Getting around and into Singapore is easy and convenient for most Western travellers. The city-state is a major stopover when traveling through Asia or between continents, usually Australia-Europe, and thus has become a hub of international curiosity. A major centre for business and trade with renowned shopping and night-life districts, Singapore is fast-becoming an expat destination for a lot of creatives. Though the old saying goes “that there’s nothing to do in Singapore except shop,” that’s not necessarily a bad thing and may not even be true. We’ve compiled a list of activities that you can do in Singapore for less than 50 USD. So, next time you’re flying through Singapore and have eighteen hours to kill on your layover, take the uber-fast train out of the airport and get acquainted with this wonderful place.
1. Explore Singapore with the affordable public transport tourist pass
With an impeccable public transport system that’s easy to use and understand; taxis that are reasonably priced and with buses that are surprisingly frequent, get yourself an ez-link card for tourists. Called a Singapore Tourist Pass, it’s available at major Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) stations, Changi Airport and Orchard being two of them. The pass includes unlimited travel on buses and trains and costs about 10 SGD (approximately 6 USD) for a day, 16 SGD (approximately 12 USD) for two days, and 20 SGD (approximately 14 USD) for 3 days. You couldn’t ask for a better bargain.
2. The galleries and museums of Singapore await you
Now that you have your tourist card in hand, get yourself to downtown Singapore and start walking around. Explore the area surrounding the MRT station of Raffles Place and you’re more than likely to come across some of Singapore’s most famous museums and galleries. The National Art Gallery is the largest visual arts institution in Singapore and finds its home here, along with Singapore Art Museum, the Substation and Art Plural Gallery - Singapore’s largest art gallery. The entrance fees for these places are less than 20 SGD (approximately 14 USD) each for foreigners, and free for Singaporeans. Browse the intricate exteriors of each building or hop into the museums to while away your morning. Get yourself a cheap breakfast at any of the restaurants next to the canals or find yourself a hidden gem that does breakfast for cheap. You must try any of the crepes that are on offer for under 10 SGD (approximately 7 USD)!
3. Singapore's Chinatown is something special
No trip to Singapore is complete without a visit to Chinatown. Though, it seems like every major city in the world has a Chinatown that you must visit, Singapore’s own is quite unique in that it’s a throwback to the old Chinese regime. If you don’t want to spend any money, walk around the district perusing the shops and stalls of their items. After immersing yourself in the district, find your way out to any of the side streets where restaurants litter the streets, offering cheap, delicious meals for under 10 SGD (approximately 7 USD)!
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4. Shop till you drop, or not, on Orchard Road
After your appetite has been sated, hop back on to the MRT and head to Orchard station for some window-shopping. Though it is Singapore’s main shopping district, you don’t even need to spend a cent here. With the multitude of options available in terms of stores and malls, feel free to just walk around and browse through all the available shops. Sit for hours in the world’s largest Kinokuniya - a bookstore - or catch a movie at any of the cinemas in the mall.
5. Little India takes you "outside" Singapore
After you’ve walked around, worked up an appetite for dinner but can’t afford any of the prices on Orchard street, head to Little India. As the name implies, it’s a minuscule reflection of the enormous country itself. The centre for the large Indian community in Singapore, you’ll find most of the Indians here are from the south. It’s definitely one of the most colourful places in Singapore and not as sterile as the rest. Get a local meal for cheap at any of the typical Indian restaurants, or if you have money left over, grab yourself dinner from one of the hostel/restaurants that litter the outskirts of this mini-town. You’d be hard pressed to find restaurants with meals over 20 SGD (approximately 14 USD), as most restaurants in the area cater to locals more than the foreigners. There are also several Hindu temples in Little India that one can visit for free. Most lively in the morning or afternoon, each temple represents a different god. Coming to Little India might give you an insight into life in the sub-continent, if you’ve never been there.
There's a surprising number of inexpensive things to do in Singapore
Despite its fame as an expensive city, Singapore will surprise you with the options it has for those on a budget or looking to spend next to nothing while visiting the city. Just make sure you have enough water to keep your parched throat satisfied in the humidity of the island’s weather. Even if you run out, there’s a convenience store at almost every corner to help you! Don’t worry, water isn’t that expensive in this beautiful city-state.
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