3 Ways to make Singapore an affordable travel destination
According to the latest research conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit’s 2014 Worldwide Cost of Living, Singapore has been named the most expensive travel destination in the world. That is certainly a bad news for budget travellers, however there are still few things you can do to make it affordable and yet enjoyable.
Once you come here, you will quickly realize that travelling in Singapore on the cheap is not that easy. It is, in fact, expensive in terms of accommodation and sightseeing, but as they say “Impossible is nothing” and I’m going to show you how to stay in Singapore on a very tight budget still having a lot of fun.
Current currency in Singapore
1.00 USD = 1.27 SGD
25.00 USD = 31.73 SGD
#1 Dine out in Hawker Centres.
The food in Singapore can be as cheap or as expensive as you want it to be. There are plenty of posh and fancy restaurants with local and Western food you should definitely avoid when travelling on the cheap. Most of travellers head straight to Hawker Centres to eat well without spending much money. What the heck is Hawker Centre and where can I find it? You might ask. Based on Beginner’s Guide to the Singapore Hawker Centre, it is an open-air complex housing many stalls that sell a great variety of dishes – from Malaysian, Indian to Chinese and Singaporean. They can be usually found near public housing estates or transport hubs (such as bus interchanges or train stations) all over Malaysia, Hong Kong and Singapore.
The place I would highly recommend is famous Maxwell Hawker Centre. Its location makes it a perfect spot for dining out as it is located at the edge of Chinatown, where all temples and sightseeing spots are. Maxwell Hawker Centre is open daily from 8 am to 10 pm. There are over 100 different dishes served all day long and each dish does not cost more than SGD 3 or SGD 4, which is nothing. In this way you can get a high quality food for a very cheap price.
A typical food price list at Hawker Centres:
- Fish soup (SGD 3),
- Thai pancakes (2 SGD),
- Sweet conginee (2 SGD),
- Indian roti prata (4 SGD).
#2 Stay at hostel or go couchsurfing.
I would strongly recommend you to stay at the Heritage Hostel as it’s one of the cheapest places to stay overnight in the whole city. What I love the most about this place is its perfect location. Heritage Hostel is located in Chinatown, right opposite(literally) Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum and the Maxwell Hawker Centre. As you can see on the city map, it is situated just in the middle of the greatest tourist attractions. In this way, you can save money on transport and have fun going out at night as it is a walking distance to nightlife hotspots such as Clarke Quay and Boat quay, marina bay sands.
Note: If you book your room 2 months in advance, you will pay only 18 SGD a night (dorms).
If you are a travel blogger or you do any freelancing job online, the good news is that this hostel has an excellent Wi-Fi connection. Moreover, the rooms are very nice, comfortable and secure. It has clean facilities with adequate size dorm rooms and the girls on reception are very helpful with transport queries visitors have for city attractions!
If your budget is very tight and you want to experience Singapore as a local, you should definitely do some couchsurfing. There are plenty of locals registered online who would love to become your host and city guide. They can show you around, recommend some local dishes to try and sightseeing spots to explore and who knows you might stay in touch afterwards and you can return the favour when your host will visit your country. Couchsurfing is free of charge, but it would be nice of you if you could bring a small present with you.
#3 Say no to taxis.
Singapore is very small so it can be easily explored on foot. However, it is also busy and hectic so you should make sure to carry a map in your backpack and ask locals for direction in case you get lost.
When travelling on a tight budget, forget the local taxis! If you feel tired, take a bus. The single bus ticket costs 1 SGD in case you get tired or want to go somewhere remote. The good idea is to enjoy cycling with Singapore’s first eco-friendly electrical 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.
As you can see, Singapore can be easily explored for around $20-$25 a day. There are plenty of free attractions you can enjoy when staying here such as:
- Night walk through Marina Bay – go down to the Marina to shoot some shots of this magnificent city lit up at night and reflected across the water. It costs nothing and Singapore’s night view is so worth it.
- 2 Riding the world’s highest observation wheel, the Singapore Flyer – it usually costs $S33 for adults, but during Chinese New Year and big city events it’s free between 10 am and 1pm.
- Visiting East Coast Seafood Centre – You can find here up 150 of the best foods in the city. They are cheap and the place is just magnificent.
Without a doubt, you will not be bored here and you will love every second of the hectic day on the cheap!
We are travel tramps – Agness and Cez – a Polish duo and founders of eTramping.com where we share budget travel tips on how to travel the world with $25 in your pocket. We are both photography passionates obsessed with Chinese cuisine and culture. If you would like to read more about China, you can check out our Add the Brick to the Great Wall:” Experience-based Advice for China from Expats e-book which sums up our two-year experience of teaching, living and travelling in the Land of Dragons.