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A Backpacker's Guide When Travelling in Singapore

Singapore may be the fifth most expensive city in the world with luxury shops and skyscrapers dotting its urban landscape, but it also has an affordable side that attracts backpackers from around the world. For instance, in terms of accommodation, the city has a lot of budget-friendly hostels available for travellers. Moreover, Singapore is renowned for its hawker centre food culture that serves authentic cuisines that fit all budgets.   

So, don’t let Singapore’s reputation as a high-end travel destination fool you. As a backpacker, you can explore what this city-state has to offer on a budget. In this guide, we'll show you how to experience the Lion City without breaking the bank, from where to stay to the best free experiences you shouldn't miss.

Is Singapore Too Expensive for Backpackers?

The short answer is no. While it's undeniable that Singapore can be pricey, especially when compared to neighbouring countries in Southeast Asia, you can still have an unforgettable backpacking experience here without draining your savings as long are you’re able to carefully plan ahead.   

Singapore can actually be a comfortable place to live for residents with low to high salaries, as long as you know where to look. For instance, when searching for postpaid mobile plans, there are deals for just about every budget.

How Long Should You Stay in Singapore? 

The ideal duration for your stay in Singapore depends on your interests and allocated funds. Most backpackers find that 3 to 5 days strike a balance between exploring the city's attractions and managing expenses. This timeframe allows you to see the highlights without feeling rushed.   

What's the Average Travel Budget for Singapore? 

To enjoy Singapore cost-efficiently, it’s important to set a budget for the trip. On average, backpackers can expect to spend around USD 50 to 70 per day. This estimate covers accommodation in budget- friendly hostels, street food and hawker centre meals, public transportation, and entry fees to some attractions. 

What Are the Travel Requirements for Singapore? 

Before your journey, ensure you have your passport, and check the visa requirements for your nationality. Take note that many travellers can enter Singapore visa-free for a limited period. As of this writing, Singapore is open to all travellers, regardless of their COVID-19 vaccination status.   

Where Should You Stay as a Backpacker with a Limited Budget? 

Singapore offers a range of affordable accommodation options. For backpackers, hostels are a popular choice. Moreover, areas like Little India and Chinatown have a selection of budget-friendly Airbnb’s and hostels, putting you in the heart of the city's culture and attractions.   

When Is the Best Time to Go to Singapore and What Should You Wear? 

Singapore has a tropical climate, meaning it's warm and humid year-round. The best time to visit largely depends on your tolerance for heat and rain. The months of February to April and July to September are generally considered the most comfortable in terms of weather.

In terms of clothing, light and breathable fabrics are your best friends. Next, pack comfortable walking shoes, as you'll be exploring the city on foot. In addition, don't forget to bring an umbrella or rain jacket as sudden showers are common.   

What Are the Budget-Friendly Must-See Places to Visit? 

If you’re on a tight budget, better skip Universal Studios which could cost you SGD 74 each (which is around USD 54). Instead, head over to the more affordable attractions that Singapore is famous for.
  • Gardens by the Bay. 
    • While there's an admission fee for the Cloud Forest and Flower Dome, you can enjoy the stunning Supertree Grove, OCBC Skyway, and the outdoor gardens for free. Better yet, visit in the evening when the Supertrees light up for a magical experience. 

  • Bukit Timah Nature Reserve. 
    • Lace up your hiking shoes and explore this lush green oasis. Admission to this park is free, and the hike to the summit rewards you with panoramic views of the city. 

  • Sentosa Island.
    • Instead of the monorail, take the Sentosa Boardwalk to save money. In case you didn’t know, this is a pedestrian walkway that connects VivoCity shopping mall to Sentosa Island. Once on the island, you can enjoy the free beaches and nature trails. What’s more, if you time it right, you might catch a free outdoor movie screening. 

  • Hawker Centres. 
    • Singapore is renowned for its hawker centres. Maxwell Road Hawker Centre and Chinatown Complex Food Centre are just a couple of the places where you can savour delicious local dishes at affordable prices. 

  • Singapore Botanic Garden. 
    • This 164-year-old tropical garden near Orchard Road is one of Singapore’s crowning jewels. It's been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 2015, making it an important landmark for the country. What’s more, you can visit this attraction for free. Inside, you can take a peaceful stroll through the different gardens such as the orchid and ethnobotany gardens. 

  • ArtScience Museum. 
    • While the museum charges SGD 37 (around USD 27) for the entry, it regularly hosts free exhibits. So, keep an eye out for those events. 

  • Merlion Park and Marina Bay Sands. 
    • Your visit to Singapore won’t be complete without getting that iconic picture with the Merlion statue and the incredible skyline views.   
Singapore may have a reputation for opulence, but it's entirely possible to explore this vibrant city on a backpacker's budget. With thoughtful planning, you can explore and have a lovely adventure in the Lion City without leaving you pauper in the end.

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