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A Thrifty Explorer’s Guide to Exploring Singapore on a Budget

A Thrifty Explorer’s Guide to Exploring Singapore on a Budget

With your plane tickets to Singapore secured, you might be contemplating how to craft a fulfilling travel itinerary while adhering to a budget. 

While Singapore may not be the most budget-friendly destination, fear not, as there are numerous savvy ways to explore without breaking the bank. 

From free attractions to meals at hawker centres, we narrowed down a few tips for you to make your trip more wallet-friendly!

1. Visit attractions and landmarks in Singapore with free admission

Visit attractions and landmarks in Singapore with free admission

Many attractions and important landmarks in Singapore offer free admission to visitors. 

Some of these are Merlion Park, the National Library Singapore, the Singapore Botanic Gardens, and Fort Canning Park, to name a few. 

Some main attractions like the Supertree Grove and themed gardens at Gardens by the Bay are generally free, but some indoor exhibits like Floral Fantasy, Flower Dome, and Cloud Forest all have separate ticketing fees for entry. 

2. Stay at budget hotels or short-term rentals

Stay at budget hotels or short-term rentals

Since Singapore is a popular tourist destination in Southeast Asia, it’s no surprise that the island nation has many budget hotels and hostels for tourists. 

Budget-friendly accommodations are often found in renovated shophouses, heritage buildings, and modern serviced apartments. Many tourists opt for short-term stays in these places, as they offer better value for money compared to upscale hotels. 

These stays can last from a week to three months, depending on guest preferences. For an even more economical choice, hostels are available, where you can rent a single bed or pod. 

Some hostels even offer single rooms with multiple pod spaces for couples and families. We’ve listed a few of them below.

3. Dine your heart out at hawker centres

Dine your heart out at hawker centres

No trip to Singapore is complete without dining your heart out at the famed hawker centres. These are essentially food courts that house dozens of food stalls, selling local and international delicacies at very cheap prices. 

Found in every district, hawker centres are a vital part of Singapore’s food culture. They offer affordable traditional dishes and serve as community hubs. 

These places are tourist attractions too. 

Take for instance Lau Pa Sat, a famous Victorian-era hawker centre housing Michelin Bib Guide-awarded stalls. Many hawker stalls hold this distinction, providing world-class dining for around $5 per meal.

4. Shop at local markets

Shop at local markets

Local markets in Singapore are bustling enclaves usually located in the city’s busiest districts like Chinatown, Bugis, and Orchard. 

These markets are either set up along heritage shophouses, outside hawker centres, or within neighbourhoods, and they are filled with shops that offer items, souvenirs, gadgets, and clothing at affordable prices. 

Prime local markets to visit are Bugis Street Market, Katong Square, and Little India Arcade. The shops there also sell items that highlight the culture of the neighbourhood, giving you lots of souvenir options to shop for friends and family. 

Get an EZ Link Card to get around

Public transportation in Singapore is one of the best in the world, and exploring the island using the bus or train with a Singapore Tourist Pass or EZ Link Card is a cost-effective way to get around. 

Getting this pass offers better value for money than buying one-way tickets per ride. 

Using public transportation is relatively cheaper than hailing a taxi or private driver, especially when you’re out and about every day! 

To save more on ticket fees, apply and get an EZ Link Card on your first day in Singapore. The type of EZ Link Card you should get is the Singapore Tourist Pass, which basically gives you unlimited rides on public transport for three days. 

Refer to the chart below for the rates and tiers of Singapore Tourist Passes:

Singapore Tourist PassSG Tourist PassSingapore Tourist Pass PlusSTP Charm
Price$22/$29/$34$29$48 $36.90
Duration1 to 3 Days3 Days3 Days1 Day
No. of RidesUnlimitedUnlimitedUnlimited + Inclusive of 1-hour tour, $5 credit for Changi Travel Concierge ServicesUnlimited
Rental Deposit$10 refundable rental depositNoneNoneNone

You can easily top-up your pass and extend its duration using the EZ Link app on your mobile phone. These passes are only applicable for bus and train rides. Transportation on the Sentosa Express and other express buses have separate fees. 

Plus, you can refund your unused credits at ticket offices before you leave Singapore!

6. Drink from the tap!

Drink from the tap!

You can save a few extra dollars if you drink from the tap instead of purchasing single-use bottled water. Tap water in Singapore is safe and clean to drink, so bring a reusable tumbler or water bottle with you as you explore the island! 

Most water dispensers are located in shopping malls like Raffles City. If you’re nowhere near a mall, any water fountain or public taps are safe to drink. 

If the water isn’t potable, there will be signs by the taps to inform you. 

Top Free Places to Visit in Singapore

From benjamin.trickey

Address: 1 Fullerton Rd, Singapore 049213

Contact Details: +6565145959

Operating Hours: Open 24/7 


Merlion Park is a quintessential Singaporean attraction conveniently located near other top tourist destinations. Here, you’ll find the iconic 70-ton Merlion statue, a perfect spot for free photos.

You can explore smaller Merlion statues around the island, but the main one at One Fullerton is a must-see. From there, you can catch Spectra, a nightly water and light show near Marina Bay Sands.

During your visit, be sure to capture that essential Merlion selfie. Take as many as you like. These photos will be cherished mementoes of your Lion City adventure.

Address: 1 Cluny Rd, Singapore 259569

Contact Details: +6564717138 

Opening Hours: Monday to Sunday, 5:00 am to 12:00 am


The Singapore Botanic Gardens is a fantastic place to spend time with friends, family, or pets. You can wander through tropical landscapes, go for a jog, or simply relax.

This is an iconic 82-hectare UNESCO World Heritage Site. Entrance to the main garden complex is free, but with an additional fee, you can also visit the National Orchid Garden located inside.

The orchid is Singapore’s national flower, so a visit to the National Orchid Garden, which houses 3 hectares worth of unique orchid species, is a must-do for every tourist!

From rie_0209

Address: 20 Raffles Avenue, Fort Canning Park, Singapore 039805

Contact Details: +65 1800 471 7300

Operating Hours: Open 24/7 


Fort Canning Park is a must-visit in Singapore for history buffs. It dates back to the 14th century.

It offers a mix of history and recreation with highlights like the Fort Canning Lighthouse, a 19th-century cannon, and the Keramat Iskandar Shah, which is a shrine dedicated to the last king of Singapore.

Nature lovers can explore the Nine Gardens, themed gardens enriched by informative plaques that tell captivating stories.

From froginshock

Address: 8 Marina Gardens Dr, Singapore 018951

Contact Details: +6564206848

Operating Hours: Open 24/7 


Marina Barrage in Singapore is a remarkable destination offering a blend of nature and architecture. It serves as both a dam and the city’s largest reservoir.

The site boasts extensive green spaces, perfect for picnics and kite flying. It’s a hub for outdoor and water sports activities like fishing, kayaking, and paddle-boarding. 

Most activities here are free, including relaxing on the rooftop park, home to the Sustainable Singapore Gallery, which offers insights into the country’s sustainability efforts and stunning sunset views.

From chaitngkhin

Address: 100 Victoria St, Singapore 188064

Contact Details: [email protected] 

Opening Hours: Monday to Sunday, 10:00 am to 9:00 pm


The National Library in Singapore stands as an iconic institution, proudly housing an extensive collection of over 600,000 items. 

It’s a peaceful place with lots of books, and the best part is that you can come in for free during its regular hours. It’s a place to get away from the city’s busyness and enjoy reading.

The National Library ensures that you can stay plugged in while you indulge in the world of books and culture. They provide free Wi-Fi, catering to those who need to remain connected for work, research, or even just to share their library experience on social media.

From josef1064

Address: 11 Keppel Hill, Singapore 098686

Operating Hours: Open 24/7 


Looking for an adventurous outing? Many intrepid hikers embrace the challenge of the enigmatic Keppel Hill Reservoir, despite its reputation for possibly being haunted.

This reservoir remained concealed from the world for several decades until it was rediscovered by paranormal investigators in 2005. 

In the vicinity of Keppel Hill, you’ll encounter other equally intriguing sites that might capture your curiosity. These include the Seah Im Bunker, Keppel Hill House, and the Japanese Tombstone, all within a short distance from the reservoir.

Address: 18 Marina Gardens Dr, Singapore 018953

Contact Details: +6564206848

Operating Hours: Monday to Sunday, 5:00 am to 2:00 am 


Gardens by the Bay stands out as one of Singapore’s iconic landmarks and a prime destination for social gatherings. The best part is that you can explore numerous captivating features, like the Supertree Grove, without spending a cent. 

It’s worth noting that local residents enjoy discounted admission rates to these attractions, making them even more enticing to explore.

Don’t miss the chance to explore The Meadow, Heritage Gardens, and Satay by the Bay for additional leisure options in the vicinity. 

From estricaiina

Address: 78 Club St, Singapore 069447

Contact Details: +6518004717300

Opening Hours: Open 24/7


Nestled amidst the gentle slopes of Ann Siang Hill, you’ll find Ann Siang Hill Park, a serene green oasis that offers a peaceful escape from the vibrant buzz of the historic neighbourhood that surrounds it.

Strategically located near Club Street, this park provides an ideal vantage point to savour the charming views of the culturally rich enclave. 

Beyond its tranquillity, the park beautifully blends elements of nature and history, offering a unique perspective on the captivating Ann Siang Hill neighbourhood. 

From mj_mong

Address: E Coast Park Service Rd, Singapore

Operating Hours: Open 24/7


East Coast Park is Singapore’s largest park as it covers a vast expanse of over 180 hectares, stretching across three distinct districts.

One of its standout features is East Coast Beach, an ideal location for solo relaxation, romantic getaways, or casual gatherings with friends.

Don’t miss the chance to experience the stunning sunset at Bedok Jetty, particularly if you plan an afternoon visit. East Coast Park is open 24/7, and as the day transitions into the evening, it comes alive with an array of restaurants and food stalls. 

Best Budget Hotels 

Address: 39 Seah St, Singapore 188395

Contact Details: +6562237155 

Pricing: $

Check-in Time: 3:00 pm

Check-out Time: 11:00 am 

Book Now 

For an immersive experience in Singapore’s cultural districts, consider booking with Heritage Collection. They offer comfortable accommodations in popular neighbourhoods, from boutique hotels to serviced apartments. 

Choose your location and browse listings on their website for nightly or monthly stays, some with a minimum three-month requirement.

While it may not be a 5-star experience, you’ll have all you need for a comfortable stay, some for as low as $100 per night, with access to appliances, electronics, and laundry facilities.

Address: 2 Lloyd Rd, Singapore 239091

Contact Details: +6567377309 

Pricing: $$

Check-in Time: 3:00 pm

Check-out Time: 12:00 pm 

Book Now 

Lloyd’s Inn, just a 5-minute walk from Orchard Road, offers an oasis of greenery and tastefully designed rooms for a relaxing stay in the city. Guests can enjoy the pool and terrace for a serene escape.

A standout feature is the complimentary breakfast included in your booking, ensuring a delicious start to your day. 

Its strategic location near Orchard Road provides easy access to shopping, dining, and entertainment, with excellent public transportation connections for exploring Singapore’s attractions.

Address: 20 Labrador Villa Rd, Singapore 119191

Contact Details: +6569292100 

Pricing: $$$

Check-in Time: 2:00 pm

Check-out Time: 12:00 pm 

Book Now 

Villa Samadhi is a unique boutique hotel with a rich historical charm. With just 20 rooms, it offers an intimate and cosy experience, and its architectural style harks back to the 1920s, reminding guests of Singapore’s colonial era. 

The hotel is nestled within the tranquil Labrador Nature Reserve, making it a hidden gem in the city.

During your stay at Villa Samadhi, you can unwind in various ways. Take a refreshing dip in the inviting plunge pool, leisurely wander through the lush forest surroundings, or enjoy a restful nap on the generously sized beds.

Address: 200 Middle Rd, Singapore 188980

Contact Details: +6568097988 

Pricing: $$

Check-in Time: 3:00 pm

Check-out Time: 11:00 am 

Book Now 

Consider Hotel G in Bugis for a hidden yet stylish accommodation in Singapore. It’s small but full of character, ideal for those who want to be close to the city’s vibrant nightlife and art scene, located between Orchard and Little India.

Rooms are modern and well-equipped, with amenities like a kitchenette. The hotel is near public transit and a variety of dining options, from local eateries to renowned restaurants.

Bugis is known for its lively atmosphere and cultural attractions like the National Museum of Singapore. If you’re interested in nightlife, Haji Lane is a short ride away.

Address: 18 Mosque St, Chinatown Heritage Centre, Singapore 059498

Contact Details: +6563260430 

Pricing: $$

Check-in Time: 3:00 pm

Check-out Time: 12:00 pm 

Book Now

Consider Hotel Mono for affordable yet elegant accommodation. This boutique hotel, designed by Spaceedge Designs, is nestled among Chinatown’s heritage shophouses.

Located in a lively community, you can savour local cuisine, explore cultural shops, and enjoy nightlife at trendy bars nearby. The hotel’s impeccable upkeep ensures a warm and inviting atmosphere, perfect for Instagram-worthy photos.

Keep an eye out for online deals at Hotel Mono, which often include discounts of up to 40% and flexible free cancellation options for early bookings.

Best Hostels and Capsules You Can Book for Cheap

Address: 40 Mosque St, Singapore 059518

Contact Details: +6583800500 

Pricing: $

Check-in Time: 3:00 pm

Check-out Time: 12:00 pm 


The Bohemian Chic, operating since 2014, offers budget hostel accommodations in Chinatown. It’s conveniently located near trendy bars, restaurants, souvenir shops, and the Chinatown MRT station.

Each booking includes a night’s stay in a capsule room, perfect for solo travellers on a budget. While not the best choice for families, it provides a clean and comfortable place for a short stay. 

Breakfast is included, and there’s a cafe and bar on the ground floor for additional dining options. The hostel is known for its friendly atmosphere, making it a great place to meet fellow backpackers while travelling solo.

Address: 18 Marina Gardens Dr, Singapore 018953

Contact Details: +6566657500

Pricing: $$

Check-in: 3:00 pm

Check-out: 11:00 am 

Book Now

A stay at the Garden Pod promises a unique eco-living experience. This innovative pod hotel is nestled within the tranquil Gardens by the Bay, making it an appealing choice for nature enthusiasts seeking a comfortable overnight stay.

Think of it as a contemporary twist on a treehouse, offering all the conveniences and amenities of a traditional hotel but with the added charm of being in close proximity to nature. 

The Garden Pod’s location grants you swift access to renowned attractions such as the Flower Dome, Floral Fantasy, Cloud Forest, and OCBC Skyway. 

Address: Mosque St, #8A, Singapore 059488

Contact Details: +6598356850

Pricing: $

Check-in: 3:00 pm

Check-out: 11:00 am 

Book Now

Wink Capsule Hostel in Chinatown offers clean and quiet capsules with amenities like power sockets and reading lamps. You can also rent single rooms with multiple pods for groups or families, saving money. 

They have male-only and female-only rooms for added privacy.

 Bathrooms are shared but spacious with multiple facilities. There are other branches at McCallum Street and Upper Cross Street for different locations.

Address: 172 Tyrwhitt Road, Singapore 207574

Contact Details: +6568161036

Pricing: $

Check-in: 2:00 pm

Check-out: 11:00 am 

Book Now

The Dream Lodge, located between three MRT stations, is a great choice for budget travellers exploring landmarks. The hostel offers comfy single pods with curtains for privacy, starting at $45. You can opt for male-only, female-only, or couple pods.

Situated in the hip Lavender area, it’s perfect for coffee lovers and fans of chic hole-in-the-wall spots. The hostel provides a pantry and dining area for meals indoors. 

If you’re staying for an extended period, they offer laundry facilities for an additional fee. Plus, the staff regularly change bed linens and towels, so there’s no need to bring your own.

Address: 322 Lavender St., Singapore 338821

Contact Details: +6562971055

Pricing: $$

Check-in: 3:00 pm

Check-out: 12:00 pm 

Book Now

Gap Year Hostel, near Boon Keng and Bendemeer MRT stations, offers convenient access to Singapore’s landmarks. It’s located in a stylish two-story shophouse in lively Little India.

The neighbourhood has chic boutiques, cafes, bars, and eateries for leisurely breaks. The hostel offers family rooms, solo pods, and couples’ capsules, all equipped with power sockets, personal lockers, hooks, and some with work tables.

Storage facilities and laundry services are available at the front desk for additional convenience.

Best Hawker Centres

From benorama_photography

Address: 18 Raffles Quay, Singapore 048582

Contact Details: +6562202138


Lau Pa Sat is Singapore’s most iconic hawker centre, housed in a rebuilt Victorian-style building. It offers a wide array of local and international cuisines within a stylish dining complex.

Don’t miss the chance to explore the diverse food options here, including authentic hawker-style delights. Satay Street, the largest open-air satay station, is located just outside Lau Pa Sat, offering even more culinary choices.

With tables and satay carts lining the hawker centre’s sides, there’s plenty to satisfy your taste buds both inside and outside.

From suncrate1967

Address: 30 Seng Poh Rd, Singapore 168898

Tiong Bahru Food Centre in Singapore offers a market-to-table experience with a focus on fresh seafood and meat from Tiong Bahru Market. 

It’s known for Michelin Bib award-winning stalls, including the famous Tiong Bahru Hainanese boneless chicken rice, a beloved culinary icon. Don’t miss it if you’re in Singapore.

While Singapore is known for its chilli crabs, Hainanese chicken rice is an absolute must-try for first-time visitors.

From qyizheng

Address: 11 Telok Blangah Cres, Singapore 090011

Contact Details: +6562202138

Head to Telok Blangah Crescent Market and Food Centre for a taste of Malay and Indian-inspired local delicacies. This smaller hawker centre offers laksa, char kway teow, chicken rice, and many vegetarian options.

Located near the Southern Ridges, it provides a refreshing dining experience with fresh air and lush greenery. 

Address: 7 Maxwell Rd, Singapore 069111

Contact Details: +6562255632

Operating Hours: Monday to Saturday, 6:30 am to 9:00 pm, Sunday, 6:30 am to 6:00 pm

Amoy Street Food Centre, despite recent renovations, is a bustling hub for authentic Singaporean hawker fare. Situated near Ann Siang Hill, it’s a reliable alternative when nearby restaurants are busy.

The centre is known for its affordable and delicious noodle stalls, some featured in the Michelin Bib Guide. They offer options like creamy chicken curry with garlic naan for just $6.

You can also find budget-friendly salads here, making it a pocket-friendly choice for healthier options.

From rami.everywhere

Address: 531A Upper Cross St, Singapore 051531

Contact Details: +6562255632

Hong Lim Market and Food Centre, established in 1978, is a beloved hawker centre in Chinatown. Despite its smaller size with around 100 stalls, it’s popular due to its central location and proximity to office buildings, so arrive early to beat the lunchtime crowd.

Don’t miss the Michelin Bib awardees like Tai Wah Pork Noodle for excellent bak chor mee and Outram Park Fried Kway Teow Mee, known for its stir-fried noodles, still run by veteran hawker owner Ng Chin Chye.

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