Singapore on A Budget: What To Do and Where To Go
October 18, 2018
by Pia San Felipe
A few months back, I took a trip to what was considered one of the most expensive cities in Asia. I have read a lot of stories about Singapore it has the cleanest streets, efficient modes of transportation, the tasty foods, and that going there would surely put a dent on my savings. As a student and a budget traveler, it does sound scary but with a well-researched itinerary and travel plan, I was able to survive 4 days in Singapore with just 150SGD pocket money. It sounds too good to be true and I couldn’t believe it either but I somehow managed to do it. Let me tell you how:
Before The Trip
Like all great adventures, mine started with a promotional e-mail for a seat sale. Keep your eyes peeled for promos like this because plane tickets could easily set your budget back for a few hundred bucks. You just have to be vigilant with finding good deals. Set a travel date, turn your notifications on, and be ready to book that flight once the clock turns 12 and the seat sale frenzy starts.
It was my first time to try out a dorm-type hostel accommodation. I was hesitant at first but it turned out to be great! Sure, it does feel sketchy sharing a room with five other strangers but once you have talked to them, you would realize they have a lot to share. You can exchange tips and tricks, and where to go or what else you can do. It is also such a huge bonus to book a hostel that offers free breakfast because you could fill up before you hit the road giving you more energy and the opportunity to spend less on food.
Book all paid activities beforehand. I used Klook and KKDay to book the activities. It was hassle free because I did not have to line up, and I got to buy the tickets at a discounted price too. Saved me time and a few bills!
Must see places and to-do activities are of course: Marina Bay Sands; go to the different garden exhibits at Gardens by the Bay; stay for a whole day at Universal Studios; appreciate the colorful wall art at Haji Lane; visit the famous Merlion Park; ride the Singapore Flyer; and for a different but fun take, go on a Tiger Brewery Tour and have 45 minutes of unlimited beer tasting.
What To Bring To The Trip
I bought with me a water bottle that I can fill up in the hostel and wherever I could find a water fountain. I was able to use it a lot at Universal Studios which was good because summer in Singapore could be really hot, and a small bottled water costs around 2SGD. If you could bring snacks with you like crackers or chips, I suggest you do because those small hunger pangs you might feel while walking around could easily cost you 3SGD and you would be walking around a lot.
During the Trip
There are free Wi-Fi areas in the city but I suggest not to rely on it too much because again, you would be moving around a lot. Instead of renting a pocket wi-fi (which, to be honest, can be a hassle to get and return), I opted to buy an LTE traveler sim instead. I bought mine at Changi Aiport (the currency exchange area near the luggage conveyor belts) for around 12SGD and it is already topped up with 100GB of data, and plenty texts and calls credit. At the end of the trip, I checked the balance and saw that I was only able to use 20GB!
Their food, while a bit pricey, have big servings. If you can’t finish everything in one sitting, have them wrap up the remaining half for you to snack on or eat as a meal later. I also suggest eating at hawker centers because you would already be able to taste authentic Singaporean dishes at a lower price. Hawker centers usually cost around 5SGD per meal but the servings are very reasonable. If you’re bringing a friend with you, you can also share the food and split the bill in half.
Singapore has one of the best transportation systems. I bought an EZ-link card (which can be used for their trains and buses) for around 12SGD and only reloaded it with 10SGD once. It was such an enjoyable experience to take public transpo in the country because it’s fast and efficient. However, I did try to use Grab (they don’t have Uber) once and it’s good to know that their prices are reasonable and they only have surge prices for a short period of time in the evening. We also tried their bike rental app “Ofo” which let us pick a random parked bicycle, bike to wherever we want to go, and leave it anywhere. Yes, you read that right, anywhere.
I’ve always believed that when I travel, I don’t owe anyone any souvenirs so I’m not really bending over backwards just to be able to buy everyone a gift back home. But if you are generous and like getting people trinkets from your trip, head over to Chinatown. Everything is in a bargain price so you can buy in bulk. Just be sure to look at every store so you can compare the prices so you would get a good deal.
That’s how I was able to survive four days in Singapore with just 150SGD! Do note though that that is only for my spending money while I was there. All-in-all I spent roughly around 500SGD and that includes the airfare, hostel, and pocket money. While it is true that traveling in Singapore can be quite expensive, that does not mean that you would have to break the bank just to be able to go there. There are a lot of things you can do for free in the city: go to Merlion Park, visit Gardens by the Bay, appreciate the street art at Haji Lane, visit the Botanic Gardens, and so much more. It just really takes research, and an efficient itinerary for you to be able to maximize your time and budget in Singapore. Even when you’re in a tight budget, don’t ever forget to enjoy yourself. It’s not every day that you get to go out of the country and explore, right?