In Singapore, there's something for those ready to spend a lot of money, but even for a tourist arriving with just a backpack and a limited budget, there's plenty to do. The city has a vast number of places to visit for free, including galleries, museums, and architectural landmarks.
Exploring the city on foot is especially relevant for those living in Bali and missing parks, squares, and long walks. The flight from Bali to Singapore takes only 2 hours, so I recommend not missing this opportunity to see the city of the future with your own eyes.
You can fly to Singapore on a transit visa to start saving money upon entry (if you obtain a visa, you'll have to pay $80). It's essential to transit through a third country. For example, Bali - Kuala Lumpur - Singapore. That's what I did.
To make the flight cheaper, it's worth choosing tickets in advance, at least 1-2 months. The closer to the date, the more expensive they become. If you buy tickets in advance, you can easily stay within 2.5 million IDR per person.
I use the AirAsia app, which finds the most advantageous ticket options within Asia. Also, Batik Air and Scoop sometimes have inexpensive tickets.
You can buy a SIM card at the airport upon arrival or in any 7/11 supermarket. Alternatively, if you are a Telkomsel user, the operator offers several roaming internet packages for Singapore. I chose 15GB for 180k IDR.
Public transport, taxis
Taxi drivers accept cards, Singapore dollars in cash, and they understand and speak English well. The trip from the airport to the city center will cost approximately 30 SGD. City trips range from 10 to 30 SGD. There might be difficulties with calling a taxi at night or during rain. Gojek and Grab services are available here.
From the airport, you can also take the metro or bus, but they do not operate at night. Use Google Maps to plan routes. If you arrive in the evening or early morning, you can set the departure time on Google Maps to check if public transport is still available.
Public transport runs regularly and covers almost all parts of the city. It's very convenient. Each passenger needs an individual travel card, as everyone must tap in and out to calculate the fare.
Important! The travel card (or Apple Pay) must be tapped at the beginning and end of the trip. Otherwise, the maximum cost of the trip, around 2-3 SGD, will be deducted.
EZ-Link is a travel card if you don't have a working Apple Pay or similar. You can buy the card itself at the metro station (often only with a bank card), top it up there or at a 7/11 supermarket with a card or cash.
Buses in Singapore are very comfortable, with half of them being double-deckers.
Accommodation in Singapore is quite expensive, reflecting the city's standard of living. If you are traveling alone, the ideal option for you in Singapore would be a hostel or capsule hotel. The advantage of the latter is that capsules have tight closing curtains, giving the effect of a separate room.
In my experience, it's best to use the Agoda app for booking. It offers the maximum number of promos and discounts, often cheaper than other apps.
Here are a few cool capsule hotels I found. The longer your stay, the lower the cost.
• KINN Capsule Hotel
Average cost per night - 800,000 IDR
4 nights - 2.2 million IDR
The hotel is located in the center on Clarke Quay. They have an excellent co-working area and a roof. They also offer several promos for their guests, such as a discount in the café for breakfasts and a free workout at the nearby gym.
• Jyu Capsule Hotel
Average cost per night - 900,000 IDR
4 nights - 2.5 million IDR
The hotel is new, located in the center of Chinatown.
• Hotel Mono
Average cost per night - 1.6 million IDR
4 nights - 6.5 million IDR
This hotel is suitable for those traveling as a couple or with family. Clean, with a decent minimalist design.
Average cost per night - 800,000 IDR
4 nights - 2.2 million IDR
Another comfortable hostel at a reasonable price with a good price-quality ratio.
•Dream Chaser Boutique Capsule Hotel Singapore
Average cost per night - 800,000 IDR
4 nights - 2.2 million IDR
A hostel with an interesting design located in the Arab Quarter.
Nearby, there is a slightly cheaper option - The Pod Boutique Capsule Hotel.
Strolls through the main quarters
Singapore is divided into several ethnic quarters: Chinese Chinatown, Indian Little India, and Arab.
Walking in Singapore is a pleasure, especially if you've arrived from Bali, where walking is practically limited. Here, there are free attractions, allowing you to save on the budget while gaining many positive experiences.
Rent in these areas is slightly cheaper than in the center. So, if you plan to walk a lot, the distance of 30-50 minutes from the city center might not be daunting.
Chinese Quarter (Chinatown)
This area is unlike Chinatown in Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok: clean, authentic, and peaceful. Signs, banners—everything is in Chinese. Here, you'll find local pharmacies with dried items, teahouses, a market with a food court and groceries, tourist stalls, and Chinese pottery.
In the Chinese quarter, you can try different types of durian, visit the Chinese temple Buddha Tooth Relic Temple, and have Chinese tea in special tea houses like Yixing Xuan Teahouse, SILK Tea Bar, or Enjoy Tea.
You can have lunch or dinner at the small Liao Fan Hawker Chan cafe, which received a Michelin star for its signature chicken recipe. The menu is small and seemingly ordinary: rice with chicken or noodle soup with chicken. Don't expect too much, but overall, it was tasty and budget-friendly by Singapore standards—7-10s$.
Cross the road to the main street of the Indian quarter, and you'll feel like you've entered another world. Colorful illustrations of Hindu gods, fruits, incense, flowers for offerings, and, of course, Indians: men trading behind stalls, women strolling in colorful saris, and the aromatic smell of Indian curry.
Be sure to visit one of the local cafes and try South Indian food. For example, Komala Vilas Restaurant prepares delightful dosas—grain-based pancakes with fillings and vegetables in curry and masala.
Paneer and naan bread at Gokul. In general, you can choose one of the many Indian restaurants here. It's consistently delicious almost everywhere; rely on reviews in Google Maps.
From Tekka Centre along the main Serangoon Rd, you can walk to the main temple of the area, Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple, and on the way, drop by the Mustafa Centre department store, where you can find anything from a vast array of Indian spices to traditional clothing, all the way to a budget grocery store, and more.
Here is the main Sultan Hussein Mosque, stalls with Arabic clothing, lanterns, carpets. Turkish cafes offer sweets like honey baklava and nougat, halal food. The area is very interesting and colorful. Be sure to have lunch in one of the Turkish or Arabic cuisine restaurants; there's a great variety, catering to both meat lovers and vegans. For example, at Cappadocia Turkish & Mediterranean Restaurant.
Don't miss a stroll on the famous Haji Lane. Along the way, check out one of the vintage shops, where you can find old-school branded clothing and very tasty Turkish sweets - baklava sold by weight at Shalaby Sweets Turkish & Arabic Delights. Here, you can buy a box of various sweets for 20s$ and enjoy them alone or bring them as a souvenir.
I recommend sitting with a refreshing drink in the cool atmosphere of Blu Jaz, a great pub where live jazz music plays in the evening. Then, take a walk to Subhan Street with numerous graffiti.
The center is simply beautiful. There's ample space to stretch your legs after Bali, enjoy the views, and appreciate modern architecture. The city is very clean, well-maintained, and diverse.
Affordable or Free Entertainment
Sky Garden at CapitaSpring
A free observation deck on the 51st floor of the skyscraper.
On floors 17-20, there's a garden with various plants. Take a stroll and capture atmospheric photos.
By the way, on the building's first floor, you'll find % Arabica Singapore coffee shop to enhance your walk with a cup of coffee. On the top floor, enjoy the view of Singapore and Marina Bay – very beautiful and absolutely free.
Old Hill Street Police Station
Historical knowledge. Formerly a police station opened in 1934, it's now the Ministry of Arts.
It used to be a school, a theater, and a public hall.
Now, tourists are drawn to its facade of windows in 7 colors. It looks striking, especially in the evening when illuminated.
Many use this building as an Instagram-worthy spot for beautiful shots.
A 19th-century church that was once a monastery and school. It houses many restaurants, and the atmosphere is lively with occasional live music.
You can have coffee and lunch at Glasshouse and try premium matcha at the modern Japanese teahouse, Hvala. For stronger drinks, visit any of the atmospheric bars inside.
Fort Canning Park
A vast green park for walks, located near the center and the Indian Quarter.
The park has several zones and a fascinating free military museum and gothic gates. In the military museum, there's a section featuring a documentary on Singapore's history. Highly recommended.
If you get hungry, there's Tiong Bahru Bakery almost within the park's premises. It's tasty and bustling.
If you stroll from the center towards Esplanade Forecourt Garden to the area with Singapore's main attraction, Marina Bay Sands, you can pass through the Helix Bridge.
Bridge connecting Marina Bay Sands and the Marina Bay district. It has a unique double-helix structure modeled after the DNA. Beautifully illuminated in the evening.
Victoria Concert Hall
One of Singapore's main tourist attractions. A colonial-era building constructed in memory of Queen Victoria.
In front of the building stands a monument to Stamford Raffles, the father of Singapore, and a park with a large grassy lawn, offering a view of the modern Marina Bay building. This part of Singapore exudes an English-European spirit. Behind is the city's Parliament building, and to the left is St. Andrew's Cathedral, over 100 years old.
From the concert hall, you can continue through Anderson Bridge to the historic Fullerton Hotel Singapore—an erstwhile main post office that has been excellently restored and transformed into a hotel.
Gardens by the Bay
A magnificent light and music show. Daily schedule: 19:45 and 20:45.
A spectacular sight. Absolutely free and accessible to everyone.
Check out the flea market if you're strolling on a Sunday. You can find vintage records, books, clothing, rare watches, or cameras. The market operates only on Sundays.
In this area, I recommend the lovely bakery-patisserie Nickel and the excellent specialty coffee shop Apartments. They use alternative coffee brewing methods, and the staff, including baristas, are friendly and can guide you through the traditions of the coffee world. It's also a comfortable place to work, but note that there is no public Wi-Fi.
Art Galleries and Museums
A vast gallery featuring Asian art. Ticket prices are around 20 or 30 s$, depending on the number of exhibitions.
Objectifs - Centre for Photography & Film
A free gallery consisting of two small halls. A bright yellow house that is hard to miss in the midst of the bustling metropolis.
National Design Centre
Interesting for those into modern design. Unique exhibits, with the history of Singapore, its separation from Malaysia, and independence presented on the first floor. Exhibitions change periodically.
Sam at Brass Bahas
Currently closed for reconstruction. Expected to reopen in 2024.
MINT Museum of Toys
The museum showcases a collection of toys from around the world since 1990. A delight for children and a nostalgic trip for adults.
The museum also features interactive displays for children, and each exhibited toy comes with its own story.
A significant plus is that the toy collection is regularly updated and changed.
Ticket cost: from 30s$
Fuk Tak Chi Museum
The Fuk Tak Chi Museum is part of a hotel and operates entirely for free. Here, you can explore the history and cultural heritage of the first Chinese immigrants in Singapore. The museum displays various exhibits and artifacts reflecting the lifestyle of those times. It's a small museum, taking up a maximum of 15 minutes of your time.
Singapore is known for its wealth, and the cost of dishes in cafes and restaurants here is high. That's why food courts are highly popular, typically offering various Asian cuisines, with an average dish cost ranging from 5-8 Singaporean dollars.
The cost of a dish in a cafe is approximately 20 Singaporean dollars.
Lau Pa Sat
This market appealed to me the most. It features Thai, Singaporean, Indian, Malaysian, and Vietnamese cuisines. It gets very crowded on Sundays and weekdays during lunch.
Maxwell Food Centre
A famous street food market with prices around 5s$ approximately.