Singapore is not only the most expensive city in Southeast Asia, but it’s also the second costliest place to live in the world, according to the 2021 Worldwide Cost of Living survey. The state highly relies on imports, especially its food requirements, as it lacks natural resources. Such dependency on foreign sources leads to the steep prices of its essential consumer commodities.
Consequently, Singapore gets the reputation of being an exuberant travel destination, especially if you’re coming from a developing country such as the Philippines. In this regard, many of us Filipinos share a bit of reluctance to travel to the Little Red Dot.
The question now is, do we really have to break the bank to travel to Singapore from the Philippines? Hopefully not. In this guide, we share expert tips that’ll get you through the marvels of Singapore for as low as ₱10,000! Here’s a list of 10 budget tips for Pinoys travelling to Singapore.
General budget tips for travelling to Singapore
1. Plan ahead of your travel
Aside from having something to look forward to, planning your travel ahead of time has money-saving perks. Usually, accommodations have lower prices when you book months before your check-in. You’ll also have more time to research and craft your perfect itinerary according to your budget.
2. Look out for seat sales
The regular airfare to travel to Singapore from the Philippines ranges from about ₱6,000 to ₱10,000, one way. However, if you’re an expert seat-sale grabber, you can get tickets as low as ₱2,000, and maybe even less during piso sales of Cebu Pacific and Philippine Airlines.
3. Travel during the off-season
If you’re fully committed to a budget-friendly trip, consider visiting Singapore from August to October. Hotel rates, airfare, and on-site entrance fees may be cheaper during the lean season. However, since that’s also the monsoon season, it’s best to regularly check the weather forecasts in the areas you’ll be going to so that you can plan accordingly.
4. Scout for the cheapest money changers
Any budget-savvy traveller would look for the best rates from currency exchange stores. So, don’t just head over to the airport and go to the first money changer you see! Instead, do your homework and search for the best local money changer so you won’t get ripped off. Also, don’t overbuy foreign currency! You’ll lose so much money when you try to get your Philippine Peso back.
If you’re already in Singapore and you need to convert PHP to SGD, look for money exchangers at the Orchard Plaza. They usually have fair conversion rates since many Filipinos reside and dwell in the area.
5. When possible, pay with your credit card
The idea of relying more on your credit card stems from avoiding converting too much cash on money changers. Banks that run Visa and Mastercard credit cards usually offer far better conversion rates than local stores, so you’re better off swiping cards than doling out cash!
Must-know Singapore budget-friendly travel tips
6. Consider the EZ-Link card instead of the Singapore Tourist Pass
EZ-Link is a contactless smart card used for public transport in Singapore. It’s similar to the Beep card that we’re all familiar with in the Philippines. Each EZ-Link card costs ₱380, inclusive of a ₱190 stored value. The minimum amount for reloading is ₱75 for cash transactions.
On the other hand, the Singapore Tourist Pass is the unlimited-use version of EZ-Link. The price varies depending on its duration: ₱380 for one day, ₱600 for two, and ₱760 for three. In addition, you’ll be paying a refundable amount of ₱380 for the card.
EZ-Link vs. Singapore Tourist Pass: Which one is for you?
Cash fares for public railways and buses are significantly more expensive, so you better choose between the EZ-Link or the Singapore Tourist Pass. To determine which to use, check your itinerary. If you planned your trip in such a way that you’ll be using public transportation frequently, then the Singapore Tourist Pass should be your choice. We recommend checking the actual fares here. On the other hand, if you’ll save more money paying for each trip based on your computation, it’s better to get the EZ-Link card instead.
7. Have your gastronomical adventures at hawker centres
Eating at fine-dining restaurants in Singapore could cost a fortune. So instead, head to hawker centres for cheaper yet drool-worthy food. Some of the most popular food plazas in Singapore are Maxwell Food Centre, East Coast Lagoon Village, and Old Airport Road Food Centre. Prices at hawker centres could go as low as ₱75 per order. Also, don’t miss Singapore’s popular bak kuh teh and chicken rice!
8. Bring your own tumbler
Bottled water in Singapore could cost about three times more than at convenience stores in the Philippines. It’s also rare to find a restaurant in Singapore that provides “service water” to its customers. But don’t worry! Tap water in the country is perfectly suitable for drinking directly without any further filtration, as it has passed the World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines for drinking-water quality. So, have your tumbler ready and refill it every time you have the chance.
9. Spend your nights at boutique hostels
The most effective way to cut down the expenses of your travel to Singapore from the Philippines is by staying at cheap, dormitory-type hotels. The prices could go as low as ₱1,000 per night at capsule pods or transient hostels, including breakfast!
Tip: Make sure to book accommodations with strategic locations (e.g. near train stations) to save time and money!
10. Focus on destinations with free or cheap entrance fees
There are many fantastic Singapore destinations that you can visit without spending a dime. Here are 15 sites worthy of consideration:
- Gardens by the Bay
- Merlion Park
- Singapore Botanic Gardens
- Buddha Tooth Relic Temple
- Sri Mariamman Temple
- MacRitchie Reservoir
- Jurong Lake Gardens
- Jewel at Changi Airport
- Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve
- Clarke Quay & Boat Quay (Singapore River)
- Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Monastery
- Marina Barrage
- Southern Ridges
- NEWATER Plant Visitor Centre
Of course, you don’t want to miss the highlight reels of Singapore’s tourist spots, such as the Flower Dome, Cloud Forest, Universal Studios, and Singapore Zoo. Should you want to visit these sites, we suggest getting your tickets online for possible discounts and promos.
That’s it! Singapore is indeed an extravagant travel destination. But it’s possible to venture into the city without stinging your finances. So be vigilant about your expenses, bring your street-smart skills, and consider this list to get the most out of Singapore, kababayan!
Featured image credit: kjorgen via Canva Pro