On a shoestring

Hong Kong On A Shoestring

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You might remember that when I went to Hong Kong last year I was surprised to learn that the city is actually pretty expensive. I was on a budget, as usual, but I still wanted to splurge on a few of my favorite things: tasty coffee (and yes, the $6 coffee at The Coffee Academics was worth every penny!), fancy cocktails in rooftop bars with a view (even though I skipped Ozone, the highest rooftop bar in the world, on top of the Ritz Carlton, and opted for a cheaper one), tasty pizza (much needed after months of only Asian food, and Motorino, a famous Brooklyn pizza place, hit the spot), speakeasy bars and a nice place to stay.kowloon at night hong kongWith all these things in mind, I tried to do everything else in Hong Kong as cheap as possible, and I think I succeeded. Transportation is very cheap, you can do a lot of sightseeing for free, and you can eat cheaply if you forgo Hong Kong’s fancy eateries (but then there’s still Tim Ho Wan, where you can sample Michelin star cuisine for around $10?).hong kong island skyscrapersSo here are my tips on how you can experience Hong Kong on a budget:

Get into Hong Kong on the cheap

You have a variety of options of getting from the airport into Hong Kong. The most expensive one? Taking a cab, obviously. To get from the airport to Central Hong Kong will set you back at HKD250 – 350 (US$32-45!). The airport express train (which is much faster and more comfortable than a taxi, by the way) is slightly cheaper at HK$90/US$11.61 to Kowloon (HK$160/US$20.64 return) and HK$100/ US$12.90 (HK$180/US$23.22 return) to Hong Kong Central.hong kong tramIf you’re on a budget, you have two cheaper options:

Take a bus into Hong Kong. The buses to the airport leave from Kowloon and cost HKD39 (US$5.02). In Kowloon you can change to the subway, which is HKD5 to 15 (US$0.65 – $1.95), depending on how many stops.

Alternatively, you can take the S1 bus to Tung Chung MTR station (about 15 minutes from the airport, price: HKD3.50 / US$0.45) and change into the subway here – the Tung Chung line will bring you to Kowloon in about thirty minutes (HKD18 / US$2.30)Hong kong tram and bus

Public transportation

Luckily, Hong Kong’s transportation network is excellent and there is absolutely no need to waste money on taxis. I navigated my way around the city with the help of GoogleMaps ‘Public transport’ option which always showed me the correct buses or subways to use. The cheapest mode of transportation? The tram, which covers parts of Hong Kong Island, and is only HKD2.30 (US$0.30). Like I mentioned above, subway tickets range from about HKD5 to 15 (US$0.65 – $1.95) and buses are even a little bit cheaper.

The Star Ferry, the most scenic way to get from Kowloon to Central or vice versa, is ridiculously cheap: HK$2.50 – US$0.32!

Hong Kong has a card system, the Octopus Card, comparable to London’s Oyster Card, which you credit with money for public transportation, but you can also pay with it in shops like 7-11. You also top up your Octopus Card at a 7-11 stores, or at an MTR (subway) service center. Note that you pay a HK$50/US$6.45 deposit on the card – don’t forget to get it back before leaving Hong Kong.hong kong junk boat


Accommodation is without the doubt the most expensive aspect of a trip to Hong Kong. Hotels start at around $110 for a comfortable 3* hotel, and you can find good hotel deals for less than $200. My tip: do your research beforehand and take advantage of cheaper rates – you can find some incredible hotel deals by booking online.LKF hotel Hong Kong bedMy first trip to Hong Kong was made pretty miserable by the poor accommodation choices I had made (and by not booking anything in advance for the entire duration of my trip, leaving me with very few and very bad hotels to choose from when I had to move hotels). Make your stay comfortable with one of the best hotels in Hong Kong which you can find on online discount websites. I stayed in Kowloon on my first visit, but enjoyed staying in Central more, which I did during my second visit. I also found the hotels to be nicer in Central.

If you’re on a very tight budget and plan on using hostels, expect to pay US$25 – 28 for a dorm bed or $60 for a private room in a hostel.ozo wesley hong kong check-in


I don’t think I paid anything for sightseeing in Hong Kong – just what it costs to get to a certain place, like the Giant Buddha or the Peak. But even the Peak is free if you, like me, want to combine sightseeing with a little workout and decide to walk up the mountain. It also saves you the HKD40 /US$5.05 for a return ticket for the Peak Tram. To get to the Big Buddha, take the subway to Tung Chung station. From here you can either take the scenic yet pricey cable car (HKD125 round trip /US$16.10) or opt for the bus instead (HKD17.20 /US$2.22). Or hike up the mountain – it’s quite a strenuous hike, but it’s free 🙂hong kong view from the peakOther main attractions that are completely free? The Avenue of the Stars, Hong Kong’s answer to LA’s Walk Of Fame, is free, as is the Symphony of Lights, the world’s ‘Largest Permanent Light and Sound Show’ (according to the Guinness Book Of World Records), which takes place every night at 8pm and is best seen from the Avenue of Stars. Strolling over the markets, such as the Ladies Market or Temple Street Market, is also free (and great for cheap souvenir shopping!), the beaches are free and only cost the ferry tickets to get to them. Also: wandering the streets of Kowloon and Central is an excellent way to get to know Hong Kong, and it doesn’t cost a penny. In Central you can also ride the world’s longest escalator for free and pop into the Chinese temples, which are all worth a visit.hong kong midlevels escalatorTwo pricey Hong Kong activities you can easily replace with free versions: Instead of visiting the Sky100 observation deck (cheapest ticket is HKD168 /US$21.65), visit the sky lobby on the 46th floor of the Central Plaza skyscraper which can be visited for FREE! Instead of taking the hop-on hop-off sightseeing bus (tickets start at US$57), take a much cheaper sightseeing tour on a local bus – it’s much better for people watching, too, and it’ll only cost you a couple of bucks. CNN Travel listed the best bus routes to take in Hong Kong.hong kong kowloon temple street

Food & drinks

Street food is the least expensive option in Hong Kong – for a proper meal in a restaurant I paid as much in Hong Kong as I’d pay in the U.S. A cup of coffee is around US$3, a latte around US$6 (that’s in a nice coffee shop, not at McDonald’s!) A large americano at Starbucks is HK$27/US$3.48), and if you’re lucky enough to find a cheap meal, it’s going to set you back at around US$10. Whenever I treated myself to a nice meal, I easily spent US$20+ on a main dish and a drink.hong kong barCheap local fast food chains are Café de Coral and Maxim’s MK – you can get a meal here for less than US$5 and they have English menus. A meal at McDonald’s starts at around HKD30 (around US$4). A beer in a bar / restaurants starts at US$7, a glass of wine at around US$10. Beer and wine in a 7-11 convenience store or supermarket are much more affordable. Tap water is drinkable, so don’t spend money on bottled water.hong kong street foodHave you been to Hong Kong? If you have any budget tips, feel free to share them in the comments below!

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Planning a trip to Iceland on a budget: Things to know before you go

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One of the things I say on my About Page is I make mistakes so you don’t have to – and I actually made a big mistake in Iceland. Well, it wasn’t actually a mistake, because I knew I had to hit up one of the big grocery stores before leaving Reykjavik – big supermarkets are sparse on the island, and we wanted to pick up food to make picnic lunches during our road trip – restaurants in Iceland are pricey. And that’s what we did, we went to the first Bonus supermarket we came across, ready to load up the car with groceries. Only that the supermarket didn’t open until 11am (!), and we were there at 9am. So we decided to head off on the first leg of our road trip, assuming we’d be coming back through Reykjavik after driving the Golden Circle. But we didn’t. We headed straight south. And were stuck with a small town grocery store in Vik, with a very limited selection.southern iceland mountain roadI put together some other things I’ve learned on my road trip through Iceland to help save you money during your trip, to give you an idea what to expect as for how much things cost, and last but not least some thoughts on renting a car for your trip vs. using public transportation or hitchhike.

Budget tips for Iceland

Don’t pay for water

I was surprised when I read on other blogs that travelers had paid for water in Iceland. Icelanders proud themselves of having some of the best water in the world! It comes straight from the spring and is delicious – why would you pay for bottled water?! Plus, you won’t contribute to plastic bottle garbage.iceland drinking water loft hostel

Shop at grocery stores and make picnic lunches

If you’re on a budget, you won’t be able to afford much more than the famous Icelandic hot dogs, which are available on hot dog stands in most places for ISK350 – 380 (US$2.70-$3). Whenever we decided to eat out, we were shocked by the prices on the menus. Restaurants in Iceland sure aren’t cheap! A pizza would usually start at around ISK2,000 (US$15.50) a burger around ISK1,900 (US$15), a vegetarian pasta dish around ISK2,200 (US$17)*.

*The exchange rate used is from February 2016.

skyr iceland
Our daily picnic lunch: Icelandic skyr, a thick Icelandic yogurt

To give you an idea what other things in Iceland cost:

Coffee is between ISK350 and 500 /US$2.70 – 3.80 (a little more for cappuccinos, lattes, etc).

Beer starts at ISK800 (up to 1200) /US$6.20-9.20, but if you buy a can in the supermarket, it will cost around ISK350 /US$2.70 (for 500ml). Tip: If you’re renting a car at the airport, you might want to consider picking up beer in the Duty Free Shop. A 6-pack of 500ml Viking beers is around ISK1,500 /US$11.55.

icelandic craft beerGas was ISK204/US$1.57 per liter when I visited in September 2015. That’s nearly US$6 per gallon!

The bus from the airport into Reykjavik is 1,950/US$15, cabs from the airport are around ISK12,000/US$92.

Activities are quite pricey: the Blue Lagoon starts at 7,000 (US$54), whale watching at 9,000 (US$70), a Golden Circle Tour ISK10,000 (US$77).

To get an idea what other groceries and entertainment in Iceland cost, check out this article on the cost of living in Iceland.

Note that there is a big difference between high season and low season prices for rental cars and accommodation!

Where to shop

Kronan, Bonus and Netto are the cheapest supermarket chains in Iceland.


Tipping is not customary in Iceland, so save your change!iceland coffee stop

Cash vs. credit cards

I have to admit that I didn’t take out cash at all while I was in Iceland – I paid with my card everywhere! And not once was I unable to buy something because I didn’t have cash, cards were accepted in all the stores and restaurants I went to, even a small coffee shop in a tiny village along the way.

SIM card

A SIM card with some data is useful if you want to look up directions or call a hotel/hostel or use a road map app, a weather app or the northern lights forecast website. The Duty Free Shop at the airport sells Siminn SIM cards, which have the best coverage in Iceland, with 1GB data, 100 minutes and 100 text messages for ISK2,990 (around US$23). A Vodafone SIM card can be bought at the same shop for half the price, ISK1,500 (US$11.85), containing 300MB data and ISK1,000 credit. If you don’t need any of these things, you’ll be totally fine with wi-fi, available in 95% of all guesthouses, I’d say, and also in most cafes, restaurants and gas stations.iceland lake

Other things to consider…

When to go

I would recommend visiting in the shoulder season – May or September. That way you can avoid the crowds that have flooded Iceland during the summer months in recent years since it has become such a popular destination, but you can still enjoy the activities that shut down in the winter months, like glacier boat tours, paragliding, snorkeling/diving in Silfra, or whale watching tours. Also remember that if you visit in the winter, you have considerably less hours of daylight than in the summer, which makes a big difference when mapping out a driving route.Akureyri harbor


I thought I knew crazy weather from Britain but Icelandic weather easily tops this. We often woke up to rain and cloudy skies, and a couple of hours later the sun was shining. Or I was starting the drive in the morning with blue skies and drove straight into rain. If you wake up to rain, don’t be fooled and think you should stay in – I guarantee you that the weather changes several times during the day. is the best weather resource for Iceland.

glacier lagoon ice iceland dani
You can’t really tell in the photo, but it was pouring down when we stopped at the glacier…

Road trip vs. public transportation vs. hitchhiking

Self-guided vs. guided

As soon as we hit the road and saw tour buses by the dozen, I knew we had made the right decision going with an Iceland self-guided tour – it gave us the exact amount of flexibility and independence that we needed, and yet it was comforting to know that we didn’t need to take care of our accommodation. The places we sleep at were all vouched for and in a strategic location for each day’s route, but I could decide how to plan the route, how much time to spend in each place, if we wanted to stop in other places along the way, or if we wanted to skip some of the suggestions in the itinerary. After all, I didn’t need to follow each day’s schedule to a T.

dani grabrokargigar
A spontaneous stop at the volcano craters of Grabrokargigar – only possible because we were on a self-guided drive!

And I was more than happy to have the flexibility to spend as much time as I wanted in places like the magnificent Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon, instead of being herded back on the bus like most other tourists there. Or to decide to turn off and follow an unpaved road, only to find another glacier lagoon, Fjallsarlon, also stunning and well worth the little detour, which we couldn’t have taken had we been on an organized group tour.

Iceland by rental car

If you don’t mind mapping out your road trip route yourself and booking your accommodation, there are plenty of car rentals available at the international airport. I never felt uncomfortable driving in Iceland, but you might find the narrow mountain and coastal roads a little intimidating if you’re only used to driving multi-lane highways in the U.S. However, I wouldn’t trade in driving myself for anything else – it just gives you so much freedom. I shared some driving tips for Iceland here. If you don’t need the comfort of a hotel bed, you can also rent a camper van, by the way. My friend Matt explored Iceland in a Happy Camper and seemed to have enjoyed it.

waterfall selfies iceland
You’ll want to be able to stop at Iceland’s gazillion waterfalls!

Iceland by public transportation

Iceland doesn’t have a rail network, but there are buses that connect the major towns. However, the bus schedule is quite limited and it will only allow you to get from city to city instead of stopping at all the waterfalls, geysers and glaciers you want to see on a trip to Iceland. Keep in mind that the bus schedules are even more restricted during the off-season. For bus schedules during the summer months (including prices), check out Iceland On Your Own, who also offer passport that offer discounted travel in several regions of Iceland. Their detailed bus schedules can be found here. Instead of traveling Iceland by public bus, consider hitchhiking:icelandic horses
Hitchhiking in Iceland

Hitchhiking in Iceland is adventurous, but it’s much more common than in the U.S., for example, and we came across quite a few hitchhikers – and even picked some up along the way. For us it was a fun way to meet other travelers and hear their crazy stories (a couple we picked up was nearly blown over a cliff in their little tent in a stormy night). It’s definitely doable to circle Island on the Ring Road by hitching, but be aware that in some remote parts, it can take a while until somebody picks you up (hours!) and as I said before, the weather changes rapidly, so you might be standing in the rain for a while in a country that is chilly year-round. If you’re thinking about hitchhiking in Iceland, check out the Hitchwiki for IcelandDawn shares her hitchhiking experience in detail here, check it out to get an idea what to expect.icelandic scenery
Ride sharing in Iceland

Ride sharing is a popular way of traveling in Europe – if you are the one with the car, you can post the ride you’re planning to take on a ride sharing website, including how many seats are available and how much you charge per person. It’s a great way to get some money for gas.

People in need of a ride can post the details of the ride they want to take on this website, and car owners who are heading that way can respond to your post. Another website that lets you post the rides you require or you offer is Carpoolworld Iceland.

iceland rental carCheck out the highlights from my Iceland road trip here:

Icebergs, waterfalls, geysers & lava fields: Highlights from an Iceland road trip

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How much does it cost to travel in Sri Lanka?

traveling in sri lanka

I spent five weeks traveling around Sri Lanka just before the main tourist season started, still enjoying the bargain deals of the low season and seeing prices go up in the high season – this applies mainly to accommodation, however. I am breaking down all of my expenses in the country to give you an idea of what costs to expect when you budget for a trip to Sri Lanka.

Overall, it has been one of the cheapest countries I’ve been to and it is possible to travel the country on $20 – $30 per person a day (on a shoestring), or around $50 per person per day in nicer accommodations. Read on for the full breakdown of food, transportation, sightseeing, accommodation and other costs.Sri Lanka


A visa is required to enter Sri Lanka. Luckily it is easy to apply for a Sri Lankan visa online. The cost of a visa for Europeans, North Americans and Australians is US$35. The visa is valid for 30 days, if you’re planning to stay longer, you’ll have to get an extension in Colombo, which is LKR3,600 /US$25 (make sure to have a passport photo on you for that).sri lanka talpe beach


This will be your biggest expense, but the value for money is usually very good.

The cheapest rates for a private double room I found was LKR1,500 (US$10.40), and in some of the beach towns I paid around LKR3,000-3,500 (US$21-25) for a double room (split between two people). Remember that this was in the off-season though.

In other places (not along the coast) LKR1,500 seemed to be the going rate for a basic double room, breakfast often included, and usually with free wifi.

As for higher end accommodation, I found some nice hotels with swimming pool and breakfast for LKR5,000-6,000(US$35-41), and really nice hotels, like the Cinnamon Hotels around the island, often offer special rates starting at LKR7,000 (US$49) during the low season (expect this to double in the high season).hikkaduwa beach cinnamon infinity poolI didn’t sleep in dorms but a dorm bed was usually around LKR800 (US$5.50). It definitely pays off to check hotel booking websites like for special deals in the places you’re planning to visit. Through, I found a nice boutique hotel in Colombo for $50 a night (for two people), and a great deal for a gorgeous hotel in Polonnaruwa for $29 a night including breakfast. luxury hotel

Food & Drinks

Food can be dirt cheap, but it also can be pricey depending on if you’re willing to delve into the local cuisine or stick to western choices. A Sri Lankan dinner of kotthu, which is a favorite of the locals, costs around LKR165 – 200 (US$1.15 – 1.40), while a chicken curry in a beach town can cost you up to LKR900 (US$6.25). On average, expect to pay between LKR200 and 300 (US$1.40 – 2.10) for local food and LKR600 to 900 (US$4.15-6.25) for a dish in a tourist restaurant. Breakfast usually cost me LKR500 to 700 (US$3.45-4.85), including tea or coffee.

Speaking of coffee, if you are looking for good coffee, you’ll have to pay for it. The most expensive coffee I had was in Kandy at Natural Coffee, where I was charged LKR560 (US$3.90) for a cappuccino – more than I usually paid for an entire meal! There are some coffee shops in Colombo, and some cafes around the country that have a proper espresso machine, but they’re few and far between.

Generally, you can expect to pay around LKR270 (US$1.88) for an espresso and LKR350 – 400 (US$2.40-2.80) for a cafe latte or cappuccino. Of course there are also the cheap roadside coffee vendors or the guys that walk through the trains with a big thermos, selling a brown liquid for 10 rupees (US$0.07), but I wouldn’t call that coffee 😉Sri Lanka foodIf you prefer to stick to western food (why would you though, because Sri Lankan food is seriously addictive!), there are some western chains like Pizza Hut and KFC, and you can find sandwiches, burgers and pizza in the beach towns. Western meals are between LKR600 and 1000 (US$4.16 -7.00). You can splurge on fine dining in places – often, the nicer hotels have on-site restaurants, and there you pay upwards of LKR1,000 (US$7.00) for a dish. Snacks are super cheap – local chocolate is LKR50 – 100 ($US0.35-0.70), a bag of cashew nuts is LKR120 (US$0.85), peanuts are LKR50 (US$0.35), and little fried lentil balls or donuts are 10 rupees (US$0.07). A vegetarian roti (a dough triangle filled with vegetables – basically like a samosa, but not deep-fried) is 40 rupees (less than US$0.30) and big enough to serve as a full meal – cheapest lunch ever! A bottle of water (1.5 liters) is LKR60 – 70 (US$0.40-0.50), and since the tab water in Sri Lanka is not drinkable, you’ll have to budget for at least one bottle per day.jaffna fruit stallAlcohol

A 625ml bottle of local Lion beer can be as cheap as LKR250 (US$1.75), but can cost you up to LKR600 (US$4.15) in nicer establishments. I usually paid LKR300 (US$2.10). Cocktails are more expensive – about LKR400 to 500 (US$2.80 – 3.50) along the beaches and LKR800 to 1000 (US$5.50 – 7.00) in the nicer bars of Colombo.reefs edge hotel beach beers 


Transportation is some of the cheapest I’ve ever taken anywhere in the world – I still can’t believe that a 7-hour train ride cost me a mere LKR230 ($1.60) in 2nd class! While I wouldn’t opt for 3rd class (those are the cheapest tickets but the carts are often overcrowded), I think 2nd class is perfectly fine and there’s no need to pay for 1st class, which is about 1000 rupees per ride and essentially the ‘tourist cars’. I will share more about that when I write about my Sri Lankan train adventures which deserve a post o their own. I usually paid LKR190 (US$1.30) for a train ticket, the cheapest one was the 1 hour ride from Ella to Badulla which cost me 40 rupees (just under 30 cents).train ride to badulla with nine arches bridge tunnelLong distance buses are a bit more expensive but still cheap by western standards – expect to pay around LKR80 (US$0.55) for a 1-hour ride. The most expensive ride was a 4-hour trip from Kandy to Polonnaruwa at 150 rupees ($1.05) Tuktuks range anywhere from 50 rupees to 600 rupees (or more, if you go really far in them), always negotiate before you get in.

The price they quote you is usually higher than what they’re supposed to charge you, so try to haggle. As a rule of thumb: anything up to 3 kilometers shouldn’t be more than 100 rupees, but the more touristy the area, the higher the prices the drivers charge.kandy tuktuks 


Tourist attractions are the most expensive category: Sri Lanka offers its heritage sites and national parks at a steep price, unproportionally higher than anything else that’s sold at deflated tourist pieces. Tourists don’t pay double or tenfold what locals pay, they pay around 40 times the local price. An example: Sri Lankans pay LKR50 (US$0.35) to enter Yala National Park, foreigners pay more than 2000 rupees (US$14).Sri Lanka tours The ancient cities in the north are LKR3,250 (US$22.50) each, and a half day safari in a National Park comes to US$40 with the vehicle, park entrance and a guide, but you’ll most likely get quoted a higher price. For our jeep in Yala we paid LKR4,000 (US$27.70) between four people and admission was around LKR2,500 (US$17.30) (it gets cheaper the more people are in a group). You can rent bikes for the day to get around the ancient cities which cost LKR200 to 300 US$1.40-2.10). Prices for other fun activities: A whale watching tour will cost you around LKR6,000 (US$41.75), a dive is around US$30, surf lessons are around US$40, cooking classes start at LKR3,000 (US$21). mirissa surfer

Other expenses

Other expenses include things like laundry, toiletries and a local SIM card. Here are some examples so that you know what to expect:

  • Laundry: LKR250-350 (US$1.75-2.45) per kilo
  • Shampoo/ conditioner 100ml: LKR150 – 180 (US$1.05-1.25)
  • Face wash 100ml: LKR150 (US$1.05)
  • SIM card: LKR399 (US$2.75) for a 4GB data package

Sri Lanka 2014

Local SIM card

Make sure to grab your free local SIM card right when you make your way through immigration at the airport. Dialog, one of the fastest 3G networks in the country, offers free SIM card at immigration – just ask for one and they’ll give it to you. I personally used mobitel and paid 399 rupees for a 4GB data package. If you add another 100 rupees for call time credit, that should last you a while (if you only use your phone to call guest houses etc).Sri Lanka

Some notes on money and ATMs

There are ATMs everywhere, at least one in each town, no matter how small it is. And cash is king – it was rare that I was able to pay anything with a credit card, so prepare and make sure you’ll always have enough cash on you, especially when you visit national parks and UNESCO sites – the only place I was able to use my card at was Yala National Park. Seylan Bank has a maximum withdrawal of only 10,000 rupees, so if you pay fees for cash withdrawals abroad, make sure to avoid this one. Commercial Bank lets you take out at least up to 20,000 rupees, if not more. Sampath Bank lets you take out at least 30,000 rupees at once.Sri Lanka


Most places automatically add a service charge to the bill, so double-check before you tip if they’re already including it.

Per day breakdown

As you can see, Sri Lanka is very affordable – not as cheap as India, but you can get by on an average $30 a day, if you stay in budget accommodation and don’t take expensive tours every day. A beach day with accommodation, two full meals, coffee, snacks and drinks at night in a beach town would cost me around $25, but on days when I visited one of the UNESCO sites, my daily expenses could easily add up to $50. Trail Wallet Sri Lanka Budget

As usual, I used the TrailWallet app to track my expenses.


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Tel Aviv On A Shoestring

tel aviv beach life

If you are too lazy to read my 2,000 words on how to visit Tel Aviv on a shoestring, check out the video instead:  🙂

When I went to Tel Aviv this month on a budget challenge, I thought I could easily stay within my $77 / €69 budget per day – I even wanted to challenge myself and stick to $50 a day! Well, it turned out that it was more of a challenge than I had anticipated. Tel Aviv is much more expensive than one might think, but the good news is that not everything is expensive, and if you spend your money wisely, you’ll be able to fully enjoy the city without breaking the aviv sunsetI took down all my expenses in Tel Aviv and was on the lookout for inexpensive things to do and places to eat the entire time so that I can share them with you. So without further ado, here are my tips on how to visit Tel Aviv on a shoestring:

Accommodation: Hotels vs Hostels vs Airbnb

Your biggest expense in Tel Aviv will be your accommodation, unless you couchsurf. Because of the strengtening shekel anda number of other reasons (as reported in this article) accommodation in Tel Aviv is much more expensive than in London or even Iceland! But the good news is that there are several hostels and AirBnB has become more and more popular in Israel, allowing cash-strapped travelholics (like me!) to rent out their places while they’re traveling, or rent out rooms in their apartments allowing them to save up money to travel.

I was an AirBnB host in New York last summer myself, so I’m all about this concept (and pretty much every other sharing economy concept), which is why I ended up staying in an apartment this time, sharing it with two other travelers while the owners were traveling in Romania. Between the three of us, we paid $99/€90, or $33/€30 each, for our own private room, and had two bathrooms and a kitchen to share between us. I thought that this was an amazing deal, considering private rooms in Tel Aviv’s best rated hostels start at $150/€135. Even private rooms in hostels are pricey, starting at $90/€ aviv jaffa stairsHowever, if you prefer staying in a hostel to meet other travelers, there are several ones to choose from and dorm beds start at $15.50/€14.00 (for a fabulous hostel expect to pay around $22/€20 and for a beachfront hostel $33/€30. And Abraham hostel, where I spent an entire week at last year in Jerusalem just opened its brand new TLV branch (which means I’ll have to go back soon to check out if it’s as good as the Jerusalem hostel.)

Cost for accommodation: Expect to pay around $22 for a bunk bed, around $30 for a room in an AirBnb apartment, $99 for a private room in a hostel, or an entire AirBnb apartment starts at around $100. If you’re not using AirBnb yet, you can get $20 off your first booking by signing up through this link. (There are some great apartments listed in Tel Aviv on AirBnb!).tel aviv windows

Food: Develop a love for hummus and falafel

The bad news: Every time I sat down in a restaurant and looked at a menu, main dishes started at ILS40, sometimes ILS50 ($10-13/€9.50-12) – and that’s for the cheapest dish! Eating out is definitely not cheap in Tel Aviv. The good news, however, is that there’s plenty of cheep street food to be had in Tel Aviv, with falafel, sabich sandwiches, hummus & pita plates all for around ILS16-20 ($42.0-5.15 /€3.70-4.70). Don’t expect a fancy restaurant for this kind of money – it’ll be more like a hole-in-the-wall kinda place – but expect to have your taste buds blown away every time you have a meal. Tel Aviv FoodI love Israeli food, and I could happily eat hummus and falafel every single day. So get ready for lots of Israeli sandwiches and lots of vegetarian food (I promise you won’t even miss meat!).

Cost for food: About ILS20 ($5.15/€4.70) for a quick meal, about ILS50 ($13/€12) for a sit-down meal in a restaurant.

Booze: Moderate your alcohol consumption

If you’re planning to party, this one won’t be easy, but even if you are on a $50 a day budget and spend your money wisely you should be able to enjoy a beer or two. Alcohol is without a doubt an expense in Tel Aviv that can put a dent into your budget – it’s pricey! Even in the supermarket a bottle of beer can easily cost ILS9 ($2.30/€2.10), which is pricey compared to German beer prices (I rarely pay more than €0.69 a bottle of beer in the supermarket) Buying beers in a bar is what really hurts though: a pint usually ranges from ILS 31 – 34 ($8-9/€7.20-8)! The cheapest pint I’ve found in Tel Aviv was ILS27 ($7/€6.30), and cocktails usually start at a whopping ILS45 ($12/€10.50).tel aviv cocktail pricesThat’s where you can go over budget easily. What can you do? I’ve found some liquor stores around town that have special offers on beer, for example two Goldstar beers for ILS16 ($4.10/€3.75), or three cheapie beers from Russia or the Czech Republic for ILS21 ($5.40/€4.90). If you see one of these offers, grab a few beers to drink in your apartment /hostel before you go out. When you go out at night, look for special promotions and happy hours and avoid the pricey parts of Tel Aviv. The Florentine neighborhood is much cheaper than the fancy bars around the port. Often bars have promotions for a beer and a chaser, which is how you get the most bang for your buck.

Stick to water

If you’re not into going out / don’t drink, you’ll find it much easier to stick to your budget. Tap water is free in restaurants for example, and if you bring a reusable bottle you can always fill it up from the tap instead of paying for bottled water. Soft drinks and sodas are also not particularly cheap – try to cut down on those. Instead, search out the cheap juice places in the market that offer fresh fruit juices for little money. tel aviv carmel market fruitI also cut down on coffee during my visit because these iced coffees, even though they’re delicious, add up quickly at ILS16 ($4.10/€3.75) per drink, and cappuccinos are around the same price. The cheapest espresso I found was ILS9 ($2.30/€2.10).

Sightseeing: Take advantage of free attractions

The good thing about Tel Aviv is that there aren’t a lot of pricey attractions – unlike New York or London where sights like the Empire State Building or Westminster Abbey can hurt your budget a lot.

My favorite attraction in Tel Aviv, the beaches, is entirely free, and should be on your agenda every day while you’re in town! Another thing I love is Carmel Market, and a market stroll is always free – but even if you end up picking up something here, it’s not going to cost you a aviv beach lifeThere are a few museums worth paying for, like the Tel Aviv Museum Of Art (ILS50/$12.85/€11.65) or the fabulous Ilana Goor Art Gallery (30ILS/$7.70/€7), but you could also just wander the streets of Jaffa which feels like an outdoor museum in itself, taking you a few centuries back with its well-maintained ocher colored stone buildings to the time when Jaffa was one of the most important port towns of the regions. Pop into the many art galleries that line the narrow alleys and you’ll be entertained for hours. Tel Aviv Jaffa sightseengIf you want more background information on the places you pass, you can join the free Tel Aviv walking tour which focuses mainly on Jaffa (don’t forget to tip your guide though!), and simply walking all the different neighborhoods is the best way to get a feel for the city.

Cost for attractions: Appr. $0 – $10

Transportation: Work your legs

Luckily Tel Aviv is pretty compact and unless you’re staying somewhere in the far northern or far southern part of town you can walk pretty much anywhere in 35 minutes. There is a functional bus network (no trams or subways) – a ride is ILS6.90 ($ 1.77/€1.60) – and there are sheruts, shared taxis that go along certain routes and are ILS6.50 ($1.65/€1.50). The great thing about sheruts is that they run during Shabat, when buses don’t run.jaffa israelIf you are planning to travel to other places in Israel, take the train, which is not expensive at all and connects Tel Aviv with places like Jerusalem and Haifa (less than $10/€9 to get to). To get to the beautiful Red Sea beaches of Eilat, you’ll have to take a train to Be’er Sheeva and a bus from there (total cost around $38/€35). 

There is also a new shuttle bus service called Flo Shuttle which offers airport transfers (pick-up / drop-off directly at your hostel/hotel) for only $17, which is 1/8 of what a taxi would cost you! Flo Shuttle also offers transportation from Tel Aviv to Eilat for only $17 – an unbeatable price!jaffa flea market israelIsrael’s railway has an easy to use website in English. You can also take the train from the airport into Tel Aviv for only 16ILS ($4.10/€3.75) – compared to a ILS150 ($38.50/€35) taxi ride. Speaking of taxis: I recommend avoiding taxis at all costs, since they are pricey and will hurt your budget for sure. If you don’t feel like walking, I recommend Tel Aviv’s public shared bike system Tel-o-fun. The bikes cost ILS17 ($4.35/€4) for 24 hours (ILS23/$5.90/€5.37 on public holidays and Saturdays), but you have to return them to a station every 30 minutes. Thirty minutes is plenty though to get halfway around town, and should it take you longer, you just switch bikes at a station after 30 minutes. For smooth sailing I recommend downloading the tel-o-fun app which shows you the locations of all stations, how many bikes are available there and how many free spots.Tel aviv florentine telo bikesCost for transportation: ILS6.90 per bus ride, or ILS17 for a Tel-o-bike, or nothing at all if you walk.

Is it possible to visit Tel Aviv on $50 a day?

Circling back to my initial challenge of visiting Tel Aviv on $77/€69 a day, which I didn’t only want to beat but also undercut, and see if I could visit Tel Aviv on $50/€45 per day. Is it possible to visit Tel Aviv on $77 per day? Yes, absolutely. You have to be careful with your spending though – I easily could have exceeded my daily ‘allowance’ a few times. $33 for accommodation, $20 for food and coffee, and I had a mere $24 left for transportation, entertainment and going out. Had I splurged on a sit-down meal and a cocktail in addition to everything else I spent, I would have probably spent around $100 per day.

$50 a day? Yes, that’s possible, too, but it’s real shoestring travel: Staying in one of the cheaper hostels and avoiding drinking in bars. If you live off street food, buy beers in shops instead of bars, walk and don’t take any public transportation, it’s doable. But I wanted a little more fun: enjoy the nightlife, rent a bike, have a private room. Tel Aviv 2015

Is Tel Aviv worth a visit?

Absolutely! The city was among my absolute favorite destinations of my 2014 travels and I am still planning a longer stint there – ideally a month! It’s such a liberal, open-minded and laid-back city, and I love the beaches, the distinctly different neighborhoods, the vibrant bar scene and nightlife (and as a lesbian traveler I have to mention the large LGBT scene!). The Florentine neighborhood, where I stayed, was recently named as #2 on a list of the 10 most hipster neighborhoods on earth, right after Williamsburg, Brooklyn, so no wonder I felt right at home 🙂Tel aviv florentine street art lips

How to get to Tel Aviv on the cheap

If you are traveling to Tel Aviv from Europe, you’re in luck: Most of the European low-cost carriers have direct flights to Tel Aviv , such as Easyjet, Germanwings or smartwings. I have flown both AirBerlin and Up, which is the low-cost of arm of Israel’s national carrier El Al, and had decent experiences with both. Up beats AirBerlin with prices as low as $65/€59 one way (on the sample searches I did tickets averaged $98/€89), but AirBerlin was not that much more expensive with $243/€221 for a return flight directly from Berlin.

I usually consult Google Flights to find the cheapest airfare, and if you’re a little flexible with your dates and plan a couple of months in advance, you should be able to fly to Tel Aviv for less than $200/€180 (round-trip). If you’re planning to visit Israel from North America, the cheapest round-trip tickets I’ve seen were around $650, but the Ministry Of Tourism just launched a campaign with Groupon, offering people in the U.S. package deals to Israel for $999, including flights, transportation, hotels and most meals for a week, which is an amazing deal, well worth checking out!

Up by El Al berlin to tel avivHave you been to Tel Aviv? If you have more budget tips, I’d love to hear them in the comments.

For more information on Tel Aviv and Israel, check out GoIsrael.

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How much does it cost to travel in Chile (and tips for traveling Chile on a shoestring)

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The short answer to this question is that it’s not cheap to travel in Chile – or Argentina or Uruguay for that matter.

But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go to Chile. We can’t tell you how often we heard budget travelers using the higher prices as the reason not to travel through Chile. But this is a mistake. This over 4,000km long country is so diverse, plus the higher living standards make it much easier to travel here. If you want to limit your time here, check out our top five places to visit in Chile, and use this post as a budget guide to independent travel in Chile.

ChileFirst we share our tips for getting the most bang for your buck in Chile, then we share our own budget for the 3.5 months we spent in the country.

CLP indicates Chilean Pesos and $ is the US dollar conversion at the time of publication. Chile is much more stable than neighboring Argentina, so expect normal inflation and rise in prices – no dramatic ups or downs.

How to get more for your pesos in Chile

Especially when coming from Bolivia, Chilean prices will come quite as a shock. Prices are on par with the US, Canada or Argentina – yet without that Blue Dollar rate the Argentines enjoy next door.

Knowing these key money-saving tips in advance will help your budget while traveling in Chile.

1 Drink the water

No need for bottled water here, water is clean and fine to drink throughout the country. Get yourself a water bottle and fill it up straight from the tap. The only place where we didn’t drink the water was San Pedro De Atacama (close to Bolivia) and Iquique due to the city being close to several mines. But La Serena to Santiago, the Lake District, Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego – you can drink tap water all the way.

Bottled water in Chile can cost $1.50-$2 a piece, so this is a great way to save money.

2 Buy bus tickets in advance

For frequent travelers, it’s easy to be laidback about buying tickets on the day of travel – and it often makes no difference at all to do so. But in Chile you can save over 50 per cent on the price of a ticket by purchasing your ticket in advance. is a great website and you can easily find prices for anywhere you want to go. Unfortunately, you need a RUT number- a Chilean ID number – to actually make the purchase online so we did always have to make an extra trip to the bus station or buy our departure tickets at the same time we arrived to a city.

bus to valparaiso
Turbus was our favorite bus company in Chile

It was definitely worth it.

  • Same-day bus ticket for Santiago to San Pedro de Atacama = CLP48,900 (roughly $100)
  • Advance bus ticket for Santiago to San Pedro = CLP36,900 (roughly $72)
  • Savings: $28
  • Same-day ticket for Puerto Montt to Santiago = CLP23,000 ($46)
  • Advance ticket for Puerto Montt to Santiago = CLP17,900 ($36)
  • Savings: $10

We recommend both Turbus and Pullman for bus travel in Chile.

Prices for bus tickets rise significantly during holidays like Christmas and New Years. Book well in advance if you are traveling during this time.

3 Avoid traveling between December and March

Traveling between December and March means traveling in high season in Chile. Like in most developed countries, the locals travel, too, during high season, which means hotels and hostels are heavily booked in advance, plus prices rise – especially in popular destinations like the Lake District or Patagonia. If your travels fall into this period, booking in advance will improve your experience. Not only do prices rise, but the hotels that are available at short notice are crap – often makeshift and cold.

bosque nativo valdivia dorm room
Dorm room in Chile

We traveled during high season and when we didn’t book a private room in advance, we had to stay in dorms, which we really don’t like. Luckily, double rooms are usually only a smidge more anyway. What made matters worse was that these were dorms in low-quality hostels at much higher prices than normal. A dorm bed is usually CLP8000 ($16) in Chile, but during high season, we paid up to CLP11000 ($22) for a dorm bed.

Check hotel booking websites like for special deals – we found some great last-minute deals on there.chile hostels

4 Get lunch deals and eat in for dinner

Most places in Chile offer a special set lunch menu, including a starter, main course, dessert and a drink for as little as CLP2500 ($5) and usually ranging from CLP3000 to CLP5000.

Fill up at lunch and cook in your hostel kitchen at night. Always opt for a hostel with a kitchen, as this will save you loads of money. Unless you are always eating snack foods and fried chicken, dinner can easily cost you around CLP7000 ($14), or even more, depending on where you’re traveling.

Chile food
The set lunches are definitely the cheapest option. The Indian curry (u.r.) was CLP8000 ($16), and the macchiato CLP1450 ($2.90) – coffee is not cheap in Chile!

5 Take advantage of Couchsurfing

Since accommodation costs are so high in Chile, a good way to stay within your budget – and meet friendly locals – is to try couchsurfing. Chile has a very active couchsurfing community and you’ll be able to find a host in most places. You can cook at home (a great way to thank your host) plus get first hand recommendations and possibly meet many more people than you would on your own.

How much we spent traveling in Chile

We spent 103 days traveling in Chile and spent a total of 3,191,910 Chilean pesos, which is as much as it sounds. In US Dollars, that’s about $6,705. This comes to $65 a day between the two of us, or US$32.50 per person.

So why is this number inaccurate for you? We housesat for 51 of those 103 days, saving us well over $1000 in accommodation, plus food we cooked for ourselves. Our fabulous housesit in Santiago allowed us to get a real feel for the city rather than just rushing through like most travelers do, and we were able to still splurge on luxuries like decadent French breakfasts or the occasional Starbucks.

santiago breakfast le fournil
Splurging on a CLP5000 breakfast at Le Fournil in Santiago. So worth it!

During our time in Santiago, we spent $2166 between the two of us – roughly $42.50 a day, or $21 per person.

The real per-day budget breakdown in Chile

Once we left the comfort of our free and luxurious housesit, our costs shot up as we traveled, in high season, through the Lake District and Patagonia. How high? More than double.

Our daily budget per person in Chile: $44

Over the next 52 days we traveled through Chile, we spent a total of $4,540, which comes to a daily spending of $87, or roughly $44 per person per day – but this is always based on two sharing.

At any rate, $44 per person per day is a more accurate estimate of costs of traveling in Chile and includes meals, accommodation, transportation and activities.

Normally we are not shoestring backpackers, but it is hard to see how we could have cut our costs any lower. We stayed in budget hotels and hostels throughout the country, tried to cook for ourselves whenever possible, chose our adventure activities carefully and booked our buses in advance to get better deals on tickets.

Here’s a detailed breakdown of what to expect for accommodation, transportation, entertainment, food and drinks in Chile:


Private rooms are always our preference and usually paid around CLP20,000 for a private room ($40). Dorm beds ran as high as $22 per person, or $44, but in low season you should be able to get a dorm bed for CLP8,000 ($16) and the cheapest private room we found was CLP17,000 ($34).

Chilean hostels
Hostels in Chile


Purchase bus tickets in advance and you will usually pay CLP4,500 ($9) for a 3-4 hour ride in the Lake District or up to CLP36,000 ($72) for a 24-hour bus ride – a more common distance in this long country. On average, we paid around CLP10,0000 ($20) for long-distance bus rides that weren’t overnight buses.

Transportation in Santiago itself is affordable for the quality. The subway in Santiago is clean, fast and efficient and tickets range from CLP560 to 620 ($1.10 – 1.20), depending on the time of day of your journey.

You can take private taxis in Santiago and other cities, but a much smarter option is to take the colectivos, or shared taxis. In some cities these work on a similar route system as buses while in others you just hop in, say your destination and you’ll get dropped there as it fits in with other passengers’ stops. This option is easier than buses and equally as cheap: CLP250 – 300 ($0.50 – 0.60) per ride.

Private taxis cost between CLP2,000 – 4,500 ($4-$9) depending on the size of the city.


Lunch usually cost us between CLP1,800 ($3.60) and CLP4,000 ($8) each, but when we went out for dinner, we easily spent between CLP17,000 ($34) and CLP20,000 ($40) for the two of us. Grocery stores and hostel cooking reduced the cost to between CLP2,500 ($5) and CLP7,000 ($14) for a complete meal for two depending on the ingredients.

san pedro de atacama gourmet food
A CLP6000 ($12) set lunch in San Pedro De Atacama

Entertainment and tours

Chile has incredible landscapes, but often times it takes joining a tour to see them.
Average tour price per person = CLP20,000 ($40)

We opted to do a full-day tour of the Atacama Desert in the north and Torres del Paine in the south at that cost. If you’re planning to hike the W Trek, check out this great breakdown of costs on

Half-day tours usually ran much cheaper. One of our favorite tours in San Pedro was the Valle de la Luna, salt caves and sunset in the Atacama Desert, which cost a reasonable CLP7,000 ($14). We paid CLP10,000 ($20) to visit a penguin colony on Chiloe.

Museums ranged from free to CLP3,000 ($6).

Take advantage of free walking tours offered in Santiago and Valparaiso. They give you great insight to the city and you only pay your guide a tip at the end.

Touring Chile
Touring Chile: Visiting a penguin colony on Chiloe, the Atacama Desert, Torres Del Paine and doing a photography tour in Santiago


Drinking is not cheap in Chile. Keep your eyes out for happy hours to save you loads of money on alcohol. The best option is to drink local Chilean wine at around CLP1,500 ($3) for a glass of decent red or white.

Locally brewed beers range from CLP1,500 ($3) for a half-liter bottle to CLP2,500 ($5) for a one-liter bottle. Cocktails are usually around CLP4,000 (US$8) and bars will often offer 2×1 pisco sours for CLP3,000 ($6) during happy hour. Bottles of wine in the supermarket can be as little as CLP2,000 ($4).

Drinks in ChileHave you traveled in Chile? If you have any money saving tips, please share them in the comments below!

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Five things to discover in New York that most tourists (and locals) never do

8 august new york city concrete jungle

During my summer in New York City, I finally got around to seeing parts of the city that I never had time for on previous, shorter visits. With all the tourist attractions checked off the list, this time I wanted to uncover spots that tourists, and even some locals, usually don’t visit.

But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t – and here’s why: each one of these stops offers a completely authentic view of New York City, whether it’s insight into the way the city really runs and what makes it tick or actually providing unique views of the Manhattan skyline.

The best part is that almost all of them are free! Read on for my top five off-the-beaten-path spots in New York City:governors island view

1. Take the ferry to Governors Island

Governors Island is a small 172-acre (70 ha) island, about half a mile from the southern tip of Manhattan. The island used to be a fort and military outpost for centuries, and has only been open to the public since 2006. Now, visitors can take the short ferry ride from Brooklyn or Manhattan during the summer months and enjoy an artificial beach, giant green spaces and a cycle path around the island when they feel they need to get away from Big City life. You can still see historic buildings there, like Castle Williams and Fort Jay, both built in the 18th century, or just enjoy the gorgeous views of Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty. You can rent bikes there (or bring your bike on the ferry), bring a picnic or enjoy a meal from the food trucks on the island, or explore the island on foot. Currently, only the northeastern half of the island is open to the public, but the southwestern half is being redeveloped and will be opened as a park and picnic area soon. Noteworthy events include Figment, an annual participatory art festival, photography exhibitions, the skate truck and several art fairs.

Governors Island New YorkHow to get there: Free ferries run on weekends from Brooklyn’s Pier 6 and Manhattan’s Battery Maritime Building (about every thirty minutes, see the full ferry schedule here). East River Ferries also docks at Governors Island, connecting it with Williamsburg and offering further stops (Wall Street in Manhattan, DUMBO and Williamsburg in Brooklyn, and 34th Street in Manhattan) – here, East River Ferry ticket prices apply ($4 one-way, an additional $1 for bikes).

2. Get out to Red Hook

Red Hook in Brooklyn is one of the ‘up-and-coming’ neighborhoods in the city, expected to grow in a way similar to trendy Williamsburg, which has become the area with the highest hipster population in New York. Red Hook is not quite there, but well on its way with independent stores, restaurants and art galleries arriving over the last few years and rejuvenating the formerly decaying waterfront community. Red Hook’s biggest challenge is its location – way out on a peninsula southwest of Carroll Gardens, bordering on the Hudson River. Strangely enough, IKEA is helping them overcome that hurdle, having opened there recently and bringing in an upswing of visitors with their free water taxi available from Manhattan each weekend.

red hook watertaxi viewsWhile it was formerly a mainly industrial area, you’ll now find cute restaurants that take pride in using local ingredients, creative shops and galleries, a large community garden, seafood pubs and bars with views over the water, and more businesses opening on a monthly basis. There is even an artisan chocolate factory and a distillery where you can take free tours. The 20-minute ferry ride from Manhattan’s Pier 11 alone is worth the trip, offering the same spectacular views that the ferry to Governors Island has, but going way beyond that. There are several walkways along the waterfront, piers that are featuring art projects now, and at the Louis Valentino Jr park right at the Hudson River you can rent kayaks during the summer months or just enjoy the views of the Statue of Liberty across the bay. Most of the restaurants and shops are located on Van Brunt Street and the surrounding roads.

Red Hook Brooklyn New YorkHow to get there: The cheapest way to get here is via the free IKEA ferry that runs for free on weekends (every 20 minutes from 11am). There is an additional stop at Van Brunt Street so you can get out there instead of going all the way to IKEA and then walk back. The ferry also runs on weekdays, but charges $5 one way. The closest subway stops are Carroll Street or Smith-Ninth Street on the F and G train. The B61 bus goes all the way to Downtown Brooklyn and stops at the Smith-Ninth Street Subway Station. The B57 bus also goes to Downtown Brooklyn.

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3. Discover the Elevated Acre

The Elevated Acre is, as the name indicates, an acre of green space on an elevated level between Lower Manhattan’s massive skyscrapers. We were surprised to find out how few New Yorkers actually knew about this space, even though it is just around the corner from Pier 11 and from Wall Street. Tourists haven’t found out about this lovely spot either, even though hotel booking websites offer many hotels within in walking distance from this rooftop park.

While it is packed with office workers during the weekday lunch hours, this is a great little hidden spot with superb views over the East River, the Brooklyn Bridge and Governors Island. Get here early, bring a book and a coffee and while away for an hour or so. The Elevated Acre also has a seven-tiered amphitheater and movies are shown here at night during the summer.

Elevated Acre ManhattanHow to get there: The Elevated Acre is located on 55 Water Street. The closest subway stations are South Ferry (1), Whitehall St (N, R), Wall Street (2, 3), Broad Street (J) and Bowling Green (4, 5).

4. Take the aerial tramway to Roosevelt Island

Roosevelt Island is another little island in the East River that is worth a visit. Tucked in between Manhattan’s Upper East Side and Queens, this long, but narrow island stretches over two miles (3 km) from Manhattan’s East 46th to East 85th Streets, but only has a maximum width of 800 feet (240 m). Even though the island itself doesn’t have much on it other than residential apartment blocks, there is a lovely waterfront park on the island’s south side, Southpoint Park, that makes for a great spot to take your date on and watch the sunset from. You can also walk up to the Northpoint Lighthouse, which dates back to 1872. The views over Manhattan’s East Side are lovely, and the best way to see them is actually from the areal Roosevelt Island Tramway (which you might recognize from the last Spiderman movie), the best way to arrive on the island. Plan an hour or two to walk around the park or bring a picnic for a relaxed afternoon.

Roosevelt Island New York CityHow to get here: The most scenic way to arrive is via the Roosevelt Island Tramway which leaves from 2nd Avenue between 59th and 60th Street and takes you high up above the roofs of Manhattan. You can use the tramway with your MTA metro pass. Make sure to get a spot near the front window and don’t worry about all the locals on there rolling their eyes as you vie for the best spot to take pictures. They could have easily taken the F Train, which also stops on Roosevelt Island, so they’re doing this for the views, too!

manhattan view from roosevelt island tramway

5. MoMa PS1 (and 5 Pointz)

5 Pointz and MoMa PS1 are not to be missed by art and street art fans alike. Located on Long Island City just across the street from each other, both locations can be visited in a couple of hours. MoMa PS1 belong’s to the MoMa (Museum of Modern Art), but focuses on cooler, edgier exhibitions. It’s located in a former school and the exhibits you find here are more cutting-edge and thought-provoking than the pieces that you find at its famous sister in Manhattan. There is also an ever-changing architectural garden. If you want to party like a New Yorker, check out the free weekly dance parties during the summer months.


I just returned from a visit to 5Pointz, where I wanted to check out the latest pieces on the warehouse. I was shocked to find the warehouse painted over with white paint, with all the graffiti gone. Apparently, the warehouse will be torn down and be replaced with a condo building later this year. With the horrible paint job they did, I think it would have been better to leave the graffiti on there until the building is torn down. A shame that this street art mecca is gone now.

5 Pointz, right across the street from MoMa PS1, has traditionally been considered New York’s street art mecca, a former warehouse transformed into a huge canvas that attracts street artists from around the world. Have a look around and inside the building to see some fantastic graffiti pieces.5 pointz long island city new york

MoMa PS1 is of course still well worth a visit!

How to get there: MoMA PS1 is located on 22-25 Jackson Ave; 5 Pointz sits between Davis and Crane Streets. MoMa PS1 is open Thursday through Monday from 12pm to 6pm, closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Suggested admission is $10, or $5 for students. The closest subway stations are Long Island City – Court Square (G) or 21st St (G), 45 Rd – Court House Square (7), 23rd St – Ely Ave (E, M). Court Square Diner, a classic American diner across the street, is also worth a visit, as is Ms Wells Dinette, which belongs to the MoMa PS1 and pays homage to the building’s former identity as a schoolhouse with communal tables and a perpetually changing menu.Moma PS1 Long Island City

For five more awesome things to do in New York off the beaten tourist trails, check out Five things to discover in New York that most tourists (and locals) never do – Part II

Still looking for a hotel in New York City but not sure where to stay? Check out for the best priced hotels in New York City – I’ve been using since 2009 and it’s still my favorite hotel booking website.
NYC booking

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How much does it cost to travel in Uruguay?

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The quick answer to this question is: More than you would think.

Like neighboring Argentina, Chile and Brazil, traveling in Uruguay is not cheap and you often spend the same amount as when traveling in the U.S. and Europe, but if you’re looking to match the same level of quality in hotels or food, it is there, but you’ll actually have to spend a bit more in Uruguay to get it.

The upside? Fellow travelers had warned us that prices in Uruguay would be even higher than in Argentina, more than 20% higher they said! However, with the exception of glitzy Punta del Este, we found there to be no real difference between tourist-friendly areas in both countries.

For short-term travelers looking for a vacation in Uruguay, budget in the same that you would for a vacation in the U.S. or Europe. For long-term travelers, we’d say that unless you’re an extreme shoestring traveler, plan in a daily budget of US$45 per person, based on two sharing.

UruguayNote: dealing with money in Uruguay can be confusing, as prices are marked U$S100 vs when prices are in US dollars US100. For the rest of this post, the use of the dollar sign is for prices in US dollars, Uruguayan pesos will be marked UYU.

Budget breakdown

Our own average spending worked out to $50.68 per person, or US$101.37 for the two of us, per day, and we spent $1,419.20 in two weeks. Spikes in inflation and tricky currency exchanges being the norm in Argentina and Uruguay, we want to clarify that we spent 27,021 Uruguayan Pesos at an exchange rate of UYU19.04 per 1 USD at the time of our visit. .

cost of travel in uruguay

Here is a breakdown of our costs:

As usual, accommodation was the biggest expense, followed by food and transportation. Our love of coffee cost us an additional UYU60 / $3.25 each per day as well, for just basic Americano-type coffee.

Miscellaneous expenses included laundry (UYU260/$13.66), postcards, stamps and a few souvenirs.

Cost of accommodation in Uruguay

Accommodation costs were hard to keep down, and we stayed primarily in hostels and guest houses rather than hotels. Because we were traveling just after the end of high season, we used to find discounts on accommodation, which many hotels offer once their hotels clear out after February. If you are traveling in Uruguay between December and February, expect to pay at least 20 per cent more per night.

At Posada Del Sur in Montevideo, we paid $50 for a comfortable double room, shared bathroom and full breakfast, and $42 for a double room at Hostel De La Viuda in Punta del Diablo, a hostel we absolutely loved. For $44, our hostel in Colonia was sub-par and far out of town.


When booking hotels, a private budget room runs for $55, a private in a hostel is between $35 – $40. Beds in dorm rooms cost $10-$14.

During low season (March – October) you can snatch a double room in a 4-star hotel for $80 – $100.

posada al sur montevideo bedroomIf you are booking well in advance (about three to four months), there are huge discounts that can get you room rates almost as low as during low season in Montevideo and at the beaches, but not in Colonia which is busy year round.

The Beaches

Punta del Este is considerably more expensive than the rest of Uruguay’s coastline. We hunted down a great deal on a hotel, including full buffet breakfast for less than $60, right in the center of town. This was partially because we were there in the Summer-Fall shoulder season, but most rooms run $100-$130 in March still. If you book far enough in advance, there are double rooms in hostels and budget hotels for $50-$60, which usually include a full breakfast. Dorm beds average $18- $20.

Expect prices to double around Christmas and at the end of February, which is summer vacation for Uruguay and Argentina; even dorm beds go up to $35.

Even though Punta Del Diablo is slightly more affordable, prices for a decent double room are still up to $100 during high season.

Hostel de la viuda punta del diabloTip: We were told on various occasions that, if you are planning to travel in Uruguay during high season, you should make sure to book a hotel / hostel months before you get there. The best places are booked out up to five months before high season, and you will find yourself left with mediocre options at outrageous prices.

Colonia del Sacramento

Due to weekend visitors from Buenos Aires renewing visas or withdrawing dollars and tourists traveling from around South America, Colonia del Sacramento sees tourists fill so many rooms year round that even taxi drivers can’t keep up with the new hostels and budget hotels popping up further and further outside the city center. There are several beautiful boutique hotels and B&Bs for $90–$130 in Colonia, decent double rooms in a hostel or budget hotel for about $50 – $60 and dorm beds between $13 and $16, but only if you book ahead. If not, it’s a game of roulette – one which we played and lost.

Tip: Almost all hostels and hotels in Uruguay have breakfast included. Book accommodation that includes breakfast whenever possible; it will save you a lot of money, especially at the beaches.

posada al sur montevideo b&b breakfast and kitchen

Cost of food in Uruguay

Prices for eating out are about the same as it is in the U.S. – sometimes even more, and especially if you want any level of quality. To put price comparison into perspective, a 6-inch veggie delight Subway sandwich cost UYU90 at the time of our visit, or $4.73, when in the U.S. you can get $5 foot-long subs.

Vegetarian dinner for two cost UYU400-500, or $22-$27, and when we cooked at the guest house, the groceries still averaged UYU 300 / $15 for a full meal.

Going out for coffee, one of our favorite past times, was outrageously expensive at the beaches, with a cup of coffee or cappuccino costing around UYU100 / $5, two ice cream cones were UYU150 / $7.88 and just going out for coffee and cake set us back UYU420 / $22 in Punta del Este.

punta del diablo coffee

Cost of transportation in Uruguay

Buses between the major cities are usually about $20 for a 4-hour bus ride. Uruguay is a small country, so the two longest distances cost UYU 420 / $22 per person from Montevideo to Punta del Diablo and UYU455 /$24 from Punta Del Este to Colonia del Sacramento. Shorter bus rides, for example from Punta Del Diablo to La Paloma, were UYU215 / US$12 per person. Considering that these prices are from bus terminal to bus terminal, the Summer Bus, which includes hostel pick-up and hostel drop-off in 12 beach towns for $75, is actually not a bad deal at all.

Ferry tickets with Buquebus from Montevideo or Colonia to Buenos Aires start at UYU760 /$36.30 (one way, if booked in advance).

la paloma view

Cost of entertainment in Uruguay

Entertainment costs were actually our smallest expense. The most expensive activity we splurged on was renting bicycles in Montevideo, which cost us UYU200 / $10 per person for a four-hour rental. A 6-hour surfing course for beginners in Punta Del Este is UYU1900 ($100), a half-day city sightseeing tour in Montevideo is UYU650 ($30). However, most museums are only a few dollars and the majority of activities in Uruguay is free.

Money saving tips for Uruguay:

1 Travel in the shoulder season. If you travel in the dead of the winter (May – October) most of the beach towns will be completely shut down, but if you travel on either side of high season, you get great weather, less busy towns and much less expensive accommodation rates compared to high season months of December, January and February.

2 Don’t pay for water. You can drink the water everywhere in Uruguay, and you can ask for tap water in restaurants at no extra charge.

3 Cook for yourself whenever possible After accommodation, eating in restaurants was our biggest expense in Uruguay. We went to the supermarket and bought ingredients for pasta, sandwiches or stews and soups for a fraction of the price (and time) spent in restaurants.

dani and jess at the beach in uruguay

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Housesitting in New York, a dream come true

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The fresh, crisp air buzzed with the kind of excitement only those first few summer days can bring. This is what drew Dani and I out onto the Brooklyn Promenade that afternoon. Working away in our Brooklyn Heights condo, where we had been housesitting for nearly two months, the sounds of summer teased us through the open window.

Once we decided to take a break, it was easy to speed down the stairs and run two blocks to sit on a bench and take in the cyclists and skateboarders, couples kissing and kids balancing ice scoops on sugar cones while running in circles around tired tourists who just finished their obligatory trek over the Brooklyn Bridge in order to snap pictures of the Manhattan skyline just across the water.

manhattan skylineHad we just been in town on a quick holiday, we most likely would have joined those tourists, Dani would have worked on getting good skyline shots and then maybe we would have had dinner somewhere before heading back to a Manhattan hotel near Central Park or Times Square. This time around, though, we were not tourists.

We were New Yorkers, albeit temporarily, and housesitting for two months, we were able to develop a routine, habits, in fact a full life in the city. For an hour we let the strong sun singe our skin as we sat lazily on a bench with that relaxed feeling you can only have when you’re just a few blocks from ‘home’ and don’t need a thing.

Union Square Farmers Market New York
Enjoying the fresh produce from the Union Square Farmers Market

Instead of descending upon wicker tables in a hotel lobby and eating half-frozen cantaloupe slices and toast for breakfast, I woke up everyday at 7am to feed our two adorable pet cats, meowing so loudly you’d think we hadn’t fed them and spoiled them with cuddles and treats the day before. Then I fed the fish and re-joined Dani (who slept through feeding time) in our king size bed, and fell back asleep to the sound of rough cat tongues licking away their piles of organic cat food.

Eventually we woke up, made scrambled eggs or yogurt and granola and cups of ridiculously strong coffee and got to work. As simple as eggs and granola are, I am seriously considering a personal chef, even if its just for a day. The mornings were filled with writing, phone calls, interviews, podcast or video editing – the multi-faceted mountains of work bloggers chip away at just to keep plates spinning every day.

Brooklyn Heights
Brownstones in our neighborhood in Brooklyn

As morning dissipated into the long afternoon stretch, we would inevitably become anxious to get out and explore before returning to feed the cats in the early evening and heading back out for dinner or meet-ups with friends. That’s the thing about actually living in New York – there is never a shortage of interesting people to meet, including friends from the online world and friends of friends who turned into great friends of our own.

When we weren’t out exploring the five boroughs, or meeting people for coffee, ice cream, dinner or drinks, we were enjoying the comforts of ‘home’, watching Netflix movies on the futon and ordering in any type of international cuisine using the Seamless food delivery app.

Spring in New York City
We loved the glorious spring days in New York

In the two months we housesat in Brooklyn, we hung out in hipsterville known as Williamsburg, walked home to upscale Brooklyn Heights from up-and-coming Red Hook, crossed the Brooklyn Bridge several times with visiting friends, walked the length of Broadway in Manhattan, went to Queens, the Brooklyn Navy Yard, Governor’s Island and Roosevelt Island, walked through Prospect Park and Central Park, Cobble Hill and the East Village, Chelsea and downtown Brooklyn, we hit flea markets, farmers markets, ate from food trucks and at trendy brunch locations.

But it was the soft, easy details of actually living in New York that filled us with joy. Dani went running over the Brooklyn Bridge once or twice a week, we loved jumping out to sit on the Brooklyn Promenade or watching in awe as teenagers sang doo-wap on the C Train back home at night, eating in the diner around the block or having coffee in a cafe around the corner from our house.

Meeting friends in NYC
New and old friends in NYC

These moments probably shine even brighter for us because we were able to do this all without paying a single cent in rent. Cuddling and feeding their cats and giving the condo a few good scrubs was all that was required for us to live out an absolute dream. We estimate that we saved between $5000-$7000 in rental costs over those weeks, which meant we could drop extra cash on concert tickets or see a Broadway show. In fact one of our absolute highlights was seeing the best piece of (interactive) theater we have ever seen, Sleep No More at the McKittrick hotel, which we may not have done if we were already spending $150 a night on a hotel room or vacation rental in New York.

More than anything, spending the spring and start of summer in New York gave us a massive gift, one we have been looking for since we started traveling all those years ago. We discovered that New York is a place we could actually call home. Even if we never settle down there (or anywhere, for all we know), our love of New York is now so ingrained in our hearts that we know we want to create a lifestyle that involves a month or more here, every year, at least.

new york manhattan skyline at sunset

Interested in housesitting in New York?

breakfree-coverAt first, a housesit in New York was like finding a needle in a haystack, but ever since our first NYC Housesit, we have come across several sits in the Big Apple this summer – especially TrustedHousesitters is noteworthy here, where in recent months several amazing gigs have popped up for New York City.

Our discount offer with

If you’re not signed up with TrustedHousesitters yet,  you can sign up via this link and get 20 % off your membership fee!

Start housesitting today! Find out more about the most comprehensive book on the subject here, written by us for you.

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UK Travel: The best ways of transport around England

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For most travelers, a visit to England might actually mean a visit to London and a few surrounding stops, but it is travel beyond the capital that provides the quintessentially English experience. What about picturesque towns such as Bath, York or Canterbury? Exploring the famous university towns of Oxford and Cambridge? Discovering the music scene in Manchester and Liverpool or head to the coast to Bristol, Cardiff or Brighton? England has so much more to offer than just London, and given how small the island is, you can actually see much of the country in a week to ten days.

Here are our tips how to get around the UK:

Hire a car and visit the Cotswolds or the Lake District

England has a fantastic train system and plenty of good bus connections, but there are a few places where it pays off to have a car, such as a trip to the Cotswolds with its scenic little villages and rolling hills.Already in the 1960s designated as an ‘Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty’, the Cotswolds are one of the most popular places to visit in England, and only a short 2-hour car ride from London, they make for a perfect weekend getaway if you hire a car.

The best way to see as many of the little villages such as Bibury, Broadway, Tewkesbury or Bourton-on-the-water and charming small towns like Stroud, Cheltenham and Gloucester is definitely by car. You can drive along the country roads at your own pace and stop in as many places as you’d like, exploring the area without the time restrictions of a train or bus schedule. To get an authentic Cotswolds experience, pick a random village and rent a little cottage for a few days – we stayed in our own cottage in Snowshill and loved every minute of it.

Take the train to Liverpool or Edinburgh

If you don’t feel comfortable driving on the left side of the road, you can visit almost any place in England by train. Manchester and Liverpool can be reached from London in just under two hours on a fast train, and even Edinburgh is only four and a half hours away.

With some advance travel planning, train tickets don’t have to break the bank, either. is a great source for discount train tickets, such as to Brighton for as cheap as £5.00 (instead of £23.10), tickets to Edinburgh for as little as £19.10 (instead of £60.50) or to Manchester for £18.00 (instead of £49.00). The trains in England are quick, comfortable and mostly on time, and can be a very enjoyable experience.

UK travel liverpoolTake a bus to Oxford for £1!

For the absolute cheapest way to travel in the UK, we recommend Megabus. Their buses run across all of Britain and there are constant promotions for £1 ticket sales. If you know where you want to go about three to four weeks ahead, these tickets allow you travel, practically for free. Megabus also goes all the way to Edinburgh and Glasgow for under £10 – cheaper than the train, but also a much longer journey (usually an overnight bus or an all day journey). For shorter distances like Oxford, two hours away, Megabus is a great option.

Fly to Scotland or Cornwall

Even though Britain is relatively small, there are some places that are reached quicker by plane, and often not more expensive – if not even cheaper – than the train. With budget airline Easyjet, you can find tickets from London to the Scottish Highlands (Aberdeen or Inverness) for only £30, making it as cheap as the train, but cutting down your travel time. Flybe, another budget airline, offers flights to Newquay in Cornwall for £37 (sometimes even cheaper) and other destinations in the UK and might also be worth checking when you are planning to visit other cities in the UK.

Walk or cycle your way around England

For those travelers looking to see England at a snail’s pace, England rolling geography is perfect for rambling, hillwalking and cycling, with long-distance paths criss-crossing the country. There are several week-long breaks that can be booked with various tour companies, and these simple, slow breaks also make the English countryside pub the perfect end goal of each day!


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Singapore on a shoestring

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It is no secret that Singapore is expensive, and not just by South East Asian standards, either. You could easily blow through a huge budget while in this city-state, but there is actually no need to break the bank. Skipping Singapore would be such a shame. We fell for its mix of Western ambitions and Asian roots, and the eclectic intermingling of cultures and can not imagine missing out on this vibrant and buzzing global city.

kampong glam street with sultan mosqueRead on for our tips for traveling to Singapore on a shoestring:

1. Buy the SMRT (metro system) day passes

Taxis are incredibly expensive in Singapore. Luckily there is no need to take them, with Singapore’s excellent MRT public transportation network. Even for people uncomfortable with public transport, Singapore’s buses and subway are immaculate, easy to navigate and best of all, very affordable.

Single tickets are not cheap, but there are two ways around that: one is the Singapore Tourist Pass, which is available at the airport or at any Tourist Information, and for a deposit of S$10, you get a card which you can top up with the Singapore Tourist Pass. With this pass, you pay S$10 / US$7.90 per day (or S$16 / US$12.60 for two days / S$20 / US$15.75 for three days) and get unlimited rides on all of Singapore’s public transportation. We found Singapore to be surprisingly walkable, though, so depending on what you plan to see, some days you might not use the system enough for the price. It could be easier to pick up the ezLink card (S$12 / US$9.45 – S$5 / US$3.40 for the card, plus S$7 / US$5.50 top-up value), which is what the locals tend to use. You top us this card, which offers great discounts on a pay-as-you-go basis. Remember to swipe the card both as you enter AND exit the bus or metro, though, as fares are calculated by the distance traveled.

singapore subway2. Eat at hawker food stalls

Singapore has some of the finest dining in the world, and if you find it worth it, why not splurge? However, for daily meals, don’t waste money (sometimes $40 or more for two) at mediocre restaurants. Instead, visit Singapore’s famous hawker centers, which bring together dozens of food stalls in one place. You can find authentic, ethnic Indonesian, Malay, Thai and Chinese food for a few dollars per dish. There are plenty of these food centers around town, but among the best are the well-known Maxwell Food Center, the Amoy Hawker Center in Tanjong Pagar, Lau Pa Sat  in the Centre District and the Chinatown Food Center in Chinatown, plus Tekka Food Market in Little India. In these hawker centers, food usually starts at S$2 /  US$1.55, and is not more expensive than S$5 / US$3.40. If you find yourself in or near one of Singapore’s malls, consider eating at the food court. These are not quite as cheap as hawker food stalls, but you can easily fill up for under $5.

chinatown food prices singapore3. Take advantage of the free attractions

You can pay for many sights, but there is plenty to do for free in Singapore. The city itself is an attraction, so stroll through the ethnic neighborhoods such as the primarily Arab Kampong Glam area, Chinatown and Little India. Then head out to walk the around the entire Marina Bay along the promenade. Here you will see so many of the highlights, such as Marina Bay Sands, which is free to wander through, unless you want to go up to the top for the view. The fascinating Haw Par Villa is strange, but definitely free of charge as are the beautifully manicured Botanical Gardens. A visit to the beaches of Sentosa Island is almost free – you will have to pay for your metro ticket to get there, but it allows you to spend a relaxed day at the beach.

sentosa island palm trees and oceanIf you are in Singapore on a weekend, the Singapore Art Museum and the National Museum of Singapore are both free from 6 – 9pm on Fridays. You can even see a free outdoor concert at Singapore’s Esplanade every Friday, Saturday and Sunday night.

4.  Stay for free – Couchsurf

Accommodation is probably the most expensive aspect of a visit to Singapore. The cheapest option is to stay for free by couchsurfing. Partially due to the large expat community in addition to the high cost of hotels, the couchsurfing community in Singapore is huge. While some hosts may offer you a couch, many will have a spare bed or even, as in our case, a very comfortable second bedroom. The added benefit of couchsurfing in Singapore is that your host might have time to show you around or at least give plenty of tips for fun things to see and do that you may have otherwise never known.

singapore apartment complex
The swimming pool in the apartment complex where we couchsurfed in Singapore – we were encouraged by our host to use it.

If you are not comfortable sleeping in a stranger’s house, there are plenty of brand new hostels in Singapore in fantastic locations like Chinatown and Little India. Some of the hostels we thought looked good were: A beary good hostel, with two hostels in Chinatown rates for a dorm bed start around S$15 / US$11.80 for a dorm bed, free wi-fi and breakfast; and Sleepy Sam’sS$25 / US$19.70 for a dorm bed, anytime breakfast and wi-fi.

Singapore also has one budget hotel chain, Hotel 81, which has been around forever. Rooms start around S$50 / US$40 for a double if booked through online sites like Agoda or in advance. There are several branches around town, some look very dated and others have shady reputations, so check the specific hotel out on Tripadvisor before you book.

5. Find discount tours

We mentioned free attractions in #3, but of course Singapore also has a number of sights that are not free but well worth a visit. For those, check out Singapore Tours, where you will find the guaranteed lowest prices for major attractions such as the Universal Studios Singapore, the popular Singapore night safari, hop on – hop off tours, city passes and more, offered by local tour operators.

6. Drink in Chinatown

Alcohol is far more expensive in Singapore than anywhere else in South East Asia, and we found that in most places beer started at around S$8 / US$6.45, and wine at around S$12 / US$9.30. This is why you will spot most budget travelers drinking Singha or other beers in Chinatown,where many restaurants there compete with each other to lure you in with deals like 3 beers for  ‘3 beers for S$15’ (US$11.80).

chinatown singapore at nightMany bars in popular night spots have Happy Hour prices. Clarke Quay is buzzing at night, so make sure to head there for 50% Happy Hour drinks before forking out for full price later on in the evening.

7. Use coupons

There are actually some great websites out there for cheap deals in Singapore. For example, Groupon is just as popular in Singapore as in North America, and Groupon Singapore offers half-off many of the city’s most popular attractions in addition to restaurants, bars, and if you want, workouts, yoga, and all the other great Groupon deals. There is also a website called Singapore Dine which is specifically meant for restaurant deals in Singapore. If you want to eat at some of the nicer places in town, this is a great way to save some cash. If you subscribe to the Groupon deal emails before you visit Singapore (or follow them on Facebook / Twitter), you can get some great deals that otherwise only the locals would get.

singapore groupon deal

8. Getting to Singapore on the cheap

If you are already in South East Asia, getting to Singapore can also be done inexpensively. We flew from Cambodia for $100, but we could have paid one-fifth of that price had we gone by bus from Kuala Lumpur. Buses run several times a day between the Malaysian capital and central Singapore, and take five hours including the border crossing. If you are going to fly, we found that AirAsia consistently had great rates throughout all of South East Asia.

Have you been to Singapore? Feel free to share your money-saving tips for Singapore in the comments below!

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