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Cheap Things to Do in Singapore

Updated on March 12, 2012
Night view of Singapore from Hang Out Hotel
Night view of Singapore from Hang Out Hotel | Source

When traveling overseas, just getting to the place can be expensive enough. Once you're there, you don't want to break the bank just to experience the culture and individuality of the country. Singapore may seem like an expensive place to visit, but it doesn't have to be. Here are some ideas to make your trip to Singapore budget-friendly.

Where to stay

There are some surprisingly affordable places to stay in Singapore that are not far off the beaten path. One of the most convenient is the YMCA with multiple locations around downtown Singapore and other areas. Try looking at the Orchard Road or Fort Canning locations.

Another wonderful little gem is the Hang Out Hotel on Mount Emily. This little hostel is located in a neighborhood off of the Prinsep/Selegie and Middle Road intersection. It's a little bit of a walk up the hill to the place, but there are convenient stairways to give you a shortcut. And trust me when I say this place has style to spare!

Boat Quay, Singapore
Boat Quay, Singapore | Source

Where to eat

Singapore is famous for its food! If there is one thing Singaporeans do well, it's cook. You will find foods from all over the world served up with authentic style. While you will find a restaurant or hawker center anywhere you go, you may want to plan ahead so you can be sure to try lots of different kinds of food.

Hawker centers are unique to this area of the world and are similar to food courts in the U.S. However, the stalls are much smaller and there is a much bigger variety of food available. You could visit the same hawker center every day of the week and still have plenty of things you haven't tried yet.

Singapore also has its own version of a hot dog stand-- it's a satay man. Satay is basically meat on a stick (like a shish kabob) Singaporean style. These stalls can be in a hawker center (like Fat Man Satay) or set up on the side of the road.

Businessmen with umbrellas, sculpture near Fullerton Hotel, Singapore
Businessmen with umbrellas, sculpture near Fullerton Hotel, Singapore | Source

What to do

Just walking around the city offers plenty of interesting experiences. Stroll around Boat Quay and find a hole-in-the-wall karaoke bar or explore the various ethnic areas of the city (Little India, Chinatown, Arab Street). Take a break and find some kaya toast (a local snack made with sweet egg and coconut jam).

The city itself is rich with history and a blend of cultures, which makes it architecturally fascinating. A tour of the city should include Chymes, the Raffles Hotel and the business district. You will see the British colonial influence in the older buildings and the sharp, clean lines of modern skyscrapers to contrast. Take advantage of the MRT (subway) to get around and get a taste of this Asian metropolis.

Of course, like any city, there are also cheap events to take part in. For example, outdoor movies at Fort Canning Park offer a chance to rub shoulders with the locals. The Park also host numerous other events from concerts to art displays. Check out the schedule.

Shopping is a big part of Singapore's culture, but be aware that it isn't the bargain basement it used to be. Stores are upscale and big, urban malls are the norm. You will still find vendors on Arab Street and in China Town, and haggling is expected, but the starting price seems to have crept upwards over time. Visiting the little ethnic markets is fun, but save your money for truly exceptional deals.

National Library, Singapore
National Library, Singapore | Source

Parting thoughts

In Singapore, you will hear English spoken fluently by almost everyone you meet. But they do have their own dialect. "Can!" is something you will hear when in the U.S. a person might say, "Sure thing!" Or, on the other side, you could hear someone say, "Not going, lah." The "lah" is tacked onto the end of a negative statement. If someone is being really emphatic, you may hear, "Can not, lah!"

There are three major ethnic groups in Singapore: Chinese, Indian and Muslim. This mix of people makes for a tolerant society with its own particular rules for politeness which may or may not be apparent to the outsider. If you try to be easy going and open, you will surely enjoy the people of Singapore and your stay in this amazing city.


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    • travelholidays profile image

      travelholidays 4 years ago from India

      Yummy information about 'kaya toast ' and useful news about 'Little India', China Town, and 'Arab Streets'. Interesting hub :)