How to Explore Singapore on a Budget

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Singapore, the vibrant city-state known for its modern architecture, lush gardens, and diverse culinary scene, has captivated people from around the world. However, experiencing the best of Singapore sometimes comes with a hefty budget.

If you’ve ever thought a Singapore vacation was out of reach for the budget-conscious tourist, think again! Get ready, because in this post, I’m about to spill the beans on how you can experience all the awesomeness of this Lion City without burning a hole in your wallet.

Now, let’s explore the local, insider’s guide on how to explore Singapore on a budget.

1. Use affordable public transportation

Public bus, the best way to get around Singapore on a budget
Public bus in Singapore (source)

First things first, let’s talk about getting around Singapore. You can forget about taking expensive taxis or using private cars. Using Singapore’s public transport is the best and cheapest way to get around the island. In fact, Singapore has one of the most efficient and well-connected transportation systems in the world!

Grab an EZ-Link card or a Singapore Tourist Pass, and you’ve got yourself a one-way ticket to unlimited rides on buses and trains. Using public transportation, you can now say goodbye to all your transportation worries and hello to extra cash for your travel trip!

2. Discover free attractions in Singapore

Woman posing next to a graffitied wall in Little India
Graffiti in Little India

Guess what? Some of Singapore’s most iconic spots won’t cost you a cent! Get your camera ready as you stroll through the vibrant streets of Chinatown, Little India, and Kampong Glam. These neighborhoods are a treasure trove of colors, culture, and history. 

You don’t want to miss the spectacular “Spectra” light show at Marina Bay Sands, either. This dazzling experience definitely won’t put a dent in your wallet. The Spectra Light Show is a free nightly outdoor 15-minute extravaganza that is displayed over the water at the Event Plaza.

You may also want to venture to East Coast Park, a recreational haven where you can unwind on sandy beaches, indulge in outdoor activities, or simply relish the sea breeze. If camping is your thing, East Coast Park has dedicated campsites for outdoor camping.

3. Explore nature in Singapore

Person hiking along the water in Singapore's MacRitchie Nature Trail & Reservoir Park
Hiking in MacRitchie Reservoir Park

Nature enthusiasts, listen up! Singapore is more than just a modern metropolis. Singapore has many parks, trails, and gardens for nature lovers. Gardens by the Bay is your oasis of tranquility, offering lush gardens and those famous Supertrees.

If stunning views and hiking are your thing, check out the Southern Ridges, a network of elevated paths that give you the best of cityscapes and green beauty. You may also want to visit common heartland Singapore parks like Macritchie Reservoir Park, Hort Park, Punggol Park, and Coney Island, among others.

4. Eat in local hawker centres instead of restaurants

BBQ satay skewers with vegetables on a plate. One of the top budget Singapore dishes.
BBQ satay sticks

If you are looking to try good Singaporean dishes, you don’t have to spend a fortune for a gourmet experience in a fancy restaurant. Instead, head straight to popular hawker centres like Maxwell Food Centre and Chinatown Complex Food Centre. 

The best local foods that you can try are actually from hawker centres! These bustling hawker centres have every local food delight, from heavenly satay and BBQ chicken wings to chicken rice and lip-smacking laksa, all without emptying your pockets.

Laksa is a spicy noodle dish popular in Southeast Asia.
Popular 328 Katong Laksa

Do you also know that eating hawker food is a great way to experience Singapore’s local culture? Almost all local people eat hawker food instead of cooking at home.

ⓘ PRO TIP: There are no service charges for getting your food from hawker centre stalls.

5. Experience local cultural arts

Woman and baby posing in front of some Chinese New Year figures in Singapore's Chinatown
Experiencing Chinese New Year in Singapore

Are you ready to dive into Singapore’s vibrant culture? If so, brace yourself for some seriously cool, free local cultural experiences! If street art makes your heart race, places like Haji Lane and Tiong Bahru are your playgrounds, showing off incredible works that tell Singapore’s creative story. 

Don’t forget to swing by the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple in Chinatown, where you can unwind and learn about the temple’s fascinating history.

Chijmes is also a good place for taking Instagram-worthy photos if you are into beautiful architecture. If you love music, check out the Esplanade or Singapore Botanic Gardens for free concerts that’ll lift your spirits.

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6. Stay at budget accommodations

CHIJMES, a neoclassical building in Singapore
Chijmes Singapore

Of course, accommodation will definitely take up a big chunk of your travel expenses in Singapore. This is especially true in a small country like Singapore, where land is scarce. Before you start worrying about accommodations, take a deep breath.

Yes, Singapore has luxury 5-star hotels, but guess what? If you can lower your expectations for accommodations, you will be sure to save a lot. There are many wallet-friendly options for the budget conscious tourist, too. 

You just need to dedicate more time to researching the right accommodations in Singapore. One useful tip is to use the “sort by price” feature on hotel booking websites and go through the listings one by one. It is also important to check the recent reviews before booking your accommodation.

You can also consider settling into comfy hostels or affordable hotels in neighborhoods like Little India or Bugis, where you’ll be in the heart of the city with easy access to attractions and public transport.

7. Take advantage of free walking tours

A woman walking on Haji Lane in Singapore

Discovering the captivating history and culture of Singapore doesn’t have to strain your budget—not when you have an array of fantastic free walking tours just waiting to be experienced.

Usually, enthusiastic locals and knowledgeable tour guides who are eager to connect with new foreigners lead these tours. Their guided adventures offer a peek into Singapore’s past, culture, and architecture.

What’s also truly magical about these free Singapore tours is their unhurried pace. You can savor each attraction, snap photos to your heart’s content, and even strike up conversations with fellow explorers. As you share in the journey of discovery, you might just forge connections that extend beyond the tour itself. You’ll not only explore like a local pro but also make new buddies along the way.

So, before you know it, you’ll be lacing up your shoes, ready to embark on an eye-opening adventure through the captivating streets of Singapore, all without spending a single dime.

ⓘ PRO TIP: It’s always a nice gesture to show appreciation for a job well done. Consider tipping your guide S$5-$20 per person depending on the tour length and how satisfied you are.

8. Take advantage of discount opportunities

You can maximize your savings by using travel passes that offer discounts on attractions, transportation, and dining. For example, the Go City Pass offers up to 50% off admission to many popular tourist attractions.

Time your visit to coincide with seasonal promotions and sale events, like the Great Singapore Sale.

Keep an eye out for free guided tours and workshops that provide a deeper understanding of Singapore’s culture and history.

Student and senior citizen discounts are widely available, so be sure to carry your ID and inquire about reduced rates wherever applicable.

Why should you try to explore Singapore on a budget?

Embarking on a budget-friendly adventure through Singapore is like discovering a hidden treasure trove of authentic experiences. Beyond the financial benefits, this approach lets you truly immerse yourself in the city’s vibrant culture. Picture yourself savoring mouthwatering local dishes at bustling hawker centers, where flavors tell stories of generations. Engaging in free walking tours not only reveals enchanting secrets tucked away in the city’s corners but also brings you closer to the heartbeat of Singapore. Pretty exciting, right?

The beauty of traveling on a budget is that it nudges you to connect with the real essence of the place—interacting with friendly locals, discovering local hangouts, and stumbling upon unexpected wonders.

It’s not just about spending less; it’s about gaining more: more meaningful interactions, more insights into the local way of life, and more unforgettable memories. So, as you plan your Singapore journey, think about going the cheap route. Your wallet will thank you, but your heart will cherish the unique experiences even more.

Tips for visiting Singapore on a budget

Woman wearing a mask, sitting on a wall in Punggol Park. Water and buildings in background
Early morning walk in Punggol park

Embarking on a budget-friendly trip to Singapore doesn’t mean missing out on the city’s wonders; it means approaching your journey with savvy and creativity. Here are some tips to help you explore Singapore on a budget. I hope it helps!

  • Plan ahead: Research budget-friendly attractions, accommodations, and dining options before your trip.
  • Use public transport: Take advantage of the efficient and cost-effective public transportation system.
  • Visit free attractions: Explore cultural neighborhoods, parks, and free attractions like Gardens by the Bay’s outdoor gardens.
  • Skip restaurants and try local hawker food: Opt for hawker centres and street food stalls for authentic local dishes at affordable prices.
  • Attend free events: Check out free concerts, light shows, and cultural events to enjoy Singapore’s entertainment scene without spending.
  • Explore on foot: Walking is a great way to discover hidden gems, street art, and local markets. Singapore is small, and it is possible to go from one place to another by walking.
  • Pack light: Save on baggage fees by packing only what you need for your trip.
  • Stay in budget accommodations: Consider hostels, guesthouses, or budget hotels in well-connected neighborhoods. Apartments are also an affordable option when you’re traveling with friends.
  • Shop wisely: Hunt for souvenirs at local markets or flea markets for unique finds at better prices.
  • Connect with locals: Engage with locals and fellow travelers to discover insider tips and hidden spots off the beaten path.

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Supertrees in Gardens by the Bay. Text overlay says "how to save money in Singapore."

Singapore budget travel FAQs

Here are some FAQs to help you explore Singapore on a budget.

Is Singapore an expensive travel destination?

Singapore can be pricey, but with careful planning, you can experience its charm without overspending.

Are there budget-friendly accommodations in Singapore?

Yes, you can find hostels, budget hotels, and guesthouses in neighborhoods like Little India, Bugis, and Chinatown.

What’s the cheapest way to get around Singapore?

Forget about using taxis or private cars. Instead, utilize the affordable public transportation system, including buses and trains, with an EZ-Link card or a Singapore Tourist Pass.

Are there any free attractions in Singapore?

Absolutely! Gardens by the Bay, Chinatown, Little India, and various cultural neighbourhoods offer free exploration.

How can I enjoy the local food scene without overspending?

Head to hawker centres for affordable and delicious local cuisine, including iconic dishes like Hainanese chicken rice, rojak, satay, laksa and more.

What are some must-see cultural experiences in Singapore?

Explore neighbourhoods like Kampong Glam, Little India, and Chinatown for a taste of Singapore’s diverse cultures.

Does Singapore have any free events or activities?

Singapore Botanic Gardens offer free concerts, while Marina Bay Sands hosts a free light and water show called “Spectra.”

Is it possible to experience nature without spending a lot?

Yes! You may want to visit the Southern Ridges for stunning views, and MacRitchie Reservoir Park to enjoy hiking and wildlife spotting.

Are there any cultural gems that won’t cost a dime?

Don’t miss the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple in Chinatown for free tours and a glimpse into Singapore’s rich heritage. If you are in central location in Singapore, visit Chijmes for some photos with the beautiful architecture. 

How can I find affordable tours or local guides?

Instead of paying for a tour, you may want to look for free walking tours organised by local groups to explore the city with knowledgeable guides.


With a little planning and a thrifty mindset, exploring Singapore on a budget is definitely achievable. From navigating affordable transportation and finding budget accommodations to savoring local flavors and enjoying free attractions, Singapore offers a wealth of experiences that won’t break the bank. Embrace the adventure, make smart choices, and create unforgettable memories while exploring this captivating city-state without overspending. 

So now you have the insider’s guide to experiencing Singapore, the local way. What are you waiting for next? Get your luggage, pack light, pack smart, and get ready to dive into an adventure in Singapore that’s easy on your wallet but rich in memories. Hope to see you in Singapore soon!

This guest post was written by Nicole Li. She blogs at ShinyVisa, a Singapore family travel blog that covers family friendly destinations, family trip planning, travel tips and guides, and more.

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