Thrift shopping, cheap brunch and high tea, happy hour deals, free art exhibits, nature reserves and hiking trails, hawker food – we could go on and on about exploring Singapore on a shoestring!
Singapore’s hardly the most affordable country to live in. Rent is exorbitant, alcohol expensive, and dining out can cost you a pretty penny. While we do enjoy a bit of the high life, finding affordable ways to indulge in our island life doesn’t hurt either! From thrift shopping and cheap food, to free events that will give you a priceless experience – here’s a list of 25 budget-friendly activities in Singapore.
1) Go thrift shopping
Only got $20 in your pocket? Wanna get pumped about some swag from the thrift shop? While you probably won’t find gator shoes and a leopard mink, a trip to thrift shops like the Loewen Gardens Farmers Market will bag you sweet deals on lots of pre-loved vintage clothes. Spend a little more, and you might find retro cameras and watches that are still in serviceable condition.
2) Visit the National Gallery Singapore
Can’t tell Picasso from Pollack? Da Vinci from Dali? Perhaps it’s time you get a little dose of culture at National Gallery Singapore. Boasting 10 galleries (two of which are permanent exhibits), the museum is bound to offer an exhibition that’ll pique your interest. Of course, with 690,000 sq. ft. to explore, it’s easy to get lost, so we’ve put together a handy museum guide that’ll make things a little easier. Best part? Entry is free for Singaporeans and PRs, so make use of those ICs!
3) Go on a picnic
It’s easy to forget that Singapore’s “Garden City” nickname is well-deserved after spending countless rush hours on public transport. So give your mind and soul a well-deserved break and go on a picnic. Prep a couple of sarnies and maybe even a bottle of wine (just don’t drink it from a plastic cup, you’re better than that!), and take in the greenery at breezy picnic spots like MacRitchie Reservoir, East Coast Park and Marina Barrage.
4) Catch an indie flick at The Projector
We love a good ‘Baysplosion’-filled blockbuster or sappy rom-com every now and then. But sometimes, we’d rather go to The Projector to catch a bold art-house film that would make the hardiest of critics shed a tear. Regular tickets go for $13, but seniors (55 and above), students, National Servicemen, and domestic workers get concession tickets at $11.
5) Unlock discount hacks with this nifty app
Some might say that it’s impossible to snag good deals in Singapore because of how expensive services can be, but here’s a local app that will make your wallet feel all warm and ‘fuzzie’. Download Fuzzie via the App Store or Google Play, and you’ll get access to money-saving cashback deals from over hundreds of brand partners ranging from fitness and shopping, to f&b and taxis.
Offering the highest cashback deals around (up to 40%), Fuzzie lets you purchase a gift card from your desired brand, which you can then easily redeem either online or in person. Best part? You can use the cashback you earn for future purchases, or cash it straight into your bank account if you’d rather reel in your spending. See? You don’t always need to splurge on services in Singapore.
6) Save big bucks with killer happy hour deals
Kick back with your colleagues and knock back a coupla cold ones on the cheap with some of the many happy hour offers available on the island. We’ve done the legwork for you, so here’s our mega happy hour list. Bottoms up!
7) Explore Singapore’s Islands
If it’s adventure you’re after, hop on a bumboat and be taken back to the ’60s at Pulau Ubin. If you’ve already been there and done that, head out a bit further to the Sisters Islands Marine Park for a bit of snorkelling. If you’re lucky, you might even see a pod of wild dolphins!
8) Take a hike
You don’t have to pay a penny to enjoy a hike along the scenic Southern Ridges, or to go for a spot of bird-watching at the Sungei Buluh Wetland Reserve. Want to take that much-neglected mountain bike out for a spin? Slap on some mosquito repellent and head over to The Green Corridor. We’ve put together a more comprehensive guide on Singapore’s best hiking trails here.
9) Enjoy ladies night offers
Ladies are especially lucky when it comes to drink deals. One-for-one deals, free-flow prosecco and $10 martinis are just the tip of the iceberg. Ditch the dudes, gather your girlfriends, and check out our best ladies nights in town.
10) Get a whole new look without breaking the bank
Clothes make the man, so if your wardrobe is starting to look a little shabby, up your game and pick out a whole new outfit for under $200 with our guide to affordable men’s fashion. We haven’t forgotten the ladies of course; gussy up with our makeup edition of Splurge vs. Steal for affordable alternatives to the latest cult cosmetics.
11) Catch a free concert at The Esplanade
The National Gallery might be a bastion of the visual arts, but if it’s theatre or music that makes your heart sing, Singapore’s iconic Theatres by Bay should be a prime pick for some weekend entertainment. Often, you’ll find free events ranging from concerts to recitals, and cultural performances as well as the occasional visual arts exhibition.
12) Bargain hunt at Mustafa Shopping Centre
A haven to bargain hunters and volume shoppers, Mustafa Shopping Centre is the one-stop mega-mall for pretty much all your needs, including a hodgepodge of fountain pens and fishing rods. The real treasure here is to be found in the groceries section – you’ll find curry mixes and spices for all manner of Indian and Middle Eastern cuisines at bargain prices.
13) Go on a weekender
It’s easy to take for granted that Singapore, despite it’s status as the most expensive city in the world, is in a prime location for weekend jaunts to some of the world’s most popular holiday destinations. What’s more, keeping your costs down doesn’t mean you have to skimp on creature comforts thanks to these affordable boutique hotels in Southeast Asia.
14) Grab an affordable meal during your lunch break
As much as we love our jobs, one of our favourite parts of the workday is grabbing a nice hearty lunch to power through the rest of the afternoon. Unfortunately, lunch here can cost a pretty penny if you’re in the mood for something other than hawker fare. Being long time city slickers, we’ve rounded up our favourite CBD restos and eateries with affordable lunchtime deals.
15) Enjoy an exciting night out for <$100
Too lazy to plan your budget excursion? Or maybe you’re a backpacker who just can’t decide where to start? Lucky for you, we’ve put together a fuss-free itinerary for a night out in the Garden City, all for under a hundred dollars.
16) BYOB at these restaurants
Corkage charges can add a huge chunk to a bill, so it’s always a bonus to be able to whip out your fave bottle of vino at great restaurants that don’t charge for BYOB. Now all you need to do is figure out what pairs best with your chilli crab.
17) Seek out our hawker legends
Whether it’s Ah Hock’s Hokkien mee or char kway teow from the famous Armenian Street stall, hunting down these hawker stalwarts is a great way to treat yourself after clocking off work, and tasting first-hand the heart of local food culture. Despite their iconic status, you’ll still get to grab a filling, tasty meal that won’t set you back much. Chances are, you’ve already got your own favourite neighbourhood hawker centres.
18) Treat yourself to a cheap weekend brunch
Arguably our favourite meal, a late afternoon brunch is a great way to usher in the weekend. So sort out those cravings,with our cheap brunch guide, and fill up on eggs Benny, sarnies and French toasts.
19) Visit Singapore’s architectural icons
In a span of a hundred years, Singapore has transformed itself from colonial jewel to a city of glass and concrete. A happy side-effect of that is our vibrant architecture – ranging from black and white colonial buildings and classical Chinese temples, to our Gotham-esque Parkview Square. Fancy a bit of site-seeing? We’ll help add a couple of likes to your Instagram feed with our guide to Singapore’s most stunning buildings.
20) Have an affordable staycay
In a city dotted with swish hotels, there are affordable options too – and they aren’t lacking in style or quality either. From cosy shophouses to industrial-inspired rooms, we suss out the best affordable boutique hotels in Singapore.
21) Up your Instagram game
You know what costs nothing at all? Snapping photos with your phone. But don’t just go trigger-happy without any backdrop in mind; we’ve lined the top Instagram-worthy spots in Singapore that will give your friends feed envy. Don’t wanna hop around the island so much? Check out these Instagrammable neighbourhoods: Katong and Joo Chiat, Dakota Crescent, Bras Basah-Bugis, and Sentosa.
22) Spruce up your home without the splurge
Housing in Singapore isn’t the cheapest, but shopping for furniture to pimp up your pad doesn’t need to leave you broke. Score points in interior design with these cheap furniture shops in Singapore, for everything from sofas and beds to lighting and rugs. Looking for a Van Gogh that won’t make you go “oh no”? There is also affordable art in Singapore, and we tell you where to get them.
23) Pamper yourself at these affordable spas
Granted, Singapore is an unforgivingly fast-paced city, and the stress that comes with it certainly warrants a spa day for some R&R. But if the thought of facials and massages (the price tag, more specifically) stresses you out even more, you can rest easy. Singapore also has its fair share of affordable spas you can hole up in. Your sanctuary awaits.
24) Bike around the city
Public transport in Singapore is already one of the cheapest in the world, but what if you prefer to be two-wheelin’ and you can’t stand being crammed in buses and trains? Cue the latest public transport phenomenon that’s hit the streets: bike-sharing. Not only are these easily accessible and abundant, but they’re also easy on the wallet as you’re charged by the amount of time spent using the bikes, which are tracked with an app.
25) Enjoy a cheap and chic high tea sesh
The traditional afternoon high tea, a great British tradition, isn’t usually easy on one’s wallet… unless you know where to look. So stick your pinkies out and check out our round-up of the swankiest high tea buffets that won’t break the bank.