We have been to this charismatic city too many times to be able to afford to spend the whole savings on every visit. So, we looked for other options. Believe or not, you can easily stay a whole week in Singapore on a pretty low budget without missing out on the main attractions.
Remember that the best things in life are for free!
MARINA BAY SANDS PROMENADE
The first thing you will want to see in Singapore is MBS. This fascinating architectonic miracle along with its phenomenal waterfront promenade create the most glorious spectacle one can find in the world. You can spend a day sauntering around the harbour front, experiencing jaw-dropping views of the surrounding Skyscrapers, Marina Bay Sands Complex, Singapore Flyer as well as the famous Gardens by the Bay. It is completely free.
Watch the “free of charge” Marina Bay Sands light show hosted every night around 8 pm. The laser effects will blow your mind away. Grab a beer in one of the nearby mini markets, find a spot on the stairs of the Collyer Quay overlooking MBS and enjoy the wonderful atmosphere of Singapore.
GARDENS BY THE BAY
The famous waterfront garden is a massive nature park providing some more mesmerizing views of the city. It is a relatively new tourist attraction located just at the Marina Bay Sands. Get lost in the lush evergreen gardens with palm trees, cactus, and exotic flowers. It is as much beauty in the daytime as in the night when the impressive trees of the “Super-tree Groves” light up and change colour during the light and sound show.
To save money and visit Singapore on a budget, avoid the less imposing Flower Dome and Cloud Forest (these sections are paradoxically for an extra charge). Get some takeaway food and have a picnic dinner in the gardens while watching the magnificent night show for no charge.
The Raffles Place is a starting point for one of the best free self-guided tours of Singapore. First, explore this financial heart with the tallest buildings in the city. Once you have had enough of stunning views walk to the Boat Quay, following the river towards the Clarke Quay. You will get to see some of the historical pearls of Singapore, e.g. the iconic Fullerton Hotel.
Raffles Place is a place where you get the best coffee in Singapore. Pop into one of the numerous coffee shops around and try it yourself.
Slowly approaching the popular Clarke Quay you will suddenly notice a scenery very different from the previous one. The striking riverside and its picturesque setting somehow resemble Venice. Continuously passing boats, colourful riverfront houses and charming restaurants lining the banks of the Singapore River will make you want to spend here the rest of the day.
After the long walk, you might want to take a well-deserved break. Cool down in one of the Singapore`s most popular shopping malls; the Central Clarke Quay or the Riverside Point. They both are well-worth of a visit. Enjoy browsing and feast your eyes.
Stay in Clarke Quay until late If you can. The night ambience is absolutely fantastic! Clarke Quay is a quite touristy area and also Singapore`s unofficial entertainment hub, hence very expensive to spend a night at. However, there is always an option… Buy yourself enough beers in the local mini market (they sell alcohol until midnight) and join the crowds of people occupying the stairs leading down to the river. Find a spot and appreciate the unique spirit of this place.
Shopping Spree. What else would you instantly think of when someone mentions Singapore. Not many know though that you do not necessarily need to spend thousands of dollars to get a good deal. Bugis is the venue where to shop in Singapore on budget.
The colourful past of this district reflects in its character. Flashy shopping centres, vivid shop-houses, and lively markets indicate the dominating Arabic culture. Whether it is Bugis Junction, Haji Lane, Bazaar or Bugis street markets your eyes will definitely find some pleasure and your wallet will not suffer.
Discover the Arab Street; Singapore`s Arabic area and dive into the flavours and scents of the “One Thousand and One Nights”. Utilise your best bargaining skills in the markets of Bugis and you will be surprised how cheap the shopping in Singapore can be.
Another cultural experience will lead you into Chinatown where you find everything you would expect to. Chaos. Dirt. And that pungent awkward odour which typical for all Chinatowns in the world. Yet, they are so attractive. Do not hesitate and head out into the streets of the Singapore`s Chinatown. Stroll around the unforgettable food markets, grab a Chinese street snack and hunt for some of the cheapest souvenirs in Singapore.
Try the Singapore Turtle Soup or Fish Head Curry unless you are vegetarian. If you are one feel free to taste the notorious Durian – the stinkiest fruit on earth 🙂 For the less adventurous, there is plenty of other goodies, e.g. Laksa, Hokkien Mee, Chicken Rice, Oyster Omelette, Char Kway Teow, Chilli Crab, Rojak or Kaya toast with a soft boiled egg.
Now, let`s go to the most authentic quarter of Singapore. This part of Singapore is probably the only one where you can get seriously culturally shocked. Especially, If you have never been to India before. It feels like being in the middle of India indeed.
Crowded streets. Hindu temples. Bright-coloured fabric markets. Aromatic spices. Exotic fruit. The smell of incense. Local people wearing traditional costumes and having lunch in the middle of the street with bare hands. This is a food lover heaven – Little India.
Try Little India`s mouth-watering street food – it will make you lick your fingers. Roti Prata is the highlight!
JAPANESE & CHINESE GARDEN
After all that cultural encounter and bargaining on the busy markets of Singapore backstreets, you might be hungry for some peace. MRT will take you from bustling city to the less visited tranquil zone of Singapore; Japanese and Chinese Gardens.
This verdant estate features traditional lily ponds, bonsai garden, stone walkaways, characteristic arching red bridges and resting and tea houses and pagodas. It is a very beautifully designed park that evokes inner peace and it is a great spot for meditation or contemplation as well as wildlife spotting. There is no entrance fee in the gardens. So, pack your lunch and spend a relaxing afternoon in this calming green oasis.
If you are a big fan of the greens and nature you should stop by in the more touristy, centrally located Singapore Botanic Gardens (at no charge) and have an unwinding self-guided walk followed by a picnic.
All your senses should be satisfied by now and it is time to get back to the “posh” face of the city. And the most expensive one. The upscale Sentosa Island.
Before you reach the island you will want to research the Vivo City – the largest shopping mall in Singapore and it has got the best food courts in the town (slightly more expensive than any other but still affordable). Eat something here because it is going to be a long day, and the closer you approach Sentosa the more pricey everything will be.
Next stop is the Harbour Front, home to the Singapore cruise centre. This creatively designed waterfront promenade is just another place with classy bars and restaurants, elegant pedestrian zone and some more spectacular views. The Harbourfront is also a base for every visitor heading to Sentosa.
Have a quick lunch in the Food Republic food court before you head out to the overpriced Sentosa. It will impress you with a great variety of the world`s best foods and fairly inexpensive.
Opulent resorts. Grand hotels. Lavish golf courses. Fancy Beach Clubs. Stunning beaches and tons of fun for everyone: the Universal Studios, Trick-Eye Museum, Adventure and Waterpark, Butterfly and the Insect Kingdom. This is Sentosa Island, Singapore`s favourite leisure destination.
A majority of guests would take the cable car or the express train from the Harbour Front terminal to get to the island (which only takes several minutes) . We have a better option – use your feet. Sentosa boardwalk starting at the Harbour Font leads you right to the heart of the island. It costs you nothing and it only takes around 15 min until you can fully appreciate glamour of Sentosa, the “State of Fun“.
You do not even need to enter any of the above-mentioned attractions to be amazed by all that allure. Enjoy the views from Imbiah Lookout, pass the gigantic Sentosa Merlion and keep walking towards the splendid Siloso Beach. Pick a spot under a palm tree, stretch out on the soft sand and accompanied by happy background music coming from one of the beach clubs dive into your dreams without spending a penny…
Remember to have a big lunch in the “mainland” of Singapore because as soon as you step onto the Island soil the prices will double. Do not forget to pack your swimwear and a towel; Sentosa Island has got some gorgeous beaches to enjoy.
The best way to get around the city is MRT (Singapore`s subway). Singapore has got one of the most efficient subway systems in the world. It is reasonably cheap too. The Singapore Tourist Pass (1,2 or 3-day passes) will only cost you up to 25 SGD and it will get you unlimited access to the Singapore MRT.
The downtown is very compact and it is extremely easy to move around either using the subway the or just walking. MRT operates until midnight but if you get stuck feel free to use the city cabs.
WHEN TO TRAVEL & HOW TO GET THERE
For fewer crowds and lower prices try to avoid the busiest times of the year, such as Singapore public holidays, important international events (unless one of these is the reason for your visit). Also, always check out for haze which is quite frequent and it can ruin all the spectacular views.
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