Redesign your life. Travel the world.
Singapore has only been around for 50 years. In a short time, Singapore becomes one of the world’s most outstanding countries. It leads the world in education, banking, and shipping. It has created an everyday existence of unrivaled cleanliness, safety, and stability. Singapore may not be a budget travel destination, but it is a great place to explore, to get lost in, and is full of fun and adventure. A little travel planning for certain aspects of your trip (transport, accommodation, food and shopping) will go a long, long way. Your every dollar will be stretched so far that you’ll be tempted to extend your stay. Here’s what you need to know:
1. BOOK THE CHEAPEST FLIGHT
Like me, most budget travelers turn to low-cost carriers like Cebu Pacific or AirAsia to fly to Singapore. It’s important to check more than one site before you book your ticket. Browsing a few sites can show you a great variety in price and help you find a better flight. You can use flight comparison sites such as this Budget Flight Finder Skyscanner, Flight Aware , and Expedia. It is also possible that non-budget airlines such as Philippine Airlines and Singapore Airlines provide a better deal, so don’t leave them out in your search for the best flight prices.
Flight prices fluctuate and sometimes, using the general rule of three-month advance purchase may not give you the best deal. Instead, it is imperative to watch out for seasonal flight deals and to follow the different airlines on Facebook to be in the loop for the latest promotions.
2. STAY AT LOW COST ACCOMMODATIONS
If you haven’t sorted out yet where you going to stay in Singapore, check out Agoda.com for a comprehensive list of hotels in all price ranges. But if most hotels are well beyond your budget, look into guesthouses or hostels instead. A hostel dorm bed in Singapore generally costs from SGD25-35 per night. A bonus to staying in guesthouses and hostels is that they offer common areas like a shared kitchen where you’ll have the chance to make friends with travelers from all around the world. Alternatively, opt for a homestay with a local host, which you can look for through Airbnb or Couchsurfing. If you are traveling with a group, consider getting a private room and share the expenses.
The right neighborhood will make exploring the city a cool and comfortable experience. Ensure that the location of your accommodation is central to save on transportation costs. When in Singapore, you won’t go wrong if you pick Chinatown or Bugis as a base. Before booking your accommodation, read the reviews. Lastly, accommodations that provide free breakfast will mean that you have one less meal to pay for each day, so do take that into consideration.
3. USE THE PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION
There are several choices available for transportation in Singapore: taxis, buses, and the subway. Almost any point in Singapore can be reached using one of these modes of transportation. Public transportation in Singapore is reliable, convenient and inexpensive and easy to use.
Singapore’s MRT (mass rapid transit) system is probably the fastest way to zip around the city. The extensive rail network means that most of Singapore’s key attractions are within walking distance from an MRT station.
You can buy tickets for single trips, but if you intend to use the MRT and basic bus services frequently during your visit, you can buy a Singapore Tourist Pass, a special EZ-Link stored-value card which will allow you unlimited travel for one day (S$10), two days (S$16) or three days (S$20).
The cards can be bought at the TransitLink Ticket Office at the following MRT stations: Changi Airport, Orchard, Chinatown, City Hall, Raffles Place, Ang Mo Kio, HarbourFront, Bugis, Lavender, and Bayfront.
Singapore’s bus system has an extensive network of routes covering most places in Singapore and is the most economical way to get around, as well as being one of the most scenic.
You can pay your bus fare using an EZ-Link stored-value card or the Singapore Tourist Pass, which you tap on the card reader located next to the driver as you board. Do remember to tap your card again, on the reader located at the rear exit, when you alight. If you use EZ-link on the bus it cost 0.67SGD compare to 0.90SGD if you paid it in cash, aside from that be sure that you have an exact amount because the driver does not issue change. Most buses in Singapore have air-conditioning – a welcome comfort in a tropical city.
Taxis can be pretty expensive but it can be handy especially if you want to go to places not accessible by the bus or MRT. Cabs are metered, but there may be surcharges depending on when, where and which company’s taxi you board. Roughly the Flag-Down rate is (inclusive of 1st km or less) $2.80-$3.00; $3.20, do note that taxis can only accommodate a maximum of four passengers only.
You can hail a taxi by the roadside at most places, or by queuing for one at taxi stands found at most shopping malls, hotels, and tourist attractions. If you wish to book a cab, you can call a common taxi booking number, 6-DIAL CAB (6342-5222), and your call will be routed to an available taxi company’s call center.
4. EAT CHEAP
Food can take a big portion of your budget when traveling. Don’t worry, Singapore has tons of options for eating on the cheap. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to eat well in Singapore; in fact, if your budget is tight, you can survive nicely in eating comfort food at Hawkers place – Singapore’s version of side street stalls and low-cost eateries. Hawkers can be found almost everywhere in Singapore. A classic Singaporean dish, chicken rice is almost never more than 3 SGD or noodle soup for 4 SGD, these are usually one of the most inexpensive things on the menu. Factor in a few bottles of water or 1.50 SGD coffees over the day, and you are good to go.
5. CREATE A THEME
There’s enough to see and do throughout Singapore for free so take advantage of that. And I am not talking about places that are second best to ones you need to pay to see — these include some of Singapore’s most famous landmarks. Like The Gardens by the Bay, Merlion Park, The Marina Bay light show, Museums and Botanic Gardens to name a few. Moreover, some are even eminently walkable from the MRT station.
It’s important, however, to identify your objective – ask yourself, why do you want to go to Singapore? Is it for culture and history? Food trip? Shopping? Nightlife? Photography? Or simply just to have the time of your life? You can definitely do all these in Korea, but the importance of having an objective is to identify which ones to prioritize since you will not be able to visit all the places if you’ll stay for a short amount of time.
The main website I referred to in planning my itinerary was Travel and Guide website. It contains information such as operating hours, admission fees, and directions via public transportation.
6. KNOW WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO VISIT
You will find Singapore weather hot and humid whatever time of year you visit. However, some months may not be as warm as others, but in general, they are all pretty hot. So you can go for your holiday in Singapore any time of the year. The best time to visit Singapore may be during the Northeast monsoon (November to early March) when the temperatures cool a little compared to the rest of the year.
I hope I’ve given you some good ideas on how to plan your trip on a budget. Now I want to hear from you. How do you plan your trip? Post your answers as a comment below.