Singapore is not a country that comes to mind immediately when one thinks of travelling on a budget. In fact, if most globetrotters were asked to describe this post-colonial state, they would describe it with words such as clean, efficient and expensive.
However, Singapore on a budget is no longer a dream. This super-modern country state has been trying to change that perception in the minds of travellers, and present itself as more than just a ‘stop-over’ destination. There is definitely more to Singapore than just tall buildings and huge shopping malls. Due to its proximity to such popular tourist destinations as Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia, Singapore has developed a multicultural vibe that promotes people from all walks of life.
Travelling to Singapore has never been easier, and Changi Airport has been ranked as the best airport in the world. Boasting a swimming pool, a cinema and many other attractions, Changi Airport is definitely a sight to behold. Additionally, all the big airlines and travel routes go through here so that you’re always likely to book cheap tickets if you plan in advance.
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The Best Time to Visit Singapore
The weather in Singapore stays practically the same throughout the year. The absolute must-haves in your backpack should include an umbrella, a warm layer for indoors, headphones, something to drink and sunscreen. Shorts and t-shirt are the preferred dress for moving around in Singapore. For casual walking, flip flops are comfortable and airy but if you’re more of a hardcore traveller then a pair of jogging shoes will do the trick.
It’s best to plan according to the many festivals and activities that are taking place here all the time. Planning in advance will help save costs, as well as give you time to research the best places to visit in Singapore. The peak seasons in Singapore are as follows: January to March, June to July and September to October.
Budget Things to Do in Singapore
If planned properly, a trip of 3 days in Singapore is enough to see the best of what the city has to offer. On average, USD 100 per day should be able to cover all of your expenses. That is the upper limit though and if done smartly, you can stretch the budget even more. The best budget activities in Singapore are just exploring the various neighborhoods, street markets and food vendors, none of which will cost very much money.
Food figures prominently on any budget travel guide for Singapore. If you’re looking for fine dining, Singapore has some of the best rated restaurants in the world. However, if you are travelling on a tight budget, there’s no need to starve yourself. You don’t need a Singapore travel guide to let you in on the country’s best budget dining spots.
The hawker stalls, which are basically food vendors under a roof, are situated all over the city. You simply cannot miss them. They have a wide variety of cuisines including Western, Thai, Chinese, North Indian and Malay. Whatever it is you’re craving, they’ve got you covered. You can get a decent meal for less than SGD 6.
Chinatown is one of the most colourful and popular areas of the city. It’s a multicultural hodgepodge with a mosque, a Chinese temple and an Indian shrine all in the same street. It’s a microcosm of Singapore, where so many diverse values and societies have found a way to live together in peace.
You can of course travel Chinatown on your own, but it’s more educating if done with a proper tour guide. Some of the must-see locations which you shouldn’t miss out on are the Sri Mariamman Temple, hawker food stalls, Thian Hock Keng Temple and the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum.
There are plenty of beach options in Singapore if you’re looking for some beachside fun. The East Coast park provides a nice quiet place for you and your family to spend some time on the beach. There are bikes available for rent and there is a wonderful jogging and cycling track all along the beach. You can enjoy other water sport opportunities there as well. The park also boasts a large food court there where you can get different cuisines for very reasonable rates.
However, if you want to really get the best beach options then head on over to Sentosa Island resort for activities for the whole family. Here, you’ll find the best beaches Singapore has to offer.
There are a million things that can go wrong when you’re travelling. In a new city, it’s always good to have a back-up option for when you need something urgently. In Singapore, for all your problems, Mustafa Centre is your one-stop solution. It’s a huge shopping mall in Little India. It has shops selling every imaginable product for locals and tourists.
The icing on the cake is that you can get options in every price range; from expensive to cheap. From foreign currency exchange to travel agents to shoes, everything that a traveller could possibly need is available there. Mustafa Centre is open 24 hours a day.
Places to Visit in Singapore on a Budget
Majority of the attractions are located alongside the river which snakes through the city. Which is why when deciding what to visit in Singapore it’s always a good idea to start off your trip from the head of the Singapore river. The area covers most of the buildings from the colonial era of the country. Some of the must-see attractions are the Mint Museum of Toys, Cavenagh Bridge, Asian Civilizations Museum, Robertson Quay, Pernakan House, Clarke Quay, Raffles Statue and Boat Quay.
Among the many things to do in Singapore on a budget, Merlion Park is the pride and joy of Singapore. Having your picture taken with the beloved fountain statue in the background needs to be on the list for every visitor. It’s a great place to just sit and relax.
You can grab a bite or have some coffee from any of the multitude of bars and coffee shops there. You’ll also find other attractions in walking distance from the Merlion Park, such as Esplanade, Singapore skyline, Marina Sands Bay, Singapore Flyer and Theatres by the Bay. If you’re really lucky, you might catch a free concert.
Gardens by the Bay is a marvel of horticulture and a unique way of arousing interest in plants in the mind of onlookers. It’s a breath-taking visual that needs to be experienced at least once.
Another must-see Singapore tourist attraction is Universal Studios. Loosen the drawstrings on your purse because this is one attraction that is worth every penny. Experience exciting movie franchise rides such as ‘The Mummy,’ ‘Transformer’ and ‘Jurassic Park’ among many others.
Let the child inside you come out and play. There’s something for everyone in the family there. Be sure to pack plenty of sunscreen and water, though, as the sun can be quite scorching during the day time.
If you’re in the mood for something more relaxing and close to nature, then head over to the Botanical Gardens. You will feel transported to a different world as you step into the lush green foliage of this UNESCO Heritage Site that’s teeming with exotic birds, animals and plants. It’s a soothing and calming experience to walk through a natural habitat in the middle of a cosmopolitan city. During the weekend, there are free concerts and musical performances at the Garden.
You can also travel Singapore by boat and experience the city from the river. A typical boat cruise covers some of the following landmarks: Boat Quay, Clarke Quay, Fullerton, Read bridge, Esplanade, Merlion park and Bayfront south. You can disembark at any spot that appeals to you, but you have to pay again if you want to continue the ride.
If you’re up for it, walking along the river is the most scenic method. A riverside stroll allows you to be a part of the surroundings as you travel from one end of Raffles place, all the way to Marina Bay Sands. Some of the landmarks to check out along the way include One Fullerton, Asian Civilizations Museum, Makansutra Gluttons Bay, Raffles Place, Merlion Park, Helix bridge, Esplanade, Fullerton Hotel, Art Science Museum, Gardens by the Bay and Marina Bay Sands.
Where to Stay in Singapore on a Budget
Compared to neighbouring countries, Singapore accommodation can seem quite expensive. However, there are ways to save money on Singapore hotels with a bit of work. First of all, you should plan in advance and make accommodation reservations at least a couple of months before your trip. We have also written an extensive guide on Where to Stay in Singapore.
Second, as an alternative to hotels, consider a room in a guesthouse, or through Airbnb. Pay special attention to the areas. Some areas like Orchard Road, Raffles Place, and Bukit Timah are high-end places where you would not be able to get a cheap rate. On the other hand, if you look for a place in Bugis, Clarke Quay, Little India or Lavender Street, you’re sure to find more affordable places to stay in Singapore.
How to Get Around Singapore on a Budget
Singapore has one of the most developed transportation infrastructures in the world. Everyone speaks English, so there’s no danger of getting lost or not being able to ask for directions. Using the Singapore public transportation system is very convenient and practical. You can buy an EZ-Link or Nets Flashplay card from any 7-eleven, Cheers franchise or from the MRT station. You can top it up as you go along, according to your need.
Travelling via the MRT is not only cheap but also very convenient and fast. If you’re not in a hurry and want to see more of the city, you can use the same EZLink card to travel by bus. It’s much cheaper and the buses pretty much take you to all the places where you would want to go on a Singapore city tour. Just be sure to know the bus numbers and their routes before you board, in order to save yourself precious time.
Renting a bicycle is a very popular way to see the city. There are quite a few bicycle rental companies operating in Singapore, with docking stations where you can rent a bike. All you have to do is to download the app, rent a bike, turn on Google Maps and set out on a Singapore city tour!
Cheap Tours to Do in Singapore
The cheapest Singapore tour to take is the Singapore Sightseeing Bus, as it covers the main attractions such as Chinatown, Buddha Relic Temple, Marina Bay Sands, Collyer Quay etc. It is the preferred mode of travel for a Singapore city tour. However, bear in mind that you will still have to pay for the entrance fees to these attractions.
On the other hand, there is the option of buying a ‘Singapore City Pass’ if your trip is for a short duration like 2-3 days. With the pass, you get two tickets for entrance to any of the following: Jurong Bird Park, Trick Eye Museum, 2-hour Sentosa Bike Rental, Tiger Sky Tower, River Safari, 1-Altitude Viewing Gallery, Captain Explorer Dukw Tour, Madam Tussauds, Luge & Skyride, 2-way Cable Car, Gardens by the Bay and Segway Fun Ride (3 rounds). The Singapore City Pass also includes the hop-on-hop-off bus around the city.
Recommend budget tours in Singapore
- Singapore Flexi Attractions Pass with Universal Studios Option
- Singapore Night Safari Admission Ticket
- Singapore Night Tour: Gardens by the Bay, Marina Bay Sands SkyPark, and River Cruise
- City Sightseeing Singapore Hop-On Hop-Off Tour
- The Singapore Pass with 3 or 5 Attractions and optional Universal Studios Entry
- Singapore Half-Day City Tour
- Sentosa Island Afternoon Trip Including Madame Tussauds and Tiger Sky Tower
- Singapore to Malacca 1 Day private tour by Private Car (2-4pax)
- Singapore’s Chinatown Trishaw Night Tour with Transfer
- Small-Group Food Tour With Hawker Centre. Eat Like A Local!
- Private Tour: Singapore Zoo Morning Tour with optional Jungle Breakfast amongst Orangutans
- Singapore Hawker Center Food Tour and Neighborhood Walk with Hotel Transfer
- Private Sky Dining on the Singapore Cable Car
- Private Tour: Kuala Lumpur and Malacca Day Trip from Singapore
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