What To Do As A Backpacker In Asia’s Most Expensive City

Singapore does not have a reputation for being a particularly inexpensive place to travel. However, it is possible to authentically experience the best of the sovereign state of Singapore on a backpacker’s budget.

Singapore is firmly embedded in Southeast Asia, but it is in many ways more similar to San Francisco than Bangkok or Ho Chi Minh City. Being the global region’s most expensive city, Singapore has garnered itself a reputation as a Western style city that just happens to be situated in the Far East. Singapore is clean, professional, slick, and modern.

Many backpackers find their journey beginning in Singapore, as it is one of the few standard gateways to Southeast Asia. That allows the traveler to take a different range of routes than landing in Bangkok. Even if you’re just passing through, it is possible to live well in Singapore for your short stint.

Budget for Food

The most affordable and some would say best, food that you can find in Singapore will often be found in the gatherings of vendors in the Hawker Centres. Amazing Asian cuisine from the influence of Singapore’s relationship with China, India, and Malaysia are all plentiful and affordable. Many of these plates can enjoy for less than $5, which is more of what you can expect from neighbouring nations.


A bed in a dormitory at the Mercury Backpackers Hostel costs as little as $15 a night, which includes breakfast, Jacuzzi, and everything else you may expect from a basic hostel experience. This is the most affordable option in town, but if you’d like to move up to a 2-star experience. There are a few options for under $50, such as Betel Box Hostel ($20 USD), Beary Nice! (30 USD), River City Inn Hostel ($26-29), and more.


Singapore has fantastic and affordable public transportation, with a wide-reaching Mass Rapid Transit, a more neighborhood-specific Light Rail Transit system, and busses.


If you are coming from a Western country, the skyscrapers and grids of the modern sections of the city won’t exactly give you what you hoped for from a trip to the Orient. Richly cultural areas such as Chinatown and adjacent Little India are less affluent and more authentic. There is a lively nightlife soon, complete with affordable drinking and karaoke. Also, if you find yourself in Singapore on a layover or waiting a while for a departure be sure to explore one of the most fun and tourism friendly airports in the world. Depending on your price range, there are zoos, a “Cloud Forest,” museums, and other such activities.


It’s true: Singapore does not fit the usual description of an inexpensive Southeast Asian getaway. Still, it can be navigated and experienced in a fun and rewarding way, without damaging your bank account!

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