Ask anyone to describe Singapore to you, and I guarantee they will say it’s expensive.
Singapore hasn’t always been the easiest on budget travelers, and for that reason, many people choose to skip the city-state altogether. I admit I was hesitant about visiting this Southeast Asian country, hoping that my bank account could handle the hit, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that it was actually affordable!
While this may seem like a myth, if you follow these Singapore money-saving tips, you’ll find that it truly is possible to visit the most expensive city in the world without breaking the bank.
Singapore Money-Saving Tips
Get an EZ-Link Card
Lots of travelers pass up the chance to get an EZ-Link card and, instead, end up paying for each individual trip on Singapore’s MRT. An EZ-Link card is a great way to save money, and if you purchase it at 7-11, it will only cost you S$10. This price includes the cost of the physical card and a S$5 credit that you can use toward your rides. The best part about the card is that you don’t pay for each individual journey like everyone else, you only pay for the distance traveled.
For layovers or stays of up to 3 days in Singapore, you might want to consider the Singapore Tourist Pass. You can purchase a 1-day, 2-day, or 3-day passes that have a refundable S$10 deposit for the card.
Drink the Tap Water
Unlike most countries in Southeast Asia, you can drink water right out of the faucet in Singapore. Instead of spending money on pricey juices and sodas, carry a reusable water bottle around with you and fill up whenever you need to.
Eat at Hawker Centers
Another one of my favorite Singapore money-saving tips is to eat at local hawker centers.
In Singapore, you can enjoy an amazing meal for just a few dollars, or you can spend a fortune. The options are truly endless as Singapore is home to countless world-class restaurants and vibrant hawker centers. Those traveling Singapore on a budget should stick to hawker centers, a.k.a. foodie paradise. Don’t let the cheap prices and cafeteria-style seating fool you, Singapore’s hawker centers serve up some of the best food you’ll taste in your entire life.
Check out Maxwell Hawker Center (my personal favorite) for Hainanese Chicken Rice, Tekka Center in Little India for the best Indian cuisine in town or Lau Pa Sat for a variety of Asian classics and even some western favorites.
If you can’t go without having at least one meal at a restaurant, keep an eye out for lunch specials. Many of Singapore’s famed restaurants offer 20% off of meals during lunchtime so that you can get five-star-dinner-food at a discount.
I know what you’re thinking, but hear me out. Booze in Singapore will wipe your wallet clean after just a few cocktails. Because alcohol in Singapore is considered a luxury item, it’s highly taxed and therefore, crazy expensive. If you’re trying to save money, it would be best to just avoid alcohol altogether during your stay in Singapore.
Stay at Budget Accommodation
One of the easiest ways of keeping your costs low while traveling in Singapore is by staying at a hostel. A room at a budget hotel will run you upwards of $100 a night, but you can find clean hostels in great locations at less than $50 per night for two people. Some options you may want to consider are:
The BohemianThis hostel offers stylish rooms in the heart of Singapore’s Chinatown for $48 a night for two beds in a mixed dorm. In addition to their free continental breakfast, they also offer a free departure shuttle service to the airport.
Check out their dorm options here.
Circular HouseLocated in the Boat Quay district of Singapore, Circular House is a capsule hotel that boasts queen and king-sized beds in pod-style rooms. At $45 a night for two people, you’ll get a larger-than-average pod, spacious bathrooms, and huge lockers.
See their rooms here.
Capsule Pod Boutique HostelWith nearly 3,000 reviews and an excellent rating, the Capsule Pod Boutique Hostel is a fantastic choice for a budget stay in Singapore. For $38 a night you’ll get two single beds in a mixed dorm room, free coffee, and super helpful staff.
Get your pod here.
Take Advantage of Free Activities
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t actually have to spend a lot of money to see the best of Singapore. If traveling Singapore on a budget, I suggest you carefully pick and choose the experiences you’re willing to spend more on, and ones you’re willing to pass up. Some free activities in Singapore include:
The Botanic Gardens
Not only is Singapore’s Botanic Gardens the only tropical garden on the UNESCO World Heritage Site, but this star attraction is also free of charge. Spend the morning wandering the 161-year-old haven of exotic plants, immaculate gardens, and lush rainforest.
Chilling at the Beach
Escape from the busy metropolis by heading to Sentosa Island for a relaxing day at the beach. Instead of spending S$33 SGD on a cable car ride, hop on the MRT and ride to Sentosa Island for a fraction of the price. Once you’re there, you can choose to spend the day on one of Sentosa Island’s three beaches: Siloso Beach, Tanjong Beach, and Palawan Beach. While Singapore isn’t exactly known for its pristine beaches, you’ll still find plenty of fun outdoor activities and places to get your tan on.
Walking Among Supertrees
Gardens by the Bay is one of Singapore’s most iconic attractions consisting of an impressive collection of manmade vertical gardens resembling trees of the future. The nature park also houses two of the largest climate-controlled conservatories in the world that require purchasing a ticket, but you can still roam the Supertree Groves and waterfront gardens for free.
Tip: Don’t forget to catch the free Bay Light Show every evening at 7:45PM and 8:45PM.
Exploring Ethnic Neighborhoods
The Arab Quarter, Little India, and Chinatown all make up Singapore’s unique melting pot of cultures. Spend a day touring the city’s ethnic enclaves to get a real taste of the local customs and traditions Singapore was built upon.
Hiking the MacRitchie Nature Trail
Walk among the treetops on this 11-kilometer-long trail that winds through a monkey-inhabited forest right in the heart of Singapore. The treetop walk is open every day from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM except Mondays, when the park is closed.
Having a Good Laugh at Haw Par Villa
This comically unique Asian cultural park features statues that convey moral tales from ancient Chinese folklore. The bizarre theme park definitely makes for good conversation and you can easily spend a solid two hours here strolling through the shade.
Catching a Free Concert
Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay is Singapore’s national home for performing arts that frequently offers free events for everyone. Catch a live concert and take in the expansive views from the rooftop garden at no cost. Check their schedule of events here.
Visiting Local Street Markets
While Singapore is known for its upscale shopping scene, that doesn’t mean you can’t indulge in some shopping on a budget. Singapore’s local street markets offer everything from unique souvenirs and accessories to trendy dresses and handbags. Chinatown Street Market, Bugis Street, and So Galem Market are all great places to peruse the stalls for some inexpensive treasures.
Exploring the Incredible Airport
It may seem silly to include Changi Airport on a list of free things to do in Singapore, but I truly felt that this award-winning airport deserved a spot! There are many activities you can enjoy at Changi Airpot without having to spend a dime. Some of these include marveling at the world’s largest indoor waterfall, the Jewel, taking a dip in the airport pool, or chasing butterflies in the butterfly garden.
For some extra inspiration on how to spend your days in Singapore, check out my travel guide: 48 Hours in Singapore.
I hope you enjoyed my Singapore money-saving tips and that this post inspired you to visit the Lion City, no matter your budget.
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