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© monikawl999/Pixabay

How To Enjoy Singapore On A Budget

Picture of Prianka Ghosh
Updated: 2 November 2016
Singapore and Hong Kong seem to be in constant competition to become the most expensive city in the world. The result is that Singapore is often avoided by travelers because of this reputation. But what many people don’t realize is that just like Hong Kong or New York City, Singapore offers many activities for the budget-conscious among us. Here’s some tips on the best things to do in Singapore on a budget.

Singapore's Central Business District © Prianka Ghosh

Singapore’s Central Business District © Prianka Ghosh


The Pinnacle@Duxton is the world’s largest public housing project with seven towers of 50 storeys each. On top of the buildings,  bridges have been built that link each of the buildings to create the SkyWalk, and it is open and accessible to the public for $5. Carry $5 cash as well as $5 on your MRT card because the acceptable method of payment will depend on whether or not the contactless card reader is working that day. Starting from Tower G, you’ll find views of Sentosa and the harbor and as you walk across, breathtaking views of the Central Business District reveal themselves, leading through to Tower A which overlooks Chinatown.

There is also a free observatory deck at ION Sky, 55 floors above Orchard Road. This one is completely enclosed, so it is better for those who have a slight fear of heights, but still want to enjoy a bird’s-eye-view of the city without spending more money at one of the city’s many rooftop bars.

1 Cantonment Rd, Singapore 080001

Hawker Centers

A hawker center is essentially an outdoor food court. The perimeter of these centers is made up of a variety of stalls with tables inside. Hawker Centers offer delicious and filling meals, usually costing between only $2.00-$6.00. The question about which of the best hawker centers are truly the best in Singapore is hotly contested, the once famous Maxwell Hawker Center has now lost its crown to Crawford Lane and the Chinatown Food Complex after both had a stall receive recognition in the form of a coveted Michelin star, making them the cheapest Michelin meals in the world at just $3.00 a plate. Expect to wait for over an hour to get your meal until the hype dies down. Singapore has hundreds of hawker centers and thousands of hawker stalls, so you can get a cheap meal anywhere on the island.

335 Smith St, #02-125, Chinatown Food Complex, Singapore 050335

River Explorer Cruise

The route and frequency of the budget friendly River Explorer Cruise have been significantly reduced, only serving 5 jetties on weekdays, but it is still a nice way to travel through some of the most popular and picturesque areas of the city for just $5 (as opposed to the guided tour which costs $25-30). Hop on at Esplanade, and enjoy Marina Bay Sands Hotel from the water, before the boat heads down towards trendy Clarke Quay and colorful Boat Quay before ending up at family-friendly Robertson Quay. 


Singapore River Explorer in Clarke Quay © Prianka Ghosh

Singapore River Explorer in Clarke Quay © Prianka Ghosh

Haw Par Villa

Haw Par Villa is an absurd amusement park filled with over 1000 statues and dioramas, including the infamous 10 Courts of Hell, and its purpose was to teach visitors about Chinese mythology. The park was dreamed up and built by the makers of Tiger Balm and one of the strangest, most surreal places you will ever visit. Best of all, admission is free! Get to the park from the Haw Par Villa MRT station on the Circle Line.

262 Pasir Panjang Road, Singapore 118628    

© Prianka Ghosh

© Prianka Ghosh

Pulau Ubin

Head to Pulau Ubin when you’re looking to escape the city on the cheap. Sometimes refered to as Bike Island, Pulau Ubin is a great place to explore by bike. On the island, you’ll pass on of the last remaining traditional kampong villages, and on the far east side of the island you can find the Chek Jawa Wetlands. It costs $2.50 each way for the ferry and between $5-8 to rent a bike for the day.

Pulau Ubin

© Prianka Ghosh

© Prianka Ghosh

Drinks at Clarke Quay

The bars at Clarke Quay are some of the most expensive in the city, but what many visitors forget is that you can have a few beers without spending money at the bars. Instead, do as many young Singaporeans do, and buy a few beers at a fraction of the cost from one of the convenience stores in Clarke Quay and hang out on the steps by the river or the pedestrian bridge until 10.30pm.

3 River Valley Rd, Singapore 179024

MacRitchie Treetop Walk

The MacRitchie TreeTop Walk is a 250-meter long freestanding suspension bridge in the MacRitchie Reservoir. The bridge connects the two highest points in the reservoir and gives visitors a bird’s-eye-view of the forest canopy. From the Venus Drive entrance, the entire trail, including the treetop walk is about 6 kilometers, so it is very important to carry sufficient water and there are very few vendors in the area.

MacRitchie Reservoir