This post was updated in May 2019.
Singapore is a city-state in Southeast Asia, small in size but so much fun to visit! It was totally different than the other countries we visited in Southeast Asia (Philippines, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Laos and Malaysia). I absolutely loved spending 4 days in Singapore, maybe because it was so different.
Different how? Well, just a couple of things on the top of my head…
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Singapore is very organized!
From the moment I arrived at the airport it became very clear that Singapore is extremely organized:
- Information is listed in 4 languages (English, Mandarin, Tamil and Malay).
- Getting through customs and getting a stamp in my passport is effortless because of the ingenious system of automatically opening gates with red and green lights.
- There is a free shuttle train taking us to the terminal where the MRT (Mass Rapid Transport) departs to the city center. What a difference with Manila, where the absence of a free shuttle and a total lack of cash had me in tears.
Singapore is very clean!
Southeast Asia is great, really, I loved it! But it’s not clean… There is so much (plastic) trash lying next to the roads, floating in the water and piled up in the city streets.
Not in Singapore though, the city is spotless! Bins everywhere, grass that looks so straight like it has been cut with a nail clipper (I wouldn’t be surprised if it actually is;-), clean and maintained buildings, the newest cars and the shiniest malls…
(Public) transport in Singapore is very reliable!
Everyone who has been to Southeast Asia knows that even though the driver of the minivan/bus/tuktuk/etc. says he’ll take you from point A to point B, you never know exactly where you are going to end up.
Like the time I bought a bus ticket from Luang Prabang to Vang Vieng and was dropped off at Vang Vieng’s new bus station. Which is ‘conveniently’ located 2km out of town. And obviously jam-packed with friendly tuktuk drivers willing to take you to the city center. For a friendly price that is…
Or the time I thought I booked transportation from Hue to Hoi An and it turned out to be a full-blown tour taking the entire day.
Or that time in the Philippines, when I booked a ticket with Roro bus that was supposed to be so many things and turned out the be the complete opposite of those things.
None of this ‘nonsense’ in Singapore. In Singapore there is the easy to understand-communicated-in-4-languages-always-on-time-super-reliable-MRT.
I could probably go on for a while but let’s just say it was a nice change of pace. And funnily enough I found myself missing the chaos of Southeast Asia after a couple of days in structured Singapore:-)
How to visit Singapore on a budget
Let me tell you about the budget needed for Singapore first before showing you around the city:-).
Worth it? Totally!
Singapore itinerary and travel budget: facts and figures
- I traveled in Singapore with my husband, all expenses are for the two of us together.
- We spent 4 days in Singapore. We arrived by plane from Bangkok and left by bus to Johor Bahru in Malaysia.
- I quote prices in Singapore Dollar (SGD) as well as € and $. The SGD is a pretty stable currency, but of course there are some variations in the exchange rate. When we visited (in May 2015) €1 was approximately 1,50SGD and $1 around 1,40SGD.
- In total we spent 560SGD (€372/$400) in the 4 days we were in the country, which is an average of 140SGD (€93/$100) a day and includes all expenses in Singapore plus transportation costs to Johor Bahru bus terminal. Costs for the flight from Bangkok to Singapore are not included.
Our Singapore expenses are made up of costs for accommodation, transport, food and activities
- Accommodation: 43% of daily costs
- Transportation: 9% of daily costs
- Food and drinks: 34% of daily costs
- Paid activities: 14% of daily costs
Where (not) to stay in Singapore on a budget?
The Vintage Inn: recommended
The first 2 nights we stayed at the Vintage Inn which is the only dorm room we stayed at during our 5-month trip. It’s not that I don’t like staying in dorms, but I found that, traveling as a couple, prices for a private room are similar or even cheaper than the price for two beds in a dorm.
About: The Vintage Inn is a nice hostel and located very close to the MRT station Little India. It is nice to have some privacy by means of a curtain you can slide for your ‘capsule’, other than that it’s the same as a regular dorm. Very clean, comfy bed, some room next to the mattress to put your stuff, a locker for valuables and really helpful friendly staff.
Price per night: we paid €34,20, including a basic breakfast.
Fragrance Hotel Rose: not recommended
The second 2 nights we stayed at Fragrance Hotel Rose. Not a great stay…
About: the room was small (normal in Singapore) with an en-suite bathroom (a luxury in Singapore for a hotel under €100 per night). The bed was comfy, air conditioning nice and quiet, small free mineral water bottles supplied every day and complementary WiFi.
I cannot understand how a hotel that has just been renovated can already smell this bad.
Roses? Absolutely not!
The hotel opened just a couple of weeks before we stayed there, but it smelled like somebody had been smoking non-stop in the room for years. So. Gross!
We spend very little time in the room because every time we entered we felt like entering an ashtray. Staff was very apologetic about it and brought an air purifying device which helped for about an hour after which the smell was back. So I won’t be going back & I definitely wouldn’t be willing to pay more than the promotional rate.
Price per night: because of an introduction offer we only paid €47,93 per night, but because of the smoke I still felt this was way too much!
How to get around in Singapore?
The MRT in Singapore is extremely efficient and very cheap, check MRT info and map here . And if there is no MRT station close to your hotel, there is an extensive bus network as well.
The plus side of the bus is that you see more of the city but it usually takes longer than the MRT. More info about buses in Singapore can be found on this site.
What to eat in Singapore?
Singapore is all about food! There is a mixture of cultures and cuisines, ranging from typical Singaporean dishes like chilli crab, to Peranakan dishes like laksa and Chinese influenced food such as Wanton Mee.
Though, I have to admit I ate a lot of Indian when I was there (which is yet another culture present in multifaceted Singapore). I am ‘slightly’ addicted to Indian food and there aren’t many places in the Netherlands where you can get proper Indian so I ate as much prata, dosa and curry as I could find.
I also tried and really liked the previously mentioned laksa (a spicy noodle soup), but stupidly enough forgot to try out the famous Singapore chilli crab…
Next time, definitely next time!
Also read this awesome post by a true Singaporean which dishes you cannot miss during your Singapore visit.
When to visit Singapore?
Singapore is a great year-round destination as it never gets cold. We visited in May when average temperatures are around 27 degrees Celsius. However, the average daily temperature in Singapore’s is very stable throughout the year and generally only fluctuates between 25-30 degrees Celsius.
If you are looking to avoid the rainy season, stay clear of November, December and January (when most precipitation falls).
The best things to do in Singapore: our 4 day itinerary
There are so many things to do in Singapore, you could easily spend weeks and not run out of places to see (or things to eat). However, I ‘only’ spent 4 days in Singapore, involving a lot of sightseeing, walking and… sweating.
With temperatures over 30 degrees Celsius and a humidity of 90% it is impossible not to sweat. Unless you stay indoors all day (I guess this is actually quite possible because of the MRT and the countless air conditioned malls;-). But that would mean you’ll miss all the fun, so I say: walk, walk, walk!
A brief summary of our Singapore itinerary
- Singapore day 1: Singapore skyline, Gardens of the Bay, Marina Bay Sands (click here to find out how much a night will cost you), Chinatown, Singapore City Gallery, Merlion and the Singapore skyline by night.
- Singapore day 2: Little India, Raffles Hotel, Boat Quay, Clarke Quay and Robertson Quay.
- Singapore day 3: Sentosa Island, The Pinnacle @ Duxton, Marina Bay Sands observation deck.
- Singapore day 4: Mount Faber Loop, Henderson Waves, Alexander Arch, Canopy Walkway.
Below you can find all the nitty gritty details, a map and pictures of all the highlights we visited in Singapore.
Singapore itinerary day 1
Singapore itinerary day 2
Itinerary: Vintage Inn – Little India – Raffles Hotel – Boat Quay – Clarke Quay – Robertson Quay – Fragrance Hotel Rose
Singapore itinerary day 3
Itinerary: Fragrance Hotel Rose – Sentosa Island – The Pinnacle @ Duxton – Marina Bay Sands – Fragrance Hotel Rose
From one high building to the other. We ascend the Marina Bay Sands building and slowly see the night fall… Maybe next time we can stay at this iconic hotel…
Singapore itinerary day 4
Itinerary: Fragrance Hotel Rose – Mount Faber Loop – Henderson Waves – Alexander Arch – Canopy Walkway – Fragrance Hotel Rose
Yes I did a lot of walking:-). From the hotel I took the MRT or the bus into the city and walked from there because the actual city center isn’t that big.
Now that I think about it, despite the long list of things I visited, I did not actually spent much money on activities. There are only 3 paid activities in this Singapore itinerary:
- The Pinnacle @ Duxton sky garden (5SGD per person)
- The observation deck of the Marina Bay Sands building (23SGD per person)
- Movie ticket (10,50SGD per person). We love movies and it was nice to cool off after all the walking around in the hot sun.
You can download the budget breakdown infographic and the map of the 4 day itinerary below.
Also read my other posts about our travels in Southeast Asia:
- Cambodia: Cambodia travel budget, Cambodia itinerary, Bokor Hill Station, heartbreaking history of Cambodia
- Indonesia: Bali itinerary, the best luxury resort on Bali, live like a local in Sebatu)
- Laos: Laos travel budget, Laos itinerary, things to do in Luang Prabang, hiking in Vang Vieng
- Malaysia: Malaysia travel budget, Malaysia itinerary, scuba diving on Tioman, guide to the Perhentian Islands, guide to Langkawi
- Philippines: Philippines travel budget, Philippines itinerary, Bohol scooter itinerary, guide to El Nido, PADI Open Water Course in El Nido, rice terraces of Batad
- Thailand: Thailand travel budget, Thailand itinerary, best places to visit in Thailand, diving on Koh Tao
- Vietnam: Vietnam travel budget, Vietnam itinerary, things to do in Vietnam, Phu Quoc island
Have fun in Singapore and let me know if you have any questions!