It isn’t news that Singapore is one of the most expensive cities in Asia. Similar to Hong Kong, most of the expenses go to accommodations and food in Singapore. I was in Singapore for 3 days, and I enjoyed my time there, but my wallet didn’t agree! However, there are ways to get around without breaking your bank account. If you’re only spending a few days in Singapore, let me reveal some tips to you in this quick Singapore budget guide.
Save on Accommodation.
We stayed at the Bunc Hostel near Little India. The location was fantastic because it was right across the street from the Jalan Besar Station. A bed for one night cost $50+ USD, and that price was on the cheap side in Singapore. The breakfast was terrible, but the beds were comfy. If you just need a place to sleep and don’t have too many demands, this hostel could be ideal. However, if you’re looking to make new friends and socialise with people, this is not the hostel for you. The hostel also has a cat that roams around freely. If you’re allergic, book somewhere else. (I love the cat!)
Want to spend even less? I highly suggest you try Couchsurfing. Stay with a local or an expat who’s been living in Singapore for a decent amount of time can also give you a different insight.
I thought about Airbnb, but it was expensive. You can always check though.
Eat cheap in Singapore.
The average lunch price at a restaurant in Singapore is between $12~$15 SGD. If you want to eat cheaper, go to the food court in malls or one of those big hawker food centres to enjoy Singapore’s street food. In fact, you shouldn’t miss their street food! You don’t need to worry about cleanness in Singapore because honestly, I don’t know where else you’d find more sanitary street food if not in Singapore. Below are the two I’ve eaten at, and they are both great:
Makansutra Gluttons Bay
We had the famous Singapore chilli crab ($16 SGD) here, and I loved it. It was also a lot cheaper than having it at a restaurant although I wouldn’t know if it’s the same quality. This hawker stalls centre is right by the Waterfront Promenade, so you get to enjoy delicious food with a splendid view of Marina Bay Sands.
Tiong Bahru Market
I found this food market by accident, and it turned out to be great! We went around the whole market and shared dishes after dishes including roasted pork over rice, beef tenderloin, and a dish that reminded of something my grandmother used to make.
Tiong Bahru Market is in one of the hippest parts of the town with cafes and art galleries. The total price was around $18 SGD for 2 people (around $13 USD), and we had ourselves full. Of course, budget or not is all relative but sure it is cheap for Singaporean standard.
Are you a big coffee drinker?
If you like your coffee black, go to McDonald for breakfast as they have unlimited refill Americano to get your fix. I would actually consider Singapore’s coffee affordable. An Americano here cost around $4~5 SGD (Around $3~4 USD). The money adds up, of course. (I really felt guilty on how much money I spent on coffee in Shanghai after Singapore.)
Grab a drink and enjoy the million dollar view.
Marina Bays Sand has THAT famous infinity pool, but it’s only open to their guests. The hotel also has a SkyPark that’s open to the public, but you need to pay 23 SGD to get in. WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT?
My friend advised us to take the elevator up to the bar at Marina Bays Sand – We got to enjoy the million dollar view of Singapore and have an awesome cocktail at the same time. (The price of a cocktail? 24SGD!)
CE LA VI Bar
📍Marina Bays Sand, level 57 in Tower 3
Save on transportation.
Singapore’s MRT (SMRT) is very convenient. Getting a tourist pass or an EZ-Link card will help you to skip the lines in front of the ticket machine.
- The tourist pass: I recommend getting a tourist pass if you are staying in Singapore for less than 4 days. The SMRT charges by distance instead of a flat rate, and basically, you’ll get your money worth if you take more than 3~4 rides per day. Return the pass card within 2 days afterwards to get $10 SGD back.
Note that the tourist pass is not valid for Santosa Express. Also, you can only buy the tourist pass at the big stations (the ones that are near tourist attractions or at the airport.)
- The EZ-Link card: If you plan to stay in Singapore longer, an EZ-Link Card would be a better choice. Buying an EZ-Link card at a train station is $12 SGD with $7 SGD in credit, or $10 SGD at a 7-11 with $5 SGD in credit. Recharge as you go.
Travelling to Santosa Island
There are two easy ways to access Santosa island. You can get there by Santosa Express or by foot. A single ride to any stop on the island cost $4 SGD. Otherwise, our experience was that the Santosa Express is free after the ticket selling hours (21.00.)
We strolled from Universal Studio to “the Beach” in the evening, and it was a pleasant walk. The Santosa Express leaves from Harbour Front (inside of the mall.)
Watch your behavior! Singapore is a “fine” city.
One of the reasons why Singapore could maintain its cleanness is because you’d face a penalty if you litter, spit, or chew gums in public. In fact, chewing gum is totally illegal in Singapore. Needless to say, you cannot eat or drink on the metro. You’re also breaking the laws if you smoking in public or not flushing the toilet in public washrooms.
As much as I think these laws are great, and I think many other countries can pick Singapore’s brain on this, you also can’t connect other people’s wifi (because technically, it’s stealing) or be naked on private premise unless you pull up the curtain. Now, that’s just micromanaging!
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What’s your Singapore experience? Share it with me!
Also published on Medium.