With its amazing modern architecture, world-class transportation system and ingenious approach to business, commerce and tourism; Singapore sets itself apart from other countries in Southeast Asia. It is without doubt a first-world (developed) country in a region that has yet to reach its full potential. This tiny island is a true testament to how good governance, patriotism and discipline can go a long way. A visit to Singapore is essentially about admiring its many incredible achievements amidst its obvious lack of natural resources.
As a result of its long-lasting devotion to progress and development, Singapore has become an expensive country to live in, as well as to visit. To be fair, the cost of tourism in this country is not so different from other developed cities like Paris, Sydney or New York. Nevertheless, a number of travelers to Southeast Asia find it hard not to compare Singapore to its ‘cheaper’ neighbors like Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand. As a result, many budget travelers shun Singapore and prefer to head out to its neighbors. Those who happen to land here (as the country is a travel hub) tend to bid their time indoors until they move on to their next destination. Although we admit that Singapore is definitely more expensive, we are also confident to claim that with proper planning and research, you don’t need to spend a lot to enjoy Singapore and the wonderful things it offers.
Here are the top 7 ways to enjoy Singapore on a budget:
1. Take advantage of the public transport, but stay away from taxis if possible.
Singapore’s public transport system, primarily train and bus, is extensive and reliable. You don’t have to take taxis to get to where you want as a tourist. There is always a train station nearby main landmarks like the Marina Bay, Chinatown and Little India. Here are additional tips for using Singapore’s public transport:
- Get a map of the railway system (Singapore MRT system map) to determine the nearest station to the places you want to visit. Remember to check the timetable for each train station if you are out late because if you don’t get on the last train for the night, you will end up paying for a taxi to go back to your hotel.
- If you have a couple of days in Singapore, consider buying an EZ Card. This is a stored value smart card that can be used on buses and the MRT. The fare deducted from an EZ Card for each journey is less than the cost of buying a single journey card.
- If you use an EZ Card and travel during off-peak hours, the fare for your journey will be discounted.
Click here to get additional information about the EZ card and MRT ticketing.
2. Take the train from the Changi Airport to your hotel
Singapore’s Changi Airport is not that close to the city center, and you will need to travel approximately 24 kilometers to reach your specific destination in the city center. The fastest and cheapest way to commute from Changi is to take the MRT. The train station is easily accessible on foot from both Terminal 2 and 3. The airport trains are built to be luggage-friendly. The only drawback is that the last westbound train to the city from Changi leaves at 11:18 pm. For more information about Changi Airport transport, click here.
3. Book your Hotel at a Central Location
If you want to spend less time and money commuting, the best way to do so is to book your hotel in a strategic location. For example right near an MRT station. You will most likely need to walk to get to a few spots; but don’t worry, Singapore’s roads and streets are bicycle and pedestrian friendly. Plus, it is a very safe city to explore on foot. Most Singaporeans walk whenever they can. You should too as it is healthy and it will keep you from spending unnecessarily.
To get an idea on where to book your hotel, go to our article: Where is the Best Spot to Stay in Singapore.
4. Visit Sentosa Island but bring your own refreshments
Despite being home to expensive sites like Universal Studios, Sentosa Island is not as expensive as some travelers might think. While it is true that you will have to pay 4 Singaporean Dollars per adult for the Sentosa Pass to reach the island via train; this pass serves as your entrance and gives you unlimited transfers anywhere on the island. If you really want to, this is all you really need to pay for during your visit to the island. You don’t have pay for rides and activities if you don’t want to. Sightseeing on your own absolutely free is a possible alternative. In addition, Sentosa has three beaches where you can swim, sunbathe and have a picnic. The cost of visiting all these: zero. The price for drinks and food on the island is more expensive, but no one will stop you from bringing your own refreshments.
5. Dine at more affordable eateries
Singapore has earned a reputation of having a slew of upmarket restaurants. Locals will tell you that they don’t often eat out due to the high cost. As a visitor, you can always enjoy a day or two of the ‘Singaporean fine dining experience’. However, if you’re staying longer, it may not be practical to always eat in expensive restaurants. Fortunately, Singapore has not totally shaken off its Southeast Asian influences, at least not in terms of food. The Chinese hawkers (stalls and open eateries) which sell affordable tasty meals are very much visible on streets near Chinatown, Geylang, Little India and Boat Quay. In fact, most neighborhoods throughout the city have at least one hawker spot that sells less than $7 Singaporean dollar meals. Eating at these places not only saves you money, but can also be considered a cultural experience. If you like being in an air-conditioned place, head out to the food courts in malls throughout the city. Singapore’s food court sell substantial meals significantly cheaper than in stand-alone restaurants.
6. Walk around Marina Bay Area
Marina Bay is no doubt one of the highlights of any visit to Singapore. Here, you can have a front-seat view of the famous Singaporean skyline, headed by the architectural masterpiece called Marina Bay Sands. This area is also home to the impressive Fullerton Hotel and the Merlion —the iconic statue of Singapore. Marina Bay is also equipped with a modern outdoor mall and an open-concept concert stage, where events and musical performances are always held. If you were in another city, you would probably have to pay an entrance fee to enjoy this architectural extravaganza; but in Singapore, the Marina Bay is yours to admire for free. There’s nothing stopping you from taking a stroll along the scenic promenade overlooking the Singapore River, or to walk through the famous Marina Bay Sands Hotel and Mall, which are by the way, very stunning. And did we mention that Marina Bay has a spectacular botanical garden that you can explore, for absolutely no charge?
7. Explore Chinatown
Similar to Marina Bay, Chinatown is open to the public. If you can resist the urge to buy a souvenir, you can roam around this district without spending a single cent. Don’t hesitate to take photos of the temples and old shop houses. If you happen to have a Singaporean number, you can use free internet as Chinatown is a Wi-Fi zone. Chinatown in Singapore also has many cheap eateries, so overall it’s an affordable place to visit or stay while in Singapore. Here is a more thorough description of Chinatown.
How to get the cheapest rooms in Singapore?
Since Singapore has been voted the world’s most expensive city on a few different occasions, doing your homework in terms of finding affordable rooms is a must. Try using large hotel providers such as www.agoda.com, www.booking.com, or www.hotelscombined.com to find the right room, in the right location. I have created links to their respective property lists for Singapore to save you some time:
Top Rated Properties in Singapore Based on Verified Guest Reviews
Important: Mobile Users must swipe from left to right to see entire table.
|Star/Budget Range||Guest Rating: Hotel Provider 1||Guest Rating: Hotel Provider 2||Guest Rating: Hotel Provider 3|
|Agoda.com (Singapore)||Booking.com (Singapore)||Hotels.com (Singapore)|
|5 stars/Luxury||Raffles Singapore – 9.2/10||Raffles Singapore – 9.3/10||Four Seasons Hotel Singapore – 9.6/10|
|4stars/Comfort||The Club – 9.0/10||The Club – 9.3/10||Wangz Hotel Singapore – 9.2/10|
|3 stars/Mid-range||Premier Inn Singapore Beach Road – 8.3/10||Holiday in Express Singapore Clarke Quay – 8.5/10||Holiday Inn Express Singapore Clarke Quay – 8.4/10|
|2 star/ Budget||Chic Capsules – 8.9/10||Capsule Pod Boutique Hostel – 9.2/10||Fisher BnB – 8.8|
|1 star/ Strict Budget||Dream Lodge – 9.3/10||Fisher BnB – 9.2/10||Plush Pods – 6.2/10|
|Compare all room prices in Singapore using www.agoda.com||Compare all room prices in Singapore using booking.com||Compare all room prices in Singapore using hotels.com|
- Properties rated based on ‘overall’ review scores from each respective website’s verified guests.
- Minimum of 50 verified guest reviews required to be considered eligible for comparison.
- All www.hotels.com ratings are originally out of 5, therefore, they are multiplied by 2 for comparision purposes.
- All star ratings and verified guest review scores are tallied at the time of writing, and therefore, are subject to change.
Feel free to check out our ever-growing selection of informative articles about Singapore. In the meantime, enjoy safe and worry-free travels!