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Singapore on a budget. List of top free and cheap things to do in Singapore.

Singapore on a budget. Top free and cheap things to do in Singapore

Are you looking to explore Singapore on a budget? Then read this travel guide for everything you need to know when traveling to Singapore. Singapore is consistently listed as being one of the most expensive cities in the world year after year. While certain things in Singapore can be expensive, there are also many other things that are priced budget friendly. Singapore also has a lot of attractions that are either free or very cheap to do. So you can in fact travel Singapore on a budget once you know where to look.

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Cost Summary

What's expensive

The majority of your budget will be spent on Accommodation, Alcohol (if you drink) ,Tobacco products (for smokers), and Tourist Attractions should you choose to do any.

Saving on Accommodation

On average hotel rooms will run around $60-$250 USD per night depending on location,time of year and quality. Agoda can offer some good deals on hotels especially when bundling with flights.

By renting a private room in a shared house on Airbnb you can find deals around $32-$60 USD. If you prefer your own private flat expect to pay  $60-$150 USD per night depending on how fancy you want to be. For first time users you can use my coupon link to save up to $65 on your first stay.

If your backpacking and don’t mind sharing a dorm room you can save even more by booking a dorm bed at a hostel. Dorm beds will range around $12-$30 USD per night. Hostelworld is my go to for bookings.

By far the most budget friendly option would be to look on Couchsurfer. Couchsurfer is a website where people can literally look for couches to crash on for free. People all over the world like to meet people from different cultures, so they sometimes offer up their couches, living rooms, extra rooms and even backyards to traveling backpackers on a budget. The caveat is you will most likely be on their timeframe. Many host will likely have full time jobs, and they might not be comfortable with you being at their place while they aren’t around. Also finding host can sometimes be challenging, especially if you haven’t gotten any recommendations from other couch surfers.

Cheapest Areas for Accommodation

  • Geylang in between the center city and Changi Airport. Aljunied MRT Station on the Green line will be the closest subway.
  • Little India just outside Center City on the Green Line near Bugis MRT Station.
  • Chinatown, A subzone of Center City along the Purple Line near Chinatown MRT Station.
Singapore Area Map - Best Areas for budget Accommodation
Map from freevectormaps.com

Budget Hostels with excellent ratings

Dream Lodge Singapore
Dream Lodge Singapore

In an area popular for backpackers near Little India. Close to hip stores, restaurants, and sightseeing within a close walking proximity.

Beary Best Hostel Rooftop View - Singapore on a budget
Beary Best Hostel

Located in Kampong Glamp near Little India in a popular hostel area. Rooftop deck terrace with a nice view of Sultan Mosque.

Tree In Lodge Dorm Room
Tree In Lodge

Located in Kampong Glamp near Little India in a culturally rich area. A two-time Best hostel Award winner. 

Budget Hotels

Q Loft Hotels Singapore
Q Loft @ Makenzie

Located very close to Little India MRT Station. With lots of budget friendly Indian restaurants nearby and cheap shopping close.

Butternut Tree Hotel Singapore
Butternut Tree Hotel

Near Chinatown and Maxwell Hawker Center. Outram Park MRT Station is within a few hundred meters. Rooms are very small though.

Champion Hotel City Singapore
Champion Hotel City

Located near the popular Quay Waterfront Shopping and Nightlife Area. Clark Quay MRT Station is less than 200 meters away.

Alcohol & Cigarettes

High taxes on Alcohol and Cigarettes make these indulgences expensive in Singapore. Cost of a beer at a bar will set you back around $11 SGD (8.37 USD) and a pack of Marlboros around $14 SGD (10 USD). 

Also to note, only smoke in designated smoking areas or you could pay a hefty fine otherwise. Vaping is also illegal so leave your vaping pen at home and don’t try to enter the country with one.

If you do want to drink you can save by drinking at a Hawker Center ($6-7 USD) and even cheaper if bought at 7-Eleven ($2.5-5 USD). In the Quay area near Elgin Bridge there is a 7-Eleven that has an outdoor seating area and they serve draft beers for under $5 USD. The Quay area is a popular waterfront area filled with restaurants and bars.

What's Cheap

Food and transportation are surprisingly cheap in Singapore. While there are definitely some world class restaurants that can be quite expensive. There will also be world class food options that are surprisingly cheap. Singapore is also home to one of the cheapest Michelin star rated restaurant meals at Liao Fan’s Hong Kong Soya Chicken Rice & Noodles.

Saving on Food

Hawker Centers will be your best bet for saving on dining out. Hawker Centers are similar to Food Halls in the United States, where there are a bunch of smaller food stalls located in one large building. Not only are they located all over Singapore, you will eat some of the most delicious food you have ever had in a Singapore Hawker Center. Prices range for $3-$10 USD. Here are a couple of recommendations to try.

Mall Food Courts will be a little more expensive than the Hawker Centers averaging around $6-$12 USD, but the advantage would be they are a little less chaotic and air conditioned. Singapore has no shortage of Mega Malls, so they will be easy to find. Here are a couple of recommendations.

Grocery Stores can usually be found in the basements of Shopping Malls, and can be a great way to save on snacks, and groceries provided you either have and Airbnb with a kitchen or a shared kitchen at your hostel. This option is better when cooking in groups though, as buying all the ingredients to cook a meal can actually add up to more than eating out if you are just cooking for yourself. Don Don Donki, a Japanese chain grocery store has multiple locations in Singapore, and offers some good deals for packaged meals, and onigiri.

Transportation Cost

Transportation in Singapore is very easy to get around, and using the MRT (Subway) and Buses will be the most economical. I recommend buying an EZ-Link card. They cost $12 SGD ($5 of which is card cost and $7 is for paying fares) You can buy them at most MTR stations and they are easy to top up in $10 increments at MRT station machines or 7-Elevens. While this might not sound practical, you are actually getting a discount on the fares, rather than buying each fare individually.

Some people may recommend buying a Singapore Tourist Card which gives unlimited rides for $10 per day, but that also requires an additional $10 deposit (You can get the deposit back when returning the card) While this may sound like a good deal, it would take around five rides per 24 hours to break even on the card. So this might be a better option if you are trying to pack in 3 or more attractions per day. But I only ended up taking transit 2-4 times per day at most, so the EZ-Link card was actually cheaper for me because the card is not set to a time limit. They do offer a 2 day and 3 day pass that are slightly cheaper, but I still think you would save by getting an Ez-Link card and just topping up when needed.

Taxi cost are also very affordable with basic fare costing around $4 SGD ($2.90 USD) and around $0.70 SGD ($0.51 USD) per km. From Changi Airport to the Center City should cost around $20-$35 SGD ($14.50-25 USD).

Grab is the ride-hailing app of choice for many Singaporeans, and also popular in many other Southeast Asian countries. If your familiar with Uber or Lyft you will feel right at home using this app.

E-Scooters can be rented around the Marina Bay areas of Singapore and cost a couple of Singapore dollars per hour. They also have a rideshare e-scooter you can rent using an app called Neuron. Not only are these an economical way of getting around the Marina Bay area, they also cover a lot of ground quickly and are quite fun.

Attractions

Attractions in most cities are going to eat up a lot of your budget depending on what you want to do. But that doesn’t mean you can’t save on attractions in Singapore. There are even some museums that are free to Singaporean residence, although foreigners will generally have to pay an admission fee.

Changi Airport

Free

Whether you are coming to Singapore or leaving Singapore chances are you will be traveling through Changi International Airport. Changi is consistently rated the best airport in the world and for good reason. There’s a free movie theater, butterfly garden, rooftop pool, 24 hour spa, mall, massive indoor waterfall called the Rain Vortex in a newly built 1.3 billion dollar hub called the Jewel. While not all of the amenities are free, it is worth it to arrive at Changi early before a flight or after a flight and explore some of the awesome attractions like the Jewel. The Jewel is also accessible even if you don’t have a flight.

Woman takes selfie at the Jewel in Changi Airport Singapore
Photo by Anthony Cam © All Rights reserved

Gardens by the Bay

Free

Gardens by the Bay is an awe inspiring futuristic garden that encompases over 100 hectares of land in the heart of Singapore. While some of the attractions like the Cloud Forest and Flower Dome charge an admission, SuperTree Grove and all the other outdoor gardens are free. There are some observatory decks, and shuttles that charge an admission but those are optional. They also have a free lightshow at the Supertree Grove two times in the evening everyday.

Supertree Grove Singapore
Photo by Addie from Pexels

Sentosa Beaches

Free

Sentosa Island was once a British Military base now converted to a popular tourist attractions like Universal Studios, Madame Tussauds, Resorts, Golf Courses, beach areas and more. While it will cost a little bit of money ($4 SGD) to take the monorail over to Sentosa from VivoCity, it is free to walk around and visit the beach areas. There are three beaches on Sentosa to unwind. The one thing I should note is that all of the beaches are man made, so don’t expect an organic natural feeling beach. While Sentosa can be fun and relaxing during the week days when it’s not as crowded, it still may not be for everyone. I still think is worth experiencing while in Singapore.

Siloso Beach – An adventure filled beach with bungee jumping, zip-lining, and indoor skydiving.

Palawan Beach – Is more family friendly with calm waters, and a rope bridge to a small inlet with a watch tower.

Tanjong Beach – Is more of the adult playground beach with the Tanjong Beach Club, paddle boarding, and even ultimate beach frisbee.

Image by Ford Brackin from Pixabay

Explore Little India

Free

Little India located just North of the Center City a couple of MRT Stations away. Little India MRT Station can be reached by the Purple Line (Northeast Line) and Blue Line (Downtown Line) and is a good starting point. Cheap souvenir shops, restaurants, and produce markets will be abundant in this colorful part of Singapore. Snaps some pics at the Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple an intricate Hindu Temple , Tan Teng Niah House a colorful house Chinese merchant house, or explore the beauty of the Abdul Gafoor Mosque. Little India is also home to some other great public art installations and murals. 

Photo of Tan Teng Niah by Anthony Cam © All Rights Reserved

Visit the Singapore Botanical Garden

Free

A UNESCO World Heritage Site receiving roughly 4.4 million visitors annually make it one of the most popular botanical gardens in the world. This massive garden will take a couple of hours to walk around, with plenty of paths, a rainforest, and lake. Free to walk around with the exception of the Orchid Garden which cost $5 SGD ($3.75 USD). The Orchard Garden has over 1,000 Orchid species. Easy to get to by taking either the Downtown Line or the Circle Line to Botanical Garden MRT Station.

Singapore Botanical Garden Archway
Image by Little MiMi from Pixabay

Do your souvenir shopping in Chinatown

Cheap

Not only is Chinatown a great place to pick up some cheap souvenirs (Pagoda Street), it’s a cool area to walk around and explore, or grab a cheap bite to eat. Chinatown MRT Station is located along the Downtown Line (Blue Line) and the Northeast Line (Purple Line). Check out the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple, the Sri Mariamman Temple, or get a cheap foot massage at the People’s Park Complex

Image by Jason Goh from Pixabay

Explore Marina Bay

Free/Cheap

If you are in Singapore you will no doubt at some point be in the Marina Bay area, it’s inevitable. But the Marina Bay area is deceivingly large even though it only looks like it’s a couple of blocks on the map. Consider renting an E-Scooter or downloading Neuron app for the rideshare e-scooters, your feet will thank me. The standard for most tourist is to snap a pic with the Merlion near the Esplanade Bridge. And getting a photo of the renown Marina Bay Sands Singapore is a must. For a small admission fee $11.80 SGD ($8.60 USD ) you can check out the Red Dot Museum if that’s your thing.  The Red Dot Museum showcases only the best in innovative industrial designs. The Art Science Museum is also impressive but at a more modest price of $19 SGD for 1 exhibition ($13.85 USD).

Merlion Singapore with Marina Bay Sands in Background
Image by Monika Häfliger from Pixabay

Free Art Exhibits

Free

The Ritz Carlton Millenia has invested more than 4 million on its impressive art collection, making it one of Southeast Asia’s most impressive Contemporary and Modern Art collections. Best of all it’s not only free to visit, they even give you a self guided listening device at the reception desk if you ask. They have artworks from Andy Warhol, David Hockney, Dale Chihuly, Frank Stella and Zhu Wei. ION Art Gallery in the ION Orchard Shopping Mall also has free art exhibits that change every so often. Although, I wouldn’t make a trip solely to visit ION Art Gallery (mostly because it’s a small gallery) it is worth visiting if you are planning on visiting ION Orchard Mall.

Take a stroll down Haji Lane & Arab Street

Free/Cheap

Not that far from Bugis MRT Station is Haji Lane full of small hip boutiques, restaurants, bars, and coffee shops. Grab some coffee and do some window shopping on Haji then make your way around to Arab Street, then venture to the Sultan Mosque. While you are in the area Bugis Street which is close by is also a great place to bargain shop.

Haji Lane in Singapore
Photo by Bna Ignacio on Unsplash

Haw Par Villa

Free

A little further away from the main attractions you will find Haw Par Villa MRT Station on the Circle Line. Haw Par Villa is a bizarre Asian cultural park from the creators of Tiger Balm. This park has 1000 statues and 150 dioramas depicting scenes from Chinese Mythology & folklore.

Haw Par Villa Singapore
By ScribblingGeek - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

Singapore Zoo

Moderate

While not cheap by any means, and more moderately priced at $39 SGD ($28.43 USD) I added it to this list because the Singapore Zoo is one of the best Zoos I have ever been to. It is also consistently rates within the top five zoos in the world every year. With ethical care of the animals and many conservation programs they support. I feel it’s a great place to learn about animals, and for the ticket price you can get a whole days worth of exploring.

Monkey at Singapore Zoo
Photo by Anthony Cam © All rights reserved

Henderson Waves Bridge

Free

A modern pedestrian bridge high in the treetops overlooking the city. Located in between Mount Faber Park and Telok Blangah Hill Park. Henderson Waves is Singapore’s highest pedestrian bridge shaped like a wave. A good walk to do in the morning to beat the Singapore heat.

Henderson Wave Singapore
Photo by Jordan Opel on Unsplash
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Singapore on a budget. Top free and cheap things to do in Singapore
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