The Local’s Budget Guide to Stretching Your Dollar in Singapore

Zhuang Jia Wen

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Though Singapore has a reputation for ultra-high costs of living, sticking to a budget in the Lion City is very doable with some insider knowledge. Follow these tips from frugal locals on enjoying Singapore’s dynamic offerings without breaking the bank.

Affordable Transport

Getting around Singapore efficiently without overspending is key. Tourist passes provide the best transport savings:

  • Singapore Tourist Pass – Unlimited rides on MRT and public buses for 3 days. Can be bought at Changi Airport and MRT stations.
  • EZ-Link card – Prepaid stored value card for tapping and riding trains and buses. Cheaper than single tickets. Can be returned for refund after.

Public transport is recommended over taxis or private hire cars like Grab, which quickly add up. For areas far from MRT lines, catch economical public buses instead.

Cycling is another affordable option, with numerous public bicycle sharing stations across Singapore. Consider budget cycling tours to see the city on two wheels.

Hawker Centres

Skip expensive sit-down restaurants in favour of Singapore’s ubiquitous hawker centres. These house dozens of food stalls selling authentic local dishes at just $5-10 per meal:

  • Mix rice and noodle dishes like chicken rice and laksa with sides like steamed vegetables.
  • Go for Indian fare like thosai, fish head curry or biryani sets.
  • Pick up lighter snacks and desserts like kaya toast, sweet fried dough sticks and ice kachang.

Maxwell Food Centre, Chinatown Food Street, Chomp Chomp Hawker Centre and Lau Pa Sat offer plenty of variety. Free seating lets you enjoy tasty meals on a budget.

Affordable Shopping

Avoid premium malls like Marina Bay Sands and ION Orchard. For bargains, head to:

  • Chinatown – Shop for souvenirs like art pieces and trinkets along Pagoda Street. Also browse local designer boutiques on Banda Street.
  • Little India – Score vibrant sarees, gold jewellery and decorations at Tekka Centre, Campbell Lane and the 24-hour Mustafa Centre.
  • Bugis Street – Formerly a famous night bazaar, today’s Bugis Street still offers cheap clothing, shoes, accessories and souvenirs behind the glitzy facade.
  • Arab Street – Pick up quality handmade textiles, batik prints and wicker handicrafts from Malay and Indonesian merchants.

Flex bargaining muscles at markets – but stay respectful. Compare prices and quality before purchasing.

Free Museums and Attractions

Avoid admission costs by visiting free museums and attractions like:

  • National Museum of Singapore – Free general admission makes Singapore’s history and culture very affordable.
  • Asian Civilisations Museum – Free to enter on Friday evenings.
  • Singapore Botanic Gardens – UNESCO World Heritage Site with free guided walks and concert events.
  • Buddha Tooth Relic Temple – Majestic 5-storey temple complex open to all.
  • Hindu Temples – Stunning Sri Mariamman and Sri Srinivasa Perumal temples offer free entry.
  • MacRitchie Reservoir Park – Hike beautiful nature trails through Singapore’s central catchment rainforest for no cost.

Many religious sites, HDB public parks and architectural gems like Victoria Theatre don’t charge admission.

Affordable Accommodation

Avoid lavish hotels and consider these options instead:

  • Hostels – High-quality and centrally located hostel dorms and private rooms for under $50/night. Free amenities like WiFi, activities and kitchen use.
  • HDB Airbnb – Rent a room or apartment in a public housing flat from locals for homestay experiences.
  • Outlying Areas – Stay near an MRT station in a quieter residential district for cheaper options just a quick ride from downtown.

Look for promotions and be flexible on exact location. Avoid peak periods like New Year when prices surge.

With the right know-how, you can enjoy Singapore’s dynamism and diversity just like locals without overspending. Try these frugal insider tips for an affordable Singapore vacation.

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