When in Singapore, you will quickly realize that travelling here on the cheap is not that easy. It’s not Thailand or Cambodia where you can spend $1-$3 on your accommodation and dine out for $3 (including alcoholic drinks). In fact, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit’s 2014 Worldwide Cost of Living survey, the island city of Singapore has been named the world’s most expensive city to live in. Singapore is the most expensive place in the world to buy clothes, relies heavily on imported goods and has an increasingly strong currency. However, as they say: “Impossible is nothing,” and I’m going to show you how to stay in Singapore for less than $25 a day.
Current currency in Singapore
1.00 USD = 1.27 SGD
25.00 USD = 31.73 SGD
Budget plan for Singapore
Here is the breakdown of the costs of one day in Singapore:
Eat and Drink for 10 SGD
Sleep for 18 SGD
Go around for 2 SGD
Go sighseeing for 0 SGD
Total: 30 SGD
The good news is that Singapore offers a lot of cheap meals so you can eat a lot without paying much, as long as you visit Hawker Centers. Hawker centres are open-air complexes housing many stalls that sell a variety of inexpensive Chinese food. One of the cheapest places in Singapore is Maxwell Hawker Center located at the edge of Chinatown. The place is open daily from 8 am to 10 pm. There are more than 100 different dishes served here, so get yourself ready for trying some fish soup (3 SGD), Thai pancakes (2 SGD), sweet conginee (2 SGD) or famous Indian roti prata (4 SGD). The quality is also unbeatable!
My recommendation is the Heritage Hostel for the sake of its cheap price and great location. Heritage Hostel is located in Chinatown, right opposite (literally) the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum and the Maxwell Hawker Center. As it is located in the middle of the tourist attraction, you are saving time and money to go to an attraction. It is a walking distance to nightlife hotspot such as Clarke Quay and Boat quay, Marina Bay Sands. If you book your room 2 months in advance, you will pay only 18 SGD a night (dorms).
The rooms are very nice, comfortable and secure. It has clean facilities with adequate-size dorm rooms. The girls in reception are very helpful with transport queries visitors have for city attractions. There is a good WiFi connection with handy laptops to use if you do not have one. It is helpful to use the storage space for luggage since many departure flights are late in the evening. The big plus is that it is near to Clarke Quay where everyone goes out to have fun.
Singapore can be easily explored on foot. It’s small and busy, so if you get lost just ask locals for direction. The single bus ticket costs 1 SGD in case you get tired or want to go somewhere remote. A good idea is to enjoy cycling with Singapore’s first eco-friendly electric bicycles at the Gogreen Heritage & Island Explorer in Sentosa. It does not cost much, but it’s plenty of fun and a morning bike ride will wake you all up immediately.
Singhtseeing on the cheap
#1 Night walk through Marina Bay.
One of the main attractions in Singapore on the cheap is to go down to the marina to shoot some shots of this magnificent city lit up at night and reflected across the water. The cityscape of Singapore is beautiful at night, and you can chill out by the water’s edge with the jazz band playing in the background, the humid air keeping you warm, and take some time out to appreciate its skyline.
#2 Riding the world’s highest observation wheel, the Singapore Flyer.
Singapore Flyer is definitely one of the most famous tourist attractions in Singapore. The wheel’s capsules offer a bird’s-eye view of the city centre, Marina Bay Sands and Gardens by the Bay. I guarantee you that your kids will love the experience. When the weather is nice, you can see far south across the water to Indonesia and north to Malaysia. It usually costs $S33 for adults, but during Chinese New Year and big city events it’s free between 10 am and 1pm.
#3 Visiting East Coast Seafood Centre.
The East Coast Seafood Centre is a super family-friendly row of restaurants where you can experience authentic local cuisine. You can find up to 150 of the best, “die-die must-try” foods in Singapore. Once you are here, you can also rent a scooter or skates so your kids can run amok while you enjoy a cold beer when all the stomachs are full.
As you can see, Singapore can also be a budget-friendly city with plenty of different activities to do on the cheap. You just need to plan things ahead and be well-organised. Without a doubt, you will not be bored here, and you will love every second of the hectic day!
Meet a Polish duo, Agness and Cez, who are founders of a budget travel blog called eTramping, where you can find tips on how to travel the world with $25 in your pocket. They call themselves tramps as they have been travelling the world with no permanent home since 2011. During their voyages, they love to dig into local street dishes and take photos of everything that moves. They are both photography passionates obsessed with Chinese cuisine and culture. If you would like to read more about China, you can check out “Add the Brick to the Great Wall:” Experience-based Advice for China from Expats” e-book which sums up a two-year experience of teaching, living and travelling in the Land of Dragons.
All images courtesy of Agness at eTramping.com