Asia,  Singapore

The Ultimate Guide to Backpacking in Singapore

When one says “Singapore,” you may think “luxury.” While Singapore is known for extravagant hotels with boats and infinity pools at the top, rooftop restaurants and bars, and malls with rivers inside them, there’s an underground backpacking scene here, and it’s well worth checking out! Here’s everything you need to know about backpacking in Singapore.

Singapore is worth spending a couple days in en route to another destination, whether that be Australia, our backyard of all of South East Asia, or elsewhere.

It’s the perfect way to begin or end a trip, with Changi Airport (rated world’s best!!) and loads of bus routes to Malaysia at your fingertips.


Basic Information

Singapore is an island, also referred to as the Little Red Dot, as that’s all it appears as on world maps.

Size: 719.1 km^2

Population: 5.535 million (2015, World Bank)

National Language: English, although Tamil, Mandarin, and Malayu are also widely used and official languages!

Currency: Singapore Dollar, SGD.

Weather: HOT. Also it will probably rain for about 10 minutes sometime during the day. Although it’s always about 29 to 35 degrees (about 85-95 Fahrenheit), it’s incredibly well airconditioned inside and you might get chilly!

Water is safe to drink from the tap.

Backpacker Hostels Singapore

This is where you’ll spend the most money, but accommodation in Singapore is generally incredibly safe and clean.

Hostels range from about SGD$20-40.

The best areas to stay in are Little India, Chinatown, and Kampong Glam. These areas are centrally located and very rich in culture and vibrancy.

Backpacker hostels weren’t my favourite in Singapore, however you can find some good ones! There are many good hostels in the Kallang/Geylang area, although these can be a little out of the way. The public transportation system in Singapore is wonderful, however, it only runs until about midnight, so if you’re planning on dancing the night away at Clarke Quay, you’ll have to take a taxi back.

If you’re looking for a no-frills hotel, a pod hotel might be a good option. Here’s one in a good area. 

This hostel is in one of my favourite areas of Singapore and is close to public transportation. 


Food

There’s a wide variety of food in Singapore, with a very wide range in price. Unless you have extra cash to spend, shy away from Western food. A good burger will cost you at least $20!

Luckily, Singaporean food is generally cheap food! Local food wise, Singapore is a backpacker city! Head over to a hawker centre and try out loads of local food. You can get chicken rice for about $3. Here’s a post explaining my favourite foods!

Vegetarians and Vegans in Singapore

Vegetarians and vegans might have a tougher time finding local food. I’d recommend going to the fruit stalls and Indian stalls in hawker centres. There’s also usually a stall that has ALL kinds of food that you choose from (displayed in big metal dishes). Rice and a bunch of veggies will be both cheap and delicious.

If you’re looking for a nice place to have a drink but don’t want to pay $17 SGD for a cocktail (standard price), Loof is a nice place to go for happy hour. It’s a rooftop bar with a view of Marina Bay Sands, and it’s one of my favourite places to go. Happy hour starts at 5pm when drinks are $5, at 6 they go up to $6, and so on until 8pm.

How to Travel in Singapore

MRT Singapore

The MRT is by far the ultimate way to get around. There are few places where the MRT is inconvenient. Buy a ticket and remember to keep it, as you have to use it to get out of the station as well.

If you’re planning on staying in Singapore for a while, an EZ link card may be a good investment. They cost $12 SGD (plus the amount of money you put on it) and they can be used for any bus or MRT.

Singapore Buses

The buses in Singapore take a little bit of getting used to. Use Google Maps and have the map up, as the buses don’t stop if no one presses the stop button onboard for the next stop. They are generally pretty convenient, but if you have the choice between the MRT and the bus, choose the MRT.

Taxis in Singapore

Taxis are generally reasonably priced (compared to Western standards), but still expensive compared to public transportation.

A trip from the airport to town (or vice versa) is roughly $30 SGD, and within the central city, it’s roughly $12 per ride. Taxis are metered, so no price is guaranteed.


Singapore on a Budget: Free Things to Do

Gardens by the Bay

Although you won’t be able to get into the Cloud Forest or Flower Dome for free, walking around the gardens and seeing the supertrees is free! This is one of Singapore’s most iconic sights and it is BEAUTIFUL. Grab a fruit juice or 100+ (local isotonic drink) from Satay by the Bay (hawker centre) and have a wander!

Marina Bay

Walk around Marina Bay and check out the beautiful hotels, Marina Bay Sands Mall, and the iconic Merlion!

One of my favourite walks is from Clarke Quay all the way to Marina Bay. It’s absolutely charming and it makes me feel like I’m on holiday.

Orchard Road

WSingapore’s main shopping street. You can buy anything from cheap goods to high street brands to luxury goods here! Count the designer stores! Although a shopping street, it’s worth a visit, as it’s a pretty insane street. All of the grounds are connected underground, so you’ll definitely get lost in the air-conditioned bliss.

Little India

This area has beautiful culture, shophouses, and wonderful fruit stands! I love the street art around here. If you’re planning on having a meal here, I LOVE the vegetarian restaurant Komala Villas. It’s meat-eater approved and so yummy. I’m a big fan of the poori set.

Chinatown

Check out food street and see the craziness of Chinatown! It’s also a great place to buy cheap souvenirs. The little alleyways with the outdoor stands are so fun to take a look at. The shophouses are easily missed with all of the excitement, so don’t forget to look up!

Kampong Glam

Such a beautiful and vibrant part of Singapore. This is hands down one of my favourite places in Singapore! Arab street and Haji Lane are the most popular streets in the area.

Botanic Gardens

HUGE beautiful gardens, perfect for a picnic or just a stroll through the park! They can get really hot during the day, so go during the morning or late afternoon.


Singapore may not seem like the place to backpack, but the Little Red Dot has so much to offer, and I highly recommend checking it out! Conveniently located in the midst of Southeast Asia, and close to Australia, it’s a great place to stop by.

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