The unique city-state at the extreme tip of Southeast Asia’s Malay Peninsula is a thriving financial hub known for its safety, conservatism, incredible contemporary architecture, and a world-class airport. Yet, one thing Singapore is not known for is budget getaways.
From the futuristic Gardens by the Bay to the majestic Marina Sands hotel and the tropical Sentosa Island, Singapore offers endless excitement, but you might just need deeper pockets to enjoy it. The prosperous port is one of Asia’s economic “tigers” with one of the highest average GDPs per capita in the world, so just how expensive is Singapore?
Visiting this island puts you among more than 500,000 millionaires who call it home. Still, Singapore doesn’t have to break the bank and we’re here to show you how to navigate the island city-state with tightened purse strings. From where to stay to what to eat and avoiding excess costs in “The Fine City”, it’s all here. Let’s get into it.
The average cost of a holiday in Singapore
There are a thousand reasons to visit the vibrant, modern, forever-changing, and impeccably clean nation of Singapore. Wildly unique in being a sovereign island, state, and country, Singapore joins an exclusive list of exceptionally small but exceptionally rich municipalities alongside Switzerland, Qatar, Luxembourg, Monaco, and so on.
With a GDP per capita of over $82,000 USD, it is one of the richest countries on the globe by purchasing power parity, making it an alluring place to settle and earn a living. Yet with wealth comes high taxes, expensive services, and pricey imported goods.
Singapore constantly earns a spot near the top of lists comprising the world’s most expensive places to live, so what does this mean for your prospective holiday, and are there any ways to save? It’s true that Singapore is far more expensive than most Southeast Asian cities, especially backpacking havens like Bangkok, Hoh Chi Minh City, and Siem Reap, but you’ll find it to be largely similar in price to many western capitals, and sometimes even cheaper.
Based on other travelers’ experiences, a seven-day trip to Singapore costs a solo visitor around $1,300 SG ($950 USD), $2,000 SG ($1,500 USD) for a couple and $4,300 SG ($3,200 USD) for a family of four. This means you should budget around $165 SG ($120 USD) per day for all your expenses, with food coming to around $40 SG ($30) for the average traveler and transport costing no more than $15 SG ($10 USD).
This might not sound like too much, but how you spend depends on what sort of traveler you are. Staying in budget accommodation like the city’s many hostels or HDB flatshares and eating in Hawker centers will help you save, while waterfront apartments in upmarket areas and the Central Business District restaurants can really break the bank.
Before we get into all that, let’s take a look at some daily expenses you can expect from a vacation to Singapore:
|Price (SG)||Price (USD)|
|Inexpensive Meal (restaurant)||15.00||11.00|
|Mid-range Meal for 2 (restaurant)||80.00||58.00|
|Takeaway Cappucino (restaurant)||6.00||4.40|
|Coke Bottle (supermarket)||2.00||1.46|
|Water Bottle (supermarket)||1.40||1.00|
|City Highlights Tour (Hall Day)||345.00||250.00|
Is Singapore expensive to visit? Getting There
So you’ve made the easy decision of visiting Singapore, but the first hurdle to cross is how to get there, and if the journey will be feasible for you. This all depends on where you’re coming from, but your flights aren’t the only cost affected by this.
Singapore’s Changi Airport is one of Asia’s best-connected airports and is often deemed the most impressive in the world. With the tallest indoor waterfall on the planet and an endless list of restaurants, shops, and attractions, the airport is a luxury lifestyle hub and a great introduction to what Singapore has to offer.
You won’t get to experience the best of the airport until you leave, but it can provide endless entertainment for layovers with swimming pools, spas, cinemas, a gym, gardens, and even places to sleep. But you’re probably wondering if flying into the most famous airport in the world comes at a higher cost.
The truth is, flying into Singapore is no more expensive than flying into any other capital city, it just all depends on the distance. You can fly from London with a return for $550 SG ($400 USD), depending on the time of year, New York for $825 SG ($600 USD) return, despite the distance, and Perth in Western Australia, which is just five hours by air from the island, for as little as $400 SG ($300 USD). There is also regular air traffic into Singapore from most European countries, the Middle East, other regions in Australia, and North America.
Singapore is also connected by train to Malaysia, Johor Bahru, and Kuala Lumpur, with a route from Bangkok connecting in the Malaysian capital. You can also drive from Malaysia or take the public bus which runs from 5 am until midnight every day. The five-hour sleeper train from Kuala Lumpar costs $80 SG ($58 USD) for a regular cabin, and $50 SG ($36 USD) for children, while the bus costs as little as $20 SG ($15 USD) and takes six hours.
These costs are surprisingly reasonable for the distance and the luxury associated with Singapore, although the service in Kuala Lumpur is likely not to be up to the same standard. However, there are 37 nationalities that require a Visa to enter Singapore for any length of time. These comprise much of Africa, the Middle East, and Eastern Europe, including Egypt, Belarus, Ukraine, Moldova, Morocco, India, Kosovo, Armenia, and Jordan.
Visas can be expensive and come with multiple processing fees. Travelers from the UK, North America, Australia, and Western Europe tend to not require a Visa for stays less than 90 days, but you will need a special stay permit if you plan to be in Singapore for longer than three months.
Accommodation Prices in Singapore
After travel, accommodation is the next big cost to consider. When it comes to Singapore, this is where prices can soar. You can always find a good deal if you book far in advance and track the market. Singapore is also home to a number of hostels that tourists can sometimes overlook with all the flashy and modern high-rise hotels. Don’t be afraid of budget accommodation and look for vacation rentals outside the upscale Marina Bay and Sentosa Island.
For a well-reviewed hotel in the mid-range price category, travelers will be looking at $160 SG ($116 USD) to $250 SG ($182 USD) a night. While vacation rentals in the city range from $50 SG ($43 USD) to $260 SG ($190 USD), averaging at around $105 SG ($76 USD) a night. On the other hand, you can still get a taste of contemporary Singapore in budget accommodation.
Like other highly-modern countries such as Japan, Singapore is known for its micro-apartments, and capsule hostels are particularly popular with shoestring travelers. They might seem a bit claustrophobic, but they’re a bucket list stay for anyone. These luminescent sleeping pods start from around $50 SG ($36 USD) a night, and backpacker hostels are slightly cheaper with dorms from $44 SG ($32 USD).
Whatever your budget, check out some of these different accommodations options in Singapore to suit every traveler:
OSS Backpacker Hostel ($) – Small, friendly dorms and a laid-back traveler atmosphere for just $42 SG ($30 USD) a night in the scenic Lavender district.
Galaxy Pods Capsule Hotel Boat Quay ($) – Right in the center of Boat Quay, these futuristic space pods come equipped with double beds, mounted televisions, surround sound, and air conditioning, just 200 meters from the Statue of Sir Stamford Raffles. Prices start from $80 SG ($58 USD) a night.
JEN Singapore Shangri La ($$) – The best hotel in this price range, the Shangri La is an established hotel group, offering deluxe rooms, a private pool, and a world-class restaurant in the heart of Ochardgateway. Prices start from $170 SG ($124 USD) a night.
Village Hotel Bugis by Far East ($$) – Clean and convenient four-star accommodation in a towering high-rise in Kampong Glam. Offering it’s own pool terrace and great metro access, superior rooms start from $200 SG ($145 USD) a night.
ParkRoyal Collection Pickering ($$$) – Right in the heart of Singapore’s bustling Chinatown, this luxury five-star hotel is worth the splurge. With a wellness center, outdoor pool, rooftop terrace, and a 300-meter garden skywalk, ParkRoyal embraces the Singaporean way. Deluxe doubles start at $440 SG ($320 USD) a night.
Is Singapore expensive for food and drink?
Singapore is well-known for the luxury lifestyle it sells and its upscale neighborhoods offering all manner of amenities. If you’re planning to eat in fancy restaurants, bars, and hotels like many visitors and business personnel choose to do in Singapore, your vacation can get expensive very quickly. But what people often overlook is that Singapore also has its fair share of local food courts and what is called, Hawker centers, that can really help you save on food and drink.
You’ll need around $40 SG ($30 USD) a day to spend on food, based on the spending habits of other travelers. A three-course meal can cost upwards of $50 SG ($36 USD), but you can dine at an inexpensive restaurant for $15 SG ($11 USD) per person, with a good meal in a Hawker center costing as little as $6 SG ($4.30 USD) and another $6 SG ($4.30 USD) for a big bottle of beer.
Alcohol can cost a little more as it is heavily taxed and rarely cheap anywhere in the city. A drink at a bar costs between $12-$20 SG ($9-15 USD) but happy hour rates are cheaper and backpacker hostels will have plenty of these. Wine is especially pricey and you should expect to pay close to $10 SG ($7 USD) for a glass in a restaurant.
When is the best time to visit Singapore?
Singapore, with its warm tropical climate, is a year-round destination. Still, with two distinct seasons, you’ll want to avoid the rain but also the peak prices if possible.
The dry season runs from February to April and is when Singapore experiences the least amount of rain, lowest humidity, and the most sunshine. May onwards sees heavy rainfall sweep into Singapore, but this also makes July and August the cheapest months to visit as tourism is at its lowest.
If you want the best of both worlds, consider visiting between December and February, and April to June, for plenty of sunshine, less rain, and better deals.
Singapore on a Budget: Top 7 Money-Saving Tips
- Know the law – Singapore is known as “The Fine City”, with so many financial penalties given out for offenses that western governments turn a blind eye to. Make sure you observe what people are doing around you, but bear in mind you can’t litter, smoke, or eat in public in most places in the city.
- Don’t buy bottled water – The tap water in Singapore is of exceptional quality. Don’t waste money on the expensive imported stuff and get a reusable receptacle.
- Don’t tip – Tipping isn’t impolite, but it’s not necessary for Singapore. Your bill will almost always have a Goods and Services tax included and salaries for waiting staff are pretty high in Singapore. Keep your extra change and avoid leaving gratuity.
- Make the most of free attractions – From the Botanic Gardens to the Punggol Waterway, temples, and statues, there’s a lot to do in Singapore that will cost you nothing. Do your research and don’t miss out on free sites.
- Eat at food courts and Hawker centers – A common misconception about Singapore is that it is all fancy restaurants and zero street food. While street stalls are banned, food courts and Hawker centers are great budgets, and local alternatives with meals starting from $5 SG.
- Skip the taxis – Taxis are surprisingly inexpensive in Singapore but don’t let this distract you from the fast and efficient public transport system that is even cheaper. There are metro stops everywhere so jump on the MRT whenever you can.
- Minimize drinking – Alcohol is heavily taxed in Singapore and the drinking culture isn’t huge. Make the most of a chance to detox and do as the locals do – cap your nights at one or two drinks.
Is Singapore Expensive? Our Verdict
It might be ranked the second-most expensive place in the world, and accommodation, food, and world-renowned attractions can definitely set you back, but there are ways to save in Singapore. Booking in advance and planning your trip extensively will allow you to cut spending corners and it won’t break the bank. From hostels to public transport, local food, and free attractions, there are tons to do on a budget, and as long as you familiarise yourself with local customs and law, there’s no reason for any unexpected costs to jump out on you in Singapore.