Singapore on a Budget: How to Experience the Lion City Without Breaking the Bank

2 March 2023

Singapore is a vibrant city-state with a reputation for being one of the most expensive destinations in Asia. However, this doesn't mean that you have to spend a fortune to experience all that the Lion City has to offer. From free attractions to affordable food options, there are plenty of ways to explore Singapore without breaking the bank.

Here are some ways you can enjoy the sights and sounds of Singapore on a budget.

1. Enjoy the outdoors

Singapore is known for its lush greenery and outdoor parks, which provide a welcome respite from the hustle and bustle of the city. The famous Gardens by the Bay, Singapore's first UNESCO World Heritage Site - Singapore Botanic Gardens, and East Coast Park are just a few in the long list of free nature parks in Singapore.

Gardens by the Bay. Image Source: Dhoomil Sheta on Unsplash

MacRitchie Reservoir. Image Source: Allen Ng on Unsplash

2. Use public transport

With an extensive network of buses, trains, public transport in Singapore offers frequent and reliable services that can take you to almost every corner of the island. Additionally, the fares are affordable, and there are various passes and concessions available, making it accessible to everyone.

With more than 140 stations across 6 MRT lines that span this 50km by 30km island, you can easily get from your hotel to your favourite hawker centre in a matter of minutes.

MRT.  Image Source: Kit Suman on Unsplash

3. Eat at hawker centres

Hawker centres are an integral part of Singapore's food culture, providing affordable and delicious meals to locals and visitors alike. These open-air food courts offer a wide variety of cuisines, from traditional Chinese, Malay, and Indian dishes to international options like Italian, Japanese, and Korean.

Hawker centres are also known for their lively atmosphere, with vendors calling out their dishes and customers jostling for a seat at a crowded table. They offer a unique opportunity to sample the diverse and delicious flavours of Singapore without breaking the bank. 

In recent years, hawker culture has been recognised as an important part of Singapore's heritage, and efforts have been made to preserve and promote it for future generations.

Bowl of noodles at a hawker centre. Image Source: Rach Teo on Unsplash

4. Attend free events

Singapore hosts several free events throughout the year, such as the Singapore Night Festival, the Singapore Art Week, and the Singapore Heritage Festival. These events are a great way to experience the local culture without spending any money.

Travelling to Singapore in July? Get ready to be treated to a showcase of military hardware and pyrotechnics during the Saturdays leading up to 9 August, National Day. 

Fireworks display during National Day. Image Source: Bao Menglong on Unsplash

5. Look out for tax refund and duty-free shopping

Shopping is a favourite past-time of many Singaporeans. With an abundance of malls and markets offering a wide range of goods, the risk of blowing your budget is clear and present. 

That said, there are a plethora of retailers offering duty-free shopping and tax refund for tourists. These retailers can be found sprawled over popular shopping spots like the 24-hour Mustafa Centre, Orchard Road shopping belt, and heritage sites like Chinatown, Kamplong Glam, and Little India.

Orchard Road shopping belt. Image Source: Hannah Sibayan on Unsplash

6. Explore the city on foot

Singapore is a small country, and many of the major attractions are located close to each other. Walking or cycling is an excellent way to see the city while getting some exercise.

Just be sure to wear comfortable clothes and slap on enough sunblock as the mid-day heat and humidity can often be relentless.

Visitors checking out Peranakan shophouses. Image Source: Winel Sutanto on Unsplash

7. Make use of free dining deals

Want to dine in the comfort of air-conditioned restaurants but don't want the hefty bills? Make use of free dining deals that give you more value for your money. 

One good example is Mediacorp's award-winning rewards platform - merewards. You only need to create an account with your email address and voila, you get access to free 1-for-1 dining deals across the island.

1-for-1 dining deal at MANAM, an Indian restaurant located at Clarke Quay

Download the merewards app for iOS 

Download the merewards app for Android

With its modern infrastructure, clean streets, and diverse cultural attractions, Singapore is a must-visit destination for travelers looking for a unique and memorable experience. Happy travelling!

Cover image by Kirill Petropavlov on Unsplash.