Singapore is a flourishing metropolis boasting an abundance of modern amenities and infrastructure. This city-state boasts the distinction of being the sole jurisdiction wherein chewing gum has been outrightly prohibited – an admirable feat! Nomad Girl will show you how you can do Singapore on a budget.
To get to Singapore
To arrive in Singapore, travellers can either make use of Changi Airport (with an impressive array of connections to regional airports across Asia, as well as numerous direct routes connecting them to destinations around the world), or opt for bus or train travel if they're coming from Malaysia via the Causeway linking Woodlands with Johor Bahru.
I undertook the journey from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia via train. The service was efficient and comfortable; each cart came with its own toilet compartment at the end. My trip lasted several hours and took into account that it left Kuala Lumpur in the early morning hours before arriving in Singapore later on during the day's festivities.
Immigration was a simple and streamlined procedure, with train travellers disembarking at the Causeway to procure visas. Passengers must remove all their belongings before proceeding through immigration screening; once completed they can re-board the train for its brief journey across this structure to Singapore.
I was delighted to find a diminutive and self-service food stall offering up some steaming hot water for my travel mug. I savoured my beloved Oolong tea from an esteemed Penang tea house with delight, as it provided me with respite during those long hours in transit. You must be attuned to the situation when travelling by air; there may be opportunities for eating or snacks along your journey, but also periods of nothingness that can make all too familiar feelings of hunger arise!
Purchasing train tickets in Singapore can prove to be an expensive affair. As such, if travelling from Malaysia or otherwise departing from Singapore it is best to purchase your ticket via online booking beforehand. This can help reduce the cost significantly as well as make things easier for groups travelling out of Singapore on a budget or even travellers who just want to hop aboard solo and enjoy the journey!
All train-related travel information can be found at Man in Seat 61.
Singapore – The suburbs
Singapore boasts an abundance of varied suburbs, all worthy of exploration by visitors.
Little India is a bustling hub overflowing with curry shophouses and Indian markets; its street food stalls are some of the most inexpensive in all of Singapore! In addition to this, there is also a gargantuan shopping mall and numerous supermarkets nearby – making it easy for visitors to cheaply eat out or procure provisions without breaking the bank. It also offers more affordable accommodations such as guesthouses and hostels.
The Marina Bay area is a nice place to walk around, with cafes, bars and of course the Marina Barrage and the Marina Bay Sands (which is hard to imagine a hotel resort in the bay, complete with a space ship like structure, complete with a shopping centre and museum).
Bugis shopping area is full of life. A huge undercover market area, as well as a large shopping centre and busy streets. There are some great finds to be had at the market, as well as food, drinks and restaurants.
China Town is full of stately temples, bustling street markets and inviting patios dotted about this bustling neighbourhood are just a few of its attractions. A veritable mecca for sightseers!
Singapore Zoo, Night Safari, Botanical Gardens
Singapore does not offer a plethora of natural habitats or spectacles, so the Zoo and Botanical Gardens are an oft-visited attraction for those seeking to experience nature in its purest form. These attractions are situated further north from the central business district and can be reached via metro or bus transport; alternatively, taxis could also be utilized as a viable mode of transportation for reaching them.
Accommodation & Food
Singapore is renowned for its exorbitant cost of living, unfriendly atmosphere towards budget travelers and a status as an upmarket destination. While there are no longer the US$2-3 dorm bed prices found in Cambodia or Thailand, it remains possible to enjoy Singapore without breaking the bank!
If you are determined to stick with the budget-friendly street foods (such as Chinatown or Little India), then your backpacker funds can easily accommodate Singapore. For a dorm bed in a decent guesthouse or hostel, expect to pay around SGD 15-25 for only US$15 – 25! Additionally, many establishments provide complimentary breakfasts which could be an attractive option as well.
Singapore is a modern and streamlined metropolis, offering cosmopolitan inhabitants diverse cultures a place to call home. If you are looking for immense, pristine cities with ample shopping opportunities and an abundance of urban culture – then Singapore should definitely be considered as one of your destinations if you have an onward flight that necessitates restocking on foodstuffs or time to explore the area.
If you are the type of traveller who relishes off-the-grid experiences, revels in camping expeditions and strives for a more authentic way of life then Singapore might not be your ideal destination. Since I'm inclined to believe that extraordinary things can happen anywhere – even if it's just by virtue of mere proximity – anything new or unfamiliar is worth exploring a bit further.