Singapore may be small but it certainly is mighty. This island city-state, comprised of one main island and more than 60 smaller islands, is simultaneously an important financial hub, a multicultural melting pot, a bustling metropolis, and a lush green oasis. Not to mention it's also an absolute foodie paradise thanks to thanks to its world-famous hawker centers, as well as cultural hot spots like Little India and Arab Street.
Because it’s not as cheap to visit as neighboring Malaysia or nearby Thailand, visiting Singapore on a budget is a little bit trickier than other countries in the region. Still, you don’t need to break the bank to have a great time here.
From the delicious hawker centers of Chinatown to the relaxed beaches of Sentosa, read on to learn how to visit Singapore on a budget.
Singapore on a budget: Know before you go
You won't need a translator
While there are 4 official languages in Singapore (Malay, English, Chinese, and Tamil), English is the lingua franca, meaning most Singaporeans speak perfect English – though learning a little Singlish couldn't hurt.
Save money and plastic
Unlike other Southeast Asian nations, you can drink the water in Singapore. So save both plastic and money and be sure to bring your own reusable bottle.
Chewing gum isn't technically illegal
As for selling it? That's a slightly different story.
While jokes about Singapore's laws are often overblown, there is a nugget truth to many of them. For instance, smoking is only permitted in designated areas unless you want a S$1,000 fine.
Free and cheap things to do in Singapore
See the Supertrees at Gardens by the bay
The Supertrees at Gardens By the Bay, a massive urban nature park, have become some of the most iconic symbols of Singapore tourism. Measuring up to 50 meters tall, these vertical gardens are designed to look like massive trees with large canopies. At night, the Supertrees come alive for a nightly light show at the Gardens By the Bay.
It’s free to walk amongst the Supertrees at Gardens by the Bay, but the Skywalk, Cloud Forest, and Flower Dome require an additional fee.
Relax on Sentosa Island
Think Singapore is nothing more than a futuristic concrete jungle? Think again. Located off of Singapore’s southern coast, Sentosa is a resort island where you can escape the city grind for a day at the beach. Take the famous cable car to Sentosa island and hit Palawan or Siloso beaches. Sentosa is also home to Universal Studios Singapore, SEA Aquarium, and Adventure Cove Waterpark.
Explore the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple
Located in Singapore’s vibrant Chinatown neighborhood, the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple is one of Singapore’s most majestic attractions. This beautiful multi-story temple and museum complex is said to house one of the teeth of the Buddha. The temple is beautifully decorated in a traditional style and filled with roughly 300 Buddhist artifacts. While the opulence of the entire temple is enough to leave visitors in awe, the Temple’s most sacred artifact – the tooth – is located in a solid gold stupa on the fourth floor. Admission is free. Free tours are also offered on select days.
Where to stay on a budget in Singapore
The Pod Boutique Capsule Hostel
Capsule hostels may be all the rage in Southeast Asia these days, but it's the Pod Boutique Capsule Hostel that truly elevates the concept. This boutique hostel is designed in a modern minimalist style that will make you forget you're in a hostel. Pod options include single size, queen size, and suite options that include a small work desk. There's also an entire 'ladies' floor' dedicated for female travelers.
Coo Bistro and Boutique Hostel
Located amongst the cafes and bars of Singapore's trendy Tiong Bahru neighborhood, Coo Boutique Hostel is a favorite among travelers. In fact, Coo was named one of Time Magazine’s greatest places 2018. In addition to the unique aesthetic, highlights include the open-air terrace, free breakfast, and downstairs bistro.
Note: Coo seems to have possibly rebranded as Thad’s Boutique Hostel since our last visit
Adler Hostel and Coffee Bar
Adler Hostel and Coffee Bar is Singapore's only 5-star hostel (yes, that's really a thing). Often referred to as a "poshtel", this cozy spot feels like an elegant hotel with bunk beds. The decor is charming and the Adler staff is attentive as can be. Room options include mixed or female-only dorms, all complete with blackout privacy curtains.
Cheap flights to Singapore
Recently, Dollar Flight Club members have saved between 70-90% on cheap flights to Singapore. On average, our members spent $487 on their tickets to Singapore and saved over $574 per ticket. Here are a few samples of cheap flight deals that Dollar Flight Club members have received recently.
Los Angeles (LAX) to Singapore (SIN)
Price with Dollar Flight Club: $405
Average Price: $900
Dallas Fort Worth (DFW) to Singapore (SIN)
Price with Dollar Flight Club: $515
Average Price: $950
Seattle (SEA) to Singapore (SIN)
Price with Dollar Flight Club: $523
Average Price: $914
Best cheap eats in Singapore
Chinatown Complex Food Centre
Your visit to Singapore will inevitably bring you to Chinatown (or at least it should). When that happens, do yourself a favor and check out Chinatown Complex Food Centre, Singapore’s largest hawker center with over 260 food stalls. It’s a great place to get all of the Singapore classics like chili crab, Hokkien mee, and laksa, as well as some more unique dishes. Specific highlights include handmade xiao long bao at Zhong Guo La Mian Xiao Long Bao and soya sauce chicken rice at Hawker Chan, home of the cheapest Michelin-starred meal in the world.
Old Airport Road Food Centre
Old Airport Road Food Centre is a bit less touristy than other hawker centers. But don’t come here expecting smaller crowds or shorter lines. Locals, particularly the older crowd, know all about the culinary delights on offer at this sprawling hawker center and they’re happy to line up for them daily. One dish worth lining up for here is Singapore’s classic char kway teow (stir-fried flat rice noodles in sweet dark soy sauce and lard) from either Dong Ji Fried Kway Teow or Lao Fu Zi Fried Kway Teow.
Lau Pa Sat
Lau Pa Sat, also known as Telok Ayer Market, might be the most popular of Singapore’s hawker centers but that doesn’t make it any less authentic – or any less delicious. Plus, the massive size and convenient Central Business District Location make it an incredibly attractive option for budget eats. The recent renovations have certainly raised the prices a bit, but it’s still a great budget-friendly place to get a delicious meal. Lau Pa Sat serves a wide variety of cuisines ranging from Chinese to Thai to Indian and everything in between.
Author’s note: I had the hand-pulled dan dan noodles from a stall at Lau Pa Sat whose sign reads "Chinese Cuisine La Mian Xiao Long Bao" and haven’t stopped dreaming about them since.
Start planning your trip to Singapore
Singapore may not be as cheap as other Southeast Asian hotspots but a visit to this incredible city-state doesn’t need to be expensive. Thanks to hawker center cheap eats, incredible free attractions, and great walkability, you can easily plan your perfect trip to Singapore on a budget.
So when you're ready to finally check out Singapore, be sure to save this budget travel guide, and sign up to receive cheap flight deals today!
BY: ZACH ANDERSON, CONTENT MARKETING & FLIGHT EXPERT
Zach is a digital marketer, copywriter, and flight deal expert at Dollar Flight Club where he helps 1 million people travel more. As a digital nomad, he is deeply passionate about location independence, Thai food, and helping others see the world affordably.