Everything you’ve heard about Singapore includes one common phrase – Singapore is expensive. Yes, it sure is. But, the same goes for Dubai but there is always a way around it. Read more below for a comprehensive Singapore budget trip itinerary with ways to cut down expenditure.
Before we plan our Singapore budget trip, there are a few pointers to keep in mind. According to the number of people traveling and the country where you are from, you need to put down an amount that is going to be okay for you to spend. I had initially thought of about AED 4000 [$1,089] for my husband, toddler, and me with the visa, Singapore flights, hotels, tours, and travel charges for 4 days.
Kindly note that this is not a backpackers’ guide simply a budget guide that chooses to splurge on activities or facilities without mindless shopping and spending. As budget travel differs from person to person, feel free to read below and choose what you would choose to spend on or skip according to your preferences
Singapore Budget Trip Itinerary
Before flying from Dubai to Singapore, I found the charges a little too high during August. This is when Singapore has its National Day (I found many hotels fully booked at least 3 months before visiting) so decided to fly from India during our annual vacation there. This proved to cheaper since the distance is shorter.
- Visa Process and Requirements: Singapore has an e-visa system which was very easy for us to get from Dubai. The visa is processed within a week’s time and is sent to you by email. You can later print and show it at immigration.
The visa fees per application are AED 80 + AED 65 (service charge) by VFS Global which I found to be cheapest here. The total cost for our Singapore visa was AED 460 [$125] with SMS charges. We chose this option as we were short on time and couldn’t go to the office to personally collect the visa
Singapore photo requirements are quite strict and even a small mistake means retaking the picture. For more information, click here
- Currency: Singapore uses Singaporean Dollars where AED 2.7 is SGD 1. We booked most of our trip beforehand and carried only SGD 185 in cash (AED 500) to use for food and basic expenses
- SIM Card: We got a pre-paid SIM card with data from Klook. This SIM Card can be easily picked from the airport or some MRT stations and comes very handy when you are out and about and need to search for quick information online. Here’s how you can access it
- National Language: Singapore is very diverse since the country has been formed by immigrants from mostly China, Malaysia, India. This is why all announcements and signboards are always in four languages – English, Chinese, Malay, and Tamil. I found this very nice to see a country accept people of different walks, races, and religions making them live harmoniously
- Religion: Again, due to Singapore being so diverse you will be able to find temples, churches, and mosques very conveniently. Halal food for Muslims is widely available and even hawker centers have a special area of Halal street food available
- Food: Singapore thrives on street food culture. If someone who’s been to Singapore says that they haven’t tried the street food there, they are probably lying or just never ventured out of their hotel. Hawker centers are almost everywhere and food is quite affordable. You will find most meals for only SGD 5 which is approx USD 3.68. Click here to read about what to eat in Singapore
Best Time to Visit Singapore:
This country has the weather to its advantage meaning that it is perfect to visit all year round. However, there is a possibility of showers if you don’t fancy them. This is why it is always important to carry an umbrella when packing for Singapore.
We visited in August where rains were expected. Surprisingly, it didn’t rain a single day we were there giving us ample time to enjoy the sun and spend full days outdoors.
The best time to travel to Singapore is between February and April as the rainy season (meaning winter there) is almost over. This is the time you may find most hotels and flights at a steep price which wouldn’t suit a budget traveler to Singapore
How to Travel in Singapore on a budget:
The best and probably the most convenient mode of transport is the MRT. The metro is very easy to understand and downloading a map in advance really helps if you are lost. I had a screenshot of the Singapore metro map on my phone and sent it to my husband too in case one of our phones dies out.
The MRT has various passes depending on your duration of stay in Singapore. We had planned to travel to the top attractions in Singapore for 3 days so picked out the Singapore Tourist Pass which amounted to SGD 20 per person (no pass required for children under 0.9m in height) [Total: SGD 20 + 20 = SGD 40/ USD 29.3]
There is an additional charge of SGD 10 per pass as a security deposit which you should remember to collect if you would like to save up that amount. Alternatively, some tourists like to keep the card as a memento of their visit
Where to Stay in Singapore on a budget:
There are a number of cheap places to stay in Singapore which mainly depends on the area the hotel is located in. For ease of travel and affordability, Little India and Chinatown are the best places to stay in Singapore in my opinion.
Have a look at some of the hotels in Singapore below to choose according to your area and budget:
We stayed at Parkroyal on Kitchener Road which is a 4-star hotel right in the middle of Singapore. We have an RCI membership which is a timeshare concept allowing us to stay at discounted costs at hotels around the world. Members of this concept are given a room without breakfast which we received for SGD 75 per night (USD 55 approx.)
Since there were vacant rooms, we were automatically upgraded to a Deluxe Triple Room which was very comfortable. I truly recommend this hotel for its prime location for tourists in Singapore. Click here to see it
Singapore Itinerary – 4 days
We spent a total of 4 days in Singapore meaning we could spend a full day relaxing and then 3 days being touristy using our MRT passes.
Day 1 – [Area around our hotel + Mustafa Centre + City Square Mall]
After landing at the airport, I booked a cab from Grab which was very easy if you have used similar apps for Uber. Don’t worry if you haven’t activated your SIM card yet, I used the Wi-Fi at the airport that was free and fast.
We checked in to our hotel Parkroyal on Kitchener Road in the afternoon and decided to relax for a bit letting our toddler take a short nap.
Later in the evening, we decided to take a walk near our hotel to just familiarize ourselves with the place. Since our hotel had like the MOST PERFECT location, City Square Mall was right opposite, Mustafa Centre just behind with a money exchange place, Farrer Park MRT station a 5-minute walk, and restaurants of all kinds near Mustafa Centre.
We came across some murals that were so beautiful and so different compared to the super clean walls in Dubai! Haha! However, there are many places coming up now in Dubai that are proving to be super instagrammable. Check it out here!
Our first meal was Nasi Goreng and Mee Hoon Goreng from a restaurant just behind our hotel serving Halal food. We downed this with Iced Milo and Longan drinks. The bill coming up to SGD 16 (USD 11.7) since this was an independent restaurant
I often find it difficult to feed my toddler when we are out and about. Mostly giving him local fruits and milk as I was skeptical of feeding him the street food in Singapore. If you are a parent who travels, what do you feed your child?
Day 2 – [Little India + Chinatown + Haji Lane + Arab Street]
We started at 9 am and reached Chinatown Station where we met our guide from Monster Tours, Yap. Read more about how our tour went in this guide to 2 days in Singapore.
Little India + Chinatown
Our time exploring Chinatown and Little India ended at about 12 pm and we just grabbed lunch at the Hawker Centre. As part of the tour, we saw the famous House of Tan Teng Niah and the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple which are perfect spots for Singapore day tours.
It was nice to have a guide who was knowledgeable and explained everything about the history of both these Singapore points of interest.
During the free walking tour, one of the first stops was at the Chinatown Complex which is close to residential areas. Here we were given an insight into how life is for Singaporeans and how wet markets operate
Arab Street + Haji Lane
Our next stop was Bugis MRT since I had heard a lot about Arab Street and Haji Lane, these are the must see places in Singapore if you like hipster cafes and street art!
Located at Kampong Glam is Masjid Sultan is easily recognizable with its golden dome. There are a number of places you can capture the Masjid from which just makes it a really photogenic place in Singapore. Additionally, it is also declared as a national monument for the country.
If you visit a little after 7 pm, you will see the whole street transforms with a chilled back vibe. There are local musicians playing, bean bags are set up, and drinks passed. Although I don’t drink, I really liked the ambiance of the place at the time but we had a hectic day and our little one also seemed to think the same.
This was also the National Day of Singapore which falls on the 9th of August. We deliberately avoided tourist spots like Gardens by the Bay, Marina Bay Sands area, and Merlion Park as our tour guide advised that they would be packed and getting there would waste a lot of time.
Instead, we decided to grab dinner from McDonald’s at the opposite City Square Mall and settled for an early night
Day 3 – [Gardens by the Bay + The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands + Merlion Park]
The third day in this Singapore tour guide started with the best places to go in Singapore. The iconic Gardens by the Bay is an expansive natural park filled with supertrees (vertical garden towers) that light up beautifully at night. If Dubai has the dancing fountains show, Singapore has the Garden Rhapsody. It is absolutely one of Singapore top attractions, if not the only thing to do in Singapore if you merely had a few hours!
Once you are inside the park, you are greeted with beautiful green views! This was my favorite from all Singapore destinations and I loved spending each minute at the gardens. Other than lots of photo opportunities, you can marvel at the recognizable Marina Bay Sands from just there.
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Gardens by the Bay
Not to miss is the Garden Rhapsody starting 7.45 every evening and presented every hour consecutively henceforth, watching the supertrees light up will excite every child and adult alike. Like all announcements and a way of showing diversity, the songs played during the show are in English, Malay, Chinese, and Tamil.
The MRT is quite efficient and has a station designated for this tourist destination in Singapore making it easy for first-timers to spot. After visiting the place, I would recommend visiting late afternoon if you are short on time to explore both the day and night views at once.
Do be warned that this is the time when tourist groups are aplenty and it might be difficult if you want a peaceful time.
Exploring the supertrees and the nearby gardens are free but there are two parts to the gardens called the Cloud Forest and Flower Dome, both offering beautiful views and a must-do in your Singapore guide if you have the budget for it. Click here to see prices for the tickets.
Alternatively, there is also the OCBC Skyway which is a bridge going across the supertrees where you can view them at close proximity. However, since we had a stroller and a very active baby, I decided not to take this risk (there might have been people who go up there but it just seemed too risky to me!)
Merlion Park is located near One Fullerton and holds the Merlion statue. This is a Singapore must see as the mythical creature is the country’s mascot. Getting there from Gardens by the Bay is easy by Grab taxi which cost us only SGD 6 (approx USD 4). We reached there in the evening after it was quite dark so only got that view.
This Singapore to do offers a nice view of the country’s skyline in addition to the iconic Marina Bay Sands Hotel. Surprisingly, after only a few moments we spotted the hotel glowing from a distance. I then realized that this must be the light show I had read somewhere about. It is a 15-minute show, check timings and days here, and is such a sight!
We were planning to cover our Singapore sightseeing tour of attractions in one day and didn’t probably didn’t think it through. To cut a long story short, our family of three visited Gardens by the Bay and spent a few hours there, then headed opposite to The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands for sunset, then back again to Garden by the Bay to watch the Garden Rhapsody show, and finally Merlion Park.
To avoid all the confusion and save up on time, I’d recommend covering Merlion Park in the afternoon, then Gardens by the Bay late afternoon until the sun sets and you catch the show starting from 7.45 pm every evening, then make your way for shopping (optional)
But, nonetheless, we really enjoyed the tiring day as the country is just so beautiful even in the simplest of things. Catching the sunset outside The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands while sipping on Iced Coffee, the hassle of pushing a stroller to and fro of the walking area, Merlion Park at night and surprisingly spotting the Marina Bay Sands light show were some of the best impromptu moments during our travel in Singapore
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Day 4 – Jewel Changi Airport
If you’re looking at the top 10 things to do in Singapore, you won’t be surprised to find the Jewel Changi Airport there. Apart from the world’s tallest indoor waterfall called the Rain Vortex, the airport has so many attractions that will just make you stop and look.
I must say though, the place is very crowded and to get a good shot you need to wait a while until you find a spot without anyone photobombing you. Also, like most tourist attractions that have an off-peak time, the airport is full at any time of the day considering the number of layovers that take place in Singapore.
The Jewel is located in Terminal 1 of the airport that offers free shuttle trains from other terminals so people can tick this off their Singapore tourist places list. It truly is one of the most fun places in Singapore with activities like a Mirror Maze, Canopy Park, and Hedge Maze that will be extremely exciting for kids in Singapore. Look at their official website for more information.
We spent one full day at the Jewel Changi Airport after checking out of our hotel and lunch late afternoon. Our flight was at 12 am later that evening so spending the entire day exploring the airport and trying some Singaporean food was just perfect!
I also really like the baby changing rooms that had a hot water dispenser for formula milk which was very helpful! Besides that, there is free and fast wi-Fi all around as well as free drinking tap water.
To not waste too much of your reading time, despite the wonderful time we spent, our last day was quite a disaster at the Changi Airport specifically because our Air India Express flight was canceled after an hour after boarding time without any prior information. The staff there was quite unprofessional and did not deal with the last-minute technical failure well.
They kept passengers waiting for up to 3 am to finally declare the flight was canceled after repeated announcements of delay. Passengers were then routed to three hotels near the airport at 5 am until they were given instructions about their next flight.
Managing all this with a toddler was especially difficult with no access to extra diapers that were used during our time at the airport after checking in baggage.
However, I have to say that the service and room at Orchard Hotel were very nice and I would have explored the area more if I were not calling up every hour to check when our next flight was
Best Attractions in Singapore:
Due to time constraints, we missed out on a few places to explore in Singapore but including them here as I have only heard good reviews:
- Botanical Gardens – I really have deep regrets that we couldn’t visit the Botanical Gardens. It is one of the things that pops up when someone asks “where to visit in Singapore?”. Since we were only in Singapore for 4 days, we had to give this one a miss and look at other Singapore attraction places
- Jurong Bird Park – From another fellow travel blogger, I heard that Jurong Bird Park is one of the best places if you’re wondering where to bring kids in Singapore. See a short video here to see a glimpse of the park
- Night Safari – The night safari is very popular and covers exactly what the name says; a safari at night where you get to see nocturnal animals. I think my son would enjoy it if he were older
Day Trips from Singapore:
If you’re staying longer, why not make use of the time to take some short trips from Singapore?
- Sentosa – The most popular out of the lot, Sentosa is an island accessible by road, cable cars, or monorail. This is also where Universal Studios is located making it very apt for Singapore day trips. The time taken to reach from the city center to this island is between half an hour to 1 hour time.
While known to be expensive since it is filled with tourists, there are also some cheaper or free activities to do in Singapore island. You can take a walk along the Fort Siloso skywalk or unwind at the Tanjong Beach
- Bintan – Another famous spot is Bintan island located only 75 minutes away from Singapore by ferry. On the map, Bintan is part of Indonesia so it also gives insight into how islands there look like. Plus, if you have a visa for Singapore then another one for Indonesia is not needed. We spent 3 days in Bintan and had the most fabulous time!
We stayed at an all-inclusive resort with activities that are exciting to adults and children alike. Read my guide to Bintan with a toddler here
- Batam – Another excellent destination for your Singapore tourist guide is Batam, part of Indonesia and accessible by ferry, Batam is where you’ll head to for water sports and activities and to enjoy scrumptious seafood. Being an affordable location, this makes for it to be a perfect day trip in our Singapore budget travel guide
Traveling to a new destination does not mean splurging and burning a hole in your pocket, making mindful decisions can always help traveling on a budget.
This is how I spent only $1000 on my recent trip to Singapore including flights, visas, hotel (Bintan not included), and basic expenses for a couple + toddler.
Singapore was one of those countries I felt could be a nice option in case I do consider migrating from Dubai. Living overseas has lots of benefits and you can read all about it here.
You can choose to have a higher budget with more of the activities above or go lower cutting down some of the places we explored, you make the decisions!
So, ready to fly to Singapore? Start here by first booking your flights!
Until then, happy traveling! xx
P.S. If you want to save and read later, here are some pinnable versions 🙂
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