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HOW TO SPEND LESS WHILE IN SINGAPORE

Updated on July 7, 2013
Sentosa Cable car ride after dark
Sentosa Cable car ride after dark
Waterworld attractions at the Universal Studio in Singapore
Waterworld attractions at the Universal Studio in Singapore
MRT and LRT routes covering the entire city state
MRT and LRT routes covering the entire city state
Fountain show at Marina Bay
Fountain show at Marina Bay
Sentosa Island
Sentosa Island
Traffic at Johor causeway as viewed from a bus
Traffic at Johor causeway as viewed from a bus
Access to JB Central from Johor Bahru border checkpoint
Access to JB Central from Johor Bahru border checkpoint
Woodlands Checkpoint viewed from Johor causeway connecting Singapore and Malaysia
Woodlands Checkpoint viewed from Johor causeway connecting Singapore and Malaysia

Some tourists are oozing with money. If you are one of those tourists who have more money than ideas on what to do with them, and you happen to wander this way due to the sometimes misleading power of keywords, skip this hub, this is not for you.

But if you happen to get here as a result of your search for ways on how to save while gallivanting as a tourist in Singapore, here are some ways on how to shave-off a few dollars here and there to make your budget go a bit longer than it normally would.

The first thing that every visitor going to Singapore should know and remember while in that country is that the Singaporean government is doing something to help their visitors save some of that money by giving a 7% rebate on their visitors purchases. But you will only get those rebates at the airport, on your way out, if your same store purchases reach SGD 100.00.

So, if you are buying a few costly things, look for a store that has most of what you want since accumulated purchases are only allowed if you buy them from the same store. Same store, okay? Buy SGD 50 worth from one store and SGD 50 from another and you lose your chance to get your rebate.

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If you plan to communicate with anyone while in Singapore, watch out for cell phone service providers which are offering discounts not just for their own services but for other products and services as well. Currently, Singtel has a promo that trim off 50% on cable car rides to Sentosa. All you need to do is show to the ticket seller your phone with a live Singtel signal to get the discount.

There're a lot of things you can do while in this recreational island in Singapore. The Universal Studio is here and so is the Underwater world. There is a zip line, a butterfly farm, a beach, etc.

In fact, you may want to make full use of your time in this place, which likewise features a hiking trail, since getting out of it after 7:00 pm will save you a further 15 percent on the cable car ride. Not to mention a bucket of popcorn and a can of soda given free for every passenger who will take advantage of the offer.

Aside from nature trips, you can enjoy other amenities in the island state at a discount if you start by visiting the Marina Bay Sands Casino and apply for their Rewards card. No, you don't have to gamble your budget away to get the rewards card. All you need to do is go there and show your passport while filing your application forms. You can place a few bets, if you want, but it is not an absolute necessity when applying for the card which will give you discounts at “Skypark” and other Marina Bay Sand’s projects.

The rewards card can give you a hefty discount on the “Mummy exhibit” at the Art and Science Museum - if it is still there when you come to visit. It will even entitle you to a glass of martini at Marina Bay Sands Hotel. In fact, you can use a discount privilege on top of another discount like in the case of the Sentosa cable car ride. You may also want to know that the 7% rebate given at the airport still applies even if the store you are buying from has already given you say, a 30 or 50 or any amount of discount on electronic gadgets or any of your purchases.

If you have a friend who is a resident in Singapore, it might be a good idea to have him as a guide or a companion when you explore the place since his residency will include you, his or her guests, to the discounts the locals are given if he agrees to do the buying for you or your group.

A Singapore resident can pare down the price of your ticket to Universal Studios by fifteen (15%) percent, for example.

Singapore has the most disciplined taxi drivers and you can rest assured that none of them will try to pull a fast one on you and charge you more than they should. But the cheaper way of going around the whole place is by MRT or Bus. These two means of transportation pretty much cover the entire country, individually. So you can either take the bus or the MRT and you won’t miss anything. They only differ in terms of distances that you have to walk in between their stations and the destinations that you would like to see.

Of course, you will need a map of their service areas

Now, please allow me a little slack and let me presume that you read this hub on the eve of your departure to Singapore. You have everything planned out perfectly well, but you just discovered that there is a good possibility that you can stretch you little budget to include… what?

I am sure you can think of something else to do while there, but in case you have actually made a perfect plan and you cannot think of anything else anymore, why not try doing something else in another country? Yes, another country!

Wait, wait… before you question the sanity of this suggestion, as I am sure you know that whatever savings you might have here will not be enough to plan a visit to another faraway destination, please consider what everyone else who have gone to Singapore have done, or tried to do, within the same time frame and budget that they allotted for their original trip.

Singapore happens to be a very tiny city state. Considering the moderate traffic condition in that country (compared to other nations), you can practically go to all the farthest points from East to West and North to South within its borders in half a day! In fact, it costs less than SGD 2 from the temporary bus central terminal at Jurong East in Singapore to cross the border to Johor Bahru, Malaysia. Travel time is less than an hour – only made longer by the traffic condition in the bridge that connects the two border checkpoints (one at Woodlands and the other at Johor Bahru) which were only set apart by the rather wide Singapore River.

The normal cable car ride to Sentosa is SGD 26. With a 50% discount courtesy of Singtel, and a further reduction if you go out of the place after 7:00pm, the cost of the ride for two persons would only be SGD 22. Thus, what you’ll save from cable car ride alone would be enough to bring you even to Legoland in Nusajaya, Johor, Malaysia within the Iskandar Malaysia economic region. Other tourists include a swing to a city or two in Indonesia, which is also nearby. Get the point?

Make sure that the final leg of all these adventures would still be Singapore (especially if you've already booked a ticket) so as not to incur additional expense on re-booking or penalties, if any.

Going back to the 7% government rebates on your same store purchases that reached a 100 SGD. Don’t forget to ask the sales clerks for a copy of the receipts that they are supposed to issue and the forms that should accompany the receipts as they will be used as the basis of your claim for rebates.

After you checked in at the airport, and after clearing the immigration, look for the signs with arrow that tells you where you can get the GST refund (GST stands for Goods and Services Tax – known in other places as Value Added Tax).

The directional signs will first lead you to a kiosk where you will find user friendly computers that will make the official computation of the amount you spent on goods and services that entitle you to the discount. Don’t worry, about missing a number here and there when you input the purchase price of the goods you bought because the receipts the store clerks gave you have bar codes that will tell the computer how much you actually spent. All you need to do really is show the receipts to the bar code reader in the lower portion of the same LED monitor that gives you the instructions on what to do next.

It will not be hard to find since a red light where the bar code reader is located will start to blink when it is time for you to show the receipts. You will have to repeat the process as many times as the number of receipts you have, though.

When you are done, the machine will ask you to swipe your electronic passport in a provided slot for authentication of your claims. Then, you will have to hit a button to get a printout of the computation and you are done. The last step would be for you to go to the customs officer that releases the rebates computed by the machine at the kiosk.

No hassles.

When I tried this, it took the customs officer less than a minute to give me my rebates when I went to claim them on my way out of the country. Still, you can skip this last step if you are willing to link your claim for rebates to your credit card.

Near check-in counters inside Changi Airport
Near check-in counters inside Changi Airport

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