Singapore has a lot to offer visitors, from glittering mega-malls full of designer fashion to world-class theme parks and a casino resort that is the envy of Las Vegas. Unfortunately, Singapore is also considered to be one of the more expensive cities to visit in Asia, along with Tokyo and Hong Kong.
Behind the glitzy 5-star malls, 20 dollar cocktails and luxury hotels, there’s a fascinating city waiting to be discovered. Singapore hides many budget-priced gems and you may be surprised at just how inexpensive and unique a trip to Singapore can be. Whether you’re looking for somewhere to take your new date or for a drink with friends, Singapore can always deliver.
Fragrance Hotel Ruby
For budget-conscious travellers, you can’t beat the prices on offer at the Fragrant Hotel Ruby in the Geylang district. Surrounded by eateries, street vendors and just 10 minutes’ walk from the Aljunied Metro station, the oddly named Fragrant Hotel Ruby offers clean rooms, comfortable beds and good hot water showers. Don’t expect the Taj Mahal; many of the rooms have barely enough room to unpack your suitcase!
Matchbox Concept Hotel
Another of the Singaporean smalls is this quirky and unique hotel, which offers capsule style rooms that house a single adult. The bathroom is shared, and there’s a separate smaller female only dorm available for solo female guests. After a two-night stay late last year, this is our first choice when it comes to budget accommodation in Singapore. The staff is super friendly, and it’s close to China Town, street food, night markets and nightlife.
Maxwell Market Hawker Centre
Like most of Southeast Asia, the local Singaporeans love their street food. From fresh steaming bowls of beef noodle soup to chilli crab claws, Singapore has hundreds of special street food treats to discover and enjoy at the many hawker markets dotted around the busy city.
The best way to find great street food is to ask a local taxi driver, and our investigation led us to the popular hawker centre of Maxwell Market, found opposite China Town.
Most of the stalls will have pictures of the food on offer, so you can simply point at the food you want to try. A great starting point is to find the longest queue and ask the person in front of you what they are ordering. Many locals can speak English and will be more than happy to give advice on their favourite dishes.
Char Kway Teow should be at the top of your list. It includes fresh bean sprouts, clams, slices of fragrant Chinese sausage and scrambled egg. Be prepared to wait a while for your order at popular vendors.
If you are looking for the cheapest place to drink, then the above-mentioned Hawker centres offer bottles of beer for around 5 SGD. They are served warm, along with glasses full of ice. This is normal throughout South East Asia but can take some getting used to. Hawker centres are popular drinking hangouts on weeknights and weekends.
For a more unique and affordable drinking session, head to the Clinic Bar between 6 and 9 pm for their ‘clinically happy’ promotion. You can enjoy the ‘buy one, get one free’ deal and experience the famous hospital clinic decor, including wheelchair seats and cocktails served in intravenous drip bags!
Haw Par Villa
Haw Par Villa (262 Pasir Panjang Road) is a surreal theme park that features hundreds of statues, displays and dioramas that dramatise stories from ancient Chinese folklore. You can see everything here, from crabs with female heads to epic scenes depicting ancient battles.
The park is a little run down, due to being first built in the 1930’s, but you won’t see anything else like it in your travels. Open 9 am to 7 pm daily – Free entry.
Super Tree Grove at Gardens by the Bay
Finish a busy day exploring Singapore with a stroll around the Gardens by the Bay at night. This area is beautiful during the day, but it transforms to a whole new place after dark. Check out the futuristic super trees that tower up to 50 m tall and are covered with living plants and electronic displays.
At 7:45 and 8:45 pm you can enjoy a free light show set to music that plays from the super trees. It sounds cheesy, but it’s amazing when the trees explode in light and colour, accompanied by the synchronised orchestral music. Shows start at 7:45 and 8:45 pm daily – Free entry.
Louise Mitchell is a member of the marketing team at Lovestruck Singapore. Spending half of her time at the London offices and the rest of the year in Singapore – Louise has an eye for detail and specialises in scouring the Lion City for dating hotspots, beautiful walks, tasty meals and refreshing drinks. When she’s not hunting for date venues, Louise likes to spend her time practising pilates and yoga, along with cycling and being devoted to the cinema.