Singapore caters mainly for tourists who have plenty of money to spend. Backpackers and other travellers on a shoestring budget usually spend only a minimum amount of time in this city on their way to cheaper places in South-East Asia. While Singapore is definitely not a cheap destination, it is still possible to cut costs and visit Singapore on a backpacker budget.
Where to Find Cheap Hostels in Singapore
The area of Little India has several cheap hostels and backpacker guesthouses, although the hostels in Singapore are generally more expensive than in many other South-East Asian cities. Chinatown and Bugis are other areas to find budget hotels and hostels. The Malay Village has a choice of cheap hotels especially along Geylang Road, but many of the cheapest hotels in this area double as brothels.
How to Eat Out Cheaply in Singapore
Singaporeans love to eat and to shop, and everything in this city seems to be designed for these two activities. Shopping in Singapore is cheaper than in the West but more expensive than in many other Asian cities. Fortunately eating out does not cost much, because when it comes to food, Singaporeans like to get value for their money.
The best places for eating cheaply are hawker centres and food courts which can be found everywhere in Singapore. A meal in a hawker centre or a food court costs just a few Singapore dollars, and a coffee at a hawker centre costs 70-90 cents while it can cost S$5 in an international coffee chain’s outlet next door. Food in hawker centres is delicious and affordable and there is no need to worry about hygiene: it is perfectly safe to eat.
Free Things to Do in Singapore
Entrance to Singapore’s Botanic Gardens is free, and it is a nice place to walk around especially in the mornings and evenings when Singapore’s tropical weather cools down a little. Early in the morning local groups practice t’ai chi on the lawn, and there are often free spins at casinos over the weekends.
Chinatown is a great area to wander around and look at some cheap souvenirs and “three t-shirts for ten dollars” deals. Little India is, despite of its name, not that much like real India but it is a good place to sample affordable Indian food.
Many Buddhist temples in Singapore are open to visitors and do not charge for entry. The Lian Shan Shuang Lin temple (nearest MRT Toa Payoh) and the Kong Meng San Phor Kark See, also known as Bright Hill Temple (nearest MRT Bishan) are worth a visit.
Cheap Travel Around Singapore
Singapore’s public transport is efficient, safe and affordable. The best way to get around Singapore is to buy an EZ-link card that can be used in the MRT (Singapore’s metro) as well as buses. Journeys paid with the card are cheaper than buying individual tickets for each journey. MRT trains as well as Singapore’s buses are air-conditioned, and most of the time Singapore is just too hot to walk around.
5 Reasons to Fly Singapore Airlines
Singapore Airlines is not generally the cheapest airline around but when flying longhaul in economy class, it’s worth the extra couple of hundred dollars to arrive at the other end feeling like a human being as opposed to just a seat number. From something as small as having a cabin crew member turn on the reading light without being asked, to enjoying one of the largest ranges of dutyfree shopping available at its hub at Singapore airport.
Mediocre means you pay for a seat which includes the two mandatory requirements for reaching the other end alive. These are toilets and seatbelts. All other services are optional including food and head phones for entertainment. Many people are happy to pay for the cheapest and therefore receive the basics. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that.
Singapore airlines is a full service airline but unlike many others, the food doesn’t taste like its been defrosted and reheated from a cube of pre-packaged food. What’s more, they supply a menu so one can decide on the options prior to the meal being served. It almost feels like being in a restaurant.
Singapore airlines have drinking water taps through their aircraft which is brilliant for a few reasons. Most people suffer from dehydration on flights so it’s great to not have to be constantly ringing the call bell for more water. When feeling unwell, water needs to be readily available and if for nothing else, water taps are perfect for filling up water bottles. They are also a good excuse to get up and go for a walk.
Not many countries can boast a city that is the perfect size for perusing by bus in a mere 2.5 hours. Its size makes it the ideal way to kill a seven-hour layover or in fact, a stopover of any number of days. Just show a Singapore Airlines boarding pass in order to get a free ride on the SIA Hop-On-Hop-Off bus.
If there is enough time, stop off at Raffles City Plaza for some speed shopping or at the Singapore Aquarium for a fish pedicure.
Or indulge in some history at the famed Long Bar at the Raffles Hotel, the home of the Singapore Sling. Drinking the cocktail is the easy part. The hard part is shelling the complimentary peanuts and dropping the shells on the floor as per tradition.
Singapore Changi Airport
It’s amazing how an extensive range of shopping opportunities can give one the urge to replace things like perfectly good sunglasses, or add to one’s already extensive range of perfumes. Just like having a small house restricts the amount of things one fills it with, having a huge range of shops at an airport, increases the amount of things one is compelled to buy.
Singapore’s Changi Airport is an airport shopper’s heaven. With three terminals, there are over 140 stores here including plenty of international brands. It’s possible to spend hundreds of dollars on a handbag from Coach or a mere ten dollars on a souvenir pendant from Accessorize.