Average spent per day: $45.59
Total Days in Singapore: 4
The country wrap-up for Singapore is slightly different, considering the city-state is extremely small (hence the lack of a route on the map above). We headed here after our time in Malaysia, and despite going in thinking our expenses per day were going to triple, we were surprise at some of the deals we could scrounge up. Indian food for as little as a few bucks, squeaky clean accommodation for $17, and for once good WiFi allowing users to watch YouTube videos in one continuous stream rather than bite-sized, stagnant chunks. With laws in place such as no chewing bubble gum and certainly no spitting in public areas, Singapore was like a Mr. Clean commercial of heaven for two weary backpackers craving western sanitation.
Efficient, productive and innovative are the three words I would use to describe the people of Singapore. Considering the city is one of the top ten most expensive cities to live in the world, it’s not surprising these qualities are common. Those not driven to success run the risk of falling behind and essentially spiralling into some serious debt. The people in Singapore were by far the most similar to those living in places like New York or London, going about their business during the day then grabbing a quick, $18 pint after work. Like Malaysia, demographics of the country consist mostly of Malays, Chinese and Indians (again leading to some amazing food).
Continuing on the theme of Malaysia, Singapore offered up Indian food that I will continue to dream about for years to come. Cheap, flavourful and easily accessible, the Indian restaurants were our go-to source for trying to keep that budget below $50 a day. We were even considering hopping out of the airport on our layover in Singapore while travelling back to Canada just for a pit-stop in Little India and one last curry (sadly, this did not end up happening). Other than Indian food, the hawker stalls are a popular destination for budget-conscious travellers. Kyle’s old roommate from when he was doing an internship in London is from Singapore, so he picked us up one night and took us to one of these nearby smorgasbords. Luckily he did the ordering and let us sit back and enjoy the selection, which included BBQ stingray, sugar cane juice and an oyster omelette. The stingray and juice were delicious, but Kyle wasn’t a big fan of the oyster omelette.
Last but certainly not least when it comes to food in Singapore is the chilli crab. With a hefty price tag, we were going to skip this dish altogether until our Canadian friend Robin convinced us otherwise. We sucked up our stinginess for a night and decided to splurge at Jumbo’s Seafood, known to be the best of the best when it comes to chilli crab selection. Now, before describing what I thought of the dish, I first have to detail my love-hate relationship with this ocean critter. Many people can attest to the fact that I’m not the most patient when it comes to food (hence my dislike for cooking – when I’m hungry busting out a skillet just slows things down), so cracking into a crab with all of its little legs and not-so-much meat seems counterproductive. The meat vs. work effort never quite equalized for me. That is until I had chilli crab in Singapore. The claws contained a hearty amount of edible sustenance, and the chilli sauce was so tasty I ended up spooning it into my mouth sans crab by the end. For $50 I can’t say I’ll be ordering the item every Friday, but for one night in Singapore, it was completely worth it.
Singapore was recently ranked as one of the top 10 most expensive cities to live in in the world, however, that doesn’t mean you can’t be resourceful when visiting. The subway is only a couple of dollars, we found a hostel for $17 a night in the Arab quarter near Little India, and if you walk around just taking in the sights you aren’t spending any money at all. The expensive part comes when you walk into the average restaurant and drop $20 for a small pizza and $15 for a glass of wine (my parents fell victim to this dilemma). If you feel like drinking, be sure to visit bars during happy hours when almost everything is half the price.
It’s countries like Singapore that make you realize how much your own city could improve its transport. For one, Singapore’s subway cost around $2 and will take you anywhere you need to go in the city. Second, it’s the cleanest metro I’ve ever seen and third, they even encourage you to reuse your ticket by offering a 10 cent discount after a few transactions. Moreover, transportation in and out of Singapore was relatively painless. Most buses take you straight downtown from Malaysia, and getting to the airport is cheap and easy on the subway.
The Final Verdict
Don’t let the expensive reputation of this city deter you: with a little organization you can experience Singapore cheaper than most. That being said, I would like to revisit Singapore with some extra cash in my pocket. There are a ton of dining options and fancy bars to go to (none of which we saw since our daily attire resembles that of a well-to-do homeless person with an exceptional tan and flip-flops), but I wouldn’t hesitate to schedule another 4-day stopover on the way to another destination in Southeast Asia.