Singapore is one of the most expensive countries in Southeast Asia, and you could definitely have a luxurious vacation here if you wanted to spend that kind of money. But you really don’t need much money at all to get the full local experience.
You’re probably looking at $15-$25 USD a night, which is still much more expensive than Thailand or Vietnam. But it’s doable and much better than Western European prices.
Hawker centers are basically huge, diverse food courts. You can easily get a full meal for under $6 USD and they have some of the best food I’ve ever had. Hawker centers began as a way to regulate formerly unhygienic street hawker food. Now they’re a staple and some food stalls even have Michelin stars. My favorite hawker center was Lau Pa Sat, which is probably the most popular choice. It’s also a very local experience as many of the local business people eat here.
Public transit in Singapore is the way to go. It’s efficient and cheap (half the cost of the subway in New York). It’s also cleaner than anywhere I’ve been in Europe for sure!
Marina Bay Sands
Go to the top and take in the views. We got drinks, but you can actually go up for free and look over a small (but crowded) balcony that’s open to the public. Beats spending $500 a night to stay there.
Gardens by the Bay
This is completely free and one of my favorite thing to do in Singapore. You could definitely spend hours here. I went both at night and during the day and I just couldn’t get enough. If you don’t have a lot of time, try and go at night because the lights are beautiful.
The Botanical Gardens are also free to the public. There are some gardens that cost extra, but we were already so overwhelmed with all of the free options that it’s hard to imagine getting bored.
Explore the Neighborhoods of Singapore
Walk around Chinatown, Little India, and Arab Street to absorb the local street culture. Singapore is all about the immersion of different cultures. Be sure to check out the local food, architecture, and shops.