Singapore, the sparkling Monaco of the East. That moniker alone is enough to indicate that Singapore is not a cheap place to visit. So, is Singapore worth visiting if you’re a cash strapped backpacker? The answer is an unequivocal yes!
Unlike much of the Banana Pancake Trail, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a dorm bed in Singapore for just a few dollars so how much does it actually cost to travel in Singapore?
Although Singapore didn’t make it anywhere near our list of the cheapest countries to visit in Southeast Asia, a visit here doesn’t have to cost the earth! Even with its reputation as a Mecca for playboys and bankers, there are still ways to experience this one city country on a budget.
If you are looking for hints and tips about saving money while you travel, check out our handy budget travel tips. If you haven’t quite made the jump into the world of backpacking just yet but are looking for good ways to save up for the trip of a lifetime, don’t miss our guide on saving money for travel!
Suggested Budgets For Travelling In Singapore
Shoestring Backpacker: $35-$60USD per day
The shoestring backpacking budget you are used to does not apply in Singapore. You’ll certainly be spending more money than in Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia or anywhere else in the region but you can still keep things relatively affordable.
A shoestring backpacker can expect to stay in large dorm roofms, eat in hawker centres and visit all the free attractions in the city. Don’t worry though, there is loads to do that costs almost nothing!
Living It Large Backpacker: $65-$110USD per day
The living it large backpacker will probably be staying in dorm rooms too but depending on how long you are in the city for, you may be able to splurge on a private room for a night or two. Just don’t expect to be staying at the Marina Bay Sands if this is your budget!
You could probably afford to eat in restaurants outside of hawker centres but to be honest, why would you want to? Hawker centres serve some of the most delicious food you’ll find the country! Save the money you’d spend at more classy restaurants and put it towards the more pricey attractions in Singapore.
Flashpacker: $115+USD per day
A real flashpacker is likely to fall in love with Singapore’s charm. When cost is less of an issue, hotels become properly classy and most of the country’s attractions are an exciting prospect. On this budget, you can happily get private rooms or really high-end hostel beds. Pod dorms are common at expensive hostels so even in a dorm room, you are completely separated from your roommates.
Restaurants meals will be attainable at all but the classiest spots. However, if you do fancy splurging out on a Michelin Star restaurant, be sure to book in advance as these are filled months ahead of time!
For a really fancy trip to Singapore, expect to be spending hundreds of dollars a day!
Cost Of Backpacking In Singapore – Quick Answers!
- Cost of Street Food: S$2-S$10 ($1.50-$7USD) per dish
- Cost of Food in a Restaurant: S$20-S$50 ($15-$35USD)
- Cost of Water: S$1-S$2 (70 cents – $1.40USD) per litre
- Cost of Beer: S$5.50-S$30 ($4-$20USD) per bottle
- Cost of a Hostel Bed: S$12-S$60 ($8-$45USD)
- Cost of a Private Room: S$45-S$450+ ($30-$300+USD)
- Cost of Motorcycle Hire: S$30-S$60 ($21-$42USD) per day
Currency in Singapore
The currency in Singapore is the Singapore Dollar (S$) but the Brunei Dollar can be used interchangeably and has exactly the same value. This is due to an old union between Singapore, Malaysia and Brunei. Singapore stopped accepting the Malaysian Ringgit close to a decade after the union was dissolved in the 1960s but they still accept the Brunei Dollar to this day.
US Dollars, Australian Dollars, Pound Sterling and Japanese Yen are all widely accepted in shopping malls throughout Singapore but always carry some local currency for use in smaller shops and restaurants.
Singapore Dollar Currency Conversions
All conversions are accurate as of July 2020. Unless something drastic happens, these should give you a good idea what your money is worth in Singapore.
- $1USD = S$1.38
- £1GBP = S$1.77
- €1EUR = S$1.61
How Much Does a Trip to Singapore Cost?
Cost of Street Food in Singapore
S$2-S$10 ($1.50-$7USD) per dish
With 44 Michelin Stars spread across the country, Singapore is a paradise for foodies with money to throw around. But that doesn’t mean you can’t find a great meal on a budget!
Hawker centres are THE places to find great-tasting, cheap food in Singapore. They are essentially food courts full of semi-permanent food stalls, all sharing a communal seating area. Some hawker centres are open-air while others are hidden away in big air-conditioned buildings. There are also some which are semi open-air, with roofs or walls protecting some of the stalls or seating areas from the elements.
Hawker centres are everywhere across Singapore and the food available will vary depending on which part of the city you are in. For example, hawker centres in Little India will have a much more obvious Indian origin than those in Chinatown.
No matter where you choose, prices are very similar across different centres so don’t fret about searching out the cheapest location every night!
Cost of Restaurant Food in Singapore
If food courts and hawker centres aren’t what you’re looking for, then you’ll need to up your budget a tad. Food can be found in small, local restaurants for as little as S$20 ($15USD) but prices climb quickly if you are looking for something a bit fancier.
This price range does not account for the swankiest of restaurants, where you can easily drop hundreds if not thousands of Singapore Dollars on a meal!
Cost of Water in Singapore
S$1-S$2 (70 cents – $1.40USD) per litre
Buying bottled water in Singapore won’t break the bank but it is worth being aware of the environmental impact of such behaviour. According to ASEAN Today, 467 million plastic bottles are sold a year in Singapore and only 4% of those are recycled!
Instead of adding to the scourge of single-use plastic, grab yourself a reusable water bottle and fill it from the tap. Yes, you read that right, from the tap!
Unlike most of Southeast Asia, the tap water in Singapore is perfectly safe to drink. Save yourself a few dollars a day and refill from your hostel or hotel each morning. If you are a cautious traveller and still don’t like the idea of drinking tap water, consider getting yourself a filtered water bottle so you can have clean drinking water no matter where you are!
Cost of Beer in Singapore
S$5.50-S$30 ($4-$20USD) per bottle
Alcohol in Singapore is notoriously expensive. This is due to the massive taxes incurred by importing booze into the country. If you can’t help but have a tipple during your time here, purchase your beer from supermarkets or hawker centres for the best prices.
Beer in restaurants starts at around S$10-S$15 ($7USD-$10USD) but in bars and clubs, your average bottle of beer will set you back around S$20-S$30 ($15-$20USD) per bottle!
Cost of Accommodation in Singapore
When compared to other countries in the region, Singapore is not a cheap place to lay your head at night. You can expect to be paying three to four times as much for a bed than in neighbouring Malaysia!
- Hostel Dorm (per night)
The majority of hostels in Singapore are fantastic. A lot of the time, beds come with privacy curtains and in high-end hostels, full-on pod dorms are the norm. Hostels on the low end of this budget may not be of a good standard, so make sure you read reviews on Booking or Hostelworld thoroughly. If something looks too good to be true, the review section will usually tell you the reality!
- Hostel Double Room (per night)
If you are on a strict budget, staying in private rooms is probably out of the question during your time in Singapore. As with hostel dorms, private rooms are of great quality but they do not come cheap.
- Double Hotel Room (per night)
Hotels in Singapore start quite reasonably priced and are comparable to private rooms in hostels. However, once you start adding more stars or more desirable locations into the equation, you’ll see the price of hotels soar.
Unless you are on a short trip or have really budgeted for a luxury experience in Singapore, hotels are best avoided. However, if a five-star stay if what you’re after and money is not a concern, you’ll find some of the world’s finest hotels in Singapore!
Cost of Transport in Singapore
Starting from S$3 ($2USD) with an additional S$0.22 (16 cents USD) per 400 metres travelled
Taxis in Singapore are a safe and efficient way to travel. They all run on meters and there is no minimum distance demanded by drivers. You can literally get a taxi three doors down the road if you are feeling particularly lazy. Although, that probably isn’t an efficient use of your money!
There are certain surcharges for getting a taxi from the airport or from Singapore’s Central Business District (CBD). These are usually S$3-S$5 on top of the metered fare. Taking a taxi early in the morning or during the evening will often incur an extra 25% on top and late-night rides will cost an extra 50%. It is also worth noting that if you go on a toll road, you will be expected to pay the toll.
S$1-S$2 for a one-way ticket
Singapore’s MRT (Mass Rapid Transport) system is one of the best in the world. The extensive train network combines both underground and overground trains to connect almost the entire island. I can honestly say, it is the best experience I have ever had on an underground system.
As someone from the UK, the London Underground is a transport system I am more than familiar with but the dirty, cramped, stinking trains of London are nothing like their Singaporean counterparts. The MRT is spotlessly clean, always on time and people actually form ordered queues when getting on or off the train. It really is a 10/10.
To make the MRT even more cost-effective, it is possible to get a Singapore Tourist Pass. If you are going to be travelling a lot in a short time on Singapore’s public transport system, the Tourist Pass is a great investment. It even lets you use buses as well as the MRT! However, if you are only planning on a couple of trips a day, it is more cost-efficient to pay for each ride separately.
S$1-S$5 (72 cents – $3.60USD)
Much like the MRT, Singapore’s bus system is extensive and covers almost all of the country. Prices start at around S$1 per journey and increase depending on the distance you are travelling. It is worth noting that although buses in Singapore do accept cash, they do not give change and the fare is slightly higher than paying by contactless. If you do use a contactless card, make sure you scan your card on the way on and off the bus. Failure to do so will mean you get lumped with a S$50 ($36USD) fine!
You can also use an EZ link card to pay for buses, as well as many other services throughout Singapore. This acts as a travel card that you load money onto and just use as a normal contactless payment card.
Don’t forget you can use your Singapore Tourist Pass to travel on buses!
- Motorcycle Hire
S$30-S$60 ($21-$42USD) per day
Unlike much of the rest of Southeast Asia, hiring a motorcycle in Singapore is not a cheap option for getting around the country. Costs start at around S$30 ($21USD) and are pretty much fixed. There is very little chance of haggling for a better deal!
Realistically, unless you are planning on staying in Singapore for a few months, getting your own transport sorted really isn’t necessary. The public transport systems are so efficient that there is little need for anything else.
Cost Of Activities In Singapore
There is no doubt that Singapore is an expensive place for backpackers to visit. However, once you are there, a lot of popular activities in the country are very affordable, if not completely free!
While this is by no means an exhaustive list of things to do in Singapore, the activities listed below are some of the most popular with backpackers and will give you a good idea of how much you can expect to spend.
Check out this post for more ideas for your Singapore itinerary!
- Gardens By The Bay – Free Entry
Stretching over 250 acres, Singapore’s Gardens By The Bay are the number one attraction in the country. There is a multitude of outdoor spaces you can explore, which showcase plants from not only Southeast Asia but from across the world!
While there is no entrance fee into the gardens, there is a lot more to see and do if you are willing to part with your hard-earned money!
The Flower Dome – S$20 per adult, S$12 for Singapore residents
OCBC Skyway – S$8 per adult
Floral Fantasy – S$20 per adult, S$12 for Singapore residents
Supertree Observatory – S$14 per adult, S$10 for Singapore residents
The Gardens By The Bay’s most popular attraction is the Garden Rhapsody light show. Starting at 19.45 every evening and lasting 1 hour, this show is completely free! Get there early to secure a good spot and lay back as the Supertrees are lit up in an astounding display designed by award-winning light designer Adrian Tan!
- Singapore Botanic Gardens – Free
Since the mid-1800s, Singapore’s Botanic Gardens have played an important role in the study of plants. The gardens are open to the public year-round and allow you to get up close to not only plants from Southeast Asia but also from around the world. You can even get a free walking tour around the gardens each weekend, where a volunteer will teach you the history of the site as well as describe much of the flora that exists there today.
- Universal Studios – S$77 ($55USD)
Much the same as every other Universal Studios, Singapore’s main theme park draws thousands of visitors every year. If you don’t mind splashing out, a day spent here can be a welcome break for backpackers that are missing a little slice of home life.
- S.E.A Aquarium – S$41 ($30USD)
Singapore hosts one of the largest aquariums in the world. With over 12 million gallons of water and 100,000 animals from over 1000 different species, a day spent in S.E.A Aquarium is a day well spent. Who doesn’t love staring into huge tanks of brightly coloured fish?!
- Singapore Zoo – S$39 ($28USD)
Unlike many countries in Southeast Asia, Singapore has an incredible record when it comes to animal conservation. Responsible travellers need not worry about the ethics of visiting a Singaporean zoo, you’ll see no elephant riding or other animal exploitation here!
As one of the world’s premier zoos, Singapore Zoo follows the ‘open zoo’ concept where animals are kept in their enclosures by a series of moats and glass. You’ll be hard-pressed to find bare concrete enclosures or steel bars. Instead, you’ll be greeted by large, natural-looking pens and well-kept animals.
Whether or not you agree with the concepts of zoos, on the whole, Singapore Zoo is a fine example of how things can be done and teaches people the value of looking after some of the worlds most amazing animals!
- Singapore Flyer – S$33 ($24USD)
Until 2014, the Singapore Flyer was the world’s largest Ferris wheel. It offers travellers astounding views of the Singapore skyline as well as an awesome bird’s eye view of Marina Bay directly below. The ride duration of the Singapore Flyer is around 30 minutes. It’s the perfect way to end a day of exploring the surrounding area!
- Fort Canning Park – Free
Fort Canning Park is another fine example of Singapore’s national parks. Close to 45 acres in size, this is a great place to wander around and explore for the day. There are plenty of hidden gems inside, like the ultra Instagrammable spiral staircase and the fascinating Battlebox.
The Battlebox does charge for visits but at just S$15 ($10USD), this old World War 2 British underground command centre offers a unique perspective on the whole conflict in Asia.
- National Museum of Singapore – S$15 ($10USD)
As the oldest Museum in the country, you’d expect the Singapore National Museum to be full of cobwebs and dusty old relics. What you’ll find inside is a bright, clean space full of interactive exhibits and some of the most modern displays of any museum in the world.
The museum focuses mainly on the history of Singapore and Southeast Asia but the quality of each exhibit holds the attention of even the most jaded backpacker. This is not just another museum to tick off the list!
- Full-Day Food Tour – S$100-S$180 ($70-$130USD)
Is there a better way to discover a new city or country than a food tour? Being such a mix of cultures, Singapore is one of the best places in the world for fans of all things gastronomic.
Embark on a fully guided Singapore food tour for as little as S$100 and have your guide take you to all the best spots. They’ll even be able to tell you the history of each food and how it came to be in Singapore!
For those of you on a strict budget, a DIY food tour is a much cheaper alternative!
- Spectra Light and Water Show – Free
Directly outside the Marina Bay Sands Hotel (those three huge towers with a massive “surfboard” on top), at 8 pm and 9 pm, plus 10 pm on a Friday and Saturday, is one of the largest light and water shows in the world. Water is sprayed high into the sky and powerful lights project images onto the water vapour.
Head to the event plaza in front of the Marina Bay Sands Hotel about 30 minutes before the show starts to secure a good spot for this Las Vegas-style fountain performance!
Where to next? Check out the average costs for Southeast Asia here!
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