The First-Timer’s Travel Guide to Singapore

The First-Timer’s Travel Guide to Singapore

As you may have already heard, Singapore is expensive. It isn’t just one of the world’s most expensive cities to live in, it’s the MOST expensive, topping the Economist Intelligence Unit’s report for the fifth year in a row.

However, as a visitor, it isn’t as expensive as you’d think. Accommodations are indeed pricier than other Southeast Asian destinations but food is remarkably cheap. You can enjoy a delicious meal for as little as SGD 4-5 from one of many hawker centers throughout the city. The public transportation system is so efficient that you can easily get around by train or bus and there are many interesting attractions you can enjoy in the city for free.

In other words, don’t let its high standard of living keep you from visiting because Singapore has much to offer with its diverse cuisine, world-class attractions, copious shopping, and vibrant nightlife. No matter your budget, spend a day in Singapore and you’ll soon see why it’s one of the top tourist destinations in Asia.

COVER PHOTO: “grilled” by Khairul Nizam, used under CC BY 2.0 / Cropped, processed in Photoshop and Lightroom, added text

GUIDE TABLE OF CONTENTS

  1. Singapore at a Glance
  2. Best Time to Visit
  3. Traveling to Singapore
  4. Where to Exchange Currency
  5. Where to Stay
  6. Things to Do
  7. Singapore Food Guide
  1. Where to Eat
  2. Points of Interest
  3. How to Get Around Singapore
  4. How Many Days to Stay / Sample Itinerary
  5. Budget / Summary of Expenses
  6. Travel Tips
  7. For Filipinos

SINGAPORE AT A GLANCE

Singapore is a tiny island nation in Southeast Asia that’s become one of the world’s most prosperous countries. Walk around for a day and you’ll see all the features of an ultramodern society with its impressive skyline, contemporary architecture, high-end shopping malls, and highly efficient subway system.

But in spite of its facade of steel and glass, Singapore retains much of the ethnic and cultural diversity that earned it its nickname – “the melting pot of Asia”. Iconic structures like Marina Bay Sands and Supertree Grove are impressive but equally of note are the ethnic pockets within the city that preserve each culture’s unique heritage and traditions. Hop on a City Sightseeing Bus and you’ll be treated to colorful neighborhoods like Little India, Chinatown, Arab Street, and Kampong Glam, all within the span of half an hour. This balance of modernity and cultural preservation is what makes Singapore so interesting and fascinating to me.

Another thing I found surprising about Singapore is that it’s apparently the second most densely populated country in the world, behind only Monaco. I never would have expected that. It certainly doesn’t feel crowded when you’re there, perhaps due to the efforts they’ve made into making it a pleasant and liveable green city. In spite of being a city-state with 100% of its population urbanized, over 50% of Singapore’s area is covered by greenery. It boasts over 50 major parks and 4 nature reserves, all within a 720 sq km area.

If there existed a utopic city in the world today, then that city would be Singapore.

BEST TIME TO VISIT SINGAPORE

Singapore is hot and humid year-round so there isn’t a perfect time to visit weather-wise. The average temperature is 26-27°C and the humidity is always above 80% no matter what time of year. The only thing you probably need to know regarding Singapore’s weather is that the wettest months are from November to January. That’s the monsoon season so you may want to avoid those months if you don’t want a greater chance of rain.

NOV-JAN: As described, this is monsoon season so it’ll be the wettest time of the year in Singapore. However, it’s also the coolest, which may be appealing to travelers unaccustomed to the brutal Southeast Asian heat. I’ve read that it generally rains in spurts in Singapore even during the wettest months so it may not matter as much. Locals advise just ducking into a mall until the rain stops.

FEB-OCT: June till August is the driest time of the year in Singapore. We went in late June on our last trip and it would get overcast and drizzle a bit on a couple of days but that was about it. It was hot and sunny the rest of the time and still very humid. If you enjoy shopping and food, then around July may be an ideal time for you to visit. Both the Great Singapore Sale and the Singapore Food Festival are held at that time.

Climate: Annual Monthly Weather in Singapore

To help you better understand the weather in Singapore, I’ve included average temperature and annual rainfall graphs below. Suggested months to visit are indicated in orange.

Average Temperature
Annual Rainfall in Singapore

Annual Rainfall
Annual Rainfall in Singapore

TRAVELING TO SINGAPORE

The majority of visitors to Singapore will be arriving by plane at Changi Airport. There are several ways to get to downtown Singapore from Changi.

BY SUBWAY (SMRT): The SMRT is the fastest and cheapest way to get to downtown Singapore from the airport. It took us around 45 minutes to get to Little India MRT Station and the standard fare was SGD 2.30. You can use this SMRT fare calculator to figure out the fare to your destination.

BY PUBLIC BUS: This is another inexpensive option. The fare is SGD 2.50 and it should get you into the city in a little over an hour. You’ll need to prepare the exact amount since no change is given. You can catch bus 36/36A from the basement bays of Changi Airport Terminals 2 and 4 into the city. The first bus leaves at 6AM and the last one just before 11PM. You can refer to this route guide for a list of stops and estimated travel times.

BY AIRPORT SHUTTLE: If you’re arriving at odd hours, then you can take an airport shuttle bus for SGD 9 for adults and SGD 6 for kids (under 12). These shuttle buses run 24 hours and will take you directly to your hotel. You can refer to this list to check if your hotel is one of their serviced hotels. If it is, then you can follow this link to book tickets on Klook.

BY TAXI: This is the easiest but most expensive way. It’ll cost you anywhere between SGD 20-40 to get into the city by taxi. Bigger groups can take these large taxis called Maxi Cabs. They can accommodate up to 7 people for a flat fee of SGD 60. You can check the Changi website for more information.

BY PRIVATE TRANSFER: If you’d rather book a private transfer in advance, then you can do so through Klook or Kkday.

We flew to Singapore but there are other ways to get there depending on where you are. I suggest checking 12Go Asia to find route options available to you. You can click on the link or use the widget below. 12Go Asia is a popular transportation website that services many countries in Asia like Singapore, Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, Laos, and the Philippines.


WHERE TO EXCHANGE CURRENCY

The unit of currency in Singapore is the Singapore Dollar (SGD). Finding good places to exchange your currency is less of a concern in Singapore. Most (if not all) places give fair rates. Even the currency exchange booths at Changi Airport aren’t bad. But if you want the best, then Mustafa Foreign Exchange at Mustafa Centre in Little India is a good choice. Aside from offering some of the best rates in the city, they’re the only currency exchange booth that’s open 24/7. If it’s too far from where you are, then you can check this website for a list of the 5 best money changers in Singapore. They’re in different parts of the city so you can find the one that’s closest to you.

Alternatively, you can also withdraw SGD from an ATM. The rates are competitive. Just be sure to advise your bank you’ll be using your ATM overseas so you don’t run into any problems. In my experience, my ATM card works in some machines but not in others.

WHERE TO STAY IN SINGAPORE

Singapore isn’t that big but it’s such a diverse, multiracial city that you’ll find many interesting neighborhoods within its 720 sq km area. This is by no means a definitive list but here are five popular neighborhoods where you can stay in Singapore.

Little India

This was where we stayed on our last trip to Singapore. Ren found this decently priced boutique hotel about a couple minutes’ walk from Little India MRT Station. It used to be called Rucksack Inn when we stayed there but it looks like it’s been rebranded as City Inn Mackenzie though everything looks pretty much the same.

As its name suggests, Little India is home to Singapore’s Indian community. It’s a lively area with lots of Indian restaurants, colorful shophouses, and a good range of budget to mid-range hotels. Not too far from where we stayed is Tekka Centre Food Court which offers plenty of inexpensive food options. You can book a room at City Inn Mackenzie through Booking.com or Agoda. If you don’t think that City Inn Mackenzie is the right hotel for you, then you can check these links for alternate listings in Little India: AirBnB | Booking.com | Agoda. If you’re new to AirBnB, then you can get USD 31 free travel credit when you sign up via this link.
City Inn Mackenzie, Singapore

Approximate Room Rate: USD 83 per night (as of June 2018)

Chinatown

As is the case with most Chinatowns in the world, if you travel for food, then this is an excellent place to stay in Singapore. Here you’ll find plenty of food options from cheap hawker centers to trendier bars and restaurants. Budget travelers will find a good selection of hostels and boutique hotels here as well. Check these sites for a list of accommodations in Chinatown: AirBnB | Booking.com | Agoda.

Marina Bay

Home to the iconic Marina Bay Sands, this is one of the best areas to stay for luxury travelers. Hotels here are amongst the most luxurious and offer the best views in Singapore. Marina Bay is home to many upscale restaurants, bars, and shopping malls as well as popular attractions like the Merlion, Gardens by the Bay, and the Singapore Flyer. Check these sites for a list of accommodations in Marina Bay: AirBnB | Booking.com | Agoda.

Orchard

If you’re traveling to Singapore to shop, then this is probably where you’ll want to be. Orchard Road is Singapore’s premier shopping district. It stretches for two kilometers and is home to more shopping malls than anywhere else in Singapore. Want a break from shopping? Head to nearby Botanic Gardens which is Singapore’s only UNESCO World Heritage Site. Check these sites for a list of accommodations around Orchard Road: AirBnB | Booking.com | Agoda.

Sentosa

Sentosa is Singapore’s resort island. It’s home to manmade beaches and theme parks like Universal Studios and Resorts World Sentosa. Staying here would put you farther away from the attractions in central Singapore, but if you’re traveling with kids, then this a good place to consider. Check these sites for a list of accommodations in and around Sentosa Island: AirBnB | Booking.com | Agoda.



Booking.com

THINGS TO DO IN SINGAPORE

1. Get to Know Singapore on a Hop On Hop Off Tour

I’m a big fan of these Hop On Hop Off Tours. Barring any serious traffic or pollution problems, a Hop On Hop Off bus is the best way to explore a new city. It gives you unlimited access to bus lines that stop at major tourist attractions. You can hop on and off as often as you like within the validity period of your pass. In Singapore, it’ll take you to key attractions like the Singapore Flyer, Marina Bay Sands, the Merlion, Botanic Gardens, and Orchard Road, just to name a few. Check out my post on DUCK & HiPPO’s Hop On Hop Off tour for more pictures and information.

You can buy tickets when you initially board the bus but you can get a discount if you purchase them in advance through Klook. They offer other versions of this tour as well, including night tours and fun amphibious vehicle tours that traverse both land and water. Follow the link to check out city sightseeing bus tours in Singapore on Klook.
DUCK & HiPPO Hop On Hop Off Tour, Singapore

Length of Tour: 24 or 48 hrs / Cost: Starts at SGD 39 (adults), SGD 29 (kids)

2. Try the Iconic Singapore Sling at Raffles Hotel

Think of this as your welcome drink to Singapore. The Singapore Sling is a gin-based cocktail developed over a hundred years ago by Ngiam Tong Boon, a Hainanese bartender at the Long Bar in Raffles Hotel, which is still often cited as Singapore’s finest hotel. It’s become synonymous with Raffles and a must-try for first-time visitors to Singapore. Be prepared for the hefty price tag though since a Singapore Sling at Long Bar will run you at least SGD 31. Hey, at least you can scatter your peanut shells all over the bar’s floor.
Singapore Sling, Long Bar, Raffles Hotel, Singapore

Raffles Hotel Long Bar ~ Singapore Sling” by VasenkaPhotography, used under CC BY 2.0 / Processed in Photoshop and Lightroom
Cost: At least SGD 31

3. See the Future at Gardens by the Bay

Gardens by the Bay is the most popular attraction on TripAdvisor and it isn’t hard to understand why. This place is mind-blowing and unlike anything we’ve ever seen. It’s home to the iconic Supertrees and two amazing conservatories — Cloud Forest and Flower Dome. If you have time for just one attraction in Singapore, then this should be it.

You can buy tickets to both conservatories at the gate but you can get a discount if you purchase them in advance through Klook or Kkday. Klook offers a version of the pass that includes admission to both conservatories and the OCBC Skyway as well.
Gardens by the Bay, Singapore

Estimated Time Needed: Half a day / Admission: SGD 28 (adults), SGD 15 (kids)

4. Visit Singapore Zoo, One of the World’s Best Zoos

I love animals but I’ve stopped going to zoos because most of them are shit. They don’t put enough stock in the welfare of the animals but Singapore Zoo, which was voted by TripAdvisor users as the 5th best zoo in the world, is an exception. It’s an impressive facility that sets the standard for captive animal conservation. Check out my post on Singapore Zoo for more pictures and information. You can buy entrance and tram tickets online or at the gate, but you can get a discount if you purchase them through Klook or Kkday.

Pretty much everything in Singapore is world-class and its animal parks are no exception. Aside from Singapore Zoo, we’ve visited three others and they’re all pretty awesome. Check out my post on 5 places to enjoy animals in Singapore for more pictures and information. If you’d like to visit any of them, then you can get discounts on admission through Klook.
Singapore Zoo, Singapore

Estimated Time Needed: At least half a day / Admission: SGD 35 (adults), SGD 23 (kids)

5. Enjoy the View from Marina Bay Sands Skypark

Marina Bay Sands is the most iconic hotel in Singapore. I’m sure you’ve seen pictures of its infinity pool on social media. It’s absolutely incredible but unfortunately, it’s only open to guests of the hotel. (Boo!) If you aren’t checked in at Marina Bay Sands, then the next best thing would be to head up to the Skypark observation deck on the 57th level to get some of the most stunning views of Singapore.

You can buy tickets at the gate but you get a discount if you purchase them in advance through Klook. You can get a version as well that comes bundled with a 1-day Funvee Hopper Pass (Hop On Hop Off Tour) through Klook or Kkday.
Marina Bay Sands, Singapore

Marina Bay Sands View – Night” by Daniel Fernandes de Oliveira, used under CC BY 2.0 / Processed in Photoshop and Lightroom
Estimated Time Needed: 1-2 hrs / Admission: SGD 23 (adults), SGD 17 (kids)

6. Spend Two Days at Universal Studios and Sentosa Island

Universal Studios needs no introduction. Located on Sentosa Island, this popular theme park is home to exhilarating rides like Battlestar Galactica, Transformers, and Revenge of the Mummy. If you’re traveling with kids, then you’ll probably want to allocate a day here. Otherwise, you’ll never hear the end of it. You can buy tickets online or at the gate, but you can get discounts if you purchase them in advance through Klook or Kkday.

As popular as Universal Studios is, it’s hardly the only attraction at Sentosa. Sentosa is an entire island dedicated to fun so it’s home to many other attractions as well like 4D theaters, the Trick Eye Museum, action parks, S.E.A. Aquarium, watersport facilities, golf courses, and beaches. There are plenty of hotels and restaurants on the island as well. Universal Studios will take up an entire day so you may want to reserve another day to explore the rest of the island. Check out my post on Sentosa Island for more pictures and information on how to save on the cost of attraction fees.
Universal Studios, Singapore

bumblebee” by Erwin Soo, used under CC BY 2.0 / Processed in Photoshop and Lightroom
Estimated Time Needed: At least one and a half days / Universal Studios Admission: SGD 76 (adults), SGD 56 (kids)

7. Have a Drink Aboard the Singapore Flyer

The Singapore Flyer is one of the city’s most iconic attractions. It offers fantastic views of the city from Asia’s largest observation wheel. You can go on a standard flight but if you want something a little more memorable, how about going on one that offers drinks like Singapore Slings or champagne? For people traveling as a couple, they even offer flights with a romantic four-course dinner for two.

You can buy tickets to the Singapore Flyer online, at the gate, or through Klook. Klook offers a Singapore Flight – Gardens by the Bay combo pass, as well as vouchers to their beverage and dinner flights.
Singapore Flyer, Singapore

Singapore Flyer #2” by ecperez, used under CC BY 2.0 / Processed in Photoshop and Lightroom, removed watermark
Estimated Time Needed: 30 mins / Cost: SGD 33 (adults), SGD 21 (kids)

8. Enjoy the Greenery at Singapore Botanic Gardens

One of the most striking things about Singapore is how green it is. It’s the greenest city in Asia and one of the greenest in the world, which is surprising for a small city with 100% of its population urbanized. Gardens by the Bay is a fantastic place to appreciate Singapore’s greenery, but if you want to enjoy it in a more natural setting, then head on over to Singapore Botanic Gardens. It’s a 158-year-old tropical garden and the only UNESCO World Heritage Site in Singapore. Entrance to the gardens is free but you’ll need to pay a small SGD 5 fee to enter the National Orchid Garden. It’s a must so don’t miss it. Check out my post on Singapore Botanic Gardens for more pictures and information.
Botanic Gardens, Singapore

Estimated Time Needed: 2-3 hrs / Admission: FREE

SINGAPORE FOOD GUIDE

Singapore is synonymous with food. They take their food seriously here so a hawker stall that’s been serving the same iconic dish for decades was every bit as important to us as Gardens by the Bay. To make sure we ate at the best, I consulted trusted Singaporean food blogs to find out exactly what we should eat and where we should try them. The result is this food guide on 25 Must-Eat Restaurants in Singapore.
Singapore Food Guide: 25 Must-Eat Restaurants in Singapore

WHERE TO EAT

Not everyone can go to all 25 restaurants listed in our food guide so I’ve narrowed it down to our favorites. All the eateries we mentioned are worthy of a visit but if you’re pressed for time, then these are the 6 you shouldn’t miss (listed in no particular order).

1. Red House Seafood Restaurant

What better way to start this list than with Singapore’s most iconic dish, chili crabs? Often referred to as Singapore’s national dish, chili crabs are prepared by stir-frying crabs — commonly mud crabs — in a rich, tomato- and chili-based sauce. Despite its name, it’s more sweet and tangy with just a hint of spiciness. There are countless places where you can enjoy chili crabs in Singapore but my local friend recommended Red House at Robertson Quay. It was absolutely delicious with loads of crab roe in its shell. Chili crabs are considered Singapore’s greatest culinary creation so you can’t visit this country without trying this dish. Check out our Singapore Food Guide for more pictures and information.
Red House Seafood Restaurant, Singapore

What We Paid: SGD 138.60 (one chili crab, 2 pcs fried mantou, mee goreng, rice, and drinks)

2. Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle

Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice and Noodle gets all the attention but this place is every bit as deserving. Like that chicken rice place, Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle is one of the first two hawker stalls ever to receive an esteemed Michelin star. I had to wait over an hour in line to get one bowl of their famous bak chor mee — a vinegar and spicy sambal pork noodle dish made with lard — and that was BEFORE they received their star. I can only imagine how long you’d have to wait now. But if there was one dish worth queuing up for in Singapore, then this is it. Check out our Singapore Food Guide for more pictures and information.
Hill Street Tai Hwa Pork Noodle, Singapore

What We Paid: SGD 6 per bowl

3. The Banana Leaf Apolo

Three words — fish head curry. This restaurant in Little India has been serving this delicious curry dish for over 40 years now. Made with a secret blend of 18 spices, it’s prepared by stewing a whole sea bream’s head in a Kerala-style curry with assorted vegetables like okra and eggplant. It’s served on banana leaves and best eaten with rice or naan bread. It’s really good. Check out my post on Singapore Food Guide for more pictures and information.
The Banana Leaf Apolo, Singapore

What We Paid: SGD 28 (medium fish head)

4. Candlenut

Candlenut is a one-star Michelin restaurant that serves modern interpretations of Peranakan cuisine. If you’ve never tried Peranakan food before, it’s a deeply flavorful cuisine that blends Chinese ingredients with distinct spices and cooking techniques used by the Malay/Indonesian community. If you enjoy food that isn’t shy on flavor, then you’ll love Peranakan cuisine. For the best experience, I suggest going for dinner and trying Chef Malcolm Lee’s “ahma-kase” set menu. Check out my post on Candlenut in Singapore for more pictures and information.
Candlenut, Singapore

Expect to Pay: SGD 118++ per person (set dinner menu)

5. MA Deen Biasa

Sup tulang is without a doubt the messiest and most sinful dish on this list. But it’s also one of the most delicious. Sup tulang is a bone marrow dish made with tomato paste and a slew of spices. It’s served with a basket of bread to mop up the sauce and straws to suck out the marrow. Ren had been wanting to try this devilish dish for the longest time so when KF Seetoh described MA Deen Biasa’s sup tulang as “the most desperately delicious”, I knew we found the right place. WARNING: Do not wear white when you eat here because you WILL get dirty. Check out our Singapore Food Guide for more pictures and information.
MA Deen Biasa, Singapore

What We Paid: SGD 20 (medium order)

6. Tiong Bahru Bakery

It may be odd to add a French bakery to a Singapore food guide but this place is an exception. Opened in collaboration with celebrity French baker Gontran Cherrier, Tiong Bahru Bakery is said to serve the best croissants in Singapore. Some even say they’re better than the ones in Paris! With that type of acclaim, you’d be kicking yourself in the head if you didn’t have breakfast here at least once. We had the green tea almond croissant and it was to die for. Check out our Singapore Food Guide for more pictures and information.
Tiong Bahru Bakery, Singapore

What We Paid: SGD 17.50 (Green Tea Almond Croissant, Kouign-Amann, 2 coffees)

POINTS OF INTEREST IN SINGAPORE

To help you get your bearings, I’ve created this map so you get a better sense of where everything is. Most of the places recommended in this guide are pinned on this map.

HOW TO GET AROUND SINGAPORE

Singapore’s MRT system is very efficient. We used it to go pretty much everywhere. We only needed to take a bus once, to go to Singapore Zoo, but I’ve read it’s very efficient as well. If you need to travel by bus often, then I suggest using the Google Maps app (iOS | Android) to help you navigate. I’ve always found bus systems to be more confusing than trains but this free app makes it so much easier. It’ll tell you exactly how to get from one place to the next using any city’s public transportation system.

If you’re staying in Singapore for a maximum of three days and plan on using the trains often like we did, then you can invest in a Singapore Tourist Pass. It’s available in 1-day, 2-day, or 3-day passes and will give you unlimited rides on the MRT, LRT, and public bus systems. Jump to the TRAVEL TIPS section of this guide for more information.

If you’re staying in Singapore for longer than three days and don’t need unlimited daily rides, then an alternative to the Singapore Tourist Pass is the EZ-Link Card. Like the Singapore Tourist Pass, it’ll save you the hassle of having to buy single journey tickets each time, plus you won’t have to scrounge up exact change for the bus. Each ride will come out cheaper than single journey fares and you can use it to pay for taxis and make purchases at participating shops and convenience stores. It’s very similar to Hong Kong’s Octopus Card in that regard. Follow the link to learn more about the EZ-Link Card.

As recommended in the THINGS TO DO section of this guide, Hop On Hop Off buses are a great way for first-time visitors to get around as well. You can use them an unlimited number of times and they’ll take you to all of Singapore’s top points of interest. Follow the link to read my post on DUCK & HiPPO’s Hop On Hop Off tour for more information.

If you’re too lazy to take public transportation, then you can always hop into a taxi or use Grab. We did a couple of times to get to harder to find restaurants.

HOW MANY DAYS TO STAY / SAMPLE ITINERARY

Singapore isn’t that big but it’s packed with fun and interesting things to do. It’s got a lot of good restaurants and hawker stalls too. If you’re in a rush, then you can probably do everything in this guide in 4 full days. That will give you enough time to see the major sights. But if you want to have a more relaxed stay, then stay at least 5. Food was a big reason why we were here so we stayed for 6 days to visit as many eateries as possible. Here’s a 5-day sample itinerary to help you plan your trip.

DAY ONE

• Hop On Hop Off Bus
• Singapore Botanic Gardens
• Orchard Road
• Merlion
• Esplanade
• Chinatown
• Little India
• Kampong Glam
• Long Bar at Raffles Hotel
DAY TWO

• Gardens by the Bay
• Marina Bay Sands Skypark
• ArtScience Museum
• Helix Bridge
• Singapore Flyer
DAY THREE

• Universal Studios
DAY FOUR

• Sentosa Island
DAY FIVE

• Singapore Zoo
• Night Safari

BUDGET / SUMMARY OF EXPENSES

As described, Singapore isn’t cheap. It’s one of the most expensive cities in Asia. But one of our favorite things about Singapore — its food — is surprisingly inexpensive. With so many hawker stalls to choose from, you can enjoy delicious Singaporean fare for just SGD 5 a meal! The public transportation system is very efficient as well so getting around the city is easy and cheap.

Assuming you’ll be staying in Singapore for 5 full days and sharing an inexpensive hotel room with one other person, then a starting budget of around SGD 100-120 per day should be good. This takes into account your hotel room, transportation, hawker stall meals, Hop On Hop Off Tour passes, Gardens by the Bay tickets, and pocket wifi rental.

I usually factor in all must-do admission fees but some of the places or activities mentioned in this guide may not be for everyone (like Universal Studios or Singapore Zoo). The Hop On Hop Off Tour gives you a great overview of the city which is why I added it. I included Gardens by the Bay because it’s freaking awesome and you need to see it. You can add the cost of any other tour/activity that you want to do to the suggested budget.

ACCOMMODATIONS

This is highly subjective. It depends on several factors like hotel preference and number of travel companions. We booked a room at City Inn Mackenzie for about USD 83 a night.
MEALS

Food cost in Singapore is highly variable as well. You can pay SGD 5 for great street food or spend SGD 150 on a chili crab feast. I budgeted SGD 20 per person per day which should give you plenty of options. You can get by with much less but why would you want to? Singapore is such a food-centric city that you may as well enjoy yourself. Budget more if you plan on dining at fancier restaurants.
POCKET WIFI RENTAL

If you’re sharing the cost with one other person, then you’ll be paying SGD 4.50 each per day.
TRANSPORTATION

Assuming you’re staying for 5 days and doing the Hop On Hop Off Tour for 1 day, then a 3-day Singapore Tourist Pass should be fine for the rest of your stay. A 3-day pass will run you SGD 30, but SGD 10 of that is for a refundable deposit so the actual cost is SGD 20.
ATTRACTION FEES

The 24-hr City Sightseeing Pass costs SGD 39 while admission to both conservatories at Gardens by the Bay will set you back SGD 28. You’ll pay less if you buy them through Klook or Kkday.
TOTAL

This comes out to about SGD 101.90 per person per day for a 5-day stay. As advised, budget more if you plan on shopping or doing more tours and activities. Ren and I are middle of the road travelers who enjoy good food and drink, so this is a starting budget that works for us. Feel free to adjust based on your own travel habits.

TRAVEL TIPS

1. Plan your Trip with Sygic Travel (formerly Tripomatic)

This is my go-to travel app. I use it to plan all our trips. With this free app that you can use on your desktop and mobile devices, you can plot points of interest on a map, including your hotel, so you can see exactly how far you need to travel between points. It enables you to create an efficient itinerary by grouping attractions together per day based on location. With pocket wifi, it can turn your mobile phone into a GPS tracking device so people with a terrible sense of direction (like me) never get lost again. Pretty awesome right? Check out my full post on the Sygic Travel app for more information.

DOWNLOAD: iOS / Android

Follow this link to check out our 6-day Singapore eat-inerary on Sygic Travel. You can also download it in editable Word format by signing up for our FREE newsletter below. If Singapore’s hawker stalls are a priority, then this will be very useful to you.

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2. Rent a Pocket Wifi Device

A constant wifi connection is a must when traveling these days. You’ll need it to do research, convert currencies, use ride-sharing apps, navigate with GPS, etc. We never go anywhere now without renting a pocket wifi device first.

We rented a pocket wifi device from Changi Recommends for SGD 10 a day. I know it looks a little tattered in the picture below but it’s a pretty good device. It gave us 4G internet connectivity with no data limits. The battery life was decent. It would start to run out around mid to late afternoon so we’d plug it in to our powerbank. I suggest you bring one as well.

Pick up and drop off points are at Changi Airport. They’ll put a SGD 200 hold on your credit card which they’ll release after you return the device and its accessories, so be sure not to lose anything! You can rent a device directly from the Changi Recommends website or through Klook for just SGD 9 a day. Follow this link to rent a Singapore pocket wifi device from Klook.
Changi Recommends pocket wifi router, Singapore

3. Get a Singapore Tourist Pass or an EZ-Link Card

As advised, a Singapore Tourist Pass is a good investment if you aren’t staying in Singapore that long and you’ll be using public transportation a lot. It’ll give you unlimited access to the MRT and public bus system, plus it’ll save you the hassle of having to buy tickets before each ride. They’re available in 1-day, 2-day, or 3-day passes for SGD 10, SGD 16, and SGD 20 respectively. You’ll need to pay a SGD 10 deposit per card which you can refund within 5 days after the date of purchase. Check the Singapore Tourist Pass website for more information.

As described, an alternative to the Singapore Tourist Pass is the EZ-Link Card. This is perhaps the better option if you’re staying longer in Singapore and don’t plan on using public transportation as much. It won’t give you unlimited rides but you’ll save on the cost of single journey fares. Like the Singapore Tourist Pass, it’ll save you the hassle of having to buy single journey tickets each time and you won’t have to scrounge up exact change for the bus. Check out the EZ-Link Card website for more information.

If you’re not sure whether a transportation card is worth it, then you can use this fare calculator to approximate how much you’ll be spending on public transportation.
Transportation cards, Singapore

4. Get Discount Tickets

There are many websites that offer discount passes to tours and services. The websites I’ve used the most are Klook and Kkday. They offer deals in many cities around the world, including Singapore. They offers discount passes to many Singapore attractions, including Universal Studios. They also offer discounts to services like airport transfers and pocket wifi rental. You can follow these links for a complete list of Sinagpore deals on Klook and Kkday. You’ll often find interesting activities that you wouldn’t normally think of yourself so it’s definitely worth a look.

Other good websites to look through are Get Your Guide and Viator. Like Klook and Kkday, both are solid, reputable companies that offer tours and activities to multiple destinations around the globe. You may want to go through their websites as well to compare tours and prices. Follow these links to search through tours and activities in Singapore on Get Your Guide and Viator.

5. Get Travel Insurance

To be honest, it was only recently when we started buying travel insurance. Back when we traveled just once or twice a year, travel insurance felt like an added expense, one we didn’t need. But now that we travel more, I understand how important it is to have it. Fact is, you never know what can happen on the road. It’s one of those things that you hope you never have to use, but if you do wind up needing it, then you’ll be thanking the gods that you had it. Or cursing them if you didn’t.

Though I do find it more necessary now, it’s still up to you if you think you need it. A 3-day trip to Osaka just shopping and eating may not really call for insurance but if you plan on doing more active things like bungee jumping, horseback riding, or even going biking, then I’d say travel insurance is a must.

We buy travel insurance from World Nomads because every long-term traveler I know recommends it. From the sound of it, they’re the best in the industry by a mile. Not only do they provide a high coverage limit for medical expenses (up to USD 5 million with the Standard package), they also cover things like trip delays, missed flight connections, theft/loss of passport and luggage, etc. Follow the link or use the widget below to learn more and get a free travel insurance quote from World Nomads. It’s super quick and easy.

6. Know the Laws

Singapore is a “fine city”. It’s a fine city not just because it’s lovely, but because it’s possible for you to get fined for something you’d normally do in your own country. Things like spitting, connecting to someone else’s wifi, and jaywalking can carry hefty fines. There’s even a law that requires you to flush public toilets! If you don’t want to be on the wrong end of a fine, then you’ll need to familiarize yourself with Singapore’s laws.

7. Bring the Right Power Adapter

Singapore has Type G electrical outlets so be sure to bring the right power adapters for your devices. Electrical voltage is 230V and the standard frequency is 50Hz.

For Filipinos

VISA INFORMATION

Filipinos don’t need tourist visas to visit Singapore for stays less than 30 days.

HOW TO GET CHEAP AIRLINE TICKETS

You can get cheap flights to Singapore on Cebu Pacific. It’s usually our airline of choice around Asia. But since this was a two-city trip (Penang & Singapore), we went with JetStar instead. Other airlines that offer direct flights from Manila to Singapore are Tiger Air, Philippine Airlines, and Singapore Airlines.

We paid PHP 5,540 each for round trip tickets from Manila to Singapore on JetStar. This included a shared 20-kg baggage allowance. Cebu Pacific was having a seat sale at the time of this writing so I made a dummy booking and found the rates to be comparable. It came out to just over PHP 4,600 round trip without baggage allowance, and around PHP 5,500 with a 15 kg checked-in bag. These cheap tickets do sell out quickly so you need to act fast. To give yourself an advantage, like the airline’s Facebook page and follow them on Twitter so you quickly find out about these seat sales. If you check off “Get notifications” on Facebook, then you’ll receive instant alerts every time they post something new.

Have fun!

I’m not an expert on Singapore but I do hope that you find this guide useful. I’m only sharing some of the things I learned from our trip. If you have any suggestions or simply want to share your own experiences, then please feel free to do so in the comments section below. You’re welcome to join our Facebook Travel Group as well. We’d love to hear from you.

Thanks for stopping by and have an awesome time in Singapore!

OUR GEAR

These are some of the things we brought with us to Singapore. As you can tell, I document a lot of content for this blog so most of the things I bring are photo and video equipment. 😆 If you’d like to see what other gear we use, then you can check out our “What’s in Our Backpack?” post. (NOTE: The following links are Amazon affiliate links.)

Disclosure

Some of the links in this guide are affiliate links, meaning we’ll get a small commission if you make a purchase at NO extra cost to you. We only recommend products and services that we use ourselves and firmly believe in. We really appreciate your support as this helps us make more of these free travel guides. Thank you!



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There are 16 comments for this article
  1. Shujat at 12:57 pm

    This is one of the most fantastic blog I have read on Singapore till yet. The pictures look amazing, There are several budget accommodation in Singapore and too many fun activities and things to do. It is a perfect place to travel with your friends and family. Thanks to the author for sharing this.

  2. Travelouts.com at 4:43 pm

    This is a great post. There really are a lot of great stuff to do in Singapore. It was a lot of run to read this! Thank you for sharing it.

  3. Sheena Forsyth at 6:43 pm

    Can anyone who’s been to Singapore tell me the best way to get from a hotel in Townshend road Little India to the Sands Theatre at Marina Bay Sands?

  4. JB Macatulad at 9:20 am

    Hi Sheena, you can catch the MRT from Jalan Besar station to Bayfront. It’s about a 5-minute walk to the theater from there.

  5. Tania Gromenko at 3:11 pm

    That’s quite informative stuff! You almost captured all key aspects which every Singapore Travel aspirant would like to know. Being a foodie I would like to addon with knowledge on Hawker centers across Singapore. There are around 110 hawker centers in Singapore where you can enjoy good local food at a reasonable price. Despite the cheap prices (from S$2.50 to S$5.00), the quality of food is good.

  6. Kyle at 6:05 pm

    I normally don’t comment, but damn, this was good stuff. Thank you for the work you put into this. You two are now my new go-to Philippines-based travel couple. Cheers!

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