In this Singapore travel guide, we share the best travel tips for a stopover in Singapore that takes in all of the city’s best sights without breaking the bank.
Known as the gateway to Asia, Singapore is a popular stopover destination for travellers taking connecting flights to and from other countries in Asia. This unique city-state is more expensive than many other Asian cities (prices are on par with Hong Kong) but you can have a budget stopover in Singapore.
How much does a stopover in Singapore cost?
Cost for a 36-hour Stopover in Singapore: SNG $90 / US $66 / £50 / €56
Can you see the best of Singapore in just 36 hours with under a hundred Singapore dollars?
Actually, you can, and with ten dollars to spare….
All prices are in Singapore dollar ($). One Singapore dollar is equal to £0.56 and $0.74 US at time of writing.
Singapore Prices 2017:
- Hostel accommodation $35 per night
- Coffee “O” (black, no sugar) $1
- Coffee (with condensed milk) $2
- Food court meal $3.5
- Restaurant meal $15+
- Bus ticket $2.5
- MRT ticket (short trip) $1.5
- Beer (at a bar) $9+
- Cocktails $12+
How to get from Singapore Airport to Downtown?
Assuming that you’ve arrived in the morning, the first thing you’ll want is to drop your bags off and take a shower. There are three ways to get out of Changi Airport:
- MRT ($2.4 to Tanjong Pagar)
- Shuttle bus ($9)
- Taxi ($52)
Now you’ve just arrived in Singapore. It’s the morning of day one. Budget travellers should take the MRT to Tanjong Pagar ($2.4). From there you can walk to Ann Siang, where the best backpacker hostels are located.
Where to Stay in Singapore? (on a budget)
Ann Siang is close to Chinatown and plenty of nightlife. Here are some of the budget accommodation options in Singapore:
- 5footway.inn (Project Ann Siang). Dorms from $30.
- Zen Hostel Club Street. Dorms from $32.
- Box Capsule Hotel. Dorms from $34.
We stayed in 5footway.inn Project Ann Siang, which has everything a budget backpacker needs. Head here to drop off your bags and take a shower. Drink a coffee and refill your water bottle. They also give you a 500MB sim card on arrival, which you can use to navigate. The rooms are small, but the waterfalls showers are big with hot water and the hostel has cute traditional tiles.
Where to eat in Singapore? (on a budget)
Budget travellers should head straight for the food courts; semi-outdoor spaces where hundreds of vendors deal out a dizzying number of local dishes for wallet-friendly prices. Singaporean, Thai, Indonesian, Indian, Chinese, Malaysian and much more can be found at the food courts.
- Maxwell Food Court Near Chinatown MRT
- Amoy Food Court Near Telok Ayer MRT
- My Awesome Breakfast Hipster “Western” breakfasts
- Annalakshmi Indian, vegetarian-only
- Adam Road Food Centre Food court near Botanic Gardens MRT
After a shower, we’re heading to Maxwell Food Court for some breakfast. Pick up some traditional Singaporean breakfast: kaya toast ( made from bread, coconut milk and sugar), eggs, and a cup of coffee ($3).
As shown above, it’s possible to enjoy the best of Singapore without breaking the bank. I’d argue that the food you can get in the food courts is often more authentic (not to mention more delicious) than the stuff in the pricier restaurants and, as well as accommodation, this is one of the main areas to save during your stopover in Singapore.
Best Things To Do in Singapore (on a budget)
Singapore has excellent attractions for budget travellers due to its awesome gardens and nature parks. We recommend three of the best:
- Windsor Nature Park (TreeTop Walk) – Watch monkeys in the wild!
- Gardens by the Bay – Home to Singapore’s supertrees
- Botanic Gardens – World-famous UNESCO site
After breakfast at the Maxwell Food Court, it’s time for our first attraction: the Windsor Nature Park. Take bus 167 from the Prudential Towers bus stop. It’s $2.5, but the drivers only take exact change. Get off at the Venus Carpark. It’s a 7.5 km hike to do the roundtrip including the TreeTop Walk; a canopy bridge over the rainforest. There are no cafes or food facilities here, so make sure to bring water and snacks with you (though be careful because monkeys will go for your backpack if they think there’s something tasty in there).
When you’re done, take the bus back to downtown $2.5. The bus trip itself is worth paying attention too. You’ll go right by Marina Bay and the famous Raffles Hotel. Non-budget travellers might want to hop out for a Singapore Sling.
Budget travellers should get lunch at Amoy Food Court. We recommend the Singapore Noodles and the Vegetarian Laksa at Healthy Vegetarian ($3.5). Take a rest before heading to our final destination: the Gardens by the Bay. It’s a 30-minute walk that’s worth doing as you can see Chinatown, Marina Bay and the Merlions.
Head into the Marina Bay Sands Hotel and take the sky bridge into the main gardens. The Gardens by the Bay features the main outdoor gardens (free, open from 5AM to 2AM) the OCBC Skyway ($8, open 9AM to 9PM) and two conservatories: the Cloud Forest and the Flower Dome ($28 for both, open 9AM to 9PM). There’s also a light show on the supertrees (free, starting at 7:45 p.m.).
Later, take the Bayfront MRT to Chinatown ($1.8). From there, you can walk to Annalakshmi. This great Indian vegetarian-only restaurant works on a pay-what-you-can-afford basis. Take a plate up to the buffer and enjoy whatever happens to be on the menu. Expect rice, naan, dahl, curries, pickles, chutneys and chillies, sweets and fruit. It’s all delicious. We paid $15 per person.
If you have some drinking money, head to Oxwell on Club street and enjoy the rooftop terrace. This decidedly non-budget venue does beers for $14-16 and cocktails for $19-20.
For travellers making every penny count, it’s back to the food courts. If you’re bored of local fare, try My Awesome Cafe for breakfast. You can get a full breakfast (toast, salad, eggs, tomatoes, meat/veggie option) with a side of porridge and a cup of coffee. One portion is big enough for two, so share with a friend ($18, $9 each).
From Telok Ayer MRT, buy a return ticket ($3.50) for the Botanic Gardens. There’s plenty to see at this free UNESCO heritage site, including blood-red hummingbirds and giant monitor lizards. Only the impressive Orchid Garden is ticketed ($5).
Adam Road Food Centre is just across the road from the Botanic Gardens MRT entrance ($3.50). After lunch, get back on the MRT to Telok Ayer and pick up your bags (and deposit) from your hostel.
Just a final $2.40 for your MRT trip (Tanjong Pagar to Changi Airport) and you’re all set.
Congratulations! You’ve seen the best parts of Singapore in 36 hours and all for just $89.50.