Scootin’ Through Singapore: Exploring Asia’s Lion City on a Budget
Scootin' Through Singapore: Exploring Asia's Lion City on a Budget - Cheap Flights to Singapore
With its dazzling skyscrapers, delicious local cuisine, and diverse mix of cultures, Singapore is an incredible destination for budget-minded travelers who want a taste of Asia. Many assume a trip here means shelling out big bucks, but the truth is that cheap flights to Singapore are easier to find than you may think. The key is knowing where to look and being a savvy travel hacker.
For starters, budget airlines can be your best bet for scoring an affordable ticket. Carriers like AirAsia, Scoot, Jetstar, and Cebu Pacific Air often run promotional deals and no-frills fares to Singapore from major Asian hubs like Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok, Manila, and Hong Kong. I routinely find one-way flights for under $100 USD on these airlines when I’m flexible with my dates. Signing up for email alerts is a great way to stay on top of the latest deals.
Singapore’s Changi Airport also serves as a hub for full-service airlines, so keep an eye out for fare sales on carriers like Singapore Airlines, Cathay Pacific, and Emirates. I recently booked a roundtrip economy ticket from New York to Singapore for only $650 by pouncing on a Singapore Air sale advertised through Scott’s Cheap Flights. Act fast when you see prices that low, as they rarely last more than 24 hours!
Don’t forget to check budget airlines that fly from Australia like Jetstar and AirAsia X—their sales can result in super cheap flights between cities like Sydney and Singapore. The same goes for Scoot and Cebu Pacific Air flying from various points across Asia. And if you’re coming from Europe, monitor WOW Air, Norwegian Air, and Eurowings for potential deals.
Hacking airline miles and points is another great way to score almost-free flights to Singapore. Programs like KrisFlyer and Asia Miles run regular award ticket promotions, so if you’re willing to earn points through signup bonuses and strategic spending, you can take an inexpensive (or free!) trip to Singapore by redeeming your hard-earned rewards. I used United MileagePlus miles to fly roundtrip in economy from Chicago, thanks to a lucrative signup bonus. Just stay flexible with your dates and keep an eye out for award space.
What else is in this post?
- Scootin' Through Singapore: Exploring Asia's Lion City on a Budget - Cheap Flights to Singapore
- Scootin' Through Singapore: Exploring Asia's Lion City on a Budget - Hostels and Budget Hotels
- Scootin' Through Singapore: Exploring Asia's Lion City on a Budget - Free Walking Tours
- Scootin' Through Singapore: Exploring Asia's Lion City on a Budget - Mass Rapid Transit
- Scootin' Through Singapore: Exploring Asia's Lion City on a Budget - Hawker Centers for Cheap Eats
- Scootin' Through Singapore: Exploring Asia's Lion City on a Budget - Chinatown Street Markets
- Scootin' Through Singapore: Exploring Asia's Lion City on a Budget - Cafes, Coffee Shops and Desserts
- Scootin' Through Singapore: Exploring Asia's Lion City on a Budget - Nightlife and Entertainment
- Scootin' Through Singapore: Exploring Asia's Lion City on a Budget - Parks, Gardens and Natural Areas
Scootin' Through Singapore: Exploring Asia's Lion City on a Budget - Hostels and Budget Hotels
Hostels are a top pick for solo travelers and younger crowds looking to meet fellow backpackers. Singapore has over 50 hostels scattered throughout the city. Many are centrally located near hotspots like Clarke Quay, Chinatown, and Little India. The popular backpacker chain Hostelworld has several properties in Singapore with shared dorms starting around $10-15 USD per night. Private rooms with en-suite bathrooms typically run $40-60 per night.
For a local Singaporean hostel, check out Bunc Hostel along the Singapore River. Travelers rave about the friendly atmosphere, free breakfast, comfy pods, and gorgeous city views from the rooftop lounge. Nightly rates for a pod start at around $25 USD.
If you prefer more privacy, budget hotels are plentiful in Singapore. Value chain hotels like Ibis Budget, Hotel 81, and Fragrance Hotel have locations throughout the city with nightly rates as low as $50 for a double room. Amenities are basic but the rooms are modern and comfortable.
Other affordable hotels getting rave reviews from budget-minded travelers include Hotel NuVe, Hotel Bencoolen, and The Inn Crowd. These boutique options combine sleek style with wallet-friendly rates. Expect to pay $70-100 USD per night for an en-suite double room.
Location is key when choosing budget lodging in Singapore. Properties near an MRT stop make getting around much easier. Neighborhoods popular with backpackers include Little India, Bugis, Chinatown, Clarke Quay, and Kampong Glam. These central areas put you steps from major attractions.
Don't shy away from budget digs across the river in Robertson Quay either. You can easily hop the MRT or river taxi to explore downtown. Staying just outside the city center often translates to better rates.
Scootin' Through Singapore: Exploring Asia's Lion City on a Budget - Free Walking Tours
For budget travelers eager to get acquainted with Singapore's top sites, joining a free walking tour is one of the best ways to maximize your time without maxing out your wallet. These tours offer an affordable, insightful introduction to the Lion City led by passionate local guides. You'll uncover hidden gems and learn about Singapore's rich culture and history as you explore neighborhoods like Chinatown, Little India, and Kampong Glam on foot.
As Torsten Jacobi of Mighty Travels explains, "Free tours operate on a tipping model, so you only pay what you feel the experience was worth at the end." This "pay what you wish" system makes them an ideal activity for backpackers and anyone watching their spending. Most tours range from 2-4 hours and take small groups of usually 10-15 people.
Popular routes include Singapore's heritage trails that weave through historic districts, giving you a crash course in the city's multicultural influences from Chinese and Indian immigrants to Arab traders and British colonists. Your witty guide will breathe life into old shophouses, elaborate temples, and eclectic architecture as you stroll past. Tours often stop for a break at hip local cafes and food markets.
For instance, the Singapore Walks tour of Jalan Besar and Little India passes vibrant Hindu and Muslim houses of worship and the lush wet market on Serangoon Road. Guides share personal anecdotes that give deeper insight into local customs. As one TripAdvisor reviewer raves, "We learned more about Singapore on this four-hour walk than we could have just wandering ourselves for days."
Nature lovers can take free walking tours highlighting Singapore's lush gardens and nature reserves, like the Singapore Botanic Gardens or MacRitchie Reservoir. These beautiful green spaces offer a peaceful escape from the bustling city. Another unique tour explores Kampong Glam and the legendary legend behind the Sultan Mosque.
Travelers say the relaxed pace and enthusiastic guides make for a terrific experience. TheChinaTraveler on TripAdvisor highly recommends SG Tours: "Our guide Desmond was thoughtful, articulate, and really brought the city and culture alive."
Free tours operate rain or shine, so come prepared with comfortable walking shoes, light clothing, sunglasses, and umbrellas if needed. Morning or late afternoon tours beat the midday heat. Don't forget your camera to capture Singapore's stunning diversity. And have some small bills on hand for tipping your guide at the end.
Scootin' Through Singapore: Exploring Asia's Lion City on a Budget - Mass Rapid Transit
Singapore's ultra modern Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) system makes getting around this compact city-state a breeze. The MRT is clean, reliable, and affordable – perfect for budget travelers. You can easily navigate between the airport, major tourist sites, shopping centers, and nightlife hubs via a network of over 150 stations on 6 main lines and 2 Circle Lines.
I love riding Singapore's smooth, futuristic MRT trains. With 223 miles of track, they serve over 3 million passengers daily. Air conditioning provides a cool escape from the tropical heat and humidity outside. Free station maps help you orient yourself and LED displays announce upcoming stops in 4 languages. I always find a seat even during rush hour.
Fares are based on distance traveled. Simply tap your EZ-Link card when you enter and exit – fees range from $0.76-$2.50 SGD ($0.55-$1.85 USD) per trip. I typically spend less than $5 SGD ($3.70 USD) a day getting around the city. Much cheaper than taxis or Grab rides. There are ticket booths to purchase single trip tickets if you don't have an EZ-Link card.
The MRT website has a handy route planning tool - just enter your start and end destinations. Lines are color coded, so following routes is intuitive even for first time visitors. Key tourist sites like Orchard Road, Chinatown, Marina Bay, Sentosa Island, and Gardens by the Bay all have direct MRT access. And Changi Airport is connected via the East West Line.
I love exploring different neighborhoods each day, then hopping the MRT to meet friends across town for chilli crab and Tiger beers at night. Getting back to my hotel after a night out is easy since the system runs until midnight. No need for pricey Uber rides.
Pro tip: Avoid riding during weekday morning and evening rush hours if you dislike crowds. But otherwise the MRT is pleasantly uncrowded. Also beware of train breakdowns with Singapore's tropical humidity and thunderstorms. Check the SBS website for delay advisories.
Scootin' Through Singapore: Exploring Asia's Lion City on a Budget - Hawker Centers for Cheap Eats
Singapore's ubiquitous hawker centers are the ultimate budget foodie destination. These open-air food courts house rows of stalls dishing out mouthwatering local favorites for just a few dollars a plate. Grab a table, then wander around surveying Chinese, Malay, and Indian specialties before ordering. The fragrant smells are sure to entice your appetite. With so many choices, these hawker markets make it easy to sample Singapore's multicultural smorgasbord without draining your wallet.
As a veteran backpacker, I'm obsessed with finding the best bang-for-buck meals when I travel. Hawker stalls allow me to feast on Singapore's legendary street food - think Hainanese chicken rice, laksa, satay, nasi goreng - for often less than $5 SGD ($3.70 USD) per dish. And that includes a fresh coconut or sugarcane juice to wash it down. Where else can you find such varied, high quality cuisine at dirt cheap prices?
At hawker centers like Maxwell Road, Chinatown Complex, and Lau Pa Sat, I chat with locals and fellow travelers while enjoying an astounding variety of Chinese, Malay, and Indian specialties. The endless stalls can be overwhelming, but I just wander until a dish catches my eye, then take a seat and dig in. I've never had a bad meal.
Fans of the Anthony Bourdain food travelogue "Parts Unknown" will recognize Tian Tian Hainanese Chicken Rice at Maxwell Food Centre. Bourdain declared it among the best chicken rice in Singapore with its tender, flavorful poached chicken and aromatic rice simmered in chicken broth. A hearty plate costs only $3 SGD ($2 USD). At adjacent stalls, I devour laksa (spicy coconut noodle soup), satay sticks in a sweet peanut sauce, and refreshing cendol desserts.
Travel vloggers and foodies alike praise the dense Wanton Mee and fiery Chili Crab at the Chinatown Complex. This massive hawker center contains over 200 stalls spanning Chinese, Indian, Malay and Indonesian fare. I arrived hungry and left stuffed for under $10 SGD - an amazing value. As sonias_travels wrote on TripAdvisor: "This is THE place to have authentic local food in Singapore for a price you won't get at any restaurant."
Scootin' Through Singapore: Exploring Asia's Lion City on a Budget - Chinatown Street Markets
Lively street markets packed with colorful stalls are a quintessential part of Chinatown's charm. Wandering these bustling bazaars lets you soak up the neighborhood's infectious energy while snagging bargains on everything from touristy trinkets to traditional medicinal herbs. For budget-conscious sightseers, Chinatown's street markets offer an entertaining dose of local commerce and culture without the high price tags.
Keen shoppers flock to Chinatown's famous Trengganu Street market. Over 200 vendors crowd this narrow pedestrian alley peddling knickknacks, souvenirs, accessories and handicrafts. Browse stalls hawking jade jewelry, decorative silk fans and ornaments, traditional Chinese attire like cheongsam dresses, pretty paper parasols and lanterns, and kitschy fridge magnets shaped like Merlions. Expect to haggle - bargaining is part of the experience. While quality varies, patient shoppers can find some gems among the tourist tat.
Further down Trengganu Street near Temple Street, Chinese medical halls overflow with mysterious herbs, roots and animal parts. Bins brim with ginseng, cordyceps, dried seahorses and deer antlers used in traditional Chinese medicine. The pungent smells evoke Chinatown's roots as a hub for these age-old healing practices. Visitors can observe clerks weighing out various ingredients on antique scales before packaging up custom remedies.
For a peek into Chinatown's wet markets, head to Maxwell Road and Smith Street. Hawkers busily chop, scale, and gut fresh fish, meat, and produce. Racks of tangy fruits like mangosteen and rambutan tempt passersby. Although not for the squeamish, wet markets provide an immersive look at a staple of local culture. Don't miss the ornamental pet fish stalls nearby - buyers carefully select Siamese fighting fish and elegant koi.
While markets like Maxwell Road cater mainly to locals, the Chinatown Night Market on Pagoda Street tries to draw tourists with its curated selection of handicrafts, souvenirs, and snacks. Still, watching artisans deftly craft paper offerings to burn for ancestors and sampling sweet and savory treats makes for an enjoyable evening. Locals advise visiting earlier as quality deteriorates later on.
For a more upmarket scene, browse the streetside stalls along Banda Street. Chinese art galleries and trendy cafes now neighbor old-school medical halls. The vibe here feels less hectic than Pagoda or Trengganu Street. Pick up unique keepsakes like chop stamps engraved with Chinese symbols or watercolors of shophouses. After shopping, stop for coffee at hip solo.id Cafe.
Scootin' Through Singapore: Exploring Asia's Lion City on a Budget - Cafes, Coffee Shops and Desserts
As a passionate coffee addict, I relish exploring a city’s cafe culture wherever I roam. In Singapore, eclectic third wave coffee shops satisfy my cravings for artfully-crafted brews and comfort pastries while providing hip hangouts to recharge from sightseeing. Although alcohol causes sticker shock at Singapore’s swanky bars, these cozy cafes let me savor a quality cup of coffee or tea for just a few dollars. Their sweet and savory baked goods make an affordable afternoon snack too.
Travelers seeking a break from the bustling streets adore nylon coffee roastery’s laidback vibe and scrumptious cakes. Their flaky custard danishes and creamy tiramisu perfectly accompany smooth cold brews and single origin pour overs. Grab a sidewalk table and people watch as you fuel up in this artsy enclave. DailyGoals describes it as “a super charming cafe with cute interiors and amazing coffee and desserts.” Prices stay budget-friendly with coffee and tea from $3-5 SGD ($2-4 USD) a cup.
For a hipster haven with Aussie inspired grub, head to Chye Seng Huat Hardware. Housed in a converted hardware shop in trendy Jalan Besar, its industrial chic decor provides a cool backdrop for brunching and caffeine. The avocado and feta smash on sourdough totally satisfies my savory breakfast cravings for under $20 SGD ($15 USD). Their signature salted caramel banana coffee jazzes up my usual order with its hit of sea salt. TheDeliciousLife proclaims, “The brunch and coffee here is to die for!”
To indulge my sweet tooth, a pilgrimage to Creamier is a must for homemade ice cream and waffles. Their daily rotating flavors include unique local options like creamy coconut, lychee martini, and my favorite: roasted milk tea. At just $2-$5 SGD ($1.50-$3.70 USD) per scoop, I can sample several decadent flavors without breaking the bank. Pair your ice cream with their crispy Liege-style waffles served hot to order. According to GirlWithCuriousHair, “It's perfect for a snack or dessert if you have a sweet tooth like me.”
Scootin' Through Singapore: Exploring Asia's Lion City on a Budget - Nightlife and Entertainment
As darkness descends on Singapore, an energetic nightlife scene comes alive to entertain party-loving visitors. From pulsing dance clubs to raucous expat bars to lurid red light districts, After Dark Singapore offers nocturnal thrills and adventures for every comfort level and budget.
While high-end cocktail bars and glitzy rooftop lounges line the glittering streets, cheaper options won't break backpackers' budgets. Follow savvy locals beyond swanky Clarke Quay to uncovered gems. Cafe-style bars in hip enclaves like Jalan Besar and Tanjong Pagar mix killer cocktails without the inflated price tags.
Coffee shop-by-day turned party spot-by-night, Sixx Mixx Club churns out imaginative tipples like their Earl Grey MarTEAni with gin, cold brew tea and an absinthe mist. They offer happy hour 2-for-1 cocktails and beers too. Dance the night away with their weekly Latin Nights. A night out here won't demolish your wallet.
With its homey mismatched furniture and quirky Antarctic exploration theme,Thoughfully Cafe could be straight out of an edgy Instagram feed. But the bar shakes up some of Singapore's most inventive cocktails using unusual ingredients like activated charcoal, tea infusions, and edible flowers. Treat yourself to their fluffy pandan waffles as you sip. Prices stay affordable compared to hotel bars.
A legend among Singapore's drinking dens, Beast and Butterflies channels a lush secret garden vibe with whimsical nature motifs. Concealed behind an unassuming door, its intimate yet lively ambiance encourages meeting new friends over creative concoctions like the Madame Poison made with rum, licorice and absinthe. Supporting local farms, their bar bites highlight sustainable ingredients. The buzzing atmosphere spills into the outdoor area strewn with lanterns and greenery.
Prefer beer over mixed drinks? Head to hipster enclave Tiong Bahru known for indie stores, street art and microbreweries. At low key hawker center Tiong Bahru Market, The 1925 Brewing Co. slings craft beers and ciders on tap alongside satay sticks and Hainanese pork chops. Watching locals play spirited games of Jenga at communal tables feels quintessentially Singaporean.
For a rowdier scene where expats party until dawn, neighborhood bars along Joo Chiat Road and Emerald Hill Road stay packed with revelers. From Getai-style drag shows to raucous karaoke rooms, these unpretentious bars embrace Singapore's grittier side. Treat it as an adventure - late nights can provide eye-opening local immersion if you keep your wits. But single female travelers should take care in these seedier districts. Stick to main streets and avoid unlit alleys.
Scootin' Through Singapore: Exploring Asia's Lion City on a Budget - Parks, Gardens and Natural Areas
Although modern skyscrapers dominate Singapore’s cityscape, nature still flourishes across this green city-state. I’m obsessed with escaping the urban jungle to explore Singapore’s lush parks, gardens, and natural reserves. Wandering through these picturesque green spaces provides a peaceful respite from the bustling streets. Singapore’s meticulously maintained public gardens offer an affordable opportunity to experience the nation’s stunning biodiversity.
Towering trees form leafy canopies at sprawling gardens like the Singapore Botanic Gardens and Gardens by the Bay. As a nature lover, I enjoy meandering along garden pathways to uncover exotic flowers and plants from baobab trees to vibrant orchids. The Botanic Gardens’ well-signed walking trails make it easy to identify different species. Don’t miss the extraordinary National Orchid Garden showcasing over 1,000 types of hybrid orchids. Its cool tropical conservatories also give you a sampling of unique ecosystems found across Southeast Asia and Africa’s highlands. Entry to the Botanic Gardens is free except for the National Orchid Garden, which costs just $5 SGD ($3.70 USD).
At Gardens by the Bay, the space-age Supertree Grove with its 16-story metal Supertrees interconnected by aerial walkways looks straight out of a sci-fi flick. Strolling along the 128-foot-high OCBC Skyway lets you peek down through the mesh floor at the gardens below. The Supertrees come alive each night during the dazzling light and music show. While the indoor Flower Dome and Cloud Forest conservatories cost $28 SGD ($21 USD), exploring the outdoor gardens is free.
Beyond the city center, hiking enthusiasts can get their fix along rustic trails through Bukit Timah Nature Reserve’s primary forest. Towering old-growth trees form lush canopies at Singapore’s highest peak. Keep your eyes peeled for long-tailed macaques monkeys along the paths. Entry is free. For a family-friendly nature walk, trek the tree-top boardwalk through MacRitchie Reservoir near the heart of the city. Gaze down at the placid reservoir through breaks in the dense forest.
With its undulating boardwalks and lookout towers, Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve offers front-row views of crocodiles, monitor lizards, and exotic birds like egrets and kingfishers. Watching wildlife from a distance makes for an exciting afternoon. The reserve hosts free guided walks on weekends.