Know where to save so you know where to splurge in Singapore
Singapore is the size of New York, packed with culture and great food, and offers both affordable public transportation and lots of green space. While it’s easy to think of the Southeast Asia island nation as too expensive, there are lots of ways to enjoy an amazing time in Singapore on a budget.
Our family of four (2 adults, 2 school-aged children) visited Singapore for a week in 2023. While Singapore was one of the most expensive areas we visited during the 6 months we traveled in East and Southeast Asia, we can’t wait to go back. We found lots of ways to preserve and stretch our modest family budget—and that helped us know exactly what we were going to splurge on, too.
7 ways to travel Singapore on a budget
Here’s the thing to understand: Like Japan, France, or New York, Singapore has pretty much no ceiling on how much you spend. But the floor is a lot lower than you might think. Budget-friendly options abound, even for families visiting Singapore. Here are 7 ways our family of four saved money in Singapore:
1. No car needed: Singapore’s extensive public transportation network is safe, affordable, and easy to access.
Each child and adult member will need a card for transit. Trains and buses have scanners where you tap your card or phone. Adults can use their phone or a chip-enabled credit card (that’s what we used). For kids, get a refillable transit card from the station.
Bonus: Kids can carry their own card, practice keeping it safe, and learn when to use it.
Like New York, you’ll never have to trek far to catch a bus or train. Bus stops and subway stops are plentiful and close together. From our hotel window, we could see the station just down the street that we used for nearly all our jaunts throughout Singapore.
2. Singapore’s accommodation will be your biggest expense, but you can save money elsewhere.
Singapore’s accommodation is expensive. About the only way around it, is if you know someone with a place you can stay for free. House-sitting options like Trusted Housesitters are another option (which we may try for the next time we visit Singapore).
The hotel we stayed in was good and well located, but it was still the most expensive accommodation we paid for during our time in Asia (and yes, that includes Japan).
However, we balanced out lodging costs with savings on transportation and food.
Public transportation gets you around the island safely and affordably. Focus on convenience stores (produce, veggies, ready-to-heat foods) and hawker markets for food. Hawker markets have lots of different stalls, excellent quality standards, and put you right in with everyday folks.
Where to stay in Singapore with kids
3. Singapore’s Supertree Grove is amazing, and 2 free light shows are a fun family night out.
Not only are the 18 trees cool structures, these vertical gardens generate solar power and collect rainwater. The free public gardens are a joy to wander, and evenings bring a carnival feel to the light shows.
4. Explore Singapore’s Little India and Chinatown
Singapore brings together multiple cultures, peoples, and histories. We appreciated the cultural and historical insights we got from wandering Chinatown and Little India. Especially check out the Indian Heritage Centre’s lens on Singapore from the perspective of Indian immigrants.
5. Singapore’s Cloud Forest and Flower Dome are worth the splurge, especially on a rainy day.
Cloud Forest is cool in terms of natural wonder, lush plants, and exhibits. A visit to the glass-domed wonder is also a great cool-down from the equatorial nation’s tropical climate.
The Flower Dome serenely weaves plant and floral ecosystems from around the world. Animal sculptures woven from branches make a fun family scavenger hunt (and keep an eye out for the dragon!).
Some times of year are prone to rain, so these make a great indoor activity that still feels like you’re outside… only dry.
6. Singapore’s tap water is safe to drink.
Singapore’s tap water is every bit as safe as tap water in the EU, USA, Canada, Japan, or Australia. There is no need to shell out precious cash for bottled water. We drank tap water the entire time we were in Singapore and had no more issues than we would have from our house’s tap in Oregon.
7. Singapore is very urban, but there is a lot of green space!
It’s easy to think of Singapore as only a vast city full of streets and skyscrapers. However, the island-nation is about the same land area as New York, and nearly half of the land is green space. Free parks and gardens abound, many easy to reach via public transportation.
Your family can travel Singapore on a budget, and have an amazing time
Can Singapore be expensive? Of course. Like Tokyo or Paris, Singapore is one of the most vibrant economic hubs on the planet.
While every city or nation of this scale can be spendy, there are lots of ways to save money too. Have budget worries have put you off going to Singapore? We hope our family’s 7 tips help you see that there are lots of ways to balance out expenses and savings when traveling to this incredible country.