohol is expensive here in Singapore, but there are some good drinks deals to be found in many places during happy hour (usually around 5-9pm) – perfect for those of use on a budget! Just check around for offers as they can change regularly.

However if you don’t mind splashing out a little, head to One Altitude bar, just over the lake from Marina Bay Sands for some utterly fabulous views. Only smart dress is allowed, so dress accordingly.

Another great area for drinks is Clarke Quay next to the Singapore river. It’s great in the evenings, with lots of bars and alfresco restaurants making the area popular with both locals and tourists.

marina bay instagrammable places in singapore

To get the view from the top of Marina Bay Sands you either need to

a.) stay in Marina Bay Sands Hotel which will cost a fortune,

b.) go to the SkyPark Observation Deck on the 57th floor ($23SGD entry), or

c.) go to the CÉ LA VI rooftop bar, next to the hotel infinity pool.

Unfortunately you can’t go in the infinity pool though as it is for guests of Marina Bay Sands hotel only, but you’ll be sipping on a refreshing cocktail with a fabulous view that you won’t even care!

Given the choice of an observation deck and a rooftop bar, I will always pick the rooftop bar, as you pay roughly the same money but get a much more relaxing experience at a rooftop bar!

marina bay instagrammable places in singapore

Little India: FREE!

Experience the diverse culture of Singapore’s Indian community in Little India: one of Singapore’s most vibrant and bustling neighbourhoods.

Little India is a colourful, compact multicultural area with many Hindu, Islam and Buddhist places of worship. The smells, sights and sounds of Indian culture are everywhere.

singapore little India instagrammable places on a budget

Make sure to look out for the House of Tan Teng Niah – Singapore’s most colourful building. It lies in the middle of Little India, but the house is actually Chinese, not Indian!

It is the only remaining Chinese villa of its kind in the neighbourhood, built in 1900.

singapore little India instagrammable places on a budget

Check out the Mustafa Centre nearby – a 24 hour mall with literally everything you need, at much lower prices than a lot of places in Singapore.

Little India is fairly compact and can be easily discovered on foot, great for discovering all the colourful street art.

singapore little India instagrammable places on a budget

There are many great reasonably priced restaurants in Little India – if you like Indian food make sure to eat some here as the standard of food is so good!

We ate an amazing lunch at the restaurant Amaravati right next door to the Tan Teng Niah house.

The food was great, the staff were so friendly and helpful, the restaurant was packed (which is always a good sign!) the view was perfect, and the Paneer Manchurian was to die for!

singapore little India instagrammable places on a budget 

Singapore Botanic Gardens: FREE!

Open: 5am – midnight daily

Cost: FREE

Besides Gardens by the Bay, Chinatown and Little India, there are several other great parts of Singapore that are free for everyone to enjoy – perfect if you’re on a budget! The Botanic Gardens is one of them.

They are near Orchard Road and are a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and are simply beautiful. Definitely worth an afternoon here if you have time!

Located 6 km from downtown Singapore are the Singapore Botanic Gardens. The Singapore Gardens are free to visit and are a really nice way to spend a couple of hours. They are 160 years old, are very large and there are two main entrances:

Closest MRT: Napier Road or Botanic Gardens. Note these 2 stations are located on completely opposite sides of the gardens and are over 2km apart so check which one is most convenient for you.

Orchid Garden

Open: 9-5

Cost: S$5

The Orchid Garden is located inside the Singapore Botanic Gardens. Whilst The Botanic Gardens are free to visit, if you would like to visit the Orchard Garden it costs $5 (it is totally up to you if you wish to go if your budget allows).

The gardens aren’t too busy and there is a really photogenic archway here as you go in to the right.

singapore orchid garden instagrammable places

Joo Chiat & The Peranakan Houses

In the east of Singapore is the charming Joo Chiat neighbourhood where perfect rows of unique vibrantly coloured houses dot the streets here.

The beautifully ornate, intricately detailed and well-preserved terraced houses date from pre-war and are called Peranakan houses. Peranakan is a Malay/Indonesian word which means ‘local born’.

It refers to the locally born people of Chinese heritage who are descendants of Chinese immigrants going back several hundred years. Many of them settled in this area.

peranakan houses joo Chiat instagrammable places in singapore

The brightly coloured 2 storey shophouses are what Joo Chiat has become famous for. One place in particular where you will see perfectly quaint houses is on Koon Seng Road.

This is one of the most perfect photogenic streets I have ever seen and is one of Singapore’s most popular Instagram spots! Lots of people like to take pictures outside the pink and blue house.

Nearest MRT: Paya Lebar or Eunos Station, both a 15 minute walk from Koon Seng Road. Alternatively, to get here quicker take a 10 minute Uber ride from the centre.

peranakan houses joo Chiat instagrammable places in singapore

Old Hill Street Police Station: FREE!

This is one of the most colourful and definitely most iconic buildings in Singapore! Nowadays known as MICA or Ministry of Information and Communications Building, but still more affectionately referred to as the Old Hill Street police station.

This is a very photogenic building with all the window shutters painted bright colours of the rainbow.

Singapore old police station

Do be very careful when crossing the road here as it is located on a busy road. There is a small pavement in between the lanes of traffic. Most people choose to stand here, whilst the person taking the photo stands at the other side of the street.

There are a few seconds when traffic stops on both sides and you’ll be able to get a clear shot without any cars in.

Singapore old police station

Fort Canning Park Tree Tunnel: FREE!

Right behind the Old Police Station is Fort Cannning Park. If you walk all the way across the park in the direction of Orchard Road and Dhoby Ghaut MRT station there is a pedestrian underpass leading into the park.

To get a picture like this you will need to climb onto the barrier/hand rail at the side of the stairs. We got there at around midday and had to queue for about 20 minutes to take the photo!

Ideally you want a wide lens on your camera. If you are using a phone you can use a clip-on wide lens which you can purchase from an electronic gadgets shop.

The picture below was taken with the phone clip on, not with a professional camera!

fort canning park singapore 2 day itinerary

Haji Lane: FREE!

Make sure to head to Singapore’s Kampong Glam neighbourhood! Here lies the extremely vibrant and lively hipster Haji Lane that has a great ambience!

Colourful street art adorns almost every wall in Haji Lane and the surrounding streets and the area has a very indie/retro vibe.

singapore haji lane

You’ll find lots of cute cafes, restaurants, bars and independent boutique shops here so be sure to stop for some food and a browse around the shops here!

There is a great atmosphere down here, especially on Sunday afternoons when the streets and outdoor seating areas of the cafes are busy.

Prices on Haji Lane are more geared towards Western prices, however there are some cheaper places off on the side streets and on the snack food stalls towards Masjid Sultan so make sure to head down there if you want to catch a cheaper bite!

singapore haji lane

In the 1950’s and 60’s the area around Haji Lane was the Muslim Quarter and you’ll still find several Middle Eastern Cafes here that serve delicious food.

Masjid Sultan Mosque

You’ll also find the beautiful Masjid Sultan Mosque a couple of streets away. 

The beautiful gold domed mosque was built in 1824 for the first Sultan of Singapore. It was rebuilt in 1932, and in 1975 was considered a National Monument. It is considered the National Mosque of Singapore.

Look beneath the gold onion-shaped domes and you will see the base is made of glass bottle ends.

These were donated by Muslims with a lower income, so the rebuilding of the mosque could include donations from all Muslims and not just rich ones.

You can get a really nice photograph underneath the archway on the corner of Kandahar Street and Muscat Street.

The mosque is free to enter if you would like to have a look inside.

Opening times:

10.00-12.00, 14.00-16.00 Saturday – Thursday.

14.30-16.00 Friday

singapore haji lane sultan masjid mosque

Bugis Street market is another popular place – once a famous red light district but now it’s known as the cheapest place to shop in Singapore, both for tourists and locals!

The large street market is filled with clothes, accessories, food stalls and retro shops, and is a definite must if you enjoy wandering around markets or looking for souvenirs.

Sentosa Island

If you have come to Singapore for thrills and adrenaline or to soak up some rays on the beach, then Sentosa Island is the place you’re after!

Sentosa is Singapore’s playground, but it can quickly put a dent in your pocket as prices add up if you’re not careful!

palawan beach sentosa singapore suspension rope bridge

There are some things you can do in Sentosa for free though.

You can relax on the beaches at Sentosa for free, as well as cross the iconic rope bridge to the southernmost point of continental Asia (and get your photo with the sign!).

suspension bridge palawan beach sentosa singapore 

Also be sure to look out for the giant wooden sculptures the ‘Explorers Of Sentosa’ on Palawan Beach.

wooden giants explorers of sentosa palawan beach singapore little lyn

You can get to Sentosa in a couple of ways: you can ride the cable car across to Sentosa Island for $33 SGD (£18) or take the Sentosa Express across for $4 SGD.

Or the much cheaper option – get off the MRT at Harbourfront station and walk across to the island via Sentosa boardwalk for $1 SGD!

Haw Par Villa: FREE!

Cost: FREE

Open: 9am – 10pm daily

Carrying west past Sentosa is Haw Par Villa, Singapore’s largest outdoor art gallery. It was built in 1937 and was formerly known as the Tiger Balm Garden as it was created by the inventors of Tiger Balm.

Haw Par Villa is the last remaining Asian culture park in the world of it’s kind, featuring giant statues and retelling Chinese mythology and legends.

haw par villa Singapore

It is very unusual and quirky, and supposed to be light hearted, but to some people parts of it may appear a little creepy, especially the Ten Courts of Hell.

I was here on my own and the place was deserted so yes at times I was a little creeped out! It is definitely worth a visit though, and unlike anywhere I have ever been before! 

Nearest MRT: Haw Par Villa. Located along Pasit Panjang Road.

haw par villa Singapore

Rain Vortex at The Jewel: FREE!

Cost: FREE

Open: 24/7 however water is only turned on from 9am-11.30pm.

The Rain Vortex at The Jewel, Changi Airport is the tallest indoor waterfall in the world and at 40 metres high it is really impressive! 

The rain vortex is lit up at night and there are 5 Light & Sound shows here every evening: one every hour from 7.30pm until 11.30pm.

It is quite busy at all times of the day as flights are coming and going 24 hours at Changi Airport. However, the rain vortex only has water from 9am until 11.30pm so make sure you arrive during these times!

If you arrive after this time, there will be no water flowing so it just won’t be the same. The Rain Vortex is before any immigration checks so you can visit it even if you aren’t going on a flight!

Nearest MRT: Changi Airport

singapore Changi airport rain vortex

And if you’re looking for affordable yet clean and convenient accommodation, definitely check out the capsule hotels in Singapore! We stayed in Jyu Capsule Hotel in Chinatown which was really good!

As you can see, there are lots of things to do in Singapore on a budget. If however you are finding it expensive here, why not get the bus across to Kuala Lumpur? The bus is only 5 hours and KL is very cheap!

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