Singapore can be an expensive country to visit, with accommodation prices, transport, food, drink, activities and top sights all competing for a share of your travel budget. Finding budget travel tips and learning how and where to save money when visiting Singapore is the key to keeping your budget in check and having an enjoyable and memorable time in this beautiful country.
Follow these top budget travel tips for saving money and getting the most from your stay in Singapore
How To Save Money When Visiting Singapore
1. Plan Plan Plan
Begin to plan your trip to Singapore as early as possible in order to secure the best deals and save the most money on airfares and accommodation.
Accommodation prices will eat into your budget depending on the area you choose and the rating of the establishment. I use Booking.com because for most bookings they include a free cancellation option and usually provide the best prices on hotel stays.
Singapore has hotel options to suit all budgets and it is important to remember that if you are keeping to a strict budget, you can find cheaper, boutique style accommodation in neighbourhoods such as Little India and Chinatown. You will probably not be spending a huge amount of time in your room and with such an efficient and speedy train system, you can stay near an MRT station and be whisked into places like Marina Bay in no time at all.
We have stayed twice, at the Shangri-La and while a beautiful hotel and only a 15 minute walk to Orchard Road, some people may not like to be outside the main attractions. For our last two visits we chose the Fairmont Hotel and feel this is more centrally located, but it is all about choice and budget.
2. Purchase A Transportation Pass On Arrival
Start getting around Singapore efficiently as soon as you land at Changi Airport by purchasing the correct transportation pass to suit your individual needs.
The pass that you choose is dependent on how much walking you plan to do as opposed to taking public transport and you have two choices, namely :
This card is used to pay the exact fare for every journey made on the public transport system and costs S$12, S$5 is the non-refundable card cost with S$7 travel value.
This pass offers tourists unlimited travel on the MRT and LRT trains and basic bus services for the duration of the validity of the pass which is 1, 2 or 3 days. A one-day pass costs S$10, two-day pass S$16 and three-day pass S$20. All passes charge a refundable S$10 deposit. The bonus of the Tourist Pass is that you can hop on and off the public transport without worrying whether you have sufficient money on the card and if you plan to use transport more than walking then this is a great money saver.
If however you plan to walk everywhere and not use trains or buses then it would make more sense to purchase an EZ-Link Card. Bear in mind when deciding that MRT fares for a single trip range from S$0.83 to S$1.95, and bus fares S$0.73 to S$1.66.
Whichever pass you decide to choose, be sure to buy it from theTransitLink Ticket Office at Changi Airport so that you can start utilising it straight away.
To use the pass, simply tap it on the reader on the fare gate when you enter the MRT station. Similarly, tap again on the reader at the exit fare gate to complete the trip. When using the bus, tap the pass when you board and the reader will beep and a green light indicates you have been successful. Remember to tap your pass on the reader again, when you alight the bus to complete the trip.
3. Ride The MRT From Changi Airport To The City
Riding the MRT into the city in Singapore is an enjoyable experience and also saves you money compared to taking a taxi, which would see you paying approximately S$20. The trains and gantries at all stations are luggage-friendly.
At Changi Airport follow signs for “train to city” from whatever terminal you have arrived into. The MRT station is located at the basement of Terminal 2.
Purchase a single ride fare from the easy to use machine or buy a transportation pass from the counter. Either way there is usually someone on hand to offer assistance so there is no need to worry or get stressed. Fares are calculated based on the total distance you travel, therefore you don’t have to pay a boarding charge for each transfer in your trip.
Changi Line is a spur line only and links Changi Airport to the East West Line (Green) at Tanah Merah Station (EW4) and here everyone has to disembark and transfer to their chosen line, which in this case is the westbound train (Green) into the city. The last train leaving Changi Airport Station to Tanah Merah is at 11.18pm.
Alight at the station closest to your accommodation. For example if you were staying at the Fairmont Hotel, alight at City Hall (EW13/NS25) and your journey would have taken about 32 minutes.
- MRT fare calculator here.
- MRT HOURS : 5.30am to nearly midnight daily (extended during festive periods).
- MRT FREQUENCY : Peak Hours (8-9am, 12.30-2.00pm & 7.30pm-10.15pm) every 7-9 minutes and Off Peak Hours every 12-13 minutes.
4. Eat At A Hawker Centre
Singapore’s multi-cultural heritage offers up a diverse array of cuisines, each with its own personal flavour and aroma and price tag.
If you want affordable cuisine then head to one of the numerous hawker centres or food halls dotted around the city and you will find authentic local dishes from Thai, Cantonese, Vietnamese, Korean to Singaporean classics.
Join a queue and discover a multitude of local flavours which at $4 to $8, are also kind on your wallet. Some popular hawker stalls can be found at :
- Maxwell Food Centre – 1 Kadayanallur St, Singapore. Nearest MRT is Telok Ayer (DT18).
- Chinatown Complex Food Centre – 335 Smith Street, Singapore. Nearest MRT is Chinatown (NE4)
- Satay By The Bay – 18 Marina Gardens Drive #01-19 Singapore. Nearest MRT is Bayfront (CE1/DT16)
TIP : Check out the Bib Gourmand list to find high quality food at reasonable prices. This “value for money” counterpart to the Michelin Star names restaurants and hawker stalls that offer great food under SGD 45.
5. Enjoy Happy Hour Deals
Alcohol is going to seriously eat into your budget, especially if you have a few drinks in a hotel bar. Get around the expense by drinking in pubs and bars that serve the cheapest alcohol without breaking the bank and by sticking to happy hour deals.
Head to Five Izakaya, where Kronenbourg 1664 pale lager (half-pint) , house sakes (30ml), yumeshu (30ml) and red and white (120ml) house wines are $5 each all night. If you prefer a cocktail then try FOC where your tipple of choice will cost between $13.5 and $24.
There are a wealth of options around Clarke Quay with many bars offering happy hours or buy one, get one free deals. Just stroll around and keep an eye out for the best deals.
6. Make Use Of Free WiFi
Singapore’s free public Wi-Fi service Wireless@SG, is set to expand its current network of wireless hot spots which are available at many locations including cafes, pubs, malls, public libraries, museums, MRT stations, Changi Airport (WiFi@Changi) and Sentosa Island.
To get connected, buy a SIM card from Singapore Visitor centre, Mobile phone stores, convenience stores or retail shops at the airport. Download the wireless@sg app (free) and you will be able to locate free Wi-Fi spots nearby.
TIP : Alternatively, a tourist only sim card can be purchased through Singtel, with a 5 day package costing S$15 for 100 GB.
7. Claim Back Goods and Services Tax On Any Purchases
As a tourist in Singapore, you are eligible to claim a refund on the 7% GST paid on purchases of more than S$100 at participating shops, under the Tourist Tax Refund Scheme (eTRS).
When making a purchase look for a participating sign in the store, choose a credit/debit card as a Token for tagging your purchases and request your eTRS ticket or original receipt. To apply for your refund, go to the eTRS self-help kiosk located at Changi Airport and make sure you have your receipt with you. Swipe the receipt to retrieve your purchase details and choose to have the refund credited directly onto your card or to receive the refund in cash. For a cash refund, proceed to the Central Refund Counter after the immigration checks.
Check here for full details of how to shop Tax Free.
8. Check For Deals On Online Discount Sites
Fave is an e-commerce marketplace connecting subscribers with local businesses which offer savings of up to 70% on things to do, eat and see in Singapore.
Browse deals within the city for meals at restaurants and cafes, spa/salon treatments, activities and much more. Look for deals on visits to Sentosa Adventure Cove and Universal Studios to save money on more expensive activities/experiences.
It is very simple to use, once you find a deal you are interested in, make the purchase and redeem the voucher, and hopefully save lots of money in the process.
9. Make A Lunch Reservation At A Restaurant
If you would love to eat at one of the city’s famous restaurants or try fine dining in a Michelin starred restaurant, the best time to make a reservation is at lunch when many restaurants offer set lunch menus or business lunch at a lower price, than the dinner option. This discount could be 20%, enabling you to enjoy the same (or similar) choices as on the dinner menu but at a lower and more affordable price.
This price comparative doesn’t only apply to fine dining, but most restaurants dotted around the city, including restaurants in the huge shopping malls. In fact the world really is your oyster when it comes to choice as eating is the nation’s favourite pastime and Singapore is a gastronomical city.
TIP : Check out these Apps and Websites to make dining out easy :
- Burpple – A free food and restaurant app which guides you to places recommended by locals.
- Chope – Allows you to make instant online reservations at Singapore’s top restaurants.
- Michelin Guide – A list of selected restaurants, latest updates and reservations.
- Bib Gourmand list – For reasonably priced, high-quality food.
10. Enjoy Free Attractions
Singapore has a plethora of free activities for visitors to enjoy, irrespective of your budget and you get a real sense that the country wants locals and visitors alike to enjoy as much of the city as they can, and ensure this is possible by including many of the iconic landmarks and sights for free.
During the day, wander around the many green spaces, parks and nature reserves, view temples, discover neighbourhoods and take in the sublime cityscape views. For the evening, watch a light show, catch a free show or concert and watch the sun set on the beach.
TIP : Check out this post – 15 Free Things To Do In Singapore
11. Do Not Buy Bottled Water
Water in Singapore passes World Health Organisation standards so you are able to drink water straight from the tap. Hotels usually provide you with a couple of complementary bottles of water, so save the bottles and refill them from the numerous water fountains, as you walk around the city and parks.
12. Explore The City On Foot
Singapore is a great city to explore from dawn to dusk and you can walk anywhere without the need to take a tour. Get lost wandering around the meandering streets, take a break from the hustle of the central business district and walk through parks and gardens and all at no cost plus it is good exercise. Take a break from the heat and humidity by stepping into one of the many underground malls for some respite and a toilet break.
Stop at a visitor centre in downtown for maps and information before exploring at your own pace. You never know what delight you will stumble across.
Visitor Centres can be found at :
- Address – 216 Orchard Road
- Nearest MRT Station is Somerset (NS23)
- Opening Hours 08.30-9.30 daily
ION Ochard :
- Address – ION Orchard Level 1 Concierge
- Nearest MRT Station is Orchard (NS24)
- Opening Hours 10.00am-10.00pm daily
- Address – 2 Banda Street (behind the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple & Museum)
- Nearest MRT Station is Chinatown (NE4/DT19)
- Opening Hours 09.00-9.00 daily
13. Claim Your Free SIA Hop-On Bus Ticket
If you are a Singapore Stopover Holiday customers then a ticket for the hop-on/hop-off bus is complimentary and is a great way to ease yourself into seeing the main sights and their location when you first arrive. Tickets are available at a discounted price for Singapore Airlines/Silk Air customers.
The air-conditioned, open-top bus plies 4 routes around major attractions at more than 20 stops around the city every day from 9am to 6.30pm with audio commentary in 10 different languages. As a bonus, your ticket also allows you to board any of the SIA hop-on bus services which are jointly operated by Duck and Hippo.
14. Purchase A Singapore Explorer Pass
While the city has an array of free things to offer visitors, some of the top attractions come with a price tag meaning that if you are on a budget you are restricted to choosing one or two sights only, due to cost. If you are planning to see attractions such as the Singapore Flyer, Night Safari, Underwater World and more, then you may be able to save money by purchasing an Explorer Pass. This pass allows free one-time access to more than 20 attractions and comes in 3 price ranges covering 1, 2 or 3 days.
The Singapore Explorer Pass is not available for sale in Singapore.
To gauge whether you will save money with this pass, check the official website for a full list of attractions and count how many of them you would be including on your trip. Compare the cost of the pass with the individual attraction entry costs.
15. Shop In The Right Places
Singapore is a shopping haven with mall after mall to swallow your holiday budget. In order to spend as little as possible, follow some simple guidelines to keep your spending in check.
Purchase snacks and drinks from larger supermarkets located in underground malls such as VivoCity, and not from your hotel mini bar.
Shop for souvenirs, accessories and presents in local neighbourhoods, budget shopping malls and out of the way places, and don’t forget to haggle.
Little India : Nearest MRT is Little India – 60 Bukit Timah Road, Singapore.
- Mustafa Centre – a round the clock mall selling items such as jewellery and beauty products among its 300,000 items. Open 24 hours, 365 days a year.
- Little India Arcade – for fashion & accessories, crafts, footwear and gifts.
Bugis Street : Nearest MRT is Bugis (EW12) – 3 New Bugis Street, Singapore.
- Bugis Street Market – With hundreds of shops offering cheaply priced clothing, jewellery, souvenirs etc. Open 11.00am-10.00pm daily.
Chinatown : Nearest MRT is Chinatown (NE4) – Pagoda Street, Trengganu Street, Sago Lane, Smith Street and Temple Street, Singapore.
- Chinatown Street Market – Stalls selling everything imaginable from clothing, fabrics, shoes, crafted items etc.
- China Square Central Weekend Flea Market – More than 60 vendors. Every Sunday 11am-6pm at Levels 1 & 2.
16. Book Your Attraction Tickets Online
Often the cost of entry to attractions in the city are cheaper when booked online, so it is always worth checking the sights official website to check price levels and discover if any savings can be made.
Madame Tussauds Singapore – Save S$10 off walk-up prices when booking online for entry to Madame Tussauds Singapore + Spirit of Singapore boat ride + Images of Singapore LIVE. Save up to 30% when you purchase the Trick Eye Museum Bundle online giving you entry to Madame Tussauds Singapore + Spirit of Singapore boat ride + Images of Singapore LIVE + Trick Eye Museum Singapore.
17. Enjoy Free Activities At Changi Airport
Changi Airport is like no other airport and regularly wins awards year after year and for good reason. You do not have to spend your time waiting for your flight by sitting bored to death or spending money you can’t afford to spend in the numerous attractive shops.
If you have a few hours to kill, Changi Airport offers up some enticing choices, all free of course.
TERMINAL 1 : Check out these attractions :
- Visit the rooftop cactus garden with over 100 species of cacti and arid plants from Africa and the Americas.
- Admire the art installation “Kinetic Rain”, a display of 1,216 polished copper raindrops.
- Walk through either the Piazza or Sculptural Tree Garden.
TERMINAL 2 : Check out these attractions :
- Be captivated by this decorative and interactive Enchanted Garden as it “magically” comes to life with sight and sound.
- Admire the colourful collection of rare orchids in the Orchid Garden.
- Be cheered by the brightness of 500 yellow flowers in the Sunflower Garden.
TERMINAL 3 : Check out these attractions :
- Admire the tropical habitat and home of over 1,000 butterflies in the Butterfly Garden with it’s 6 metre grotto-waterfall.
- Take a ride on the world’s tallest slide in an airport at The Slide.
With these money saving tips to hand, you will surely be on your way to enjoying everything that Singapore has to offer and keep within your budget.
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