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! Whether you are backpacking 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!
Related Reading: Most Instagrammable Places in Singapore
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 expats 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 in 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 here, with a mandatory death penalty if you are caught with drugs. Click here to read the laws in Singapore.
How to explore Singapore on a budget:
Gardens By The Bay: FREE!
Go to Gardens by the Bay! 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 in the day and in the night and walk amongst the giant supertrees. This is an amazing experience in itself, and it’s so incredible that it is free!
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.
The Cloud Forest and Flower Dome open at 9am (even though the gardens open at 5am!) and get pretty busy so try to get her 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 $8SGD (£5), again which is a really nice experience. You’ll need a good few hours here to take it all in.
You can also get stunning views of the iconic Marina Bay Sands Hotel from Gardens By The Bay.
Be sure to come back in the evening and watch the fascinating Garden Rhapsody light and sound show 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.
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.
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. 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!
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 is also beautiful to walk around, absorb the atmosphere or buy some cute souvenirs.
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.
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!
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. 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.
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 by foot, great for discovering all the colourful street art.
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!
Botanic Gardens, Joo Chiat, Haji Lane: 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!
Other places to check out include Joo Chiat neighbourhood and its cute pastel coloured houses at East Coast Road and Koon Seng Road that you have no doubt seen on Instagram! They are so gorgeous, but please be respectful when here as it is a residential area!
Kampong, Haji Lane and Arab street are also worth a wander down. They are full of reasonably priced cafes and restaurants and there is a nice ambience, however do avoid on a Sunday as most places are closed!
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.
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! You can get to Sentosa in a couple of ways: you can ride the cable car across to Sentosa Island for $33 SGD (£18), 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! Universal Studios is located on Sentosa Island, and while this will set you back a good few dollars, at least you can relax on the beaches for free!
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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