Singapore Swing: Top Saving Hacks for Your Next Trip
3rd August 2018
Singapore, oh Sigh-apore! Fifth time in a row, Singapore has been dubbed the world’s most expensive city. Glitzy, eco and futuristic, the island nation attracts millions of tourist each year.
With its world-famous Changi International Airport (that features a swimming pool, theater, and a museum where you can while away your time), Singapore makes a convenient transfer point for further Asia travel. So why not stop here for a while?
Your Singapore trip doesn’t have to cost you a fortune! All it takes is just a few simple travel swaps.
1. Enjoy free family entertainment. Try Haw Par Villa and Light Marina Bay
Sentosa is one of the top tourist attractions of the Little Red Dot.
But it’s hardly a unique place of interest. You can pop in the Universal Studios in Hollywood, Orlando, or Osaka, and spectacular aquaria and sea worlds are found all over the globe.
Haw Par Villa
However, THIS is a genuinely unique Singaporean experience:
Haw Par Villa, formerly known as Tiger Balm Gardens, is a century-old theme park in Singapore, built by the makers of the famous Tiger Balm, the Haw-Par brothers. Ghoulish and freaky, the park is a ravishing wonder that guides you through the traditional Chinese values, stories, and beliefs.
The park is easily accessible by the metro (Circle Line 5, The Haw Par Villa stop), and there is no entrance fee. For more info, go to the official website.
Spectra Light Show
When you come back from the land of creepy wonders, check in at the Marina Bay Waterfront Promenade for the evening light & water show.
The mesmerizing display takes about 15 minutes and is entirely free of charge. For show times and details, visit the Spectra website: https://www.marinabaysands.com/entertainment/spectra.html.
2. Get the top view. Skip Sands SkyPark and choose OCBC Skyway
Impressive skyscrapers, “tallest ever” towers, blood-curdling skywalks… Who doesn’t love them?
If you’re keen on spending SGD 23 on elbowing your way through selfie sticks and then waiting an hour to two for a lift that will bring you down 57 floors to end that madness, go to Sands SkyPark.
If you’d rather spend three times less money on a leisurely walk in a garden, while still being able to enjoy the city skyline, take a stroll to the nearby Gardens by the Bay and get to Skyway.
3. Explore nature. Visit the Botanic Gardens
While you’re in Gardens by the Bay, you may be tempted to go inside the domes. If you do, this will cost you over SGD 20. While it may be worthwhile, here’s another thrifty option.
First of all, the outside gardens are a delight on their own, and they are publicly accessible.
Secondly, if you have green fingers and love lazy walks in the park, check out the enormous Singapore Botanic Gardens. They are beautifully-maintained, full of spectacular fauna, and… free.
My favorite area there? The rainforest, which transported me back to a Borneo jungle, and the humbling Giant Walk with massive trees.
4. Discover the city with a free app
I like traveling on hop-on, hop-off buses from time to time. They are a convenient way to tour a city if you’re short on time.
Yet Singapore is pretty walkable, so keep the bus pass, get your best Crocs, and download one of the many spectacular apps that will help you explore and enjoy the city:
- Singapore Travel Guide and Offline Map: this app includes an offline map, a list of top city attractions with a description and a museum reference. Available on iOS and Android
- The Official Visit Singapore App: contains information and suggestions about places of interest, travel and route recommendations, travel ratings, and nearby points of interest; iOS
- MRT Offline: an offline metro map; iOS and Android versions
- Grab: the local Uber replacement, very cheap, extremely popular, but the quality of service is pretty shifting; Download Grab.
5. Descend to the basement and try delicious food
Supermarkets may not seem an obvious choice to try some great food, but in Singapore, that’s exactly where you want to head off to.
Most supermarket food halls are located either on the top floor (or rooftop) or in the basement:
Hundreds of tables, dozens of stalls & shops serving a variety of food around. You make an order and take a seat. Quite often, there are drink-runners who will serve drinks.
And the food? Just have a look:
Thai, Malaysian, Japanese, Korean, Indian, Vietnamese, Chinese, Burmese, I could go on all night… It’s a glutton’s heaven.
A scrumptious meal will set you back by $4-12. A good deal for a hearty meal! And you may find some rare delicacies, too (e.g., a century egg served by the renowned Din Tai Fung restaurant – it cost $3):
6. Sleep tight. Look for alternatives to Marina Bay Sands
Marina Bay Sands may be one of the most iconic hotels in the world, but probably one of the most expensive, too. At a random check, the least expensive room on an average Tuesday night in August costs around $480 per night.
That would be WITHOUT breakfast.
But worry not, although finding budget accommodation in Singapore may require some effort, consider one of the following if you’re really strapped for cash:
- Check out Chinatown, Little India, Bugis and Kampong Glam areas for cheaper lodgings. These districts typically offer more affordable accommodation.
- For hostels, try out this website where you may be able to find dorm beds in a decent location from as low as $8-10 per night: https://www.hostelworld.com/
- Consider capsule hotels. Depending on the location and standard, they will set you back $50-$80 USD per night.
- If you’re looking for the ‘comfy without splurgy’ deal, how about trying one of the hotel chains? The ones popular in Singapore are Holiday Inn, Fragrance Hotels, Aqueen, or Hotel 81, for example. The price? Anything between $80-$120 USD per night.