Singapore on a Shoestring

Singapore is known to be the utopian-like country with strict rules like no chewing gum.  Singapore is also known to be notoriously expensive for accommodation.  With hotels like the Fullerton Hotel and the Raffles Hotel, it’s no wonder that one night stay in Singapore usually goes for upwards of USD $150 per night.

Singapore is a beautiful city and has lots of offer for its visitors, including beautiful beaches, entertainment, casinos, musicals (saw Wicked when I was there and it was fantastic!) and lots of cheap food.

Getting There

Singapore is serviced by many airlines and there are many airlines that are very budget friendly.  If you can use points to get to a major hub like Delhi or Hong Kong, you should be able to get a Tiger Airways Flight for under $190 USD return.

Accommodation

The best bet for accommodation would be a cheap hotel if you’re sharing with a few other people or a hostel.  Hostel’s aren’t what they used to be.  Many hostels offer convenient locations that are close to the Singapore MRT- this provides easy access to get into town from the airport and around town.

We stayed at a hostel a few steps away from the Chinatown MRT.  It cost $26 a night and included free breakfast (coffee or tea, fruit, toast, and cereal).  Bed sheets were clean, staff were friendly and efficient, and there was free internet.  There was an option of a private room with a bunk bed and this cost around $36.

Getting Around

The MRT is the best way to get around.  For $30 (Singaporean dollar) you can get a 3 day traveler pass that gives you unlimited riding around Singapore on the MRT.  You can get this at the service station at the airport.   Make sure that if you’re taking the MRT, that you only have one piece of luggage- otherwise the MRT police get angry at you and might fine you.

Another way to save money is the EZ link card.  It costs $12 (with $5 non-refundable) but you get the discounted MRT fare (which means that the further you go, the more you get charged- but if you just traverse through one stop, you get charged less).  The downside to the EZ link card is that the deposit on the card is nonrefundable (and basically the card is nonrefundable).  If you bought a single fare ticket for $2.10, not only is there the hassle of having to refund your single fare ticket deposit each time, $2.10 can really add up.

If you are traveling in a group, getting around by Taxi is quite reasonable considering the distance driven.   A taxi from the airport to the city centre usually costs around $20 Singaporean (like $16 USD?) and takes about 20-30 minutes.

Sights and Attractions

There are many great sites and attractions around Singapore that are free to check out and well worth a visit.

The Singapore Botanical Garden is easy to get to (there’s an MRT stop for it) and its free.  It takes about 1 hour to walk from one end of the garden to the other and some parts of the garden have admission charges (like the National Orchid Garden- $5 for an adult or $1 for students).

The Haw Por villa is another free attraction well worth a visit even if you just want to gawk at the awkward sculptures.  It was created in 1937 and the owner of the Tiger Balm empire actually lived on the premise until they were forced to leave after the second world war.

Sentosa is well worth a visit as well.  It’s a beautiful semi-artificially created island that you can take the MRT to (Harbour Front MRT station) and you can walk across.  Most of the attractions (like the Sounds of the Sea) don’t cost very much and are pretty entertaining.  We secured a Groupon deal beforehand and were able to try the luge and the Segway, use the cable car, take the Sky Ride for 70% off than what it would normally cost.  All we had to do was redeem the tickets at a local travel agency.

Food- Gloriously Cheap Food

There are many hawker stands (outdoor food courts) available that serve ridiculously delicious and cheap food.  Singaporean delights like Laksa (a simultaneously sweet and spicy rice noodle soup), satay, and Hainanese  chicken rice for $2.50 USD.

In fact, food is so cheap in Singapore that most people that live in Singapore eat out and they rarely cook (because cooking is more expensive than eating out!).  Another great tip- you don’t need to tip in Singapore.  Many places that are considered more “upscale” include a service charge in the bill and many people at the hawker markets are offended if you tip.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Readers, do you have any tips on saving money while visiting Singapore?

About

Young is a writer and former owner of Young and Thrifty and the main "twitter' behind Young and Thrifty's twitter account. She lives in Vancouver, BC and enjoys long walks on the beach, spending time with her anxious dog, and finding good deals. If you like what you read, consider signing up for email updates.

5 Responses to Singapore on a Shoestring

  1. If you want to stay in a hotel, it is much cheaper to stay in Geylang (the red-light district). I stayed in a Hotel 81 in that area which was about half the price of other locations in the Hotel 81 chain. The hotel was clean and quiet and the area wasn’t as bad as you’d guess.

    • @Amanda- Thanks for sharing! You know, I had no idea that there was a red-light district. I guess my sister didn’t want to show it to me lol.

  2. If you have deep pockets, don’t mind crowds and don’t need to chew gum to relieve stress, Singapore is a fascinating place to visit. There is quite a bit of East meets West about it. At the hawker stands, “ridiculously delicious and cheap food” is a great way not only to save money but to participate in the authenticity of your visit- just be prepared to not get stressed about straying from your die for a few days

    • @David- I agree- it has a beautiful East Meets West mentality, I agree. It feels like you are in a metropolitan western city actually (like Sydney or Melbourne almost!). Except that everyone speaks Singlish :)

  3. Visiting Singapore and Australia has been on my bucket list for a long long time, but considering the distance (even from Spain) and the fact I don’t like flying cattle class I decided I’m going to do it when I can travel in Emirates Bedroom class. Since that costs about $8000 one way it’s going to be a long time before I do a post on visiting there:)

    BTW interesting article enjoyed it

    Rob

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