Although Singapore has a rap for being one of the more expensive Asian countries to travel to, which might be true (it’s never going to be as cheap as say, Thailand), it still really surprised me how affordable it was. You really don’t have to splurge on much money to be able to experience Singapore on budget..I certainly didn’t and I was actually really surprised the amount of free activities there were to do. Sure, there are some experiences such as Universal Studios and Adventure Park on Sentosa Island to check out and Marina Bay Sky deck, but if you are on a budget Singapore doesn’t have to break the bank or destroy your budget.
If you are flexible with dates and days of the week, generally flying mid week is cheaper than say, weekends. Also, it’s worth checking out budget airlines for the best deals. Popular choices are AirAsia, Jetstar Asia, Tiger or Scoot airlines.
See and do
1. Gardens by the Bay
The Gardens by the Bay are one of Singapore’s largest man-made attractions and are just gorgeous. The unique range of flowers, trees and plants are fantastic and the best thing is that the gardens are completely free to walk through. They have been beautifully executed to allow visitors to enjoy a leisurely stroll though and around the , and the Super Trees are also in the area.
The Super Trees are incredible too and as dusk falls, they light up and look really pretty. They are also completely environmentally friendly and solar powered.
OPTION 1: The Cloud Forest and Flower Dome are also nearby so if you do want to check out either of these it costs approx. $26 per person and the pass enables you to get into both. Unfortunately you aren’t able to buy an entry into just one, it’s a double pass only, so you may as well visit both the cloud forest and flower dome. They are both really beautiful though!
OPTION 2: The super trees have a build in sky walkway that winds around the trees and along the Gardens. It allows you to see the gardens and super trees from up high and from a different perspective. For this experience it does cost approx. $18 per person. To be honest though, you can see the super trees from ground level and they still look super spectacular from that angle!
2. Little India, Chinatown & Arab Quarter
Walking around Singapore’s ethnic districts won’t cost you a cent and it is really great to walk through the vibrant and colourful neighbourhoods, and many retain strong cultural and historical significance. Also, don’t forget that Singapore’s most famous attraction, The Merlion, is also free! Head to Lion Head and Merlion Park located near Marina Bay if you are keen to see it.
3. MacRitchie Reservoir’s Treetop & the Botanic Gardens
Nature lovers alone will just adore Singapore for the array of choice they have in Singapore! Singapore is often referred to as ‘the city in a garden’ after all.
The Botanic Garden comprise of 74 hectares of tropical forests and many different ‘world’s’ of flora and fauna to explore. It’s really beautiful and a great place to escape for peace and quiet. The gardens are free to enter and open daily from 5am to midnight.
OPTION: If you wish to visit the award winning National Orchid Garden, it does cost a fee of $5 per person (adult prices) to enter.
MacRitchie is one of Singapore’s most treasured nature reserves and a local favourite. The 12-hectare park features hiking trails, recreational activities such as canoeing, bird watching and even photography. One of the most popular things about visiting MacRitchie Reservoir though, is walking over the Tree Top Walk, a suspension bridge that offers panoramic views of Singapore’s lush rainforest and bushland. Tip: pack some water with you if you plan to visit, as some of the hikes can take a few hours and in the hot Singapore heat you will need it! Also, I would plan to go earlier in the day to avoid the middle of day heat plus more people will be around later on.
4. Sultan Mosque
For a cultural experience, definitely head to Sultan Mosque located along Muscat Street. It is the oldest mosque in Singapore built back in 1824! Visitor hours from Mondays through to Sundays are between 10.00 am to 12.00 noon and then from 2.00 pm to 4.00 pm.
5. Fountain of Wealth
The fountain of Wealth was listed in the Guinness Book of Records in 1998 as the world’s largest fountain and it is does have a pretty fascinating history behind it. Basically though, the a fountain symbolises the essence of life and wealth in Chinese culture and is a symbolic representation of spiritual unity and harmony.
6. Go Museum hunting
If you like museums, you’ll be pleased to know there are free entry museums in Singapore. Take your pick from the Peranakan Museum, Asian Civilisations Museum, Peranakan Museum and Reflections at Bukit Chandu.
7. Buddha Tooth Relic Temple
The magnificent Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum is located in the heart of Chinatown and is one of the most striking temples I have ever come across. The temple is 4 levels high and holds some fascinating history dating back thousands of years. The temple is open daily from 7am to 7pm and there is free admission.
8. Walk along the Waterfront Promenade
The promenade is great to visit day or night, however I recommend around dusk and evening time to catch the sun setting over Singapore. It’s a nice leisurely walk along the esplanade and you’ve got views of the Super Tree Groves and Gardens by the Bay over the river and also the Marina Sands Hotel and Singapore Flyer on the other side. Tip: If you find yourself anywhere near the Promenade at night time, they hold a laser light show every night by the Gardens, so you will have a great viewing spot to watch from across the river.
Singapore has some amazing food and cheap too! Stick to the hawker markets (food courts) and you will find some fantastic – and cheap- meals for as little as $4 per meal. And don’t think they aren’t any good because of the cost. Because of Singapore’s diversity, you’ll find dishes from all over China, Malaysia, Korean, Vietnam, India as well as Western favourites. Two of the markets I really loved where called Food Republic & Telok Ayer Market.
Other cheap alternatives include Chinatown’s famous Maxwell Hawker Centre and Chinatown Food Street, as well as the Tekka Centre in Little India.
Tip: Alcohol is expensive in Singapore, so if you can help it, either limit your intake, don’t drink at all or just be savvy with where you go. Clarke Quay have some great drink deals usually between 5 and 7 and there are some great bars to pick from in the area.
Where to stay
Accommodation is probably going to be the most expensive thing about a trip to Singapore..while there are many high end hotels available it’s going to cost you and arm and a leg, so I suggest you hop on google and do some research first!
Overlook larger hotel companies like The Hilton and Ritz Carlton etc. and instead aim to scope out smaller brands or better yet, family owned business’s. If your not familiar with airbnb, get on it ASAP and definitely look out for any good deals on there too.
And finally, if you are wondering where on earth I stayed when I was in Singapore?! I stayed at AMOY Hotel. It was a small boutique hotel located right in Singapore’s CBD, and really I loved it! It was in a central spot and the prices per night are very, very affordable, especially for Singapore. You can read up about my stay at AMOY Hotel here.
Most of Singapore’s central attractions are all pretty close together, despite how large in area the city does appear to look. It’s actually a great way to see the city and take a stroll through the different neighbourhoods. It’s one of my favourite things to do in a new city.
The MRT in Singapore runs extensively through Singapore and is very easy to use and get around. Tickets are also very cheap too. I would even recommend catching the train to and/or from the airport as it only cost me $4..that is so cheap!