Whenever someone mentions Singapore, they’ll moan about how pricey the travelling expenses can be. So much so that the Lion City was ranked as one of the most expensive tourist spots in the world. Truth be told, it’s not about where we travel to that affects our costs. Sometimes, it’s about how we travel around.
So we set a challenge to explore the sights of sounds in Singapore with the smallest budget possible. With only $20 in our pockets, we’re taking you on a budget-friendly adventure to one of Singapore’s famous cultural enclaves - Little India! Yes, leave your credit card in the hotel room ?
1. Enjoy a scrumptious Indian breakfast at Tekka Market (1-2 hours)
For the uninitiated, Little India is a food haven so we recommend starting your day by having breakfast at Tekka Market and Food Centre. You can’t say you’ve been to Singapore without visiting a hawker centre and the iconic Tekka Market is the best place to start, especially with its variety of must-try Indian food!
We were greeted with a sea of halal hawker stalls but we set our eyes (and tummy!) on Thosai Masala from Sky Lab Cooked Food ($2.50), Prata from Prata Saga Sambal Berlada ($2 for 2 plain prata) and Chicken Dum Briyani from Yakader ($5.50). Initially, we felt that it was a little heavy for breakfast but needless to say, it was such a satisfying meal ? The best part is, the meals here are really cheap as they start from $2!
The prata was really fluffy and we really liked that it was crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. But what really sets it apart from other pratas we’ve had is their sweet and really spicy sambal. This is usually a norm only in Malaysia but we were pleasantly surprised that the sambal and curry paired perfectly.
We had a little chat with the friendly stall vendors Mr Zulkifli and his wife who’ve been running the stall for around 40 years! It turns out that Mr Zulkifli had been invited by the Culinary Institute of America once ? It’s amazing how they’ve managed to retain the cheap price of the pratas. We also enjoyed the Chicken Dum Briyani from Yakader as the rice was fragrant but still light on the palate. It’s no wonder that many locals flock to Yakader during lunchtime to get their briyani fix!
Halal status: All the stalls we went to are Muslim-owned.
$2 - $5.50 per pax
Prata kosong (plain) - 2 for $2
Chicken Dum Briyani - $5.50
Masala Thosai - from $2
2. Experience the sights and sounds of Tekka Market (30 min - 1h)
Not only is Tekka full of scrumptious food, but here’s where you can also do some shopping (or window shopping if you’re on a budget!). The second floor of the market is full of shops selling all types of Indian apparel and the best part is that they are all so colourful and adorned with intricate ornaments ?
If you think that Indian clothes are only made up of sarees and kurtas, you’d be surprised to know that it’s much more than that! The shops here at Tekka sell other Indian outfits like lehengas (full ankle-length skirt), sherwanis (long coat-like garment) and more! If you’re planning to purchase them, we recommend visiting these shops later in the day as only a few shops were open when we visited early in the morning.
Even if you don’t get your hands on any clothes, don’t worry! Check out the wet market section in and around Tekka where you can catch a glimpse of how the locals go about their daily lives. We were particularly amazed by the numerous stalls selling flower garlands which the Hindus use for prayers and special ceremonies.
Free if you're window shopping ?
Cost (optional, for those not on a budget):
Lehenga - S$125 per piece (women)
Sherwani - S$75 per piece (men)
Address: 665 Buffalo and Serangoon Rd
Directions: Take exit C at Little India MRT Station and walk around 3 minutes to Tekka Market
Daily, 6.30am - 9pm
3. Marvel at the colourful House of Tan Teng Niah (15-30 mins)
Built by businessman Tan Teng Niah in 1900, the last surviving Chinese villa in Little India still manages to stand out today amongst the shophouses for its brightly-coloured walls. Believed to have been built for Tan’s beloved wife, the House remains a testament to the hard work, perseverance, and high hopes of Singapore’s pioneers ?
The house doesn’t just stand out for its bright colours – its architecture has a unique mix of Southeast Asian, Chinese, and European influences, reflecting the dynamic landscape of Singapore more than a century ago. Take a closer look a the Malay-inspired roof fixtures – and the long shutter-like windows right below them that were more common in Western-style houses at the time!
#HHWT Tip: Try to get there a bit earlier in the morning to beat the tour group crowd. We also found that shots taken from a lower angle upwards best captured the details of the second floor and roof perfectly!
(Former) House of Tan Teng Niah
Address: 37 Kerbau Rd, Singapore 219168
Take Exit E of Little India MRT station, and walk down Kerbau Rd for a few minutes
Daily, 24/7 (technically, but the bright walls are best viewed when the sun’s out!)
4. Shop for souvenirs at Little India Arcade (30 min - 1 hour)
Just like you, we love shopping for small gifts that really capture the essence of a place, which meant Little India Arcade was our next stop! Situated along Serangoon Road, this shopping landmark is the place to buy traditional sweets, tapestry handbags, and fancy accessories. So it’s perfect to get your souvenirs for your loved ones back home!
It’s hard to believe that Little India Arcade has been around since the 1920s ? Of course, the area has been made over since then, and the shaded walkways were a great relief from the hot sun. We let the bright flower garlands lead our way along, and were mesmerized by the sheer variety of trinkets on sale. Don’t forget to pick up fridge magnets and keychains too ☺️
varies, around $5 for a small item
Little India Arcade
Address: 48 Serangoon Road, 217959 Singapore
Directions: The arcade is located just opposite Tekka Market!
Opening hours: Daily, 9am - 10pm
5. Go on a cultural immersion at Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple (1 hour)
When we decided to visit a Hindu temple during our trip, we weren't sure of what to expect. But trust us, we had the most eye-opening experience at one of Singapore’s oldest Hindu temple and one of Little India’s important landmarks, Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple.
Dedicated to the “destroyer of evil” and Hindu goddess Kali, many migrant workers from India sought refuge in this temple during World War II. Can you believe that the temple and its statues remained standing throughout the war? ?
We were really in awe of the temple’s magnificent statues and decorations. We can only imagine the amount of dedication and hard work that workers put into carving the figures, and were truly stunned at the variety of colours and attention to detail that shone through.
It’s always amazing to see how people of other faiths pray and for us, witnessing how the Hindus devoted themselves to their Gods reminded us of our own relationship with Allah. We were also lucky that we were able to witness their pooja prayer ceremony, where devotees lined up to pay their respects to Kali.
#HHWT Tip: Before you visit the temple, make sure you check out the opening times first, as the temple closes at certain times during the day.
Cost: Free but donations are welcomed
Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple
Address: 141 Serangoon Rd, Singapore 218042
Directions: The temple is located at the junction of Serangoon Rd and Belilios Rd.
Opening hours: 5am - 11.45am, 4pm - 8.45pm
6. Savour cheap eats in Little India (1 hour)
Yay, it’s lunchtime! If you love Indian cuisine as much as we do, you’re going to enjoy the halal restaurants around Little India. We recommend going to Azmi Muslim Restaurant to savour delicious chapatis off the skillet (SGD 0.80 per piece). Remember to try it with a side of chicken curry (SGD 4) or mutton keema (SGD 3.20).
Credit: @yeahyeahright on Instagram
Azmi Muslim Restaurant
Address: 170 Norris Road, 218052 Singapore
Operating hours: Daily, 8am – 8pm
For another lunch option, you’re going to love the naans at Usman’s Restaurant. Best enjoyed with a drink, treat yourself with garlic naan (SGD 2.20), butter naan (SGD 2.20) or cheese naan (SGD 3).
Credit: @imlinayong on Instagram
Address: 238 Serangoon Road, 218085 Singapore
Operating hours: Daily, 11am – 2am
7. Go on a mural hunt (1 hour)
Little India isn’t just history and heritage - it’s also a fantastic area to go if you want to see some local art! Since 2015, murals and art installations from the public art project ARTWALK have dotted walls and empty spaces in the area. If you have time, we definitely recommend you take a leisurely walk and try to check out as many of them as possible. To help you navigate the alleyways and streets, we’ve picked out two of our favourites!
Cattleland 2 features buffalos that refer both to the street name (Kerbau) and the significance of cattle in Hinduism. We loved the bright colours that reflect the diverse history and population of Singapore, and the Indian-inspired patterns add a distinctive touch!
#HHWT Tip: The mural stretches up the entire wall, so try some shots from below to capture its full beauty!
Cattleland 2 (Artist: Eunice Lim)
Address: 67 Kerbau Rd, Singapore 219189 Directions: The mural is located right outside Exit E of Little India MRT station! Just take the escalator up, and then turn to your right.
Opening Hours: 24/7
With its bright blue background and colourful cartoons of Little India residents in various poses, Festival is a cheerful reminder of the stories and culture of the community. Wide shots were a must-do here, just because there’s so much to take in!
#HHWT Tip: If you want to have a fun shot, why not opt for a panorama to capture as much of the mural as possible? We tried our best - how did we do? ?
Festival (Artist: Izzad Radzali Shah)
Address: 1 Hindoo Road, Singapore 209105 (On the side of Veera’s Curry Restaurant)
Directions: 9-minute walk from Little India MRT station – Walk down Kerbau Rd after exiting. Turn onto Chander Rd. Turn onto Belilios Rd. Then walk down Serangoon Rd till you see the mural on the right.
Opening Hours: 24/7
8. Get bargain buys at Mustafa Centre (2-3 hours)
If you're still not convinced that you can find bargains in Singapore, wait until we lead you to Mustafa Centre ? Located just a short walk from the temple on Syed Alwi Road, we love getting cheap deals and bargain buys in this shopping paradise! Since it’s a favourite among both locals and tourists, prepare yourself for the shopping crowd by coming a bit earlier to take stock of what's on sale.
We need to tell you this, Mustafa Centre is huge! With many things to buy, you can fill up your shopping cart with everything from affordable clothes, to groceries and electronics. Look out for spices and curry powders (from $0.80) to recreate the flavours of Little India at home. For your loved ones, bring back some Reese’s chocolates ($6.50), Singaporean tea collections ($11.90), batik shirts ($12.90), halal fragrances ($6), souvenirs (from $4.50) and more.
It’s okay if you can’t find anything you need in a single afternoon. The best thing about Mustafa Centre is that it's open 24-hours. Yes, that’s right - it's the perfect late-night shopping spot! ?
#HHWT Tip: Head over to the rooftop (7th floor) for a great city view. Try out their rooftop restaurant Kebabs n Curries for some Indian fusion food too!
Address: 145, Syed Alwi Road, 207704 Singapore
Directions: Walk down Serangoon Rd from Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple and turn right on Syed Alwi Rd. Or take the MRT to Farrer Park and walk 5 minutes to Mustafa Centre. Operating hours: 24 hours
9. Do your prayers at Abdul Gafoor Mosque (30-45 min)
If you think that Little India is only about Indian food and culture, then think again! This vibrant enclave has more to it than meets the eye - it’s a reflection of Singapore’s multiculturalism. Other than Hindu temples, there are Buddhist temples, churches and even mosques! And one place that Muslim travellers cannot miss out on is Abdul Gafoor Mosque at Dunlop Street.
Credit: @_don.key on Instagram
With its unique and distinct architecture consisting of Roman, Moorish and Western influences, you can definitely spot this mosque from afar? Apart from being an awesome photo spot, you can’t deny that it’s also a beautiful place for you to do your prayers.
Credit: @berndfink on Instagram
Free but donations are welcomed
Abdul Gafoor Mosque
Address: 41 Dunlop St, Singapore 209369
Take Rochor MRT exit B and walk around 3 minutes to Dunlop St
Total Cost Breakdown:
$2 - $5
Shopping at Little India Arcade:
$5 - $7
Shopping at Mustafa:
$4.50 (for souvenirs)
around $16.50! Exploring Singapore’s Little India under $20 is definitely possible! Halal cheap eats and bargain buys are some of the biggest draws, but you can also swing by the Instagram-worthy alleys and visit regal temples without any cost! Isn’t that amazing? ?
So tell us, which part of Singapore do you want us to explore next? Are you planning a day trip to Sentosa or a night-out in Boat Quay? Challenge us and we’ll show you how to do it on a budget!