- DAILY AVERAGE
Singapore is everything that the rest of Southeast Asia is not. It’s clean, modern, well organized, efficient, stylish, and wealthy. However, it is also relatively expensive… according to most backpackers. When Jamie and I travel, we can’t help but compare costs to back home, and although Singapore is certainly pricier than its neighbours, it is quite possible to visit Singapore without spending half as much as you’d be shelling out for a vacation in just about any Canadian city. Did we do a few expensive things here and there? Yes. Did we need to? No. Below I’ve listed our expenses in Singapore to help outline how much you might be spending when visiting Singapore. Below these expenses, as always, I’ve outlined a few tips to help control your costs in this city-state.
NOTE: All costs are in Canadian dollars, and are per person. As of March 16, 2014: $1 CAD = $1.14 Singapore Dollars
TOTAL DAYS IN SINGAPORE: 4 days
A tourist visa is NOT required for many nationalities when visiting Singapore, including Canadians.
Total (3 nights) = $46.98
Average (3 nights) = $15.66
Total = $90.51
Average per meal = $12.93
Average cost for 1 small bottle of beer = $5-8
Subway = $1.10-1.50
Taxi = $3-5
Sky Park Entrance = FREE
Singapore Botanic Gardens Entrance = FREE
Raffles Hotel Entrance = FREE
Fort Canning Park Entrance = FREE
Sultan Mosque (Visit) = FREE
Clarke Quay (Walk) = FREE
Merlion Park Entrance = FREE
COST SAVING TIPS:
1. AVOID ALCOHOL
Singapore offers a myriad of free activities, cheap hawker food, reasonably priced accommodation, and one of the best value subway systems in the world. However, the one thing that you simply cannot find a fair price for is alcohol. Even by Canadian standards, the price of both beer and spirits is a bit crazy in Singapore. If you plan on drinking heavily, a night out could easily set you back more than $50.
2. FIND ACCOMMODATION IN LITTLE INDIA AND THE ARAB QUARTER
As Singapore is a hub for travellers looking to explore Southeast Asia (most people will either fly in to Bangkok or Singapore when arriving in the region), it’s probably not a bad idea to book your accommodation in advance. When looking for accommodation, the cheapest places are located in Little India and the Arab Quarter. Not only are they cheap, but they are also clean and well managed. We stayed in Shophouse just around the corner from the Sultan Mosque and loved it. Air con, spotless showers, and drinkable tap water are all more than appreciated after travelling through SE Asia for lengthy periods of time. Also, our hostel offered free breakfast (toast with peanut butter and jam) every morning on the rooftop patio, which saves us some cash.
3. EAT HAWKER FOOD
Singapore is a foodie paradise, with numerous hawker centres that resemble western food courts set up throughout the city. We met up with my former roommate from when I lived in London, who just so happens to be a local in Singapore and he took us to one of his favourite hawker centres. We ate barbecued stingray, oyster omelette, drank sugar cane juice, and had a few other crazy specialties. All were delicious and very cheap.
4. FREE ACTIVITIES
A good way to spend your time in Singapore is to wander around and take in the city by foot. Strolling through the prestigious Raffles Hotel, making your way over to the huge lion statue that sprays water from its mouth (Merlion Park), checking out a few of the city’s gorgeous parks like Fort Canning Park and the Singapore Botanical Gardens… all of these activities are free. You can even make your way to the top of the Sky Park (the most famous building in Singapore) for a view of the city without paying the $20 entrance fee. If you make your way to Building #1, you can take the elevator to the restaurant at the top of the building. Just outside of the restaurant is a viewing area. You don’t have to enter the restaurant, and this way you can avoid paying the $20 to get to the top of Building #3. The view is the same, although at the top of Building #1 you can only see the city from behind a glass wall. However, the view of the ocean is outdoor.
5. CLARKE QUAY LUNCH DEALS
By strolling along Clarke Quay which runs directly beside the river, Jamie and I managed to strike a deal with the hostess of a restaurant for 2 meals and 2 beers at about $13 each. This reminded me a bit of Brick Lane in London, but with a better view.
6. CHANGI AIRPORT
Changi Airport (the airport in Singapore) is consistently ranked the best airport in the world, every year. There are plenty of free resting areas including the snooze lounge, as well as a free movie theatre that plays recent releases. In my opinion, the best offer that the airport has is the Free Singapore Tour. If you have a layover that’s long enough, the tour is completely free, lasts for about 4 hours, and allows you to get out and see the city at no cost. How can you beat that? If you can’t find a direct flight from your home to Asia and need to choose between Singapore, Hong Kong, Bangkok, or Shanghai… there’s no question that you should choose Singapore.
7. TAKE THE SUBWAY (BEFORE MIDNIGHT)
Unlike the tube in London, the Singapore MRT (mass rapid transit) is extremely cheap, never costing more than about $1.50 per ride. In addition, unlike the subway in Toronto, Singapore’s MRT is fast, modern, and extremely accessible. Just be sure to get where you need to go before midnight, as this is when the metro closes.
8. FREE SUBWAY RIDES BEFORE 7:45 am
As mentioned previously, the Singapore MRT is dirt cheap and highly efficient. However, a dollar saved is a dollar earned, right? If you get on the subway and exit at your destination station prior to 7:45 am, your ride will be 100% reimbursed. It’s part of a genius plan by the government to get their citizens in to work earlier, and who’s to say that travellers shouldn’t benefit as well?
9. EAT INDIAN FOOD
The Indian food in Singapore is not only delicious, but it’s much cheaper than anything you’d be able to find back in Canada. It’s not as much of a steal as the Indian food in Malaysia, but taking a stroll through Little India will quickly make you realize that you don’t need to be a millionaire to eat amazing food in Singapore.
The Asians love their shopping malls, and Singapore is no different. Orchard Road is famous for housing nearly every big brand name designer that you can think of, and most locals will point you in this direction if you’re looking to get some shopping done. However, if you trek through the back streets of the Arab Quarter, you will find countless boutiques (some less expensive than others) with a wide variety of styles to choose from. As a North American guy, I find that other than muscle shirts and suits, the clothing that’s available for men in Asia is ridiculously feminine. For women it’s a bit different, and Jamie even managed to find a few things in these boutiques that she currently wears on a daily basis in Vancouver.