You’ve probably heard that Singapore is expensive.
Back when I first started planning a trip to Southeast Asia, I struck Singapore off the list because I assumed my backpacker budget wouldn’t stretch to cover this pricey country.
And then I changed my mind.
After six months in the region, I decided I wanted to go to Singapore and I hoped my bank balance could take it.
To my great surprise, I found Singapore to be pretty damn affordable! And sure, it’s not as inexpensive as nearby Thailand, Vietnam, etc, but it’s still not on a par with Western European prices — which was what I had been expecting.
I’ve been recording every single cent I spend in the countries I visit from day one of my travels, because I want to prove that seeing the world is inexpensive and achievable. 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.
Today, I’m taking a look at Singapore and detailing exactly how much you can expect to spend while travelling there.
Let’s get started.
The Cost of Accommodation in Singapore
Staying in hostels is one of the easiest ways to keep your accommodation costs low, and that’s exactly what I did when I visited Singapore for the first time.
The cheapest place to stay in the country is OSS Backpackers Hostel, at a price of $9 (S$12) a night for a dorm bed. It receives an average review score of 8.3 on Booking, which is far better than many of the more expensive hostels in town. It’s close to the subway, has fast Wi-Fi, a fun communal area, and a great free breakfast. If you’re backpacking around Southeast Asia and travelling on a tight budget, this is a great option. They’re also one of the highest-rated hostels when it comes to private rooms, so definitely take a look if you’re going to be backpacking in Singapore. Trust me — there are a ton of terribly-reviewed hostels in this city!
Singapore is also home to many capsule hotels, which gives you a little more privacy for a lower price than a hotel (around $30/S$40 a night). You’ll spend your nights in a small, cosy pod that kind of feels a bit like staying in a spacecraft! Check out Atlantis Pods, The11Room and The Atlas Station to get an idea of the futuristic style. While this probably isn’t an option for the claustrophobic, it’s a pretty cool experience that you can’t have everywhere. I’ve stayed in a capsule hotel before and absolutely loved it!
And if hostels aren’t your kind of thing?
You can find some reasonably-priced guesthouses and hotels in Singapore, too.
The best-reviewed budget option is Q Loft Hotels@Geylang, at a price of $60 (S$80) a night and with a review score of 8.7 on Booking. It offers incredible value for money, considering the cost of nearby hotels, and while the rooms are small, the helpful staff more than make up for that. It’s only been open for a couple of months, so you also know the rooms are going to be clean and freshly decorated!
For a well-reviewed mid-to-higher-range hotel, you’re going to be looking at around $120 (S$160) per night. One of the best value options in this price range is the Hotel 1888 Collection for $118 a night, and with an average review score of 9.1 — the best in this price range. The hotel is five minutes from the subway and located in bustling Chinatown. It’s super-modern with gorgeous furniture and design, the rooms are spacious, and perfect for exploring the Hawker centres that are nearby. This is another brand new hotel, which makes it all the more appealing.
If you don’t have a tight budget in Singapore and you want to celebrate your time there with a truly iconic experience, then look no further than the Marina Bay Sands. You’ll pay roughly $500 (S$670) a night for a room in this famous hotel, but it might be worth it to score one of the best views in the city. The pool, in particular, is incredible and totally on my bucket list for my next visit. This is definitely a splurge, but one that could possibly be well worth it. You can see a photo of the hotel below:
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 can be surprisingly cheap.
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 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, 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. I used them to book every single train ride for three weeks in India and found their price to only be around 20-50 cents more than if I’d bought them on the ground. This made it definitely worth it, as queueing for train tickets in Indian train stations can usually end up taking half a day. Additionally, when I was travelling in Thailand this year, I wasn’t happy with the prices my guesthouse owner was quoting me to travel to the next island. I hopped on 12Go and discovered their prices were far lower. Now I always book my Asia overland travel through the site, and it gives me peace of mind to be able to do so well in advance.
If you’re going to be travelling overland to Malaysia after Singapore, I’d recommend checking out the prices on their site first. You can do so using this form:
The Cost of Food in Singapore
Oh man, the Singapore food scene is incredible. You can eat so well in this country, and it’s one of the few 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 place 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.
So, yeah. 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 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 $24 (S$32) for the experience!
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 is absolutely incredible and should definitely be on your Singapore hit list, as well as the 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 across the country.
- Entrance to Singapore Zoo: S$28
- Entrance to Singapore Night Safari: S$39
- Entrance to Jurong Bird Park: S$25
- Entrance to Universal Studios: S$74
- 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
Something I love to do when I travel is take tours! I always book mine through Viator, no matter where I am in the world. Here’s an idea of the costs you can expect to be up for with these tours:
- Hawker Centre food and walking tour: S$150
- Day trip to Kuala Lumpur and Malacca from Singapore: S$400
- Singapore pub crawl: S$30
- Walking tour and river cruise with afternoon tea: S$100
- Cycling tour of the highlights of Singapore: S$114
- Walking tour of Kampong Glam: S$65
- Vegetarian and vegan food tour: S$120
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.
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 sic-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 kidney stones and have to be hospitalised, have your camera stolen and need to buy a replacement, or discover a family member has died while you’re overseas and 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’ve used World Nomads as my travel insurance provider since 2012 and have had nothing but wonderful things to say about them.
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]