You’ve probably heard that Singapore is expensive.
Well, this is one example when you should pay attention to the rumours: Singapore is expensive.
But Singapore is particularly expensive post-pandemic.
I’ve spent the past 12 years exploring this planet as a travel writer so have passed through Singapore on countless occasions, thanks to its position as a global travel hub. I love this country, so whenever I spot a flight that calls for a Singaporean layover, I take full advantage and give myself two or three days to explore.
This glistening island has long been expensive relative to the rest of Southeast Asia, but I’ve always been able to justify its costs; reasoning that they were on a par with Western Europe or the U.S. — and I’m always happy to pay those prices there.
I’ve visited Singapore on all manner of budgets and styles over the years, whether I was a stingy backpacker who was panicking over every spent cent or travelling with my partner on a romantic Valentine’s Day getaway. Most recently, I spent three days in Singapore in 2023 and was surprised by how rapidly the prices have increased.
But of course, they’ve increased everywhere. This year has been my most expensive year of travel to date and it feels like the days of basic, budget guesthouses are starting to evaporate.
That’s not to say that deals cannot be had. I still managed to find plenty of well-priced accommodation, experiences, and meals while I was in town and I’m looking forward to sharing them with you today.
I’ve been recording every single cent I spend in the countries I visit from day one of my travels, because I want to be able to give a realistic and accurate look at how much you can expect to spend in each country you visit.
Here, then, is how much it costs to travel to Singapore:
How to Save Money on the Cost of Accommodation in Singapore
As always with travel, it’s possible to cut your accommodation costs down to zero if you have the time and patience to seek out an offer. And when you see the prices of accommodation in Singapore, you might just be able to find said time!
Couchsurfing exists in Singapore and allows you to stay with a local for free, sleeping on their sofa and enjoying a local’s insight into life in their country. It’s not the most comfortable of living situations, but if your budget is tight and you don’t mind roughing it, it’s worth sending out a few requests to hosts to see if anything comes of it. You can search for potential hosts on the Couchsurfing site.
Housesitting is another option. This is where you take care of somebody’s house for free while they’re away, and usually look after their pets, too. It’s best for long-term travellers or retirees as you can’t pick and choose dates and destinations, so you need to have a lot of flexibility as to where you go and at what time of year. If you do have that freedom, though, it’s a wonderful way to cut down your travel expenses, soak up some home comforts, and live like a local for a while. Trusted Housesitters is the best site for getting started with housesitting — they usually have several dozen housesits available for Singapore at any one time, so it’s well-worth having a look to see if any coincide with your travel dates.
I’m suspecting, though, that for most of you, you’re not interested in the free accommodation and just want somewhere clean, safe, and affordable to rest your head each night. If that’s the case, there are several options available for you.
The Cost of Accommodation in Singapore
The first thing I want to note is that Singapore is home to some truly terrible accommodation. Of the 400 properties that are listed on Booking.com, a mere 15 of them are rated higher than 9/10. I don’t think I’ve come across another major city for which this is the case!
My advice, then, is to lower your expectations. My recommendations below are the best of the best in Singapore, but your accommodation here is still unlikely to be life-changing.
The cheapest hostel in Singapore: 7 Wonders Boutique ($22 per night (S$30/£18/€21) for a capsule bed in a dorm)
This hostel is close to the subway, has fast wifi, and a basic free breakfast. It’s also located in Little India, which is my favourite Singapore neighbourhood! If you’re backpacking around Southeast Asia and travelling on a tight budget, this is a great option. Each capsule is fitted with a computer tray, power point, reading light, clothes rack with hanger, a locker, and a curtain for privacy. This is pretty much the cheapest accommodation in the entire city.
The best hostel in Singapore: Dream Lodge ($55 a night (S$75/£45/€52) for a capsule bed in a dorm)
When it comes to budget accommodation in Singapore, this country loves a capsule hotel. And to be fair, I tend to prefer them, too. After all, they give you a little more privacy than a standard dorm room and for a lower price than a hotel. Dream Lodge is the best-rated hostel in Singapore and you really do get great value for money here. You’re in a good location, with friendly staff, a basic breakfast, comfortable beds, soundproofing, clean bathrooms, lockers, and all of that good stuff. There’s nothing to complain about here.
The best mid-range hotel in Singapore: 30 Bencoolen ($164 a night (S$224/£135/€155) for a double room)
I spent days trying to find a mid-range hotel in a good location with modern furnishings, quiet rooms, and friendly staff. It was surprisingly tricky! Eventually I settled on 30 Bencoolen and I was so glad I did! The staff were warm and welcoming, there’s a free breakfast if you join the hotel loyalty program (which is free), and the rooms were calm and quiet. And let me tell you about the rooftop swimming pool! Because there was perhaps no better feeling than returning back after a day of sweaty sightseeing and dipping into those clean waters while overlooking the city. Finally, the location was great, within walking distance of all of the main attractions and close to the metro for everywhere else. All in all, I’m really glad I stayed here.
The best luxury hotel in Singapore: Marina Bay Sands ($500 a night (S$680/£410/€480 for a double room)
If you want all the bragging rights in Singapore then there’s perhaps no better place to stay. The Marina Bay Sands is Singapore; you can’t think of the city without picturing its famous design. Not only are the rooms luxurious and modern, with the best views of Singapore, but you also get access to what is one of the coolest infinity pools in the world. Only hotel guests can access the pool that overlooks the city and trust me when I say: this is a bucket list experience! Obviously, this is quite a splurge, but if your budget does stretch that far, I think it’ll definitely be worth it.
And just a quick note on where to avoid: I had a really bad experience with a Heritage Collection hotel, so I would avoid booking any of their properties. Back in 2022, when my partner and I contracted COVID and couldn’t legally board our flight to Singapore, they refused to give us a refund, which felt harsh and unethical. We lost hundreds of dollars from this, so I suggest steering clear. There are much better properties in Singapore, with far more understanding staff and better refund policies!
The Cost of Transportation in Singapore
Singapore is one of the smallest countries in the world, so getting around is never going to be an enormous expense here. In fact, despite Singapore’s reputation for being expensive, public transport is very affordable.
Let’s dive into the options.
The quickest, easiest, and most comfortable way to explore Singapore is via their metro system, the MRT. You can get pretty much anywhere you’d want to go as a tourist using the MRT and it’s not too expensive either, averaging out at around $1 a ride. To save money, I recommend picking up an EZ-Link card for S$12. For that, you’ll get $7 of ride credit plus a $5 refundable deposit that you can cash out when you leave the country. With the EZ card, you’ll be looking at paying 30% less compared to buying one-off tickets whenever you need them. You can buy them from 7-Elevens or within the metro stations themselves.
You can also purchase a Singapore Tourist Pass, which gives you unlimited rides on the bus and MRT for $10 (1 day), $16 (2 days), $20 (3 days). I personally wasn’t travelling enough to make the pass worth it, but if you plan on sightseeing like crazy, this may be a money-saving option that’ll work out for you.
Buses are priced similarly to the metro, but more complicated to use, so there’s no real reason to use them instead.
If you do want to visit somewhere that isn’t served by the bus or MRT, you’re probably going to end up taking a taxi. Uber isn’t in Singapore, but most people use the Grab app, which is essentially the same thing. It’s simple to use, reasonably affordable (S$0.16 a minute), and better than standing around waiting for a taxi to drive past. If you’re heading to Singapore, I’d recommend downloading Grab before you leave.
One website I do want to recommend is 12Go Asia. If you’re going to be travelling overland to or from Singapore, this a great site for booking transportation in advance.
I’ve used 12Go throughout my travels in Asia and have only had fantastic experiences with them. If you’re going to be travelling overland to/from Malaysia before/after Singapore, for example, I’d recommend checking out the prices on their site first. You can do so using this form:
The Cost of Food and Drink in Singapore
Oh man, the Singapore food scene is incredible. You can eat so well in this country, and it’s one of the best ways to save money, too. If you eat from the hawker stalls, you’ll be spending less than S$5 for a tasty, fresh meal.
It’s pretty tough to find bad food in this country, too. One of the great things about a country that’s full of tasty meals is that nobody is going to settle for anything less. If you’re serving bad food in Singapore, you simply aren’t going to survive for long.
One of my personal food highlights from my time in Singapore was the food tour I signed up for. In fact, I loved this tour so much that I bought it for a gift for my parents when they came to Singapore this year; that’s how amazing it was! It’s pretty pricey at a cost of $150 per person, but despite that, I still recommend it so highly! After all, the tour has nothing but five stars from hundreds of guests: that shows how great it is.
The tour provided a wonderful introduction to Singapore’s food scene, as it takes you to Chinatown, Little India, and Kampong Glam: the three main neighbourhoods of the city. You’ll learn about the history of Singapore, sample a dozen different dishes, and gain confidence when it comes to hitting up hawker centres and restaurants on your own.
Aside from the tour, the easiest way to save money is at the aforementioned hawker centres. These are covered areas filled with tons of different food stalls, and are super fun and fascinating to spend time in.
So what type of food can you get in these Hawker centres?
There’s so much on offer! Singaporean cuisine pulls in influences from Malaysia, China, and India, and all of those flavours and spices mixing together makes for some of the best eating on the planet. Chicken and rice is an iconic dish in this country, but aside from that, you’ll find all manner of curries, soups, grilled meat and vegetables, dumplings, salads, fried noodles, seafood, and practically anything you can think of. The fruit shakes and smoothies are also all cheap, fresh, and delicious — so wash down your meal with one of those.
And before you form an opinion that the food that’s served in these places is going to be mediocre, let me tell you that several of the food stands have been awarded a Michelin star! Yes, Liao Fan Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice & Noodle Stall, in particular, is where you can score the cheapest Michelin-starred meal in the world. At a price of just $1.42 for a plate of chicken and rice, it’s impossible to be disappointed by it. I made this my first meal in Singapore and couldn’t believe how tasty such a simple dish could be!
Speaking of food experiences to dive into in Singapore, a lot of people go crazy over having a Singapore Sling at the Raffles Hotel. This famous cocktail was invented there back in 1915 and if you want to have one in its birthplace, you’ll be looking at shelling out $29 (S$39) for the experience! Speaking of shelling… no, the Long Bar isn’t dirty: it’s just tradition to throw your peanut shells on the ground after eating them! (Yes, I almost complained when I sat down because I thought I’d been placed at a messy table!)
When it comes to alcohol, you can expect to pay around S$20 for a cocktail in a nice bar, and a glass of wine for around S$12 in a restaurant. Fun fact: Singapore is the 6th most expensive country in the world for beer, and you can expect to pay S$12 for a 330ml can. Yeah, alcohol sure is expensive in this city!
Singapore’s tap water is totally safe to drink, so you don’t need to buy bottled water (S$4 for a 1-litre bottle) while you’re in town.
In Southeast Asia, in general, I really don’t recommend cooking your own food, unless you have a strict dietary requirement. Buying ingredients for meals is simply too expensive — you can spend $10-15 on ingredients for a dish that you can get for $4 on the streets.
And as for restaurants, they’re everywhere and reasonably expensive compared to the hawker goodness. A two-course meal with a glass of wine can be around S$40.
In general, I’d recommend expecting to spend around S$15 a day to have all of your meals/drinks at Hawker centres, and S$30 a day if you throw in a restaurant and cafe every now and then.
The Cost of Activities in Singapore
We’ve covered accommodation, transportation, and food, so the only thing left to take a look at is the cost of activities in Singapore! If you’re not careful, this is the category that can really wreck your budget.
Fortunately, like many cities around the world, it’s possible to spend absolutely nothing on activities and still have a wonderful time in Singapore.
One of my favourite free things to do is wander around Little India — I’m absolutely obsessed with this neighbourhood! Merlion Park is another great area to hang out at and take photos of the skyline. Gardens by the Bay ($11 entrance fee) is absolutely incredible and should definitely be on your Singapore hit list, as well as the city’s botanic gardens, which has received UNESCO status. If you find yourself with perfect weather and nothing to do, hit the beaches on Sentosa Island! Wandering the Treetop Walk at MacRitchie Reservoir makes for some epic photos and is completely free to do. And, of course, Hawker-hopping your way around town is as much of a tourist attraction as anywhere else in Singapore
As you can see, there’s plenty to keep you busy if you don’t have much money to spend.
Let’s take a look, though, at the prices you can expect to pay for entrance fees and activities across the country.
- Entrance to Singapore Zoo: S$28 (S$56 with a hotel pick-up)
- Entrance to Singapore Night Safari with tram ticket included: S$55
- Entrance to Jurong Bird Park: S$25
- Entrance to Universal Studios: S$74
- Skip-the-line entrance to Marina Bay Sands Observation Deck: S$20
- Entrance to Sentosa Island for one day: S$70
- Entrance to Singapore Science Centre: S$12
- Entrance to National Museum of Singapore: S$10
- Entrance to Asian Civilisations Museum: S$8
- Private street food tour, sampling 10 local dishes: S$127
Other Expenses for Singapore
A Singapore guidebook: A guidebook will give you an in-depth look into Singaporean culture, suggest the perfect itineraries for the amount of time you have, and offer recommendations for where to eat and what’s worth doing. I like Lonely Planet guidebooks and their Singapore offering receives some of the best reviews.
A local SIM card: I don’t know about you, but one of my least favourite aspects of arriving in a new country is having to figure out how to get connected. Specifically: buying a local SIM card so that I have data to use while I’m in the country.
There’s locating a store that will sell you one, language barriers to deal with, various forms of ID you might need to bring, scams to navigate, and… well, it’s a headache.
This year, I started using Airalo, which sells local e-SIM cards for travellers. What that means is that you can buy your SIM card online before you arrive in Singapore, and then as soon as you land in the country, you can switch on your data and start using it. It’s worked flawlessly for me and now, I’ll never go back to physical SIM cards. You’ll pay $7.50 for 1 GB of data or $22.50 for 5 GB for Singapore and can also top-up through the Airalo app.
Make sure you have an e-SIM compatible phone before buying — all recent iPhones and many Androids are.
Travel insurance: If you’ve read any other posts on Never Ending Footsteps, you’ll know that I’m a great believer in travelling with travel insurance. I’ve seen far too many Go Fund Me campaigns from destitute backpackers that are unexpectedly stranded in a foreign country after a scooter accident/being attacked/breaking a leg with no way of getting home or paying for their healthcare. In short, if you can’t afford travel insurance, you can’t afford to travel. These costs can quickly land you with a six-figure bill to pay at the end of it.
Travel insurance will cover you if your flight is cancelled and you need to book a new one, if your luggage gets lost and you need to replace your belongings, if you suddenly get struck down by appendicitis and have to be hospitalised, or discover a family member has died and you need to get home immediately. If you fall seriously ill, your insurance will cover the costs to fly you home to receive medical treatment.
I use SafetyWing as my travel insurance provider, and recommend them for trips to Singapore. Firstly, they’re one of the few companies out there who will actually cover you if you contract COVID-19. On top of that, they provide worldwide coverage, don’t require you to have a return ticket, and even allow you to buy coverage after you’ve left home. If you’re on a long-term trip, you can pay monthly instead of up-front, and can cancel at any time. Finally, they’re affordable, and have a clear, easy-to-understand pricing structure, which is always appreciated.
How Much Did I Spend on My Trip to Singapore?
I always like to share my own personal expenses when travelling in a country, as I think it helps you figure out what you should be expecting to pay each day while you’re there. A list of expenses is great and helpful, of course, but putting them all together in order to come up with a reasonable estimate can be trickier.
Here’s what I’ve spent on average over my month in Singapore:
Accommodation: $27 per day (S$37)
Transportation: $10 per day (S$14)
Food and drink: $18 per day (S$24)
Activities: $17 per day (S$23)
My average daily cost of travel in the Singapore was therefore: $72 (S$98) per day. It’s certainly not as cheap as elsewhere in Southeast Asia, but it’s still a lot more affordable than I expected! Had I skipped out on the activities (Singapore Zoo and the Night Safari), it would have been just $55 a day.
[Photo of the Gardens by the Bay by: Sean Pavone; of Singapore at night by: joesayhello/Shutterstock; of Chinatown by: Kapi Ng/Shutterstock; Little India facade by: F11Photo/Shutterstock]