Singapore can be an expensive city to visit, but with my Singapore Budget Trip Itinerary it’s possible to see it on even the smallest budget! There are so many cheap and free things to do around this amazing city: Check out the bright colours and rich smells of Little India, marvel at the decadent temples and bustling markets of Chinatown, take in the futuristic high rise buildings downtown and the magnificent marina, and find the cheapest (Michelin starred) street food.
To help you figure out how to spend your time in Singapore I’ve written a 2-day itinerary for your trip to the city. Why only 2 days? This seems to be the average amount of time I see backpackers and budget travellers spending there. There are a number of reasons for this; it’s expensive, it’s a hub so a lot of people stop off there on the way somewhere else, and despite Singapore being a large city, full of things to explore, people often have the impression that it’s small enough to be experienced in just a day or two. I certainly had that impression before I visited! Singapore is chock full of things to see and do, so much so that I still have things on my to-do list despite having been here 3 times.
If you’re in Singapore for more than two days then I have included a few extra things at the end of this post.
*All $ prices are SGD and not USD
Singapore Budget Trip Itinerary Quicklinks
- How To Get Around
- Where To Stay
- Botanic Gardens
- Little India, Masjid Sultan, and Haji Lane
- Lau Pa Sat Hawker Market
- Marina Bay Sands
- Gardens By The Bay
- Street Art Tour
- Central Perk
- Maxwell Food Centre
- Newton Food Centre
- Chinese & Japanese Gardens
- Pulau Ubin
- MacRitchie Nature Reserve
While you’re here, hop on a bus over the border of Malaysia and check out these stunning islands;
Or use my Complete Singapore & Malaysia Travel Guide!
How To Get Around Singapore
The subway (MRT) is the best way to get around Singapore. It’s cheap (around $1.60 / 90p / €1 per trip), it’s fast, the carriages are air conditioned and you have phone reception on the trains which I LOVE! You can buy a tourist travel card or else you will be given a paper ticket from the ticket machines which you can top up for further trips, and receive small discounts. Have plenty of change and small notes for the ticket machines as they only take coins and a max of $5 notes. Uber is popular here and a cheap way to get from A to B when the train isn’t convenient.
Where to Stay
We stayed at Champion City Hotel near Clarke Quay. This was a little expensive but we were fresh off a 12 hour flight so we needed it. We had a clean and comfortable air conditioned room in a great location, and the bed was a dream!
For a cheaper option check out Vintage Inn capsule hostel in Little India for just $26 / £14 / 16 per bed per night. We stayed here on our last trip to Singapore and loved it. Vintage Inn is a clean hostel with shared bathrooms and good wifi in a great location.
Singapore Budget Trip Itinerary Day 1: The Botanic Gardens, Little India, Masjid Lane, and Gardens By The Bay
Start the day with a trip to the Singapore Botanic Gardens. You can get here easily on the Downtown MRT line (the dark blue one) – the stop is called Botanic Gardens so you can’t miss it.
I’m not sure if it’s because I’m from Ireland and used to being surrounded by green stuff but I love to visit the botanic gardens in any big city I go to. The Singapore Botanic Gardens is probably the best one I’ve ever been to and it’s open at 5am so it’s a great thing to do in a city doesn’t really wake until 11am. It’s absolutely huge so you completely forget you’re just stops away from the bustling downtown area and with 3 lakes, 5 restaurants, and over 60,000 species of plants it’s easy to pass the time here.
There are morning yoga classes and Tai Chi classes, which you can book online if you’d like to vinyasa away your jet lag, and there are some great running tracks if you want to come early for a morning jog. If you’re a dog lover then you will be in heaven! This is a popular dog walking spot so there are many gorgeous pups out with their owners, who are very obliging if you want to pet them 🙂 The park is very strict on proper etiquette so all dogs are leashed and it’s spotlessly clean and super quiet.
Save the Pennies: Pick up some food from a nearby market and have a breakfast picnic overlooking the Symphony lake.
Splash the Cash: Have a breakfast or brunch in one of the 5 restaurants in the garden, there are some great choices and you’ll find the options on the SBG website.
Little India, Masjid Sultan and Haji Lane
Cost: All sights are free, lunch from $5 / £2.75 / €3
When you’re finished in the Gardens, hop on the Downtown MRT line to Little India Station (3 stops from Botanic Gardens station). Take Exit E.
Little India is a really fun and vibrant area, it always makes us feel like we’re back in the hustle and bustle of India! From the station, walk down Kerbau road to have a look at Tan Teng Niah, the last standing Chinese house in Little India. Take a minute to admire the beautiful brightly painted building, and if you’re hungry Amaravati restaurant across the road serves some great, cheap Indian food – try the Paneer Butter Tikka, it’s so good! Keep walking up this street to Serangoon road and spend a little time walking around the area from here. Take detours down little laneways snap some photos of the street art and colourful buildings, buy souvenirs from the stalls, get henna done in the markets, chat to shop owners and just take in the sights and sounds of the streets. Visit the Indian heritage centre, stop by Sri Veeramakaliamman – Singapores’s oldest Hindu temple, Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple, and take in the beauty of Abdul Gafoor Mosque.
Once you have finished exploring Little India make your way on foot across the Rochor River to Arab street, a busy and colourful palm tree-lined street filled with cafes, restaurants and bars. This is a popular hipster hangout and a great place to people watch for a little while. You could also eat here if you weren’t hungry in Little India, although it would cost a little more.
At the end of Arab street is the gorgeous Masjid Sultan with its iconic gold dome roof. If you’re interested in photography you can get some great shots of this mosque – especially from the bottom of Arab street.
Save the pennies: Grab a coffee or a beer in one of the cafes on Arab street and people watch for a little while.
Splash the cash: Maison Ikkoku is a few minutes walk away on Kandahar street and well worth a visit. This Japanese cocktail bar has no menu, instead you tell the bartender what you’re in the mood for and he’ll whisk you up a cocktail that suits your mood. Feel like something sweet and gin based? Or sour and whiskey based? How about something smokey with bourbon? They’ll make you a cocktail that’s just what you’ve been looking for. Cocktails are $25 / £14 / €15 each.
A 10 minute walk through busy streets with some great street art will take you to Haji Lane – a narrow street filled with stylish boutiques, grungy coffee shops, chilled out bars and lots of tourists armed with SLRs trying to take the perfect shot. It’s a popular tourist spot but it’s well worth a visit. Great place to people watch and get chatting to other backpackers and tourists.
Cost: from $6 / £3 / €4 for food. Beer is $10 / £5 / €6 for a pint and $5.50/ £3 / €3.50 for a can.
Once you have finished at Haji lane, walk a few minutes to the nearby Bugis MRT station and take the Downtown line 4 stops to Telok Ayer (7 minutes). Take exit C and make your way to Lao Pa Sat hawker market for dinner. This popular market is filled with cheap delicacies from all around Asia. Try the Hainan chicken – a popular local dish, as well as carrot cake (not actually cake, it’s a savoury dish). Sit at any table in the market and try dishes from as many stalls as you like.
Out the back of the market you’ll find a smokey outdoor section filled with stalls selling all kinds of Satay. This area has a bit more atmosphere than inside and is popular with young Singaporeans meeting for dinner and drinks.
Cost: Free to enter, up to $36 / £20 / €22 for attractions
After dinner it’s off to the Gardens by the Bay – one of the top things I’ve seen in two years of backpacking! Try to get there before 7:45 so that you can watch the light show which happens every night for about 15 minutes. To get there hop on the Downtown MRT line to Bayfront (2 stops) and then it’s about a 10 minute walk to get into the garden from the station. There is the option to get a shuttle but it’s a beautiful walk with lots of photo opportunities so I’d recommend walking.
If you just want to watch the light show and see the ‘trees’ in the Gardens then you don’t need to pay a thing and can just walk in, there is also a sky walk you can do between the tops of the trees which costs $8 / £4 / €5 per person and tickets need to be bought inside the garden. Queues can be huge but you can book in advance here.
Next to the Garden there is the Flower Dome and the Cloud Forest. You can buy tickets at the entrance to the Gardens, right outside the station exit. The queues here don’t tend to be as large as inside the Garden, we got there at 7pm on a Saturday night and there was no queue at all. If you would rather be prepared then you can book tickets at this link. It’s $28 / £15 / €17 to see both of these and they’re right beside each other.
The flower dome is a massive conservatory filled with exotic plant life from around the world, and the cloud forest is a spectacular waterfall that you can walk behind and see the beautiful gardens that surround it. There are some photos in the gallery at the end of the post of the two. If you have the money in your budget I would recommend going to these but unless you’re a flower enthusiast or are very into photography and want to get some shots of the two places then I would just go to the Garden and perhaps do the sky walk. They’re great attractions and we really enjoyed them, but the light show in the Garden and the Garden itself are the main attractions in the park.
Save the pennies: Skip the skywalk, flower dome and cloud forest and your visit will be completely free. You can still walk through the gardens and see the light show.
Splash the cash: Finish up the evening with a drink at SuperTree bar on top of the highest ‘tree’ in the garden. $20 / £11 / €12 gets you entry to the bar and a drink of your choice, the bar has great views over looking the Marina Bay Sands and the gorgeous Singapore skyline.
You might want to end your evening here after such a busy day, but if you do have the time you could make it over to the Marina Bay Sands to watch the final light show at 9pm (or there is a later 10pm show on weekends). This free light show is one of the more popular things to do in Singapore and really is a spectacular event! There is plenty of space to sit and watch the show, and a great atmosphere with so many people around. You can walk here from the Gardens by the Bay in about 15-20 minutes.You’ve finished the light show and you still don’t want to go home?
Save the Pennies: Head to nearby Clarke Quay and find yourself a happy hour deal along the river.
Splash the cash: Head to Raffles, the home of the Singapore Sling and try their famous cocktail at it’s birthplace. Ok so this is a really really touristy thing to do in Singapore, and we did contemplate not going for that reason, but curiosity won over! Raffles club was made famous as home to the original Singapore Sling and is a super popular place for tourists to go for a taste of the old colonial era. The bar itself is full of charm and takes you back in time to another world, they’ve kept the old bamboo fans and the colonial decor. You can get here via the the Downtown MRT line from Bayfront to Bugis in 20 minutes, or grab an Uber which should be pretty cheap at this time of night.
Singapore Budget Trip Itinerary Day 2: Brunch, Street Art Tour, Chinatown .and Hawker Markets
Indulge in a leisurely brunch
Cost: Around $30 / £16 / €18 per head for restaurant or around $10 / £5 / €6 for market or food court breakfast.
You’ve had a busy day yesterday (and possibly a night out), so take it slowly this morning and start your day with a relaxed breakfast to get your energy back for sightseeing. Western breakfasts are popular in Singapore and there are some great options around the city to eat in the morning. Try Common Man Coffee Roasters for great smoothies and an egg white & kale scramble that is so good you’ll forget it’s healthy. Strangers at Work and its sister restaurant Strangers Reunion do an awesome breakfast and amaaaazing truffle fries. If you’re after a traditional breakfast head or something cheaper then your nearest hawker hall or shopping mall food court is the best place to go. (Shopping mall food courts in this part of Asia are so much better than in Europe, it’s not just KFC and Burger King but lots of great food here too.)
Explore the streets of Singapore
You’ve spent the previous day ticking off some of the top sights in Singapore and now it’s time to get to know the heart of the city. Singapore is great to explore on foot – it’s really diverse and full of charming little streets and laneways waiting for you to explore them, and loads of museums and centres where you can learn more about the history and culture.
I’d recommend starting around Clarke Quay and follow the path along the river, take a look at the streets surrounding you and and cross over the river to visit the Asian Civilisation Museum. You’ll pass the National Gallery, the beautiful Victoria Theatre is right nearby, and the Singapore Art Museum if you’d like to go in and take a look.
From Clarke Quay you can also take a boat down the Singapore river to the Marina for some spectacular views. Or walk downtown and take in the views of the Marina Bay Sands during the day. There are boat trips that go from Boat Quay and Clarke Quay down to the marina for the 8pm, 9pm and sometimes 10pm light shows so if you didn’t make it last night you could do it tonight.
Cost: Mains start from $26 / £14 / €16
Friends fans can relive their favourite antics in this replica of the Central Perk cafe from the show. It’s filled with Friends references and memorabilia and shows episodes on TV screens. They serve a variety of western food from steak to pizza and pasta. It’s an Instagrammers dream and they even have a replica dog statue that was in Joey and Chandler’s apartment. If you’re on a budget maybe just stop here for coffee and a few photos then continue onto the next stop for some cheap eats.
Cost: Free to explore, around $10 / £5 / €6 if you get lunch
Chinatown is within walking distance from both Central Perk Cafe (10 mins) and Clarke Quay (17) and it’s a really nice walk so I’d recommend not getting an MRT. Walk up South Bridge road and you should slowly start seeing the street become more colourful as you begin to spot the many street decorations. If you haven’t already eaten walk down Chinatown Food Street and get some lunch at one of the stalls here, or go to Liao Fan Hong Kong Soya Chicken stall on 78 Smith Street for the cheapest Michelin starred street food in the world.
Spend some time exploring the markets and temples of Chinatown and maybe picking up a souvenir or two. Buddha Tooth Relic temple is a must see, it’s absolutely beautiful and you can go inside to take a look. There is a dress code but they have wraps to cover your shoulders inside. Sri Mariamman is a Hindu temple nearby that is well worth a look, its elaborately carved roof is stunning and you can go inside to see more carvings. Again there is a dress code but you will be given a cover up if you need it.
If you’re interested in the history of Chinatown, visit Chinatown Heritage centre ($18 / £9 / €11 entry) to learn a little about the struggles of the first Chinese immigrants in Singapore. You can see the tiny living spaces whole families had to live in when they settled in their new home.
Colonial buildings and street art
Right next to Chinatown is Craig street, where you will walk past a long row of traditional Singaporean houses with a futuristic modern sky scraper towering behind them. It’s a great place to take some photos and appreciate the change that Singapore has gone through in the recent years. Nearby streets such as Everton road have some great street art and old colourful shop houses that have been converted into homes. The streets are mostly windy and cross over each other all of the time so its a great place to get lost for an hour or two. There are also some great coffee houses nearby such as Strangers Reunion where you can get Riesling, Merlot or Sauvignon Blanc flavoured teas! I tried the Riesling and it was delicious.
Cost: $5 / £2.75 / €3 and upwards for dishes
Maxwell Food Centre is an award winning hawker market that is really popular with locals and tourists alike – although most tourists with higher budgets tend to come here for lunch rather than dinner so in the evenings you can meet a lot of backpackers here. Like Lau Pa Sat you can sit anywhere and try food from as many stalls as you like. It’s a little easier to navigate than Lau Pa Sat and has more Indian food stalls from what I could see. We tried Saag Paneer and Takka Dahl with some roti for $10 / £5 / €6 for two of us, it was so good! You can buy fresh fruit, fresh juices and cane juice that’s made right in front of you. Beer is also on sale in some stalls. The atmosphere is great and it’s open until 2am so if you get hungry later you can stop by again for more food.
Club Street / Ann Siang Hill
Cost: Happy hour is usually 2 for 1 beer, wine or prosecco but there are numerous deals to be found.
If you have ever been to Hong Kong then this area will remind you of Lang Kwai Fong. These two streets are right beside Maxwell Food Centre and are heaving with locals who are out for the night. There are high end romantic restaurants mixed in with bars blaring music and offering good happy hour deals. If you’re with a group then you can get a good deal on a beer tower or if you’re alone I think this would be a good place to meet other travellers or locals. People in Singapore are really friendly and happy for a stranger to join them if they are on a night out! It’s such a lovely quality about the people here and can be awesome if you’re away for a long time and want to chat to some new people.
Finish up the night here or head to the nearby Pekin street for another strip of bars with happy hours!
If You Have Longer Than 2 Days in Singapore
That’s just about everything I could fit into two days. Below are a few other things you can do if you have a little bit more time in Singapore. These are a little further out of the city but are definitely worth a trip! If you don’t have any data when you’re in Singapore then screenshot this guide and star all of the locations on Google Maps before you leave your hotel or hostel wifi. The map will still load offline once you have loaded it up previously online and you can route your way to each place.
This is a popular spot where locals go to escape the city and enjoy a bit of nature and exercise. Fitness enthusiasts will love the hikes and nature trails here. The The highlight of this reservoir is an 11km nature trail and there is also a treetop canopy walk you can do. There are other 3.2 and 4.8 km trails that you can do, and you can also canoe or kayak. The reservoir has an almost jungle feel to it as the trails take you around the water’s edge and right into the forest.
This island is often referred to as the last part of the old Singapore. There are no sandy beaches on this island, but it’s perfect for nature lovers and adventurers – or if you just want to escape the city and go for an easy hike.
You can reach Ubin in 15 minutes on a bum boat from Chiangi jetty so it’s a quick day trip from the city. Rent a bike and cycle around the island, stop and chat to the locals that still live on the island, hike to Puaka Hill for a magnificent view over an old granite quarry, check out the Check Jawa Boardwalk, stop by the picturesque Pekan Quarry and climb up the 20-metre tall Jejawi tower for a great view of Ubin.
These peaceful and tranquil gardens sit on Jurong lake and are connected to each other by the bridge of Double Beauty. If you want to chill out a bit and take a few hours to relax in a beautiful setting then this is the place for you. If you’re in Singapore at Chinese New Year or the mid-autumn festival (September or October) then this is the place to go.
Another popular Hawker market that’s full of cheap eats from all around the world. We never managed to visit this but it was recommended so many times that I thought I should pop it on here! I would go if you are in the area.
Hope this helps you to plan an amazing trip to Singapore! It really is a wonderful place and there is so much to see and do no matter what budget you’re on. If you have any other suggestions to add for readers here then leave a comment below and let us all know 🙂
Thanks for reading!