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Singapore on a budget: 10 ways to save money as a tourist – Kiwi.com

by Staff

From street food to hidden attractions, insider secrets and affordable adventures, master the art of budget travel in Singapore with our money-saving tips

We’re experts in budget travel here at Kiwi.com, so in this series, we’re looking at the 10 most expensive destinations in the world and providing you with handy guides on how to see those places without breaking the bank. First, let’s go see Singapore — the Lion City — which is officially the most expensive city in the world.

Know when to go

Singapore is pretty pricey all year round, but some times are cheaper than others. Avoid peak tourist season — June to July, and February when the weather is perfect and prices are hiked accordingly. The time to go (if you’re not bothered by slightly chillier weather and the chance of rain) is August to November.

However, try to avoid September if you can. The Singapore Grand Prix happens around this time and accommodation is almost impossible to come by, plus, because it’s a street race, it’s just harder to get around the city with building work on temporary grandstands and road closures.

When you do get there, travel on the cheap

The EZ-Link Card is Singapore’s all-in-one public transport solution, meaning you can travel on the Light Rail (LRT), Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) and buses for less. What’s good is that you only pay for the distance you travel rather than a flat rate per journey, so you know you’re doing it as cheaply as possible.

The card costs S$10 (€6.90), of which S$5 (€3.45) is to purchase the card. The other S$5 is your initial top-up, which you can use on transport. We recommend not letting your card drop below S$3 (€2.07) because that’s pretty much the lowest price of any trip and when you board the vehicle, your card won’t be accepted.

The alternative is the Singapore Tourist Pass: unlimited travel across the network for S$22 (€15.15) for one day, S$29 (€19.98) for two days, and S$34 (€23.42) for three.

Combo tickets mean more bang for your buck

Rather than visiting paid-for attractions separately, there are several combo tickets you can get depending on the number of things you’d like to see. GetYourGuide, for example, offers their Go City Explorer Pass that allows you to pick up to seven attractions from a list of 50 and save up to 50% on the combined admission price. It also means you can see everything at your own pace, as once you’ve bagged the deal, it’s valid for up to two months, so you can do one thing here, another thing there… Much better than running around like a wild thing!

But there’s plenty of free stuff anyway!

There are a bunch of places in Singapore that offer stunning views and photo ops and don’t cost a penny. Here’s a brief list.

Mount Faber

Cable cars connect Mount Faber and Sentosa Island — Getty Images

Hike up to the peak at sunset and you’ll get one of the most spectacular vistas around. It’s also connected by cable car to the mildly ridiculous Sentosa Island, home to Universal Studios Singapore, water parks, aquaria, and loads of other attractions (not free, by the way!).

Southern Ridges

Southern Ridges treetop boardwalk in Singapore — Getty ImagesThis spectacular treetop boardwalk is free to access — Getty Images

10 kilometers of green space offering views of the city, harbor and surrounding islands, it also includes a 36-meter-high skywalk through the treetops, meaning you can look at the birds and be surrounded by exotic plants as you explore.

Fort Canning Hill

Unusually located in the city’s Central Business District, this heritage park offers great views from an easy location, and it’s home to the National Orchid Garden. It also boasts the Battlebox (free entry, charges for other elements such as VR recreations) — a museum located in an underground stronghold where you can learn about 700 years of history, as well as the fateful decision to surrender to Japan during World War II.

Merlion

A photo of the 8.7-meter-high, 70-tonne concrete Merlion spraying water into your mouth (or elsewhere) is the propping-up-the-Leaning-Tower-of-Pisa of Singapore. You might as well do it.

Best beaches

The previously-mentioned Sentosa Island is a great place for beach lovers, not least the perfect sand-and-palm-trees combo of Palawan Beach. Siloso Beach is where you want to be if you’re looking for things to do rather than simply relax — it offers beach volleyball, banana boating, canoeing, horse riding, and a bunch of places for snacks. Punggol Beach is the opposite: calmer, its sand dotted with huge boulders and surrounded by walking trails through the forest.

You can also head slightly further out, with places like Pulau Ubin offering a taste of village life only 15 minutes away by bumboat (the local river barges) from Changi Ferry Terminal, and Kusu Island, a wildlife reserve that’s home to the local turtle population. There are loads of others to choose from, though, so whether it’s for an hour or a day, you’ll find a beautiful beach just for you.

Happy hours are your friend

Singapore is an expensive place for a night out — beers are around €11 and cocktails run between €22 to €28 — but with a little bit of research, you could save between 40% — 50% on your drinks bill. Many bars and restaurants do daily discounts or happy hours, some more unusual than others.

Stickies Bar, for example, starts its discounts at 3 pm when a beer or large glass of house wine is just S$3. This increases by one dollar every hour, so the earlier you start, the more you save. Add to this the S$5 quesadillas to line your stomach and you’re onto a winner. Sque, a beautiful waterfront bar perfect for day drinking and people-watching, offers buy-one-get-one-free on beer, wine, cocktails and mocktails until 8.30 pm, and even after that, beers start from around S$11.50 (€7.90).

The most unusual, however, is the Pressure Hour at Thirty Six Brewlab. When the gong sounds at 5 pm, all beers are completely free. This offer ends after one hour… or when the first person in the bar has to go to the bathroom!

Grab late-night travel

Taxis can be pricey and unpredictable, particularly with tourists, so if you need private transport, download a ride-hailing app. Singapore doesn’t have Uber, but it does have Grab, the local alternative. With Grab, you can set the price of your journey beforehand and lock it in so you know exactly how much you’re paying to get where you want to go.

Free concerts at the Esplanade

Esplanade theater in Singapore — Getty ImagesYou wouldn’t expect a theatre that looks this swanky on the outside to put on free concerts — Getty Images

For some free culture, check out the program of events going on at this small outdoor amphitheater. All year round, you can catch musical events and shows celebrating pop culture, world music, rock, movie soundtracks, and cultural art exchange.

Follow the locals for cheap street food

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As with pretty much anywhere, for great local food, do as the locals do. Singapore’s food scene is one of the best in the world, its history and culture mean a diverse array of flavors contain and bridge those of Malay, Chinese, Indian, and European cuisine.

The famous street food markets — hawker centers as they’re known — get very busy at mealtimes, so do what Singaporeans do: make sure you’ve got a seat, then “chope” it by leaving an item there (most commonly a packet of tissues) while you go and get your food.

The most common dishes include bak kut teh, a Chinese pork soup flavored with ginseng; chili crab (crab in a thick chili sauce, unsurprisingly); laksa (shrimp, chicken or fish in lemongrass and coconut milk with rice noodles); and varieties of curry, the best of which you’ll find in the Little India district.

Where and when to shop

The Great Singapore Sale usually takes place between June and July, and pretty much every shop everywhere offers up to 70% off. This means you can get designer goods, clothes, electronics, and amazing food in one of the world’s most expensive cities for faintly silly prices. It does mean it’s crowded, though, with people from all over the region descending on the city to bag a bargain.

If you’re not in Singapore at those times, you can still save money. Head to the semi-legendary Mustafa Centre — open 24 hours — for a one-of-a-kind shopping experience. Once two department stores, it’s now one shopping center that works like an indoor market — loads of stalls jammed tightly together selling everything from trainers to watches, tennis rackets to saris, costume jewelry, herbs and spices, and beauty products. You name it, you’ll find it here, plus the extra luggage you might need to get it all home!

That’s how you can stay on budget in Singapore, the most expensive city in the world

Book your flight with Kiwi.com to save money before you even get there! Create a Price alert and we’ll find a deal for you, or lock in a cheap trip with Price lock.

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