Singapore has earned a reputation for being pricey. In fact, it has been named “the most expensive city in the world” for multiple years by the Economist Intelligence Unit. For budget travellers, this cringey title alone is enough to give Lion City a pass. But before you say “no thank you”, I am here to tell you, with personal experience to back it up, that it’s possible to save money in Singapore and enjoy it on the cheap! Follow these tips and suggestions below. Your wallet will thank you!
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Where to Stay in Singapore
Check out Vintage Inn in Little India
Accommodation is usually one of the biggest expenses during travels amiright? Yes Singapore can be expensive in this category. Exhibit A: The cheapest room at the famous Marina Bay Sands hotel starts at $500SGD/night. Yikes! But if you are willing to forgo that Insta-fabulous photo in the rooftop infinity pool and being served by fancy butlers (at least that’s what I imagine), there are TONS of affordable/cheap accommodation options in Singapore.
I stayed in a cozy capsule hotel in Little India and it was just $32 a night. I had everything I needed: a private space with a comfy bed, free fast wifi, easy access to the MRT station and sightseeing spots. It was great! You can find Vintage Inn and similar hostels on Booking.com.
I have been an Airbnb lover for years. It’s my favorite money saving tool for finding cool local homes for short term stay. From nice private rooms that cost $25SGD, to entire apartments for $55SGD, there are many listings for Singapore.
Psst If it’s your first time using Airbnb, use my link here to receive $46 SGD/$34 USD off your first booking. 😀
Do not disrupt neighbors and be respectful when renting private homes. While Airbnb is not illegal in Singapore, you don’t want to get the home owners in trouble by any rude behaviours from your part.
Finally, couch surfing is a wonderful way to meet locals AND SAVE MONEY. Can it be more of a win win? I met my new friend Brooke via couch surfing in her home. She gave me a whole room to myself (so actually way better than a “couch”) and graciously showed me around Singapore. She helped me a lot during my days there and I was blown away by her hospitality. Visit Couchsurfing.com to find kind locals who are open to hosting travelers.
Get a general vibe of whether you would get along with the host from their profile and read people’s reviews. Make sure to be courteous during your stay. Feel free to show your gratitude by bringing a gift for your host.
Where to Eat in Singapore
Yummy duck noodles bought at Maxwell for $4 SGD
Singapore is all about the food!! The diverse cultures in Singapore makes this city foodies’ heaven. Chinese, Indian, Malaysian…gosh you’ll wish you have an extra stomach for devouring all the deliciousness. Hawker centres are terrific places to go for trying a variety of street food that locals eat. Not to mention they are cheap cheap cheap! Hop by Maxwell Food Centre near Chinatown. Here you can find the iconic Tian Tian Hainan Chicken Rice and other drool worthy food stalls.
Other food spot favorites:
Satay by the Bay// Location
So tasty and affordable! Awesome clay pot rice and fresh fruit juice here.
328 Katong Laksa //Location
Best Laksa ever! This cheap eatery in the Katong district has even been visited by Gordon Ramsey. Enough said.
Ananda Bhavan //Location
Too many restaurants here to choose from in Little India. You can get a filling and cheap dinner at this little diner.
What to Do in Singapore
Haji Lane near Kampong Glam. So photogenic!
The best things in life are free right? There are various free places to visit and free activities to do in colorful Singapore. Some of my favorite spots in SG that cost no moolah to access include the Botanic Garden, Little India, China town, Kampong Glam, Merlion Park, and Supertree Grove at Gardens by the Bay. Yes, even Gardens by the Bay, one of the most Instagrammable spots in Singapore is partly FREE! *Cue halleluiah music. In fact, the only entry fees I ever paid in Singapore were for the Cloud Forest + Flower Dome in GBTB and the ArtScience Museum. You can simply skip these two activities and there will still be tons of fun stuff to do.
How to shop in Singapore
A lot of people joke that the national sport of Singapore is shopping. Even if luxury shopping is not your thing, you should still experience at least one of the 10 gajillion malls in the city. It’s fun to see how flashy some of them are. (The malls are also the best hideouts from the heat) My favorite has got to be The Shoppes near Marina Bay Sands. There is a fricken canal inside the mall where you can take boat rides! Oh Singapore, you are so wonderfully extra. If you do decide to buy stuff though, make sure you have your passport with you so you can qualify for tax free shopping! Check out this guide here for details on how to do that. For those more interested in things like souvenirs and quirky cheap finds, visit Bugis Street and Chinatown. Have some fun and try your hands at haggling in the small shops.
How to get around Singapore
Trains and buses in Singapore are very convenient and cheap. In fact, Singapore has been praised to have one of the most cost-efficient public transport network in the world. An average trip cost about $1.2 SGD. Purchase an EZ-Link card which is excellent for saving money as well as time. You simply load up the card and tap when you enter and exit the stations and buses. Easy peasy. (If you don’t have the card and pay by cash on buses, the driver won’t be able to give you change.)
Note that there is a Singapore Tourist Pass option. It costs $10SGD per day, $16SGD for 2 days and $20SGD for 3 days. I was glad I didn’t get it as I definitely didn’t spend enough on transport to make the pass worth it. If you like to experience a city on foot like me, I think you should go without this pass. For more information about transporation, check out this guide Getting Around Singapore Like a Local by Brooke from Roamscape. (My kind local host that I mentioned earlier!)
How to stay Connected in Singapore
Get a 4G SIM card for $12 SGD via Klook that you can pick up at Changi Airport. It includes 100GB of local data, 500 mins locals calls, 100 local SMS and more. From the reviews, the internet speed is fast and the process of renting is easy. I was kicking myself that I brought an unlocked cell phone to Singapore, so I had to rent a pocket WIFI instead which was the more expensive option. Don’t repeat my mistake! (But if you must, pocket wifi rental is $10 per day plus $200 deposit from the airport.)
Alternatively, public WIFI is widely available in Singapore. You can connect to Wireless@SG at malls, museums, MRT stations, libraries, community centres, etc. So for the hardcore cheapos, you can just rely on the free wifi if you really want to save money. It would make things a bit challenging but hey, it’s free.
Don’t Get fined!
Last of not least, don’t break local laws! This should be common knowledge when you travel, but Singapore is especially worth paying attention to. There are some strict rules about safety, maintaining the cleanliness of the city, and not being disruptive in public. Ie. If you are caught jaywalking, that’s $20 fine on the spot! But no need to be shaking in your boots, the police is not out to get you. Just exercise your best behaviours as you should as a responsible visitor and citizen of the world, and nobody will get hurt.
How to save money in Singapore Summary
It’s possible to save in many ways while traveling in Singapore. I hope this article has busted your impression that Lion City is an expensive destination. Check out Best Place to Visit in Singapore in 3 Days for more ideas on how to enjoy this wonderful city.
Going to Singapore soon? Plan your trip in 4 easy steps
Book A Flight: Find the cheapest flights on Skyscanner, my go-to search engine.
Find A Hotel: Score affordable accommodation on Booking.com. Receive $16 off your first booking with my link here.
Buy insurance: You never know what may happen on the road. Protect your trip & gear with World Nomad, the best travel insurance company ever. Get a quote here.
Read up on the best advice: Love a good old fashion guide book. Suggested reading: Lonely Planet: Singapore Travel Guide
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