Singapore On A Budget: It’s Possible. Here’s How.
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Wanna hear a secret? Singapore on a budget is possible. I promise. I’ve done it twice! So after my recent visit, I thought I’d write this Singapore budget travel guide to help anyone else visiting the supposed ‘most expensive city in the world’ and worried about its costs. You can still enjoy travel in Singapore with very little money – and this post will show you how!
I’m going to cover where to stay in Singapore on a budget, cheap eats in Singapore, budget hotels in Singapore, the best hostels in Singapore and free things to do in Singapore. There’s plenty of them, more than enough to fill up 2 days in Singapore or longer!
Arriving into Singapore
Arriving into Singapore is probably everyone’s smallest concern when it comes to their travel budget, because they will most likely be arriving from a cheaper country. Due to Singapore Changi Airport’s position as a ‘hub’ airport and it being very well connected to virtually the whole world, it is really easy to fly into the city. Singapore Airlines is the national carrier but it isn’t the cheapest airline – Scoot, the nation’s budget carrier has good deals, and I got a budget flight with Norwegian Air one that cost me less than £250 from London.
You might also be entering Singapore by land or sea. Arriving into Singapore from Malaysia is cheap and easy – buses leave all major cities. The buses are typically high quality, spacious and comfortable. I haven’t done the border from Malaysia into Singapore, but I did it the other way round (Singapore to Malaysia) and it was easy enough.
If you want to book your tickets in advance online, I recommend Bookaway. Click here for more information and to book tickets.
There’s probably a very minimal chance of you doing this, but if you’re by any chance in Batam Island/ Central Sumatra, you might want to take a boat or a series of boats. The boat from Batam to Singapore costs 5-25 SGD and takes 45 minutes. You can book it online here.
From Sumatra, you’ll need to take one, two or three boats to reach Batam depending on where you begin. I took four boats and a bus from Pekanbaru to Sumatra, it took 13 hours and was a bit of a madcap journey – all part of me overlanding from Bali to London!
Cheap Accommodation in Singapore
Your Singapore accommodation will likely put the biggest dent in your travel budget. There are certainly some expensive hotels here – like the uber lush Marina Bay Sands, which is definitely on my hotel bucket list for one of these days – but comes at a hefty price tag of about $300 per night.
Then there’s the iconic Raffles Hotel, the home of the Singapore Sling, which costs about $700 per night. If you’re visiting Singapore on a budget, I strongly advise you don’t stay at these (don’t say I don’t offer pro travel tips!).
If you’re a hostel-dweller, there are a few budget-friendly hostels in Singapore. I have stayed at and recommend the Little Red Dot Hostel. Dorms cost around 20 SGD per night and include breakfast, there’s a nice social atmosphere in the common rooms, and the dorms and bathrooms are decent.
If you want your own space, consider staying in a pod capsule hotel in Singapore. I stayed in two of these while in Singapore – one in Kampong Glam and one in Chinatown (they’re both operated by the same company) and had a great time in them both. I marginally preferred the Kampong Glam location, as it was just that little bit jazzier with funky lighting inside and outside the pod, but they were both pretty cool. Being inside the pods was like being in a spaceship, with buttons all over the place, cool lighting, TVs and more!
Here’s a little video I created about the Space Pod A Chinatown:
If a little pod just won’t cut it as your ‘own space’ in Singapore, hotel rooms start at 40-60. I haven’t stayed at any of these, but some highly rated ones on Booking.com are:
- Hotel Clover The Arts: Close to Chinatown and Clarke Quay, this boutique hotel is reported to have friendly staff and clean rooms. Click here for rates and to book.
- Champion Hotel City: In prime location in the city centre, this hotel offers modern amenities and reviewers report helpful staff. Click here for rates and to book.
- Hotel Classic by Venue: Located in the Geylang district, close to the metro, this hotel has comfortable rooms with low prices! Click here for rates and to book.
A good tip for getting cheap hotel rooms is to opt for a room without a window; they often come with the lowest rates.
Where to Eat and Drink for Cheap in Singapore
You aren’t going to like me for this one… I’m going to say that the cheapest way to drink in Singapore is to not drink in Singapore. Alcohol is expensive pretty much everywhere. Even my Singaporean friends don’t go out to drink, so yeah, I highly recommend spending a couple of nights off the booze while here.
Alcohol is inexpensive everywhere else in South East Asia, and parties are great in so many places (or so I’m told, I rarely party these days), so consider giving the old liver a rest while you’re here. Of course, if you’re into iconic drinks, you might want to sample a Singapore Sling – but maybe stop at just the one 😉
Eating, however, is a whole different ballgame. There are so many good, cheap places to eat in Singapore – and lots of great veggie/ vegan options too. As always, I use HappyCow to find veg food all over the world – they have little dollar signs that indicate how expensive each place is as well.
Singapore has cheap food in its many Hawker Centres. These are basically big food courts with lots of street food stands. You can find them all over the city – you could ask at your accommodation or search Google to find one close to you. Make sure to check the ratings to see how hygenic the centre is.
Another great place to find cheap food in Singapore is in the many food courts. You kind of sacrifice on atmosphere here as you’re just eating at a mall, but some good cheap food can be enjoyed; it’s not like McDonalds or KFC or anything, but tasty Asian food. Two of my favourite stands are Jin You Yuan – Healthy Vegetarian in Berseh Food Centre and Savaarnaa Bhavan in Suntec City.
Little India/ Chinatown Restaurants
Lastly, there are many smaller places in Little India and Chinatown that serve up food at minimal prices. Little India has restaurants like Genesis, where you can get a Roti and dips for cheap. Chinatown has BBQ street food stands, and a great veggie restaurant called Yi Chin Vegan food, where I got a huge buffet for 6 SGD.
Once you’re out of the Bayfront area, food generally becomes a lot cheaper! Also, if you’re visiting really touristy places (Sentosa Island comes to mind here), think about taking a picnic lunch with you and eating there.
Free Things to do in Singapore
Walk Around Little India
Little India is my favourite part of Singapore. I love the colours and the vibrance of the place, it’s just a little bitta me. And of course, it’s full with AMAZING Indian food – my all time favourite!
But one of the best free things to do in Singapore is to just amble the streets of Little India, where you’ll get to sample local Indian Singaporean life and enjoy the fantastic buildings (look out for the house of Tan Teng Niah!).
Located in Little India, the Mustafa Centre is a huge market place. Any purchases will obviously cost you money, but you can enter and explore for free – and trust me, it is well worth it.
The largest wet market in Singapore, Little India’s Tekka Centre is an experience for all of the senses. It is generally used to sell food, but is great for window shopping (or whatever the market equivalent would be!) as a free thing to do in Singapore.
Masjid Abdul Gafoor
This Little India mosque is one of my favourite spots in Singapore. It has some beautiful architecture, which fuses Indian and Arabic (it doesn’t have the dome typical of most mosques). When I visited it was prayer time, so I couldn’t go in, but they do offer guided tours at certain times. I was invited, however, to sit outside as people went in, which was a really beautiful experience.
Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple
Walk Around Kampong Glam
Kampong Glam is another cool area of Singapore, with Malay and Arab influences. You’ll find fantastic Middle Eastern food hear, as well as Persian carpets, and Malay architecture.
Probably the most famous mosque in the city, Sultan Mosque is very imposing against the Kampong Glam skyline. It makes for some great photos and you can tour it for free. You’ll learn a bit more about Islam and the relgion in Singapore. You must be covered up to enter (no shorts or strappy tops) but there are robes that you can borrow if necessary.
Hip Haji is nestled in the middle of Kampong Glam, and it’s a popular spot with the tourists. It’s actually a bit of a boozy street, which contrasts to the surrounding Islam influenced area – so do be mindful of this when there and don’t be a drunk fool in the surrounding areas (if you decide that your Singapore travel budget stretches to booze, that is!).
By day, Haji Lane has some cool street art that is completely free to visit and photograph. There’s also the famous Selfie Coffe, where you can get a picture of yourself on top of a latte, but that’s certainly not free.
Walk Around Chinatown
Singapore’s Chinatown isn’t the most authentic of places, but it’s still worth checking out if you’ve got some time in the city – and of course, walking the streets is completely free.
Buddha Tooth Relic Temple
Buddha Tooth Relic Temple is without a doubt the largest temple I’ve ever visited. There’s literally a car park within the temple. Anyway, it’s quite cool to check out, as it’s a (albeit modern and developed) Chinese Buddhist place of worship, similar to ones you’ll find in China itself.
Sri Mariamman Temple
The oldest Hindu temple in Singapore is actually located in Chinatown. The Sri Mariamman Temple was built in 1827 and is dedicated to the goddess Mariamman. It is open in the mornings and evenings from 5:00am–11.30am and 5:00pm–8.45pm and visitors are welcome.
Gardens by the Bay
The Gardens by the Bay are literally my answer to anyone who says that Singapore does not have cool, fun free things to do. They’re so much fun, futuristic and so so free!
The Botanical Gardens
Most of Singapore’s Botanical Gardens are free to enjoy. The nation is known as a ‘garden city’ due to the immense amount of greenery, so their Botanical Gardens are well worth checking out!
You could hike in the Botanical Gardens for a good half-day, take a picnic, enjoy life, all for free (apart from the cost of the food and the transport of course). The Botanical Gardens are at the interchange between the Downtown Line and Circle Line.
There is also a paid-for part of the Botanical Gardens, but I’ll get to that in a sec.
Marina Bay Sands (Outside)
I bet you didn’t think Marina Bay Sands would appear on this free things to do in Singapore list, did you? Well, unfortunately, it isn’t free to stay at Marina Bay Sands – it costs about 300 for a night – but it’s completely free to stand outside and look at it!
Anticlimactic, I know, but it’s honestly quite cool to look at. You can get the best view from ?.
Walk to Sentosa Island
Sentosa Island isn’t cheap. It’s a tourist hub, where all of the theme parks and resorts of Singapore are located. If you have the money, it’s worth spending a day at the theme parks, especially if you’re in Singapore with kids (or if you are a big kid at heart).
If you don’t have the funds, the beach is free. And you can walk to it from downtown; it takes just 15 minutes, is covered, and has pretty lights at night.
The Merlion Statue
This is just a quick, 2 minute free attraction in Singapore, but the Merlion is the icon of the city, so it’s worth checking out, especially to enjoy the cityscape in the background!
Cheap Things to do in Singapore
I’m a bit of a National Museum collector – I try to go to the national museum, or the most notable museum, of every country I visit. And from a National Museum connoisseur, let me tell you that Singapore’s is absolutely fantastic.
I find the story of Singapore wonderful anyway (if you don’t know it, I’m not gonna tell you, you’ll have to go to the national museum to find out ;)) but the museum tells it in wonderful interactive and futuristic exhibits (would you expect anything less from Singapore?) that really draw ya in.
Indian Heritage Centre
The next three are going to get a little bit same-y when describing them, but they’re very different when exploring them. This is because the country is incredibly multicultural – with a fusion of Indian, Chinese, Malay and British cultures, as well as many many more.
The Indian Heritage Centre celebrates the Indian heritage of the city (you probably didn’t need me to tell you that…) and it’s really interesting. It’s my favourite heritage centre in Singapore, it’s super interactive and just all-round very compelling.
Chinese Heritage Centre
So, again, the Chinese Heritage Centre celebrates the Chinese influence on the city, particularly in the Chinatown area. China is probably the most famous influence on Singapore, so there’s plenty to learn about here! Here’s the Chinatown Heritage Centre website: the centre is open from 9:30am until 6:30pm and costs 18 SGD for adults, which includes a multimedia guide.
Malay Heritage Centre
Again, the Malay Heritage Centre celebrates Malay culture in Singapore. It follows a similar format to the other heritage centres, but obviously, completely different information. It is open from 10am – 6pm (last admission 5:30pm) and costs 6 SGD for adult entry, with discounts for large groups and families.
Botanical Gardens (Orchid Garden)
As I mentioned before, most of the Singapore Botanical Gardens are completely free, but one part does cost. This is the Orchid Garden, and it is well worth the 5 SGD entrance cost (free for under 12s, 1 SGD for seniors and students). It has 1000 species of orchid, as well as many different sculptures and features. It’s one of the best parts of the Botanical Gardens, and is well worth the small cover fee.
The cloud forest costs a mere 12 SGD to enter and is a great spot to enjoy Singapore’s garden-ness. There’s the world’s highest indoor waterfall, as well as lots of greenery and plenty of amazing photo spots. It’s in the Marina Bay area, so is great to pair with the Gardens by the Bay.
Marina Bay Sands Bar
Heheh, this isn’t really a budget thing to do in Singapore, but I’m gonna slide it in anyway. Just because it’s a cheap way to see the Marina Bay Sands view, without having to pay to go up it.
Instead, you can head up to the bar and enjoy a drink – if you’re being super stingy budget friendly a coke will set you back around 6 SGD – and see the very same view that the 23 SGD viewpoint offers!
How to Travel Around Singapore
Traditional taxis are, obviously, the most expensive way of getting around Singapore. You don’t really need to use them unless you’re travelling at night; the country has an excellent subway system, as well as great buses – and it is also very walkable!
Grab taxi is used, however, for more affordable rides. Grab is like Uber; it’s used in South East Asia instead of Uber.
The MRT is affordable, costing around 2-5 SGD per ride. It connects pretty much everywhere in the city – although sometimes the bus is more convenient.
Buses in the city centre cost around 2 SGD and are very modern and easy to use. They are sometimes better to use than the subway, depending on where you’re going.
But my favourite way of getting around Singapore is just by walking everywhere – mainly because there is actually pavement here, unlike a lot of places in South East Asia, and traffic works as it should! While the city is large, the main hotspots (Kampong Glam, the Bayfront and Little India – Chinatown is a bit further out) are in walkable distance.
- You can drink the tap water in Singapore, so no need for a filter bottle unless you’re venturing elsewhere in South East Asia (I use a water to go bottle for when I can’t drink the tap water and it works excellently – check it out here). If you’re just visiting Singapore, remember a reusable water bottle that you can fill up from the tap to save money and keep the earth happy! Click here to shop for reusable bottles.
- If you’re a coffee drinker, many cafes will give you money off for taking your own reusable cup – which again, helps the environment! Click here to purchase the reusable cup that I use.
- Taking your own tupperware means you can takeaway leftovers and have somewhere to keep a picnic lunch in! Click here to browse Tupperware.
- If you’re staying in hostels, an eye mask and earplugs are essential for a good nights sleep. Click here to shop eyemasks and here for earplugs.
- You’re going to want comfy shoes if you’re walking around all day – I wear my Birkenstocks pretty much every day in South East Asia. Click here for the ones I use.
- Don’t forget a cap to protect you from the sun in Singapore! Click here to shop caps.
- To save money on laundry, try Scrubba Bag – click here for more information.
Singapore on a Budget: The Ultimate Guide
I thought I’d be the gift that keeps on giving and put together this Singapore on a budget video for you to check out as well.
I hope you’ve found this Singapore on the cheap guide useful! Singapore was part of my journey from Bali to London without flying: if you want to see how I’m getting on, check out my YouTube channel where I post frequent videos, or Instagram for live updates.
If you’ve enjoyed this article, please share it with anyone visiting Singapore on a budget!