Breakdown Of Our Costs In Singapore

Singapore vs. Money

Before heading to Singapore, I came across the Economist Intelligence Unit’s 2014 Worldwide Cost of Living survey saying that the island city of Singapore had been named the world’s most expensive city to live in. I was almost sure that Tokyo was a leader in these statistics, but surprisingly Singapore took it over. Although Singapore is the most expensive place in the world to buy clothes, relies heavily on imported goods and has an increasingly strong currency, we did not find it that expensive. In fact, we think it’s much cheaper than Hong Kong especially when it comes to food and attractions.

Beautiful Singapore
Beautiful Singapore

 

As you probably guessed, we managed to stay in Singapore for a day without overspending.

[box type=”info” size=”large” style=”rounded” border=”full”]1 Singapore Dollar (SGD) = $0.78[/box]

YES! That means we have spent less than $25 each when in Singapore, actually it was much less than we expected to spend. Here is the breakdown of our costs of one day spent in Singapore:

Accommodation expenses: 0 SGD ($0)

Luckily for us, we managed to explore Singapore without booking anything. We did not do couchsurfing either. How did we do it then? We simply didn’t sleep much. Not much means having a few short 30 minute naps and off we go explore what Singapore has to offer!

A boy having a nap at Maxwell Hawker Center
Cez having a nap at Maxwell Hawker Center

 

We arrived at Singapore airport after midnight and we headed straight to one of the Hawker Centers. The food stands are not open until 6 am, but we could find a table with chairs where we could sit down and rest a bit. Indian restaurants around were serving food 24/7 so we felt safe to stay there for some time and get our energy back. It was kinda exhausting, but going to a hostel for 4-5 hours would not change anything, but we preferred saving money than wasting our time looking for a budget accommodation.

A girl having a nap in a laundry room
Me having a nap in a laundry room

 

We stopped by at laundry shop to have some sleep as well. It was clean, quiet and safe there with no other people around. In this way, we spent $0 on accommodation. Personally, I would not recommend it to anyone as you might be way too knackered to enjoy your sightseeing. Singapore was hot and not having a shower after a long flight is not a nice feeling.

Laundry room
Getting some rest in a laundry shop

 

Food expenses: 15 SGD ($12) a person

As many travel bloggers recommended, we dined out at one of 5 biggest Hawker Centers in the city to delight our taste buds with Singapore’s signature dishes without spending much money. Our favourite place was Maxwell Hawker Centre located at the edge of Chinatown (1 Kadayanallur St Singapore 069184, open time: Daily 8am – 10pm).

Inside the Maxwell Hawker Center
Inside the Maxwell Hawker Center at night

 

The food budget for the two of us was 30 SGDg, which is around $24. We ordered a lot of different dishes and tried some of each sharing the cost. In this way we were able to taste various Singaporean local dishes on the cheap.

Roti prata in Singapore
Roti prata – a highlight of Indian cuisine

 

There are more than 100 different dishes served here, so get yourself ready for trying some fish soup (3 SGD), Thai pancakes (2 SGD), sweet conginee (2 SGD) or famous Indian roti prata (4 SGD). The quality is also unbeatable!

A boy eating roti prata
Cez enjoying a plate of roti prata

 

In our next posts we will focus more on the food and their prices, but below we can see what we ate at Hawker Center.

Chilli crap and fish soup
Chilli crap and fish soup
Fish with salad and noodles
Fish with salad and noodles

 

Transport: SGD 8 ($6)

We spent SGD 4 to get from the airport to city center and back (SGD 2 each way) and another 4 SGD to have a bus ride around the city as we were too tired to walk all day long.

Bus to city
Catching a local bus from the airport to Singapore city center

 

[box type=”info” size=”large” style=”rounded” border=”full”]Bus number 36 goes from Changi Airport to various places. These are air-conditioned. This bus does not have much room for luggage, and locals will be getting on and off as it is a normal passenger bus, not a dedicated Airport Transfer. This link shows Bus Route #36 from and back to the Airport. One way ticket costs SGD 2. Avoid taxis as the minimum charge will be SGD 20. [/box]

A girl on the bus in Singapore
On the way to the city center

 

Sightseeing: SGD 0 ($0)

Believe me or not, but you can explore Singapore in 48 hours without missing anything important. Most of local temples such as Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum in Chinatown were free of charge. One of the main attractions in Singapore on the cheap was to go down to the Marina to shoot some shots of this magnificent city lit up at night and reflected across the water. The cityscape of Singapore is beautiful at night and you can chill out by the water’s edge with the jazz band playing in the background, the humid air keeping you warm and take some time out to appreciate it’s skyline.

We also visited East Coast Seafood Centre which is a super family friendly row of restaurants where you can experience authentic local cuisine. We went to local markets, went to Marina Bay area and visited museum of Art and History.

Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum in Chinatown
Buddha Tooth Relic Temple and Museum in Chinatown
Singapore City Center
Singapore City Center

 

Summary

We are proud to announce that we managed to spend a day in Singapore for only $18! We could spend much more, but not less. The city has much more to offer, but we mostly focused on exploring local food and city center. As you can see, Singapore might be also a budget friendly city with plenty of different activities to do on the cheap. You just need to plan things ahead and be well-organised. Without a doubt, you will not be bored here and you will love every second of the hectic day!

 Do/did you find Singapore cheap or expensive?

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67 Comments

  • Thanks for sharing guys! I think a lot of backpackers don’t realize that it’s very possible to visit Singapore on a tight budget if you plan accordingly but still go with the flow. We had an awesome 24 hours or so there and didn’t spend too much thanks to hostels, public transportation, and hawker stalls with delicious food.

    Safe, Happy Travels! :-)

    p.s. – we turned down the $27 Singapore Sling. I figured we could try one someday when we are working again! ;-)

  • Great tips as always guys. Whilst I agree Singapore is not cheap I agree with you that it is far from the most expensive place I go to on my travels. I suspect the cost of accommodation (particularly residential) is something which swings the statistics for surveys.

    I don’t think I’d be too comfortable catching the impromptu half an hour sleeps here and there so I admire you for that. Mind you with the humidity in Singapore I’d often need a shower or just avoid walking in the street. At times in the past I’ve walked the full length of Orchard Road only to be drenched in sweat part way through.

    • Yes, definitely. The accommodation in Singapore is not cheap, but you can stay there for 24 hours without sleeping or do couchsurfing :).

  • Thanks for sharing! Only 18$, that’s awesome. The food on your photos looks delicious and I look forward to reading your food post of Singapore.

    • Thanks Stef! I’ve written a lot about the food we had a few weeks ago, but I’ll write something more soon.

  • WOW! Well done. That has got be the cheapest trip I have ever heard of. I think because Singapore is a big place with so much to see and do you can do it on the cheap. I know that if I was on a budget I would be more than happy just wandering around areas like Marina Bay, Chinatown and Little India as there is enough to see there that doesn’t cost a cent.

  • I’m not sure I’m cut out for only a few naps on benches and chairs, but it’s fantastic that you stuck to your budget! I can’t wait to see your food post – I’ve always heard great things about the food in Singapore!

  • Very impressed that you managed to spend a day in Singapore for only $18! I am a little intrigued as to the average prices of budget accommodation though. I guess if you’re happy to just nap on benches there is no need though, especially if it is just for a day!

  • Ahhhh… those pics of Maxwell Hawker Centre bring back so many memories. The SUPER AWESOME and not that expensive meals we had there when we traveled in Singapore. So yummy… and such a happening atmosphere too! :)

  • Woww! I almost couldn’t believe you spent not more than $25 in Singapore each day. But I think not staying at a hostel is a good way to save a few bucks. I personally think hostel prices in Singapore are expensive. I’ve been planning to sleep at the airport next time I visit Singapore to save some $ LOL

  • I love you guys, but really that is INSANE! Sleeping in a laundromat? That sounds about as comfortable as living in a fridge! Great post though!

    • I know, but it was FUN FUN FUN!!! :D We had a decent sleep on the plane afterwards, no worries :)!

  • Wow – congrats on making it a less than $25 day! I think I might splurge a bit more – at least on accommodation (I’m way too finicky to do what you did!).

  • LOL – can’t believe you guys pulled that off. I lived in Singapore for 8 years and it used to be very expensive. I am sure it’s even more now.

    How long were you guys there for ? a day ?

    My favourite eating place was East Coast park and a very local food court in the North of Singapore :)

    Made me nostalgic.

    Cheers

  • Hats off to you for making it work! The most basic accommodation would’ve used up all of your budget, but the food and public transport is still very cheap for a developed country, even if the costs are creeping up. We take that for granted sometimes as locals.

  • I thought about you guys while I was in Chengdu and I was determined not to spend more then $25… and I would have been sucessful if I hadn’t gone to starbucks. That is not budget travelers friend… I’m impressed with Singapore at $18 a day. You guys have skills.

  • I spent an average of 8 or 9 bucks when i was there including little items i bought from the shop. I did couchsurf (wanna try sleeping in the laundromat sometime) though cos i stayed for a week. I ate hawker food once a day, the rest from the grocery. Lots of walking too :-)

  • Guys, you really rock! Never been to Singapore, but if we go, I wanna check the Indian food there and that bench in laundry prolly!

  • I am impressed really! :) You guys are great! I wish I could learn to save. Sleeping in a laundry room was really innovative. I am going to use that idea someday. Thanks!

  • You guys are awesome! Me and Dale stayed in Singapore for 6 days and we did manage to survive on a very low budget too. We Couchsurfed and spent only one night in an hostel, we went to eat at the same place you did and to Little India too which was very cheap in some places. We walked everywhere and never used a bus or taxi and we still had such an amazing time!

  • I love Singapore! But yes, it can definitely sap your savings unless you’re really being careful! I admire the way you guys managed it for less than $18, but I personally would need to sleep on a bed – sleep is one of my favourite things in the world!

  • Judging by the situation when I was almost arrested one time on the Changi (coincidentally I had a indonesian dayak sword in the backpack)-I m pretty sure the police would give you a ride to the city center for less than 18$ ;D. Less thrilling and free way to get to the city center is with a free sightseeing tour offered at the airport as well. They give you a ride to the bay (marmaid/singha thing) with a free tour and then you can return to the airport on your own. ;D

    • WOW, what a story. At least you have something thrilling to tell people around :). I didn’t know about the free sightseeing tours offered at the airport. Thanks for sharing that!

  • Once again Agness you’ve defied everything I’ve read and heard about Singapore (“It’s verrrrry expensive”). Clearly it doesn’t have to be, and it’s nice to know that you can go for just a few days and really make the trip worth your while.

    • No, it’s not that expensive. It’s as cheap or as expensive as you want it to be, don’t worry when you finally make it there! :-D

  • You guys always amaze me with your cleverness and creativity in saving money. You did great in Singapore. We visited when we were in college so we were very much aware of its reputation as an expensive city. We really did like that they offered a lot of free attractions. Wonderful resource for travelers. It’s a beautiful country and you’ve proven cost shouldn’t be a hindrance when exploring it.

    • Thank you Mary. That’s true, we are well-organised people when it comes to planning our budget and expenses. Singapore is much more expensive these days, but as you have noticed, it has a lot to offer for budget travellers and it’s packed with free attractions!

  • Wow, the food is expensive! I thought the Hawker Center was supposed to be cheaper than that. I feel like some of the travelers I’ve met were like- just spend one day in Singapore but I guess I know why now. I can only imagine hostel prices must’ve been around $25+ like Japan. Other than the hostel costs, I actually thought HK was cheaper. but my eating was like your sleeping. I ate street snacks, in Chinatown and I lived off of a lot of 7-11 shrimp shumai dumplings.

  • Thanks for this post Agness, you guys certainly did well! I didn’t find Singapore the most expensive place either. I’d say Hong Kong takes that ticket LOL! I like your tips about food and transport but my days of not sleeping in a room, are probably over.

    My best yet was delicately sleeping at the casino, in Prague. It wasn’t really on purpose but I’d missed the night bus to Berlin and the next train was 07:00 in the morning. I didn’t fancy walking all over Prague with a backpack at night, and the train station was full of dodgy people and I was travelling solo, so since I’m British and I was dressed decently, I locked up my backpack and walked into the casino instead!

  • WOW! I can’t believe y’all were able to do Singapore for under 25$ a day.

    Hostels end up being my husband and I’s biggest budget buster (sadly) – I tried living out of a capsule hotel in Tokyo for a while (to save on cash), but when I’m sleepy, I can’t enjoy the sights.

    Singapore looks like a blast, I hope I get to visit there someday soon :)

    As always, thanks for the entertaining posts!

    • I know. Hostels are super expensive, even the budget ones, but luckily we didn’t have to stay at any which save us a lot of money! :D
      Yes, it’s definitely a blast and I really hope you can make it there with your husband soon.
      Sending my love from China x

    • Yeah, Singapore is definitely more expensive than Thailand. I would not even more these two travel destinations!

  • Well done for staying there so cheaply. I’ve gotta say that I’ve been to Sjngapore airport plenty of times when on a stopover to other countries in Asia but for some reason never opted to stay in Singapore itself… But now you convinced me we should give it a go! Well I might opt to actually sleep in a bed though….:)

    • Next time you should go explore Singapore! It’s small, so you can see a lot of things in just 12 hours!

  • Aaah… My family temporarily moved to Singapore, and I was rather shocked at the prices. I mean, it’s surrounded by pretty cheap countries, and I just spent a year in Milan, but it turns out that place is cheaper than here! Hmmm… I haven’t been around much though, yet. I think it’s time. Hawker Centres!!! Wheee :D

  • The hawker food is definitely the highlight of staying here … I got a small chicken curry with noodles, and the portion was still so big that I couldn’t finish it!

  • Ohh, you did this much more cost effectively than we did! But you’re right, a lot of the sight seeing is free of charge, and it’s always easy to hop into one of the big malls to cool down in the AC a bit (because as you said, it’s VERY hot!;-)

  • Surprisingly cheap for such a well-developed, rich country.
    Definitely more affordable (when already there) than most European countries.
    My favourite place to eat was the Lau Pa Sat/Talok Ayer Market.

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