Electric city – Singapore on a budget

We’d heard mix reviews about Singapore. Many warned that it was too expensive, too clean and soulless. Others raved about it’s nightlife, light shows and fantastic shopping. We’re happy to say that Singapore lived up to expectations and more! One of the plus points, it’s not as expensive as we had thought – however having coming from living in London, we do have a cheap perspective on most places – with a variety of free and low cost activities however, there were a couple of expensive hitches along the way.

So we thought it was a good shout to put together a post on how to visit Singapore on a budget!

Little India

The most expensive thing in Singapore is alcohol. If you have the urge to binge drink for a few days then buy all your alcohol in the airport as once you hit the city the average cocktail is £15 once you’ve factored in all the taxes etc.

The cheapest thing in Singapore are the amazing light shows. There are two to visit, and although they may seem quite touristy, it’s pretty impressive what you can do with a set of lights.

Average day spend PP (with alcohol – x2 drinks each!) – £35-40

Average day spend PP (without alcohol) – £20-25

How to get to Singapore centre from the airport

  • Train – you can take their metric (or train) straight to the airport. We found this the cheapest option, takes a little longer, but the best for heading back to the airport after your visit once you’ve sussed out the transport system.
  • Shuttle service – leaves every 15/30 minutes depending on how buisy they are. Will drop you outside your hostel for only $9! Best way for travel when arriving at the airport.
  • Taxi or Grab app – There’s plenty of reliable taxi options when you drive and I’d you have WiFi for the Grab taxi app then use it!
  • Buses – jump on a local bus, it’s super cheap but super confusing if you’ve just arrived. You can take buses 24, 27, 34, 36, 53, 110 and 858 from all 3 Terminals. Public buses 24, 34, 36 and 110 also go from Terminal 4.

Top budget tips

Hawkers, Hawkers, Hawkers.
I wish they had these every were in Asia. Essentially food halls full of delicious, cheap, street food! Being Singapore everything is super clean and each stall has to show it’s food hygiene level – rated D to A with D being the worse. There’s loads to eat anything from Dim Sum to hamburgers! These were are top favourites: Satay by the Bay – probably one of the most expensive ones but has incredible seafood and a great place for dinner after watching the light show at the Supertrees.
Lay Pa Sat – is located in the heart of the cities business district and also walking distance from many top attractions. This place an incredible range of food ranging in price from £1.50 to £6 a meal.

Light shows
This may sounds touristy but honestly it’s one of Singapores highlights. There are two shows, twice daily. One outside the Marina Bay Sands shopping mall overlooking the bay. This show tells a story through music and sound that is projected on to water fountains. Very fancy. The show is at 8pm and the other 9pm. The second show is the Supertrees within the Gardens by the Bay, named Garden Rhapsody, one show is at 7:45pm and the second at 8:45pm.

Happy Hour
This will be your best friend if you’re planning to drink and try the famous Singapore Sling cocktail. Check out Haji Lane and the surrounding area for a good night out and take full advantage of their happy hour before the prices sky rocket.

Behind Haji Lane

Walking tour
Singapore is a multi national city with a variety of culturally diverse neighbourhoods. We visited Little India – Other areas such as China Town are also top highlights to visit – the street art is beautiful here representing the craftsmen from decades ago before the 1980’s boom. Plus there’s a Little India hawker where a Michellin star has been given to one of the stalls. Be prepared for a long wait!

Window shopping
If you’re on a budget shopping in Singapore really isn’t going to fit into your financial schedule. However that doesn’t stop you from browsing the many malls, many of which have some interesting light installations and great food halls that might take your fancy.

The Beach
Yes Singapore has an entire Island just dedicated to ‘fun’. This is Sentosa. Famously covered with theme parks and zoos and of course being extortionately over priced. There is a beach you can head to for free! Of course the price to travel there can vary, we just opted for the 4.50 Singapore dollar return charge in the metro as it dropped us right outside the beach. Take your own snacks and water and go for a swim!

Gardens by the bay
This area is dedicated to lush tropical plants, art installations, as well as the famous Supertrees. This area is certainly worth a check out during the day and especially at sunset before the Supertrees light show begins. Singapore also houses it’s own Botanical gardens, separately to the Gardens by the Bay, we didn’t have enough time to make it but we heard they’re pretty beautiful.

Sky views
One of the most expensive for a backpacker activity is to see the panoramic views from the top of the Sands Bay hotel i.e the viewing platform that is located on the giant surfboard supported by the hotel. There are two options, option 1, pay for a ticket solely for the viewing platform only at the front of the hotel for $23 pp. Or, option 2, pay $20pp for a ticket into the CE LA VI sky bar. This then goes towards any drink within the bar and then you need to pay the difference depending on which drink you choose. Slightly more pricey but we think is the better option as for a little more you get a drink, a larger viewing deck, and the chance for a seat to watch the sunset over the city.

Overall, travel is pretty cheap within Singapore, unless you head to Sentosa when the train to the island is expensive for such a short journey. You can pay cash to the bus driver for every bus journey or for every individual journey you take on the metro. However we decided to buy our own …. cards. It cost us $10 in total ($5 for the card and $ 5 in credit ) this allows you to travel any were by tapping the card and top up when you need too. Plus you get to keep the card as a nice souvenir 🙂 Travel cards over a couple of days are also available.

So if you’re going to Singapore on a budget you’re definitely not going to stay in fancy five star hotels. Instead welcome to hostels! ( if you haven’t already discovered them ) There are only a handful to choose from before you start hitting boutique hotel prices. We opted for Happy Snail, it felt more like a home stay than a hostel, being a converted flat into a few dorms and private room. But overall super safe and friendly plus you get free toast with Nutella and peanut butter all day. Why wouldn’t you want this?
8 bed mix dorm – £12.30
4 bed mix dorm – £14.00

Enjoy one of our favourite metropolitan cities so far on the trip!

About the author / Siy & Emma

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