Singapore On A Shoestring: 6 Budget Hacks You Definitely Need


Shasha Dania •  Jun 12, 2019

Singapore is known for many things - a diverse local food culture, dozens of exciting attractions, and non-stop shopping opportunities everywhere you look. Still, planning a trip here can also be a little daunting once you start adding up entrance fees, currency conversions, and ticket prices ? If you want to cover major attractions such as Universal Studios Singapore or the Adventure Cove Waterpark then you're definitely going to have to dig into your wallet a little bit more. However, there's no need to worry if you're on a tighter budget!

Credit: Giphy

There's still plenty to see, eat, do, and even shop in Singapore without breaking the bank! ? We've gathered some of the best tips from where to stay and how to travel around, to visiting Singapore's wallet-friendly hidden gems - this is the only guide you'll need for experiencing the best of Singapore on a budget!

P.S. The exchange rate on 11 Jun at the time this article was published is currently SGD100 = MYR305.11 / IDR1,043,469.23.

1. Skip the expensive hotels!

Singapore has plenty of affordable hostels and traveller's lodges located in vibrant districts such as the Bugis-Kampong Glam and Clark Quay areas, making it easy to get a good night's sleep and still be right next to all of the excitement the next morning. ? Here are some of the options you can consider, all below SGD100/night!

Disclaimer: All prices here are based on a 1-night stay for 1 traveller and a family (2 adults, 2 children age 6 and under) within the next 2 months. Prices can vary greatly, and may even be lower than what we've stated here! ? We recommend checking directly with Agoda or the hotel for more inquiries and special requests, and booking early to ensure you get a value-worthy deal!

For Solo Travellers/Couples

Cube Boutique Capsule Hotel @ Kampong Glam

Credit: Cube Boutique Capsule Hotel at Kampong Glam on Facebook

Located along Bussorah Street right in front of the iconic Masjid Sultan, this chic minimalist boutique is actually located within a gorgeous restored shophouse! Rooms range from Single Capsules to Premium Queen (2 guests) and there's even a Female-Only Option located in a shared room with other female guests. Each room comes with free wi-fi, an individual safe, and storage space for your belongings. If you're looking for something simple and accessible with exceptional service, this is definitely a good place to start!

Address: 55 Bussorah Street, Singapore 199471

Nightly Rate:From SGD37 on Agoda

Contact: +65 6291 1696 or email [email protected]

Website | Facebook

P.S. Check out more affordable Bugis accommodations here!

Galaxy Pods @ Chinatown

Credit: @cheetz on Instagram

Tucked away amongst a whole row of hostels and capsule hotels, what sets Galaxy Pods apart is how futuristic its decor is! The capsules look like something out of a sci-fi movie, accompanied with neon blue lights that definitely add to the theme. Only 2 room options are available - a Single Capsule (mixed floor) and a Double Capsule (sleeps 2 guests). With the capsule hotel being just a short walk away from Chinatown MRT and the heart of Singapore's central town area, this is definitely an ideal spot for the adventurous traveller to start on their Singapore journey!

Address: 27 Mosque St, Singapore 059505

Nightly Rate: From SGD28 on Agoda

Contact: +65 6221 1239 or email [email protected]

Website | Facebook

MET A Space Pod @ Clarke Quay

Credit: @markjborg on Instagram

MET A Space Pod is yet another space-themed capsule hotel - only this time it's located at the busy and energetic Clarke Quay area overlooking the Singapore river! The capsules sleep either 1 or 2 guests, so they're perfect for couples or friends who're looking for something affordable in a more fast-paced area of the city. Each pod contains a small safe, mood lighting, and even a small television screen so you can enjoy a movie before you fall asleep!

P.S. There are MET A Space Pod hotels at Arab St and Chinatown as well!

Address: 51 Boat Quay, Singapore 049840

Nightly Rate: From SGD69 on Agoda

Contact: +65 6635 2694 or email [email protected]

Website | Facebook | Instagram

For Groups/Families

Jamilla Boutique Inn

Credit: Jamilla Boutique Inn on Facebook

This classy and chic boutique inn is located right within the historic Kampong Glam district, reflecting the artsy blend of past and present in the area. There's a wide variety of rooms available here, but what makes it stand out is how some of the rooms can accommodate up to 3 or 4 people! These include the Deluxe Quadruple Room (pictured), Deluxe Triple Room, and Designer Deluxe Double Room (extra single bed $25). The inn even provides a simple complimentary breakfast of toast and jam to its guests, so you won't have to worry about finding your first meal of the day!

Address: 10 Aliwal St, Singapore 199903

Nightly Rate: From SGD62 on Agoda

Contact: +65 6816 0642 or email [email protected]

Website | Facebook | Instagram

Hotel NuVe at Jalan Pinang

Credit: Hotel NuVe on Facebook

Hotel NuVe is a hotel located in the Bugis area that caters to a large variety of travellers. Whether you're travelling for business or finally having that family vacation you've been planning for months, Hotel NuVe is definitely a place to check out! Families and groups will be glad to stay in their spacious NuVe Family room (pictured), with a queen-size bed and a single bed - every room even comes with a free Handy Phone that has unlimited data and a GPS. Breakfast is even served at 2 famous local Muslim-owned eateries - Hjh Maimunah, and Zam Zam!

Address: 9 Jln Pinang, Singapore 199141

Nightly Rate: From SGD68 on Agoda

Contact: +65 6299 5975 or email [email protected]

Website | Facebook | Instagram

The Hive Singapore Hostel

Credit: The Hive Singapore Hostel

Larger groups and families will feel right at home in this hostel situated on the edge of the Little India district. The Hive has private family rooms that fit 4, 6, or 8 people and you can even request baby cribs in advance if necessary! The brightly coloured rooms will keep your energy up throughout the trip, and though it may not be quite as centrally located as the other options on this list, we think that makes it perfect to head back to at the end of the day for a good night's rest.

P.S. Check out our budget-friendly guide to Little India to find out what amazing local eats, value-for-money shopping spots, and heritage and culture attractions there are in this vibrant district!

Address: 624A Serangoon Rd, Singapore 218223

Nightly Rate: From SGD73 on Agoda

Contact: +65 6341 5041

Website | Facebook | Instagram

P.S. Though there are Airbnb listings available in Singapore, Airbnb is technically not allowed by the Singapore government and is unregulated within the country. We advise that you book accommodation that is properly registered and regulated for your own safety and security!

2. Make the best use of public transport!

Thanks to Singapore's extensive public transport system, you can get to just about anywhere in the country using the train and bus services alone! Train stations and buses also come equipped with lifts and ramps so that wheelchair users can use these services with ease without spending additional money on a specialized vehicle.

Credit: @techitadeb on Instagram

Reloadable EZ-Link cards are the most efficient way to get around but did you know there's another option for tourists that gives you even more value for money? ? The Singapore Tourist Passstarts at SGD10 (excluding refundable rental depost) and gives you 1-3 days of unlimited rides on all public transport services! The Singapore Tourist Pass Plus option even gives you discounted entry to certain attractions, making it worth it if you're here for only a few days but really want to get the most out of your stay. STPs can be purchased at Changi Airport, so you can even reserve one in advance and pick it up once you land!

#HHWT Tip: Grab, Uber, and Go-Jek all offer services in Singapore so even if you need to take a car around there's plenty of options. Just keep the late-night surcharge in mind when balancing your budget and try to combine a cab ride with a bus or train ride if possible!

Credit: Land Transport Authority

Another way to cut down your travel expenses while exploring the little red dot is actually to walk from station to station where possible. This is actually the most doable within the Orchard Rd-Central Business District area. While you'll never be too far away from a different station here, it's definitely more time- and cost-effective to walk if you have enough time. Just pull up your trusty Google Maps and head off for a casual stroll - you'll get to see the variety of shops above ground too, and the unique patchwork of buildings that make up Singapore's streets!

3. Go Wi-Fi/SIM-less for your trip!

With so much to see and do in Singapore, we're guessing you'll most likely want Wi-fi or SIM card options to keep your social media feeds updated throughout your trip. However, you can probably get by without buying a Wi-fi router or SIM card, as most accommodations and some major attractions in Singapore come with free Wi-fi! Lots of restaurants and cafés (including the ever-popular Starbucks!) now offer their own Wi-fi services too, so you can always check in with the internet while grabbing a bite to eat at the same time too. If you really want the convenience of non-stop internet access, you can purchase some affordable options directly at Changi Airport or head to any 7-11 outside of the airport to pick up even cheaper but no less reliable ones!

4. Indulge in local hawker delights!

It's finally time to talk about one of the best things about Singapore - its food! ? Hawker centres are the place to head to if you're looking for cheap options that don't compromise on taste or hygiene - you can find just about anything here, and at prices as low as $2! Some hawker centres even serve up hipster-style fusion dishes for the more adventurous eater, but we're going to focus on some classics located near major attractions so you can give your wallet a break. ?

#HHWT Tip: Avoid some of the more popular hawker centres such as Newton Food Centre or Lau Pa Sat - their prices are usually higher as they cater to the tourist crowds!

Aspirasi Chicken Rice @ Seah Im Food Centre

Credit: @glitzfoodstories on Instagram

If you're heading out to Sentosa or RWS for the day, fuel up at this hawker centre next to Harbourfront MRT. There are halal stalls here selling Singaporean Indian Muslim cuisine, Thai beef noodles, and nasi padang too but the Chicken Rice at Aspirari is definitely a top pick! ? The fried chicken is crispy without being too oily, and tender from being smashed before it's plated. Plus the rice is fragrant with the spices and coconut milk used to flavour it - good enough to eat on its own! There's also sambal chicken rice (pictured) for those who like a little kick to their meal!

#HHWT Tip: During weekends and peak periods the stall can sell out by 3pm so we recommend getting there by 11am to make sure you can get a plate!

Halal Status: Muslim-owned

Address: 2 Seah Im Rd, Singapore 099114

Opening Hours: 11am - 9pm (Tues-Sun), closed on Mondays

Price: From SGD3.50 for a plate of chicken rice

Getting There: Take the MRT to Harbourfront Station (NE1/CC29) Exit A, and walk straight until you reach the food centre.

Nearby Attractions: Sentosa Island, Universal Studios Singapore, Southern Ridges nature walk

Website | Facebook | Instagram

Encik Tan @ Bugis Junction

Credit: @feefaleeeee on Instagram

Encik Tan is a local food chain that sells halal-certified versions of local Chinese hawker fare such as Wanton Noodles, Fishball Noodles, and Curry Chicken Cutlet Rice. With over 20 stalls across the country, you're never too far away from an affordable yet delicious plate to make your day a little better. If you're in the Bugis area, you should definitely try out the outlet at Bugis+ - it's even open 24hours, meaning you can grab a bite to eat at any time of the day!

#HHWT Tip: Check out our ultimate guide to halal food in Bugis (with over 50 eateries!) for more ideas!

Halal Status: Halal-certified

Address: Bugis+, 201 Victoria St #01-02/K1, Singapore 188067

Opening Hours: 24hours daily

Price: From SGD4.50 for mains

Getting There: Take the MRT to Bugis Station (EW12/DT14) and take Exit C up to the ground level. Cross the road towards Bugis Street, and then turn to your left to face Bugis+. Walk straight, and the eatery will be on the ground level facing the main road.

Nearby Attractions: Bugis Junction, Bugis Street, Kwan Im Temple, Sri Krishnan Temple, Masjid Sultan, Kampong Glam, Arab St, Haji Lane

Website | Facebook | Instagram

Hawker QSR @ Esplanade Mall

Credit: @hawker_qsr on Instagram

Finding anything to eat below SGD10 when you're in the Marina Bay area of town can be challenging ? Thankfully, there's Hawker at the Esplanade to save the day. Touted as the first Asian fast food restaurant in Singapore, you can get a taste of Singapore's famous chilli crab here - in burger form! The Signature Chili Crab Bao consists of a chunky crab patty slathered with generous amounts of chilli crab sauce and sandwiched in fried mantou resembling the buns of a typical burger. Other local innovations include the Nasi Lemak Burger and Chicken Rice Burger where the hamburger 'buns' are made from rice!

Halal Status: Halal-certified

Address: 8 Raffles Avenue #01-13E Annexe, Singapore 039802

Opening Hours: 10am - 10.30pm (Sun-Thurs), 10am - 12am (Fri, Sat, eve of PH)

Price: From SGD4.50 for mains

Getting There: Take the MRT to City Hall Station (EW13/NS25) and follow the signboards to the Esplanade. The eatery is on the outside of the building, facing the Singapore River

Nearby Attractions: Esplanade - Theatres on the Bay, ArtScience Museum, Marina Bay Sands, National Gallery Singapore, Gardens by the Bay

Website | Facebook | Instagram

P.S. If you're willing to travel out of the central area, you can try even more amazing budget eatsand see the Singapore heartlands too! It's also useful to note that Singapore's tap water is potable - meaning it's clean enough to drink right from the tap itself! Skip buying those heavy and pricey gallons of water, and pack a reusable bottle into your bag to refill throughout the day.

5. Pick up the best bargains!

Singapore is definitely a shopper's paradise, no matter what budget you're working with. Though the most famous shopping destination is probably the long stretch of malls along Orchard Rd, there are definitely lots of other choices for the budget-conscious fashionista! (And if you're willing to stretch your budget for this, then we have the perfect shopping guide for you!)

Bugis Street

Credit: @gryaah on Instagram

Located across the road from Bugis MRT Station, this shopping haven is full of shoppers and visitors looking to score their next deal. With over 600 shops spread out over several floors, you can buy anything at Bugis Street from men and women's apparel to shoes and accessories, to even souvenirs! Though you can't bargain down the prices here, most shops usually offer their items at a much lower price point anyway. Special deals such as 3-for-the-price-of-2 or 2-for-the-price-of-1 are also common - so you can stock up if you see something you love! ? Once you've filled your shopping bags, you can go on to fill your stomach with some of the amazing halal food in Bugis!

P.S. You can also pick up some of the best Singapore souvenirs ever here!

Address: 3 New Bugis Street, Singapore 188867

Opening Hours: 11am – 10pm daily

Getting There: Take the MRT to Bugis Station (EW12/DT14) and take Exit C up to the ground level. Cross the road.

Nearby Attractions: Bugis Junction, Bugis Street, Kwan Im Temple, Sri Krishnan Temple, Masjid Sultan, Kampong Glam, Arab St, Haji Lane

Far East Plaza

Credit: @midomama_shop on Instagram

Orchard Road isn't just high-end brands and boutiques, there are plenty of affordable options too! Far East Plaza is one place where you can tap into the latest and most unique trends, with everything from Korean and Japanese-inspired outlets, to local designers with their small boutiques. It's not just shopping you can get on a budget here either, but even snacks, haircuts, electronics, and spa and wellness treatments! Manicure for SGD5 anyone? ?

Address: 14 Scotts Road, Singapore 228213

Opening Hours: 10am – 10pm daily

Getting There: Take the MRT to Orchard Station (NS22) Exit A, and walk past Tang Plaza and Scotts Square.

Nearby Attractions: T Galleria by Duty Free Singapore, ION Orchard Mall, Takashimaya Department Store, 313@Somerset

For even more budget-friendly shopping options, check out some of the best budget shopping spots (besides Mustafa Centre)!

6. See the best of Singapore without spending a thing!

Who said you need to spend money to see the best that Singapore has to offer? While attractions such as Universal Studios Singapore, thrill rides, or the zoo may be stunning we can't deny that the entrance fees can burn a hole through your wallet pretty quickly. ? But you may not know that there are ways to experience the same attractions on a shoestring budget, and still get an amazing and immersive experience out of it! Read on to find out more!

Visit Gardens By The Bay's ... free locations!

Credit: @gardensbythebay on Instagram

This sprawling blend of old heritage and futuristic design has definitely become one of Singapore's most recognizable attractions ever since its opening. Though entrance to major exhibitions are ticketed, there are still lots of free areas you can explore without ever paying a fee! This includes the Heritage gardens where there are structures and monuments dedicated to each major ethnic group in Singapore, the Far East Organization Children's Garden where kids can beat the summer heat running around a water park and playground, various art sculptures from budding names scattered around the park - and of course, the Supertree Grove with its stunning night-time light displays!

Credit: @junnnghwa on Instagram

To get the most out of your trip to the Gardens, combine it with a relaxing afternoon out on Marina Barrage located right next door. This reservoir (the first right in the city central area!) is perfect for a relaxing picnic, or some late-night heart to heart chats with your travel buddies. On a clear and windy day out, you may even see families flying kites and running around enjoying the good weather! The view from the Barrage is truly spectacular-

Gardens By The Bay

Address: 18 Marina Gardens Drive, Singapore 018953

Opening Hours:

Outdoor Gardens including Skytree Grove: 5am - 2am daily

East Organization Children's Garden: 10am - 7pm (Tues-Fri), 9am - 9pm (Sat-Sun, PH), closed on Mondays

Getting There: Take the MRT to Bayfront Station (CE1/DT16) Exit B. Follow the underground linkway that will lead you to the Gardens via the Dragonfly or Meadow bridges.

Website | Facebook | Instagram

Marina Barrage

Address: 8 Marina Gardens Dr, Singapore 018951

Opening Hours: 24hours daily

Getting There: 6-minute walk from Gardens By The Bay.

Visit Sentosa Island for more than just USS! 

Credit: @amosgsw on Instagram

Who could leave out a trip to the beach when you're visiting Sentosa? The island has 3 beaches, all of which have their own distinct character! Families will have an amazing day out at Palawan Beach, which has its own children's play area and a suspension bridge that will bring smiles to kids' faces. Action lovers might feel more at home at Siloso Beach where you can frequently find volleyball games ongoing on the courts! Finally, couples or those who just want a laidback day on the sand will enjoy Tanjong Beach that's a little more secluded and quiet.

Credit: @vicffie on Instagram

Sentosa isn't just Universal Studios Singapore and Resorts World Sentosa - history and heritage buffs will love the hidden gems across this island! Fort Siloso is the only perserved coastal fort remaining on Singapore, and houses Singapore's largest collection of WW2-era artifacts! Even if you're not a history buff, you'll definitely have fun exploring and climbing up on the different military structures, and reliving Singapore's history with a video exhibition in the Surrender Chambers.

#HHWT Tip: Whether you're heading to Sentosa for Fort Siloso, Tanjong Beach, or USS, save some money by opting to walk in rather than take the light rail from Vivocity. Taking the train from Vivocity will cost about double what you typically pay for public transport! ? Plus you'll be able to board the train for free once you enter, so you'll spend a grand total of SGD0 on transport in and out of the island! ?

Fort Siloso

Address: Siloso Road, Sentosa Island, Singapore 099981

Opening Hours: 10am - 6pm daily

Getting there: Once in Sentosa, board Sentosa Bus A or the Sentosa Beach Tram (alight at Siloso Point).

Experience art & nature without any entrance fee!

Singapore has more than its fair share of world-class museums and animal attractions, but the steep entrance fees for non-Singaporeans/PRs can be daunting if you're not prepared to fork out at least SGD20 for an entrance ticket! Thankfully, the art scene in Singapore is definitely not confined to expensive museums and galleries and you can still get your culture fix without having to break the bank! Likewise, there are plenty of nature spaces to explore in Singapore where you can experience rustic kampong life and go animal-watching at your own leisure!

Street art can be found all over some of the hippest and most youthful enclaves in Singapore, including the Arab St-Haji Lane area, the hipster neighbourhood of Tiong Bahru, and Little India. Whether it's murals that stretch all the way up to the top of the building or statues that will make you stop and ponder over their meaning, taking an art trail through Singapore is a great way to see what local and regional street artists have been up to. Little India has hosted a free-access ARTWALK for several years now, featuring specially commissioned pieces such as the brightly coloured one above!

Credit: @amrakajona_zakir on Instagram

Pulau Ubin is definitely the most famous of Singapore's off-shore island, and on weekends you can find locals heading there to enjoy the refreshing sea breeze and laidback environment. Whether you're cycling through the well-trodden paths to spot some birds flying by or exploring the Chek Jawa Wetlands, you definitely won't want to go back to the mainland once the day is over! Other popular nature spots in Singapore include Coney IslandSouthern Ridges, and the various reservoirs such as MacRitchie Reservoir.

Pulau Ubin

Getting There: Take the MRT to Tanah Merah Station, and follow the directions to Bus 2 going towards Changi Bus interchange. Walk until you reach the Ferry Terminal. Take a bumboat from Changi Point Ferry Terminal. (SGD2.50/ride, additional SGD2 surcharse for bicycles)

And those were our money-saving hacks for visiting Singapore on a budget! Checking out places that only locals know about is definitely one of the best ways to avoid expensive entrance fees and costs, and you can really experience what everyday life is like too! Let us know what other budget tips you have for Singapore and check out our other Singapore guides too! ?