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It is no secret that Singapore is (by far!) the most expensive country in South East Asia. While you can sip 50 cent beers on a beach in Cambodia or drink $3 liquor buckets in Thailand, a Singapore Sling sets you back $20, or even more if you want to try the classic version at the Raffles Hotel.
But that doesn’t mean Singapore can’t be visited on the cheap with some smart planning. We loved our quick visit to Singapore, which made for the most cosmopolitan experience in South East Asia. Luckily, it is not expensive to get to Singapore at all, as it is a major transport hub in South East Asia with daily connections to North America, Europe and Australia.
Read on for the tips we used for our budget-friendly weekend escape in Singapore:
Find deals on accommodation
Hotels in Singapore are easily the biggest chunk of anyone’s budget while in town. The best way to find a great accommodation deal is to check the usual hotel comparison websites to see if there are any special offers. All the big hotels usually have a promotion which can save you up to 70 per cent of the original price. This is one city where the best dorms can run the same price as quality hotels, which is why research and reservations are key to saving on accommodation.
Locate the best restaurant promotions
Singapore is filled with hawker centers, popular food halls that offer a variety of food stalls where you can try some of the best specialties that the country has to offer, with prices rarely above $4 for a delicious meal.
However, Singapore is a foodie city and it would be a shame to miss out on top of the line restaurants and exciting cuisines while in town. We signed up to deals websites before our trip to find discounts on hotspots we wanted to try. Check out the restaurant and bar deals on restaurant deal websites, where you can find incredible promotions for some of the city’s best restaurants and cafes. A popular promotion for example is the lunch buffet for $28 at Windows on the Park on Orchard Street, which is double the price without the coupon, or the 4-Course French Degustation Menu at The Tastings Room in Marina Square for the same price, which is a true bargain.
Plan out your activities in advance
No matter what your interest is, Singapore has something for every travel style. You can visit the theater, art galleries and a number of world-class museums, and even if you don’t have cash to spare, we loved joining the throngs of shoppers on Orchard Road, a wide boulevard lined with over 20 malls offering everything from high street brands to luxurious designer labels. One of the best things about the city is how many free things there are to do in Singapore.
For paid attractions, it’s worth checking for promotions on websites like Groupon, where we found deals on admission to the Flower Dome, the Cloud Forest, Underwater World and the Dolphin Lagoon for only $35, or a combined ticket for the Singapore Flyer Ferris wheel and the Gardens by the Bay for $37 instead of the normal price of $53. Other deals include the Hop On Hop Off Bus Tour plus a river cruise for only $35, which is a great way to take in this majestic city!
Singapore does luxury best, but there is no reason to miss out on the wellness side of things if you’re on a budget, either. There are deals to be had for Spa & Wellness activities here, too, like full body massages for $25 or mani pedis for $20.
Things you shouldn’t miss in Singapore:
The views from the Marina Bay Sands Hotel Rooftop. The vistas over the city from up there are breathtaking, especially at sunset. You can either pay $20 for the observation deck or pay the same $20 for a drink at the Sky on 57th restaurant. The views from both are the same, so why not sip a drink while you take in the twinkling lights of the city.
A stroll through Chinatown. This neighborhood has not only some fantastic restaurants, but also the best-preserved colonial buildings, Hindu temples and street markets and offers a fascinating contrast to the bright lights of the Marina Bay.
A beach break on Sentosa Island. Singapore’s Sentosa Island is home to several amusement parks (including Universal Studios) and resorts, but is also the best spot to hit the beach and relax from the city rush back across the bridge.
The Botanical Gardens. If you are not a beach person but are looking for some peace and quiet, make sure not to miss the Botanical Gardens. We absolutely loved it here, surrounded by a massive selection of exotic flowers, including a rain forest, a ginger garden and an orchid garden. The best thing: they are free!
The Marina Bay Visual Arts Trail. A stroll around Marina Bay should not be missed, and the Visual Arts Trail features a number of outstanding sculptures, including a piece by Roy Liechtenstein. You can find more details and a map here.