Budget Travel Tips for Singapore, with family!

I have so many lovely friends enquiring about Singapore visit and best budget itinerary that I thought it’s time to write a blog on this. Every June and December, tonnes of people come down to the most powerful Asian city. I thank my friends for keeping faith in my guidance and encouraging me to continue towards giving travel tips – some tell me to open travel agency too!

Singapore is an expensive city. I would say just a shade below Moscow and Paris. The grocery at Barcelona is 40% cheaper than Singapore and hence it’s not easy to plan a budget trip here.

However the Lion City has many positives, least of all some world-class features, which blow the mind away of tourists.

Singapore’s unmatchable safety levels, even in the middle of the night, further enhances its beauty. Picture clicked by my friend Sujoy Dutta

 

Zero tourist worries

  • Taxis here don’t rip. You can take a taxi and just mention the address in full and relax.
  • Safest city in the world. Night 2am if you are walking with short skirts in touristy districts, no one will even stare at you.
  • Cosmopolitan and cheap Food Courts. Economical food courts opened almost every nook and corner, some for 24hrs. Have cuisines ranging from Indian to Thai to Seafood to Korean to Japanese to Chinese to many else in every food court.
  • Excellent train and bus network. One EzLink card good enough for all travels.
  • Clean and neat city. Won’t get much stinking smell or dirt under your shoes.
  • Not much haggling culture.
  • No tipping culture. Thank heavens!
  • 100% people speak English or at least attempt to understand and help
  • Warm, friendly, polite and respectful locals.
  • Extreme well-mannered city – Speaking aloud is considered impolite. If you brush someone while walking, you are expected to say sorry.

Having jotted all the positive points, here’s the catch on other aspects.

Chinatown is a great place for cheap shopping and absorb the authentic Chinese culture

Stay at Singapore

Budget and Vegetarian/Indian

  • For vegetarian friends who prefer to stay at low-budget, there are a huge list of hotels in Little India, Farrer Park area. My tip would be Hotel Tai Hoe, Hotel Fortuna, Hotel Broadway, Hotel Perak, Hotel Arianna.

These hotels, that I listed, don’t mind you putting over capacity in rooms too. That is, a family of two adults and two kids will be allowed to check into a double bed room – as long as you’ll are able to fit in. These are budget hotels and bang next to Mustafa centre which gives you 24hrs access to shopping, food.  Plenty of vegetarian and Indian restaurants surround the area too.

A bit above budget stay

  • For the next level I would recommend Hotel ParkRoyal, Hotel Grand Imperial, Hotel Santa Grand series, Hotel Parc Sovereign, Hotel Innotel, Hotel Rendezvous, Hotel Aqueen series, Hotel Ibis, M Hotel.

What to avoid: Hotel 81 series, Hotel Fragrance series… these are primarily per hour hotels and my write-up is for family travel!

Indian Malay Thai or spicy Chinese cuisine – Singapore is a delight for foodies

Eat at Singapore

Food at budget prices is a challenge in most big cities of the world. But not at Singapore cause you have food courts! You taste all cuisines, you taste them at 6$-7$ per meal rates with non veg and drinks and with that you engulf yourself with the culture of Singapore. Food courts are there in every mall but do close at 9pm. Lao Pa Sat is a non AC food court, but it’s like a food temple and must visit!

For authentic street food like taste at low-budget restaurants for following cuisines, these are places in the touristy district.

  • Thai food – Ah Loy Thai, Beach Road
  • Sichuan Chinese food – Pagoda Street, Chinatown MRT
  • Malay Food – Malay Heritage Centre, near Bugis MRT.
  • Middle east food – Arab and Bussorah street, near Bugis MRT.
  • Seafood – Newton seafood centre
  • Veg Indian food – Raj Restaurant, Syed Alwi Road, near Farrer Park MRT
  • Spicy Indian food – Sankranti, Syed Alwi Road or Gayathri, Race course road, near Farrer Park MRT.
  • Indian Chinese – Jade of India, Farrer park MRT
  • Pakistani Food – Bar B Q Tonight, Roberts Lane, Farrer Park MRT

Food courts are still the best. Do note, Singapore food is a lot levelled to suite all nationalities, hence if you looking for that edgy spicy food, you will need to be at the restaurants above.

Your ideal itinerary

Am expecting you will finish office/school on a Friday evening and land at Singapore on a Saturday early morning. Most flights into Singapore land early mornings.

The Alive Museum Singapore is where kids go wild and adults get facebookie moments aplenty!

Saturday

  • Take taxi from airport to hotel (MRT could be crowded at that time plus a hassle with luggage and kids). Do not need to book taxi in advance etc.
  • Avoid theme parks on weekends.
  • Explore the area around your hotel and freshen-up after check in
  • Kids pick afternoon nap.
  • Early evening go to nearest MRT, buy EZLINK card and tap to Orchard road. Explore and walk down that road. Have a feel of what all you may want to buy. Weekends there are streaming crowds and tourists and it makes Orchard road a fun spot. Sit by the Wisma Atria mall fountains and at Ion Orchard steps; click pictures.
  • If you have time, take a bus /train to Bugis MRT. Shop at Bugis village (ideal for women shopping – junk jewellery and kids t-shirts)
  • Eat at any middle east joint there, as listed above.

 

Zoo , Bird Park, Night Safari – the shows are the best

Sunday

  • Head for the Bird Park. If you are staying around the Orchard road, then there are buses going straight to Bird Park or take a taxi. Do not take MRT as it’s a long day awaited. Taxis are cheapest on Sundays or weekday mornings.
  • Buy the 4-in-1 ticket as it’s the cheapest. Avoid River Safari, it’s not yet worth the time, although you have paid for it. So instead give more time to bird park, zoo and night safari. You can buy this ticket online before too.
  • Reach Bird park by 9am. Enjoy till 1pm, take the shuttle bus from Bird park to Zoo.
  • Watch Zoo from 2pm-6pm and then 6pm onwards Night Safari is just next door. So you cover three places in a day at cheapest possible ticket and low commute costs.
  • Both the Bird park and Zoo has decent low-priced food courts, so food no problem.
  • During your visits to Bird Park, Zoo and Night Safari – do watch as many shows as possible. The shows are the real highlight. Everything else you may have seen before.
  • Take a taxi back home. Everyone would be tired.
Singapore river taxi is the cheapest way to cruise

Monday

  • After a hectic Sunday, I would recommend a slow Monday for kids to recover. Laze around the morning and later go to Mustafa Centre for shopping for home (morning weekday hours only, or late night after 12am hours, else very crowded).
  • Early evening take a train to Promenade MRT. Walk to Suntec City tower and enjoy the Alive Museum.
  • After that walk down to the Singapore Flyer, admire and take pictures. Do not board it. It’s not worth the money.
  • Walk down to the Esplanade river taxi jetty (10 mins walk). Take the river taxi there (you will find the counter, check timings) and tap your EZ lInk card and sail to Robertson Quay station (last station).
  • It costs just 5$ by EZLink and you can enjoy a river cruise same as that of canals of Venice. You can see the Merlion, Marina Bay Sands and huge office towers all along the way and click pictures aplenty.
  • For family of four this would be the best 20$ you would have spent here. Just to give an idea the organised boat tours cost 20$ or more, per person.
  • As you reach the Robertson Quay area, walk down to the Clarke Quay area and dine somewhere there. Be careful its a very expensive river front to eat. For unique Singapore experience walk down to Lau Pa Sat food court.

 

Universal Studios is universal fun and universally popular

Tuesday

  • Its midweek and hence theme park day. Cover Universal studios and Sentosa Island today. Pack finger and easy food and water with you. Food at these places are super expensive.
  • Wake early, take a train to Harbourfront, go top floor and take Sentosa train to waterfront station. Walk to Universal studios and take 3-in-1 combo ticket for SEA Aquarium, Adventure Cove and the main theme park – better to buy tickets online in advance.
  • At universal studios there are many must see items but Transformers, Canopy flyer, Battle Star Galactica, Jurassic Park Rapids and Revenge of the Mummy. For kids, aside Transformers, Madagascar, Shrek 4D, Enchanted Airways, Magic Potion Spin are must dos. Some of them are worth multiple visits.
  • If by chance you are at Universal Studios on a weekend or a public holiday, then just concentrate on rides where the queues are shorter. So that by noon you feel sense of achieving something than just wasting standing in queues.
  • By 6pm you’ll will be tired with Universal Studios, so step out and visit any part of Sentosa you may want to see. Songs of the sea / Wings of Time is a must late evening visit.
  • You should be free by 7pm. Come out and take train to Harbour front MRT Vivocity.
  • Go atop the Vivocity mall. At top floor are pools worth only one feet deep and grassy areas to sit. Let kids dip in that pool and shake off the tiredness, adults can sit by the grass and rest.
  • Eat at food courts there.
  • Go hotel by taxi.
The Chinese New Year festivities is the biggest cultural event at Singapore. Typically happens in late Jan to mid Feb date range, depending on the calendar

Wednesday

  • Laze in the morning after a tough Tuesday and leave around 10am.
  • Hop to Harbourfront MRT again and walk to the cable car station.
  • Take the cable car ride one way, explore Sentosa Island more, the beaches, enjoy the Luge and Skyride – A beautiful and low-priced ride meant for entire family.
  • Take train to the SEA Aquarium (remember you had got the tickets yesterday!). Admire the aquarium.
  • Go to Adventure Cove waterpark and splash yourself.
  • Go back to hotel by Taxi
  • Go to Mustafa late night to complete your shopping list and gifts for friends.

 

Towering City, Asia’s most powerful city, Lion City, Singapore. DBS Bank tower stands tall in Marina Bay Financial Area.

Thursday

  • You maybe checking out today so laze in morning and enjoy hotel till the last hour they allow you to stay (assuming you checking out) – 12pm maybe.
  • Checkout and keep your luggage in hotel.
  • You have Marina Bay Sands and Gardens by the bay exterior portion (all free areas) to visit and the Chinatown streets.
  • Take MRT to Bayfront station to cover MBS and Gardens by Bay and then take train to Chinatown. Explore the Chinatown streets, eat at Pagoda street as mentioned above.
  • Later take train to hotel and pick luggage and off to the world’s best airport – Changi Airport!
Singapore Splendour! with air show view from Merlion! Picture clicked by my friend Sachin Rajat Sharma

Budget

Essentially the above schedule will budget to this:

  • Hotel stay 5 nights – 500$-700$ (for budget ones)
  • Eat 5 nights – 7$ X 4pax X 3times X 6days = 450$ approx assuming an odd restaurant bill but mainly food courts.
  • EZ Link card fill for train, bus and boat tours – 4pax X 30 = 150$ with buffer
  • Taxi to hotel & airport, zoo return and two sentosa returns = 200$ with buffer
  • 4-in-1 Zoo, Bird Park, River safari and Night Safari tickets = 62 X 4= 250$
  • 3-in1 Universal Studios, Adventure Cove and SEA Aquarium tickets= 115 *4 = 500$
  • Basic gift shopping = 250$

All included comes to roughly 2500$ SGD = 1850 USD = 1600 Euros for a 5 night stay where you would have taken adequate taxi rides for comfort, shopped a bit for friends and families, visited seven parks, a cable car ride and river cruise as well as soaked yourself in the culture, food and magic of Singapore.

What say? Start packing and keep all family smart and safe travel tips in mind!

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26 thoughts on “Budget Travel Tips for Singapore, with family!

  1. I am a solo traveller who loves to click, try variety dishes and have fun. How to make the best out of Singapore in 3 days and nights? What would be the budget? How can I club a nearby place (say, Malaysia) for 3 more additional days?

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Vignesh
    Assuming you are a Budget non veg eating traveller this is what I reccomend
    – stay in Chinatown / Outram Park area
    – Day 1 explore Clarke Quay, Orchard road areas and be at Orchard towers (on Orchard road) by 10pm. It’s the place to be for singles.
    – Day 2 explore the biggies like say bird park plus zoo plus night safari OR universal studios plus Sentosa plus SEA aquarium. At night 8pm plus go to the Geylang area station Al Junaid). That’s the place to be. Eat at Food courts there for good food too.
    – Day 3 Marina Bay Sands, Gardens by the Bay, Little India and Chinatown.
    – Day 4 take a bus to Kualalumpur (book tickets online or advance barely 30$ and business class level seats).
    – stay in Bukit Bintang or ChowKit/Sentral area. Both good and Budget places for solo.
    – Day 1 cover Petronas KL tower by foot. Visit the tech mall Low Yat Plaza for tech stuff to buy.
    – Day 2 take train to Batu caves and also can cover Pink mosque aka Putra Mosque and if have time then hike on FRIM too and over canopy bridge.
    – Day 3 laze around and complete your shopping and depart for home.

    Other recommendation is Singapore plus Bangkok (cheap airfare and half way back towards India) which would make more sense. Or Singapore and Phuket.

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  3. I have stayed at Deluxe Hotel several times .I found it to be quite comfortable and budget friendly . Then the Restaurant at Clark Quay is worth a visit where the Nans and Dal are cheaper than what they cost at the iconic restaurant ITC in New Delhi . And finally, can you tell me the name of the Restaurant where NaMo dined with the PM of Singapore during his travel ?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. ArunJi I just noticed while I had Grand Apollo in mind I have not listed it above. Instead I put Gayatri restaurant which is just next to grand apollo. The reason being grand apollo banana leaf is tied up with many tours and travels packages so often it’s 100% packed n waiting queues. Gayatri is very popular around 10% cheaper, spicier and has 50-80% capacity full so one can get seats easily.

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    1. Avijit : Somehow, Annapoorna keeps coming to my mind . Is there an Indian restaurant or a chain of restaurants with that name in SPR ? There was one I visited quite often , it is in the basement on a busy street , full of hotels .Very delciious food at an affordable price . Cannot remember , last time I travelled to SPR was some 13 years ago , then I stayed at Suntec City – Pan Pacific Hotel .

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  5. Hi.
    Your blog on Singapore is very helpful. I’m planning to travel Singapore and Malaysia for 4 Nights each together with my parents, on a Wednesday afternoon I will be landing in Singapore and will be staying at Hotel Fortuna. PLZ SUGGEST ME A-MUST VISIT PLACES to Visit Both in Singapore and Malaysia within budget. As my parents are in their 50’s, plz suggest accordingly.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Arifa
      Fortuna is next to Mustafa n Little India area so your shopping and food needs automatically get taken care.
      Wednesday you may want to rest n wall around with aged parents than risk a full day outing. If you can then take a train to Dhoby Ghaut and walk down Orchard road or train to Clarke quay walk down that area and click lots of pics
      Thursday great day to to visit any theme park of you want to. Universal studios full Thursday. Return n rest by 6pm.
      Friday take taxi to bird park. Buy a 3 in 1 ticket. Give full day to bird park. It’s best in world.
      Saturday leave late say 1pm take taxi to zoo. Watch zoo till 6pm and 6pm shift to night safari (remember you already have a 3in1 ticket). Watch night safari till 8pm n reach hotel 9pm.
      Note: if not doing theme park or any zoo etc then use in Clarke quay boating and see Marina Bay Sands, gardens by Bay and flyer. None are worth entering but great for clicks.
      All Mustafa shopping do middle of night as its empty then, alternately I would recco shop at KL relatively cheaper.
      Sunday you reach KL. explore Bukit Bintang area
      Monday – hire a car and have a religious tour – see the batu caves (climb of 300 steps involved) but worth the temple views. Then see the iron mosque and the beautiful pink mosque also called Putra mosque. These two Mosques are more unique than the grand central mosque. Finish the day with a Chinese temple visit at Bangsar.
      Tuesday rest early and start post lunch then walk to aquarium klcc and show parents the aquarium experience. After that walk to KL tower n take tickets to top and view. Evening walk upto Petronas and sit on lawns next to the tower. Spend time talking. Count the stars. Do small Picnic. Admire Petronas by nights.
      Wednesday dedicate to soaking the city culture food and shop. You will be leaving next day so best to relax and have a feel of people things and food. Do a mini food tour or go Chinatown and shop or just shop in Bukit Bintang area. Check out the electronics mall low yat plaza if any electronics to buy or sungei Wang.
      Thursday – fly out.

      I have purposely not crammed your scheduled and kept enough rest period seeing you are with parents. Enjoy. SG and KL will have halal food in plenty so don’t worry at all n feel free to ask around anything. Both countries have extremely friendly people.

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  6. Dear Mr. Patnaik,
    We will be 4 couples going to Singapore, Malaysia & Langkawi for 8N/9D. 3 nights Singapore, 3 nights Malaysia & 2 nights Langkawi.
    We will be reaching Singapore at 12.30 pm on the 1st day. We will be reaching Kuala Lumpur at 1.30 pm on the 4th day, Langkawi at 11.30 am on the 7th. and leaving Kuala Lumpur at 9.30 pm for our return journey.
    We would request you to please plan and kindly provide a detailed itinerary for our above tour.
    Thanks,
    Vijay Kumar Baranwal

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This is good trip and congrats. What I would suggest is since you’ll see couples n no kids is different itinerary
      Day 1 – checkin rest visit Orchard road n Clarke Quay n Marina Bay Sands
      Day 2 – buy the 3-in-1 ticket at bird park at 9am. See bird park till 1pm, then shuttle to zoo. See zoo till 6pm, then night safari next door.
      Day 3 – Little india shopping, Bugis shopping, Chinatown shopping, Sentosa maybe
      Day 4 – KL Petronas by the evening and aquarium (cheaper than SG one)
      Day 5 – Batu caves, pink Putra mosque, Chinese temple .. make it a religious trip day with three awesome places. Book a cab
      Day 6 – KL tower and roam and shop around Bukit Bintang area chill out
      Day 7 – head for the awesome cable car and ither suggtseeing points
      Day 8 – mangrove tour in the morning which is must do. Evening spend by sea waves and beach. The only missing thing in your trip so far
      Day 9 – bye bye

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      1. Dear Mr. Patnaik,
        Thanks for your reply. It seems you have misunderstood our tour program. It is 3N Singapore, 3N Kuala Lumpur & 2N Langkawi. You have missed Langkawi
        You have also missed Universal Studio in Singapore itenary.
        Please advise.
        Thanks,
        Vijay Kumar Baranwal

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Ok wasn’t sure universal studio could appeal to couples then Day 3 USS and late in evening Chinatown and Little India for shopping

        Day 7- onwards mentioned for Langkawi.. cable car atop bridge where SRK Don movie was shot + sightseeing + half day mangrove tour are must dos at Langkawi

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  7. Hello Avijit,

    Good day to you.
    Request you to kindly advise in planning my Singapore Itinerary for 6N/7D. We are four of us. (2 Adults and 2 Children – 13 & 14 yrs of age).
    Travel date : 16th Apr to 22nd Apr’17
    Arrival Singapore – 4.30 pm
    Stay – Near Silat Avenue.
    We are four of us is it ideal to purchase Ez link card / Tourist Pass / travel by taxi.
    It would be great if you advise us datewise.

    Thank you.
    Regards,
    Rajani

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’ll are four adults almost so a taxi fits four. Just download Grab or Uber taxi applications and use them to book taxi here. Finding train stations buying tickets and all that walking time won’t be worth the savings. Take taxi and travel mostly between 10am to 5pm for cheapest unbelievable rates.

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  8. Hi Avijit,
    Thanks, this blog is really helpful.
    I had planned itinerary as below, kindly advise if its ok
    4 Adults : Self, My Mom (62 years), Daughter (14 years), Son (15 years)

    16th Apr’2017 Arrival at 4.30pm and reach Silat Avenue by 7 pm

    17th Apr’2017 Singapore Flyer, Marina Bay (Top Floor – Sunset View), Marina Bay Sands Skypark, Flower Dome, Cloud Forest (Tram Ride), Bay by Garden
    18th Apr’2017 Singapore Zoo (include Tram Ride), River Safari, Night Safari & Merylion Park
    19th Apr’2017 Universal Studio/ Sea Aquarium
    20th Apr’2017 Sentosa – 4D Adventure Land (3 choose 1), Sentosa Luge and Skyride, Dolphin Discovery, Evening – Little India
    21st Apr’2017 Singapore Science Center & Jurong Bird Park (Include tram ride)
    22nd Apr’2017 Sightseeing nearby area and check-out 19.00
    Please advise, I really don’t if the above plan is on right direction.

    Regards,
    Rajani

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You have a 62yr Mom so give her a relax holiday than stress her much.
      Singapore Flyer is overrated and very ordy. The same views you will see from MBS SkyPark. Save your money from exile SG do Singapore Flyer. Cover Merlion same day as MBS. Rather take a boat ride from MBS at 15$ you will get breathtaking canal views as seen in Amsterdam or Venice.

      Gardens by the Bay has a massive free area. It’s next to MBS so minimal walking. You needn’t pay extra for the cloud forest etc.

      River safari is nonsense. But when you go to zoo buy the 4-in-1 ticket (can buy from internet also) and skip river safari. Ticket is economical and go to zoo around 12 pm (laze in morning, eat heavy Bfast). Watch zoo from 1-6pm. Watch the shows – a must. Then 6pm shift to night safari next door.
      Bird park n SG science centre is perfect. Your kids will love n appreciate science centre.
      Universal is perfect but rethink about Sentosa. It will be sunny hot and dolphin show is utter crap. You may want to roam Bugis village, Little India area the Temples the Chinese Temples and the parks instead. Try putting the free botanical gardens one of the evenings say from 4pm. It’s beautiful.

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  9. hi, can you suggest itinerary for us…2 adults and 3 kids (11,7,4 yrs old)? Will be arrival Saturday 12 noon. What can you suggest for our Sat & Sun activities? then husband will have seminar at San Marina Bay on Monday to Wednesday. Also please suggest activities during night by Monday to Tuesday since thats the free time for hubby to go with us…Whats the best & budgeted place to stay near San Marina Bay since that’s the training venue.’
    Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Marie
      Stay near Chinatown station you have a Budget hotels like porcelain, bliss, grand santa which are relatively close to MBS. However looking at your family composition, you may need two rooms (assuming you 4 stay together) so airbnb is more reccomended.
      Sat – rest, gardens by Bay and MBS and walk to hotel. Let family be familiar with both hotels connected routes. Explore Chinatown area. Also visit Lau Pa Sat food court which should be between both the hotels. It’s a must visit and repeat visit. Budget foodcourt with many many food options. Costa Rican to Japan!
      Sun – go to bird park 9am, buy 4-in-1 ticket from window, then proceed to zoo at 1pm by shuttle bus then walk to night safari at 6pm.
      Mon – Bugis village and Little India browse. I keep it light as Sunday will be packed.
      Tues – best day for family to cover universal studios in morning, less crowd. Evening just rest n be around Clarke quay area. Dine there in any cheaper outlet.
      Wed evening botanical gardens in late noon, and Orchard road area with Husband at evening

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