I’ve visited Singapore several times since my school days and I never get tired of it. Having always traveled to Singapore with family or friends, I wished to go solo. In mid-2022, I went on a 5 days solo trip to Singapore – budget trip of course. And here’s my post on the Singapore budget travel guide.
Singapore was the first country I went solo-traveling and as a beginner solo traveler, I’d recommend it over any other place! It’s super-safe, people are friendly, and thank goodness everyone (well, most) speak English.
The only downside is that Singapore is the most expensive country to visit in Southeast Asia. But everything you pay for has its perks and comforts. Even the tiniest hostels are clean here.
The best part is that it doesn’t take long to get around Singapore. It’s a city-country after-all. My only regret, ironically, was not spending more in my limited-time in Singapore.
Here goes my ultimate Singapore Budget travel guide!
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Singapore Budget Travel Guide: What to Expect
Singapore’s exactly how it appears on its tourist advertisements. Skyscrapers, Marina Bay, the Zoo, Universal Studios and the fast lane lifestyle. And then there are the variety of cuisines – Chinatown hawkers, and Little India shopping sprees – but that’s not just it.
Unlike most Southeast Asian countries that budget travelers imagine, Singapore’s very organized, expensive, super safe, and it take its regulation seriously.
While most of Southeast Asia is imagined with rich cultures and heritage, beaches, and beautiful beaches for vacation, Singapore is a different story. Most people seek to visit world-class attractions in Singapore like the SEA Aquarium, Singapore Zoo, and Changi Airport itself!
Public transport here like the MRT and SMRT buses is reliable to get to any part of the city comfortably. Nonetheless, there’s always a lot of walking involved when you’re here. So I recommend putting on a comfortable sports pair of shoes.
The most important is to bring a cap along (or sunscreen). While eating places and shopping sites are air-conditioned and survivable, Singapore’s usually humid and hot. For traveling, most places like the Zoo, city walking tours, and Chinatown shopping are all outdoors.
Thus keep the clothing light; shorts, light shirts, and a cap was what kept my going.
Also, book everything in advance. Unfortunately, Singapore isn’t suitable for plan-as-you-go sort of itineraries. Cheap hostels get sold-out quick, attraction tickets when bought early in bunches, you can save up a lot.
Make some changes later on, but keep an idea of the itinerary and book accommodations and attractions in advance.
As for accommodation, here are some of my favorite ones:
Singapore Budget Travel Guide: Suggested Hostels
I remember when I visited in 2022, budget hostels cost me SGD 20 to 30 on an average. However, they’ve skyrocketed today with an average backpacker hostel around SGD 40 – 60.
Still, it’s cheaper than private hotel rooms starting at SGD 100.
Most budget hostels are dormitories with shared bathrooms. Look for the ‘SG Clean’ stays as maintain their accommodation well. I stayed at multiple budget hostels in Singapore and grew fond of their cleanliness.
Some well-heard hostels among travelers in Singapore are Spacepod (at Lavender Street), Rucksack Inn, and the Bohemian. Nevertheless, check out my budget hostel picks below to pick yours.
Travel Tip: The budget hostels are hotcakes in Singapore and it’s best to book them prior. I recommend using HostelWorld, our trusted partner for backpacker hostels.
I handpicked the hostels in Singapore based on individual preferences. Check out pricing, facilities, and availability below. Book your favorite hostel today!
My favorite was the Spacepod@lavender – read my review here. This was where I stayed for the first night of my solo trip. With the budget pricing, I didn’t expect much. But it turned out great!
The filmy spacepod beds with private shutter, mirror, and fancy lights – everything was on point! Finally, the most, I was glad the shared bathrooms were decently clean here.
The rest of the facilities made it further desirable for solo-travelers; lockers, shared laundry (charged extra), towels, a kitchen with stove and refrigerator, and a lounge area!
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The ambience brought the best of it. The place was alive with travelers. People from differents parts of the world greeted one another, made evening coffee, and talked their hearts out.
Best Things to Do in Singapore
Yes, this is the Singapore budget travel guide but it’s not THAT budget-friendly considering the attraction prices below.
While there are plenty of free places to visit like exploring Chinatown or Gardens by the Bay, there are some places in Singapore that add up to a big chunk to your budget. But they are once-in-a-lifetime experiences and you just can’t miss them.
Places like the Singapore Zoo (the famous open-concept), Jurong Bird Park, and of course the S.E.A Aquarium. They’re all super-pricey but they make up for the best of Singapore. I’ve spent most my budget on these attractions with no regret, they’re absolutely worth it.
Especially for first-time travelers, these are must-visits! Here’s my list of best things to do in Singapore. And you’ll see why :)
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Spend a day at Singapore Zoo
This is my first go-to place in Singapore. I’ve been here thrice now and there’s always something new to see! However, it also is the most expensive attraction after Universal Studios Singapore.
It takes a whole day to get around the zoo. Or at least 5 hours considering you check out every habitat/zone. There’s tons to see here with animals from penguins and green anacondas to the Macaw live shows! Read about it on my Singapore Zoo blog.
What I loved most was the ‘open’ concept was. No cages were in sight.
All of them walk freely in their habitats just steps away. In fact, it’s more like you’re entering their territories. Even lions and elephants have their own spacious habitats with moats around them.
NOTE: Keep in mind there are multiple parts of the Mandai Zoo. One is the main SG Zoo. The others are River Wonders, Bird Paradise Park, and Night Safari. These other parts are notably worth it as well so it’s best to book them all in one go (the Klook Mandai Pass).
Since it’s impossible to visit all in one day, they give you a 7-day time-slot for using the different admission tickets. Find out more on the ticket links below.
As of 2024, the SG Zoo costs SGD $50 for 1-day admission tickets. It’s more or less the same whether you book it from the official website or third party. Still, here’s why I recommend booking it from Klook.com.
The rate isn’t different for the first time but it earns credit points that let you book other attractions in Singapore with discounts. Klook.com being a one-stop app for all bookings here is a cherry on top. Book your preferred SG Zoo ticket today!Klook.com
Walk around Chinatown for an Evening
The daytime of Chinatown sure is great for the pictures. But the place comes to life at dusk. Never having walked around a marketplace before, I was hesitant. And it turned out way sweeter than expected!
Chinatown is a blend of modernness and cultural heritage. While an evening is a sweet time, I’ll warn you that there are quite a number of places to get around with many delicacies to try! Read my Chinatown Singapore Guide.
When you’re here, some things to visit are the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple, the ancient People’s Park Complex, Sri Mariamman Temple, Pagoda Street, Maxwell Food Center, Mural Paintings, and Chinatown Heritage Center. I recommend taking a walking tour, it’s informative and pretty affordable.
Now there are tons of things to eat here. Don’t miss the Hainanese Chicken Rice and Dim Sum! Delicacies came in all price ranges here, some bigger hawker restaurants with pricey menus and other small hawker stalls at a couple dollars! Some stalls were crowded and I just had to try whatever they had in store.
Walk around the local hawker stalls, and food centers, and taste them all out. Afterall, the street food prices are quite low between SGD $3 – $6 per serving.
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Take colorful pictures of Little India
This is Chinatown’s next door. Similar to Chinatown with the bustling colorful shophouses of restaurants and retail stores, Little India is another spot worth visiting in Singapore. Coming from India myself, Little India wasn’t different with its crowds, loud voices, and familiar vegetarian delicacies.
The only difference is, Singapore’s Little India is way more organized, photogenic with its colorful shophouses, and definitely cleaner.
The place boasts its temples, mosques, colorful street art, mural paintings. When in Little India, some places to visit are the Heritage Center, Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple, Tan Teng Niah House, and Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple.
What’s more popular among the locals here is the shopping complexes. If you’re on a shopping spree, I recommend visiting Mustafa Centre in Little India. This is a little town of its own – I’ve gotten myself lost multiple times here.
Name any retail item you can think of – Mustafa’s got it all at great prices!
However, avoid visiting Little India on the weekend evenings to avoid large crowds.
Feast at Clarke Quay/Boat Quay
Clarke Quay and Boat Quay which lie by the famed Singapore River are known for their prosperous nightlife with seafood restaurants, bars, and clubs. They’re also pricey compared to the rest of the country. But it makes for a sweet change for the evening with outdoor riverside restaurants.
Apart from a food enthusiast’s paradise, Some things to check out here are the Singapore River Cruise ride (my experience) and its bridges (like the Cavenagh bridge). Make sure to get around Boat Quay for many Alfresco dining and a large variety of cuisines to pick from.
Visit the Marina Bay and Gardens by the Bay
Oh no, we don’t get inside the Marina Bay Sands. Not the main hotel – that costs something. The main attraction is the Skypark observation deck on top of the 3 buildings with a full view of the country’s skyline.Klook.com
But over everything, I recommend walking through the Shoppes Mall at Marina Bay, the Marina Bay deck overlooking the waters and the skyline, and the route from here.
From here, take a right and you’ll walk past the iconic parts of Singapore. The ArtScience Museum, Spectra Light Show (at 8 pm and 9 pm), Helix Bridge, Flower Domes, Gardens by the Bay, and DragonFly Lake.
These are popular attractions themselves! Alight at Marina Bay and stroll all of it :)
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Check out the National Gallery
I was hesitant to visit the National Gallery, but I’m glad I did! It’s got to be on this Singapore budget travel guide.
Though not immersed in the art world myself, the whole experience of artwork through different timelines was something. I wouldn’t recommend it for kids (it gets boring), but it’s worth the time.
Unaware that the National Gallery today was once the Supreme Court and City Hall of Singapore, it was another sweet surprise. Thus the Neo-Classical building itself is a huge exhibit. My favorite parts was the section between the City Hall and Supreme Court.
Today long bridges connect the two buildings and metal and glass rooftops held by a metal tree structure. But it was once a parking lot.
Don’t miss out the Bird Park Paradise
Another wildlife attraction in Singapore is Bird Park Paradise, Asia’s largest bird park. As mentioned earlier, this is part of the Mandai Zoo and another fantastic must-visit attractioin. But I visited it when it was called Jurong Bird Park.
As a kid, I vividly remember Macaws cycling, parrots speaking, toucans perched up and so much more.
This was all a long time ago… Back then, the waterfall aviary in Jurong Bird Park stood as the tallest man-made aviary waterfall in the world. With the concept of an open zoo similar, Jurong Bird Park was said to be the largest aviary in Asia – a paradise for exotic birds.
This was close to the city center then. Now it has moved to Mandai, Singapore and rebranded as Bird Paradise today!
Stop by the Jewel at Changi
Changi Airport itself is quite an attraction if you ask me. The large 4 terminals make a city by itself and is one of the best in the world. You can walk into Jewel Changi without a boarding pass.
But to save time, visit it when you’re flying in or out of Singapore. Keep at least a good 2 hours stowed away for Changi Airport. There are a number of attractions here to check out like Bouncing Net and Changi Experience studio. Find out more on the official site.
As for Jewel Changi, the evening are best for photogenic shots. Don’t miss the water laser shows here(it’s free) in the evening!
Take a trip to Pulau Ubin
Finally, Pulau Ubin. This is offbeat to visit for a faraway traveler. After all, if you’re looking for islands, why not visit Indonesia? The nearest one, Bintan Island, is an hour away by ferry and Indonesia Visa isn’t hard to get a hold of.
But if that’s too much of a hassle, Pulau Ubin is an option in Singapore. They take you here on a bumboat for SGD 6. Here you alight in the land of hiking and cycling trails!
It’s one of the last kampung villages of Singapore. Thus it makes for a unique cultural experience. While it isn’t suggested to stay here, Pulau Ubin makes for a short day trip.
More Things to do in Singapore
Singapore Budget Travel Guide: I’d prioritize the above list over anything when visiting Singapore. Some of these other experiences are for those interested. But they also do burn a hole in your pockets if you aren’t careful.
Take a 1-day pass to Universal Studios
Pfft, a theme park on a budget travel guide. What else is wrong? But taking a day tour around the theme park just before the pandemic was one of my best days in Singapore. Watching the minions, Sesame Street, Shrek 4D, and Puss in Boots just dropped me in a pool of nostalgia and I loved it.
If you’re someone who’s grown up with these shows, then Universal Studios is definitely worth a day’s trip.
Have a sip of Singapore Sling at Raffles Hotel
This is still on my bucket list and no doubt on this Singapore budget travel guide. Trying the infamous Singapore Sling at Long Bar, Raffles Hotel. And to glimpse at the Raffles Hotel, one of the most luxurious hotels in Singapore ever since 1887.
The Singapore Sling, as per history, was first made by a bartender in Long Bar. It was made pink so that it appears socially acceptable for women to drink.
Catch a glimpse of Giant Pandas at River Wonders
You won’t find Giant Pandas at the SG Zoo, but you will at the River Wonders Zoo, also a part of Mandai Wildlife.
As the name suggests, River Wonders is made of zones of aquatic animals and it’s another sweet day trip. While my other favorites were Manatees, Giant Otters, and the Monkey Forest, I can’t help thinking of the pandas here.
Visit the Flower Domes and ArtScience Museum
Gardens by the Bay itself is a sweet visit. But you see those large two-glass curvy structures, the Flower Dome and Cloud Forest. It’s beautiful from the outside, but the sky bridge from the inside is breathtaking. Evenings just before dusk are the best time to visit them. The cool breezy weather adds up to it.
Hike the MacRitchie Reservoir Nature Trail
I’d planned this out on my solo Singapore travel, but I ran out of time. Besides the real MacRitchie trail for a round trip is a good 3-5 hour hike. For hiking, running, or simply an enthusiastic walk, MacRitchie Reservoir is just right with its tropical rainforest nature trail.
Get on the Sentosa Cable Car
This is another Singapore tourism highlight portrayed along with Sentosa, the cable cars going past hotels from Mount Faber Line. This is one way to enter Sentosa or get around the island. Aside from transport, visitors do usually experience the round-trip over Sentosa Line or Mount Faber for its amazing aerial views.
Walk the Botanic Gardens
Another budget-friendly place is the Botanic Gardens. It’s free to visit most of the Gardens and it charges a minimal fee for the National Orchid Garden (about SGD 5). I’ve visited once and I’d highly recommend it. I remember checking out the carnivorous plants like Venus FlyTrap here!
Experience the SEA Aquarium at Sentosa
It takes an hour or two tops to get around yet it costs a hefty SGD 43 for admission (as of August 2023). Though pricey, this is one of SG’s once in a lifetime expereinces. Read my blog on the SEA Aquarium, you’ll see what you’re paying for.
The world’s largest aquariums, species like the large Manta Rays, the dim-lit theme itself. It’s fire on a budget trip, but I’ve visited it twice. Moreover, if you’re a fish-and-coral enthusiast, you’ll love it. Book your tickets on Klook.com today!Klook.com
The Singapore Flyer
This is optional, but this attraction stands right between the skyline of Singapore. One reason you might wish to take up this is if you haven’t much time to explore Marina Bay, Raffles Place, and Merlion Park. It’s a 30-minute flight to check these all out with a top view. Something worth paying for I believe.
Singapore Budget Travel Guide: Typical Costs
This budget for traveling to Singapore is based on my experience with budget travel. It’s an idea of how much to expect to spend per day. The food, attractions, all of it. While traveling solo, I was staying in pod stays and dormitories to cut my accommodation costs (about SGD $30 – $60 as of 2024).
For budget travel, expect yourself to stay in dormitories or space pod bunkers. I kept a water bottle as well to cut my drinking costs (which didn’t stop me from vending machines juices). For food, you’ll find tons of cheap restaurants costing anywhere from SGD $3 to $8. MRT stations tend to have a lot of them.
You get reasonable dishes like Indian parathas, curry, Hainanese chicken rice, or meatball soups. People bustle in these places at after-work evening hours or lunchtime.
Spending on Attractions: Attractions make up a huge chunk of a day’s expenditure in Singapore. Sure, walking around Chinatown or Gardens by the Bay is free.
But one visit to the Night Safari is a great deal and you simply can’t miss such places. They’re once-in-a-lifetime experiences. A Singapore Zoo ticket is SGD $50 and it’s almost twice your night stay, but don’t compromise on attractions.
Estimated Budget for Singapore Itinerary
To estimate, here’s an average of the Singapore Itinerary Budget per day (for budget travelers):
- Food: $12 – $18
- Accommodation: $30 – $50
- Transport: $3-5
- Attractions: $60
Total per day spendings: $105
Food ($12 – $18): This is considering you eat at the 3-dollar restaurants. But I added in the higher average as places like Singapore Zoo have no nearby restaurants but the ones they hold (and they’re expensive). Also, some restaurants are just worth spending on in Chinatown :)
Accommodation ($30 – $50): This really is upto Singapore’s market at the time of your visit. But keep in mind these are only dormitory-style hostels – not hotel rooms.
Transport ($3-5): MRTs and buses are super-efficient to get around and this is considering you travel from one end of the city to another.
Attractions ($50): This is an average between the highest priced tickets like Universal Studios ($82) to moderate ticket-prices like flower dome & cloud forest ($32).
Note: Spoilers incoming! You’re going to spend more than this. This is a basic overview that doesn’t take in other miscellaneous spends like snacks, sovenirs, or your taxi fare because you got late for your next flight!
How to Get Around Singapore
Unlike most of Southeast Asia where the thought of overcrowded public buses is stressful, traveling to SG is something I’d always look forward to.
The convenience of MRTs, LRTs, and bus shuttles is quite something. If you’ve got the time and some patience to look up the routes and stations, make use of it all – it’s worth the effort. Singapore doesn’t have the world’s best transport system for no reason after all.
Singapore budget travel guide. To make use of public transport, the best way for a tourist is to get hold of the EZ-link card. This card’s exclusive focus is contactless payment for public transit. You can use it on any public bus, MRT, taxi, and even retail shops and restaurants.
Request it at any of the MRT station help centers, they’ll be more than happy to guide you through it. When you initially get it, they’ll top it up for you depending on your request.
But you can also top up your card at the top-up kiosks here with cash. Once topped up, you can use it throughout Singapore wherever you wish to go on public buses, MRT, or taxis.
I’d recommend topping up SGD $20 – 40 for a week if you’re going to use the card on all public transport. Expect to spend anywhere between SGD $4 – $5 per day (check your fare prices here) considering you use the MRT and buses everywhere you go.
Taxis and Grab
The other best way around Singapore is the taxi. It typically costs SGD $5 – $10 depending on the distance. Night charges get higher. I never used a taxi by myself. But when I traveled with my family, we used taxis everywhere. It cost almost the same via public transport and we get around without much hassle.
You’ll find dedicated taxi stands in most places. But it’s tougher to get a taxi when on the inner streets of Chinatown or Little India. The best alternative is to make use of Uber or Grab. These aren’t SMRT taxis and have no indication that it’s your cab.
As for the pricing, they don’t differ much as all Singapore taxis run on their meters. But for night rides, I recommend using Grab as they don’t levy extra night charges on you.
Insider Travel Tips for Singapore
Singapore Budget travel guide: I wasn’t sure about adding this section as I’ve already sprinkled itsy bitsy tips here and there. But there are quite a few things that I had to address. And some tips on how you could save more while traveling SG.
Here are some of my Insider Singapore travel tips:
- Book your accommodation in advance: The weekends don’t stand a chance in Singapore. Be it hostels or luxury hotels, they literally get booked out. Book your stay in advance and for better prices too. I recommend using Booking.com as you get to book first and pay later where you can check on the accommodation before paying for it.
- Keep your documents handy: When checking into a hotel or sometimes at random checks in MRT stations, they ask for identity verification. I’ve faced a random check myself. Keep your passport, travel insurance, and vaccination certificate handy at such times.
- Top up a little extra on your EZ-link card: Sure, this might be your only visit to Singapore, but I’d still suggest topping up your card extra. Some public shuttles don’t accept cash if you’re low on the EZ-link top-up. To avoid the hustle, keep your card topped up extra. You can always refund your money at the MRT ticketing centers.
- Smile at people: Like in Indonesia, people in Singapore are hospitable, no matter where you come from and where you visit. Be it workers, the police, shopkeepers, or just strangers in the MRT, they’re all hospitable. Respect and smile at them everywhere you go as a polite gesture. Be aware of talking about religion or politics – Singapore is diverse yet lives closely together. It takes its respect towards cultures seriously.
- Guidelines for taking pictures/videos on MRT: Taking pictures or videos on MRT trains or public transport isn’t illegal. But pictures of the ticketing office or CCTVs are a no-no. As long as it doesn’t disturb people and you keep the photos for personal use, it should be fine. But the moment you begin taking pictures here, keep in mind you could be tracked for suspicious activity. On the safer side, avoid taking too many pictures on public transport.
- Book all attractions from Klook. Any popular attraction has its own website to book and usually, it’s no hassle to book. But I highly recommend Klook because when you book all your attractions from the same website, it gets you better discounts and deals on the next attractions. You might only save a dollar or two per ticket, but with the attractions many and expensive. every. deal. counts! Make use of Klook from here.
- Carry a water bottle: Save up on drinking water by carrying a water bottle with you. You’ll need to walk long distances at times when using the MRT and buses. You don’t need a 2-liter can, a mid-sized bottle will do fine. You can fill up your bottle with tap water anywhere you go – it’s free after all! Yes, Singapore’s one of the few Asian countries where tap water is drinkable. Make use of it.
Here are some additional tips for Singapore from Australia.
Singapore Budget Travel Guide: Things to Pack
Singapore budget travel guide: There’s no specific set of items to carry. But here are some essentials to keep in mind when visiting Singapore.
- Comfortable shoes and socks (You’ll be walking a lot EVERYWHERE)
- Flip flops
- Power bank and charger
- (Universal) plug adapter. Some places only have the g-type plug.
- Light clothes (less full pants and more shorts, like khaki shorts to be specific)
- Masks and Sanitizers. You know the drill.
- Small backpack for your day tours with just essentials like a water bottle, wallet, and charger.
- Travel documents.
- Mosquito repellent (just in case)
- Essential toiletries: Shampoo, soap, towel, deodorant, toothbrush, and toothpaste kit.
- Locker lock and keys. Some hostels don’t provide it.
- Swimwear and extra innerwear for the beaches.
- Plastic bag for damp clothes.
- Jacket(s). The air conditioners in some places have gotten on my nerves sometimes.
Singapore Budget Travel Guide: Tailpiece
Wrapping up on this Singapore budget travel guide, I hope this post has been of some help to plan your trip. Singapore’s one of the liveliest places in Asia and no doubt are unique. The discipline, people, technological modernness, and diverse cultures coming all together in a tropical hotspot are quite a blend.
Let me know about your Singapore solo travel in the comments below. Have a safe journey!